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Spring Cleaning: The Downsizing Dilemma (Part 2)

In Part One of Pam Farrel's post about downsizing, she shared two important Organization UPGRADE questions she asked when downsizing to prepare to move in to a live-aboard boat. To review:

1. Is it in good shape, does it fit, and does it work?

2. Do I love it? Does it bring me joy or turn my heart toward a relationship with God or someone I love.

In PART TWO, Pam shares three more principles. 

Pam continues . . .

3. Do I need it?

You don’t own your things, your things own you. Everything you possess has the ability to possess your time and energyand space in your home.

Look to see if you have duplicates, and give the extra away to a young couple or a student moving into his or her first apartment.

As I began to give away our things, I prayed God would send people to me that I could bless. On just one day, two womenone a young mom with a toddler whose husband left her, and the other a grandmother who had one of her children and five of her grandchildren living with hercame my way.

Each had lost a home in a fire so they needed ANYTHING extra I was willing to part with. Giving away my furniture and household items to these precious women brought me joy!

Another day, one of my friends who works with international students at a Christian University, shared about a pastor’s family coming from Africa with several children, and they each only had one small bag. I was able to give them furniture and eight bags of clothes, cleaning products, personal care items and almost an entire kitchen full of gadgets and dishes.

It was an honor to have this courageous pastor and family eat off my humble plate.  

4. Could I replace it in a fire?

My next door neighbor lost nearly everything she owned in a forest fire. And my friend, Carole Lewis, author of Give God A Year, lost her home and all its belongings in a hurricane.

Prayer-walking with these godly women gave me first-hand experience of what really was missed when all had been lost.

  • They each shared that nearly ALL furniture and household items are easily replaced.
  • But the one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments made by your son in second grade, or your marked-up Bibles and filled-in journals are irreplaceable.

5. Is it an heirloom or an item that validates a godly heritage?

It is likely you are much more attached to many of the things concerning your children (that you have been saving) than they are!

I found my daughters-in-law were more interested in the contents of the bins I had safeguarded for years than my sons. And when it came down to selecting and taking items to their homes, they each took only about a third of what I had saved.

What stood out to me the most is that our society gives WAY TOO MANY PARTICIPANT TROPHIES!

I took photos of many items of memorabilia, then gave these away to charities.

The things that were cherished and soaked with meaning, like family photo albums and videos, Bibles, family china and crystal, or art people had been inspired to create from the messages we taughtthese were the cherished and valued pieces of our legacy.

Ask yourself, "Can I give NOW to those I love, rather than wait until after my death?"

By giving legacy items now, your words and prayers can accompany the gifts—creating yet another cherished memory.

Need, replacement and legacywhich of these factors will affect what you cherish and keep or what you release to bless others.

DON'T WAIT. Do it today.

Pam Farrel is author of 45 books including her newest, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together. Pam gains most delight in time shared with people she loves, her husband (and co-author), Bill and her three sons and three daughters in law and 4 young grandchildren, who soon will all be vacationing on the boat which will be moored in Southern California.  She also loves prayer walks on the beach with those women she mentors, other writers and her many cherished friends. Learn more about Pam at


Spring Cleaning: The Downsizing Dilemma (Part 1)

I've watched Pam Farrel in some tough patches of life, and her choices were good and godly—worth emulating. Most recently, Pam downsized drastically, and in the process learned important lessons. I asked her to share some of those lessons in this two-part Organization UPGRADE post.

"What is truly important in life?" Pam asks.

"Each day we live the legacy we want to leave. In a world overstuffed with things, it is the memories attached to those things that carry the real value."

As I (Dawn) am getting older, I have to agree with Pam's insight. Life is not about "the stuff."

Pam continues . . .

You need much, much, much less than you think you do. I know. Trust me, I KNOW!

We recently moved—not just a normal move from house to house. No, we moved radically.

We downsized 90% of our belongings and we are moving on to a live-aboard boat!

We have been helping care for aging parents, and their health has declined to a place they need help more often, and help closer to them.

We also launched our children into their lives, so we no longer needed our large home and office. We travel over 200 days a year to speak at men’s, women’s and couples’ conferences often on marriage and family, and most recently, on our books 7 Simple skills for Every Woman and 7 Simple Skills for Every Man. (Some of the principles in those resources helped us make those tough decisions when we simplified our own lives.)  

The overall principle, at the heart of all decisions, was these verses:

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2).

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

While owning possessions is not wrong or evil when they serve God and do not replace Him in our hearts, I wanted a heavenly vantage point to my choices.

I prayed, asking God to put my heart where His heart was as I made each choice.

On the practical side, many people have asked how I made the decisions of what to keep and what to toss, give or sell.  

Here are the first two of five questions I asked myself—the other three will be posted in Part 2—and maybe these will help you as you spring clean, downsize or make the move to live more simply.

1. Is it in good shape, does it fit, and does it work?

If the item was not it in good shape, I either recycled, tossed it in the trash or gave it away to a charity that helps train others to work by teaching them to fix household items.

2. Do I love it? Does it bring me joy or turn my heart toward a relationship with God or someone I love?

A decade ago, I traveled to speak for the military in Germany. I stayed with a seasoned military wife, and in her modest home were beautiful treasures from around the world, but very few superfluous items.

Every closet, drawer and cupboard was efficiently organized.

I complimented her and asked how she decided what to move each time Uncle Sam called.

Her answer was, “I hold it up and ask, 'Do you love it?' If I don’t love it—if it doesn’t bring me joy, or someone in my family joy—I tell myself, If I released that, it might bring someone else joy."

For me, moving into a boat, I had to limit how much I could “love."

One of my sons offered some free storage space, as did the in-laws we were caring for, but neither storage space was very large. We calculated the cost of storage (or moving) and discovered it is often MUCH less expensive to release items—even if it meant buying later.

While I love and appreciate every gift given to me over my thirty years of speaking, as I surveyed my trinkets, decorations and books, I realized God could upcycle many of these things for MORE ministry if I would be willing to release them.

  • So I packed up four or five boxes of small goodies AWANA kids could “buy” as they memorized verses.
  • I gave each member of each of my small groups, leadership teams and networking groups one of my mugs and asked them to pray for me as they drank from it.
  • In Seasoned Sisters, my ministry to women over 40, our mascot is a FROG (Fully Rely On God) and over the years many people have given me frogs of all shapes and sizes, so I gave each Seasoned Sister a frog so she would know I am praying for her even when I might be miles apart.

Walk through your house today.

What do you have that could be released and UPCYCLED today to bless someone?

(Continued in PART TWO)

Pam Farrel is author of 45 books including her newest, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together. Pam gains most delight in time shared with people she loves, her husband (and co-author), Bill and her three sons and three daughters in law and 4 young grandchildren, who soon will all be vacationing on the boat which will be moored in Southern California.  She also loves prayer walks on the beach with those women she mentors, other writers and her many cherished friends.


Give It Your All for Your Best Year Yet!

Pam Farrel, a mentor and friend, has always encouraged me to do my best, saying, “You make your choices, and your choices will make you.” In this New Year UPGRADE, she writes about giving life “your all”—in whatever God calls you to do.

“Give 100% effort,” Pam says. “You might not be 100% perfect, but give it your 100% all.”

This year, Pam and I (Dawn) have tried to give our health our best effort so we both can live longer and stronger for the Lord. I know firsthand the blessings of “giving it your all.”

Pam continues . . .

Two of my sons are athletic coaches. They often motivate the individuals on their teams with challenges like:

Do today what others are unwilling to do so tomorrow you can do what others are unable to do.

Simply put, Leave it all on the field. Be 100% present in your goals. Give your best effort—and encourage others to do the same.

I have a t-shirt by Union 28 that reminds me of 1 Corinthians 6:19: ”… your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit….” The shirt reads:

God created it

Jesus died for it

The Holy Spirit lives in it

So I must take care of it

Dawn and I have tried to be “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17) to one another. The result has been a “sizable” weight loss for each of us. If our weight loss journey were a distance race (and it is—a new lifestyle for the long haul), we would be within the final stretch of reaching our goals. I help women navigate these kind of core, vital issues for living a focused and healthy life in my 7 Simple Skills book (see bio, below).

While co-authoring our book in 2012, LOL with God: Messages of Hope and Help for Women, Dawn shared how one of my favorite verses was easily broken into a common sense, simple, achievable outline of life priorities for a well-balanced, healthy person.

This was reflected in the answer Jesus gave to the religious leaders of his day:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’

He [Jesus] answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:25–27, NIV).

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52).

I have placed a descriptive sentence in parenthesis, phrase by phrase, to capture the full meaning of the Lord’s command:  

  • Jesus increases in wisdom (He guarded his intellectual life)
  • and stature (He guarded his physical life)
  • and in favor with God (He guarded his spiritual life)
  • and men (He guarded his social life)

When we dig into the original languages, we discover even more power to live a healthy life:

  • Love the Lord, your God (Demonstrate your affection based on a close relationship with the Lord, the God who you have made your Supreme Master or Leader.)
  • with all (It encompasses your whole, complete, entire self.)
  • your heart (This is the psychological the inner self, your mind; that place of your will and volition that has thoughts, then makes decisions and choices.)
  • your soul (This is your psyche that was God-breathed to make you uniquely you.)
  • your strength (This is your total personal potential, capacity, capability, power, might, material and possession—with everything you are or have or could be.)
  • and your mind (This includes all your ability to think, reason and learn.)
  • Love your neighbor (someone who is a companion or simply someone who lives adjacent or nearby; anyone whose life intersects yours) like yourself. 

A heart-felt summary might read:

Show you are a friend to God by giving him your inner self—your entire “thinking, living, breathing, everything-you-are, everything-you-own, or could-possibly-be” self.

  • Do you have talent? It’s God’s!
  • Do you have a bank account? It’s God’s.
  • Do you have physical strength, the ability to think, a heart that beats, any earthy possessions? It is all God’s!  

Simply put:

Love God with 100% of your will, your uniqueness, your capacity and your intellect. And love everyone God places in your life with that same kind of enthusiasm.

Show God your love, by loving the life He gave you with your best effort.

Which area of Luke 10:25-26 is God asking you to give your 100% effort in to make 2017 Your Best Year Yet?

Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books, an international speaker, and relationship expert who seeks to breathe life into people’s most vital relationships through the ministry she runs with her husband, Love-Wise. Today’s blog is adapted from her newest book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success at Keeping It All Together. Pam and Bill have created a set of goal-setting worksheets to help you have YOUR BEST YEAR YET. (For weight loss, Pam used First Place 4 Health, a Christian, Bible-based wellness program).

Graphic adapted, courtesy of Geralt at Pixabay.


Breathe Life! How to Upgrade Hope

Pam Farrel is a pro when it comes to applying biblical truth to the tough situations of life. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she inspires us to "breathe life" and hope wherever we can.

"God is a specialist at breathing life into seemingly hopeless situations," Pam Farrel says.

And there is the secret. Although Pam is a relationship expert, the best "specialist" in hope is the Lord, and Pam encourages us to tap into that power source.

Pam continues . . .

My grandmother scarred her lungs rushing into a barn on fire to rescue animals. As an elderly woman, she needed her oxygen tank to breathe life into her.

In a similar way, God wants us to be those who breathe life into difficult moments—and sometimes into difficult people!  

The Lord, Himself, is the breath of life:

 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being”  (Gen 2:7 NKJV).

 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else" (Acts 17:24–25).

God wants us to be more like Him, more of a life-giver.

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, God’s heart is evident :

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

This “choose life” principle can be extended to apply to all kinds of situations: the seeming death of a dream, the spiraling downward of the life of someone you love, a business on a decline or in any situation that feels stuck or hopeless.

Seek to breathe life by simply asking:

  • What would bring life to this situation?
  • What would bring life to this person?
  • Who has the skills, talents, time, and/or energy to resuscitate or revive this circumstance (or person) to bring life?

Most recently, our family saw this “life-giver” philosophy change a situation that seemed beyond hopeless.

My father-in-law is 86 and he had fallen. He was being released from a convalescent home, but he was not strong enough to function in his home—and my 86-year-old mother-in-law was too feeble to give the kind of care needed.

We had a full speaking schedule and it is our sole income, and thousands of people in our audiences would be impacted if we cancelled, so it was near impossible for either Bill or me to be the caregiver. (We were willing, but it felt impossible.)

However, we knew both mom and dad would be more comfortable if the caregiver could be someone they already knew.

Our youngest son, Caleb, came to us and said, “I believe God has called me to breathe life into Grandpa’s situation.”

Caleb was a recent graduate from an engineering program, and he had three weeks available to use before moving to another state for his Master’s program. Caleb was football player and had just completed building a block home on the mission field—so he was strong enough to carry his grandfather. Also, because Bill’s father was an aerospace engineer, the two already had much in common.  

