Feeds:
Posts
Comments

“…if it becomes too much noise, I simply give it all to Him to hang on to and lean on Him for help in taking care of it all one item at a time.”

(Fred St. Laurent, excerpt from All I Need)

 

I spoke last time about how I’d been feeling like a failure when our family adventure dragged on longer than I’d hoped.  I knew God doesn’t cause people to feel that way, so I was allowing “stinkin’ thinkin’” into my life.  I still believed God was in control, I still believed He loved our family and would provide in His time, but I was letting doubt creep in and it was creating a downward spiral that wasn’t healthy or productive.

It took a lot of conversations with God and then bouncing things off trusted friends, but I realized there were too many “I’s” in my statements.  “I wasn’t working…I wasn’t providing for my family…I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain.”  And that’s all true – I wasn’t doing those things but that wasn’t what God called me to do.  Starting during the first leg of our journey, I told God I wanted His will for my life and for Him to have complete control, yet when things were looking bleak, I stopped believing my own words. I went from trusting God with everything to thinking He wanted my works to get things done.

Not only was I insulting God by trying to take control back, but I was inflicting wounds on Him every time I believed the lie that I was a failure and worthless because of the loss of a job!  I am much more than the career path I take.  I am made up of many more parts – woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend…and then employee and possibly, maybe someday employer (who knows what God has planned?)

It wasn’t until a friend was sharing with me the valley her family is walking through and the possible loss of income they were facing that it fully hit me.  I didn’t blame him for that or think less of him because of what was happening.  He didn’t have a plan B and I didn’t think he needed one.  I was beating myself up because I wasn’t prepared before January 5th when I found out I was losing my job when in actuality God had been preparing me since 2010, so I was walking in the path He had chosen.  If I’d tried to go out and get another job while I was carrying the responsibilities of two jobs and a writing career, I’m thinking God would have considered that overkill, not good planning.  How would that response have shown God I trust Him?

 DSCN5736

All He wants is for me to follow Him – when He gives me a command, follow it.  When He plants a desire in my heart, to step out in faith (sometimes while shaking in my shoes) and claim it.  He doesn’t want me running ahead, falling behind, or taking back control because I think He’s doing it wrong.  And He certainly doesn’t want me condemning myself if I find myself in a holding pattern – even if that holding pattern lasts for longer than I’d like.

My friends…I don’t know exactly what you’re going through in life.  Maybe you’re experiencing a job change, an illness, some kind of “exciting adventure” of your own.  What I do know is this:  God knows.  And when we let Him drive (without continually taking over), we will get to His destination for our lives faster (and more peacefully) than if we try and get there on our own. And, Satan’s best tool for distraction from our destiny is doubt.  Doubt in our abilities, doubt that God is still working when He feels so silent, doubt that we are worth His time and attention.

When we say “I am a failure” it’s so much more than four little words.  It’s letting Satan take from us the victory that God is waiting for us to claim.  It’s keeping the focus on ourselves and keeping us from looking up and seeing how we can use this adventure to bless others.  It’s telling God He made a mistake and He doesn’t make mistakes.  Regardless of how we feel, we can know that God’s timing is perfect.  When this adventure is finally finished, I will look back and realize it didn’t take nearly as long as it felt while we were walking through the desert.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 3

 

Do you remember the day your little one was placed in your arms? Does it sometimes feel as though the years are rushing by – not willing to slow down enough for you to savor these moments?

 

Parenting is a journey filled with opposites – laughter and tears, stolen moments and crowded days, sleepless nights and bleary-eyed mornings.  However, I also pray that parenthood is something you look at with excitement, enthusiasm, and love.

 Parenting 101 Vol 3 Kindle cover

Let this book offer encouragement, hope, humor, and an escape from your busyness to remember how special your children are and how much you love them.  May the words remind you of Who blessed you with your family and while not perfect, perfectly handpicked for you!

 

Sit back, relax, and let’s journey together as we travel the road of parenthood.

 

Available at Amazon in paperback and eBook versions

 

http://amzn.to/1F3R2DT

AVAILABLE NOW!! 

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 3

 

Do you remember the day your little one was placed in your arms? Does it sometimes feel as though the years are rushing by – not willing to slow down enough for you to savor these moments?

 

Parenting is a journey filled with opposites – laughter and tears, stolen moments and crowded days, sleepless nights and bleary-eyed mornings.  However, I also pray that parenthood is something you look at with excitement, enthusiasm, and love.

 Parenting 101 Vol 3 Kindle cover

Let this book offer encouragement, hope, humor, and an escape from your busyness to remember how special your children are and how much you love them.  May the words remind you of Who blessed you with your family and while not perfect, perfectly handpicked for you!

 

Sit back, relax, and let’s journey together as we travel the road of parenthood.

 

Available at Amazon in paperback and eBook versions

 

http://amzn.to/1F3R2DT

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  Thomas A. Edison

When I started this “exciting adventure” back in January with my career, I asked God what lesson He wanted me to learn because I was ready to learn it quickly and move on to the Promised Land.  Knowing what I know of God, I don’t think He laughed at me, but maybe He let out a chuckle or two since He knew that the lesson I really needed to learn wasn’t even on my radar back then.  I thought maybe I needed to learn about trust (which I did) or faith (ditto that one too) or maybe even perseverance (yup, still learning all three as a matter of fact).  Then I got to thinking maybe He wanted me to learn how to walk into my destiny.  After all, it was years ago (around 2005) when I asked God to please show me what purpose He had for my life because I didn’t want to just exist – I wanted to live a life that mattered for Him.

Well, as much as He has taught me about that aspect of life as well, I don’t think that was the “lesson” He had in mind.  I think there was a bigger lesson involved that I’m just starting to grasp.  There might be more lessons and I might be delaying the Promised Land because I haven’t learned them yet, but I definitely have my radar up, listening for what He has to tell me.

 DSCN5420

However, the lesson I’m referring to is this one:  There were too many “I’s” in my statements.  You see, when I first started this journey with a reduced income in August of 2013, I couldn’t shake the fact that I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t provide my part of the income for my family, I couldn’t get the next part of the journey going fast enough, I couldn’t produce the results that I knew (thought) needed to happen.

Then in January when I faced the loss of complete income, I hate to admit it but I lived a little in denial.  I didn’t think it would take too long.  Even though others tried to reassure me that God had it and that they were willing to help fill in the gaps until God revealed the next step, I didn’t think we would need that help.  I had complete faith that God would swoop in and rescue us as He has done many times before.  I believed that our adventure was going to be short – over February 1st, maybe with a few bumps still needing to be dealt with, but He would provide the answer and the next step of where He wants me during this time in my life. I was all ready to give Him all the glory too! After all, our journey started in 2013 so it had almost been two years already.  I had been faithful and obedient and thought I’d done all the right things – the things He wanted me to do.  And, when our adventure wasn’t finished on February 1st and I was still hearing silence from God instead of direction, those feelings of failure and worthlessness reared their ugly head again – only this time much, much stronger.

During this time, I continued, with my husband’s blessing to wait on the one job I felt God was leading me to full time while applying for part time work to help fill in the gap.  I rejoiced that I finally started hearing His voice in what kind of part time work to apply for, reassuring me once again that He had something permanent for me, but helping with the gap filling.  I also heard specifically the goals He wanted me to work toward with my writing career and I have embraced those with a renewed excitement as well.  Yet the feelings of worthlessness and being a failure continued.  Come back next time as I realize what God has been trying to teach me for two years.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:10-12 (The Message)

 

When people go through trials, sometimes they will hear things like, “God must be using you for something important to allow you to go through…” or they might hear something else like, “The breakthrough must be right around the corner because Satan sure is stepping up his game to try and keep you from…”

Reading the Bible, both situations occur regularly.  Satan does his best to thwart God’s ultimate plan of adding more people to His family through various means.  God, also, allows us to go through trials in order to help us become more like Him.

Anyone who lives on the Earth will experience a trial or series of trials in their lifetime.  I’ve found for myself, in our latest trial or the latest “section” of our trial, that it really doesn’t matter to me if it’s God growing my maturity or Satan trying to thwart the glory God wants to see achieved…it’s still a trial and it’s still (at times) hard!  Focusing on why the trial is occurring doesn’t really help me get to the end result.  But there are a few things that can (and do) help me personally when experiencing a trial and I would like to share them with you.

First, asking God what He wants me to learn through this particular trial and then listening to and obeying His voice when He speaks.  If He chooses to remain silent for a time period, then believing and trusting in the promises and truths spoken in the Bible to others going through a similar trial or remembering the promises God has spoken over my life in the past until He chooses to speak again.  I love that God is a God of few words – He doesn’t talk to hear Himself speak.  He talks only when it’s important.  And when He talks – stuff happens!  The world was created, people were healed, sins were forgiven….yup, when God talks, it’s important, and so I’m choosing to listen up to make sure I don’t miss His voice.

Second, focusing on and believing God’s promises and Truths instead of giving Satan any audience to try and convince me of his lies.  When I’m tired or beaten down, that’s when I find myself most vulnerable to Satan’s lies.  Arming myself with God’s Truths ahead of time will help most of the time, but knowing there will be days I need extra prayer support and having a plan ahead of time makes a big difference.  Asking others to pray for me when I just don’t have the words is a great way to help Satan retreat or to build my maturity in Christ.

 

DSCN4610

 

Third, praising God through the trial.  Focusing on the blessings that He brings along the way (and there are always blessings when we are His children) helps keep the focus where it should be…on God’s truths and that He loves me and is taking care of the issue I’m dealing with, in His way, in His time.

Fourth, reaching out to others with encouragement, love, and empathy as God puts people in my path.  I’m not going through this particular journey just so God can show up in my life.  No, I’m going through this particular journey so that I can then help someone else through their similar journey.  God is a God of family…and as His children, it’s our job to share His love with others.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if my trial is one that God is using to mature me to help me progress to the purpose He has for my life, or if it’s a stumbling block Satan is using to thwart God’s greater plan, to steer me off course so that I don’t fulfill God’s purpose in my life.  More than likely, it’s a little of both.  God is using it to mature me and get me that much closer to becoming more like Him, and Satan isn’t happy and wants to try and stop me from maturing and becoming someone God can use to further His kingdom.  No matter how it started, trials are usually hard.  If I focus on the circumstances, I can quickly veer off course.  However, I have a choice.  I can focus on God’s promises and the fact that even while walking this particular journey, I’m still safely held in His hands, right where He wants me.  When I make that choice, I usually reach the end of the trial sooner. I’m not detoured by the circumstances or focused on the “why.”  Instead, I’m given a chance for God to get all the glory and me to say, “Thank You, Lord, for allowing me a small part in that particular part of Your story.”

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”  Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)

I’m reading a great book, Hosting the Presence Every Day by Bill Johnson.  The reading on February 22nd gave me a new appreciation for the way I am to live my life using Jesus as my example.  He gave three examples of how Jesus fought when He was on this earth.  I always knew that God’s philosophy and the world’s philosophy were opposite and that is very evident in Jesus’ approach to fighting the darkness around Him.

The most important truth to grasp is that there really is no battle between Satan and God.  “God has the eternal advantage of power and victory over him.”  We are the ones that fight with Satan because without Jesus’ power, we will be overcome. When Jesus came to earth as a human, He chose to fight on our behalf in three very specific ways.  When He chose to heal and deliver every single person that came to Him asking for healing or forgiveness, that was the first way He overcame the power of darkness.  Second, He lived without sin.  His human body was tempted in the way that our human bodies are tempted, but because He was also God, He never let thoughts of sin take root in His life and therefore, He never sinned.  Lastly, the authority that He legitimately had He used only to serve others. He never used His power for Himself but ultimately, He used His power to die a cruel death on the cross in our place so we could join His family.

