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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

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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

About the Book:

Book Title: Restored

Author: Tanya Eavenson

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Release date: February 10, 2016

Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past–to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

 

About the Author:

Tanya Eavenson is an international bestselling and award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book.

 

More from Tanya:

RESTORED is the second book in the Unending Love series. It’s a story I wanted to write, one I knew I could write, but still, it took six years to write. Not that it was difficult, but something was missing.

A friend and I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and during the conference, we discussed RESTORED. We came up with different plots, but nothing felt right.

I decided then to take a hiatus from contemporary romance and to begin writing another genre I’ve always loved, historical romance. While doing research and working on my historical romance novel, doctors discovered I had cancer.

There are many times in a person’s life where he or she may reach an obstacle. It may be an illness, an accident, a difficult decision that must be made, or any number of other things. I’d reached that point in my life. It was a defining moment, not only dealing with my cancer prognosis, but asking the Lord if He truly called me to write as I thought, or was I mistaken. I stuffed my historical romance novel away and almost gave up on God’s call to write.

But through the fears and searching for God’s direction, I learned He did indeed place this desire to write on my heart and no matter what I was facing in my life, it didn’t diminish His call. I’m inspired by the Lord to write inspirational Christian fiction so people may know the love of Christ. To know the depth He will go to have a relationship with us. And though we struggle, He uses us—ordinary people like me—to do out of the ordinary things. Unexpected things—like writing. This propelled me to write RESTORED.

I began pouring into RESTORED the knowledge I’d gained through my own experiences and that of my stepfather and father-in-law, who were both diagnosed with melanoma. I know now that if I had written this story any earlier in my career, I wouldn’t be on such a personal level with my characters nor could I have written it from the heart.

I love this story. I love my characters, Steven and Elizabeth. RESTORED is about lost love being given a second chance when you least expect it. A story of how nothing is impossible with God.

My Review of Restored:

This was a delightful read. While I didn’t have a chance to read the first in the series, Unconditional, I was still able to follow along with the storyline and the second book was enjoyable. I might have enjoyed it more having read the first, but I was able to connect with the characters without having read the first book.

The author paints a beautiful picture of flawed, normal, people who put God first in their lives. While there were issues the characters had to deal with (quite big ones I might add) it was done in a believable way. I find it humorous the main character was dealing with a health crisis during the book, and I myself was dealing with one similar.  I think it bonded me to the character even faster than it might have otherwise. I loved the ending too.

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

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 6

Through the Fire Blogs, June 7

Simple Harvest Reads, June 8

Remembrancy, June 9

Godly Book Reviews, June 10

For Him and My Family, June 11

Spoken from the Heart, June 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 13

Texas Book-aholic,  June 14

janicesbookreviews, June 15

A Reader’s Brain, June 16

Inklings and notions, June 17

Artistic Nobody, June 18 (Spotlight)

Just the Write Escape, June 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Tanya is giving away a grand prize of a $5 Amazon gift card and a pillow cover from RedBubble!!

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/e4f5/restored-celebration-tour-giveaway

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

 

My husband and I have made it a point that we, as a family, spend a lot of time together. Sometimes we’re just relaxing on the couch watching movies on a lazy afternoon, other times we’re taking trips to make bigger memories. Still other times we’re serving at church, serving in our community, or working together on home projects. More often than not, you’ll find our family doing something altogether.

 

We started serving in our church as a family approximately five years ago. We were blessed to get to serve in the kids’ section. It was something we all enjoyed and investing in the lives of little ones is an area where we are gifted.

 

Twenty years ago, when my husband and I were first married, there was a dream we talked about that God put on our hearts. We knew that wasn’t the time to pursue it, but we prayed eventually we would know if God was opening the door for us to walk into a specific ministry. Eighteen months ago, God reawakened that dream and we have since talked to our kids about it who are all in with us.

 

However, this dream requires some preparation ahead of time. And that is the stage we are in right now. At the same time, God made it clear that our focus wasn’t to be in serving at the church during this season but preparing our hearts and our home for another ministry opportunity instead.

 

Our family still serves at church when God issues the invitation, some of us more heavily involved than others. I have to admit, though, sometimes I feel guilty and like a failure because we aren’t as actively involved in church ministry as we were. The guilt was due to feeling like I wasn’t doing my part because churches always need willing servants. I was willing, but I didn’t feel like God was giving me the green light during this particular season.

Instead He had our family investing in ministry and pointing people to Him in a different capacity. Invitations would arise to serve in a different area, and sometimes I would accept them only to have them fall through, and other times I heard God say “no,” so the only answer I can give is “no.”

 

Come back next time and I will share with you how God showed me, as only He can in such a loving way, that not every season will have every person serving in a ministry at church. Sometimes He needs us to step back to prepare us for what He has in store, and those times are just as important as the times of serving with our church family.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

All In

 

“And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.” I Kings 8:61 (NIV)

 

I’ve talked a lot about surrender and what that means lately. I’ve also shared that my family and I have been praying for something specific for the past six years, and believing and hoping and having faith God is getting ready to answer that prayer in a very big and mighty way.

 

While I still believe God is going to show up and answer that prayer, He decided to take what He taught me in Spoken from the Heart: Journey of Complete Surrender, Day 19, “Hating it with the Right Attitude”, and taking that lesson to the next level.

 

I have been wrong, with my focus and with my attitude. While I was waiting for God’s answer, believing He was going to change my circumstances, I lived differently. More with the mindset of having suitcases packed and ready at the door instead of taking up residence and “blooming where God has me planted now.”

 

My Father reminded me I did the same thing earlier in my life. My sister and her family had a chance to relocate to another state for a job when I was in my young 20s. I was invited to come along and due to circumstances, readily agreed. While I was part of the unpacking process and fixed up my room and settled in, I never “unpacked my suitcase” mentally. I was of the mindset that my living with them was a short layover and soon I would be married and living in my own house, starting a family with my husband, etc.

 

Because of that mindset, I was miserable. I didn’t allow myself to get too comfortable because I felt in transition; yet, I didn’t have a boyfriend so I wasn’t transitioning into anything. My mental suitcases were packed with nowhere to go.

Someone recommended a book for me to read and it completely changed my focus. I decided to put down roots and embrace my singlehood, not knowing how long God planned this season, but choosing to trust His timing was perfect. My sister and I had a great time redecorating my room (I had never decorated it in the three years I’d lived with them, not even put anything on the walls), buying furniture and making it mine.

 

Two months later, God introduced me to my now-husband through my sister and his best friend (they worked together). Two years later we married. I’m so grateful God changed my mindset before I met my husband and I lived those two years I had left in my sister’s home making memories and enjoying belonging instead of continuing to live with a suitcase packed.

 

God reminded me that’s what I’ve been doing with this situation our family has been in for the past six years. Living out of a suitcase gets old. Living with a mindset that you’re in transition for years is exhausting. People are meant to belong, and I missed that important lesson because I felt having faith meant living ready to go.

 

God has shifted my mindset this week. I’m still completed surrendered to His plan, maybe even more so. I know God has a plan and that involves Him and a miracle. However, until He decides to show that miracle, my job is to continue to be connected to those around me. To find the blessings and the lessons in the place God has placed me now. To enjoy friendships, connections, live life with purpose and more importantly, with joy.

 

Truth is, when I live out of a suitcase too long I get grumpy. And God showed me very lovingly this week my testimony lately has been showing how long I’ve lived out of a suitcase. When I die, I don’t want to stand before God and hear about how I missed out on opportunities He gave me “during the suitcase phase.” But more importantly, I don’t want to hear Him tell me how many people I discouraged or pointed to a wrong description of God because I walked around complaining, grumpy, and discouraged due to my suitcase mindset.

 

I asked for forgiveness this week. I told God I now understood what it meant to live fully surrendered, believing He was going to work the miracle we have been praying for, and how necessary it was to unpack the suitcase and embrace the life He is giving me to enjoy now.

 

You want to know the best part? Joy is returning. I didn’t think I would have joy when nothing has changed if one were to look at my circumstances. But joy has returned because my thinking has changed … and that truly makes all the difference in the world.

I know God is going to move situations in our lives and when He does it will be amazing. But you know the best part? Nothing has changed in our situation and I can still say my life is pretty amazing, now that I’m all in!

© Cheri Swalwell 2019