Q: Looking back, what was a creative way you used to pass along your core values and beliefs to your kids?

A: In 10 Questions Your Kids  Ask About Sex, we share one of the ways we  have set out to earn the respect (and ear) of our kids. It is by placing our TradeMark™ on their hearts and livTMes with:

Traditions- things you do year after year to reinforce core principles.

Memories – once-in-a-lifetime events that mark a moment or drive home a point.

Mom and Dad—you do make a difference! It is never too late to start a yearly tradition. What child doesn’t like a party or a present? When you connect a principle to be taught with a positive experience, it will become imprinted on your child’s or teen’s heart and mind. It can become a touchstone they come back to in the middle of decision making later in life.

Traditions: We will just mention two:

  • Learner and Leader Day- the week before school begins we have a fun family day, then negotiate a privileges and responsibilities contract. (The chart, list of things kids can do at different ages, and how we reward our kids for being Learners and Leaders is all found in 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make). The plus side of having a yearly tradition like this is our kids thought it “normal” to make contracts, set goals, negotiate new privileges—and eventually the privilege of dating became one of them!
  • Christmas Blessing– Each year at our Christmas dinner we say a blessing over our kids-each one—as individuals. We compliment them, share a verse or quote that they embody, then we pray for them. Often the character qualities that eventually become vital in the area of relationships were some of the earliest we complimented: honesty, delayed gratification (patience), kindness, etc.

Jesus used traditions such as taking the disciples to the temple regularly. When he later called himself “the Lamb of God” they understood he would be sacrificed.

Memories: These are once in a lifetime ideas which are often connected to a rite of passage. Here are a few ideas: (for a full list see 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make or 10  Questions Kids Ask About Sex) .  Often these Rites of Passage are gender specific:

  • Modern Day Knight celebration is when you as a parent prepare a son to become an “adult.” This marker of growth is often accompanied by a party with friends and family. Since we had all sons, our celebration was a “Walk into Manhood”. One son, a quarterback, invited mentors to the football field for a walk up and down the field then BBQ; another, who loved his truck, had a “Drive into Manhood” at a race track and mentors walked the race track and poured wisdom into his heart. The last was an “On Target for Manhood” held at a shooting range accompanied by dinner.
  • Modern Day Princess party: In Pam’s book, Raising a Modern Day Princess, founder, Doreen Hanna and Pam share numerous ideas to mark a teen girls’ transition into being a grown up. The process may include a simple tea with her mentors or a Sweet 16 celebration but with a Biblical, meaningful twist. Often girls enjoy these parties together. As a group they can go through the Becoming a Modern Day Princess girls journal, and all the parents can pitch in to celebrate, bless and pray for their daughters.

Another resource we recommend to you that we developed as youth pastors, and then also used with our own kids is the Teen Relationship Contract. At age 11 or 12, each of our tweens completed their first contract (a Bible study and Q and A workbook they fill in), and they were rewarded with a dinner out with mom and dad. (This dinner often included more dialogue and discussions on love, sex and relationships). Each year we would then take each son out solo for a meal and they/we could add more privileges to the contract, ask questions, make adjustments, raise accountability, etc—whatever they needed to be more successful in the guy-guy relationship area.

Jesus set the example of a memory when he took some of the disciples to the mount of transfiguration and revealed his glory! The memory stuck with them years later as they traveled preaching Christ’s resurrection.

Try to leave a TM on your child this year—it is so worth it!


09 2014

Red Hot Romance

fire hat red hot 60Every memorable adventure has three things: the anticipation of going, the experience itself, and the lingering memories. Let’s look at how to make Valentine’s Day a journey to red hot love. Inspired by the effort we saw in King Solomon and his bride from Song of Songs in the Bible, here are few ideas from our book, Red Hot Monogamy, which might inspire you too.

Before: The Invitation

Make the invitation as memorable as the date itself by trying one of these ideas:

  • If you hear “your song” on the radio, simply call his/her cell and hold your phone up to the speaker and let the song do the romancing.
  • Create a photo postcard of the two of you and on the backside, write a thank you for an past special date and an invitation out to the Valentine activity.
  • Make a public statement of your love. Rent a billboard, hang a sheet or banner over the freeway overpass, make a banner for the garage door, write in chalk on the driveway, paint it on a wall that you are going to be repainting anyway.
  • Use inexpensive dime store Valentines to create a trail of clues that lead to a romantic destination. You can also make this into a car rally by taping the Valentines around town, around the mall or leave taped to your friend’s front doors.
  • In 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband, I tell a story of a wife who was very creative in her invitation:

“When I was employed as a producer for a local TV station, I used to get all kinds of perks. On one occasion, a new hotel-casino was opening up, and I was given a free room for the festivities. I decided to make a romantic date night out of it. I booked the room without telling my husband. Then, on the day of the reservation, I packed our suitcases full of goodies and put them in the car. When he came home from work, I presented him with a handmade card that read, “You are cordially invited to attend a surprise getaway with your wife at the so-and-so casino resort. Even if you don’t gamble a penny, you are guaranteed to get lucky! Your ride leaves in 10 minutes. Just bring your smile.” Let me tell you, it was a great evening, even if we never did make it to the official festivities at the hotel!”

During: The Date

valentines special rhmValentine’s Day doesn’t have to be expensive. On our favorite Valentine’s date, we each had a five-dollar budget, and we divided up the letters of Valentine (Bill got V, I got A, and so on). I (Pam) started my part of the date with A is for Acting, and we read a portion of Romeo and Juliet on a park stage! Here are a few ideas on activities to try on your date that are different than the usual dinner and movie:

  • Recreate your first date. If you can still fit into it, wear the same clothes, if not, at least go to the same places.
  • Check a book out of the library or buy a book of love poems. Sit in front of the fire place in each other’s arms and take turns reading poems to each other.
  • Use a magazine cover like Time’s Person of the Year and scan in your spouse’s picture. Or use Glamour or GQ or other magazine with catchy headlines but replace the model with a picture of your mate. Then give him/her a “red carpet” five star date of his or her dreams.
  • “Kidnap” your spouse from work or other and blind fold them and take him/her to a romantic rendezvous. (You might clear this with the boss or show up at the end of the work day—just don’t get your spouse fired—that would definitely ruin the mood).
  • Have dinner someplace different in your home: in front of the fire place, on the rooftop, on the patio or balcony out back, in the attic, under the tree in the back yard, etc.
  • Look at your wedding album and talk about what first attracted you to your mate.
  • How do I love thee, let me count the ways: Write on a set of index cards all the reasons you love your spouse; make a paper chain of her or his best qualities; Bring one a flower for each positive trait you want to recount and bring them in one at a time to her as your verbally list off what makes your heart sing.
  • Opposites attract: For one day, flip roles. If he usually drives, then let her. If she usually cooks, the let him. If he’s usually on top, have her do the honors.
  • Learn to do something your mate loves (the riles of football; how to golf; fly fishing; how to find a great antique or quilt, etc.)

For more free nearly free ideas adapted from our book Red Hot Monogamy, check out the free article “Recession Romance”

After: Making the Memory Last

Send a thank you card, email, text then go the extra mile to add a new romantic habit to your routine:

  • Create a mail box for love notes: place it in your bathroom, on the kitchen table, etc and exchange love mail.
  • A traditional mailbox I nice because it has a red flag you can put up to signal “You’ve
    go mail!”
  • Leave love notes between pages of a book or magazine your mate is reading.
  • Place romantic cards through the house, or use the house for some play on words. The day after
  • Valentine’s my spouse woke up to signs that read things like, “You are my CUP of tea”; “I love to STAIR at you!” “You’ve opened the DOOR to my heart.” Or use everyday items to send a unique set of messages, The title of a candy bar with a note that says, “You are a “Big Hunk” of Burning Love, or I am “Red Hot: for your love.

Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers and best-selling authors of Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, Red Hot Monogamy and 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband and newest: Red Hot Romance Tips for Women  (www.Love-Wise.com)


02 2014

How do we create a SAFEty net for our children?

Raising kids today can be intensely challenging because we live in an overexposed world when it comes to sex, which leads to an increased likelihood of encountering deviant behavior. We can create a S.A.F.E. place for our kids to grow up in by making it our goal to provide:

Skills to Speak Up
Adults Involved
Friendship Circle
Environment of Safety (Home and Neighborhood)

(Read more about this in 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex.)

Skills to Speak Up
Children who are confident, assertive and respectful tend to attract people who are healthy while repelling those with evil intent. You do your kids a big favor when you instruct them that being fully involved in life and establishing firm boundaries go hand in hand. Teach your child that most people are friendly, helpful and have their best at heart. At the same time, have them practice safeguarding themselves from anyone who crosses appropriate lines. Teach them that their body is private. They own their body and all rights to it. Teach your child as early as possible to close the door, or go into a private room or bathroom to change his or her clothes. In addition, give your child the power to speak up and say it is never okay to be violated:
It is never okay for anyone to touch your private parts (except a parent or doctor to protect your health).

  • It is never okay for anyone to ask you to touch their private parts.
  • It is never okay for anyone to ask to see you naked or ask you to see them naked.
  • It is never okay for anyone to ask you to be sexual with someone else while they watch.
  • Teach your child to “Say No- Then Go!” and walk away from anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.

Reinforce that “No means no!” Compliment your child when they give an opinion, speak up, respectfully correct others, or show leadership. Confident, courageous, assertive kids are less likely to be targeted.

Adult Involvement
Kids are wired to learn from adults. As parents, make it a point to know your children’s teachers, coaches, music instructors, drama directors, etc. As they grow, seek out other adults who will tell your kids the same things you have been telling them. These patterns will surround your kids with responsible, compassionate adults who will help guide and protect them.
It will also make it easier for you to spot any adults who are showing uninvited and unwarranted attention toward your child. Don’t allow yourself to get complacent. Keep asking, “Do any adults or older teens show touchy-feely behaviors toward your child that make you or your child uneasy?” If so, trust your instincts and remove your child from the situation while you gather more information. Encourage your children to freely talk to you anytime someone makes him or her feel uncomfortable. It is also wise to ask, “Have the adults in your church, school or community been properly vetted to insure they are trusted role models with reliable backgrounds?”

Friendship Circle
Deliberately meet the parents of your children’s friends and help each of your kids make friends with other children from healthy families. This will train your child to network with people throughout life who will promote growth and worthwhile interactions. It will also allow your child to borrow your discernment in his or her choice of friends.
Your active involvement will make you aware of parents going through a family trauma (divorce, domestic violence, etc) and families who are battling addictions to drugs, alcohol or other behaviors that could negatively impact your child. Being proactive equips you to set a strategy of protection rather than having to react after the fact.
If you choose to allow your child to play with someone from a troubled home for the sake of compassion, be bold in setting up strong boundaries. Insist on supervised settings, like a church classroom or school rather than in a home, unless it is your home and the interactions are being supervised by your watchful eyes. It is just better to be safe than sorry.

Environment of Safety
Kids are adventurous, creative and generally naïve. As a result, they need areas to play in that are protected by separations or supervisors. Your yard may have a fence that makes it difficult for others to gain access. Or, the parents of your neighborhood may have a pact with one another to keep a close eye on each other’s children as they play. In these circumstances, you can afford to relax some and give your kids more freedom.
In the absence of these natural safeguards, it is wise consistently check out your child’s play spaces with strategic questions.

  • Is there intentional supervision over any spaces in close proximity to high traffic areas? Are you aware of any registered sex offenders in your neighborhood?
  • If your child attends a church, community or school sponsored class are there at least two adults in the room, and are there windows in rooms and doors to raise accountability of how the adults behave with children?
  • If a child goes to other’s homes, are you aware of the home environment, rules and backgrounds of the adults and older siblings that live there? Do those parents give sufficient oversight to their activities and nap times?
  • Do you know and agree with the songs, TV shows, movies or internet use of the homes that your child visits? Early sexual exposure can lower natural resistance toward sexual exploration or sexual games predators sometimes use.

We want our kids to have fun, grow strong and be fascinated with life. To make sure it stays that way, err on the side of your child’s safety.

Pam and Bill Farrel are authors of more than 35 books including best selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti , 10 Best Decisions a Parent Can Make and their newest for parents: 10 Questions Kids Ask About Sex. All available at www.Love-Wise.com


09 2013

Q: Mom, have you ever felt your life is too busy?

A: In 10 Best Decisions a Woman Can Make, I include a humorous list of clues that your life might be moving too fast:
• Your “To Do” list includes eating and bathroom breaks but those never seem to get crossed off!
• You think “half day” is quitting work at 5 pm.
• Clearing the dining room table means tossing all the fast food bags out of the back seat of the car
• You think it is more strategic to just buy clean underwear and socks than to hunt down any in your kid’s messy room to wash!
Every mom deeply loves her family. As a result, it is common or a mom’s life to get busier and busier with each passing year. The delicate balancing act of every mom’s life is to find a way to reflect her true inner priorities as her schedule gets more demanding with responsibilities for those she loves. One of the skills that helps me find my way back to my priorities on a regular basis is to Follow the Flags.
Go on Green: There are times when opportunities are obvious and everyone is doing well. I love these times and they are pretty easy to identify because my husband is happy, my kids are content, housework is efficient because everyone is pitching in and no one is criticizing me. It was during these times of my life that I was able to finish my degree, begin writing books and build a ministry to help women become who God create them to be.
Yield on Yellow: Sometimes when you approach an intersection you encounter a yellow light. Some people think these mean speed up before it turns red! In reality, they are caution lights encouraging us to slow down, proceed with caution and stay alert to what is happening around you. God has built these into our family as well. When I began writing from home, I asked God to show me yellow warning signs in each one of my family members that I could pick up on when they were carrying stress that wasn’t theirs (if I was “too busy”). After I prayed, I noticed Brock would became more distant emotionally, Zach would become grumpy and sloppy, Caleb grew tired and whiney, and my husband, Bill, would become quiet and independent. I had to train myself to back off my schedule when I saw these reactions so that I didn’t sacrifice my important relationships for my important pursuits.
Rest on Red: There are times in the life of every family where everyone just needs to stop and spend time with one another. The work needs to stop. The pursuits need to be put on hold. The chores need to be set aside so that memories can be built. When your kids and husband are upset, whiny and uncooperative no matter what you try, it is time to simply stop and enjoy the fact that you are a family. At those times, I would pray:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way (Ps 139:23-24)
After praying, I looked for opportunities to delegate tasks, postpone activities, delay a career move, resign a role, call a family meeting to reshuffle our responsibilities or sometimes just stop to play. Now that my kids are grown, some with families of their own, I am reminded how quickly motherhood moments pass. But the choices remain the same. Just recently I said, “No,” to a pile of dishes, the tasks on my computer, and the demands of my ministry because my granddaughter walked in with a storybook in hand and asked, “Will you read me, Nana?” I could tell in the inflection of her voice that she was supposed to be my highest priority at the moment. You’ll need to excuse me as I put the brakes on to make first things first. I am pushing pause because I have some pages to turn for a preschooler !


05 2013

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)


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


02 2013

On Your Journey with God, as a couple, what has helped you most?

Among the Christmas songs we grew up hearing was “Mele Kalikimaka” the Hawaiian way to say Merry Christmas. In our newest book, A Couple’s Journey with God devotional, we share how the Hawaiian language includes the term, “kuleana,” which means your “path,” or your “posse.” These are the people you are responsible to and responsible for. It is your accountability system which we like to call your successnet. If you can picture walking the tightrope of life, these are the people who are carrying the net under you in case you fall. They include family who really know you, friends who walk beside you, children, grandchildren, and anyone who looks up to you. Also included are mentors or leaders who have poured into you. And it definitely includes your spouse.
These kinds of accountable relationships are vital from God’s point of view: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3). A smart couple will have a large kuleana with whom they can be real, honest and authentic. The Bible doesn’t use the exact word “accountability,” but there are terms that give the strong idea that God thinks accountability is vital. Fellowship or Koinonia: means an association based upon a common bond, with willing participation and sharing. True fellowship involves authenticity, which can involve two key words:
Exhortation which means, “called alongside to bring out the best in another.”
Admonish, which mean, “to put in the mind” and carries the idea of challenging others to think correctly.
God designed each of us to walk alongside a group or fellowship of people who help us think and live better and give us the opportunity to do the same for them.
We are often asked, “What is the strength of your relationship?” The simple answer is we are kuleana to each other first. We hug each other when we first see one another in the morning. We pray with each other every night before we go to bed. We greet one another when either of us returns home. We say a prayer of thanksgiving over every meal and kiss one another before we begin eating. These simple routines create a safe environment for when we need to have difficult conversations about personal struggles, financial challenges or tough decisions.
When we were single, our entire kuleana or koinonia friendship circle would greet each other with, “Hi! How are you? What’s God been teaching you?” Just asking that question was true kuleana because it meant we were responsible for learning something from God daily so we’d have an answer to the question! Bill and I continue this habit in our own private spiritual lives today.
This holiday, before you give a tie or a coffee grinder to your friends or family, think, What Christian book, audio, or video might help them grow with God? We think A Couple’s Journey with God is a great one to start kuleana fellowship since we are responsible to put the right thoughts in each other’s minds as we walk alongside them. Take this wonderful opportunity to give a gift that might just change his or her life for the better. Then look for opportunities over the Christmas season to have heart to heart talks with each person in your kuleana. Today, take a walk with your mate or best Girlfriend in God, or sit down for some “Kona” coffee and ask, “So what’s God been teaching you?” and support your kuleana.


11 2012

Q:Why is Midlife so Intense?

A: If you time it right, someplace between 40 and 55, a snowball of needs and responsibilities will force you into an intense balancing act. Your career will be in high gear; you will be plugged in as a volunteer in your community and/or church; you may be raising tweens or teens (or perhaps you had a bonus baby after 40 so now you have a toddler and hot flashes)! You might be dealing with the over 100 menopausal symptoms which include night sweats, anxiety, memory loss (what was I saying?). Oh yeah, you might be dealing with menopause or dealing with a husband in midlife crisis. He might be wondering things like, “Is this career satisfying for life’s second half? I hate feeling like an old guy, what can I do about it? Why isn’t life more exciting?” On top of all this, you might be launching a child into college, the military or a career so you are dealing with all those “What Now?” feelings of the empty nest. In addition, life at midlife is expensive: you might be paying for cars, proms, graduations, college and weddings! Fun but pricey! If you have a prodigal teen or young adult, you get to add therapy, bail money or hospital bills to your budget. Or, taking on guardianship for your grandchildren can deplete your energy, emotions, and bank account. In addition, intense financial and time pressures might be impacting your marriage in a negative way while you are dealing with the emotional trauma of caring for aging parents, or your own health scares!
Midlife is a spiritual battle also because Satan knows we will have more time, energy, wisdom, and money to do some great things for good and for God. Midlife and the years beyond are when we hit our personal PEAK! Life’s second half can have so many wonderful payoffs: sons-in-law. daughters-in-law, grandchildren, travel, a new vocation, exciting new ministry opportunities and many more blessings—if we can survive the midlife battlefield. The victory is sweet!
For example, this summer we have experienced a few of these personal joys: Traveling to Singapore to train marriage educators in the LOVE-Notes premarital curriculum , one of our sons got married, Pam was honored as AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association )member of the year by the 350 member group of professional writers and speakers, another son garnered an engineering internship, and our oldest granddaughter accepted Jesus into her heart! There is a payoff if you hang in there!


08 2012

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 2012

What can I do if I am feeling depressed and I feel it is negatively impacting my marriage?

In my (Pam’s) new book, 52 Ways to Wow Your Husband, I acknowledge depression can weigh heavy on a marriage. One husband cornered me in the lobby after church and said, “I don’t know what to do. My wife is just so sad all the time. I’ve tried everything! I am so exhausted. I’m holding her up, the housework, my job, the kids. I can’t keep going this way.”
The first step in wowing your man might be to own that you are depressed and need to take action to improve your own mental and emotional wellness.
My friend K!mberly is a missionary in Singapore. She and her husband, James, have faithfully served the people of the Pacific Rim for over twenty years (www.crmleaders.org) K!mberly is fluent in Mandarin. They have lived and worked overseas, far from their very American upbringing, for most of her adult life.
But K!mberly, as any woman might, missed home. One year, she hit a wall of depression so strong she sought medical help. During this time, with a diagnosis of a chronic low serotonin level, she decided for the sake of herself, her marriage, and her family that she needed to reclaim her happiness.
K!mberly heard my message “Choosin’ Joy” which describes my choices in the face of a mid life challenge. She chose to replace the i in her name with an exclamation mark, so each time she wrote her name she would remember God is the ! (the excitement in life). She wanted a daily reminder that there is much more to look forward to. James has benefited greatly from the !
Take a lesson from K!mberly and I– be proactive with your emotional health. See a doctor, exercise, pray this verse as a reminder that God is your !: “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” (Psalm 3:3)
Create a marker, like the exclamation point in K!mberly’s name. Choose something that will remind you that God can and will be the One who can give back your hope and joy. Make it personal, such as a letter in your name, a new signature, or your login password. Or get a ring or bracelet you see consistently. It can also be a screen saver, a ringtone, or a poster, something you see or hear daily.
Plan a cozy date in a quiet place and share the marker with your spouse. Take your lover off the hook. God sent you a partner, not a therapist and not the one responsible for making you happy. Only you and God can accomplish that. Use this date to thank your spouse for caring and free your relationship from the pressure of being your primary source of happiness.

To see how I have used “Choosin’ Joy” as my daily motto. Go here to see a short video: http://vimeo.com/16574718


11 2011