Most every year for the past eight years, I have attended a Christian Wellness week sponsored by First Place 4 Health. Five years ago, my time there was a pivot point for my future. Early in the week, my blood tests results returned, the nurse called with bad news and the negative report shook me to the core—my blood sugar was dangerously high. Honestly, I took the news hard. I called my husband and he prayed with me and encouraged me to do whatever it took to get well. Then I cried to some of my friends at the conference. They were doing their best to encourage me with the “you can do all things with Christ” kind of cheerleading and sincere prayers. Vicki, my personal trainer there, a wonderful Body & Soul instructor, is a friend who knows humor is often a great motivator for me tried a little levity: “You work out hard, you are at every physical exercise session. There is a thinner healthier Pam inside– she is just bubble-wrapped!”
I went to bed and prayed something like, “Lord, you know how depressed I am. If there were any chocolate bon-bons here I would eat the entire box, so it’s a good thing I got this news here! Father, I have been encouraging women to live healthier in my books and talks yet something is going very wrong in my body. I am such a failure. Maybe you should just take me home to be with you. Okay, that is stinkin’ thinkin’. So I need some help here. Your Word says, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8, NASB) I need some safety in my thinking and in my body, so minister to me as I sleep. When I wake up tomorrow morning, please provide an answer so I might go forward and live long and strong for you.”
Cell service was sketchy at the retreat center, so I hadn’t been receiving calls or text messages, including a daily text one of my audience members sent that included some quotes from some of my own books. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and God was faithful to send slumber but at 5 am my phone vibrated and I picked it up to read this text message:
Get up! God has set His alarm clock, and it is time to overcome every weight, every infirmity, every sickness, every bondage that has tried to strangle the physical, emotional, and spiritual life out of you. It doesn’t matter how long you have been bound, stop hitting the snooze button and GET UP!- Ron Parsley, World Harvest
So guess what I did? I GOT UP!
And I thought,
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Something needs to change! What is it, God?
I took my concerns to prayer that morning in my devotional time with God. As I thought about my life, I prayed:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23–24, NIV)
I knew I needed a little more motivation than the good advice on my refrigerator magnets:
Something is better than nothing. Do the something you can do.
Your life will change when you change
I have been selecting a word for the year since I was 19 and it serves to refocus and readjust my life to keep me on track. My husband, Bill and I pow-wowed and we selected the same word for our year: STRONG. We decided every choice and decision would be run through the grid of “Will this make me stronger? Our marriage stronger? Our health stronger? Our business stronger? Our ministry strong? Our family stronger?
We selected a theme verse for the year:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
This was a perfect verse because it had the goal: Be strong and courageous, but it also dealt with my emotions, “don’t be afraid; don’t be discouraged.” And because I travel so much for my speaking, I loved that “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” reminder.
The word strong here means to grow to be strong– so God says it is a process! Courageous is also verb meaning to make strong, bold and victorious. The word discourage is a pretty encompassing emotional word and God was saying, “don’t tremble, be in terror, be dismayed or adopt dread or fear—Pam don’t let this “shatter” you!” The answer of HOW to overcome these negative emotions is in the context of this verse:
“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. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7–9 (NIV)
The path to strength and victory seemed clear in verse 7, “obey ALL the law (the Word), don’t get distracted (go left or right).So I hung my heart on the word STRONG. It became my word for that year, and I selected Joshua 1:9 as my verse for the year to focus my heart. My friend, Mary, a Body and Soul instructor gave me a t-shirt emblazoned with “Stay Strong” on the front, so I adopted that as my theme for the year. I also printed out all the verses about being strong and staying strong and that is where I spent my devotional time over the course of the next few months. Bill and I took a photo of us and a set of weights laid out to spell the word, “STRONG” and we made a poster of it. I downloaded songs with that had strong in the title or lyrics. (I eventually adopted Mandisa’s song, Stronger, as my personal anthem). I tried to spend time with people that were strong physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially in order to learn from them. And God made me strong enough to:
No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.
So what were the results of meditating on the word STRONG and studying how God makes one strong? I got strong! I shed over 50 pounds; I went from walking to running; I could lift more weights, my core improved and my backaches disappeared. I moved from health risk to health strength. And my faith increased as I strongly believe (then and now) that God can accomplish what seems very impossible – in every area of life.
However, this is not a one-time journey for me. It is an “everyday-for-the-rest-of-my- life-battle” that I must win.
And you must win your battle to wellness too. In my new book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success In Keeping It All Together, I share how to help YOU get and stay strong by choosing your word, verse, theme, and plan for YOUR year.
Each day, even now, I begin my day, “Lord, give me strength!” Because I have two choices: STRONG or dead, I choose strong! You can choose to be stronger too!
You are stronger than you seem, braver than you believe and smarter than think you are.
Pam Farrel is the real deal. She loves to encourage women in their faith and Choose Joy in life. She, along with her husband Bill, is an international speaker and best-selling author of over 38 books including: Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti; Red Hot Monogamy; Love, Honor and Forgive; The 10 Best Decisions Every Parent Can Make, The 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make, The First Five Years, and 10 Secrets to Live Strong, Smart and Savvy. For more information, check out www.love-wise.com.
Body & Soul Fitness often leads the exercise component for First Place 4 Health’s wellness weeks. For more information on attending a wellness week go to www.firstplace4health.com. To learn more about our upcoming 35th anniversary celebration and concert or to find a Body & Soul class near you please go to www.bodyandsoul.org.