Joy! The Pathway to Peace

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

If there were a power verse for joy, it would be this one:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 ESV

When doing a word study on rejoice, I found this meant: REJOICE (lean in and delight in God’s grace) at ALL times, I repeat, REJOICE (choose to be glad and joyful because of ALL God gives us)!

What a command! But God gives the “How how-to” in verses 6-7.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ESV

God doesn’t want us to be anxious, worried, and loaded down with cares. As we ask, request, and petition God, the confidence comes in believing we are giving the circumstance to the only One who has the real power to answer—the Almighty God—the King of Kings! And as we make this transaction, God gives us a gift back—peace that is beyond comprehension!

This week, use this joy builder: pray over worrisome situations using a name of God. Here is a favorite exercise I use for releasing anxiety and to imagine this exchange of our worries for his peace:

Imagine your greatest stress is placed into your right hand, wrap your fingers around this anxiety, now lift it heavenward; open your fingers and present it at the foot of the throne of heaven. Leave your care there but keep your hand open. Now think of all the traits and names of God, which name of God would be best to hang your heart on to find hope, joy, and peace. If you struggle to pick which trait, choose the name or trait of God that would be opposite of your stress. For example, if you care is your anxiety, trade it for the peace of God, then when you get home, look up all the verses about God being peace and giving peace. String your favorite verses together, put your name in the series of verses, and personalize God’s Word to your life.

To keep the peace, Paul’s last instruction is to guard your mind and thought life—keep doing this—and the God of peace will be with you:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 ESV

Now dwell on these things, all day, every day. And start each day and each season of life willing to give your greatest fear and anxiety to God and receive his radical peace.

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Joy! The Pathway to Peace – insight from @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an author of 48 books, including Amazon bestseller Discovering  Hope in the Psalms: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and her newest book releases today (!!): Discovering Joy in Philippians:  A Creative Bible Study Experience (coauthored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher). Pam and her husband, Bill are international speakers, relationship experts and  Co-directors of Love-Wise.

If difficult days have ever left you discouraged, Pam’s brand-new book: Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, will help you engage creatively with God’s Word and establish habits that lead to greater joy and peace.

Join the conversation: What are your favorite names of God?

You Are Not Going to Like It

By Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.                                                                                                                                                1 Peter 4:8 NIV

I am an enthusiastic entrepreneur at heart. I take great joy in creating something from nothing and provide quality resources for others while simultaneously providing for my family.

When Bill was new in his senior pastor position at the age of 28, I was a mom at home completing my education. Tuition was stressing our already tight budget, so I attended a seminar on starting a business. The presenter was very persuasive. I bought the magic beans.

But on the way home, I began to feel convicted by the Holy Spirit. I had spent more than I should have; over a certain amount, we had agreed to decide as a team if this was how WE wanted to spend OUR money. I had violated that trust. I prayed for forgiveness and wisdom on the best way to tell my husband.

I walked in, and took Bill’s hand, looked him in the eyes, and with emotion said, “I have something to tell you, and you are not going to like it, but please tell me “I love you and we will get through this together.” As I confessed to my transgression to him, I could see Bill’s anger rising, but to his credit, through gritted teeth he said, “Pam, I love you, I forgive you, and we will get through this together.”

The mercy Bill gave me that day lodged deep in my heart, and my love for him grew even stronger.

Years later, my father passed away and left me an inheritance. Bill was offered “an incredible investment opportunity” by someone, and Bill talked me into investing my money toward our future needs.

Today people are more skeptical of investment advisers after so many financial fraud cases in recent memory. But our investment decision was before all that had happened.

One day, our adviser took our money and ran. Bill was horrified to learn it all was gone. But his biggest regret was talking me into investing it in the first place. My treasured inheritance from my father! He prayed about how to break the news.

Bill came home, took my hand, and with sorrow in his eyes, said, “Pam, I have something to tell you, and you are not going to like it, but I need you to tell me “I love you and we will get through this together”.  As I listened to his news, I remembered Bill’s grace and mercy for me those many years before. In spite of our loss, my heart pushed out the words, “Bill, I love you, I forgive you, and we will get through this together.”

Jesus told a parable about a slave who had a large debt graciously forgiven (Matthew 18:21-35). Soon after, he confronted a fellow slave who owed him significantly less than what his own debt had been. The slave was unable to pay, and the angry man had him thrown into prison. The slave’s owner, who had forgiven him, was furious when he heard. “I forgave you all [your] debt…Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:32-33 NASB)

Jesus’ point: to refuse to forgive is an affront to the grace and mercy our Heavenly Father has given to us. What we have been forgiven should compel us to treat each other with the kind of generous mercy we enjoy from God.

After both of our bad financial decisions, we chose honesty and forgiveness over anger and strife. And because of that, we became stronger as a team. Grace, mercy and forgiveness create an environment where love can accumulate interest just like money in an investment account. In such a positive environment, a relationship can flourish emotionally and spiritually (and perhaps even financially), because you will be functioning as a team, learning to accept each other’s mistakes and moving on from them together.

Lord, we thank you for the grace and mercy you have given us. Help us in turn to give grace and mercy to cover each other’s imperfections. Amen.

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You Are Not Going to Like It: the Power of Forgiveness – @PamFarrel on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, authors of 46 books including A Couple’s Journey with God devotional and bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. Together they run Love-Wise helping people with their most vital relationships. When they are not traveling for speaking, you will find them at home on their live-aboard boat docked in Southern California.

Join the conversation: How has offering forgiveness made a difference in your relationship? Please share!

I am Going to Out-Love You!

by Pam Farrel

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.                                                                              Mark 10:45 NASB

Jesus was a good son.  Bill and I recognize a good son, because we enjoy having three good sons.  A good son carries out the will of his father. A good son represents his family well and moves the family legacy forward. Good daughters do the same. Good daughters represent their family well.  We meet people each week and many of them are those who value the heritage that have been handed to them and build upon that solid foundation.

Within minutes of meeting John and Barb, we knew they had an unusual love. Barb found it easy to gush about how blessed and fortunate she found it to be married to John. John found it easy to compliment a wife he so obviously cherished. They have been married about the same amount of time as Bill and I, for over three decades! When I asked Barb the secret of their long lasting love, she said, “My husband forgives easily. He is full of grace, mercy and forgiveness.”

When we asked John the same question, his reply was similar, “My wife knows how to keep giving love when people are hard to love. She loves unconditionally and tenaciously.”  Notice it is really just two sides of the same coin: he loves without limits and she is limitless in her love.

They are the owners of Morning Star Dairy. They live in the home where John was raised. John had the privilege of watching his parents live a life of love. Love is a rich heritage on Morning Star Dairy.  John describes his mother as a saint who loved lavishly, never uttered a harsh word, and had a servant’s heart. Her heart of love was often expressed toward her husband as she darted about the kitchen waiting on him with an affectionately, “On the way, Daddy Baby”.

And that legacy of love continues as one will sometimes hear Barb call John, “Daddy” and with a twinkle in his eye and sheepish grin he will tease back, “That’s Daddy BABY to you.”

How does one go about building a legacy of love that passes from generation to generation? Follow John and Barb’s pattern and the example they followed in their parents and simply out-serve each another.

Love is an action verb and it is best expressed with a servant’s attitude.  What is a servant’s attitude?  Phil 2: captures it best when it simply says:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . .”  (Phil 2:3-7 NIV).

Loving well is simply a matter of maintaining a “you first” attitude toward others. The plus side of having a servant’s attitude is that your children are watching.  Perhaps you will be laying a foundation of a family that all seek to out love the other!

Lord, help me not seek my own interests as the first priority but help me look out for my mate’s needs. Give me your same heart and attitude Jesus.  Help us lay a legacy of love. Amen   

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books and the Co-Director of Love-Wise.com. She has been seeking to “out love”  her husband, Bill for 38 years of marriage. Discover resources to help you love well at www.Love-Wise.com

Join the conversation: How do you employ a “you first” attitude in your relationships?

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Deep Roots

 by Pam Farrel

You might live in the part of the world known as Tornado Alley. Winds whip through, and trees that have shallow roots are tossed about like toothpicks. But trees with roots deeply embedded into the ground remain firmly anchored in place. It is the deeply rooted trees that survive storm after storm.

God challenges us to have another kind of deep roots:

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  Jeremiah 17:8 NIV

Jesus warns of the danger of shallow roots in the famous parable of the seed:

“Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”  Mark 4:5-6 NIV

This world needs more people, more marriages, and more families with deep spiritual roots. Strong individuals coupled together build strong marriages. Relationships like this provide stability for families, churches, and communities. But deep roots take a little effort to develop.

We run a ministry called Love-Wise, and couples often tell us, “We want a marriage like yours.” So we explain some of the choices we have made to grow a happy marriage. Good training is available through church attendance, a Sunday School class, or a small group where couples meet together to discuss relationships. Other opportunities for growth are in attending marriage conferences, listening to Christian radio, and other forms of media.

But the really rich work God does is in us as individuals. Spending daily time with Him is crucial to getting His guidance in becoming the best partner, parent, and person possible. Deep roots develop when it is just you and God dealing with your life, your relationship, and your heart. A media-only diet is like a tree with shallow roots. One big wind storm comes and it can topple the tree. Or one hot, scorching summer hits and shallow roots dry up and the plant dies. The best fruit, the sweet fruit, comes when the roots of the tree go deep down into the rich soil.

I join the Apostle Paul and pray for each of your marriages:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Eph 3:17-19 NIV)

 Lord, sink our roots deep into You and Your Word. Give us the sweet fruit that comes with deep roots built on the kind of love you can give. 

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and A Couple’s Journey with God. She and her husband, Bill, co-direct Love-Wise ministry.

Join the conversation: How have you built up your marriage?

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Bicycle Built for Two

by Pam Farrel

“. . .  for we walk by faith, not by sight. . .”  2 Corinthians 5:7 NASB

When I was a newlywed, I worked as a special education aide.  Bill and I helped Anton, one of my blind students, experience as many physical activity activities as possible. He dreamed of doing things like baseball, bike riding, swinging on a swing, or sliding down a slide. One day, we rented a bicycle built for two. I got on the front, and Bill helped Anton onto the back seat. I peddled away with the sound of giggles and happy squeals behind me as Anton peddled away into complete darkness. He showed great trust that day, completely leaving his well-being in someone else’s hands.

It was not unlike the kind of faith that God sometimes calls us to have in Him.

A personal example of this in my life was when God called Bill to attend Talbot Seminary to become a pastor. That meant moving this farm girl to the heart of Los Angeles. I wasn’t even sure God existed in LA! But just as Anton trusted me to steer him into one of the best adventures of his life, I climbed onto the back of a bicycle built for two, and Bill wheeled us to the heart of Los Angeles to prepare for a lifetime of service to God.

I imagined it was a lot like Sarai when God called Abram out: “The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1 NIV). Can you imagine the ensuing conversation?

Abram: Sarai, God told me we are moving.

Sarai: Moving! Where?

Abram: Don’t know, He will tell us.

Sarai: When do we leave?

Abram: Now.

To her credit: she went!

How many of us inadvertently squelch the hopes and dreams of others? It is so easy to allow our fears crush the faith of those close to us– people like our mate, our friends, our pastor, our business partner, or our children. When your friend, your mentee, or your child is offered an opportunity to spread their wings and soar, do you clip them?

When your husband shares his clear call from God, how do you react? With skepticism? Anger? Nay-saying? In marriage, trust God’s leading and HE can take you BOTH on an adventure!  He knows you are a team and will honor you both as you walk through the doors God opens for you.

Sarai trusted God enough to obey him. And in the new land she was blessed with her long-awaited miracle son.

When you trust God, peddling by faith into what might seem the dark unknown, often it will become the blessed ride of your life!

Hop on!

Lord, let us not be fearful of the adventure. Father, you are in the driver’s seat so we choose to trust You when we can’t see the path ahead. Amen.

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel  loves bike riding with her husband. Together they are international speakers and co-authors of 45 books including A Couple’s Journey With God , which inspired this article. The Farrels invite you to join them in “Living Love-Wise” at the intersection of God’s love and God’s wisdom.

Join the conversation: Has God ever called you to step out in faith?

Keep Hope Alive!

by Pam Farrel

In today’s world, with frightening headlines blasting the worst possible scenarios into our homes, along with the stress of daily responsibilities weighing heavy on our hearts, it is very easy to get discouraged. But God has a solution for our despairing hearts!

While writing my book on the psalms, one of my co-authors remarked in passing, “I think Psalm 71:14 could be the theme verse for this study.” Intrigued, I immediately looked up the verse.

I read: “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more” (Psalm 71:14 NIV).

The author of these words uses hope as a verb, so hoping can be an action we choose: to wait expectantly for God to move. As I like to say, “trust while you tarry.” My definition of hope is: waiting expectantly for God to work for your good and His glory. Of course, that waiting can take a L. . .O. . . N. . .G time!

After doing a word study, I found many adverbs describing how to hope: repeatedly, increasingly, intensely, exceedingly, continuously, regularly, consistently, and perpetually. When I drew the verse in my Bible art journal, I pictured a geyser of ever-flowing hope.

The key to securing hope like that is in the latter part of the verse: “… praise you more and more.” The idea of “more and more” is really accumulating praise. Think of it as walking through a garden to gather flowers for a beautiful bouquet. Or strolling the mall at Christmas, accumulating packages.

When we gather praise, we fuel hope.

David, the author of this psalm, had to wait many years for God to fulfill His promise to him as a young shepherd boy before he was finally crowned king of Israel. Some of that waiting involved fleeing a jealous King Saul, living in caves and enduring a seemingly endless life on the run. Yet, even in the midst of those discouraging circumstances, David continued to praise God. We can see this from another psalm he penned during that time of persecution:

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.

Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.

Love the Lord, all his faithful people!  The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.  Psalm 31:20-24 NIV

While I am not a poet like David, I accumulate praise another way by recording those kind of thoughts on my praise page in my bullet Journal. There I have drawn a picture of a sun with rays beaming out, and on each ray I record God’s answers to prayer and His unexpected blessings. Then, when times get tough, I can simply open my journal to this page and SEE the goodness of God that I have accumulated—and hope then springs from my soul!

Praise God yet more, and more, and your heart will become a geyser of HOPE.

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is co- director of Love-Wise (with her husband, Bill), international speaker, author of 45 books and budding Bible Art journaler. When she isn’t speaking around the globe, or teaching Discovering Hope in the Psalms, you will likely find her paddle baording or kayaking near her home, a live-aboard boat in Southern California.

Join the conversation: What praises have you been accumulating lately?

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I’m Drowning Here!

by Pam Farrel

Ever feel like you are drowning in bad news?  Are the tough times are coming at you one right after another like a torrential down pour?  Is all the negativity and stress making you feel like you can’t even get a breath? Me too.

While I was writing my new book, life felt like I had been caught under the great Niagara Falls, being forced down under the torrent…breathless…helpless. The stressors of that season felt much like when, many years before, I found myself caught in a rip tide while swimming in the Pacific Ocean. My options at that point were terrifying: one was to catch a wave that would carry me to shore, but the shore was a cliff with jagged rock and thrashing waves. The other option was to allow the rip tide to carry me far out to sea. Death by rocks or death by sharks?

But then I remembered a third life-saving possibility: to swim parallel to the shore far enough down the beach to where the riptide ended and the sandy beach began. So as the riptide continued to carry me away from shore, I prayed and began to calmly swim along the shoreline. Eventually, the rip tide’s grip broke. I swam in and walked out to safety, exhausted, relieved, and overjoyed.

One psalm writer was in the press of one hardship after another. He wrote: “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me” Psalm 42:7 NIV.

This verse captures how many of us might feel when life gets difficult. Some Bible scholars say “deep calls to deep” is a reference to powerful torrential flood waters—that God’s hand of mercy is holding back. “The roar of your waterfalls” references the power of water to keep us down and under the surface—at times feeling like the negative circumstance will drown us. The waves and breakers sweeping over him again pictures being caught in crushing, crashing, unceasing waves. These powerful images are each a vivid portrayal of what it is like to be caught in a flood of challenges.

So, what can we do when the stresses of the unwelcome, unwanted, unexpected, and unbelievably hard circumstances are gushing down like a waterfall? Verse 11 gives the psalmist’s source of hope in the flood: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (NIV).

We can go beyond surviving and actually thrive while living in this broken world. God, our lifeguard, tosses us a life-saving ring of hope and help. When we put our hope in Him, we find a firm rock on which to stand. We can trust in His goodness, and we can trust Him to be faithful. And as we wait for Him to move us through a challenging time, we should express our trust by praising Him. Because as we pray and sing His praises out loud, we remind ourselves of His character, enabling us to trust Him even more firmly than we did before. And we remind ourselves that He is working all things together for our ultimate good. (Rom. 8:28)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him. Psalm 62:1 NIV

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker and author of 45 books, including her newest, an innovative Bible study co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher:  Discovering Hope in the Psalms.   Pam and Her husband Bill are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, a ministry to enrich, educate and encourage people’s most vital relationships. When not traveling for speaking, the Farrells enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, walking the beach and hosting guests on their floating home on the ocean.

Join the conversation: What stresses in your life have made you feel as if you were drowning? How did God rescue you?

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Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

Lasting Fruit

by Pam Farrel

I had two new books published over the past year. When you release a new book, your publisher wants you to send a complimentary copies of the book to the women of influence who believe in you and in the ministry God has given to you.

Doing these mailings always takes me down memory lane, remembering the many amazing mentors God has given me. So many have poured wisdom, truth, strength, and common sense into me, and built up and blessed me. I would not be who I am had God not brought each of them across my path at just the right moment.

All I had to do was keep my heart hungry receptive to all He meant for me to learn.  A few of the Psalms in my new Bible study further define the kind of heart God values.

God is looking for thirsty hearts.

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God.  Psalm 42:1-2 ESV

This word picture is of a deer searching, longing, desperate for living water to quench her driving thirst. Jesus spoke of this quality in His Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6 ESV). Being mentored necessitates cultivating a receptiveness to the wisdom of others.

God is looking for contrite hearts.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51:17 ESV

Broken in this verse means to “be shattered into tiny pieces”; contrite is “to be crushed.” Tiny pieces of stained glass in the hands of an artist can become a magnificent work of art, more beautiful and even more valuable after being broken. In the same way, many of my mentors have been used by God as artisans, helping me put my broken life back together.

God is looking for grateful hearts

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  Psalm 100:4- 5 NIV

People with grateful hearts seek out others who want to thank and praise God for His goodness.  I have learned how important it is to appreciate every moment of time someone has spent on me in helping me to know God better.

So, this fall, I looked for opportunities to go in person to thank many of my mentors:

  • Tina, the Campus Crusade staffer, who mentored me in the basics of the Christian walk
  • Nora, who mentored me in my role as a mother
  • Bev, who mentored me in my role as a Pastor’s wife
  • Pat, my mentor in my role as a Women’s Director
  • Jill, my mentor in my speaking ministry.

There are many more, and in the coming months, I plan to go and give each a copy of my book to express my gratitude for each minute they spent pouring wisdom into me. The seeds these faithful women planted over the years have produced lasting fruit around the world. I’m confident that one day in eternity, they will all meet women who began a relationship with God and grew into reproducing leaders as well—all because they once cared and shared as mentors.

When we are open to serving God in that way, desiring a chance to pour into the lives of others, God will be faithful to reveal those who are thirsty, contrite, and grateful, waiting with ready hearts to hear what He has to say though His obedient servants.

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker,  Co-Director (with her husband, Bill Farrel) of  Love-Wise, and the author of  45 books including bestselling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti . Her newest release, co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher, is Discovering Hope in the Psalms.

Join the conversation: Have you been on the receiving end of mentoring? Or have you mentored others? Please share something you gained from that relationship.

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Keeping Hope to Keep the Call

by Pam Farrel           

I was weary—a tired to the bone, drop-dead fatigued, completely exhausted, “can’t take even one more step” kind of weary. It seemed we were caught in the perfect storm: the ship of our life being tossed about on a tumultuous sea of unending responsibilities.

The positive included constant travel for our ministry, which we loved, but it did take a physical and mental toll. We also had ongoing multiple book projects, which are wonderful blessings, but require much labor.

And in the midst of it all, we were dealing with aging parent care, which required Bill to drive through grueling Southern California traffic for months on end. We were both at the end of our proverbial ropes.

I knew that the Word has some prescriptions for handling weariness.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV )

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” Psalms 62:5 NIV

“. . .Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31 NIV 

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Ex 33:14 NIV

“Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work…” Ex 23:12 NIV

I knew I needed rest, renewal, revival, rejuvenation—and recovery! So, when the Professional Women’s Fellowship hosted a one-day retreat at a lovely private estate, I went. And begged God to speak to me there and give me HOPE!

During the hour-long quiet time, I stretched out under the shade of a large tree near the pond. As I opened my journaling Bible, I couldn’t help but think of Psalm 23 as I lay down in “pasture” that was “beside still waters.” So, I continued to pray through the psalm: Lord,  refresh my soul….guide me along the right paths  for [Your] name’s sake.  

I flipped opened my Bible to other Psalms, as I nearly always gain refreshing hope there.  I landed on Psalm 55:22 (NIV): “ Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

I thought, “Wow Lord, this seems the perfect verse for me, but exactly what does it mean to “cast my cares” on You?  And what does it mean that you will “sustain” me —because I REALLY need some sustaining power!”

After praying out my weariness, I looked up and found the word translated as “burden” could also be translated “assignment” or “gift”. I thought, “A gift? Really?” I was beginning to see that I had been viewing the responsibilities God had given me as a burden rather than a blessing. Obviously, I needed a paradigm shift to a more heavenly viewpoint!

I also saw the promise that God would “sustain” me– He would nourish, strengthen, and support me — and make me sufficient to handle my assignment.  God was whispering hope to my soul, that whatever my ministry was depleting, God would pour back into me—and more!

In that moment, peace, relief, and a rejuvenating hope washed over me. To lock this insight into my mind, I sketched out two hands, representing God’s caring hands. In one palm was my “gift” of cares and in the other… myself.

Both you and your calling are held up by the Good Shepherd. We are in His sustaining, caring hands. God’s got us!

pam ferrelAbout the author: You too can find hope from God in the Psalms: Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Biblical Experience by Pam Farrel, Jean E. Jones, and Karla Dornacher, from Harvest House. Find out more at discoveringhopeinthepsalms.com.

Join the conversation: What burdens do you need to cast upon the Lord?

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He Loves Ewe! Help from the Good Shepherd

by Pam Farrel

I am a true Bo Peep. I was a fourth generation shepherd, growing up on a Suffolk sheep farm in Idaho. If there is something I am familiar with, it is sheep! So when I read Psalms 23, one of the most familiar of all Psalms, it is very personal, encouraging and comforting.

You may also need comfort or encouragement in your own life right now. There are a few qualities of Your Good Shepherd that might encourage you, especially if you are feeling like you are traveling through the “valley of the shadow of death”.

The Shepherd is Personal

For example, the Psalmist’s opening line of “the Lord is my shepherd” became more precious when I became a shepherdess. The relationship between a lamb and a Shepherd can be a very close, caring, and even sometimes, an affectionate one. For example, my first 4-H lamb was a “bummer”, meaning the mother had rejected or abandoned her own offspring. These kinds of lambs need extra attention, so I feed my little lambie with a bottle twice a day, holding her in my arms like a baby. I carded her wool, I hand feed her grain, I walked her, and yes, I talked to her. On cold nights, I tucked her into a warm pen and if I heard howling wild dogs or coyotes, I got up to go out to check on her. I named her, “Bunny” because when she wasn’t in my arms, she would delight herself jumping from rock to rock in our pasture. Ours was an “everywhere that Pammy went her lamb was sure to go” kind of relationship.

The Shepherd is a Protector

It is the picture of my grandfather, father, and brother’s vigilance that I carry in my mind as what a truly protective good shepherd is like. Ravenous coyotes, wolves, and wild dogs roamed the vast expanse of high desert in the area our family farm was located. These savage dogs would attack and kill whole flocks of sheep in a single night. To help keep our sheep safe, we placed collars with bells on them. If we heard an occasional gentle chime, we knew our sheep were simply grazing calmly, but if we heard a cacophony of loud jingling, we knew the wild dogs were near by threatening an attack.

To protect the sheep, the men in my family would take turns staying in the pasture with the sheep. They would wrap themselves in a down sleeping bag with their “rod and staff” within arm’s reach. It was a cold, uncomfortable, thankless job, but it saved the lives of our entire flock of sheep and their lambs. To this day, when I picture my God as my Good Shepherd, I see him as my strong, powerful, and attentive protector.

The Shepherd is a Provider

When I read, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul,” that is exactly the experience of my upbringing.  I would often walk barefoot through the deep, lush, green grass of the pasture, as the sheep serenely grazed. I would take a blanket and a Bible and lie down and spend quiet hours communing with God. I might walk over to the creek and sit on the simple wooden plank bridge and sit and rest quietly, dipping my toes into the cool stream. This was my place of solace and restoration, far away from the chaos my alcoholic, raging, earthly father might be creating in our small farm house. To this day, resting in an open meadow, or the sound of gently tinkling chimes, remind me of the restorative rest the Good Shepherd can create even in the midst of chaos.

The Shepherd Is a Pursuer

As I have followed my Good Shepherd, I have seen how “goodness and mercy” has surely followed me  the days of my life.  One could phrase the meaning of “goodness and mercy” as something good, pleasant, beneficial, desirable, and best. Our Good Shepherd pursues us in  faithful love to give us these things.

I was going through one of my most challenging years of my life when my friend Jean asked me to co-author Discovering Hope in the Psalms. My Shepherd sent such goodness and mercy because He knew I needed to dwell in the green pastures of His hope-filled Word to survive what I was facing.

With the Shepherd, we can walk through the darkest valley without fear because the Good Shepherd sees his sheep, knows his sheep, and cares for each and every one of his sheep…including you!

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep…I know my own and my own know me.”   John 10:11, 14 NASB

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker and author of 45 books, including her newest, an innovative Bible study co-authored with Jean E Jones and Karla Dornacher:  Discovering Hope in the Psalms.   Pam and Her husband Bill are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, a ministry to enrich, educate and encourage people’s most vital relationships. When not traveling for speaking, the Farrells enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, walking the beach and hosting guests on their floating home on the ocean.

 

 

Join the conversation: What attribute of the Shepherd do you need to hold on to hope?

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