 

DSCN5092

 

When I read that, it was as though I was reading those Truths for the very first time.  I never thought about when Jesus healed and delivered people from their sins that it was a way He won the battle.  However, healing from sickness and sin is taking power away from the evil one and giving it back to Jesus.  Second, yes, Jesus in human form was tempted when He lived here on earth, but His relationship with His Father was so close, sin had no hold on Him.  I can understand that feeling to a very small degree.  My biggest struggle is with food.  When I am in close communion with my Father, the temptation of overeating loses it’s grip on me.  I don’t want anything to come between my Father and myself and eating becomes a nuisance instead of an obsession.

I’m challenged by the last way that Jesus exercised His authority here on earth.  If I want people to see Jesus in me then I need to be serving them, all the time.  What a power truth to live out! When I lay down my agenda and solely seek God’s purpose in situations is when I find the most peace because I know I have pleased Him.  It can be something as simple as graciously choosing to show patience and compassion or something more difficult such as choosing to love someone whom has done nothing but show me contempt.

The Truths discussed above aren’t new…however, for some reason as I was reading them again, I gained new insight into how Jesus wants His love reflected to others.  To fight using Jesus’ principles, I need to stay close to Him and have the attitude of a servant.  Sometimes easier said than done, but as a Christ follower who wants to please my Father, I’m up for simple…but hard.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)

 

I’ve spoken in the last few posts how being a Christ follower is simple, yet hard but also how sometimes, the journey itself can beat a person down when we get our focus off God and onto human circumstances.

From reading about people in the Bible and also hearing many accounts of my friends as well as reading modern day accounts of miracles, it’s safe for me to say that God’s timing is not my timing.  Many times circumstances have to get very dire before God steps in and reveals His divine intervention, saving the day.  My thoughts on why that occurs are very simple.  When God’s glory is revealed, more people choose to become His children and that is His sole purpose in life – that none “…shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, NIV)

I’m learning from personal experience, the time between the dire circumstance and the divine intervention isn’t always a fun place to hang around in.  That is the time when God allows us the chance to mature.  We can either run toward God and trust Him more, or we can run away from God and choose to do it on our own.  I want to run toward God.  I want to say to Him, “I’m all in.  I trust You.  I think I heard You say this, so I’m going to stand on that until I hear something different.”  That response is very different then throwing up your hands and being a victim or taking the reins and trying to make things work.

 

DSCN5423

 

For myself, I believe God has been working on this career change since 2011.  I believe He spoke that fall with a very specific direction.  That started this journey. There have been a few setbacks (due to mistakes on my part) which have resulted in some delays, but when I have heard God speak clearly, my desire has been to obey.  First, I have confirmed with God what He said and then I have taken it to my husband and asked for his permission as well, a way to honor the head of our household.  God doesn’t cause division between married people.  When both people are seeking God’s will, then He will bring peace between the two of them.

I believe that right now I’m in the silent stage…the time when maturity takes place, when God just wants us to trust, in my opinion a place that is simple but oh so hard.  It’s hard for someone who is used to having three jobs to stand firm on the promise that I believe God whispered in 2013. It’s hard to know that I know that I know what God said was true when humanly I’m not seeing the promise being fulfilled, when I think the situation is getting to the “dire stage.”

However, I’m not God.  I probably don’t know what dire really is.  He didn’t ask me to keep checking on the status…He asked me to trust.  He promised me in 2013 that if I stood firm, He would fight for me.  According to history, God can’t change.  If He chose to fight for others in the Bible, and to fight for us in 2013, then He is still willing to fight for us today. I only need to be still.  Simple in thought…harder in action.  My choice is to trust God…or take control.  Listen to lies of the enemy or speak God’s Truth.  Only I can choose for myself.  Only you can choose for yourself.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 383 other followers