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“With God the job is not the goal… It’s the moments in the ‘going’. Not what you’re trying to get to, but the treasure is in your time spent with Him.” Tracy McCarthy

 

For the first two weeks in January, God daily reminded me through Bible verses, devotions, encouraging friends, and songs on the radio that He had this – all I had to do was continue to obey Him. I fasted for three days before forming a plan, surrendering completely to His will.  I was willing to change careers, work outside the home if necessary – my life (including my income) was His and all I wanted was His marching orders.  I had two requests for God:  That the new income I received would pay the bills with a cushion and that I would have a schedule that would allow me to be the wife and mother I desire to be. When I asked God what He wanted me to do, though, I was met with silence. The answer I kept hearing was, “Wait.”

Waiting is normally hard for me, but with the deadline of no paycheck looming, it was even more difficult. The second week I started applying for jobs – some in a field that I really enjoyed and others that would just be a paycheck. I began to get discouraged as the doors remained closed. The next message I thought I heard from God was altered slightly but with the same underlying statement, “You can waste your time applying for all these jobs if you want, but I told you I would take care of you.  It’s coming.  Be patient.”  I could envision a loving smile on His face, allowing me to run myself ragged if I chose, but He was offering me something better.  A chance to work hard on my current assignments while He took care of the solution to my income.

 

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By about the third week of not hearing a specific message or seeing any results to job hunting, I started to get discouraged…really discouraged.  I continued praying, I considered “works” – “if I just do this or that maybe God will produce the miracle that our family needs,” etc., all while knowing in my heart that wasn’t the answer but allowing the worry that had started to take root to produce panic.

That’s when our pastor’s wife, Tracy McCarthy, reminded me of the truth I already knew.  The end result, a job (source of income), really isn’t what God’s concerned about.  He cares more about the journey and the way I react while in it as well as my relationship with Him.  Ouch.  I wasn’t responding very well.  She also reminded me (as well as a trusted family member on the same day) that God wants my honesty.  He already knows how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking – He just wants me to bring it to Him so He can talk to me about it.

I’ve admitted above how I was doing it wrong…come back next time to hear what happened when I got back on track.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

 

January 4th our pastor presented a wonderful message encouraging us to “Embrace our Adventure” – the trials/challenges that we were facing by putting our trust in God and then watching as He gets the ultimate glory!

I loved the message, but asked God if He would be willing to give our family a “free pass” for 2015 or at least for a few months so we could catch our breath.  January 5th I received my answer in the form of an email from my employer.  Our free pass wasn’t coming – we were instead being invited by our Father to embrace our own adventure…would we choose His way or our way?

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Come find out in Spoken from the Heart: Embracing the Adventure, the latest devotional book, available the beginning of April.  More details to come!

If you are interested in reading about the entire adventure, pick up a copy of Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith now on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Spoken-Heart-Journey-Fear-Faith/dp/0615929281/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1427121187&sr=1-1&keywords=Spoken+from+the+Heart%3A+Journey+from+Fear+to+Faith

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“Just keep doing what He has called you to do…I’m excited to see how your adventure is going to end.” Tracy McCarthy

 

I talked last time how God never changes…whether it’s in the form of helping us learn an important truth, giving us a chance to grow, or preparing us for the purpose He has planned for our lives.

When our kids are young, we have to assist them step by step in learning life’s lessons – encouraging, correcting, and patiently giving them time to practice over and over and over until they gain the skills and confidence to try it on their own.

I believe God treats us a little bit like that.  When we are first learning our “faith” muscle, He offers more support, encouragement, patience, and opportunities to practice with Him right there beside us.  But just as with children, there comes a time when we need to advance to the next level of maturity and show God the faith we have developed in Him without His constant supervision.

Looking back over our challenges, specifically in the summer of 2013, my faith muscle was quite weak.  God didn’t ridicule or get impatient with me.  No, He provided the support I needed at that particular time in the form of a promise through a verse as well as many other ways to show me He wasn’t going to leave us but He was indeed taking care of us.

 

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However, it’s been 18 months since the first phase of our adventure.  A lot of faith muscle building has been able to take place and I have a deeper connection with God now than I did back then.  Therefore, He doesn’t have to speak to me as often, repeating the same direction for my life multiple times.  I have shown Him I want nothing more than to obey Him and the God I serve doesn’t appear to talk for the sake of talking.  He speaks when He needs to…and expects us to trust Him when He doesn’t.

My pastor’s wife, Tracy McCarthy, reminded me that God wasn’t being silent.  He had spoken, He had told me what He wanted me to do, and I hadn’t finished the assignment yet.  When He wanted it changed or when He was done, then He would speak again.  In the meantime, He trusted me with His silence to continue walking in obedience at the assignment He gave me during the summer of 2013 as well as in January 2014.

That’s where I’m at now.  I continue to walk in the direction God has led me.  I continue to wait for Him to open or close doors of His choosing.  And I’ve learned to begin to enjoy His silence a little as well…although I do have my ears wide open so when He chooses to speak, I won’t miss it.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

 

“Have you thought about it this way? Maybe God is trusting you with His silence.” Tracy McCarthy

 

There have been times in my relationship with God where I’ve seen Him work miracles in my life and in those around me.  Other times, He has spoken so clearly I know that I know that I know what He wants me to do.  Sometimes I take that closeness and His direct communication with me for granted.

I’ve talked many times throughout my blog about how God doesn’t change.  What He’s done for and with people in the Bible, He’s willing to do in my life, and He’s wanting to do for you as well. However, sometimes what God does for people in the Bible, for me, and also at times for you doesn’t always look “happy,” but always has a greater purpose.

 

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As much as I love the times God speaks clearly, there are many more times in my life where He has been silent…for what seems like a long time.  And I have a great friend who patiently reminds me of His silence in the life of Abraham.

For those who aren’t as familiar with Abraham, in James 2:23, many years after Abraham had died, it states, “And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.” (NIV)   Yet even though God called Abraham His friend, He was silent with Abraham for 13 years.  Also, in Job 34:28 it states, “But if he remains silent, who can condemn him? If he hides his face, who can see him?”(NIV), referring to when God was silent with Job as well.

I struggled with what I perceived as silence from God during our recent trial.  In the summer of 2013, with the first reduction in my income, God gave me Exodus 14:13-14 to cling to, reassuring me He would fight for us, I only needed to be still.  That promise was fulfilled as God showed me throughout the months how He wanted me to work on decreasing our monthly expenses versus increasing or replacing my income.  In January 2014, God revealed that He had weeded out some activities in my life (i.e. my reduced income) to make room for a new assignment He wanted me to begin.  When He spoke one year ago, I knew that I knew that I knew I was where He wanted me.  So, when I found out my income would be gone, I fasted, hoping to hear directly from God what He wanted me to do.  After the three days, while I had the faith muscle from the past to know He was going to take care of us (as well as the sweet interaction and reminder of past promises from the night before), I didn’t “hear” what direction He wanted me to take. The only thing I “heard” was “keep doing what you’re doing,” but I wasn’t even sure that was from God or wishful thinking.  I didn’t hear Him loudly or clearly with a new assignment, a new verse – nothing.  Just silence.

Come back next time and I will explain how one of my pastor’s wives helped me put this into the right perspective.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

 

It Bears Repeating

 

“(God) allowed me to fulfill a promise I made to Him in July of 2007, publishing a book offering hope to those who are hurting from the loss of a child. I have been able to encourage and understand friends and even strangers who have lost not just a child but any family member with understanding I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t experienced it myself.” (Cheri Swalwell, Choosing Joy)

In a blog post published on January 29, 2015, I spoke the above words. Sometimes when we are going through a trial or challenge in our lives, God uses that very experience so that we can better help someone else going through a trial/challenge of their own.

 

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While the above experience I was referring to above happened in 2006, and I wrote the above words in December 2014, only God knew what challenge was going to cross our family’s path in January 2015.  I’ve been speaking about the challenge we are currently facing and also the excitement that I have knowing God has a wonderful ending already planned out, in His time.  However, no matter how much faith a person has, the road traveled during the trial can sometimes get discouraging.  God loves His children so much that He has allowed our family to benefit from others’ encouragement as they are facing similar challenges presently or still remember the trial God allowed in their lives to help encourage us when we start to focus on the trial instead of the finish line.

Within a week period, God took four people whom I have close relationships with and blessed them so abundantly which offered encouragement to my family’s situation.  The first blessing they possess is peace.  You can hear it in their voice, see it on their face, and practically feel it on their skin.  Despite the fact that only one of the four has seen the other side of the trial (the others are still walking in it, one almost to the finish line), the peace and joy they possess is palpable.

 

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Anyone can get their hopes up about an adventure or challenge if they think they can work hard enough, put out enough resumes, or persevere long enough to “get over the hump” into better circumstances.  However, that strategy doesn’t bring me peace.  Only when I completely surrendered my agenda to God’s will, allowing Him to decide what direction He wanted me to travel, then I was flooded with His peace.  It is so deep and so lasting that it’s still present despite no income and a prospective job but no signed contract.

Second and lastly, God showed me through tangible means He provided to my friends, blessings that only He could provide.  Monetary, ideas that would turn into careers and cash flow for years, and job opportunities that relocated them to a different state but provided an income three times what they were making currently.  God doesn’t promise that the answer He gives to our family will look like the answer He gave to these others.  However, I do have the promise that whatever God chooses to bless our family with, it will be perfect for us and our situation.

It definitely bears repeating.  God uses the trials/challenges in our lives to bless others while they are experiencing similar journeys just as God uses the trials/challenges of others to encourage us while we travel down our own.  One more way God takes something Satan meant for evil and allows good to be produced from it.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

I’ve been talking a lot lately about the trial my family has walked through since January…or June 2013.  However, God has shown me so many ways He loves His children, I can’t help but share them with you to offer encouragement during challenges you may be facing.

Summer of 2013 began our journey of transition surrounding my income.  About three months into that trial, I learned of a good friend who lost her job due to cutbacks and her response was amazing.  God had reassured her ahead of time that He had this…she didn’t have any details but she knew it would be okay.  Within two weeks, she had two great job offers as well as severance pay that would allow her to be at home and refresh after some hard years.  I hate to admit it, but my first response was jealousy.  Why was God helping her and I was stuck?  He had always given me replacement income in the past – why did He seem slower this time around?  I kept reminding myself that He loves us all the same so what He is doing for her, He is willing to do for me and my family as well. I got over my jealousy and concentrated instead on listening to His voice and being obedient to what He was telling me.  He wasn’t being silent during this time, just not telling me what I necessarily thought I needed to hear.

 

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January 2015:  I was told I had 26 days left before my job would be phased out.  However, this time as I spoke about in ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Adventures Can Be Scary, God spoke to me the day before (like He had my friend in the fall of 2013) I received the email, reminding me of specific promises He had given me in 2013 and 2014, plans and hopes for a good future for my family.  Then for two weeks after, on a daily basis, God reassured me He was taking care of us.  While I didn’t hear specifics from Him on what path I was to be taking to prepare for new income, I was hearing reassurance from multiple sources that He would take care of us.

God showed me on January 22nd and again on January 25th through three individuals the way He takes care of His children.  These three families were being blessed by God in ways that were above and beyond the “ordinary.”  The blessings couldn’t be explained in any other way except through divine intervention.  This time, unlike my gut reaction in 2013 of jealousy and feeling sorry for myself, I was genuinely happy for them.  I have learned over the past two years that when God states in the Bible He doesn’t change, He loves us all equally, and He is willing and wants to take care of His children, He isn’t lying.  So when I hear testimonies now of people who have been extraordinarily blessed by God, I can praise Him with them because I know He will take care of us too.

I may not know the details of how or when He will provide, but I can rest in peace knowing the answer has already been determined and He has only the best in mind for His children.   I’m so glad God loves us all the same – and I’m even more blessed to know He’s my daddy who loves to take care of His children.  Come back next time to find out a different way we are blessed when God blesses others.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

“…through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:2 (NIV)

 

As stated in previous blogs, January 5, 2015 began a new trial/challenge/journey for my family.  However, looking back, I now think it might have been the beginning of the conclusion of a trial, which began in June 2013.  I found out that day I would be losing my income effective February1st.

January 23rd, eight days before I officially became unemployed, started out ordinary.  I had to run a few errands and since our kids were home, I asked my daughter if she wanted to come along.  My husband had come home from work early and stayed home with our boys.  For an unknown reason, I decided to take his car instead of the one I typically drive.

Everything went smoothly until we pulled into Culver’s to take advantage of five free scoops of ice cream for dessert.  I heard what sounded like a hot rod and immediately felt sorry for the car in front of us, thinking they had lost their muffler or something.  After returning with our ice cream, I started our car and realized within seconds I was the driver to feel sorry for.  The noises coming out of our car were horrible! To make matters worse, for reasons I didn’t realize, I couldn’t drive above 20 MPH.  There was no “umph” to the engine (or maybe I was just mortified that the harder I pushed on the gas the more people stared).

I called my husband and when he answered, lowered my window and said, “Do you hear that?” to which I replied, “That’s Us!”  After reassuring me it was safe to drive 5 miles per hour home, I put on my hazards and, completely embarrassed, proceeded to make the drivers in 5 PM Friday afternoon rush hour traffic crazy with my slow speed and unbelievably ear shattering decibels.

Knowing we needed the car fixed by Monday morning, we began calling around to see who could look at it.  The repair shop we talked to informed us we would need to have it towed in due to where the muffler disconnected if we didn’t want to risk ruining the engine.  We had towing service through AAA so that was free, and they even delivered the car to the shop without us having to be present.  Saturday we stopped by the shop to find out the verdict.  I’d been silently hoping for a repair bill less than $300.  The car is 15 years old so I was prepared for them to say it needed a complete overhaul, not just the muffler repaired.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out the repair would be $165, almost half of that imaginary cutoff price in my comfort zone. And, it would be ready in two hours.

 

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I had started thanking God for the blessings on Friday afternoon.  My first celebration was that my husband came home early and I was prompted to take his car.  He could have been driving to work on the highway and we could have ruined the engine due to the filtering system being disconnected.  My second praise was that we had towing through AAA so it cost us nothing to get the car safely to the repair shop, and we didn’t even have to spend our evening driving back and forth.  It was safely delivered and we had a nice, quiet evening.  Third, the cost was less than the number God had put in my mind the night before that wouldn’t be a hardship with my pending reduced income in eight days.  When we found out the price was $165, I jokingly said to God, “It would’ve been something if You had the price be half of the number You gave me.”  Later Saturday night my husband casually remarked how we were supposed to pay $165, but “it turned out to be $150, including tax.”  My response? “Wow – thank You, God!”  Talk about caring down to the last detail. My biggest thank you?  I had peace the entire time.  Normally I worry about finances, worry about schedules, worry….worry….worry.  I had complete peace this time.  While I wasn’t happy about having to repair our car, I had complete peace that could only come from God.  And it felt good!

This incident showed me two important things.  Trials are going to happen in life.  They just are.  When they do we have two choices:  Celebrate (not for the trials but while in the trials) or complain.   I’ve done enough complaining in my life.  I choose to celebrate.  The more I celebrate, the easier it is to turn to celebrating as my default when trials/challenges arise.  The second truth that was reinforced to me was this:  God cares about the tiny details in our life as well as the huge life-changing events.  He cared about how our family responded to this particular event and He cares about all the little details in between.

God showed me through an ordinary Friday night that He will provide…not just a new muffler but a new job.  He’s got this…and I don’t have to worry in the process.  However, I could have done without the character building mortifying drive home.  Oh well, I’m glad the God I serve has a sense of humor!

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

 

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