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“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:38 (NIV)

 

I was speaking with someone the other day and she was talking about the above verse. How the measure one uses to give to others will be used in one’s own life. She also described some African children who have nothing, absolutely nothing, including no food to eat, but if you want one of their two coins, they will give you both. Not just one and keep one, but both.

That conversation challenged me. There are things I have “dreamed” of doing but also thought I needed to wait until “we were more financially stable, had more than enough to give, etc.” And as a result of the recent conversation, I’ve started living a little more generously.

Instead of counting every penny and thinking “we can’t afford this, we can’t afford that,” giving generously to others in appropriate ways. God blesses a cheerful giver.

This week was “pay bills week.” The budget balanced easily (for which God got all the praise) and while we didn’t have a lot of extra left over, we had enough. Paying bills coincides with grocery shopping week so before we left, I thanked God ahead of time for allowing me to stay within budget and get good deals. Before we left, God nudged me to bless a friend with a small “care package” and a card. Nothing big, but something to show she was loved, cared for, and thought of. We got that together and took it with us to mail while we were out.

During the trip, God took our little offering of generosity and gave back to us tenfold. We didn’t do it so that God would bless us; we did it out of obedience and because we love to bless people. One of our favorite items was on sale for half price and we were able to buy in bulk, saving a significant amount of money. In addition, we didn’t have to pay a penny for the items – they were blessed to us by another, someone who listened to Abba telling her to bless our family in this way.

When I told the friend how her gift blessed us immensely, she pointed her finger back at God and said, “Give Him all the glory.”

We can never out give God. Let me repeat that. We. Can. Never. Out Give. God. When we give generously and cheerfully, it pleases our Father. When we trust Him by holding loosely to our earthly possessions, it pleases Him. When we put more emphasis on relationships and blessing others than we do on hoarding everything for ourselves, it pleases God.

I like pleasing God. What about you?

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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Mentors of All Ages

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” Titus 2:3-4 (NIV)

 

Today I have the privilege of sitting at my desk working, listening to my oldest babysit two adorable children from our church while her younger brother has fun playing with them for the day, too. It’s a win-win. She is earning money through a summer job and her brother gets to hang out with someone his age for the day.

Earlier today I spent time praying with my sister-in-Christ who is slightly older than I, yet much, much wiser. I ask for spiritual advice on a regular basis and she gladly gives it, being slightly ahead of me in experience and age. I also spent the morning walking with another group of friends of whom I’m slightly older than most and at times offer encouragement from the perspective of having already experienced some things since I’m older than they.

As I’m sitting here listening to the girl use the walkie-talkie with the boys, I can hear my daughter in the background “mentoring” her. The little girl’s conversation centers on emotionally connecting while the boys responses center on facts and actions. Conversations little girls have are practice sessions of conversations women end up having with their husbands. And while my daughter isn’t married yet, she has a decade more experience than the little girl she’s babysitting and is able to offer helpful hints with her attempts of connecting with her brother and friend to receive the most positive response.

Just like my mentor offered encouragement to me this morning, and I hope I was encouraging to my walking friends as well, our daughter is continuing the tradition and speaking encouragement into another female’s life. Being in the observer’s chair, I love listening how encouragement, when offered in love – not forced or demanded to be followed – helps model Biblical principles and love to the next generation.

Today that encouragement and mentorship has been shown through a variety of methods: prayer together, a suggestion here or there of a different way to say things, a pat on the shoulder, an encouraging word or showing love through braiding her hair.

That’s what we’re called to here on this earth: building relationships. Those relationships take on different forms with different people but they should have all the same underlying theme: love for another. More than anything, I want to always be teachable, to receive another’s encouragement, and ask for wisdom from someone I respect who has already been through the stage I’m now entering. And I want to be that for another – offering encouragement, not forcing my opinion, on stages I’ve successfully completed or am further down the path than others in order to help them avoid mistakes I made. And I learned through a simple summer day, mentors and encouragement can start at and is appreciated, at any age – whether 5, 15, 35, 46, or 60. We each have something to offer others of value.

© 2018 Cheri Swalwell

 

 

About the Book

 

Book: Indivisible

Author: Travis Thrasher

Genre: General fiction, drama

Release Date: October 23, 2018

A novelization of the film Indivisible, this is a story of love and marriage and finding each other all over again.

