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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Love (5)


Joy: The Key to Unlocking Love for Your Relationships

Pam Farrel, relationship specialist, is always on the lookout for Word-based insights to encourage stronger, healthier relationships to the glory of God. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she shares a special “key” to unlocking greater love.

Love and joy are intricately connected—like a hook and eye, peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, or keys of ebony and ivory,” Pam says.

“Love and joy pour into each other until our life plays the beautiful melody of happiness God intends for each of us.”

I (Dawn) think this is a truly special insight. We tend to only think about love in relationships, but link that to sincere joy and an amazing thing happens. Love blooms.

Pam continues . . .

Mother Teresa said, “A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love."

And Mark Twain believed, “To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”  

During the last year, while writing Discovering Joy in Philippians, I pondered how joy positively impacts a person’s life and relationships.

Most people see Philippians as primarily a book about joy, but as I plunged a bit deeper, I easily saw some relationship best practices revealed in this short, but powerful book of the Bible.

One of the keys to unlocking health in relationships and producing more joy is revealed in a simple equation:

The more of the Word in you, the more love and joy in you AND the more love and joy you will have spill out into your relationships.

Here’s how the Word empowers us to have healthier and happier relationships.

1. Wash In the Word

To keep my attitude positive and to stay more attuned in all my relationships, I like to integrate various study techniques so the Word washes over and through me, delivering positive life improvement.

One way to gain a new mindset is to allow God’s Word to play the soundtrack to your life.

You can do this in the daytime by layering God’s Word throughout your day:

  • Play Christian music,
  • Post verses,
  • Hang scripture art,
  • And place devotionals and Bible studies throughout your home.

At any time, the transformative Word is in sight and within earshot. 

While writing Discovering Joy In Philippians—and in the next year, now that I am teaching it online—I fall asleep to the audio version of Philippians, or a play list with worship songs about joy.

By listening to God’s Word, my fears are calmed, I am infused with joy and courage, and my heart is refined.  

2. Walk Out the Word

This priority on relationships is reflected in the letter of Philippians:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (1:3).

People can tell when you feel thankful and appreciative of them.

We want to live in such a way that when people recall us, or someone even mentions our name, they light up with praise and delight.

Also, by thanking God for someone, our “attitude of gratitude” builds a sense of deeper respect, honor and gratefulness toward the person. 

always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” (1:4).

Praying for someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give to a person.

Knowing someone is praying for you, with JOY, draws us to people because they express gladness and sincere excitement when they see us. 

“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace…”  (1:7).

My husband, Bill, and I use this verse as the theme to our book, The Marriage Code. We love how God gives the goal of living as “partakers of grace”, then He shares HOW to do that: “hold you in my heart.”

This means we choose to NOT make a relationship about a list of behaviors.

To “hold on your heart” means carrying someone with constant love while giving the benefit of the doubt to their intentions.

When a relationship is based only on behaviors, NO ONE can stay good enough, long enough to succeed at a relationship.

Love gives the grace that trumps human imperfection.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (1:9).

3. Wade into the Word

Another way to gain a fresh appreciation of a verse and how to apply it is to read it in a few translations or paraphrased versions. 

I appreciate the expanded vocabulary definitions included in verses 9 and 10 in the Amplified version:

“And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight, so that you may learn to recognize and treasure what is excellent [identifying the best, and distinguishing moral differences], and that you may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ [actually living lives that lead others away from sin]” (1:9-10, emphasis mine).

I also cherish these verses in The Message as it is a wholesome challenge for how to live out love and joy to positively impact relationships:

“So, this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of…” (again, emphasis mine).

As we wade deeper into the Word, we can often gain fresh insights and anticipate God working. 

Are joy and love overflowing out of your heart and into your relationships? Of the ideas shared in this blog on how to process the Word to raise the quality of what you have available to pour into your relationships, which idea can you begin with to have to biggest positive impact?

Pam Farrel is the author of 46 books including many bestsellers like: Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience .  She also enjoys co-authoring with Jean E. Jones and artist Karla Dornacher, and their next book, Discovering Joy In Philippians: A Creative Bible Devotional Experience , releases May 2019. Pam also loves mentoring and coaching women online; and she and her husband, Bill, stay active speaking and writing on marriage, family, relationships and on Living Love-Wise.  

Graphic of graffiti wall adapted, courtesy of Angela Yuriko Smith at Pixabay.


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.


Upgrade Your Integrity

Pam Farrel is on a mission to help people grow with God’s truth and godly wisdom. In this Character UPGRADE, she focuses on the priority of integrity.

“Sin leaves a wake,” Pam says. “Behind every selfish action is a sea of hurt and pain.”

My (Dawn's) husband used to say, "It's not a matter of whether we're selfish, but rather how selfish we are." Selfishness can erode the strongest marriage!

Pam continues . . .

Bill and I are known as relationship specialists; experts on love and romance. This means is we need to live out our love! We need to make every effort to get along, work through issues, and give plenty of mercy and grace to protect our marriage.

Because our love—and yours—is about living and leaving a family legacy.

Protect Love and Legacy: the Bible tells us this is a priority:

“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump...” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

The “A Priority” is to guard our life and protect the gift of love God gave.

God will bless your choice to keep your vows:

“He who walks in integrity walks securely…” (Proverbs 10:9).

“He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity” (Proverbs 2:7).

“For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face” (Psalm 11:7).

 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

In my newest book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It Together, I share that on my desk are several items to remind me that it pays to walk in integrity.

On my desk you’d find:

1. Photos of me with Bill as well as photos of our children, grandchildren, mentees, parents—all those whose lives I would undermine if I cheated on my vows.

2. A compass given to me by a wise mentor in leadership who said, “Let God’s voice be your compass”

3. All my Bibles. Looking at God’s Word all day, every day, reminds me to be in it—and to let it impact the way I live.

4. A barnacle attached to a stone as a reminder that a barnacle cannot live apart from the stone just as I cannot survive apart from Christ, the Rock of my Salvation.

5. A frame with verses about living with integrity visible on the front, and stories of the harmful wake others left when they wandered from Christ and His plan for committed love.

6. A heart paper weight to remind me to have a whole heart for God.

7. A figurine with an umbrella on it, reminding me that life is best when lived under what I call “God’s umbrella of blessing.”

For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield” (Psalms 5:12).

8. A turtle, because if you see a turtle on a fence post you should ask, “How did that turtle get there?

Turtles can’t climb, so someone placed the turtle on high. In the same way, God gave each of us a legacy, a platform, so God can take us down a few notches—or elevate and bless us—depending on our choices. 

“Be humble in the Lord’s presence, and he will honor you” (James 4:10).

Integrity may not be easy—but it can be SIMPLE. Guard your heart, your life, your love and your legacy.

What will you place on your desk to remind you that “those that honor God, God honors”? (1 Samuel 2:30

Pam Farrel and her husband Bill, are international speakers and authors of 40 books including their two newest: 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman and 7 Simple Skills for Every Man, each designed to help a person, using simple skills, to create a life that he/she will love to live, and a way to love those in his/her life. Find them at, where they are helping people in all their most vital relationships by intersecting God’s wisdom with people’s desire to be loving. 

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of usamedeniz at


Five Tips for Upgrading Your Love Life

Ever practical and with keen biblical insight, Sue Badeau shares a post-Valentine’s Day UPGRADE for every married couple.

“Valentine’s Day has passed. Long, dark winter days lie ahead,” Sue says. “Coughs, sniffles and bulky layers of winter clothing don’t exactly scream romance. Is it possible to keep flames of passion burning brightly during this dreary season?”

Isn’t that what all married couples want? I (Dawn) know there won’t be “flames of passion” every day, but there certainly are positive ways to “stoke” the flames of marital love.

Sue continues . . .

My husband and I were high school sweethearts. Our first date, a frigid February night in Vermont, involved walking home from a dance through snow and ice. Holding mittened hands was our first display of affection.


We celebrate the anniversary of this first date every February. More importantly, we celebrate our love throughout the year using the tips below to build a foundation for romance to flourish even in the darkest seasons.

1. Connect

We begin every day with Bible reading, conversation and prayer. Even when one is on the road, we enjoy our morning reflection by phone. Sometimes, due to busy-ness of life, or distance across time-zones, we only have ten or fifteen minutes for this daily practice.

We’ve found that when we share our spiritual journeys, we enjoy increased intimacy as well.

“My beloved said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along” (Song of Solomon 2:10).

2. Touch

Working, managing a home, participating in church and community while raising children are fulfilling and meaningful activities. The by-product is often physical, mental and emotional exhaustion and susceptibility to seasonal illnesses. None contributes to “the mood.”

Frequent small moments of physical touching are essential. A pat-on-the-back, shoulder rub, hug, tickle or snuggle while watching TV don’t require much in the way of “mood” but are critical for maintaining closeness and intimacy in the relationship.

“Let his left hand be under my head and his right hand embrace me” (Song of Solomon 2:6).

3. Move

Get off the couch and do something! A brisk walk after dinner. Cook, wash dishes, shovel snow, or dance in the living room.

Doing one or more of these activities—or something more vigorous such as skating, biking or swimming—for just ten minutes a day is not only good for well-being, but being active together improves mood and a sense of connection.

“Draw me after you and let us run together!” (Song of Solomon 1:3)

4. Text

Turn all electronics off while engaging in the activities suggested above. On the other hand, it’s a digital age, so use electronics to add zest to your relationship.

Send encoded “racy” texts, a few brief words that tell your partner, “I miss you . . . can’t wait to see you . . . you excite me.” These missives are like leaving a trail of rose-petals with the promise of more to come.

Imagine texting this verse to your hubby:

My beloved is dazzling and ruddy, Outstanding among ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:10).

5. Laugh

With bills to pay and the future of children to worry about, life is serious. When you begin to feel heaviness and gloom, break out the clown nose, bubbles or anything that makes you laugh. Laugh regularly with your spouse.

Finding moments for child-like delight decreases stress, strengthens relationships and increases opportunities for romance to bloom, even in the dead of winter.  

“Your hair is like a flock of goats” (Song of Solomon 4:1).

If that verse doesn’t make you laugh, watch this video - Vonda Skelton’s rendition. It's priceless! 

Maybe I could add another tip here, but it also fits under # 5. Eat Chocolate Every Day! At least it will make you smile!

There's no Song of Solomon reference for that, but the book does make reference to milk and honey, apples and pomegranates, wine, figs and spices. All are good, but seriously . . . where's the chocolate?

You can upgrade your love life, even in dark, dreary winter months. It only takes a little effort and it is always worth it!

Which of these tips would encourage the “flames” in your relationship today?

Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, author, and child welfare and trauma expert. Sue and her husband Hector are lifetime parents of twenty-two children—two by birth and twenty adopted. They wrote the book Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. Learn more about Sue at and

Mittens in Graphic: “Romantic Mittens” at


Is Your 'Valentine-Love' Maturing?

Joan Webb, a recovering workaholic and perfectionist, continually communicates a message of freedom and renewal. In this special Valentine UPGRADE, she shares one way to bring freedom to our relationships.

“Ahhh. It’s LOVE week,” Joan says.All is well. Or is it?

In my 40 years of marriage, I (Dawn) discovered healthy relationships require both SPACE and GRACE!

We learn to practice the one anothers of scripture—like “Be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving toward one another” Ephesians 4:32)—and we give our partner room to grow.

Joan continues …

If you’re like some lovers, you may sense that one or both of you are trying too hard to control how the other one expresses love. Instead of increasing intimacy, it pushes you apart.

So what’s up?

Okay, no one is perfectly loving 24/7. Yet, you can grow in your Valentine-Relationship when you both commit to developing these God-honoring characteristics:

1. Allow for individuality.

Differing talents or temperaments do not threaten true love. Feelings and thoughts can be expressed without fear.

2. Avoid trying to change the other.

We may not like everything about our partner, yet when we consider the total picture we are able to be more accepting.

3. Care with detachment.

Healthy love cares, listens, and responds; yet does not try to fix or remove the uncomfortable feelings of the lover.

4. Affirm equality of self and partner.

A mature relationship treats the partners as equals. There is no sense of competition or one-upmanship.

When you practice mature love, you accept what the other person is able or willing to give.

You allow each other space to grow and develop. 

Perhaps you could pray this prayer: 

“Lord, teach me to love authentically…with joy and fun. I don’t wish to make inappropriate demands—and force my own way. Help me to be honest about what I want. And also listen to understand my mate’s needs and desires. You had a good idea when You created romantic love. Thank you.”

Although no one is perfect, which one of the four points could use some work in your own relationship?

Joan C. Webb is a speaker and author who has written thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (co-authored with Carol Travilla), The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make It Just Right and a four book devotional series for children. As a Life Coach who specializes in working with writers and communicators, Joan helps set people free to become who they were designed to be and from what holds them back. For more information about becoming an intentional woman, visit Joan's website

Graphic Adapted: Image courtesy of photostock at