My name is Farrel, I’m 34 years old, and I live in East Texas. Originally from here, I moved to Florida in late 2015 to be closer to my now-husband, Zack, and spent two years in paradise before bringing him home with me just this past summer. I enjoy traveling the world, studying my Bible with a cup of hot tea in hand, live music, reading and writing, and college football (HOOK ‘EM!)…But my true happy place is spending time with my love, our 13-year-old furbaby, Biscuit, and the people who mean the most to me. What you would never know by simply meeting me is that I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic terminal illness that primarily affects the respiratory and digestive systems of only 70,000 people worldwide…And one that my parents were told would kill me by the age of 8. To date, the average life expectancy of CF patients is 41 years old; There is no cure.
Zack, also born with Cystic Fibrosis, has been a CrossFit certified trainer since he moved to Florida in 2013. Currently, he is in the process of building a men’s fitness group that focuses not only on physical fitness, but also on sharing time in God’s word and uncovering the importance of true Biblical masculinity at home. (He’s pretty stinkin’ rad, y’all.) We met randomly in October 2014 in a Facebook CF forum where we learned that we share the belief that exercise and nutrition play a huge role in determining our quality of life with our illness; We met for the first time in July 2015; And we were married in July 2016, on our one-year anniversary, on Anna Maria Island in Florida ♥ Together, we advocate for living the abundant life with faith, food and fitness through our social media project, Team Debo vs CF, and we aspire to spend as many years as God gives us defying the odds and proving that love really is the cure for everything.
I grew up in a Christian household, was raised Southern Baptist and became a member of my parents’ church in small town East Texas before I could even crawl. I was “saved” at a young age and over the years, I found myself Baptized twice…Once as a baby and once at age 22 as a Christmas gift, as requested by my mother. (You know, in case the first time didn’t stick.) However, for a number of reasons, Christianity was not something that I willingly embraced: There were the fellow youth group attendees who were less than welcoming, to put it kindly. There were, what I saw as a young adult, restrictions that seemed like nothing more than buzzkills. And most of all, there was a trepidation deep in the pit of my stomach that a big man sat in the clouds above me holding a clipboard, just waiting to cast me into hell if I didn’t do exactly as he said, how he said, when he said it. It was primarily out of that fear that labeling myself “a Christian” was born and it wasn’t until I stepped foot onto a bus in Fort Worth in 2014 to embark on my HeartQuest that I realized how wrong I had been.
On Friday, April 25, 2014, I gave my life to Christ for Him to straighten it into something worth living for and to use for His purpose instead of my own. I laid down years of heartbreak – Cystic Fibrosis. Lifelong abuse. Losing my father tragically as a teenager. Divorce at age 21. Alcohol dependence. Romantic relationships and friendships mirroring the very worst of what “love” had to offer – And clothed myself instead with His gifts of strength, dignity, humility, redemption and sweet, amazing grace. I trusted Him that day, and I will trust Him until my last, to keep His promise that His grace is sufficient for me and that He will perfect His power in my weaknesses, of which I have so many. And for the first time, I see them as opportunities, not strongholds. I see walking with Christ as a relationship, not religion. And I see that the very things that I had mistaken for freedom were actually chains holding me in a misery so deep that I had been completely desensitized to it.
The road to learning how to pick up my cross and follow Him, and the undoing of over three decades of living life in my own strength, in my own way, has taken time and will undoubtedly be a lifelong journey. But I’m ready. Every new 24 hours is a process, but every day is one closer to becoming a butterfly.
|WHAT’S THAT FUNKY WORD?!|
Chayil (pronounced khah’-yil) is a beautiful Hebrew word that describes a woman with a warrior spirit of courage and strength, because of her relationship with her Heavenly Father, especially in the face of adversity.
I have admittedly experienced more in three decades than many will in their lifetime and when others hear my full story, it’s not uncommon to receive a reply of, “How do you still manage to wake up smiling every day?” Him. It is 110% Him. And it is His gift of grace, along with my passion for writing, that allows me to use my story to try and uplift and inspire those around me and to spread love and hope in a darkening world.
From living with CF, to the heartbreak of losing my father tragically at a young age, to abuse that spanned from my childhood until my late twenties, to years of searching for love and life in all of the wrong places, to being openly outspoken about my faith and how He has saved me and made me whole, it is my hope that my experiences and my writing will reach and encourage everyone whose path it crosses ♥
“If one person breathes easier because I lived, I will have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson