In this episode:
Pam talks about what it was like to grow up in a home with an alcoholic father, how she protected her younger siblings when her dad was at his worst, but how she also made many happy memories. She shares about how her relationship with Jesus is what ultimately brought her to the place that she is now. Mostly though, it's Pam's life repurposed story of how God took the difficulties in her life and turned them into opportunities to grow and to become a cheerleader for others. Pam is a gifted Bible teacher and writer and we talk about her latest book, Discovering Good News in John.
About Pam Farrel:
Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 55+books, and CoDirector of Love-Wise Ministries with her husband of 42 years, Bill.
These sayings captured Pam’s heart because they sum up her experience. “I am the first-born daughter of an alcoholic father with severe rage issues. I often thought our family would make the headlines but for all the wrong reasons. When I was 8 years-old, however, a family friend saw the chaos we were living in and invited us to attend church with her. There I saw what real love looked like.”
Having discovered peace and focus in her life, she is motivated to help women everywhere uncover their potential through a life of confidence and courage.
(Article contains affiliate links. This means that when you click a link and make a purchase, I might receive a small commission from that purchase.)
Quotes to Remember from Pam Farrel
- We would look for couples that maybe had their arm around each other or holding hands, still had a twinkle in their eye, a little bit of gray hair, and we will go park ourselves. And then during the greeting time, Bill would say something like, "Hey, you guys look like you're in love. How did you do it?"
- And so over lunch, we asked all kinds of questions like, "What was the hardest season? And how did you get through it? And what do you do every day to keep the atmosphere happy? In your marriage? What do what do you do to draw closer to each other and pull in the same direction?"
- When we got married, we knew three things. We loved each other, we loved God, we had not a clue on how to make a good marriage. And so we did, we went out of our way to go to good conferences, to invite mentors into our life.
- "Lord, I thought I was answering your call. But Bill's mad at me all the time. If I did something wrong, or if I'm not hearing you, you know, you correct me get me on course." And Bill's like, "I love this woman, God, but I don't like her right now. And my life's really hard. And so Lord, just lead us and guide us."
- You know, we managed to navigate a year to stay in love even when we didn't see eye to eye.
- "God, I want to be the kind of woman who can choose joy no matter what life sends your way."
- "Because your Word says in Nehemiah 8:10 that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And this family needs your strength right now. I choose you, Jesus, I choose joy."
- God sees you. God knows you. God cares about you. And God will move on your behalf.
- We have to cultivate joy. It's doesn't just like, drop in from UPS, you know, we have to do our part.
- Your problems are on one side of the brain and your creativity is on the other. So when you do creative things, it distracts you from your problems. And so, you know, do something creative, then do that joy moment.
- "Our today is not our forever. God sees. God cares. God knows. God will move on our behalf."
Free worksheet: How to Cultivate a Good News Life
Book giveaway on @michellerayburn on Instagram.
Classic Marriage: Staying in Love as Your Odometer Climbs
Is your marriage ready for the long haul? There will be moments where you haul yourselves back to the garage for work. Like a trusty old truck, a classic marriage isn't perfect, but who can put a price tag on it? In this book, you'll find inspiration, honesty, and self-deprecating humor from the front seat of adventure with Michelle and Phil. Tips to get under the hood and keep your marriage on the road to a long future. Tune Up questions in every chapter to work on your communication tools to cool overheated emotions and repair broken hearts. You can find more at ClassicMarriageBook.com and find out how to get your copy of Classic Marriage: Staying in Love as Your Odometer Climbs and the downloadable discussion questions that you can do together.
Michelle Rayburn 00:03
Today my friend Pam is on the show. And she's going to be talking about what it was like to grow up in a home with an alcoholic father, how she protected her younger siblings when her dad was at his worst, but she also shared some of the happy memories. She talks about how our relationship with Jesus is what ultimately brought her to the place that she is now. Mostly though, it's Pam's life repurposed story of how God took the difficulties in her life and turned them into opportunities to grow and to become a cheerleader for others. Pam is a gifted Bible teacher and writer and we talk about her latest book, Discovering Good News in John. I also mentioned a giveaway we're having with that. It's all packed into this interview with Pam Farrell.
Michelle Rayburn 01:07
You're listening to Life Repurposed, where you'll find practical biblical wisdom for everyday living, creative inspiration, and helpful resources. Grow your faith improve your relationships, discover your purpose, and reach your goals with topics to encourage you to find hope amid the trashy stuff of life. Thanks for joining me today. I'm your host, Michelle Rayburn.
Michelle Rayburn 01:31
Welcome, Pam, thank you so much for joining me today.
Pam Farrel 01:33
So nice to be with you. Michelle. I can't wait to be like face to face live and in person with hot coffee in our hands. Yeah.
Michelle Rayburn 01:43
Someday. We haven't even crossed paths at a conference. Oh, yes, we did. We're at a writers conference.
Pam Farrel 01:49
Michelle Rayburn 01:49
When you and Bill spoke one time. So that's the only time we've actually we've sat down for a couple minutes.
Pam Farrel 01:55
I think our hearts are still kindred in helping people with their marriages and families and personal lives and plus we—
Michelle Rayburn 02:04
And raising boys.
Pam Farrel 02:05
Michelle Rayburn 02:08
Yours are all grown and married. Right?
Pam Farrel 02:10
They are. So we are. We have three daughters-in-laws now. And we have five grandkids that are here. And two more coming in January. Yeah. And our oldest just started high school.
Michelle Rayburn 02:28
I can't believe it. My goodness. Oldest grandchild is in high school. Wow. Yeah.
Yeah. We got married young and our son got married young. So that means our granddaughter is entering high school, and I'm still feeling young. Does that count?
Michelle Rayburn 02:41
I know. Isn't that crazy? I still feel really young too.
Pam Farrel 02:45
And you look really young too. So hey, I'll tell you that forever.
Michelle Rayburn 02:49
Okay, good. Great. You can tell me I look 30 forever. That would be great. I want to know if you have any hobbies that you've had since you were a child, have you had any that you've kept?
Wow, ones that I've kept?
Michelle Rayburn 03:02
One could be like dancing. Okay, but it's changed. You know, it used to be like tap ballet Hawaiian, batton twirling. Right. But now we live on a liveaboard boat. And there's a concert that happens Saturdays in the park. That's close enough that we can hear the band from the bow of our boat. So Bill and I just like dance romantically on the bow of our boat. Oh, yeah. It's so funny people like they didn't know our names when we first moved to the marina. So they called us the dancing couple. I'm like, that's all right.
Michelle Rayburn 03:40
That is so fun. Yeah, for the listener who doesn't know, you don't have a traditional home.
Pam Farrel 03:46
Right. We downsized. And we because Bill's parents. We'll get more into that because your show does cover like big transition challenges, right. But we did downsize. We had a large home and it was kind of like a ministry compound. It was the offices downstairs and nice home upstairs, like big old building for shipping and receiving, and a studio. And we gave all that up because Bill's parents then were 88, and they needed full time care. Yeah, so we downsized and we gave it all away. And mostly to young couples and people in ministry and military families. It was kind of fun. Every day we'd be like, Lord, show me who this table is supposed to go to. This was an adventure. And we moved on to a liveaboard boat and how that happened. My husband and he came to me he's like, Pam, I really think we do need to move closer to my parents. And what do you feel about living on a liveaboard boat and I'm like three fourths mermaid—that would be the other hobby. I kept you know, since childhood, swim swim swim added to that kayaking and paddleboarding. So I didn't even hesitate. I'm like hashtag crazy fun midlife adventure. Yeah, I love it. I totally love it. But right before we went on, I had to come inside because the sea lions were too loud and a scuba diver yelled in my portal. That's not a normal thing for your guests to have happen.
Michelle Rayburn 05:27
No not a thing that has happened on the podcast before. Well, that is really an interesting story because there's downsizing and then there's downszing. I don't know if I could downsize enough to live on a boat. I'm not sure.
The ocean is calling you.
Michelle Rayburn 05:43
Yeah, it is beautiful. But you know, Phil would not be real motivated to move to the ocean. I know. It sounds like I'm saying Bill, but our husbands name's rhyme, Phil and Bill. So yeah, I don't think I could move to the ocean and get him to do it. But if it were mountain cabin, he would downsize for
Pam Farrel 05:59
There we go. That's my brother. My brother's like real life cowboy John Wayne. He owns a cattle ranch in the mountains.
Michelle Rayburn 06:08
I love that you guys have found something that really fits both of your personalities. And what a beautiful testimony to the ministry that you have as well that you can live together on a boat.
Pam Farrel 06:20
It's true, and it gets better the story gets better, you'll see. But it does it takes—I told Bill when we moved on to the boat, "If we can make our love-wise marriage principles work here. We can make them work anywhere."
Michelle Rayburn 06:34
That's right. Yeah. So let's rewind a little bit and go back to your childhood. I know we're alluding forward to where you are now. But I'd like to know a little bit about what your family was like growing up.
Pam Farrel 06:46
So I'm, I'm the firstborn daughter of an alcoholic dad. And I always thought that our family would make the headlines, but not for a good reason. More like man shoots family than shoots himself. A lot of domestic violence in the home that I grew up in. But my my mom's best friend, Kathy, was the secretary of a little teeny tiny church in a little teeny tiny town that we lived in. And she saw the chaos that we were living in. And she's like, Hey, Afton, why don't you and the kids come to church. And my mom was, like, doing all she could did try to hold our life together to hold our family together to try to make things quote normal. When when the normal for her was, you know, putting me as a baby on her hip and going down to the bar to drag my dad out. So she's like, Yeah, and you know, the cool thing about that is, I had a lot of happiness in my childhood too, because my mom was a very creative mom. And we went, you know, to the pool every day swimming and Cracker Jacks afterwards, to the public library. So I fell in love with books. So it wasn't all bad. But when my dad was drinking, he was volatile, and you just never knew who you were going to get Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. And so we showed up at church and I was like seven. And my sweet mom didn't know a lot about church other than she thought she should get everybody all dressed up. So I evan had white gloves and lots of Petticoats and patent leather shoes on when she hauled me into church that day. And I just remember the people were so loving, so kind, and my little girl heart is like, "Oh, this is what love looks like, hmm. I want to know the author of love. I want to know this Jesus that they keep talking about." And so a big spiritual, you know, aha moment renewal, open door happened, especially when—Okay, so I'm firstborn so that means I'm the one in the family that likes to try to you know, I'm a little bit type A driver,
Michelle Rayburn 09:05
I'm the firstborn to sorry, I hear you. Right?
Pam Farrel 09:09
We're like magnets to each other like, because we carry the world on our shoulders and want to do everything right and best and you know, all that. So I'm the pastor came in, and he said to our little Sunday school class, "If you memorize a verse, you can have a prize out of this treasure chest." And so I'm like, "Hey, I can I memorize this verse." The first one was Psalms 23. And I pulled out a little cross and it glowed in the dark, and I'm like, Ooh, cool. And so I put it up on my bulletin board. And then the pastor said, "If you memorize Matthew five, six and seven, you could have a place on Quiz team." Now in a teeny tiny town, Quiz team is like American Idol. I mean, you wanted to make Quiz team.
Michelle Rayburn 10:02
I'm gonna pop in here for a second. Let me just tell you what Bible Quizzing is. This was a, I think it's still around. But when I was a teenager, churches would put together Bible Quiz teams, and they would learn scriptures. So kind of like Bible trivia almost a little bit, but not, not trivial things. And then they would go to tournaments, essentially, and compete with other teams to see kind of like high school quizbowl and math whiz and mathletes. And all those things that are out there, there was a Bible version of that for Christian teenagers. So that's what that was. So I'm going to hop back into the interview now.
Pam Farrel 10:44
And so I was sitting on my bed one day memorizing Matthew five, six and seven, which is Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. And my dad had been drinking so he was out of control. And my sweet mom was trying to talk him down. My siblings were playing in my brother's room next door, and my dad got so volatile, I was afraid for my brother and sister, so I ran to get them. I pulled him into my room. I slammed the door, I pushed the chest of drawers, a five drawer chest drawers, in front of the door. So dad couldn't get in and hurt us. I took my brother and my sister in bed, and I shut off the light and climbed in with them. And there glowing in the dark was that little cross and on it it read "Jesus lives." And I remember praying, "Jesus, the pastor says you're stronger than anything. You're more mighty than anything. You're more loving. And I would like for you to come into my life. Could you be my best friend? Could you be my you know, my Savior, my lord?" All those churchy words. Basically, "God can you know, Jesus, take the wheel, you know, carry it into it." And that's what I prayed. And PS, God, if you could work it out, I'd love to marry a pastor one day. Yeah, you know the story. So fast forward to December 1979. Who do I marry? Yeah, Bill Farrel, who's headed to seminary to be a pastor, so God answered all of those cries of that little girl's heart.
Michelle Rayburn 12:18
After that time, then when you gave your life to Jesus as such a little girl? How did he show up in places after that? Like, how did he draw you to him?
Pam Farrel 12:29
You know, I think that the biggest thing that was a gift to me was shortly after that, my friend Kelly, she was the same age as me, and we happened to get baptized on the same day. And my parents gave me this little white Bible. And my friend Kelly said, "Are you having your quiet times?" And I'm like, what? What's that? She's like, "You know, that new Bible that you got? Um, yeah, if you open it up, that's God's way of talking to you. And when you pray, that's our way of talking to God. And you should do that every day. You can do it in the morning, that's when my mama does it. Or you can do it at night. That's when I like to do it before I go to sleep." And so I did. Here's a little eight-year-old discipling and mentoring a little about their eight-year-old and it worked. And I tell you, no matter what I was going through in life, that little red-letter Bible, I started with the red letters, those things that Jesus said, that little red-letter Bible, just what helped me navigate the ups and downs of our life. And, you know, I did have the benefit of living in the country. I lived on a farm, right down the road from my grandparents. Now, my grandparents were not believers until very late in their life. But I would take that little Bible and I would like it, let's say my dad was like, out of control drinking and I would just pick up my Bible and my favorite books and put them in like a little backpack. And I would walk up to my grandparents farm and go sit on a rock or the top of the sheep shed, and you know, God would meet me there, and horseback riding, walking a country road. You know, I had enough of God's word in my heart, that when I was out in nature, oftentimes I just felt like he was speaking to me and giving me insight and wisdom on basically how to stay alive and help my brother and sister stay and live in such a crazy you know, home life.
Michelle Rayburn 14:42
So now as I'm hearing you say, that makes me understand why it's so important to you to be teaching and writing Bible studies and devotionals for other people to get God's Word into their hearts.
Pam Farrel 14:59
That is, that's totally right. I just think it's God's full circle, you know, growing up on a Suffolk sheep farm, and then being able to do discovering hope in the Psalms, and one of the chapters was on Psalms 23. About, you know, I was a Bo Peep, and I got to write about the good shepherd. And then in this latest Bible study, Discovering the Good News in John, two of the chapters to the devotionals, one's about Jesus being the gate of the sheep or the door of the sheep, you know, everybody has to come through him. And he keeps us safe. And that was his—that was the shepherd's job was to sit and be the gate or the doorway. And then Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Yeah, and I know what a good shepherd looks like, because, you know, I tended to my sheep, but I had a lit— my first sheep in 4H was a little bummer lamb. That means the mom had rejected that lamb. And so I fed that lamb, Bonnie, with a baby bottle, and I like, she followed me around, and I carded her wool. I would put her over my shoulders, it was like everywhere that Pammy went, the lamb was sure to go kind of relationship, right. And so I know what a good shepherd looks like. I knew what it means to stay up all night and defend off wild animals and wild packs of dogs to keep your, you know, your sheep alive. And so Jesus, he went to the cross, he went the distance for all of us, you know. I love that he left the 99 to go get the one. And he's so faithful to do that, because that's his character to be that good shepherd.
Michelle Rayburn 16:51
This episode is sponsored by ClassicMarriageBook.com. Is your marriage ready for the long haul? In a marriage, there will be hours of maintenance work tinkering, breakdowns, meltdowns, blow ups, cute photo ops, wear and tear, overhauls, memories, vacations, celebrations, and repairs. There will be moments where you haul yourselves back to the garage for work. Like a trusty old truck, a classic marriage isn't perfect, but who can put a price tag on it? In this book, you'll find inspiration, honesty, and self-deprecating humor from the front seat of adventure with Michelle and Phil. Tips to get under the hood and keep your marriage on the road to a long future. Tune Up questions in every chapter to work on your communication tools to cool overheated emotions and repair broken hearts. You can find more at ClassicMarriageBook.com and find out how to get your copy of Classic Marriage: Staying in Love as Your Odometer Climbs and the downloadable discussion questions that you can do together.
Michelle Rayburn 18:01
God has given you such a passion, especially for couples, and and then you have a ministry to women as well. And I just love hearing the passion in your voice as you talk about that. Because he has taken— This life repurposed. He's taken what was trauma to you as a child, and how he healed it. And then he's turned it into a ministry for you helping others find that path as well.
Pam Farrel 18:26
That's one of the reasons I love your book Repurposed. And you know, the heartbeat of your ministry. Because really, that is what God did for Bill and I, if you think about this case, on my side of the equation, you know, my dad was volatile, my parents marriage ended when I was 18-19. So I've even written a book with the help of my mom: Ten Best Decisions a Single Mom Can Make, you know, because I have a heart for single moms. I saw how hard it was. There's quite the transition, you know, to start over and life. And so I have a heart for all kinds of women. But I definitely have a heart for marriages. Because I saw how difficult marriage was for my parents. But Bill's the same on his side of the equation. His parents actually—until his dad went to be with Jesus, this spring—his parents had been married nearly 70 years, which is a long time. But they were miserable. They were like always arguing up until the day he died. They argued, like they just couldn't seem to be nice to one another. And, yeah, I just thought that well, that's commitment. For sure. Bill's dad, he's committed. But it wasn't happy. And Bill and I were like, Lord Jesus, please help us do something better. You know, we're getting married young. So God just like remake us like give us good mentor. We were so desperate for good mentors. My grandparents were good mentors, they were happily married, they went dancing every Saturday night. And oftentimes you would catch them kissing and dancing in the kitchen. They were, they had a happy marriage. So I did see what a happy marriage looked like. But when Bill and I got married, we were so desperate for good mentors that Bill and I would, we would stand in the back of the church, where we were working with youth at the time. And we would look for couples that maybe had their arm around each other or holding hands, still had a twinkle in their eye, a little bit of gray hair, and we will go park ourselves. And then during the greeting time, Bill would say something like, "Hey, you guys look like you're in love. How did you do it?" And the older, wiser couple would be like, well, we'd love to share that with you. But we only have like, a minute or so right here. What if we took you to lunch? And so over lunch, we asked all kinds of questions like, "What was the hardest season? And how did you get through it? And what do you do every day to keep the atmosphere happy? In your marriage? What do what do you do to draw closer to each other and pull in the same direction?" Just what kinds of questions and they would download all this great wisdom. And then they paid for lunch? It was like, win win. Yeah. So now we're the ones paying out when we take care of couples out. That's the way things go, right?
Michelle Rayburn 21:29
Yeah, it comes full circle. But it sounds to me like you figured out a way to pursue what some people might do through counseling or therapy, like you knew you needed to pursue some sort of help.
Pam Farrel 21:42
We did. We it was so obvious. When we got married, we knew three things. We loved each other, we loved God, we had not a clue on how to make a good marriage. And so we did, we went out of our way to go to good conferences, to invite mentors into our life. And we're talking like once a week, let's meet for coffee. So pretty intense mentoring, marriage mentoring. And then we had the opportunity to go away to, you know, Bible college and seminary. And we took every class on marriage, we hung out at our professors' homes. And in fact, we hung out so much with one Professor Jim and Sally Conway. They were both professors. We hang out so much with them that when Bill went into the lead pastorate, we had 10 years in youth ministry, then we went and lead pastor and Bill was 28. Bill called him up and said, "You know, I need a mentor. I don't know what I'm doing here is a lead pastor." And so they started meeting with us. And then they said, you know, we really—Sally had had cancer for the third time—and they're like, "You know, we really want to pass on our marriage ministry, to a couple of we believe in, and we believe in you and you, Bill. And so let's write a book. Let's write a book together." So we wrote Pure Pleasure: Making Your Marriage a Great Affair. That was our first book, most people are not crazy enough to write about sex right our the door. We were just crazy enough to, and we I mean, this world is so messed up in the advice that they give out there. And God's advice is so much better when it comes to relationships. So we had seen lots of people's marriages transformed, with just a little bit of God's good love insights. And so that's kind of what that first book was about. And, and then it was one book after another till now, Discovering Good News in John is book 57.
Michelle Rayburn 23:52
So amazing. That's between you. And that's, that is just a legacy that you're leaving for other people. I can imagine, though, that that legacy has come with challenges along the way, like, I don't imagine because, well, Phil and I had stable—stable upbringing, stable parents, Christian parents—and marriage was a challenge for us. Uh, so I can imagine that your journey has had equal number of challenges that are said. So what are some of the ups and downs that you've been through, either as a couple or individually where you've seen God show up in the midst of hard times?
Pam Farrel 24:31
Right? Okay. So and Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. That's our best seller. Yeah. And people are probably familiar with it.
Michelle Rayburn 24:40
I heard that quoted on a TV show recently.
Pam Farrel 24:42
Yes. Orange County Housewives.
Michelle Rayburn 24:45
Oh, it was another show. I don't remember what it was. But . . .
Pam Farrel 24:48
Oh, that's good news to me.
Michelle Rayburn 24:49
. . . somebody mentioned it.
Pam Farrel 24:51
How, fun. I think recently, my highlight was when a Christian counselor sent us a thank you note that says, "You know, I've used it in my practice for years. But when my husband left me, and I was found myself as a single woman and began dating again, we used this in our dating days, and it's really helped us have a happy relationship. And here's a picture of our wedding cake." And instead of a bride and groom, it was waffles and spaghetti. Like, I guess I'd made it. It was so sweet, because that's such a precious moment. So yes, we share about a few of our ups and downs. And one of the early ones was Bill and I, when we moved into the lead pastor at one of the reasons so I could go back to school and finish my English degree and begin writing and running a women's ministry, etc. And Bill calls it my awakening that I just went full steam ahead. And it was a little intimidating to him, like how can I do everything I need to do and you know, parent the boys when Bill—when Pam's in class—etc. So he was, it was a little stressful on him. So much so that we had like a year long argument Bill was trying to talk me out of going back to school and waiting. We had a two-year-old at the time, he's like, just wait until Caleb's like five. And I'm like, But— I feel like God's called me right now to get ready. And he wants me to, you know, finish my degree now. And so we had this weird schedule, meet each other. He tried to talk me out of it. And we'd have conflict for a year or a year. And so one night, we got down on our knees just like Lord, we were honest. Like, "Lord, I thought I was answering your call. But Bill's mad at me all the time. If I did something wrong, or if I'm not hearing you, you know, you correct me get me on course." And Bill's like, "I love this woman, God, but I don't like her right now. And my life's really hard. And so Lord, just lead us and guide us." Well, the next day, I got up to go to school to university, and I said, "Oh, wow, Bill, in my English class. Every time we have class, I'm like standing up for my faith. And I know that you have to be on campus, doing some filming. So could you just pray when you pass my classroom?" Well, the the professor with start teaching that day, he's like talking about the romantics. Yes. Everybody knows romance is just an illusion. And no two people could stay in love for a lifetime. And all the women like, yeah, because men are scum. And the door popped open. And then walked my handsome husband with a dozen roses and said, "I love you" and gave me a kiss and walked out. And the professor's like, "So is your birthday?" I'm like, "No." "Your anniversary?" "No." He's like, "Why did he come to class?" And I said, "Well, I think that Bill just wanted me to know that he believes in me. And he believes in the dream that's on my heart to be an author and a speaker and to help couples around the world." And then all the women like so does Bill have a brother?
Pam Farrel 28:13
Yeah, so you know, we managed to navigate a year to stay in love even when we didn't see eye to eye and, you know, that was one of the first transitions that was definitely a challenge. And the next transition that was definitely a challenge was when Bill was midlife. And I we had just gone on a walk. And I'm like, it felt like— I said, "Hon, it just felt like our life is a beautiful hand-crocheted afghan. You know, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti is on the bestseller list. And you just, you know, built this church from like 60 people to 700. And you just build this new building and with your great architectural background (before he went into the ministry), and our kids are teenagers, but they're making good choices. And I'm loving being a women's ministry director and speaker. Life just doesn't get any better than this. And then it's as if someone grabbed hold of one string of that afghan and just began to unravel our life as we knew it. And it started with Bill, we were on a media tour. He wasn't feeling well. He went to the doctor, the doctors like Bill, "How long have you had high blood pressure?" He's like, "I don't." And he's like, "You do today." And that got Bill's attention because Bill's dad had a stroke at 40 that left him disabled grandfather had a stroke at 40 and he died. And so my very healthy husband was no longer healthy anymore. And so we went to his doctor when we got back home that Christmas Eve and he the doctor, said Bill, "You're burning the candle at both ends. You're full time author and speaker and a full time pastor, and if somebody came to you for counsel that had this erratic blood pressure issues, what would you say to them?" And Bill said, "You have some strategic decisions to make." Exactly. So Bill left that lead pastor at a church we had raised our kids or loved the people, and most of them loved us. And that was huge for Bill, such a transition, you know. And so when he started just writing and speaking together, but shortly after he made that transition, there's this little window of time, where our son Caleb was hit illegally in a junior high football game rushed to Children's Hospital, ICU, blood transfusion. Then we got him stabilized. And we got a phone call of that his brother was hit in a football game had a concussion and injury. And the next day, the junior college brother was hit in a football (Yeah, we had three football players. And Bill was too.) and he was pulled out for shoulder injury, might end his opportunities for a full ride. And we are down to one income. So we needed God to cover the college costs. And, so other than that Mrs. Lincoln how'd you like the theater? you know, who do I save first? And on top of that my brother who was 40, his wife called and said, Brett's just had a heart attack, could you come and watch the kids while I go to the hospital with him? So, I mean, it really did feel like life was unraveling.
Pam Farrel 31:32
But you know, what? I started praying. Look, all my friends are saying, "How you doing?" And I don't know how to answer them. Because the answers too long, too personal, or too depressing. Like why wreck their day? And so I prayed, "How do I answer these people?" And he, God simply said, "Pam, what kind of woman do you want to be?" And I say, "God, I want to be the kind of woman who can choose joy no matter what life sends your way. Because your Word says in Nehemiah 8:0 that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And this family needs your strength right now. I choose you, Jesus, I choose joy." And my friends would say, "Pam, how you doing?" And I'd answer them, "Choosing joy." And you know it caught on. And every speaking engagement, I share it. People not greet me with it, "choosing joy, choosing joy," stuck like a gum on the bottom of your shoe. And then to come full circle and during COVID, Harvest House ask the three of us who write the Discovering the Bible series to write Discovering Joy in Philippians, and like, "Thank you, Lord, I mean, you have helped me hang on to joy through your power, not my own, through so many ups and downs of life."
Michelle Rayburn 32:47
Let's speak directly to the listener who's in those shoes where you were when when you had to choose joy. We have a listener sitting with us here at the table, and for the one who is struggling with something right now or a traumatic past. What does her heart need to hear?
Pam Farrel 33:04
God sees you. God knows you. God cares about you. And God will move on your behalf. One of my favorite verses from the psalms is "God sweeps across the heavens to rescue." And I thought this is such a perfect picture of the God who loves us. And the God who can produce joy in unspeakably difficult circumstances. Joy that's beyond comprehension is how it's put in Philippians. But we have to cultivate joy. It's doesn't just like, drop in from UPS, you know, we have to do our part. And so there's a few things that will help people cultivate joy. And one is go on to joy hunt. So begin collecting verses that make your heart happy, that make you smile that make you feel valued, you know, I put them on post it notes around where I put my makeup on, you know, so I see them often. You can put them in a three by five card or a journal but keep them someplace that you can refer to daily, often. And then one of the things I learned from one of my friends who is a first responder, oftentimes first responders, they go from everything looking all colorful and beautiful to like dull black and white and gray. And they just fall into a depression because they see the underside of life. And they're exhausted on top of that. And so one of the things that professional counselors do when they work with people with PTSD and right now because of the world we live in pretty much all of us have some form of PTSD, right? Is write down 30 things that you know, that have always brought you joy in the past. And then I have a joy blossom. Like if people go to love-wise.com, they can download Infectious Joy. It's an ebook that has 30 verses on joy. And it's an art book. So you can color, and the cool thing about coloring in verses or doing anything creative is they're on two different sides of your brain. Your problems are on one side of the brain and your creativity is on the other. So when you do creative things, it distracts you from your problems. And so, you know, do something creative, then do that joy moment. And for some people, it's like the perfect you know, latte. Or for me, it's I walk the dock, or walk the beach or walk the lake anything like outside. It could be you call up a best friend, and just say how are you doing? It could be I do art. So doing some art, specific faith, art, any of those kinds of things. So cultivate your own joy. One, a counselor who is the mom of four counselors. Okay, so I thought she was doing a pretty good job, I'd say. She told her girls, "Hey, we need to be our own best cheerleaders". And so cultivate things that give you joy relationships that give you joy. Write down the 10 or 15 friends that you feel like you're a better person after you spent time with them, that they're life givers. And you know, spend some time being a life giver but also spend some time with those life giving friends. Those are just a few things that I know work for me. The other thing Bill and I did okay, so we we not only downsize to move on to a boat during COVID the Marina shut down. And Bill's parents help was like they needed us 24/7 So we moved inland into a 300 square foot trailer. Now I don't know about you, but that was not on my goal sheet. I want to grow up and live in a trailer in my inlaws backyard. You know, that
Pam Farrel 33:04
I saw you did Zooms even from out in the trees.
Pam Farrel 35:03
Yes, yes. We did have a pretty backyard. So we did a little bistro. Here it goes cultivate joy. We created a little bistro table with cute little sparkly lights. And I would do my Zooms from there. In fact, we have friends, Jay and Laura Laffoon, we're doing a conference for them in October up in beautiful Mackinaw. And that they're entertainers so they're funny. And so during COVID, they would do these comedy nights. And during one of the first comedy nights, they said "Yeah, when we get in on each other's nerves after being together for 24/7, we just go to different parts of the house. " And Bill and I started laughing. We're like, "Different parts of the house: inside and outside."But so to manage the stress of living that tiny, even tinier than our boat, I mean, it was —our boat's three times bigger than that 300 square foot RV. To manage that we would go on these, we always have prayer walk together. But we changed the way we did it. On the way out, we would listen to Christian comedy, and laugh together. Sometimes we would tell each other like really dumb knock-knock jokes. You know, are we the Teigens, friends of ours that are authors. They have a series of kids comedy books like joke books for kids, we pull one of those out and take it on the walk with us. And then on the way back after laughing together, then on the way back, we would pray for each other and my prayer typically would end with me hugging bill saying, "Our today is not our forever. God sees. God cares. God knows. God will move on our behalf." So holding out hope.
Michelle Rayburn 39:15
That is a great reminder for anybody listening to that our today is not our forever. I think we can apply that on so many practical levels in our lives. You mentioned creativity. And I want to segue into talking about your latest book. You have two co-authors Jean E. Jones and Carla Dornacher and you've put together this—well it's a devotional but a Bible study. But it includes creativity too. And that speaks to my heart because it anything creative makes me slow down and apply. So tell us a little bit about your new book. Discovering Good News in John. I know we've hinted that a little
Pam Farrel 39:55
Right so it's part of the Discovering the Bible series. This is number four. Currently, I'm writing number five, which would be Discovering Wisdom in Proverbs, which comes out in 2023. But Discovering the Good News in John, I thought, how, um, how fun of God that as we emerge from a worldwide pandemic, and the headlines are so negative every day, that God is calling the church to look for his good news, the gospel, and I love my teammates. God really did a miracle to bring us together. And when I was doing Discovering Hope in the Psalms was the first one. It really was Jean's Bible study. And she hired me to edit it. And she's like, if you like it, would you write a cover letter and send it on to your publisher? And I thought, well, the best way to edit is to do it. And so I began to do the psalms of hope in this really rich deep Bible study. Jean's, a fabulous Bible teacher. And so she... She's so good that she can explain things for the newest believer because she came to faith as a high school student. And she like has these sidebars that are deep and rich and like, I never heard this stuff. So seminary level, and everything in between. So I love the way she writes, I do the devotionals applying God's word to our everyday life. And the way that happened is I sent the Bible study on to Harvest House, and I'm like, this is so great. And they came back. They're like, yeah, it is. But Jean's, like a brand new— a brand new author. She doesn't really have a platform. Would she liked, be open to co-authoring on some level? And I said, I'll ask her. It's her Bible study. And so I said, Jean, would you be open? Maybe I could write a devotional for each chapter. And she's like, Yeah, yeah, that'll help get Hope out there. Yeah, let's do it. And I said, you know, the other thing Jean, is you have us write a song, at the end of every chapter, and then you give us creative ideas.
Pam Farrel 42:04
What if I asked—one of my really good friends is an award winning artist—because Scripture coloring books are hot, hot, hot right now. I asked Carla, would you if she'd be open to doing coloring pages and bookmarks and beautiful illustrations that people can color all the way through, she's like, yes. And so we are just good friends, we are totally different in personality. But all three of us came to Christ out of craziness. So we understand, you know, that heartbeat of getting God's Word out there and how important it is. And we value and appreciate each other's gift sets. We know that we could not, we're better together. And I'm thankful for my sweet sisters. And I pray that we'll be able to do many more books of the Bible. And this one is particularly close to my heart. Because I tend to be somebody who likes to help people move from the negative to the positive. And what's more positive than God's good news, you know, the gospel of God leaving heaven to come down and truly rescue redeem us, and restore us and give us that future and a hope.
Pam Farrel 43:16
And in the Book of John, I get to write the devotionals. I wrote the devotionals based upon all the I ams that Jesus said. You know that he— first one is I am and that's a reflection back to the Old Testament. Basically, it means whatever you need in life, Jesus says, I am the answer to that need. I am the Son of God. Well, you and I, we raised boys, we have a heartbeat for what does the son of God look like? What? That sonship, having to do with their parenting and God is the best parent ever. And then Jesus on the bread of life, you know, he nurtures and nourishes us. He's the gate of the sheep. We've talked about that and the Good Shepherd. He's the resurrection and the life and the way the truth and the life, and that word life I especially love because it's the word Zoe in Greek. And that word if I ever had a little girl, I'm begging any of my kids to name their little girl Zoe, because it is the kind of life that is created by God and sustained by God. And it's only available through God. And I'm like—what a great name to be named Zoe. And then the vine when we transitioned from selling our house and downsizing before we bought our boat. Bill sister owned a vineyard in California and I actually got to work the vineyard I got to be a vine dresser for six months. And I didn't even know I was gonna be able to write about the vine but that was that's really special to share some of those insights and then that Jesus is the light and the Bible says that in him was light. And that light was the light life of men young, we need light for that next step. And then lastly, Jesus's love. And he doesn't call himself love, he lived it out. And so I loved writing about Jesus. Because I just think the better we get to know Jesus, the happier we are, the more it's easier for us to spot good news when he's trying to send it our way. Because we start seeing things with like, it's like putting on—you wear glasses, I wear glasses—I see so much better with glasses. So it's like putting on a heavenly perspective, God's lens, we can then see good news coming our direction, we can see how to cultivate good news. In our own life, we can see how to be a good news giver. And in a world that's so negative, bring good news and positivity. I like to say, you know, right now, it's really trendy to it's kind of a retro kickback, good, good vibrations. I'm a Beach Boys kind of girl, you know, live at the beach. So but you can't have good vibes without the good news. That is how we can have those good vibes, those good positive feelings, is through the good news of the gospel that God loves us. And he came and he died for us. And He wants to give us a new life a new start.
Michelle Rayburn 46:29
This book is packaged in such a great way that it's attractive. And so it's like, it's packed with excellent content. And then it's attractive. And then it's got also Carla has these cool, like how-tos and stuff.
Pam Farrel 46:49
She's the best art teacher ever.
Michelle Rayburn 46:51
Yeah, it's like the kind of thing that you can do with your girlfriends you like you can do this on your own. You could do it as a Bible study. But you could also just do this one on one with a friend. And what I love about it is that it's the book of John. And it's the kind of thing that no matter where your friend is on their spiritual journey, we often tell people to start in the book of John, with learning about Jesus and learning the good news of the gospel. So this is that kind of book that you can do with a friend, no matter where they are on that journey.
Pam Farrel 47:23
I've even seen it's pretty multi-generational. You know, I have a high school, a junior high and a grade school granddaughter, and we I can easily like, copy like Xerox, the coloring pages and have a really great conversation as we color about whatever that topic is. And it's amazing that a 6-year-old and a 14-year-old and 12-year-old and Nana can can talk about God at what we're coloring. Yeah.
Michelle Rayburn 47:57
Yeah, I love that. So you know, what's really cool is that Life Repurposed started out as a blog called Faith, Creativity, Everyday Life. And your book takes faith, creativity, and everyday life and it puts it all together. So I think that's why it really spoke to my heart. So where can people where can our listeners find you and find this book?
Pam Farrel 48:20
They can find me at love-wise.com our ministry is Love-Wise. We'd like to say we park yourself on the corner of God's love and God's wisdom. The book of Proverbs says, The one who gets wisdom loves life. And we all want to love our life, right? So love-wise. So if you want a signed copy of any of the 57 books, then that would be the place to go. Or you can email me through that website love-wise.com as well. And then of course it's on all of our books are on Amazon. And also right now. Typically, Christianbook.com likes to run sales. So if you happen to love to buy from Christian book, they they are they typically run better prices than Amazon but if you have Amazon Prime, you get free, you know, free postage. So either of those places are great places to get it quickly.
Michelle Rayburn 49:24
Sure. Yeah. So I will link in the show notes so people can find that as well. And they can find your your books but also your articles and all the other resources that you have out there.
Pam Farrel 49:36
And I will be putting up some free downloadables that I created for Discovering Good News in John, including Five Ways to Cultivate a Good News Life and a Sonshine Sheet. That's what I call it that every day before you go to sleep. You write down the good news, the blessings, you know catch your many blessings that God gave that day. And you do it every week, every night before you go to bed and then you just collect it and you know, Thanksgiving around the table, you could help your family. remember some of the goodness of God that happened, you know, between the time you pick up good news, and then Thanksgiving, or as we enter the new year, that's another fun time to review the blessings of God. And what did God do last year? And what are our prayer requests for this coming year. In fact, I have a fun tradition, I'll give it as a freebie to your listeners. We we always do a family prayer time together, usually happens on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day. And I give everybody a three by five card and everybody shares their prayer request verbally. And then we listen for one minute and see what God is asking us to share with that person, I verse a, quote, a drawing, because we have kids, you know, age two to 82. And so, Bill shared the year we downsized to take care of his aging parents. He's like, you know, I need strength and stamina. And I need a robust sense of humor. And our then 11-year-old granddaughter wrote, "Dear Jesus, please help Papa, be strong," with a picture of a superhero. "And give him a better personality."
Michelle Rayburn 51:38
Oh, that's so fun. So you have all kinds of stuff there. I'm definitely going to link to your website. And for the listener, if you're listening to this right after the episode drops, we're also giving away a copy of Discovering Good News in John. So you'll want to find me on Instagram for that. So Pam, we're going to be wrapping up. I feel like I could talk to you for a very long time. But you know, you're you mentioned something about being a cheerleader. And that really, if I think of you, you really are a cheerleader. You're a cheerleader of other writers and of people who are coming up behind you on the journey of faith and for marriages and all those things. So, as I just want to thank you for being on Life Repurposed and bringing your bubbly cheerleader encouragement to all of us, and to my listeners.
Pam Farrel 52:31
My joy. We are kindred hearts in wanting to be good news givers. Yeah. So thank you for having me on Michelle, and I'm gonna hold you to it. I love you a latte and I'll even buy you one.
Michelle Rayburn 52:45
We definitely have to sit down for that coffee in person.
Pam Farrel 52:49
That sounds great.
Michelle Rayburn 52:52
You will find the show notes to this episode at MichelleRayburn.com/144. I have some images you can share there and all those links to the things that Pam talked about in the episode, plus information about the giveaway of Pam's latest book. So check out Michellerayburn.com/144. You've been listening to Life Repurposed with Michelle Rayburn. Check out tips, resources and inspiration at Michellerayburn.com and to get the show notes for this episode. Each week I share links to everything mentioned in the episode, graphics you can share, and guest quotes. I also invite you to join the Life Repurposed Facebook community for weekly conversation with others on the journey of discovering the repurposed life. Before you go. Which friend needs to hear this episode? Share a link with a note to invite them to listen.
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