We all hope and pray for harmony, unity and over all peace and love in…
Oh, the hope of an epic lasting love! On Dec 14, 1979, we stood and pledged our faithful love to one another. Our vows were pretty traditional and we meant every word :” to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”
“”That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24 NIV)
We said these vows with our whole hearts, but little did we realize all that we were committing to! This week, we will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary. The last dozen years makes this anniversary even sweeter and more precious. Why is this year so priceless?
We have both experienced more death recently than we ever had to deal with in previous decades. One of the reasons this anniversary is one we both treasure is since the 2020 pandemic through this past week so many of our friends and collogues have graduated to heaven. We have walked alongside both husbands who have ushered their wives into glory, and wives who have seen the home-going of their husbands. It became a stark reality when I bought my two favorite and most trusted books for widows in bulk so I would have them on my shelf to bring or send to a friend in a moment’s notice. (I am very grateful for Gayle roper for her book, A Widow’s Journey and a sweet and wise mother/daughter team, who were both married to pastors whom God ushered to heaven. My friends Sharon Engram and Lori Rohlinger have penned a comforting devotional: Surviving Widowhood.
In addition, this is our “medicare” induction year, and that is a marked reminder that we are a couple of “a certain age”.
“But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.”
Bill’s Close Call
We got an early wake up call about 12 years ago when my very healthy but very over-worked husband found himself in a health crisis. We were traveling for a media tour for our bestselling book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti when Bill started to not feel well. He went to a local Urgent Care and His blood pressure was at a dangerously high level.
This got Bill’s attention because his grandfather died of a stroke in his forties and his own father suffered a stroke in his forties, that left him disabled on half his body. My husband was in his forties—and stressed.
That doctor gave a short-term treatment, and urged Bill to see his own primary physician. It was Christmas week when we arrived back home and got to then the doctor’s office.
The doctor cautioned Bill: “You are also a full-time pastor and a full time writer and speaker, plus a dad, husband and community leader. You are burning the candle at both ends. Bill you are a people helper. If someone came into your office with this erratic blood pressure and your packed schedule, what would you advise?”
Bill replied, “You have some strategic life choices to make.” Exactly. This was a watershed moment.
Bill loved the church he pastored—and he loved our Love-Wise ministry. But we both knew a choice was on the road ahead. I was going to bed praying that Bill would not suffer a stroke.
I would sleep with my hand resting on his chest Feeling his chest rise and fall with each precious breath, I gained enough peace to sleep lightly.
After many months of weighing out this important decision, Bill chose to do ministry with me, writing, speaking and relationship coaching through Love-Wise. His health stabilized and he did accept a job as Small Groups Pastor at a mega church, because he negotiated a contract that helped balance our ministry with church ministry– so all went well—until they added a Saturday evening service and the hamster on the wheel schedule repeated. We elected to focus only on our Love-Wise ministry, so again Bill resigned to save his health. Again, his health stabilized—for awhile.
Things were going well, even with a geographical move to be nearer his elderly parents to help with their care. That was until one night when Bill was hauling our last possessions up to our new home and on the way home he was hit from behind by a distracted teen driver.Bill was slammed into the freeway wall, the truck was totaled, but Bill walked away. . My cell rang at 3 am, it was Bill, alive but shaken, and in need of me to pick him up and bring him home. It was so foggy on the road that I took side streets all the way because the city lights and store signs shined bright enough for me to slowly make my way to rescue Bill. We were so grateful to see each other we just stood in a foggy parking lot, holding one another tight, and cried grateful tears. Knowing this kind of trauma should be checked out medically, we first went to a neighborhood nurse center in a drup store, shock by his extremely high blood pressure, they directed us to immediately go to Urgent Care down the street. The Urgent Care staff was so rattled by Bill’s dangerously high BP that we were instructed to have me drive Bill to the ER immediately! The accident was soaring Bill’s blood pressure but with excellent medical care, soon Bill was back to normal.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:10 NIV
To be near Bill’s folks to caregive, we moved on to a lovely liveaboard boat and for a season, life had a a wonderful balance and positive work-life rhythm. Our marriage was like the tender romantic moments of newlywed s but with the wisdom of a seasoned couple. On weekends, in the park by our marina, concerts were held and we danced the afternoons away on the front deck of our oasis of hope–our boat! Soon we were known in our marina as “the dancing couple who lived on the “Love Boat”
Like many in the world of the crazy chaos of the pandemic, even the marina closed, and we had to move inland to give 24/7 care for Bill’s then 90-year-old parents. We moved into an RV on their property Bill had been using for his office, and we asked God to help us become “happy campers”. God was able to use those tight quarters to keep our hearts closely connected too. Slowly as things opened up, we were able split our time between our “happy camper” caregiving tiny home and our “love boat”. Life had a nice healthy rhythm of ministry, caregiving, care for our relationship and enjoyable activities of self-care for our health.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.” (Song of Solomon 8:6-8 NIV)
Pam’s Close Call
Then, last fall, I had been dealing with a rarer form of diabetes, broke a rib, took over the counter pain meds, then a prescription from an Urgent Care physician— all of which I later learned that none are recommended for someone with my medical condition. The combination of medicines backed up my system, and my body became toxic, was unable to function normally and somekind of internal infection developed. My glucose escalated and one a warm fall, “Santa Ana” breeze day, I found myself was piled with blanket but could not get warm. I became nauseous, stood up, threw up, felt dizzy and I grabbed my chest because my heart was racing and beating out rhythm. I told Bill I thought I was having a heart attack, and my beloved whisked me to the hospital. Swiftly, I was in the ICU, and placed in a medically induced coma to try to save my life. I am currently writing more about this Near-Death Experience, so I will share more details at a later date, but I do want to share an excerpt of what Bill wrote about that pivotal life-altering night:
At about three in the morning, they moved me to the ICU for the intense protocol of treating the DKA. At four o’clock the doctors sent Bill home.
“Mr. Farrel, your wife needs you to get a little rest.” The doctor assured Bill, “I will stay here, and I will do my best to keep her alive. I will call if anything changes.”
Bill complied, went home—and prayed!
I (Bill) knew the doctor was right, but I didn’t want to leave. I reluctantly shuffled to the car and slowly drove back home. The numbness from all the intense scenes in the ICU made the drive back seem excruciatingly long. I put on my pajamas and set my phone beside the bed hoping it would not ring, painfully aware I had no power to determine the outcome. I sat up against a couple pillows and pulled the covers up to my waist. Through tears I soberly prayed:
Dear God, I know that no matter what happens Pam is going to be okay. If she goes home to be with you today, she will be completely healed and surrounded with joy. If she returns, I am confident she will have another season of effective influence. We have had a great run and I know you have all the right to welcome her into your presence. I just hope you intend to give her back for a little while! Please don’t let my phone receive a call.
So, you see, when one pictures a life without the one you love, without the one you promised to be faithful to “until death do us part”, each moment, each breath becomes the kind of solid and secure love that cherish the “I Do” and the “I Still Do” with every precious breath we each take.
Bill and Pam Farrel are international speakers, authors of 60 books, relationship coaches, and Co-Directors of Love-Wise.com Together the Farrels host the Living Love-Wise Membership community. Both the Farrels are HEALTHY, VIBRANT, STRONG and IN LOVE with each other! They continue to care-give Bill’s 94 year old mother, and weave in time to kayak from their love boat and enjoy sunset prayer walks hand in hand on the beach near their home. When the Farrels are not busy writing, speaking, coaching, they enjoy time with their three sons, three daughters in laws and seven grandchildren. they look forward to making many more romantic memories together.