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Archive for January, 2014

LungLeavin’ Day

I started blogging in 2011 as a way to provide encouragement to others while we journey through life together, sharing my heart for my Father. As a result, I have received many blessings along the way. One such blessing is the chance to interact with some terrific people I might not have otherwise met here on earth. It thrills me to say how many friends I have made through the interaction that my blog has provided.
Today I want to share with you a terrific couple who reached out to me. Meet Cameron and Heather Von St. James. They have their own website and tell their story much better than I ever could, so I want to encourage you to follow this link and find out all about them for yourself: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/staff/lungleavin-day-2014-our-interview-with-heather-von-st-james.htm

I was contacted by Cameron and feel honored that they asked me to participate in “‘LungLeavin’ Day,” an annual celebration they began seven years ago. As I learned more about the history behind this special day, I caught their excitement. You see, they took what was a tragedy for their family and turned it into a celebration not just for themselves, but for everyone who wants to participate. And I’m excited to say that I’m participating this year as well.

Follow this link to get the full effect of what LungLeavin’ Day is really all about: http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/

(Again, they say it much better than I ever could.)

Smashing plates

 

As part of the participation, they asked me to share one of my fears for 2014 and how I plan to overcome it. Well, I love how my Father has a great sense of humor since I released a book in December 2013, titled: Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith. As a result, coming up with a fear that needed to be overcome wasn’t too difficult.

There are so many fears I could have chosen from, but I think the biggest one that struck me was fear of finances. I’ve shared on here before how God began preparing our family for our journey a while ago and how He has been leading the way for us since August, when my income was drastically reduced. I’ve shared how God has not only taken care of us, but blessed us beyond in ways I couldn’t have imagined. However, as I still am not making the income we need, that “fear” crept up again in January and Satan continued to try to get me to believe the lies that God wouldn’t provide. Not couldn’t, but wouldn’t. I decided I didn’t want to listen to him, so I chose to participate in a fast, giving God not only my fears about money but also relinquishing all control over that area of my life and letting Him guide.

This time, God answered almost immediately. Not only with peace, but with a plan. The path that He started us down last fall isn’t over. He showed me that while I’m being obedient in the areas He has asked of me, He has giving me a glimpse of the map He has given our family and how He wants me to obey. It all takes time so we’re still depending on Him to provide monthly, and I don’t see that ever changing even when our paychecks stabilize. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this whole journey is that it all belongs to Him. Our dependence will remain on our Father, not our paychecks. Meanwhile, I continue in the peace that we’re walking in His plan.

So, for me, in 2014: I’m smashing a plate against financial fears and walking in peace, knowing God not only provides “enough,” but THE BEST. Living in that peace is a great place to reside.

Thank you, Cameron and Heather, for your contagious excitement and your encouragement to others to join you in celebrating the release of fears while choosing faith. I look forward to watching how God will help spread the word about “LungLeavin’ Day”.

I feel privileged to have been invited to participate. Again, I encourage others to go to the link below and read about this exciting event, taking place on February 2nd, across the Country. What a great way to continue 2014: Releasing fears and living in faith.
http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/

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“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” II Corinthians 12:9 (NIV).

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Why does it always seem when I’m particularly frustrated with an action or attitude any of my children are displaying, the origin of that behavior began with me? I realize if I’d change the way I approach my children or rethink my attitude regarding their behavior, usually it will go away or lessen. Not always…but more often than not.

I read a great article by Karen Ehman as part of the Vintage Homemaking Week. She was talking about how to encourage your children in the area of maintaining a house and/or helping with dinner. The part that stuck out to me like a neon sign was “Don’t expect perfection.” Ouch! As a recovering perfectionist, that’s a hard one. I don’t set out to be rigid. If you came to my house, you would soon discover it’s not photo op ready. We live in “organized chaos” most of the time. My prayer is you’ll enjoy eating cookies and drinking coffee or tea while you overlook the cobwebs or dust bunnies. However, I’ve found that my perfectionism and need for control tend to rear their ugly head from time to time.

After reading the above article and dwelling on it for a while, I was reminded of a practice psychiatrists put into place. When a family comes in for counseling, the psychiatrist will focus on stabilizing the parent while monitoring the child. That means, the parent will first be given medications to see if improve occurs. It’s hoped when the environment calms down, the child’s behavioral issues will disappear naturally. It’s the first attempt at stabilizing the family unit.

