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“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you…”  Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

 

It’s so much easier to see things after the fact then while I’m walking through them.  Back in February when I had lost my job and didn’t have another job to replace it, I panicked.  I told myself I wouldn’t, but I did anyway.  I felt pressure that I needed a job even though I thought I heard God tell me to “wait.”  I didn’t hear “rest” like I had in 2013, but I did think I heard “wait.”  And I wish I had listened more closely instead of panicking and trying to “fix” something that in God’s eye wasn’t broken.

He had (and has) our finances taken care of.  I was the only one freaking out about them – they were (and are) paid for every month.  We haven’t been living with much extra (and some months only the critical bills are getting paid) but God is still supplying and we are still being taken care of.

Knowing now what I do and how God has allowed me to step into two exciting jobs, continue a fast-paced writing schedule this year (and I thought I was busy last year), begin an exciting me back my fiction writing journey (slowly), and two extended trips this summer with family, I wish I had taken all of February and half of March to just “wait” like He whispered. That would have been better preparation for this busy but incredibly fulfilling role.  I feel that God has allowed me to use my gifts and talents in roles that I believe He specifically created for me, and while incredibly fulfilling, it’s still tiring.  I wish I had taken a little more time to recover from my previous job commitment and the exhaustion from that fast-paced lifestyle before stepping into another equally busy but oh so rewarding ministry.

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I have a friend who is not quite as far on her journey as I am on mine…and I gave her the advice I wish I had listened to.  I suggested to her that maybe if God isn’t supplying a job right now, He is giving her a chance to catch her breath after all their family has been through these past two years.  I reminded her that when (not if) He is ready for her to step into employment, it will be the right fit…and until then, He will continue to provide as He has done for them in the past.

I know the wait is hard…believe me, having recently experienced it, it can be brutal.  But maybe, if I can offer some advice I wish I had taken myself, enjoy the time that God gives you, the break, and try to see it from the perspective of a gift.  If you truly are being obedient and following His plan, He will continue to provide for you while maybe allowing you a chance to catch your breath before your next exciting adventure begins.  I believe God allows us periods of resting in between assignments because He knows our bodies need that refreshment.  Today’s society is so hard on our bodies – with all the sitting at desk jobs and the stress of living and pressure to cram so much into such a small amount of time.  Our brains rarely have a chance to rest because of all the information bombarding us.  And even when we intentionally try to take a break, it’s nearly impossible.

Yes, I wish I had taken my own advice.  While I love the position God is allowing me me to be in for this season, I wish I had rested a little more when given the opportunity.  Maybe that’s why He allowed two once in a lifetime opportunities for some family vacation time.  He knew I wouldn’t listen the first time but loves me enough to help me get it right and truly let myself recharge.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

“Joshua told the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.’” Joshua 3:5 (NIV)

 

My new job and responsibilities are working out well.  God reinforced to me that I have a wonderful boss (something I had already known and brought sadness when I had thought about leaving) who loves Him and gave me the gift of my job being a ministry where I could use my talents and passion for Him on a daily basis.

However, I had to wrestle with the fact, before I turned in my resignation, what if I was making a mistake?  What if I had resigned and my boss accepted it?  Would I have been disobeying God by leaving too soon, leaving His best for my life?  What if I had resigned, my boss accepted it, and I started the other job only to find out the hours and pay weren’t what was promised?  Would I have been in disobedience to God?

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I was able to put my feet in the river without seeing the ending of the story for two main reasons, both of which I learned from Joshua in the Bible.  The first is that sometimes God will give us a glimpse into the Promised Land but we still have to have faith in order to claim it for ourselves.  God showed me that I could work with less stress but that I had to actively choose that for myself.  Joshua had to put his foot in the river and begin the act of crossing over before God showed up and delivered them.

The second lesson I learned was that while the Promised Land is great, there are still battles to be won and giants to be faced.  I love my two jobs…I truly do.  I don’t feel like I’m at work…but it’s still work.  I still make mistakes, I still have deadlines and responsibilities, and because of the awesome bosses I work for, I want to do my best for them to show them how much I appreciate this opportunity.  So just because it’s the Promised Land doesn’t mean I get to slack off.  I still need to earn that paycheck. I’m just privileged to earn it while doing something I love.

Lastly, and probably the most important lesson that I learned was from God Himself.  He doesn’t need my help.  He is fully capable of taking care of me, guiding me in the direction He wants me to go, and He wants to see me succeed more than I want to see me succeed.  He is cheering me on and if I head in a direction that is not my best, He is quite capable of allowing me to stay and learn something important, help me change direction, deliver me from my U-turn, or something else equally amazing.  He really doesn’t need my “expertise” or lack thereof.  He has this and as a result, I can rest peacefully knowing that He will guide my steps if I allow Him too.

So, my friend if you have a difficult decision ahead, and you’ve prayed about it, asked God for wisdom, sought godly counsel, and feel that your choice lines up with God’s Word, step out confidently.  God doesn’t need your help.  He can take your choices and make something beautiful.  Just let Him lead…and watch where He will take you.  He took my resignation and turned it into an incredible job promotion.

© 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)

 

When we talked last, my boss had given me an assignment and he was looking for my answer in three days.  I prayed and asked God for His wisdom.  I didn’t want to be greedy in my answer, I didn’t want to be unrealistic – I truly wanted His will.  As I prayed, God kept bringing two assignments to my mind but I didn’t know what He meant by those and how they could add value to the company.  So I sought His will some more until I thought He had answered me.  With His answers, I wrote up a proposal, showed it to my husband, prayed over it, and then turned it into my boss Friday morning.  I would have talked to him one-on-one, but since I was gone all day, I didn’t want him to think I was ignoring him or not interested. I was very interested…and the best thing?  I was PEACEFUL.  Whatever decision he made, I knew that it would be the answer God wanted.

I was home briefly in between appointments and while I had to leave in five minutes, my boss called and I answered.  He asked me a question pertaining to the business and then said, “I accept your proposal, need to tweak things a little bit from a CEO perspective, but yes, I like it.”  I was elated.  I didn’t know what the tweaking was, but I did know this – the peace that God had given me before was still present and I knew that it would be God’s BEST.

Two days later, I received another email from my boss with his “tweaks.”  They blew me away!  Only God…He paid me more money than I had asked for, he agreed with the schedule I could give, and he liked what I could offer to the company that lined up with my gifts and talents.  The icing on the cake? He offered one more thing that was an answer to an unspoken prayer request which was created in February out of obedience…the same month I was promoted out of medical transcription.  God used the last gift my boss offered me to bless someone else, showing me without a doubt that God’s fingerprints were all over this new adventure.

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I walked around for almost two weeks with a permanent smile attached to my face.  While I am still in a position to grow and be challenged and learn new things, I have a schedule that fits with my lifestyle and with my family. I still work hard, maybe even a little harder, but it’s work that I wake up every morning thankful to do and feeling as though I am an asset instead of a detriment. I want to go above and beyond, yet I also know that both of my bosses support me in quality family time.  Both of my bosses love God as much as I do and we all feel called to the positions we are in.  I love being a part of two companies that put God first and want to serve clients – that it’s about relationships and not the almighty dollar…and God is blessing them for that.

I believe that God will restore my lost income soon…maybe even by the time you are reading this post.  I also believe that God allowed our family to walk through the journey we did because I needed to learn a few things.  My paycheck comes from God.  I work for God – not for a specific company.  Whatever I do, even if I’m in a season that is HARD – I will work at it to the best of my ability with the right attitude because I’m working for Him, not people.  And ultimately, my job is to be a reflection of Him with everyone I come in contact with.  Sometimes it’s done more subtly, sometimes I can speak more freely – but it’s always to be evident because I may be the only glimpse of “Jesus” some people get, and I don’t want to misrepresent – ever.

