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Archive for the ‘Marriage’Category

Simply UNSHAKABLE

I have been thinking and praying about what it means to live UNSHAKEN, I can’t help but marvel at how God has come through for us this past year, which has  been one of the most challenging in our 37 years of marriage. It is common for couples to have at least one very strenuous season of life and this year has been our turn. Bill’s folks are 87 and are showing signs of aging physically, emotionally and socially. Bill also discovered an unfortunate trend in his family. It turns out that couples in his heritage tend to break relationship with their parents shortly after they get married.  Bill and his brother, however, came to Christ as high school students and were the first of their family to follow Jesus. Part of God’s work has been to maintain a relationship with his folks guided by appropriate boundaries and deliberate interactions. The result today is my wonderful husband has chosen to be the main caregiver (we are the only ones who live in So Cal where mom and dad reside). It is inconvenient, however, since we live 3 hours from them! After making this trip too many times, we decided to relocate to protect Bill’s health and better care for his folks. It sounded very simple. We would  sell our home, downsize significantly and move nearer. But the sale of our beautiful San DiegoRollercoaster home was been an eleven month rollercoaster ride of offers that have fallen through for one reason or another. We have both wrestled with the stress, dealt with the disappointment and pursued a partnership rather than blame each other. We know that many couples fracture their relationship during these seasons of high stress and we wanted to use this time of life to grow closer and more in love.

Simple Skills golden ruleWe found the “SKILLED” acrostic from 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping it All Together  to be of great help in remaining UNSHAKEN during  this midlife mayhem.

Steadfast – When we focused on being RELIABLE, trust would be built and doors of opportunity were opened. While we waited to see what God WOULD DO for our future we CONTINUED TO DO what we knew was his will, which included writing books and blogs, articles and advice for social media. Here is a note we received on our Facebook page:

Hello from Costa Rica

My name is J….  a young boy who has read your book, I’m 20, and I want to thank you for sharing with us that important information about the Waffles and Spaghettis. As a testimony, I didn’t grew up with my father, and it was difficult for me to understand how to be a real man and why I have to take my role and responsibility on the relationship. I was frustrated because my girlfriend was doing things that I couldn’t understand. I was feeling  dumb, but one wise pastor who came from USA to my church was talking about your book, so I did it.  I’ve read it and my whole life has changed. I admire you guys, all what you do and how God uses your knowledge to bless people like me. I love my girlfriend so much. Thanks to you I can understand her better and we are hoping to get marriage in the next 2 years.

Knowledgeable – We made it our goal to  become a little WISER each day so we could make sound plans that would render positive results.

       Over these difficult few years, I began a new quiet time tradition of what I call “Creative Biblical Expressions” or others call Bible Art Journaling. I dig into a passage, then draw out its meaning in my journal or Journaling Bible. This new spiritual rhythm has helped me relax and recharge, as well as memorize the verse and meditate on how to best apply it to my life. In my Bible is a bookmark with this quote: ”It is never too late to become your best self” –   George Eliot. (Maybe pick up a copy of the men’s or women’s Simple Skills book to help become your “very best self.”)

Intentional – As we chose to be PROACTIVE, we  stopped waiting for life to happen and became more active in creating the future we dreamed of.

Each Monday morning, Bill and I have a “marriage meeting” and we use our “weekly worksheet” to set goals, an action plan and pray. This “meeting of the minds” has kept us closer and unified in a season where circumstances could have pulled us apart.

Likable – We made a priority of being RELATIONAL. We deliberately practiced relationship skills we share with others to form healthy friendships, work relationships, dating/ marriage partnerships and a strong family.

Because of our priority of trying to live out the golden rule of “Treat others the same way you would like to be treated”. (Luke 6:31 NASB)  Many people have extended their prayers, support and practical help. In addition, mixed in the mountain of responsibility has been a little fun. For example, to celebrate the release of our “anniversary” expanded and updated edition of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti this year we are doing our own version of a foodie show as we visit Waffles places and Spaghetti restaurants in each city we visit—often eating with friends and having iron sharpens irons conversations over the meal. (If you have a great breakfast cafe or a wonderful pasta place in your city, email us and if we are in your area and we decide to go, we might just invite you along! Email: info@love-wise.com )

WS_RevisedCover

Lively – Maintaining HEALTHY habits of exercise and disciplined eating has given us the energy, drive, and power to live out dreams.

Bill and I workout together most days. We also look for fun active dates like a beach walk, biking, hiking, kayaking, or paddle boarding. There are MANY benefits to physical exercise: releases happy endorphins to lift the mood, keeps you heart healthy, and it even raises the libido (important for the authors of Red Hot Monogamy).

Effective – We have always enjoyed being PRODUCTIVE because it provides the tools to move dreams into reality and deliver tangible fruit for hard work.

I have enjoyed being an editor, then writer, for a new Bible study to be released with Harvest House in 2017. “Discovering Hope in the Psalms” is co-authored by our long-time friend, Jean E Jones and a favorite artist, Karla Dornacher. A powerful verse that has given us hope is Psalms 73: 26, “My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my life and my portion forever.” If you look up the definitions of key words, one could read this as: My body and inner person may perish, Elohim (the God above all gods) will be my sure STONE MOUNTAIN, my SOLID ROCK,  of my inner person and my territory (my reward and my victorious booty) through all eternity. 

Bill has enjoyed writing a series of Relationship Bible Blogs for believe.com. A favorite one that not just encouraged the audience, but Bill too is: How To Recognize God’s Blessings In Your Family History.

Decisive – When we chose to be DECISIVE, life seemed easier, emotions calmer, and efforts more efficient in living out our goals

We have used every single one of the many “decision-making” tools and tips in Simple Skills, including the Rubber-Band method (to decide to stay or go) and the Eisenhower Grid (to decide priorities and when to schedule them) .

One solid decision we have made is to keep making time for our “far flung” family. Yes, we are there for mom and dad, but our hearts are lifted as we travel to spend time with our three leader sons, their godly wives, and our 4 fun grandkids. Each time we are with them, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to us as a family—and focusing on God’s faithfulness helps us all live UNSHAKEN.

Join us on the journey as we all become more SKILLED. Praying God will help you and your family live unshaken too!

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalms 16:8)

Pam and Bill

17

04 2017

Creative Conflict Resolution

Q: What is the most creative advice you know to calm a conflict or keep an argument from escalating?

A: In our book, 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make, we tell a 10 Best Couplestory of a visit to the home of some newcomers to our church, Frank and Kendyl. After being in their beautiful, stylish home just a few minutes, I began to notice small bowls of baby sized Snickers bars all over their home. Curious, I asked Kendyl, “Why so many snickers? Does someone really like them?” snicker

Frank and Kendyl grinned at each other and with a twinkle in his eyes, Frank laughed and then explained that he and Kendyl were both first born, so early in their marriage they had many conflicts because they both always thought they were right. Sometimes anger flared, or word were spoken out of frustration that they each regretted so instead of counting to 10 to calm down, one of them decided that the time it took to chew and swallow a fun-sized “Snickers” TM was the perfect amount of time to  regain serenity and unity.

frank kendylFrank and Kendyl were married for decades — Then recently, Frank was ushered into heaven. Frank and Kendyl have been our friends, mentors, prayer warriors, advocates and partners in ministry.

When a saint dies, heaven’s great gain is this earth’s great loss- but our legacy lives on! 

And Frank and Kendyl’s legacy of love lives on. Their influence is securely planted in the lives of thousands.

Each couple who knows Jesus and has been married much time at all has some wisdom to share. We encourage couples to get involved in couple’s Bible studies, grow deeper in their own walk with God, and closer in their own marriage—then mentor other couples to help them gain God’s enrichment, encouragement and equipping to live “Love-Wise” too.

Thanksgiving with family is a terrific time to influence others. The best ways to do that is to be other centered. Look for those you can comfort, care for, have conversation with and LISTEN to. Then naturally share how God has impacted your life, or things you are thankful God has been or done for you.  Pray and ask God who in your world He wants you to influence this holiday weekend.

“…let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” (James 1:19)

23

11 2015

Q: We want to avoid marital crisis. So how can we know how we are doing as a couple?

A: Each January, the President of the United States  gives a state of the Union address pointing out things that are going well and some suggested areas of improvement—then the debate, discussion and dialogue begins. In similar manner, Bill and I meet each January to review the state of our union.

In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, we walk a couple through 8 vital areas of life that create marital intimacy, harmony and unity. Set a date this week and rate yourself 1 to 10 how you are doing in each area: (Download State of the Union: Red Hot Relationship Date Night worksheet)

  • Social – Are you enjoying friendship with each other and those in your life?
  • Financial – Are you stable now and do you have a plan you are working for your future?
  • Recreational– Do you have a plan you both are working to stay healthy and happy?
  • Vocational– Do you have a plan in place to help both of you grow and move forward in your career (education; volunteer work)?
  • Parental– Are you on the same page as parents; do you have a plan to help you children reach their God- given potential?
  • Emotional– Are you both calm, peaceful, stable, and enjoying strong mental health?
  • Spiritual– Are you both growing in your walk with God?
  • Sexual– Do you enjoy regular intimacy, closeness and sexual expression?

Together set a goal in each area and move your life and love forward. (Download State of Union worksheet)

Setting goals is Biblical:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  . . . Luke 14:28-33 ESV

 A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

BestYearGoalDownload Your Best Year Yet Goal Worksheets for Couples. (This will help you each set goals (a sheet for a husband and a wife), and it will help you talk through your life from a broad, global perspective. Change is possible! If you set one goal a month, in a year you will have moved your love and life forward! Or choose one area to focus on in the following year to laser movement in a problem area.

 

RHMBuy Red Hot Monogamy and set aside 8 weeks to move your life and love forward in all 8 areas of intimacy—and this book has 200 red hot ideas to fan the flame on your intimate life, so there can be great rewards for all your hard work you are doing as a couple! It is a built in red hot love incentive plan! (Even God gives incentives for wise choices, “Great is your reward!” (Matt 5:12) In this case, a red hot love is its own reward!

03

02 2015

Q: How do you two work together to make forward movement in life?

A: We set goals together! I (Pam) have selected a word and a verse for the year each January since I was 19. When Bill and I got married, we continued this tradition.BillAndPam-Rock

Download our Your Best Year Yet goal-setting worksheets.

Selecting a Word for the Year helps provide focus.  We each  choose an area needing the most growth, help or improvement. By focusing our energies, choosing a Word for the Year, a verse, a theme and a clarifying question, we often see powerful results.

Let us share one example. During the fall of 2010, I (Pam) began to experience some physical issues in my body. In January that year, at a Christian Wellness week sponsored by First Place 4 Health, I received some test results that shook me to the core. I had been working out daily, eating what I thought was healthier in my choices, and yet my weight kept going up. I was now slapped in the face with the reality that my health was at risk unless something changed!

I knew I wanted to live long and strong for God. I also knew one of my books was going to be re-released under the new title 10 Secrets to Living Smart, Savvy and Strong—and I felt like none of that was true of me at that moment. I was so discouraged. I instinctively picked up my Bible reading through my Logos Bible software. I scanned for verses on being STRONG! I was so discouraged and fearful so when I read this familiar passage, I dug in:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Joshua was also not feeling very strong or courageous. He too was discouraged, looking for help and hope. I felt I had found a comrade in arms! I phoned Bill and together we elected to use STRONG as our Word for the Year. We also chose Joshua 1:9 as our verse because Bill wanted to see strength increase in many areas of his life as well.

The word “strong” used here means to grow in strength – so God says it is a process! Courageous, likewise, means to make strong, bold and victorious. The word discourage is a pretty encompassing emotional word and God was saying, “don’t tremble, be in terror, be dismayed or adopt dread or fear.”

StrongBill and I arranged weights to spell out the word STRONG in one of our workouts. We combined the picture with the verse to create a motivating poster. We hung our hearts on the word STRONG. We adopted the motto, “Stay strong.”

