My name is Farrel, I’m 35 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 14-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 happy, healthy marriage and for living the abundant life with faith, food, and fitness. It is our goal, God-willing, to spend as many years as He 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.
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 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, 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.
On that beautiful day that I accepted Him, I also opened the door to allowing Him to use the chaos of where I came from to relate and minister to others. Because of that, I can say with all honesty that I am not ashamed of my past – Even the poor decisions that I made that hurt myself and hurt others – Any more. Through His gift of grace, along with my passion for writing, it is my hope that my story of hope, healing, and redemption will uplift those around me, spread love in a darkening world, and encourage everyone whose path it crosses ♥
If you’re in that place now, please don’t give up. Please don’t give in. And please don’t hesitate to reach out. It would be my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the One who makes all things new.
“If one person breathes easier because I lived, I will have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson