The Answer is in  Your Cell Phone

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel

In your distress you called and I rescued you. Psalm 81: 7

It happened again today, a friend, a leader, called to share that their marriage was over. My response was sadness and a little curiosity, so I asked, “You had our cell number, why didn’t you call for help?”

The answers we have received to that question over the years have included:

We thought we could handle it (so at some point you must have realized you couldn’t).

We didn’t want anyone to know how bad things were (but now the whole world knows of your divorce- that seems worse as far as PR problems go).

Only one of us wanted help (but one can often make a difference as it brings change to a relationship).

Our friendship with you is too important to us, so we didn’t want to spoil it by sharing our personal lives (by I thought being “real and authentic” was the definition of friendship).

We thought it might cost money (and a divorce is cheap? Counseling is a small investment, and often in a community free or nearly free help is available).

If you hit a rough patch, pull out your cell phone. Chances are you have at least ONE person with a strong marriage in your world  who would be willing to mentor you, a pastor who would be willing to shepherd you, a therapist willing to counsel you, or a family member willing to walk alongside you. 

Shame wants you to sweep issues under the rug. Shame isolates you from those who love and care. Shame inspires you to make up excuses. Don’t listen to the voice of shame. Desperation is a better voice. Be desperate to find the best, most quality, most experienced, or most caring help you can find. Be desperate like the woman with an “issue” that came to Jesus:

A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years, who had spent all she had on doctors  yet could not be healed by any,  approached from behind and touched the tassel of His robe.  Instantly her bleeding stopped.

What were Christ’s words to her? Were they filled with condemnation? Anger? Frustration? No. He simply said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (Luke 8:48, HCSB).

Show that kind of faith. If your marriage hits a rocky patch, pick up your cell phone and call someone. If you can’t locate someone in your world willing to help, then call a ministry you appreciate. They likely can help you find a clergy member or counselor in your area willing to answer your call for help.

Lord, give us the courage to desperately defend our marriage. Help us combat pride and call out when we need help. Give me the faith to reach out for help trusting you will send someone who cares. Amen.

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pam ferrelAbout the authorPam Farrel is the author of  Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience, as well as books to help couples in crisis: Love, Honor and Forgive and 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make. If you are a couple in Crisis, there is help at Marriage On the Rocks? Try Again blog.

Join the conversation: Have you ever reached out for help when your marriage was falling apart? If not, what stopped you?

A Lighthouse of Hope and Joy

by Pam Farrel

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Psalm 19:8 NLT 

Lighthouses are special to our family. Our youngest son proposed to his wife at a lighthouse. We have our home on a live-aboard boat so lighthouses are a beacon of hope to us in the fog or squalling sea. God’s word is that same kind of lighthouse, a beacon of hope to guide us into a safe harbor in the storms of life.

During a media tour for my new book, my husband Bill wasn’t feeling well, so we went to the ER where a doctor informed him that he had high blood pressure. Since a history of early strokes ran in his family, this caught Bill’s attention. God soon made it clear that he should resign from his role as lead pastor. This decision was both emotionally and financially difficult. In this same season, our youngest son, Caleb, was hit in a football game and rushed to the hospital where he needed a blood transfusion to save his life. Eight days later, we received calls about my other two sons who had both also experienced serious injuries. Then I got a call that my younger brother was hospitalized after a heart attack and needed me to help with his kids.

My stress was welling up like a tidal wave.

When friends would ask, “How are you?” I didn’t know how to answer. So, I went to the Word and read Psalm 30:5 (ESV), “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” JOY! That’s what I needed. But how does one choose joy when it feels like your life is being tossed about in life’s storms?

I discovered four directions in which I needed to set my sights.

Look UP: I read Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV), “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” I decided to keep following the well-lit path to joy with other verses. I printed them, studied them, memorized them, and hung them around my home.  Verses like:

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:11 NLT

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11 NLT

Look BACK: I retraced God’s faithfulness in my life. I keep a JOY JOURNAL, a scrapbook of sorts that records my praise requests and praises as God answers. During this particularly tough season, I invited the women of our church to a scrapbook party where we each made a photobook with pictures of the people and prayer requests heavy on our heart. Using colorful pens, we wrote verses of peace, hope, love and joy around each photo—leaving space to record the answer when it came. Praying verses of joy can be a life preserver, something to cling to when you feel life is drowning you with sorrow.

Look OUT: We are not meant to go through tough times alone. I found it helpful to prayer walk with friends several times a week. As we walked we PRAYED scripture, PRAISED God for His faithful character, and left with more hope and joy!

Look AHEAD: On her 89th birthday, I asked a cheery mentor who had overcome illness and created a path of hope after the death of her spouse, “How do you hold on to joy?”

She replied, “I always plan something to look forward to.” For me, planning activities to redeem, restore or renew the hope and joy of others brings me joy. Keeping an “other-centered” life lifts my spirits!

Joy became my lighthouse of hope, an anchor in a storm that lasted three years. Since the day I found hope in the Psalms, I answer the “How are you?” with “Choosin’ joy!” That’s the power of the Word. Its joy will not only be your lighthouse, but a lighthouse to all in your world as God shines the light to others through your hope and praise.

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 brings you joy?

 

Forever Grateful

by Pam Farrel

Our preschool granddaughter reaches for my hand anytime we walk. Recently as we walked together, she heard the rumbling of a train nearby and, reaching up for me, said, “Nana, I  ‘fraid.”  I immediately picked her up and gave her a hug. She knows I’m there for her. She knows I will rescue her.

Just as a loving grandparent is prone to do, God uses a variety of ways to let us know He is there for us. In my own life I have seen abundant evidence of His care over the years in our marriage, family, and home. He has blessed me with amazing friends and given me a job that I love. I’ve been privileged to travel to many exciting places and meet interesting, inspiring people.

Of course, my hope in Him goes beyond life on earth to an eternity I know I will spend with Him. I first fell in love with my husband when he explained the meaning of a simple phrase on the front of his leather Bible—“That they may know You.” This phrase comes from John 17:3 : “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (NIV)

Eternal life is a wonderful promise, but the blessing of His presence starts right here on earth, long before I will ever get to heaven. Knowing Christ is to know the one called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). It is to know the God who said, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20 NIV). It is to know the God who promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NASB).

While eternity with Him is my future, He has given me many personal reassurances that He is a God for the present as well. I’ve found that remembering God’s presence and involvement in my life has been a key to trusting Him for whatever lies ahead.

  • God heard my cry for help when my abusive father was out of control.
  • God walked me out of chaos through the wisdom of a godly mentor.
  • God sent me Bill, an amazing partner in life and love.
  • God sent food when Bill and I were struggling, poor students.
  • God gave me a bicycle to ride when my car died.
  • God gave Bill and I hope in the face of death, disease, and disappointments.
  • God gave me love when I was angry or frustrated in my marriage.
  • God challenged me to rethink how to run a love relationship.
  • God gave me wisdom when I was perplexed in my parenting.
  • God has always been with me to process my emotions so Bill is spared the drama!

And daily, my Grateful to God list continues to grow.

Do you struggle to trust God for your future? A great way to increase your faith is to begin your own gratitude list. Then take some time alone or even with your spouse or family to review and thank God for all He has done to prove his love, grace and provision in your life. Recognizing Him at work in the here and now will supply confidence to trust Him for your future.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13 NASB

pam ferrelAbout the author: Pam Farrel is an international speaker, relationship specialist and best-selling author of over 45 books including her newest books: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience . She and her husband, Bill, are Co-Directors of Love-Wise.  Follow them on Twitter (@pamfarrel)  and Bill and Pam Farrel on Facebook.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Pam’s book, Discovering Hope in the Psalms  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: What has the Lord done in your life that you need to put at the top of your gratitude list?