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Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith was the first book our family self-published. I remember the day we took the cover picture because it holds significance to the contents of the book itself.

This picture was taken late fall of 2013, a year that had been quite eventful. In the spring, God spoke to both my husband and I (separately) that it was time to change churches. We obeyed and took that first step. We ended up visiting our current church and immediately knew this was where God wanted us to put down roots.

That summer, God invited me to a Bible study about giving up fear. Ironically, I was too afraid to attend the first week! However, after that week, I faithfully attended because I didn’t want fear ruling my life.

During the 6-week Bible study, I learned I would be losing one-third of my income by fall. Instead of God replacing my income, He started me on a journey of learning to trust Him with our finances, a job, our income, etc.

My husband and I were also reading The Blessed Life, by Robert Morris, which taught how to give God our firsts. As God was decreasing my income, He was asking us to faithfully bring Him 10%. We obeyed.

On a Sunday afternoon, we were predicted to get a huge storm, potentially a tornado, complete with power outages. With all my fear issues, I couldn’t handle a physical storm with all the uncertainty of my income already surrounding me.

I was so afraid that afternoon of the potential risk to my family’s physical safety, I convinced us to head downstairs and start cleaning the basement – partly to stay out of the path of the expected tornado and partly to keep my mind off the weather.

Within the next one to two hours, as we were hauling the garbage up from our cleanup, my husband called me outside to see God’s handiwork. Right outside our door was the brilliant sky shown on the cover of our first book.

Every time I look at that cover, I’m reminded how God heard my prayer of “Please, spare us from this storm. We have too many other storms we’re dealing with right now,” and He answered, “Yes.”

God allowed the storm to pass that random Sunday afternoon without any damage, I think, as another way to show me I can trust Him to take care of every storm that comes into our lives.

The stories between the pages of Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith reflect my discovery of that truth.

Have you ever dealt with unexplained (or in my case, irrational) fear in your life? What is one thing that has worked above all others?

 

Maybe you don’t suffer with fear but instead have asked God to please take away the storms you’re dealing with currently because you can’t deal with one more.

 

Please share by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you.

 

About the Book:

Book:  Say & Pray Bible

Author: Diane Stortz

Genre:  Bible stories, board book

Release Date: 2015

Curl up together and experience the Bible in a fresh, new way. Young children will enjoy pointing to and naming objects on each page for early learning. Most important, they’ll discover favorite, age-appropriate Bible stories, with Scripture verses and short prayers that also hide God’s Word in young hearts.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Diane Stortz is a multipublished author who writes to make God’s wonders known to the next generation. Her children’s releases include the best-selling Say & Pray Bible and I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, both from Tommy Nelson. Diane’s books for women, A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year and Encountering God’s Heart for You, both from Bethany House, encourage women to get to know God through His Word, the Bible. Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five grandchildren—all boys! Visit her at www.DianeStortz.com.

 

More from Diane

Once upon a time there was a little boy who loved his books. Long before he could talk, he loved turning pages, looking at the pictures, hearing his grandpa name the objects in the pictures, and pointing to those objects.

 

And once upon a time there was a grandma looking for a truly age-appropriate Bible storybook for that same little boy. And the best ones she found still contained too many words.

 

And she wondered . . .

 

Why not write a Bible storybook that could be designed especially for babies, toddlers, and young preschoolers? With the shortest stories you’ve ever seen, and with labeled objects and people in the illustrations that little ones could point to and name?

 

That’s how my book Say & Pray Bible began.

 

I wanted a book with age-appropriate, SHORT Bible stories. Babies and toddlers LOVE turning pages. Listening to long stories has to wait until they’re older.

 

I wanted short Bible verses and prayers to go with the very short stories.

 

And I wanted the illustrations to have lots of LABELED objects to encourage little ones to point and name.

 

Some days you might just read the stories. Another day, just the verses. Yet another reading, just the prayers. And some days, you might just talk about the pictures.

 

Most children begin to say single words with meaning, always nouns, at 12–18 months. This is the stage when children can point to—and eventually name—photos or illustrations of objects in their books.

 

Around 24 months, children begin to say two-word, noun plus verb sentences, such as “Cat run.” In time, sentences become longer and include adjectives and adverbs, but no function words: “Big cat run fast.” Last to develop is the use of function words (such as the and an) and more complex sound combinations and sentence forms.

 

Human beings seem to be hardwired to acquire language and learn to speak—evidence that, as the Bible says, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). But there’s a lot we can do to help little ones develop language skills and expose them to God’s Word at the same time!

 

My Review of Say and Pray Bible:

The Say and Pray Bible is a wonderful book. It’s perfect for little ones, who are just learning language because the passages are short, the pictures are colorful and bring God’s Word to life, and the words printed throughout the book help little ones identify various words and objects. However, it’s also great for kids learning how to read. With the short passages, it introduces children to the books and verses of the Bible (how verses are broken down), helps them recognize and learn how to read by identifying words, pictures, etc. and reinforces the stories hopefully they have been learning since before they could talk. I love, love, love this book and will be recommending it to many of my friends for their children and grandchildren.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.

 

 

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here: www.cheriswalwell.com

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at: www.cheriswalwell.com

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

For Him and My Family, May 23

Texas Book-aholic, May 24

Through the Fire Blogs, May 25 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, May 25

Older & Smarter?, May 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 27

A Baker’s Perspective, May 28 (Author Interview)

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, May 29

Inklings and notions, May 30

A Reader’s Brain, May 31

Spoken from the Heart, June 1

Simple Harvest Reads, June 2 (Author Interview)

Southern Gal Loves to Read, June 2

Aryn the Libraryan 📚, June 3

Splashes of Joy, June 4

Artistic Nobody, June 5 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Diane is giving away the grand prize package of a signed copy of the book, a signed copy of the companion book (Say & Pray Devotions), and a $10 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fa0a/say-pray-bible-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Today is my birthday! I’m not usually one who announces my birthday on social media or even reminds my friends, but there’s a great reason I’m talking about it today. I realize there are many friends here that may not know much about me, or the books I write. And I think now is a great time to change that.

 

You see, I envision us being friends. Some of us already are friends and other of us just met. In order to build, or grow, our friendship, we need to get to know each other. I’ll begin, and hope you join in the conversation.

 

One of the best ways I thought to help you get to know me is to share a little bit about the different books my family has helped me publish and the story behind the stories!

 

Each of the covers for all of the books are photos our family has taken ourselves or friends and/or extended family have taken and given me permission to use. It was important to me that the pictures reflected a little bit of our life … and a whole lot of God’s magnificence!

One fun fact about me is that I de-stress and relax the most when spending time with God in His background, the nature He created, appreciating the beauty of it all.

 

One cover, Hope During Heartache, is the exception to the “rule” above. The lady who allowed me the opportunity to use her picture was a virtual stranger. I’ll share more about the story behind that picture in the upcoming weeks.

 

For the next few months, I thought it might be fun to introduce one book each post, and let you know the behind the scenes of how it came to be published.

For now, though, let’s celebrate! If you’d like a birthday present from me, head over to www.cheriswalwell.com and if you sign up for my email list, I’ll send you a free eBook, my most popular one, Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace. It has 32 days of encouragement from me to you!

In the meantime, though, how about replying in the comments with one fact or funny tidbit about yourself that you’d like me and the rest of the group to know about you?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

 

 

This year I decided I wanted to “plant seeds.” I wanted to be used of God to sprinkle His truth, His love, His message of salvation to whoever was ready to hear it, and then let the Holy Spirit take over from there.

 

As the year has passed, I realized I’ve always been a seed planter. Everything that comes out of my mouth plants a seed.

 

If I’m sarcastic, I’m planting a weed in the heart or mind of someone.

 

If I plant a compliment or share God’s love with someone, I’m planting a seed God can use to open someone’s eyes to the gift of salvation He offers.

My heart this year is to always be used on the continuum of the harvest. Will I be used to plant the seed, water the seed, or get to be part of the harvest of actually sitting with someone and leading them through the prayer of salvation? It doesn’t matter to me where I fall, but I want to be used by God as often as He wants to use me.

 

So I’ve started asking myself before I open my mouth: am I planting weeds with what I’m about to say, or am I part of planting seeds toward the kingdom of God today?

 

I pray when this year is over, I’ve planted far more seeds pointing people toward God, then weeds, drawing them away from God.

 

Have you ever thought about the concept that everything we say either plants a weed or a seed?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

 

 

About the Book

Book:  On A Coastal Breeze

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre:  Amish Romance

Release Date: May 5, 2020

For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not one.

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty books, including On a Summer Tide, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, The Deacon’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.

More from Suzanne

Dear Reader,

The minute you step off the ferry and onto Three Sister Island, magic begins. Crisp ocean air acts like an elixir. Stress starts to evaporate, like a wisp of steam from a cup of hot tea. Happiness moves in, and you’ll feel more cheerful, more positive about the future.

And then there’s time! Somehow, there seems to be plenty of it.

Little things will catch your notice—finding seashells on the beach, watching waves crash against the rocks, gazing at the star-studded night sky.

Life just starts to slow down…and you wonder if you really want to ever leave Three Sisters Island.

Nor do you have to! That’s the beauty of books—they are the perfect escape. Always available, just waiting to be picked up. Always ready to transport you to a fresh and new state of mind.

On a Coastal Breeze is that kind of a read. The Grayson Family saga continues as they move to Three Sisters Island off the coast of Maine for a fresh start. Maddie Grayson takes center stage in this story. Life is finally coming together for Maddie. On the very day she opens her counseling practice, she spots a billowing skydiver. Parachuting in is Ricky O’ Shea—the one person on earth Maddie hoped she’d never see again. But Rick’s the new pastor for the island’s only church and he’s not about to leave. That’s when sparks start to fly.

Join me for a getaway by the sea that will leave you in a happy, relaxed, vacation-y state of mind…without leaving your home. Once you board the Never Late Ferry, even in your imagination, the island will take it from there.

Warmly, Suzanne

My Review of On a Coastal Breeze:

I was really excited to read this book, because it was the next in the Three Sister Island series. I loved reading all about Cam in the first book, with her adopted son, Cooper, and her relationship that budded with Seth. This book took me into the life of Maddie, along with the life of Ricky, or newly known as Pastor Rick. And it also set up the third book, where I will learn even more about their youngest sister and her life.

I think one of the things I love most about this series is where they live. It’s so charming and while they have real jobs with real stresses, it just feels a little like a vacation. Also, I studied psychology in school so I can relate with Maddie and her new vocation and her desire, sometimes overeager desire, to help others. And while I’m in between the ages of the sisters and their father, I can relate to his generation as well – his feelings about how life is slowing down and he’s on the other side from where he’s used to being. I am very glad I got to continue the journey with these sisters and can’t wait to read the final book when it comes out. My only complaint is having to wait for it!

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or

to just be encouraged, sign up here: www.cheriswalwell.com

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at: www.cheriswalwell.com

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Through the Fire Blogs, May 18

The Avid Reader, May 18

By The Book, May 18

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 19

Artistic Nobody, May 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Betti Mace, May 20

Lighthouse Academy, May 20

The Power of Words, May 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 21

Texas Book-aholic, May 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 21

Wishful Endings, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 22

deb’s Book Review, May 22

Blossoms and Blessings, May 23

reviewingbooksplusmore, May 23

Connect in Fiction, May 23

Remembrancy, May 24

Writing from the Heart Land, May 24

Blogging With Carol, May 24

Blessed & Bookish, May 25

Inspiration Clothesline, May 25

Back Porch Reads, May 25

For Him and My Family, May 26

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 26

Daysong Reflections, May 26

Spoken from the Heart, May 27

Mary Hake, May 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 27

Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, May 28

Splashes of Joy, May 28

Older & Smarter?, May 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 30

EmpowerMoms, May 30

Pause for Tales, May 30

Batya’s Bits, May 31

Southern Gal Loves to Read, May 31

Hallie Reads, May 31

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of her book to five winners!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fb52/on-a-coastal-breeze-celebration-tour-giveaway

I’ve been speaking about my prayer life lately and how I’ve changed my approach to my Heavenly Father. Another area I’m working on being more consistent about this year is how I speak about myself.

 

God has been nudging me to be more kind and gentle with the words I use in my inner dialogue as well as speaking out loud over myself. Our pastor had a sermon in January which further reinforced ways that will help me succeed in this area I’m working to reset in my life.

 

The best way to overcome negative speech is to read God’s Word, the Bible and declare what God says about us over our lives. For instance, instead of calling myself stupid for making a mistake, I can remind myself I’m a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) and learning from my mistakes. If I’m dealing with financial issues, I can remind myself Jesus is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, and will take care of our needs.

 

During the sermon in January, I had a conversation with God about a particular area in my life I was struggling with. I told Him I trusted Him and instead of worrying and trying to fix things myself, I would sit back and let Him take over.

It wasn’t two hours later when God literally showed me the answer for my dilemma on a billboard! Yes, on a billboard! I talked to my husband about it, we took the necessary steps and this month we took the first step to fixing a mistake I made the year before … learning from it instead of staying stuck in the “I’m a failure mindset” I was starting to believe.

 

Living from a mindset of trusting God, thanking Him ahead of time for His answers, and then sitting back and waiting to see how He’s going to fix things I’m worried about in life is a great way to live. He wants to be in charge, He wants us to surrender control to Him and He wants to bless us when we obey and live according to His Word.

 

I’m still practicing speaking life over myself but giving myself grace is coming easier and the word stupid or failure when referring to myself is being spoken less often.

 

Do you struggle with speaking life over yourself and your circumstances or have you mastered trusting God for all things and extending grace?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

 

 

About the Book

Book:  Seeing Voices

Author: Olivia Smit

Genre:  Contemporary Young Adult

Release Date: April 15, 2020

Skylar Brady has a for her life—until a car accident changes everything.

Skylar knows exactly what she wants, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although she escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother.

When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.

Click here for your copy!

 

 

About the Author

 

Olivia Smit loves baking, visiting small towns, and writing stories that face hard truth with hope and encouragement. Olivia has an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature and lives in Canada with her family. Seeing Voices is her first novel. Learn more at https://oliviasmit.ca/

 

 

More from Olivia

Although “Seeing Voices” is not the first book I ever wrote, it is the first one that felt like it held a little piece of my heart. Skylar and her older brother, Mike, popped into my head one afternoon, both coping with the aftermath of a car accident in totally different ways. It took me ages to figure out what kind of story they belonged to, but right from the beginning I knew it would be a story about siblings and families, pain and guilt, and also (perhaps most importantly!) togetherness and love.

In so many ways, “Seeing Voices” was for me, before it was for readers. I wrote the rough draft when I was 18, fresh out of high school and still figuring out a few tricky situations within my own family. As I wrote about Skylar and Mike, I poured a lot of my own confusion and emotion into the pages, trying to make sense of my own feelings of responsibility, frustration, and ultimately, hope. Words from the book still float through my mind when I’m in certain situations, little reminders of lessons I learned once and need to hang onto with both hands.

I prayed my way through the writing process, trying (and failing) to find a story that fit with Skylar and Mike, who felt so much like real people. I prayed through querying, trusting that if God wanted this story out there in the world, He would find it a home … and if He wanted Skylar and Mike to be a story just for me, I would be okay with that, too. In so many ways this process has been a team effort, and I feel convinced that this isn’t my story, after all — it’s God’s, and I’m just doing my part to help tell it.

 

My Review of Seeing Voices:

My normal genre of books isn’t usually YA, but I read the back blurb of this book and wanted to try it. I didn’t realize the main characters in this book weren’t believers; however, I enjoyed the way the author introduced Skylar to the gospel in an authentic way through the use of Cam. Cam was probably my favorite person throughout. His character was written authentically, genuinely, and he was someone I’d like my child to hang out with. I also understood the feelings and emotions Skylar and Mike were experiencing as much as a reader can who hasn’t experienced the same traumas they went through. I was a little confused, though, with how much Skylar could (or couldn’t hear) even with her hearing aids in and why she didn’t wear them the majority of the time? I understood why she took them out sometimes, but when she knew she was responsible for her brother and sister’s safety – why did she take them out then?

I also enjoyed the addition of Anastasia to the book, although I would have liked a little more closure with what happened to her and her part of the story. I loved the way the author wrote the mom, and dad, into the story as well. I could feel the warmth, love, and sadness they were dealing with as well. Overall, it was a good book; and I think the ending message of how Skylar finally comes to see God is one many teens need to hear now-a-days. I think, also, the author will reach more people by having Skylar come to that conclusion slowly, being an unbeliever throughout the majority of the book because other teens will be able to relate to her feelings and emotions more than if she started out a believer.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive

the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here: www.cheriswalwell.com

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at: www.cheriswalwell.com

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

Remembrancy, May 15

Batya’s Bits, May 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 17

For the Love of Literature, May 18

Older & Smarter?, May 19

Andrea Carmen, May 19

Texas Book-aholic, May 20

Inklings and notions, May 21

Writing from the Heart Land, May 21

For Him and My Family, May 22

deb’s Book Review, May 23

Spoken from the Heart, May 24

Nancy E Wood, May 24

Pause for Tales, May 25

Hallie Reads, May 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 27

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 28

With a Joyful Noise, May 28

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize package of coasters and a book sleeve!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/fa00/seeing-voices-celebration-tour-giveaway