God blew me away.  I always said that when, not if, God gave us His BEST for us, I would shout it from the mountaintop.  He has chosen to reveal His best for us.  I never thought I would say this…but I’m almost glad God allowed our family to embrace the adventure in 2015…to think what we would have missed if He had given us the free pass I so politely asked for around the New Year.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

“Dear God, Sometimes You request, You ask, You nudge, You invite us to do things that are seemingly hard or uncomfortable…I pray that as we courageously step out in faith and participate, we do grow to know You more and that extraordinary things happen as a result of our obedience…”

(Originally published on UnveiledWife.com

 

There was one hurdle holding me back from resigning my current position and that was I wanted assurance that this new job would supply enough hours.  Here I was concerned about working too much but also needed to be assured I had enough work to help pay the bills.  I emailed my potential new boss…and waited.  He didn’t respond.  Not that night, not the next day, not the day after that.  Whatever peace I thought I had vanished.

I again questioned myself.  Was I doing the right thing or just giving up too easily?  Why did I keep thinking God gave me this job…was it for a brief season or did God have longer plans? Why was I sad when thinking about leaving one particular part of the job…and the people that God placed into my life through this job?

The thing is…I kept getting this feeling that God wanted me to step out in faith before I was given the answers.  But that’s where it got scary.  Which was the right way to step?  Continue working a job that I didn’t feel capable of?  Take a leap of faith, resign, and begin working for another company where I had no guarantees about hours?  Would that make me look wishy-washy and undedicated?  What was the right thing to do?

It happened to be my birthday the day this all culminated.  Needless to say, this is not what I wanted to be dealing with.  However, I sought wise counsel and decided that since I truly desired to obey, and I felt this was the direction God was leading me in, I would take the step of faith, resign and if I was making a mistake, trust that God would take that mistake and turn it into something beautiful.

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I wrote up my resignation and prepared myself mentally, spiritually, and emotionally for having the dreaded conversation the following day. My boss and I had a meeting scheduled already so it was perfect timing. We ended my birthday my favorite way – having a picnic at the park, enjoying beautiful weather, and just spending time together as a family.  It was peaceful, relaxing, and for the most part I tried not to think about what was coming.

Tuesday I began working and usually my days fly by but this particular day crawled.  When my boss and I began our meeting, I jumped right in.  Not to be mean but to remain honest.

“I have to tell you something that might change the course of our meeting.”

“Okay…” (waiting patiently).

“I’m giving you my two week notice.”

His response was totally unexpected.  He refused to accept my resignation.

“Well, I didn’t expect to hear that response. I figured I better quit before you decide to fire me in a month when you realize how bad I really am.”

He continued to refuse my resignation and instead wanted to know what he could do to help make my schedule more manageable. We were cut off abruptly, and I got off the phone not sure where I stood.  Did I still have a job or had I officially quit?

Twenty minutes later, he called me back and said he would accept my resignation for my present position but gave me three things to think about and to get back to him by Friday.

Come back to see what happened next…

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

 

 

“God wants us to succeed more than we do. He’s on the sidelines cheering us on, not making the trials more difficult.”  Aileen Sunnock

 

Even though I constantly fought my feelings, I still struggled with my new position.  I was torn.  I felt like God had given me this position and I really liked the people.  Some of the responsibilities I was in charge of fit my gifts and talents, one new job in particular.  However, as I stated in the previous post, I was stressed all the time because there didn’t seem to be enough of me to go around.  And I felt guilty about that.  Why couldn’t I seem to make it work when others had no problems completing their assignments from God? Was I supposed to press in and accept this challenge or was this a challenge God was telling me wasn’t my fight?

In His love, my Father reminded me of a conversation He and I had been having since February when I lost my job.  As I was praying back then for a job, I asked for two specific things, only two.  I told God I would work anywhere, doing anything, but please let me have these two things: 1) Enough money to pay the bills and 2) Balance in my schedule so I can be a wife and mom first, employee second.  God took that request and changed it a little.  He reminded me that I didn’t have to ask for “just enough to get by,” so I changed my first request instead to “enough money to pay the bills with a cushion” because there are always unexpected expenses – car repairs, vet bills, life insurance, etc.  I felt peace that what I was asking for lined up with His Word.

So, while working my new assignment, I again began praying for the above two requests and God rewarded that petition with a peace.  I wasn’t sure how the peace would come, but I believed that God heard and that He had an answer – I just didn’t know what it was.  So I continued to work while trying to make all the end-of-the-school year busyness fit into my already overflowing schedule.  I thanked God I had two very understanding bosses who put family first.  That was another reason why I was struggling with my new assignment.  My boss was wonderful.  Yet I constantly felt like I wasn’t giving him what he deserved and I didn’t have the reserves left to give more.

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After much prayer and petition, I finally decided something had to change. I couldn’t continue the pace I was keeping and I couldn’t see another way out except to try and find a different job with less responsibility.  With my husband’s blessing, I started looking for a job that would pay the bills while affording me the type of schedule I needed.

I reached out to a friend who was starting in a data entry job.  Her boss wasn’t currently hiring so that was a “no.”  Then I tried another medical transcription job (wondering if I was heading back into Egypt) and that door closed.  Unlike my job search this spring, I now remembered to praise God for the “no’s” while asking for the right “yes.”  I applied to approximately six on-line jobs and then went to pick up our son from school.  I came home and not two hours later was hired not once, but twice. I knew without a doubt that was God because I had applied for many more than six jobs from January through March and only was picked for one – the job I currently held.  Ironically, it was the only job I really wanted from all that I had applied for, which further increased my feelings of guilt for choosing to leave.

I talked to my husband, did a two-day trial with the new position, and while there were definite pros and cons, I felt that this was the only option I had. There was one more hurdle (a few more questions to ask my new employer to give me peace of mind) and then I would quit my current job and begin what I thought would be a less stressful employment.  While walking in this direction seemed like the way out, there was a part of it which felt like I was walking back into Egypt.  Was I giving up too soon? From my earthly perspective, I couldn’t see any other way to get my head above the water.

Come back next time to find out what happened when I gave my resignation…

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

“Joseph’s life serves as a reminder that everything we go through is preparation for something else. God is preparing each of us for something.”

(Greg Laurie, How Waiting Prepares Us,

Used by Permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514))

 

Despite all the blessings God was providing to our family, I continued to struggle with my new job.  I was wondering what I was doing wrong because even though I felt as though God had led me to this job, I couldn’t handle all the responsibilities I had with all the areas in my life I was juggling.  It wasn’t that any particular job was too difficult – it was that I didn’t have enough hours in the day to get it all done and I hated feeling like I wasn’t giving my best all the time.  But, if I tried to give my best to my two jobs, then I had nothing left for my family or my writing and I knew that wasn’t pleasing my Father…so I was back again to struggling about how everything was supposed to fit (and wasn’t).

I happened to be making our bed with clean sheets, letting my mind wander, and God reminded me of something important.  I have a degree in Psychology, yet had been working in the medical transcription field for the past ten years.  I had wondered why God had allowed me to stay in that position for so long and had just maintained the attitude of thankfulness as it provided a good, steady paycheck while affording me the luxury of staying home with my kids.  When I had first started my writing journey, I had a plan all figured out and wasn’t shy about sharing it with God.  I told Him I was patient enough to stay working two jobs (actually three because I worked for two companies and was starting to write as a profession) for about two more years and then I would be ready to transition into a great salary from my writing alone.  I could picture it now – making my own schedule, leisurely cups of coffee while the words flowed and plenty of time with my family, church functions, school activities, keeping the house clean…I think you get the idea.

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As I was making the bed, God reminded me of something I had jokingly told a friend a few years back.  I had never been a great English student (despite all my mom’s attempts at helping me as she herself is a Reading Recovery/English teacher by trade) and even had to be tutored by my English teacher my senior year in high school, earning the “most improved” award.  As a result, I never had much confidence in my grammar, editing, or sentence structure skills and always felt a bit intimidated with my medical transcription job.  I always worried that one day my boss would wake up and realize I wasn’t very good and fire me.  So, I joked around with a friend, stating that God was actually paying me as a medical transcriptionist to learn English.

However, I don’t think I was far from the truth.  Because of a decade of practice (and getting paid for it I might add), I am now more confident in my writing abilities (at least from a technical point of view).  I even would go so far as to say I am confident in my editing skills and use them in my current position daily.

By God bringing that to mind, He showed me that He didn’t “fire” me from my job in February. past spring.  I was actually promoted.  He had given me ten solid years to practice my English skills and now that I had confidence in them, He was promoting me on to my next assignment.

I want to encourage you in your life today.  If you are facing a hardship of some kind, maybe God is in reality promoting you to the next assignment – whether with a relationship, job, etc.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

“You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.” James 5:11 (The Message)

 

I received an email in April informing me I had “won” a free cup of coffee the entire month of from Panera. I was shocked and pleasantly surprised – telling God “thank You” for yet another blessing, one much bigger than any “reward” I’d received from Panera yet.

I drive our littlest to school every day and pass Panera, so it’s very easy for me to claim my reward on school days.  This morning I was picking up the cup of coffee, I thought, “Who can I share this blessing with today?”  While I’ll probably enjoy the free cup myself tomorrow, I wanted to pass along the blessing today to someone else.  The woman I chose to gift the coffee to told others about it and their faces lit up when they heard I was receiving a free cup of coffee every day for the month of April.  And that got me thinking…

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While the newness of the reward had worn off by now for me (it’s almost the middle of the month), how many times when I hear about someone else being blessed do I think, “Wow, I wish that was me!” while the person receiving the blessing almost seems immune to the greatness of the gift.  And that got me thinking…how often, just this weekend has God blessed me, and have I remembered to thank Him each and every time for each and every blessing?

Water heaters and Bladder pumps. We’ve needed a new water heater for the last two years.  We were planning on buying one last year and instead our finances had to go for other things, so since it wasn’t an emergency, we put it off.  My husband found one, drastically reduced in price, and we felt God saying, “Now is the time.”  On top of that, he won a contest last fall and received $100 gift card as his prize to this particular store.  Instead of going out and enjoying a purchase of a new tool (my husband loves tools like I love books and coffee), he chose to keep the gift card for such a time as this.

Doesn’t it always seem when one thing breaks another follows shortly after? Our water pressure had gone wacky on us for a few weeks.  My husband checked it out and realized our bladder tank had a leak in it. We were able to buy a new one, discounted from the regular price, and he installed it same day, saving us thousands in cost if we had ignored the problem and ruined the well pump from neglecting the problem. We should also see a significant savings in our electric bill since the pump will be working normally instead of overtime.

 

Socks.  They may not seem significant until the ones your children are wearing have holes in Every. Single. Pair.  There was a running joke between our daughter and her grandmother for both Easter and her birthday that she was going to receive socks.  I’m not sure how the joke began, but as a result, my mother-in-law called me on Saturday and asked the sizes of our children’s feet so that she could buy not only our daughter but both our sons socks.  That was a huge blessing as they all three needed them.

Clothes.  We were cleaning out the sunroom this past weekend and I found clothes that were too small for our kids.  God whispered two families’ names on my heart and while I thought they wouldn’t work (size wise) I listened to the still small voice and packed them up, as God had conveniently arranged for us to get together the next day.  I asked sizes and was pleasantly surprised that they would work.  We had also packed away some books and toys for the kids to find as well (who wants just clothes when you can have clothes and toys?)  Not an hour after helping my friend load up her car, another friend pulled into my driveway and unloaded clothes and toys into my house – replacing what we’d given plus more.  My parents had also just recently so generously completely supplied our daughter with a summer wardrobe and helped our sons fill in the gaps in theirs as well.

These things may seem little to some, but they are huge to me.  They show me God cares about the details of our lives.  Clothes.  Socks.  And Coffee.  Not a necessity (the coffee) but simply a blessing.  And that was just this weekend.  I could bore you with details of so many other blessings God has continuously sown into our lives this past year.

What blessings has God been giving to you?  Have you identified them as blessings and said thank You? Or like me, does it take someone else getting excited about something I started to take for granted before I remembered, “God, I want to say thank You for everything – the big, small and everything in between.”

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

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