When Darren deploys to Iraq during the surge of 2007, he leaves behind his loving and supportive wife, Heather, and their three small children. Their marriage is the envy of the base, both believing strongly in the calling to serve in the military. Darren knows he’s there to support the troops in their darkest moments as their chaplain, but what he doesn’t realize is that he will face his own dark moments, which will have lasting effects on his marriage.

Meanwhile, Heather is creating a community among the other wives and families left behind. She rallies support back home, realizing the dangers the men and women serving overseas are facing, but she also begins to notice a change in Darren during their brief conversations. When he returns, he is no longer the man who left-the man Heather married. His greatest fear is letting her down, but instead of opening up to her, he shuts her out. Their marriage was so strong before. But how can they get back to where they were . . . or find a new way forward?

Indivisible is a story of sacrifice, marriage, and faith that will leave audiences full of hope even amid their most challenging times.

Click here to purchase the book.

About the Author

 

 

Bestselling author Travis Thrasher has written over 50 books and worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. He has written fiction in a variety of genres, from love stories and supernatural thrillers to young adult series. His inspirational stories have included collaborations with filmmakers, musicians, athletes and pastors. He’s also co-written memoirs and self-help books. His novelizations include Do You Believe? and God’s Not Dead 2. Upcoming releases in 2018 include The Black Auxiliary about the lives of the other 17 American black athletes who competed with Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Travis lives with his wife and three daughters in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

 

My Review

Indivisible by Travis Thrasher was an amazing book. I love all books I’ve read by Travis Thrasher and this one took my reading and love for the story to a whole new level. I laughed, I cried, I felt the emotions both of Darren and his wife, Heather. I could feel the emotions of the soldiers as well, imaging the horrors they were witnessing and then had to “go back to normal” to their wives and children, yet forever changed. The questions that they asked and the conversations that were had – so real to life. I loved even more that this was indeed a true story. It broke my heart – having read the prelude which shows us a glimpse of what their marriage had become before reading about what led to that point I think made it even more real to me. Great book. So glad it was written and definitely one I will be recommending to many. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the CelebrateLit tour and was under no obligation to post a positive review.

 

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

Carpe Diem, October 4

The Becca Files, October 4

A Baker’s Perspective, October 5

Robin is Bookish, October 5

The Power of Words, October 6

Christian Bookaholic, October 6

Splashes of Joy, October 7

Mary Hake, October 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 7

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, October 8

Inklings and notions, October 8

God’s Little Bookworm, October 9

Simple Harvest Reads, October 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

A Reader’s Brain, October 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 10

Book by Book, October 10

Just the Write Escape, October 11

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, October 11

Real World Bible Study, October 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 12

Bibliophile Reviews, October 13

Pause for Tales, October 13

For The Love of Books, October 14

Texas Book-aholic, October 14

Locks, Hooks and Books, October 15

Cafinated Reads, October 15

All 4 and About Books, October 15

Spoken from the Heart, October 16

Janices book reviews, October 16

Maureen’s Musings, October 17

A Diva’s Heart, October 17

Bigreadersite, October 17

Giveaway

 

To celebrate his tour, Travis is giving away a grand prize that includes the Indivisible novel along with a devotional!!

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/d627/indivisible-celebration-tour-giveaway

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:”

Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NIV)

 

I spoke last time about how God took my long list of ways to improve and condensed it into two simple commands: “Love the Lord with all my heart and soul and mind and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27, NIV)

God had another conversation with me at the beginning of the summer as well. Relationships. As I stated last time also, we’ve had three deaths in our family in three weeks. Three. Before that, this spring, our daughter lost a classmate suddenly and traumatically also. Death can get a person thinking about what really matters in life.

I started thinking about my own life. The only things I can take with me when I stand before God are those things that I did for Him. Money? I already knew I couldn’t take that, but I argue “We need money to pay bills and supply for our children and family.” Job? “I already knew I was replaceable with my job. There are others who can slip right in and do an even better job that I do.” Possessions? “I also already knew I wouldn’t be taking any of those with me.”

 

So what will matter when I die?

Relationships. How I invested in the lives God allowed me to interact with while I lived on this earth. Starting with immediate family and branching out to extended family, friends, co-workers, strangers on the street. How does God want me to reflect His love to others?

Time. How I invest in the time I’m given makes a difference as well. I can’t take “time” with me, but when I invest my time in ways which bring value to my life and those of others instead of wasting my time, it matters.

I’ve started weighing my priorities differently this week. Taking more time to connect with people. Accepting more invitations to do things so I can invest in others’ lives. Playing more games, pushing away from the computer and spending an hour talking with my husband and mother-in-law while the kids swam. Planning an “epic road trip” instead of just driving to pick up our son from his summer job five hours away, round trip.

I want to live my life with purpose and part of that purpose is choosing to focus on relationships because God is all about relationships. If they are that important to God, then they need to be that important to me.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

“He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’Luke 10:27 (NIV)

 

This summer God has invited me to grow in many areas of my life. Some of the ways I’ve been working on improving include: giving up control of everything but my own choices; diet and exercise; choosing joy instead of complaining; living intentionally; choosing at the beginning of everyday I will not take offense; and loving my husband and children completely.

Now, that seems like a big list and I wasn’t sure with all the other “responsibilities” I have on my plate I would remember every single area I was asked to grow in would get accomplished each day. Until, only God …

We had three deaths in three weeks in our extended family. Three. It was during that time of saying goodbye God spoke directly to my heart. He reminded me of this important truth. He gives only two commands for us to follow: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Two commands. I realized then if I choose to focus only on those two commands (love God first; love others more than myself) they cover everything in my long list above. When I choose to love God first and others more than myself, I will choose to give up controlling others because it’s not something God does, so why should I? I will choose to take care of my body (eating well and exercising) because I will choose to love my family more than loving food. I will choose joy instead of complaining because God commands us in the Bible to praise Him continually and when we do, that pleases Him. I will choose not to take offense but instead to think the best of others. And loving my husband and my children in the way they deserve and “hear” my love is also following God’s second command.

Does my life reflect living in obedience to these simple commands?

Instead of having to remember a long list of “to do’s” every day, I only have to focus on “loving God first” and “loving others more than I love myself.”

Only God would take a long list and condense it into two commands. Only God would encompass the previous long list into two simple commands. Only God.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

About the Book:

Book Title: Delayed Justice

Author: Cara Putman

Genre: Legal Romantic Suspense

Release date: October 15, 2018

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

 

About the Author:

Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing award-winning books. She is currently working on book 30 and 31.

Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW, and currently serves on its Executive Board. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and served as the Area Coordinator for Indiana.

Cara is also an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women’s ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School, and Krannert School of Management. You can learn more about Cara at www.caraputman.com

Guest Post from Cara:

Delayed Justice was a hard story to write.

I’d known from Beyond Justice that Jaime had a hard story, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. She tried to hide from her past. She tried hard, but in the end it slowly spilled out. A young girl wounded deeply by someone who should protect her. And now as a professional young woman, Jaime is still fighting the shadows.

She believes she’s okay, or as okay as she’ll ever be.

Instead, she has to learn that there’s so much more waiting for her. Freedom from the chains of a past she didn’t choose. A love that will never end. And a God who has always loved her even when she questions His existence because of her past.

I think we’ve all lived that. There’s a place in our hearts that seems beyond His reach. For some of us, it’s a barrier to knowing Him. To others of us, it makes us question what we thought we knew about God. And for others of us, it presses us deeply into Him. Jaime’s book, Delayed Justice, explores this space. The space where some days we scream at the heavens Where are you, God? And the days we just curl into ourselves because life is too hard.

And in that space of shadow and light, God ultimately shines brightest. This is a truth that is slowly revealed through friends and The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe.

 

 

My Review of Delayed Justice:

 

Delayed Justice by Cara Putnam was a great sequel to Imperfect Justice. I’m loving this series. It’s about a group of friends, who also happen to be lawyers, located in the heart of our nation’s capital and each story is filled with intrigue, suspense and a tad bit of romance. I love that the author uses real landmarks in the city which puts me right in the action. I feel as though I’m not only a friend, but close enough to experience the emotions felt.

This book drew me in with the subject matter, but it was the underlying spiritual element that while subtle, kept me thinking about the characters long after I closed the last page. The characters were developed well and I could feel the emotions, not just with the main characters but the secondary characters as well.

While this book is part of a series, it can also be read as a stand-alone novel. I am really enjoying this author and cannot wait to read the next in this series.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions stated in this review are mine exclusively.

 

 

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, September 29

Fiction Aficionado, September 29

The Avid Reader, September 29

The Power of Words, September 29

The Christian Fiction Girl, September 29

The Lit Addict, September 30

BBHfiction, September 30

Painting with Words, September 30

Real World Bible Study, September 30

Janices book reviews, September 30

cherylbbookblog, October 1

Where Faith and Books Meet, October 1

Back Porch Reads, October 1

Cafinated Reads, October 1

Faithfully Bookish, October 1

Because I said so – adventures in Parenting, October 2

Lighthouse Academy, October 2

Livin Lit, October 2

Inklings and notions, October 2

Bigreadersite, October 2

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 3

Reading Is My SuperPower, October 3

The Becca Files, October 3

Blogging With Carol, October 3

Lights in a Dark World, October 3

Genesis 5020, October 4

Cathe Swanson, October 4

Spoken from the Heart, October 4

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 4

100 Pages per Hour, October 5

Multifarious, October 5

Book by Book, October 5

Splashes of Joy, October 5

Rockin’ My Mom Jeans, October 6

Mary Hake, October 6

Godly Book Reviews, October 6

Two Points of Interest, October 6

C Jane Read, October 7

Daysong Reflections , October 7

Bibliophile Reviews, October 7

Buy, Borrow, Skip, October 7

The Mimosa Blossom, October 8

Ashley’s Bookshelf, October 8

Book Bites, Bee Stings, and Butterfly Kisses, October 8

Maureen’s Musings, October 8

Just the Write Escape, October 9

Simple Harvest Reads, October 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Remebrancy, October 9

Carpe Diem, October 9

Quiet Quilter, October 10

Margaret Kazmierczak, October 10

At the Fence, October 10

By The Book, October 10

God is Love, October 11

A Baker’s Perspective, October 11

proud to be an autism mom, October 11

Texas Book-aholic, October 11

Henry Happens, October 12

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, October 12

Have A Wonderful Day, October 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 12

 

Giveaway:

 

To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize package that includes a Courage Dear Heart bracelet, a The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe print, a copy of Delayed Justice, and a box of Turkish Delight!!

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/d5c4/delayed-justice-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

Being God’s Skin

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”I Peter 4:10 (NIV)

 

A friend of mine shared with me a conversation she had with God, telling Him as much as she loves growing closer to Him, sometimes she desires for closeness with “someone who has skin.” I understood what she was saying because sometimes, as close as we feel to God, it feels good to share our feelings or experiences with another human being.

During my quiet time the next day, God walked me down memory lane. Approximately 5-7 years prior I had begun starting my day with “open hands,” asking God to choose my schedule for that day, asking for patience and a willingness to change directions if He offered an invitation for a detour. For a planner and recovering control addict, that was a hard prayer to speak, but I have found, overall, it’s a life-changing way to live.

God took my prayer and used it to stretch me with opportunities way outside my comfort zone. One such instance was when talking a solo airplane ride, my first since being married, meeting up with my aunt at a connecting flight. We were flying out to watch my dad receive an award. The flight was delayed, my aunt chose to take the adventure with me to get safely to California and while we were stuck in the Denver airport, God invited me to be His skin twice. The first time was to spontaneously pray with an older gentleman who was also stuck at the airport. He was attempting to fly to his brother who was dying of cancer. The second opportunity occurred in the women’s bathroom when a mother traveling alone couldn’t find a stall big enough to handle her stuff, her child and herself. I offered to watch her things while “wiggling my toes” under her stall so she would have peace of mind I wasn’t stealing anything.

Another time, while driving around town on errands with two of our three kids, God prompted me to turn around and head back toward the scene of an accident to offer to watch a young father’s child while he dealt with the police and the other driver that was involved.

There have been times I’ve bought coffee and delivered it to construction workers along the side of the road, given up a cup of coffee I bought for myself because God said a stranger needed it more than I did, or gone to the store and bought coffee and tea to deliver to my bank teller because God said she needed to see His love in a tangible way.

Sadly, there have also been times I’ve failed to accept the invitation God has offered. I regret those selfish choices and since have vowed to listen closer. When I stand in front of God on judgment day, I want to regret less choices and have more opportunities to present to God as a love offering, time when I chose to be God’s skin so that others could feel His love.

It’s never about us. God’s plan is to show Himself to all His children on this earth and give them an opportunity to choose life with Him or life without Him. I feel privileged when He allows me the opportunity to be His skin to others, and am always quick to point out to others it was God’s suggestion – I was just privileged to be His skin for the moment.

#beingGod’sskin              #SpokenfromtheHeart

© Cheri Swalwell 2018