Our family of five is so blessed to have the extended family that we do. We have the privilege of living close to both sets of parents, and at one time we lived close to our sisters and their families as well.


Even though miles separate us with some of our family now, we make an effort to connect on a regular basis – between weekly phone calls or regular visits.


Some of my favorite memories are family dinners, leisurely afternoons at the lake, sitting and putting puzzles together, or just catching up.

We have been blessed with trips to visit those who are out of state to enjoy some quality, unrushed time together and time to celebrate special occasions all together.


Our kids have the privilege of growing up with both sets of grandparents involved in their lives. During my childhood, my grandparents lived miles away and I only got to see them once, maybe twice a year. I love that our kids get to spend time knowing not just one set, but both sets of grandparents and sharing life with them on a regular basis.


What are some special memories you have with your extended family? Are there special traditions you participate in every year, special food one relative is especially known for, or something else even more special?


© Cheri Swalwell 2019


About the Book:

Book Title: The Pink Bonnet

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical, Suspense

Release date: June 2019

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child?

Click here to purchase your copy.


About the Author:

Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.


More from Liz:

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child

True, riveting stories of American criminal activity are explored through 6 unique stories of historical romantic suspense in the exciting new True Colors series.

In book two, The Pink Bonnet, Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

How far will a mother go to find out what happened to her child? Find out in The Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma.

The True Crime Behind the Story

Georgia Tann was a woman who ran an adoption agency in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1924 until 1950. It is estimated that, in that time, she kidnapped over five thousand children and sold them to the highest bidder. She even advertised the children in the newspaper, especially around the holidays. Some of the nation’s biggest celebrities adopted through Miss Tann, including Joan Crawford, Dick Powell, and June Allyson. Learn more about Georgia Tann HERE and visit www.TrueColorsCrime.com for more exclusive content.


My Review of The Pink Bonnet:

I had read a book earlier this year about this same topic, this same woman, Ms. Georgia Tann, and it was wonderful. This book added more layers onto the book I originally read and was the “icing on the cake.” What a sad book; yet there was hope throughout as well. I love the characters; I loved the scenery and setting; I loved the story lines throughout and I loved how it made me feel as though I was right there. I highly recommend this book; although be prepared to have your heart ripped out throughout the pages as you feel what the characters are feeling as though you’re living it yourself.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions were strictly my own.


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

Just the Write Escape, June 20

The Becca Files, June 20

Livin’ Lit, June 20

The Power of Words, June 21

Christian Bookaholic, June 21

Godly Book Reviews, June 21

Spoken from the Heart, June 22


For HIm and my Family, June 22

Blossoms and Blessings, June 23

Inspired by fiction, June 23

Mary Hake, June 23

Connie’s History Classroom, June 24

Moments, June 24

Simple Harvest Reads, June 24

Daysong Reflections, June 25

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 25

For the Love of Literature, June 25

Remembrancy, June 26

As He Leads is Joy, June 26

Emily Yager, June 26

Genesis 5020, June 27

Reader’s Cozy Corner, June 27

Carla Loves to Read, June 27

Inklings and notions, June 28

Changed by Him, June 28

Bigreadersite, June 28

Through the Fire Blogs, June 28

Inspiration Clothesline, June 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 29

Pause for Tales, June 29

Hallie Reads, June 30

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 30

For the Love of Books, June 30

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 1

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 1

Texas Book-aholic, July 1

janicesbookreviews, July 2

Older & Smarter?, July 2

By The Book, July 2

A Reader’s Brain, July 3

amandainpa, July 3

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3



To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away a grand prize that includes a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Pink Bonnet!!

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/e331/the-pink-bonnet-celebration-tour-giveaway

I have the best kids ever.


I am writing this during the last week of school before summer break. For us, this year, it’s an insane week with tons of extra work for me (with my jobs), extra activities and running around (with the kids), paying bills and grocery shopping, extra chores around the house, and getting everyone ready to leave for camp.


Normally this type of a schedule would have me scrambling, stressed, and crabby. It would have everyone scrambling, stressed, and crabby. Not this time.


Instead, I have been marveling at how amazing our kids are. And while they are terrific at the big things, it’s the little things that are catching my attention this week.

Our oldest being willing to mow the whole lawn (which takes a whole day because its three yards total); our youngest being willing to bake brownies for his sister because she isn’t home to do it, and when she comes home she has to study for finals; our middle child helping me figure out technology for an interview I have scheduled for Thursday; pitching in to clean up the kitchen; helping out with the laundry when it isn’t their assigned job; and then helping with the big project our family took on over the weekend that has carried over into the week. All without complaining and choosing to have fun.


Our kids are kind. Our kids are helpful. Our kids are funny. Our kids are fun. I would love them regardless, but today I want to take a few minutes and just let others know how much I appreciate being their mom.


How about your kids? I would love to hear how fantastic they are in the comments – big or little, I bet your kids are as amazing as ours.


© Cheri Swalwell 2019



Marrying Up

You know how people talk about when they got married, they married “up?” I definitely married up!


I have a husband who is a true spiritual leader in our home, and he demonstrates that each and every day. He never asks us to do more than he’s willing to do himself, and most of the time, he just quietly does it for us so that we don’t have to.


I know that he prays for us every day. He and I pray together every morning as well, but I love that he covers me and our kids in prayer (as well as extended family and friends) on his own.


He may be considered “quiet” by many, but he’s so much more than that. He is observant, intelligent, and slow to speak, but when he does, wisdom comes out of his mouth as well as gentleness, fairness, and kindness to all involved. He weighs all angles before considering a response and I can be confident that the decision he made is one I can trust (and back him up).

He has a great sense of humor and leads our family with an attitude of fun. He knows how to not take himself (or the situation) too seriously and helps me (his wife who can be way too intense at times) to loosen up and remember to laugh.


He has a great shoulder to lean on when I need to cry and lets me share my feelings without judgment. He’s a great balance of objectivity to my (at times) overly emotional self.

He’s an amazing father to our sons and also to our daughter. I think it takes a special personality to be able to parent both sons and daughters well – and he has that skill mastered. He’s protective but fair; wants the best for all of us, and is willing to explain the “why” behind the rules.


We are team when it comes to life – whether parenting, serving, life goals, or just living. He has my back and I have his. He has been my biggest supporter in this crazy adventure of writing … and I can never express adequately my gratitude for that support.


What about you? If you’re married, what are some things about your spouse that make him/her so special? I’d love to hear you brag about your spouse in the comments below.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

I am blessed to have two amazing dads. One was given to me at birth; the other was given to me when I married my husband. Both are amazing men that I want to honor today.


Thank you, Dad, for your support, encouragement, and love throughout the years. You taught me how to fix things around the house, gave me a love for learning, showed us how important making memories and having fun was, and most of all, taught me how to love God. I will always treasure our mornings coloring and watching TV before school, watching thunderstorms together on the porch, and serving together at church and in the community.

Thank you, Dad, for raising my husband to be the man he is. Thank you for loving me as a daughter, not a daughter-in-law, and all the “little” things you have done (and still do) throughout the years. It may not seem important to you, but running to the store when our kids were sick for crackers and Gatorade, the beautiful Christmas mug you bought me one year “just because it looked like something I would like,” and the many family dinners we have had over the years have meant to much to me.


Today I want to honor and thank the dads in my life for their legacy of love. We are blessed to have them be such important men in our lives. Looking forward to many more years of making memories together.


© Cheri Swalwell 2019

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)


I have shared the last two times we’ve been together about how God began working on our family’s schedule first, my schedule second, and then addressed my health which needs to be in optimal form in order to finish strong the life and opportunities I believe God is blessing me with now and the opportunities He wants to bless us with in the future.


First, He got my attention with our family’s schedule. Then He got my attention with my schedule. Then He changed my mindset about living out of a suitcase for the past two years, and finally He’s gotten my attention with my health.


Our conversation was just getting started, though. God didn’t only invite me to work on cutting things out of my schedule. I’m still talking to Him about that – willing to cut more until my schedule is where He wants it. I’m choosing full surrender in this area. He also isn’t just talking to me about how He wants me to prepare for the ministry He is reawakening in our family’s heart. That takes energy in and of itself, but we’re slowly working on accomplishing those goals as well.


Nope, only our loving God would show me the bigger picture of what He has planned for me in the realm of writing. In 2011, I had a conversation with God about how I thought my career would look. I was willing to work multiple jobs for up to two years, but by then my fiction writing career would have taken off and I would be able to bring in a decent income while volunteering, serving, baking chocolate chip cookies, and being available for family and friends at the drop of a hat. God instead gave me nonfiction writing assignments, self-publishing instead of traditional publishing and now I’m working three jobs in addition to my own writing.

However, one night this week as I was falling asleep and feeling guilty this time not about serving (or not serving) in the church, but about all the courses I should be taking to advance my writing career, the missed opportunities with webinars, not focusing on marketing, etc. I was stressing myself out about all the things I needed to do but wasn’t doing.


God took all that worry and stress and simplified it for me. When I chose to surrender my career (and the timeframe of it) to Him, right there in bed, He gave me back peace and an outline of what He wants me to do as well as the correct order.


The peace I experienced in that moment coupled with the excitement of the assignments He has given me brought freedom. When we choose to surrender every area of our lives – health, family, ministry opportunities, career, dreams – everything, we are given in exchange freedom and God’s peace.


Complete surrender truly does equal freedom and Jesus’ peace. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy to make the changes God might require of me as He makes my schedule the way He wants it to look; but I know if I continue to surrender every area of my life (including making room for more bathroom breaks), the blessings I get in return will be worth any sacrifice I’ve made.


What about you? Are you willing to make the changes God’s inviting you to make? It may be scary to take that first step, but I know I’m glad I am.


© Cheri Swalwell 2019

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)


Last time we were together I spoke about how God has reawakened a dream my husband and I have had since we got married. We have discussed it with our kids and they are on board too … now comes the preparation time as we wait and see if God continues to open the door as we think He will, or if He has a different door He’s waiting to open, both requiring us to spend time getting ready.


I also spoke about how we have stepped out of serving as a family at church during this season out of obedience to God, and the guilt I have been feeling about it, even though I know it’s what He said to do. I have the personality type that will participate in all activities because I want to serve, be a blessing to others, or have fun, even at the detriment of myself. Too busy? That’s okay. Who needs bathroom breaks or sleep?


It turns out, I do. I had a medical issue I’d been self-diagnosing at home for the past month and finally it was bothering me enough to get it addressed with my primary doctor. You know your schedule is out of whack when trying to find time to go to the doctor for an issue that should be checked out stresses you out. Seriously. My doctor is literally 5 minutes from my house and yet to find the time to go was stressful.


The results of the appointment were not what I expected. The issue I went for? Probably nothing (which is basically what I thought) but I still have to see a specialist for confirmation (another doctor’s appointment to schedule!), but my blood pressure, for the past four times I’ve been at the doctor in the past two years was alarmingly high.

Now, before you get upset at my doctor for not addressing this issue with me, or worse, get upset with me for ignoring my health, I own a blood pressure cuff and 95% of the time, my blood pressure is in the normal, healthy range. I have spikes in blood pressure that occur when I feel stressed. Even my doctor thinks the degree to which my blood pressure spikes is slightly weird. Regardless, though, of why my blood pressure spikes, it does and damage is being done unless I can work on ways to lessen those spikes or the amount of times I experience them.


God used my appointment for a relatively minor issue to get me to address a bigger issue that I’ve known about, thought I was dealing with but really wasn’t, but needs to be addressed. My schedule has to change. It’s becoming non-negotiable.


Part of the preparation our family has been doing in order to step into this new ministry opportunity has been addressing my health. Now I realize I need to take the necessary steps in order to be healthy to minister well.  And I believe God called us out of the ministries (temporarily) at our church in order to help take things off my plate to have the time to relax and get my blood pressure (and body) in a more relaxed state the majority of the time. Time to take bathroom breaks. Time to relax for an hour at night. Time to stop running full speed ahead the majority of the days of the week. Time to realize I might need to make an adjustment to my personality type … and that’s okay.


I love that God started taking things out of my schedule first … to get me used to the idea, and then addressed my health so that I would continue to make the changes necessary in order to be the healthiest I can be for the ministry opportunities He has planned for us. However, none of that would have happened, I don’t think, if God hadn’t changed my mindset of unpacking my suitcase and embracing where He has planted me for this season. Because it’s easy to ignore problems if you think where you are is only temporary. However, six years? Not so temporary.


Come back one more time and I will show you how God took this invitation to clear my schedule one step further.


© Cheri Swalwell 2019