Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for April, 2015

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”

Matthew 16:24-26 (The Message)

I talk a lot on my blog about the blessings that God wants to lavish on His children.  That becoming a Christ follower isn’t just a “get out of jail free” card.  There is so much more to living a life as a believer in Christ than just assurance that we won’t live in hell for all eternity.

However, it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t also talk about some of the “tough” stuff that comes along with being a Christ follower.  Once you ask Jesus to be in charge of your life, life doesn’t automatically get easy.  Nope!  If that was the case, then everyone would be lined up waiting to join the club.  Sometimes, it seems, life gets much harder once you make the choice to “lay your life down for Christ” and let Him be in charge.

 

DSCN5177

 

I put “lay down your life for Christ” in quotes because someone who hasn’t grown up in church all their life or a new believer might be looking at me like, “Oh great, she’s using those big church words again, I’m outta here.”  What “lay down your life for Christ” means is simply this – it’s basically giving up control of what you want in life and saying, “Okay, God, I have desires, wishes, wants – but I trust You and what You want for me is better.” It’s really hard to make that choice.  It’s easy to say it, “Your will, God, not mine” (that’s the simple part) but the meaning behind it, being able to put actions to your words, is where it gets difficult.

Let me use an easy example to follow:  Food.  I have a love/hate relationship with food.  It’s my “go to” all too often when life gets stressful, exciting, sad…you get the picture.  If I choose to give God all of my life, then I need to make sure I include food in that list.  Saying to God, “I want You to be in control of my whole life – every part” is easy.  Putting that into practice when I’m staring at an Oreo donut from Sweetwater’s when I’m stressed and it would taste so good when God wants me to come to Him to tell Him about my stress instead is when it gets much harder.  It’s easy to open my mouth and forget my problems for a while with a yummy donut.  It’s harder to resist the “quick fix” but instead go for the long term solution – a closer relationship to God and giving my problems over to Someone who can fix them instead of trying to fix them myself or live in the land of denial.  There is a human part of me that is selfish and wants control.  “God gives grace, so why not eat the donut (even though I’m full), ask for forgiveness later and then ask God to fix my problem too?”  Yes, I could do that but when I deliberately run to something else instead of running to Him, that will hurt Him and cause a rift/break in our relationship. That’s when I have to decide which is more important to me – that donut or a closer relationship with God.

I’m not saying eating a donut is sin.  I’m saying when we tell God, “Your will, not mine” sometimes we are called on to make tough decisions:  Saying no to that promotion in order to say yes to being home to raise the family God entrusted to you.  Trusting God when He promises multiple times in the Bible that He will provide for His children and not to be afraid when the income isn’t there but the bills also don’t go away.

However, when we truly surrender our will to God’s and let Him have full control, something amazing happens.  Come back next time and I’ll share what that is.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

An Amazing Journey

“…and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Mark 10:8 (NIV)

 

This month we celebrated 16 years of married life, 18 years since I first met my husband, Bill.  In one sense, I feel like we’ve been married forever because of how closely we’re connected – a closeness that can only come from living life together. In another sense, it feels like we’re still in the honeymoon stage as I’m head over heels for the man I’m blessed to call my husband!  I can honestly say I’m more in love with him today than I was when I looked into his eyes and said, “I do.”

 

RSCN5858

 

Today we celebrate his birthday and I want to take the time to tell him how wonderful it’s been to share this journey called life with him leading the way.  He’s been the leader of our house since day one…but he has always led with gentleness, never wavering in unconditional love and commitment.  He’s a man of few words, but when he speaks, I know it will be something worth listening to.

Bill is the one who started our family on this writing journey back in 2011.  One day in 2010 he asked me about my dreams/desires/passions.   Nothing more was said until in January 2011 he presented me with tickets to a writer’s conference the following October.  He had every excuse he knew I would think of already refuted and that was the beginning of our journey.  He has unwaveringly supported, encouraged, listened, and offered opinions for the various projects that we have published together.  His ideas are valued, his insight is priceless, and the books that are for sale wouldn’t be what they are today without his opinion and wisdom.

 

DSCN5713

 

He has always supported me when I begin a sentence with, “Bill, I think God is telling me that we need to…” His usual response, “If God is speaking, then we need to listen.”  Other times it’s him that comes to me, “Cheri, I think God is telling us we need to…” and then I’m quick to support what God has revealed to him.  We are partners, through the good, bad and ugly, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

No one makes me smile quite as wide as he can with just one look.  No one can make me laugh with one word that reminds me of a shared moment from years past. No one else can finish my sentence that began with, “I think…” so accurately.

Emergency room visits, 24 hour plus deliveries, late night feedings and night terrors, puppy training, potty training, adolescence and temper tantrums – I wouldn’t want to have shared these moments with anyone else.  Sunset cruises around Lake Michigan, picnics in the living room on a snowy Sunday afternoon, bonfires in our backyard, family vacations cross country or two hours from home, building snowmen, raking leaves, and celebrating special holidays.  I can’t imagine sharing those special moments with anyone else and I can’t wait to share the rest of my life and all the new adventures that God has planned for us together for many years to come.

 

DSCN5768

 

Thank you, Bill, for asking me to be your wife back in 1998 and choosing to share all of life with me.

I thank God every day for the privilege of loving you.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

Read Full Post »

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

 

I wrote an earlier blog entitled God Trusts Me With His Silence.  During the latest trial that our family is still walking through, God showed me another blessing.  I’ve continued to ask God to show me what direction He wants me to take (keep waiting, start walking in a new direction, or continue obeying with the previous assignment).  I’ve also tried to put this trial into perspective.  It could be much worse than unemployment and while that brings about its own stresses, I have friends walking much more difficult roads.  Through it all, I’ve continued to listen to any sign of His still small voice speaking to me. Because when He chooses to speak, I want to be listening.

Today I got a hug from God.  I had felt Him nudging me to invite a lady I know only casually out for coffee.  When I found out my schedule was going to be a bit more free the next few weeks, I got excited thinking, “Now I have the time to ask her for coffee and get to know her more than superficially.”  However, at the same time, I’ve felt pressure to be looking for income to replace what we’ve lost, pressure to continue to work hard on the assignments God has previously called me to fulfill, and to play “catch up” on things I’ve neglected for far too long.  As a result…the invitation wasn’t spoken.

 

DSCN5092

 

Today I arrived for pickup a few minutes early and told our daughter, “I’ll be right back.  I want to catch up with our friend.”  So I approached her and we started chatting.  I ended up inviting her for coffee and she was very receptive, although the actual “get together” is being postponed an extra week.  (I think I’m going to pray about that and ask God to open my schedule up sooner as I don’t want to miss what may be a divine appointment.)  However, at the same time, she asked me a question that I wouldn’t have had an answer to if our family wasn’t walking this journey presently.  And I said that to her – that maybe one reason God was allowing me to be unemployed was so I could help her with resources I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

I say that as a reminder that it’s not all about me.  I am but a small piece in the puzzle of life and God’s biggest purpose – to point people to His Son so that they may experience eternal life.  As I pointed out in God Cares More About the Journey, this particular trial was never about my next job.  It was never about being unemployed.  It’s always only been about God ultimately getting the glory – fulfilling His purpose of pointing all of us toward His Son and eternal life in Heaven.

I’m so glad that God loves me enough to give me the privilege of being a small part of the puzzle to point others toward Him.  I’m not an evangelist.  I don’t do well when trying to explain my faith or how to have eternal life.  But I do love God with my whole heart and if people can see that difference in me and have patience as I try and find the words to explain what that means to me (and to them), then I’ll have done what God asks of me.  Ultimately, that’s all that matters.  And I smiled a little today when I realized that even when God remains silent about the “job,” He’s still speaking loud and clear about my real purpose on earth – pointing others toward Him.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

Read Full Post »

What do you say to that friend who longs for a child but doesn’t talk about it because, despite trying, it hasn’t happened?