I decided I was going to try that for myself. It wasn’t necessary for me to start taking medication, but I determined I needed to let go of some of my “habits of control” so that I could then ease up on expecting perfection in my children. I really don’t want perfect children. I want children that are comfortable making mistakes so they can discover how to do it better the next time. I want to remember that messes can be cleaned up, but a child’s heart is soft and moldable only for short time. I want the memories my children have of me to be of silly, goofy times filled with laughter instead of “Better beware, I think mom needs a nap (or maybe some chocolate).”

I’m not perfect yet, but I’m improving. The same week I read that article, we were getting ready for a party for our teenager. There were some things I had to decide logistically, but everything else I gave him free rein, color of decorations and the choice of dessert to name but a few. We had a great time working together to make his day special, celebrating his choices, each having some creations to call their own. There was a lot of laughter that day. My prayer is that I can remember how much fun we had and keep working on making that the norm in our household. Childhood ends too quickly. Soon enough my kids will have to take on the responsibilities of adulthood – but what kind of adults do I pray they will be? Ones that have found joy in keeping a house and providing nourishing food dished up with a lot of fun? Or perfectionists who need to always be in control?

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

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“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119:11 (NIV).

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Last time we talked about how staying in the same unhealthy environment does not promote permanent change.  However there are things we can do to help make positive changes more permanent.

For myself, when I seek out Scriptures which address the area I’m striving to change gives me extra encouragement to keep progressing in the area of change. Memorizing the verses with my kids is a great incentive and at least for me, they usually master them before I do which motivates me to complete the challenge. Also, when I ask a friend to join me on the journey, that gives me accountability on those days when I need a little extra nudge to keep swimming.

A friend reminded me earlier this year that since I was God’s daughter, I already possessed self control. It was already a blessing I had thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I just had to choose to accept the gift and start using it. By changing my river, victory in this area will come sooner and last longer.

Everyone’s “new normal” will look different, but the one constant for us all will be a heart change as well as a change in our line of thinking. When we line up our actions consistently with God’s word and walk in obedience, true freedom will last.

What new river do you need to start swimming in? Do you have an issue with anger, lying, or maybe like me, self control? What are some ways you can permanently change your address so that you also can start experiencing permanent victory? Is there someone you can ask to come alongside you to make the journey easier?

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

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“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” II Corinthians 5:17 (The Message).

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My husband and I attended a lecture given by Steven Osterhout, DC, regarding health and nutrition. The entire presentation was enlightening, but what stuck out to me was one particular concept. He used an analogy of a fish in a polluted river. He pretended he found a fish living in a toxic environment who had developed cancer. He rescued the fish, cut out the cancer, fixed it up, and spent time and money healing the fish. However, it would be silly to return the fish to the same river only for the cancer to grow back. No, he was going to take the fish to a different river, one that wasn’t polluted or toxic, so it could stay healthy. He said the same was true for a person. In order to get and stay healthy, we have to change our eating habits, start an exercise routine, and flush out the toxics and pollutants that are making us sick. However, once our bodies begin to function at a healthy level, if we go back to “swimming in the same river” we came out of, we will eventually get sick again. We need to change the river where we swim.

That got me thinking about my spiritual journey. When I struggle with a spiritual truth, if I ask for forgiveness and show true remorse but my river doesn’t change, how can I expect to experience true freedom?

Take for instance self control. This is an area I’ve struggled with for too long. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food for years. There have been periods in my life where I’ve experienced freedom with food, but it hasn’t lasted. Going to the above lecture gave added insight into why the victory I experienced was temporary. I hadn’t changed my river. I may have temporarily altered my river, manipulated the river, or taken a vacation in a new river, but a complete change of residence hadn’t occurred. I’d confessed, shown remorse, and vowed to God I would change my habits and lifestyle, but without a complete overhaul in my thinking, the changes were only temporary.

I can’t expect to master self control with food when I don’t give my body time to eliminate foods that cause cravings. I can’t expect to have permanent victory in this area if I’m constantly tempting myself with rich, creamy desserts, fattening meals, or eating out at my favorite restaurant and choosing less-than-healthy dishes or portions.

If I want to experience lasting freedom in this area, I need to make the change to a new river permanent. That might look like celebrating special occasions with a hike or playing a game outside instead of going out to eat ice cream. Enjoying a bonfire with the family without having to indulge in S’mores. Replacing the sugary snacks in our household with healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Enjoying the occasional splurge but making it a special occasion, with portion control, instead of a free-for-all “just because.”

Next time we’ll discover what helps me maintain the healthier environment.

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

 

 

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because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set youfree from the law of sin and death” Romans 8:2 (NIV).

Spring to Summer 2011 Nikon 006

 

Last time we looked at three examples of the way Jesus treated people’s mistakes. Since we know God is consistent and doesn’t change, then we can be confident He handled most other mistakes the same way. He first showed compassion toward the person, acknowledging that a mistake was made, but spoke matter-of-factly with no condemnation. He didn’t try to ignore the sin or pretend it didn’t exist. He talked about it openly. Then, He addressed first the spiritual need of the person, demonstrating love toward the person, before He handled the mistake in the most appropriate way. Sometimes it was to guide the person to eradicating the sin from their life, sometimes it was to remind the person He could be trusted, and sometimes it was to encourage the person to “go and sin no more.” Not once in any of these examples did Jesus degrade, criticize, demean, or replay the person’s mistakes repeatedly.

So, my point in all this is two-fold. We need to look toward Jesus’ response in the Bible for the best response when others’ make mistakes that affect us. And also, we need to remind ourselves that if Jesus is willing to show us compassion when we’re learning, we need to give ourselves that same courtesy. After all, if that’s the way the God of the Universe handles the situation, it seems like it would be the best response we could give ourselves.

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

 

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“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” Mark 10:45 (NIV).

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So, if God doesn’t want us to demean, criticize, or devalue ourselves for our mishaps, then how does He want us to respond? I think the best way to find that answer is to see how Jesus himself handled “mistakes” on the part of the humans He lived among while He lived on the Earth.

Let’s look first at John 8:1-11, the story of the adulterous woman. We aren’t told too much about this woman except that she was caught in the act of adultery. It doesn’t really matter if it was a deliberate sin or if she found herself in a situation where she didn’t feel she could escape. Either way, Jesus’ response was “…neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11, NIV).

Another example of Jesus’ response is found in Matthew 14:22-34. This is the story of Jesus walking out on the water toward the disciples’ boat in the middle of the night. Peter steps forward and has a chance to choose faith over fear. He starts out strong, keeping his eyes on Jesus and focusing on Him. However, he becomes afraid and begins to sink. Jesus’ response is one of compassion and protection. It says in verse 31, “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”

The last example I want to look is found in Luke 19:1-10, the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a corrupt tax collector and that fact was well known in the community. Jesus was walking through the crowd one day and singled him out, inviting Himself over to Zacchaeus’ house for dinner. There was no recrimination, no accusations, and as a result of Jesus taking an interest in Zacchaeus, he gave his life to Jesus and was a changed man.

Come back next time to learn what I discovered by studying these various people in the Bible.

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

 

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“(God) made us be born as little kids who can’t walk or talk or even use a bathroom correctly.  We have to be taught everything…The whole thing is designed so we try again and again until we finally get it right.  And the whole time He (God) is endlessly patient” (Bob Goff, Love Does).

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When I read the above statement, it really hit me hard. I am a recovering perfectionist. I try to remember that mistakes don’t equal failure. The more mistakes I make, the closer I come to succeeding if I don’t give up. I’ll learn more from making mistakes, probably, then I would if I mastered things effortlessly. Despite all that wonderful head knowledge, when I make a mistake, I automatically consider myself a failure.

Do you ever find yourself feeling that way? When you make a mistake – in a relationship, at work, ruin dinner (or is that just me?)? Do you beat yourself up over and over and over and over?

I don’t think God wants us to react that way. In fact, I would take it one step further and say I think it hurts God’s heart when we describe ourselves using words like “failure.” I say that because He’s our Father, and I know as a mom, my heart hurts when any of my children berate themselves while in the process of growing. I also ache when I watch a friend or loved one rehash a painful conversation, an unwise decision, or the consequences from deliberate disobedience.

Come back next time when we use the Bible to discover more about what really defines failure and success.

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell

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