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Authenticity

In order for friendships to be genuine, each person needs to be honest with the other. I’m not talking about the kind of honesty that hurts another’s feelings (“I hate your haircut – it’s hideous!”), but I’m talking about the kind of honesty that shares true feelings and hard to talk about topics at times for the betterment of the other.

 

I’ve shared about a Sister in Christ (SiC) who would walk the school track regularly with me during the school year. Some days we were both enthusiastic about either how the sermon spoke to us (we attend the same church too!) or the way the plot is coming along in our fiction books, or how God answered a prayer, showered another with a blessing, or we just feel happy because we have energy and it’s a great day.

 

Other mornings one (or the other of us) would be discouraged, frustrated, or one particular morning I actually sobbed (yes, sobbed – not my finest moment) because I had reached the end of what I could endure in a situation and simply needed to vent.

 

During one of those walks is when my friend offered to help me with marketing. She knew I was struggling and while she didn’t know more than I did, we both know how to read and could follow directions. Having a friend willing to walk alongside you in something that seems hard makes it appear easier.

In return, I’m helping her with the steps in publishing and writing that I’ve already learned, but she is starting to venture into.

 

In what ways have you come alongside a friend and offered encouragement or something tangible during moments of discouragement?

 

Has someone come alongside you and offered you support when you needed it most?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

Book: Smoke Screen

Author:  Terri Blackstock

Genre: Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019

 

About the Book:

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

Click here to get your copy.

 

About the Author

 

Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com; Facebook: tblackstock; Twitter: @terriblackstock

 

 

 

 

 

My Review of The Freedom Challenge:

I have always wanted to read more Terri Blackstock books and I’m glad I chose Smoke Screen as my first. I love family dynamics in books and this one didn’t disappoint. I also love suspense/mystery and twists and turns in books and this one delivered that as well. Blackstock writes well, drawing me into the storyline, the characters, and wondering how it will all end up. This was a great book I will be recommending to others.

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.

 

Excerpt from Smoke Screen

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.

 

Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.

 

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

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9

CarpeDiem, November 9

Christian Bookaholic , November 9

Fiction Aficionado, November 10

KarenSueHadley, November 10

Quiet quilter, November 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Among the Reads, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

Robin’s Nest, November 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

Bigreadersite , November 12

Blogging With Carol , November 12

Betti Mace, November 13

Spoken from the Heart, November 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

EmpowerMoms, November 17

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

Hallie Reads, November 20

Cathe Swanson, November 21

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

All 4 and About Books, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

Livin’ Lit, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

janicesbookreviews, November 22

Have you ever been excited to get together with a friend? But then, after you leave, you feel worse than when you arrived? Whether sad, a heavy heart, or just like something’s off?

What about a time when you got together with a friend and you left feeling supported, heard, encouraged, and prayed for?

While I don’t believe a person should seek out friends who only make them feel good about themselves, I do think it’s important to evaluate your friendships once in a while and see if there are any trends worth noting.

Every single encounter with a friend isn’t going to be perfect and leave a person feeling happy and carefree. However, if most of the interactions leave a person emotionally exhausted, heavy of heart, or “feeling badly about themselves,” it might be worth asking God why.

What kinds of friendships do you have – ones that are mutually encouraging, supportive, and centered around God values?

Or do your friendships lack that feeling of togetherness and commitment to each other?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

Earlier this year God issued me an invitation to fight a battle (for someone else) through the use of praise and worship. Not fasting, but praying, praise, and worship.

While I was still talking to Him and confirming that I had indeed heard Him correctly, our church introduced a song which spoke about that very thing – fighting our enemy through praise.

I thought the invitation was for the month of February and as faithfully as I could, I fought. Then I stopped and while I prayed occasionally about it (I hadn’t seen an answered prayer at this point) I had stepped away from the daily fight.

Life got hard, busy, and I stopped.

Toward the end of July, God again reminded me of this battle I was supposed to be fighting. I think I was the one who put the expiration date on it because this time I didn’t feel a specific amount of time – but instead to make praise and worship my lifestyle and to keep fighting until a breakthrough occurred.

While I love singing and worshipping God through praise, it’s one of the first things to go when I feel helpless, hopeless, or defeated. I think God used this invitation to help me realize it’s not about how I’m feeling, but it’s an act of obedience and worship to fight using the method of song.

I’m getting better, but I’m still not where I want to be. Have you ever fought spiritual battles through praise and worship? If so, what are some of the ways you keep going when life gets hard? Because let’s be honest, when you’re in a fight with the enemy, he doesn’t play fair.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

Book: The Freedom Challenge: 60 Days to Untie the Cords that Bind You

Author:  Dawn Page

Genre: Christian Living, Women’s Interest, Personal Growth, Devotional

Release Date: March 22, 2019

Be free from toxic mindsets, destructive patterns of behavior, and lies that keep you bound.

The truth behind seven little words changed Dawn Scott Damon’s life when she heard a man from a small country church sing “I am who He says I am!” Her life was transformed as she began to believe what God’s Word says about who she is in Christ, and she started her journey out of betrayal, abandonment, and deception.

She shares compelling truths in a sixty-day interactive Bible study that identifies and confronts eight cords that keep many believers bound. These practical and powerful biblical tools are designed to give you a new mindset, a fresh beginning, and a clear direction for a positive future.

Take the Freedom Challenge and become an active participant in your own emotional and spiritual transformation. Through a guided, intentional, and interactive daily process of putting God’s Word into practice, the strongholds of destructive and bondage-making behavior in your life can be broken. Choose to take that first step to live free from deceptive self-talk, fear, depression, toxic mindsets, and debilitating lies, among others.

Thought-provoking questions, journaling space, confessions, and affirmations are included to help guide you toward freedom.

The truest thing about you and me is that we are who God says we are! We are to believe what God says about us, not be limited by negative labels, false limitations, and lies.

 

About the Author

International Author, Speaker, and Pastor, Dawn Scott (Jones) Damon was born in Holland, Michigan to advertising and marketing entrepreneurs, Jim and Cleo Scott, grew up in Grand Rapids, MI, and began her ministry and writing career after finding freedom and healing from the childhood trauma of sexual abuse. Dawn’s first book, “When A Woman You Love Was Abused: A Husband’s Guide to helping her overcome childhood sexual molestation,” won the Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal Award in 2013. Dawn’s second book, “When The Woman Abused Was You: A Guide to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse,” has just been released, 2017, and has already earned her a 5-Star rating from Readers’ Favorite.

Dawn is a favorite keynote speaker at Women’s Conferences, bringing in-depth teaching along with heartfelt honesty, laced with side-splitting laughter. Dawn Scott Damon resides in Rockford, MI with the love of her life, husband Paul.

My Review of The Freedom Challenge:

This book was exactly what I needed at this time in my life. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the areas God is working on in me currently. It’s easy to read; yet it’s hard to read. The flow and pace and length of the chapters is wonderful – it’s great for busy lifestyles or people who don’t like to read; yet each short chapter is packed full of great truths that when studied, prayed about, and committed to, are difficult. But then again, isn’t most change difficult? If it’s worth it, there has to be some sacrifice. This is a wonderful book – I’m actually reading it as a Bible study with another friend and having the chance to talk about the different parts together is an added bonus. This book works really well to be read alone or with a group.

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.

 

More from Dawn

As a little girl, I can remember singing in church with all my heart “Blessed Be the Ties That Bind.” Those ties that bind our hearts to one-another in love and to Jesus himself, are indeed blessed. But what about ties that aren’t blessed?

Hi I’m Dawn and I’m super glad you stopped by today!

I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. At 19 years old, I became a wife and very soon after, a mother. After years of abuse, I was also a victim of rage and bitterness. The childhood sexual trauma was over, but the abuse aftermath—anger, pain, and depression—continued to destroy me. The cords of unwanted bondage choked joy and life out of me.

Today, I live fierce and free and serve as a freedom-coach to help others do the same. I’ve been on a journey for over 25 years, seeking God’s freedom through his truth and learning how to empower others to do the same. The Freedom Challenge: 60-Days to Untie the Cords that Bind You, is the map God gave me to find my way out of bondage, and now I’m sharing it with you! I pray you will also experience God’s glorious deliverance.

And now some fun facts about me:

I have a wonderful husband named Paul. Together we pastor a church called Tribes—but here’s the deal, he’s the “Pastor’s Spouse,” not me.

I am a grandma of 11! It’s the awesomest—a word I use to describe it! I especially like what my grandson Colton calls me…Jam’ma.

I love animals—all kinds—and I’ve determined there are absolutely no germs in dog kisses.

I also have to admit, I adore anything that glitters or sparkles and someday hope to have a bling store.

Lastly, I love Jesus and I still sing my heart out in church!

 

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

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 4

Spoken from the Heart, November 5

Genesis 5020, November 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 7

Godly Book Reviews, November 7

CarpeDiem, November 8

Moments, November 9

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, November 10

For Him and My Family, November 10

Older & Smarter?, November 11

Empowermoms, November 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 13

Texas Book-aholic, November 14

Mary Hake, November 14

janicesbookreviews, November 15

A Reader’s Brain, November 16

Inklings and notions, November 17

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 17

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Dawn is giving away the grand prize of a $50 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/edeb/the-freedom-challenge-celebration-tour-giveaway

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve been known to do some crazy things. My kids know that I’m a cautious person by nature, but if God nudges me, I’ll obey most of the time, even if it goes against the natural current of society.

One Saturday morning, I had our two younger kids in the car and we were driving home from running some errands. We passed by an accident, a fender bender, and as per our usual, we prayed for them while continuing to drive home.

However, I quickly felt a God nudge to go back and offer to babysit the little toddler we had briefly seen at the scene as we were driving past.

I admit, I argued with my Father a little in my mind (my kids weren’t even aware God had nudged me yet), reminding Him I had my two kids in the car, I would feel stupid approaching a stranger and asking to hold his child, with a few other excuses thrown in for good measure.

The Holy Spirit volleyed back having my children in the car was exactly why I should head back and if He was asking me to do it, wouldn’t He take care of the details?

I informed our children (as I was pulling over so I could turn around and head back) that we were going back to the scene of the accident and I was going to offer to help watch the little boy so his dad (a teenager himself) could deal with the police without distraction.

It didn’t take but three minutes to return to the scene, I pulled into a business driveway far enough away to keep my kids safe and stay out of the way of the police, got out of the car and approached the group, instructing my kids to stay put until I motioned for them to come.

After introducing myself to the driver, I explained I was a mother myself, had my kids with me (so he wouldn’t think I was weirdo than I already felt) and offered to stay right by his car but hold his son so he could deal with the police without distraction. He readily agreed, handed his child over (whom wasn’t too happy having a stranger take him which is when I called our kids over, with toys to distract him and he brightened up), and then finished dealing with the details of the accident.

A few minutes later, our neighbor (a police officer himself) saw me there and asked if I knew the victim.  My reply? Nope, just stopped to see if I could offer some help.

We stayed and played with the little boy until his grandparents arrived and took over. The whole incident took less than 10 minutes probably and I will never know if I was a nuisance or a genuine help. All I know is I listened to God’s nudge and show my kids the importance of obedience to our Heavenly Father.

Has something similar ever happened to you? Did you listen or did you do what I almost did and ignore it?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

God nudge …

A few years back I was at the grocery store on a Sunday night. Mondays (at that season in my life) were one of my catch-up days. Appointments, writing, phone calls – that was the day I used to get things done I didn’t normally have time for in order to work hard Tuesday through Thursday.

However, while at the store, I mentioned to my husband I felt like God was inviting me to ask a friend out to breakfast the next day. I knew it was short notice and I wondered if she would say ‘no’ because of that, but I asked anyway out of obedience.

After texting her the invitation, it wasn’t five minutes later and she had accepted. I didn’t know exactly what we were going to talk about, but I knew I was supposed to ask.

While eating breakfast the next morning, God guided the conversation and I was able to offer some encouragement in an area where she was struggling, an area that I understood well, and we prayed right there in McDonalds for peace, guidance and wisdom.

Have you ever felt God nudge you to extend an invitation to a friend, cook dinner for someone, or offer to babysit for another? What do His nudges look like to you?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019