 

What do you say to that friend who suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth… or is facing the anniversary of the death of her child gone way too soon?

 

What if “that friend” is YOU?

 

Instead of worrying what to say or instead of grieving alone…

Give your friend (or yourself):

 

Hope During Heartache

 Hope During Heartache

Allow the stories of 13 different men and women comfort you or your friend and help you or her to find hope during the heartache. Then…let these brave yet strong individuals offer you or your friend a chance to experience that hope.

 

Available on Amazon in paperback:

http://amzn.to/1CJVqXy

 

The perfect gift for Mother’s Day when you want to say the right thing but just aren’t sure what that is.

Read Full Post »

ATTENTION ALL BOOK LOVERS!

 

I’m giving away ONE EBook. 

 Hope During Heartache

Please stop by…Here’s the link…

 

https://connywithay.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/contest-hope-during-heartbreak-1-free-e-book-giveaway/

 

Read Full Post »

“…Moses stepped into the deep darkness because God was there. It’s the mystery part of following God. I feel like that is what we’re doing now. Instead of pulling back in fear, we’re stepping into the deep darknes of the unknown future…And the reason we’re doing it is because we know God is already there and more than anything, we want to be with Him.” (Robin Jones Gunn, Forever With You)

I’ve been discussing trials a lot lately.  You might be getting tired of hearing about them.  But I learned another truth about myself throughout this present journey.  I would rather step into the darkness where God is than travel a well-lit path on my own.

Like everyone, if you’re alive, you’ve had trials in one form or another throughout your life.  In the past, I’ve tried to do it through my own strength and my own “smarts.”  I may not have realized exactly that’s what I was doing but I definitely know I didn’t stop at the beginning of the trial, ask God to take charge, and then follow through by listening to (and for) His voice the entire way.  I would pray and ask for His help, but then would try to get things done, thinking my way was best or worse yet, thinking that my way was really His way and inviting Him into my plan instead of asking for His plan.

 

DSCN5820

 

However, I find comfort in the above verse…stepping into the darkness where God is.  A perfect illustration of this occurred when we first brought our new puppy home.  He had come from a pet store so everything involving “home” was new to him.  It was quite funny to see his reaction to a collar, leash, and even something simple like steps or a couch.  He was nervous, scared and only felt reassurance or comfort if he was touching us.  Throughout the weeks we’ve had him home, he has relaxed and begun to see his new home as an adventure, something to get excited about instead of something to fear and while he will wander away for a short time, he is happiest when he can be touching us.

That is how I feel with God.  Trials aren’t something I ask for but they are a reality in this life.  The longer we live, the more trials will cross our paths.  I don’t believe that God gives us trials as punishment but I do believe God uses trials to help us mature.  I’ve done trials in life both ways – with and without God.  And I’m a living testimony when I say I would much rather step into the darkness with God, trusting His way as the right way, than to live life trial free without Him.

Just like our puppy, I’m much happier when I’m touching God, doing life His way than when I’m trying to do life on my own.  I’m so thankful to have a loving Heavenly Father who wants me to cling to Him…every step of the way.

© Cheri Swalwell 2015

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

It’s almost Mother’s Day and time to start thinking about the perfect gift for your special friend, sister, or daughter.  Flowers die, candy gets eaten, but inspirational devotionals start on a page, get planted and bloom forever in one’s heart.

 

Whether she is already a mother, about to become a mother for the first time (or second or third…), or dreams about one day becoming a mother…here’s a great idea that will keep giving and giving and giving.

 

 

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101

 Parenting101_Kindle

AND

 

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 2

 Parenting2_Kindle

Available on Amazon in paperback

http://amzn.to/1H7aHGY

AND

http://amzn.to/1DinGDc

 

Short, light hearted, encouraging devotionals that can be read one a day for a month or all at once – whatever you choose.

Give the gift that keeps on blooming to the person you love this Mother’s Day.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »