God is bigger than any storm

As storm clouds gather, they often cover the sun and a harsh greyness vails the light. This was the place B ill and I found outselves for three long years, as Bill commuted back and forth almost weekly through gridlock Los Angeles traffic to care for his againg parents, all while we worked to keep up with our acre of land, and our Love-Wise ministry of writing, speaking, and travel. While our marriage was weathering the storm, we both we tired of the treadmill that seemed to have now end. A darkness of depression was trying to cover over our hope. One night, at the end of yet another long an rigorous commute, about midnight, I heard Bill’s footsteps, heavy on the stairwell, then say his weary face in the dim light of our bedroom. I whispered,

“Keeping your parents alive is killing you. Something has to change”

He nodded in exhausted agreement.

For Sale Flyer

He worked to remodel our home and place it on the market, while I was writing my portion of

Discovering Hope in the Psalms. We handled these unbelievably long work days and very short nights of sleep by emailing Psalms to each other; sharing Psalms as we ate meals together; as we traveled in the car and as we sorted, packed then moved boxes.  We looked for Psalms to sing praises and we listened to Psalms as musical choruses or being read aloud as we drifted to sleep. The Psalms calmed our hearts, renewed our spirits, and revived our HOPE despite the difficult circumstances

Psalm 43:3-4 gave comfort one day in the middle of the mess of life. Our home wasn’t sold (yet still needed to be kept picture perfect for showings), our parents still needed care, our commute was still long, our ministry needed an infusion of energy and finances that we lacked, and nothing on the horizon in our circumstances was indicating anything would be changing any time soon. We needed to have a verse to hang our heart on to move forward emotionally in this very long wait. So, we prayed Psalm 43:3-4:

“Send out Your light and Your truth. Let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your Holy hill and to Your dwelling. Then I will go to the alter of God, to my God my exceeding joy.  …”

Bible Art by Pam Farrel
Psalm 42 and 43

Instead of looking at our current difficult circumstances, we looked at the end game. God would bring us to a place where we saw the exceeding joy only God could give. And He promised to dispatch His light (the kind of light that pierces the darkness like dawn) and His truth (some translations say, “faithful care” or the trustworthy truth that is backed by God’s caring character of action) And we were most encouraged that the kind of “leading” that the Psalmist is describing is a fluid one that moves forward and back to create the best opportunity!

We hung our hearts on verses like these. for a long five-year journey, but in the end, God brought a church planter to buy our

Bill and Pam on their boat

home at a price that was a win-win for all; God moved us on to our family’s vineyard as an oasis of recovery, then provided the perfect live aboard boat, at a miracle price where I daily now, read a a #sunsetpsalm from the bow of our vessel moored in a sunny southern California marina.  . .  and yes, there is exceeding joy on our tiny home on the water!

 

Pam Farrel doing Bible art from Discovering Hope In the Psalms

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 45 books including  the best seller Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti  and her newest  Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher) Pam, along with her husband, Bill are Co-Directors of Love-Wise, helping people with their most vital relationships through their books, online blogs and videos, and thru live events. When they are not traveling for speaking, you may catch them walking the beach or paddling to lunch near their live aboard boat in southern California.

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God Talk

By Susan G Mathis

Talking about God is not just for Sundays; it’s for every hour of the day. Deuteronomy 6: 5-7 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

I don’t think this Scripture is only for parents. It’s for all of us—with or without kids at home! So how do you, as a couple, make “God talk” a lifestyle and have conversations about God in a natural, comfortable, and life-changing way?

God needs to be a part of your every day life—your thoughts and actions. Attend church but don’t just go on with your day. Talk about the sermon, the worship songs, and godly conversations you have with others.

Read God’s word together daily, even if it’s just a few verses, and talk about them. For us, breakfast is a good time for us to do that. We also listen to Chuck Swindoll’s radio teaching while we get ready for the day. This has a way of leading us to some pretty interesting God talk.

Be sure to apply God’s truth to your relationship and to your life. Sometimes that takes two minds trying to figure out how to do that. As you talk about it, God can often inspire you together in ways you wouldn’t think of separately. As the saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” There are times when Dale and I snuggle up together and just chat about a God topic or something we’re thinking about.

It’s also important ask godly questions about things that happen during the day. There are times I’ll get an email or phone call that requires wisdom from God to answer well, so I sometimes talk about it with my husband. And when we watch the news, we frequently talk about the different news stories and how God’s word applies to them. That sure makes for interesting conversation.

Last, if you have kids at home, doing all this will model for them that “God talk” is a normal way of life. Include them in your God talk—in the car, at home, everywhere. And if you have grandchildren, be sure to shine your light brightly before them. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Dear Lord, It’s easy to get so busy we forget to share Your word and what You are doing. Help us to talk about You everyday. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

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In today’s world with frightening headlines blasting the worst possible scenarios into our homes, and the stress of the daily responsibility of providing for ourselves and our families weighing heavy on our hearts, coupled with the unpredictable, unwelcome, unwanted, unbelievably hard or harsh circumstances like floods, fires, relationship strife, death and disease it is very easy to get depressed, discouraged and down-trodden.

But God has a solution for our despairing hearts!

Discovering Hope in the Psalms: Creative Bible Study Experience

While writing my newest book (co-authored with Bible teacher Jean E Jones and artist Karla Dornacher), Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Biblical Experience, Jean, in passing said, “Psalm 71:14 I think could be the theme verse for this study.” Intrigued, I immediately looked up Psalms 71:14:

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

The word hope is a verb, so it is an action we choose, to wait expectantly for God to move. I like to say, “trust while you tarry” , or to wait patiently (and sometimes painfully long) for God

Psalm 71:14 Bible Art by Pam Farrel

to show up and show off! After doing a word study, to summarize the meaning, this hoping is to be exercised: surpassingly, repeatedly, increasingly, intensely, exceedingly, continuously, regularly, consistently, and perpetually! When I drew the verse in my Bible art journal, I pictured a geyser of ever-flowing hope!

My contribution to Discovering Hope in the Psalms is a series of inspirational devotionals that help women apply the psalms to their everyday lives and keep HOPE ALIVE. To help me keep HOPE ALIVE, in my bullet journal, I have pages I write my “God-Sized” hopes and dreams and I wrap them with scripture so I can pray the Word over my life.

Bullet Journal prayer page
from Pam Farrel

The key to securing a hope like an eternal spring is also in this same verse, “praise you more and more”. The “more and more” means to accumulate or gather praise—and in doing this gathering we fuel hope. One way to picture accumulating or gathering praise would be how you might walk through a garden to gather flowers to create a beautiful bouquet or through a mall gathering gifts for family and friends that will bring joy!

So to capture praises to fan the flame on hope, in my bullet journal, I have pages to accumulate praises. One looks like the sun with praises written on each ray. Another is a vase with praises on each flower petal. Accumulated praise could also be drawn as gift bags collected while shopping, presents under a Christmas tree, waves on the ocean, or shells on the beach– use your imagination to personalize your record of praise! 

(Download your Prayer and Praise sheet to keep Hope Alive!)

 

Pam Farrel hopes to help people around the world keep hope alive. She is and her husband Bill are international speakers, authors of 45 books including her newest Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience. Stay connected with Pam at www.Love-Wise.com Learn more about Discovering Hope In the Psalms, and find numerous free downloads on creative Bible study at www.DiscoveringHopeinthePsalms.com

Pam Farrel with Kay Arthur

What an incredibly unique and creative Bible study Pam, Jean, and Karla have created! It’s multilayered, dimensional, theologically rich, touching the senses—enlightening the mind, capturing the heart. Well done, beloved Sisters! Thank you for this gift.

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Easter for a child can often only mean candy, ducks, bunnies and an Easter egg hunt. And for the

children and Easter Basket

first six years of my life, I am sure waking up to find out how many jelly beans and chocolate bunnies were in my Easter basket must have been my priority– that is until one Easter, when my mom’s best friend recognized how much we needed the Easter message:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3 

My family NEEDED that living HOPE! My parents’s marriage was unraveling and hanging by a weak, fraying  thread. And we also needed the unconditional love Christ demonstrated when HE CHOSE to leave the glory of heaven and come live among we lowly, imperfect human beings– and my alcoholic dad especially needed to hear he was loved, even in his unlovely state. We needed the grace and mercy the Father extended. To this day when I wake up, I pray God’s grace and mercy over me, my marriage, my family and my future:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24)

God give me GRACE: Lavish me with the blessings I DO NOT DESERVE but that you freely give

  • I am a sinner, You are the Savior

God give me MERCY: Hold back the wrath that I DO DESERVE but You shield far from me

  • I am unrighteous, You are the Redeemer

As a little girl, in my pajama’s, I used to tip-toe out to the living room, pull my flannel night gown over my knees and turn on the TV to watch a Christian television cartoon that showed a healthy mom, dad and happy children. I would pray, (not even having a clue who I was talking to in the cosmos,), “I want a happy family like that.”

Soon, God sent my mom’s best friend to invite us to her church. My mother, sensing this was an

Pam Farrel first Easter

important day, dressed us all up in our very best and bought me white gloves and an Easter bonnet to wear on my first day of going to the “House where God lives.” There, in that little tiny church, in a little tiny town, a little tiny girl met the GREAT and GLORIOUS GOD.

My life was forever transformed for the better. I soon began a personal relationship with the Creator God I had been whispering to. Eventually my mother, my siblings all began a relationship with Christ– and the day my dad died, he too, while reading Steps to Peace with God by Billy Graham, finally gave his broken heart to the One who had been lavishing love over his life, waiting patiently for His prodigal son to come home.

This is why we write — we write, we speak, we teach for the reason Christ came and gave His –to reach the lost, the hurting, the broken and the bruised,

The Easter Sunday, or any Sunday after, be brave enough to pray one of two prayers:

  1. Lord, give me eyes to see who needs a relationship with you, and the courage to invite him or her to come hear about You, the God who loves us all enough to go up Calvary’s hill and give your perfect life, in payment for our imperfect lives. 
  2. Lord, I want to know You. I, too have been talking to You, hoping, wishing, praying for a better life here on earth and an eternal home one day in heaven. Thank you for dying on the cross for me. I receive that free gift of Your love.  

Pastor Pete Jankowski once put it like this, “The cross was not Christ’s destination– YOU were.” .Jesus went through the grueling pain of the cross out of love for you! God reached out in sacrificial love to you, now, simply reach back in surrender to the God who created you, knows you and loves you.

 

Pam and Bill Farrel, authors of 45 books

Pam and her husband, Bill are passionate about sharing the good news of Christ’s redeeming, life-transforming resurrection power through their ministry Love-Wise. The Farrels are the authors of 45 books, including A Couple’s Journey with God,  her newest, Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience (penned with Jean

Pam Farrel, author Discovering Hope in the Psalms

E Jones and Karla Dornacher) and the Farrel’s best-selling Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti  The Farrels have experienced many of the merciful answers to Pam’s “little girl” prayers, including a happy marriage of 38 years and three grown sons, three daughter in laws and four grandchildren who all love Jesus too.Pam and Bill live in Southern California, where they enjoy Easter sunrise services on the beach.

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St. Patrick’s Day Shamrocks

by Susan G Mathis

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, because I’m Irish, and because my novel, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, is about the Irish immigration, I want to share with you how St. Patrick used a simple weed to share the Gospel.

St. Patrick lived in the fifth century Ireland where the shamrock clover was abundant, even a staple food for livestock. The shamrock is a weed that grows quickly and is hard to get rid of. In Ireland it was everywhere, so as Patrick traveled the country, he had a ready-made symbol that he could easily find, pluck, and use as a teaching tool. Sounds like something that Jesus would have done, doesn’t it?

As he spoke Patrick would note that the shamrock has three leaves, just as there are three persons in the trinity. In using the shamrock as a symbol, he taught about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who they were, what they did, and how they could change the listeners’ lives. Then, whenever folks would see the shamrock in their garden or fields or yard, their minds would instantly connect to the Trinity and think of God. Brilliant!

As Patrick traveled throughout Ireland spreading Christianity, the shamrock became an important symbol of the Trinity and of God’s work in man’s life. Even today, the shamrock is Ireland’s national symbol and still points to the Trinity as well as to 1 Corinthians 13:13, “and now these three remain: faith, hope, and love”. The number three is so important to the Irish that they use three cords in their Celtic knot, in their three-fold repetitive rhythm of Irish storytelling, in their idea of past, present, and future, and a lot more.

So when you see a shamrock during this holiday, remember that it means so much more than just “the luck o’ the Irish.” It’s represents biblical truth, wise teaching, and a beautiful way to share God’s story.

 

Dear Lord, Like St. Patrick and the simple shamrock, help us to find all kinds of creative ways to share biblical truth. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

 

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