Teaming Up for Wellness

by Pam Farrel @PamFarrel in Leading Hearts Magazine



My husband had been the picture of health; then suddenly his blood pressure went through the roof. This got our attention because his grandfather died of a stroke at age 47 and his father had a stroke that left him paralyzed and disabled at age 48. Bill was 45. The super productive husband I had known was going to bed at 6 p.m. and still seemed exhausted the next day. The doctors were baffled by his erratic BP.

At the time, Bill and I had achieved some measure of success as writers. Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti had hit the best sellers list. Bill was also the senior pastor of the largest church in our city, and we were completing a new building project. In addition, all our sons were teens with full schedules that impacted Bill. too.

One day, we were traveling, and Bill wasn’t feeling well, so he went to the doctor. The physician asked about his life, “Got any stress?” When Bill described his mountain of responsibility and the “burning the candle at both ends” life pace, the doctor replied, “Bill, you are a people helper. What would you tell someone who came into your office displaying these symptoms?”

Bill replied, “You have some strategic decisions to make and some life change is on the road ahead.” Exactly.


Each January, for the past decade, I attend a First Place 4 Health wellness week. And a couple years after Bill’s crisis, I was at one of these weeks when my blood tests results returned, and the nurse called with a negative report shook me to the core. Several things were unhealthy, but the worst was that I had moved from pre-diabetic to very dangerously high glucose levels.

The issue was my apathy. I had begun my wellness journey with my husband but was not enthusiastic or committed — I was haphazard in following a wellness plan. I might exercise, then would think, I deserve a donut (or a few). As we traveled for speaking, there were way too many fast food meals and too few workouts. My weight was going up, and so was my stress, and I began to experience irregularities in my heartbeat. I was slapped in the face with the reality something had to change.

I went to bed and prayed something like: “Lord, you know how depressed I am. If there were any chocolate bonbons here I would eat the entire box. I need some help here. Your Word says, “In peace, I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8, NASB). Please minister to me as I sleep, and when I wake up tomorrow, please provide answers so I might go forward and live long and strong for you.”

At 5 a.m. my phone vibrated, and I picked it up to read this text message devotional: 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:

“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).


I phoned Bill and we prayed — and planned on how to get F.I.T.


We decided to use our Word of the Year and Verse of the Year tradition we had been using our entire married life to kickstart our “get fit” year. We knew we needed to get and stay STRONG, and we posted Joshua 1:9 on our office walls.

“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.”

Our motto was “Stay Strong” and we placed a small weight on our desks as a reminder to work out together daily, either on a walk or in the gym. We used a clarifying question for all our decisions that year:

“Will this make me, us, our life, our family, our ministry — stronger?”


We knew we needed to change things up, so we decided to go to a new holistic doctor who ran extensive tests. This way, we would have a baseline for knowing how far off track we were, and to help set a wellness plan for each of us. We created an exercise plan that balanced four quadrants: core, stretch, weights and aerobics. We also met with a nutritionist, decided on how we would track our food intake and exercise. (I ordered a Fitbit tracker.) Our new physician adjusted our medicines and gave us more natural options. We also got outside accountability, so others were cheering us on (and so we wouldn’t feel like each other’s health police). We did our best to apply all the First Place 4 Health wisdom to our lives: body, soul, mind and spirit. We recaptured our desire to treat our body as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).


We began to trade wellness articles and blogs; we shopped for groceries together, cooked together, tried new healthier food options, new restaurants and talked wellness strategies over meals together.

We took daily prayer walks, and found several sports we could enjoy together, with kayaking and biking being our two favorites. We committed to a new life style — for the rest of our lives together — and we prayed that we would have many more healthy years together ton the journey ahead.

At the end of that year of getting “strong,” we both dropped weight (mine was a 50-pound loss). We got into the “healthy” range of our BMI, and our end-of-year blood test revealed that our vitals returned to the healthy range.

We were stronger, happier, sexier, and we have kept off the weight. We continue to enjoy the energy, enthusiasm and unity our teamwork produced then — and now! Today, we help others get F.I.T. and have fun on their journey to a healthier love and life.

ARTICLE APPEARED IN JANUARY 2018 Issue of Leading Hearts. Text LEADINGHEARTS TO 64600 to get this issue delivered FREE to your mobile device. 

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