Caleb moved in, was trained by all the health care professionals, and began to rehab his grandfather. In addition, those two engineers redesigned doorways and gates, a patio, a desk and a wheelchair to make them more user-friendly for Dad. 

Caleb is such a workhorse that when he wasn’t caring for grandpa, he rebuilt the patio, a ramp, a gate and several other areas of their home to help give Dad independence and access.

In just two weeks, Dad went from what appeared to be death’s door, to stronger mentally and physically than we had seen him function in several decades.

Caleb breathed vibrant life into the situation!

Who can you breathe life into today?

Pam Farrel is the author of 45 books, an international speaker, and relationship expert who seeks to breathe life into people’s most vital relationships through the ministry she runs with her husband, Love-Wise. Today’s blog is adapted from her newest book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success At Keeping It All Together.

Graphic: adapted, courtesy of Jan Schultz, Webdesigner Stuttgart, Unsplash.


Women Who Love Lavishly

With her book Fantastic after 40!, Pam Farrel encouraged me years ago as I entered my "seasoned" years, but this Relationship UPGRADE is a message for women at any age!

"Women who know how to love lavishly, heartily, fervently, faithfully and artfully are women people want to be around," Pam says.

That phrase "love lavishly" captured my (Dawn's) heart. What woman doesn't want to know how to love lavishly?

Pam continues . . .

As we learn to love lavishly, over and over again, we will find it changes us; and as we look into the mirror, we'll find we like the woman looking back in our reflection.

Let's take a closer look at love through the eyes of three angel reminders: Faith, Hope and Love.

1. The Angel of Faith

Women who love lavishly have an ability to see the potential, the positive and the promise—not the problem.

Hebrews 11:1:

"Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses" (Amplified).

Faith is like a post-dated check. We can't get our hands on the money yet, but we know one day we will.

In the same way, a woman of faith sees the promise as good as reality. Her faith helps her function in the realm of "what can be."

Your vision is focused by faith-colored glasses, and those glasses help you look better too, my dear!

1. The Angel of Hope

Hope can be hard to nail down. What does hope look like? What does hope act like? What would be a working definition of hope?"

When I am trying to grasp a big picture principle or wrap my mind around a difficult-to-understand truth I often will read about it: (1) in context of the entire passage of scripture it is in and (2) look at many translations or paraphrases of the Bible of that same verse.

Galatians 5:5-6 says:

"For we through the Spirit by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love" (NASB).

In The Message, Eugene Peterson interprets these same verses this way:

"Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit, for in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love."

Women who love lavishly have a hope that waits expectantly.

  • Hope is the feeling you had as a kid on Christmas Eve, the day before the last day of school, or the morning you went school shopping for that fresh box of crayons and new outfit for the class picture.
  • Hope is excited about life. Hope is enthusiastic. Hope is energetic.
  • Hope throws confetti before the parade begins.
  • Hope sends out the party invitations months before, or sometimes years before, the celebration will be held.
  • Hope holds on and holds out for life's best.
  • Hope looks for the creative way to keep a promise of love.

3. The Angel of Love

Love is easy to define and hard to live out. But at least God provided a model for us (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4-5; 1 John 4:9-11; John 3:16)

Love is always others-centered. Love chooses to give rather than take. Love is the fuel injected into another's dream.

Love seeks to understand, give compassion, guidance or boundaries—whatever is necessary for the person who is the recipient of love to reach her God-given potential.

Lavish love is like infinity; it just keeps extending all that is good, kind and true forever, not because a person deserves it, but just because it is right to be loving.

Which role of an "angel" is easiest for you? Which is hardest? Select one—faith, hope or love—and think of a creative way to express that action to someone in your world this week.

Pam Farrel is a challenger, cheerleader and coach. With her husband Bill, the Farrels are international speakers, and authors of more than 40 books including Pam's newest, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman. Other books include: Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti; Woman of Influence; 10 Best Decisions a Woman Can Make;10 Secrets to Living Smart, Savvy and Strong; and Becoming a Brave New Woman. The Farrels are relationship specialists who help people become “Love-Wise ."

This post was adapted from Chapter 7 in Fantastic After 40!

The angel in the graphic is "Angel of the Heart," by Susan Lordi for Willow Tree / Demdaco, 2000.