So what are the results of meditating on the word STRONG and studying how God makes one strong? I grew in strength! I shed over 50 pounds; I went from walking to running; I moved from health risk to health strength.  Bill made new strides in his career and his health. In my book, Becoming a Brave New Woman,  I make it a goal to give women a bigger, stronger, view of God. I quote A. W. Tozer who says, “What we believe about God is the most important thing about us.”

In what area of life do you need God to make you strong?

Here are some tools to help:

Your Best Year Yet Worksheets (for couples) (for women)

Robert Herjavec, entrepreneur and star of ABC’s show Shark Tank says “a goal without a date is just a dream.” In Woman of Influence, I quote Emilie Barnes, “Goals are just dreams with deadlines.” Move your dream into reality with a goal plan and follow up. For long range success, we suggest one of our 10 Best Decisions books: for couples, for men, for women, for singles, for parents, for leaders, and for grads. Select one of these and spend 10 weeks creating a strong foundation for your year– or more importantly, for your LIFE! Once your goals are written, schedule in time you will need to accomplish those goals. Review Your Word for The Year and Your Best Year Yet goals sheets regularly to check on progress.

For more ideas on how to select and dwell in a word for the year, check out the book, My One Word by Pastor Mike Ashcroft & Rachel Olsen.

Find a word that reflects the desire of your heart for forward movement. Make it your one word prayer for the year. Find a verse that reflects the heart of this word. Then dig in to as many verses as you can find in which that word appears and watch—God will empower you to cross the finish line as a victor too!

Here are our words for 2015:

Pam: BEAUTIFUL

Pam SunsetMy prayer is that I will see God’s beauty and that my own life would better reflect the beauty of living by God’s design and plan.  I want to enjoy the beauty of some of the fruit of living by God’s beautiful plan-  our 35 happy years of marriage and our family with all our kids who love and serve Jesus, our grandkids and adding a new beautiful daughter-in law later in the year.

Bill: SIMPLE

Bill SunsetSince I wrote 7 SIMPLE SKILLS FOR MEN last year, this year I want to take diligent yet SIMPLE steps to see progress in some important (but not always enjoyable) areas of our life.  I want to enjoy the SIMPLE delights along the path God sends me/us.

So what is the word you need to hang your heart on this year?  Post it on our Bill and Pam Farrel facebook page and we

07

01 2015

Question: Do men and women learn differently. Seems like I(wife) like to read books but my husband would rather listen to an audio book or watch a video. Or sometimes I am sharing a story and ask, “Remember, honey?” and he looks at me with a blank stare. Is this just us or do men and women learn and retain information differently?

Answer: “One of the reasons men and women approach the work place differently is that they learn differently. We think remarkably similar and are able to learn the same information, but we process it differently. ‘Men, for example, tend to think more in terms of principles, while women think more in terms of relationships. Men generally learn on a less personal level, while women tie thoughts to emotions.’ This is why ‘On achievement tests, men score higher on math and spatial concepts, while women outscore men in areas of language.’
“As a pastor, I see this in operation all the time. Men are consistently talking about the principles of the Bible and how to apply them to our lives. Women are more concerned about the well being of the members of their families and the spiritual motivation of the ones they love . . .
“The fact that women tie knowledge to their emotions is also why women usually have better memories than men. Women attach the events of their lives to their emotions which makes the memory stronger. When it is time to recover the memory, it is easier to remember because it was more intense for her than for him. Men go through life one activity at a time and usually do not attach it to a vivid emotion. As a result, the memory of the activity is rather bland. In my relationship with Pam, this is a pretty consistent frustration. She often says to me, ‘Don’t you remember?’ The problem is, I don’t. She has such vivid memories of times we have spent together that at times I wonder if I was really there.” (excerpted from Chapter 7 of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti)

06

03 2013

What if we have no money for romance?

red hot book and matchesRomance is not about how lavish the gift is or how expensive the date ends up being. True romance is taking the time to speak to the heart of the one you love! In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, we have over 200 red hot ideas, and many of them don’t cost a thing—or very little. Here are some recession romance ideas for love on a shoestring budget:

1. Have a candlelit picnic in an unusual location, like your rooftop, a park bench, or overlooking the ocean.
2. Go on a photo date where you snap pictures of each other all over the city. If finances permit it, take them to a one-hour developing location. You may want to frame your favorite and give it to your spouse with a note. The others can be sent as postcards, facebook/ instagram posts or emails to each other all through the year.
3. Walk or bicycle to an inexpensive ice cream shop or a fancy coffeehouse.
4. Drive in the mountains, arriving in time for a sunset or moonlit stroll.
5. Go to a park, push one another in the swings, and talk. Take turns listing A to Z the reasons you love your mate.
6. Walk the mall. The goal is not to buy, but to test perfume and cologne along the way.
7. Pull out the kids’ toys, Fly a kite or have a squirt gun fight.
8. Write clues on dime-store Valentines and place them around town, then take your love on a car rally or treasure hunt. The date consists of gathering clues and small romantic treasures like poems, chocolates, and other small treats.
9. Go to the library and check out a poetry book, find a romantic spot, like at the beach at sunset, or by the fireplace, and take turns reading them out loud to one another.
10. Write a song or a poem and perform it for the one you love. Even an original version of “Roses are Red…” can be a trea­sure when it’s from the heart.
11. Reenact a portion of a timeless romantic drama. Shake-speare’s Romeo and Juliet is a great place to begin.
12. Celebrate your married romance. Spend the day in bed. Pre­pare ahead and have breakfast in bed. Bring piles of maga­zines and play soft music. Rest in your love.
13. Reminisce over old photo albums or your wedding album. Set the mood by relaxing together and talking by firelight or candlelight. Another option is to have your children play waiter and waitress and serve a romantic dinner, then tell them the story of how you fell in love. After they are in bed, choose one other idea on this list to enjoy.
14. Go to a local Christian bookstore and buy a book on mar­riage and read it together. Red Hot Monogamy is a 8 week guide to fan the flame on your love. Men are Like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti has 10 weeks of date nights (and you can download videos to watch at www.Lifeway.com10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make has 10 weeks of dinner and dialogue questions.
15. Have a living room luau. Often local music stores have island music at rock bottom prices. Put on your bathing suit, toss down some beach towels and enjoy island cuisine.
16. Borrow plants from all your friends and neighbors and turn your patio into a private garden retreat and enjoy a quiet dinner. Bake something extravagant together. Bonus points for cooking the dinner and doing the clean up together.
17. Rent an old-fashioned romantic movie. The movies made in the ’30s through the ’50s are a good place to start.
18. Work out together. Go for a jog, do aerobics to a video, or visit a gym. Enjoy sitting in the Jacuzzi to recover.
19. Play a board game together. Classics like Scrabble or the Ungame are good conversation starters. Share hopes, dreams and goals as you play.
20. Put on your special song and waltz around the living room.
21.Go on a walk and find a quiet romantic place to dance under the moonlit or in the sunset.
22. Play 20 questions. Each of you think of ten questions you’d love to know the answer to. Try questions like, “If you intro­duced me to a stranger today, what one thing would you say I do that you really appreciate about me?” or “If money was not a factor, where would you like to go on a romantic get­away?”
23. Anticipate the future. All marriages go through seasons. Consider buying a book to help prepare for the next season of love. (A Couple’s Journey with God is a devotional that shares in 5 minutes inspirations the ups and downs of the seasons of our love. It might encourage yours!)
24. Watch a movie about a place you’d love to travel together. Create a theme date by eating food from that location, scan the internet together and plan where you might go away together in the future.
25. Renew your vows (or write personal vows, if you didn’t do that in your original ceremony). This can be a private affair or you can invite the children or friends and celebrate.

Remember, it’s not the expense of the gift but the thought that counts!

For more ongoing romantic ideas—many of them FREE—Please “like” the Bill and Pam Facebook page or sign up for the monthly newsletter at www.Love-Wise.com

14

02 2013

Some couples seem strong enough in their marriage to be asked for advice, mentor other couples or teach marriage classes. How can we create a strong marriage?

You are to be commended in your desire to have a strong marriage. Our son, Zach, is a Strength and Conditioning Performance Coach at a Div. 1 University. He and his new bride, Caleigh, as an engagement photo, chose the word STRENGTH to represent their goal for the future. Their wise choice impressed us because we know it is God’s goal for each of us to be emotionally, physically, relationally, and spiritually STRONG. Look at how clearly God states this desire in Psalm 27:14, ” . . .be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” We have been asking ourselves the question, “How can we partner with God to gain a strong life?” Here is what we discovered:
• “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7) – Diligently Obey God’s Word
• “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Rom:1:11-12) – Use your gifts to encourage others and let others encourage you.
• “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Cor 16:13-14) -Be vigilant to stand firm in your core beliefs and do it in love.
• “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Eph 6:10-11) – Wear God’s armor (which is the WORD)
• “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say.” (2 Tim 2:1-2) – Obey the Word you have heard.
• “I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you.” (1 John 2:14) – Let God’s Word live in you.

Getting stronger is not a mystery. The more you practice the better you get. The more “reps” an athlete performs, the stronger and more skilled he becomes. In the same way, the more “reps” you perform in the spiritual disciplines, communication skills, decision-making and intimate interaction, the more skilled you will become in the areas that matter most to you.
Make it your goal to do some spiritual circuit training: pray, read your Bible, memorize scripture, praise God for His goodness, and share the good news with others. Your marriage will be stronger, your children will be stronger and the influence you leave for those around you in your workplace, church and community will be stronger too. Pump some iron for Jesus!

02

02 2012

What is Goal of Marriage (#3)

Your marriage is designed to impact people today and for generations to come. I am amazed at how Pam and I still talk about her grandparents 60 year marriage a decade after they have both passed away. They were certainly not perfect and they would be considered obscure by most of the world’s population but their influence lives on in us. Their committed love for each other has inspired the rest of the family to remain faithful. Their farm grown work ethic has created a willingness to be industrious in their kids, grandkids and great grandkids. Their hours of storytelling around the kitchen table has given rise to a family who works diligently at communicating with one another.

In the same way, the people in your life are watching your relationship. Most of you who get married will have children, which creates a built-in audience for your ideas. Since your kids are emotionally attached to you during their most formative years, you have a natural and powerful impact on them. Since your kids are part of a different generation, they force you to translate your ideas so they can be integrated in their ever changing lives. Since your children eventually develop their own circle of influence, they extend your influence. The end result is that people you will never meet will have their lives improved by your example.

They is why we love the phrase, “May God do through you what is beyond you.” Your love is bigger than you. It reaches down the halls of history and makes a difference for decades to come. Marriage works best when the potential of our legacy becomes as important to us as our personal happiness.

23

01 2011

What is the Goal of Marriage (#1)

You fell in love, you said, “I do,” and you anticipated your relationship would be somewhere between easy and magical. Now life is a strange mixture of good moments and intense disappointments. You have probably asked, “Why has it turned out like this? Why are some days so good and other days so hard? Did we really know what we were doing? Are we missing something?” These are all mirrors of the question, “What is the goal of marriage?”
While marriage is designed to bring times of happiness, it is not the primary purpose. Marriage is designed to make sure you reach your potential in influencing others. Influence is made up of three elements: character, communication and continuation. Character is vital because you can’t pass on to others what is not real in your life. The intimacy of marriage helps you be more patient, more selfless, more determined, more cooperative and more skilled in managing your life. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) None of us got married with this in mind but it is one of the most valuable outcomes of intimacy. I (Bill) do not see myself as stubborn and I could ignore it if I was single. But, as I interact with Pam it becomes painfully obvious that I only like to do what I am comfortable doing. When I have to stretch myself and pursue one of Pam’s ideas, I realize that I still have plenty of room to grow in being less stubborn.
Check in next week for goal #2.

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11 2010