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Do I Really Believe?

“So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham.” Galatians 3:6-7 (NIV)

 

There have been some situations in my life recently where I’ve been asking God what His will is for our family.  What exactly He wants us to do… and if I were completely honest, I’ve wondered if God cared about what was best for me or if He was willing to “feed me to the lions” in order to save the other people who are involved in the situation instead.  I wondered at times if I was the sacrifice.

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One way I chose to counter the above lie I was beginning to believe was to quote Jeremiah 29:11 back to God, personalizing it (paraphrased): “You know the plans You have for me and my family, Lord.  Plans to prosper us, not to harm us.  Plans to give us hope and a future.  If You said that in the Bible, then that promise is for all Your children, not just some and so I’m claiming that promise for our family.  We aren’t pawns.  We aren’t being sacrificed because You have great plans for us too.”

God, in His love, didn’t get mad at me for believing the lie.  Instead, He used a completely different situation to show me just how powerful and in control of every situation He really is.

One morning, on the way to dropping off our littlest, he and I were both in our own worlds.  My thoughts had turned to a situation that was heavy on my heart and I was questioning God if I’d given our child the right advice.  Not 30 seconds later, he pipes up from the backseat, asking me in essence the very question I’d just asked God.

I excitedly told him that I’d been thinking about the same situation myself, just then, and i thought God was very pleased with how our little was dealing with things and here was why. I was able to give him examples from the Bible about how he was showing Jesus’ love to others which is ultimately what God asks all of us to do, in every situation we face.  I then asked him a thinking question and his answer lined up with what I’d been thinking as well.

The conversation lasted less than five minutes, but then God spoke to my heart directly.  “Cheri… why do you worry all the time that I don’t have things under control?  I’m so powerful that I can cause you and your son to think about the same situation, the same question, at the same time! If I can do that, don’t you think I have the other issue you’re wrestling with under control too?  Don’t you think that I already have a solution that’s the best for everyone involved?  I don’t favor any of My children over the others… you’re all precious to Me and while My answer may not look like what you’re thinking it should, trust Me… it will bless everyone involved.”

While I still need reminders at times by quoting His Word back to Him, I realized a very important truth that morning.  God is all powerful and when He says I can trust Him with everything… I really can.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

 

 

“The Lord is my strength and my shield;my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.” Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

 

I never thought I would say the words above.  It’s not that I have anything against reptiles.  I just never had any desire to own one… ever.  However, because of the bonus blessing God gave to our family less than a decade ago, I have grown to love all things scaly, leathery, and slimy (or at least appreciate most of them).

I thought my response two years ago to our kindergartener’s request to buy a scorpion was brilliant: “Sure, your pet scorpion can live at the pet store and we will have visitation rights whenever you like.”

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So… when our youngest started catching reptiles around our house and familiarizing me with how tolerable they were, my opinions started to change a little.  I have to admit, though, owning one still wasn’t my idea.  My husband is the one who started thinking about getting a real setup for the salamanders being caught since the temporary habitats allowed one to escape into our house and get lost in the duct work while the other escaped into freedom outside.  That thought morphed into a 40-gallon tank to house a bearded dragon that will live for approximately 10 years.  What cinched the decision for me was when the pet store clerk told me about how her bearded dragon plays tug-o-war with her dog… our dog needs a companion and it seems as though a bearded dragon is less expensive and less maintenance than another dog.

The first week we had him I had one goal… to keep him alive and not burn our house down with his heat lamp.  The experience reminded me of bringing home our children from the hospital; however, I had babysat my whole life so I knew more about infants than I did about reptiles.  I observed him, he observed me and when I would get brave enough to attempt to pick him up, I was convinced he wanted to bite me (despite my husband’s repeated reassurance that they don’t bite, anyone).

I knew I was hooked and he was growing on me, though, by the end of the week when I caught myself standing in the grocery store Googling “what vegetables and fruit can I feed a bearded dragon?”  I was more excited about his food purchases that week than I was about our own.  I never knew buying a peach and mango to give as a treat could bring me so much joy! It’s now the end of the second week, although it feels like we’ve had him for much, much longer.  I’m not squeamish anymore when he swallows live crickets (I want him to grow big and strong – did I really just say that?) and I’ve even given him two baths to help with the shedding process.

I’m so glad our Heavenly Father doesn’t treat me the way I approached the addition to our family.  He welcomes us with loving arms and gladly takes away our sin simply because He’s God.  He always provides us with what we need and gets pleasure out of blessing us just because He can.  Becoming a grandmother to our youngest’s reptile reminded me about how blessed we are to be loved by our Heavenly Father – no strings attached.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

 

 

 

 

“A wise son brings joy to his father…” Proverbs 15:20 (NIV)

 

When my husband and I got married, we were older and therefore thought two children would be the perfect fit for our family.  However, after our daughter was born, as happy as I was to have two amazing kids, our family didn’t feel complete.  While we didn’t pursue any more, I wouldn’t have been upset had God blessed us with another.  Three years later, two lines appeared on the stick and I was over the top ecstatic.  Six short weeks’ later, the dream of another little one died the day I miscarried.

However, God wasn’t done with our family yet and despite the fact that we again didn’t actively pursue growing our family, almost exactly two years to the day, two lines appeared on the stick again.  The following July our bonus blessing was born.  As this little one was growing inside me, my husband told me that he was going to live with no regrets.  He encouraged me to treasure not just every single minute with our bonus blessing, but with every single child God loaned to us.  I believe we have done that fairly well.

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Because of our bonus blessing, I have met some amazing women – teachers, school staff and other moms.  These women pray with me and for me, and we have become quite a community together.

I’ve learned all things reptile, bird, amphibian, venomous and more.  I’ve learned to enjoy (yes, enjoy) holding snakes, bearded dragons and salamanders. I find myself catching spiders (I know) and letting them go outside instead of killing them and throwing them away.  I’ve been given the chance to savor yet again sticky hugs, muddy footprints, and elaborate drawings.

I love his sweet spirit toward animals, younger children or those who need a friend.  I love his adventurous spirit that gets him covered in mud, poison ivy, and thorn bushes.  I love his protective spirit that holds open the door for me because “Ladies first, Mom” and covers my eyes if we’re watching something on TV that he thinks will scare me.  I love his growing relationship with his Heavenly Father… spoken through his daily conversations with the God of the universe.

I love that he’s still young enough that while he loves spending time with his friends, I’m still invited to tag along.  I love his love for life… his excitement and wonder is so catching.  I love being invited to “check out this bird” or “come see what I found in the garden.”  I love that God blessed our family with a bonus blessing… our family felt complete the day he was born.  I’m glad God blessed me to be his mom.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

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“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

 

God certainly knew He was blessing me when the stick showed two lines a little over 13 years ago.  This summer, God allowed me the time to treasure what it means to be a mom to my daughter…

Whether being asked to paint designs on her newly painted nails, or getting our hair dyed the same color or going to her for clothes advice, I’m blessed to be her mom.

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I love that we share an interest in inspirational fiction and even some true life stories.  I love that we share similar tastes in movies.  I love that she is old enough to want to help cook.  I love her creative ideas and watching her babysit, taking over the care of a one-year-old with the ease of a grown up.

I love that she knows her mind and what she wants to do for a living already… taking the steps she needs to start achieving those goals.  I love that she has a tender heart and a sweet spirit… wanting to grow closer to God and making choices that she knows will please Him.  I love that she has godly mentors in her life that breathe life into her, encouraging her in the true definition of being a woman versus the pull of what the world believes. I love that she’s always up for an adventure and remembering the memories we made this summer still brings a smile to my face.

I love that she still wants to spend time with me despite the fact she is growing up and the pull of friendship and friends’ activities is strong.  I love talking deep, wrestling with spiritual truths and how to best articulate them to others.  I love the fact that she has such a forgiving spirit when in the heat of the moment I use my “mean face and angry voice” because I’m frustrated, not so much at her but feeling overwhelmed and sharing those feelings when she doesn’t deserve them.

I love that God blessed me with three children here and one waiting for me in Heaven. I love that God sandwiched our daughter between two boys.  I love that she likes to put puzzles together and go to the movies and take walks and explore her interests and still  invites me along for the journey.  I love that her personality is so unique and special, so unlike her brothers who are also unique and different from each other.

I love that God chose to let me stop and take the time to savor these moments… the ones that are fleeting and soon will be only in my memory.  I love that we still have six more years with this daughter that God designed especially for our family.  I’m glad that God blessed me to be her mom.

Do you have any special memories from the middle school years, or especially with a daughter of any age that you would like to share with the rest of us?  If so, please share below.

© Cheri Swalwell 2016

 

 

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November 24th through November 26th

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