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Archive for April, 2018

“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’” John 11:40 (NIV)

 

This past winter a lot of the country went through a significant period of deep, bone-chilling temperatures.  At the time of this writing, I honestly have forgotten how many weeks it’s been since the thermometer has been above a single digit number and that doesn’t account for the wind chill factored in either.  Yesterday was the first day I started to acknowledge that I’m cold … really cold.  I’ve been trying to maintain a positive attitude about the cold snap.  “It can’t last that long … it should break soon … remember I’d rather be cold and try to warm up than be hot and not able to cool down.”  However, all that positive self-talk finally gave in this week to the simple truth that it’s freezing and I’m freezing no matter how many layers I put on.  And I allowed myself to acknowledge that fact.

This morning I listened to the seven-day weather report and saw two days next week of 36 degrees.  Those numbers seem almost spring like compared to what we’ve experienced. And I realized while it’s been probably over two weeks of frigid, arctic like temperatures, next week we’ll get relief.  And I’m hopeful again. Even though I’m still chilled to the bone despite how many cups of hot coffee and hot tea I’m drinking, by next week I’ll be peeling off at least one of the three layers and may even break out into a sweat.

The bitterly cold weather reminded me of my spiritual life.  When I would face challenges or difficulties in life, I tried to maintain a positive attitude, especially when they first began.  “Oh, this won’t last long.  It’s a good learning experience.  Soon this test/training/lesson will be over, I’ll have learned what I was supposed to and be ready to move on to some rest in between the storms life gives.”  But then days turned into weeks and there usually came a time when I finally acknowledged, “Okay, God, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.  It’s not ending nearly as quickly as I thought it should.  There are more factors to this than I originally planned for,” and I began complaining, either out loud or inwardly.  But then God, in His mercy, would show me a few days of higher than normal temperatures and I would realize, “Oh, there is an end … it will get better” and all of a sudden the weeks, months and years that our family dealt with an issue didn’t seem as long or as hard as they were when we were walking through them.

I wrote this post while still experiencing the cold snap even though you’re reading it in the spring when all thoughts of snow are a distant memory.  Another great reminder to me to always praise God while I’m still going through the trial because it will get better, eventually.  Then, when the trial finally is over, I can look back and realize it wasn’t as bad as it felt when I was actually walking through it. Or, maybe it was seriously that bad … but God got me through.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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Available Now for Preorder for only 99 Cents:

Spoken from the Heart:
Choosing a Faith-Filled Adventure

 

On Amazon:

eBook: https://amzn.to/2vPKHD8

If you sign up to join the Spoken from the Heart READERS CLUB

Email me at (clSwalwell99@gmail.com) that you’ve signed up

and I will send you the first book in the Adventure Series FREE

For a limited time, get the whole Adventure Series for only 99 cents each

Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith

Spoken from the Heart: Embracing the Adventure

Spoken from the Heart: The Adventure Continues

Buy your copy today and one for a friend.

 

Please share with your friends and encourage them to join the READER’S CLUB for their free book

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God’s Silence

“O God, do not remain silent; do not turn a deaf ear, do not stand aloof, O God.”

Psalm 83:1 (NIV)

 

Have you ever asked God a question about your life, an important decision you have to make or for guidance and wisdom … and all you hear is silence?

I’ve experienced that multiple times throughout my life.  I’ve had many discussions about that with Christian friends and they have been quick to remind me God gave Abraham the promise of being the father of many nations … and then He was silent for 25 years before it was fulfilled.  Noah was 500 years old when God told him to build the ark … and he was 600 years old when God told him to enter the ark. Moses wandered the desert for 40 years learning how to survive in those conditions so that he could then lead the Israelites through the desert for 40 years.  And … did you know that God was completely silent for 400 years between the end of Malachi (the Old Testament) and when Gabriel spoke to Mary in the New Testament of Matthew?  Four hundred years of silence …

With the above examples, how can I be upset when I think God doesn’t answer me soon enough because I don’t get an immediate answer?  I can’t imagine the lifespan of four of our generations going through life without hearing from God.  I know God had a divine purpose for that silence … He has a divine purpose for everything He chooses to do and I’m not arguing or debating His choice.  I’m just saying I think we’re blessed we serve God who chooses to talk to us and wants to have a personal, living relationship with us.  I, for one, want to take advantage of that relationship and talk with Him as often as possible.

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were discussing the concept of praying without ceasing.  Praying throughout the day.  I was telling her I thank Him for being able to merge onto the highway without having cars all around, I ask Him to help me with the work I have to accomplish that day that feels overwhelming, I ask for His wisdom and advice about which books to write, which jobs to take and what to make for dinner.  I ask Him what books He wants me to read, thank Him for the time to read them or the work to keep me busy.  I talk to Him about the big things, little things and everything in between.  I ask for wisdom and blessings on our marriage, on any issues our kids are dealing with, thank Him for the many blessings He provides daily (whether it’s an unexpected gift or a hug from my husband).  I talk to God continuously and when I’m not talking to Him, I’m sitting in silence listening for Him to talk to me or worshipping Him through singing along with the radio or the song He has put on my heart.

Silence … I’ve always associated silence with something bad.  Silent treatment.  Someone is displeased with me. Pins and needles.  However, I’m learning in my relationship with God silence isn’t always bad.  Sometimes God allows silence between us so that I will pray harder, listen closer or wait … until He’s ready to speak.  Sometimes silence is a faith test.  Will I walk in the direction He asked me to walk before I see what He’s going to do?

Silence can be very difficult to break down and figure out what exactly it means.  But silence can also be the perfect place to find God and really hear His voice. Trust God in the silence in your own life.  Ask Him questions and then sit silently waiting for His answer.  Trust the promise He gave you ahead of time and keep walking in that direction until you see the promise fulfilled.  When we come to God with the right attitude of wanting His will, He will answer, in His time.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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Hedge of Protection

“The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;” Psalm 34:19 (NIV)

 

I’ve talked here many times about how I used to be afraid … very afraid of many things. I was afraid of the dark, afraid my family would die and leave me an orphan, grew to be afraid of thunderstorms, etc.

I don’t remember exactly when I started praying the following way, but when I would pray before going to sleep, I would ask God to “surround our house with His angels” and would picture the angels all joining hands (as children would who were playing “ring around the rosey”) and that no evil could penetrate the strong angels’ bodies or interlaced hands. As I got older, that prayer turned into asking God to have His angels give our family and our extended family a “hedge of protection,” just a fancy way of saying, “Please put them in the ring around the rosey pose again and keep us safe.”

Last week Monday I had to go to the hospital for a routine procedure.  It had been six years since I was last hooked up to machines to keep track of my heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, an IV for fluids and the sedation I would receive, etc.  There were a lot of wires and tubes stuck in and on me.  The doctor was delayed so I was hooked up and then allowed to wait … and wait … and wait.

It was during that time of waiting I started having a conversation with God.  I was thanking Him that I wasn’t familiar with hospital procedure anymore because it had been a long time since we had visited one, and never for trauma from a car accident, heart attack, etc.  Eleven years ago we had spent a lot of time in the ER and Bill was even admitted for a few days for testing, but trauma and major accidents haven’t really been a part of our family history.

Three days after that conversation with God, I found myself in another type of “emergency” situation.  While this one wasn’t life or death and didn’t affect our family physically, it was an emergency nonetheless.  And while it only took 24-48 hours to fully resolve, God used this emergency to remind me of something else.

When I pray for God’s hedge of protection around our family and extended family every night, my thoughts usually drift to keeping burglars away, sickness, accidents – issues that affect us physically.  However, God showed me not three days after our conversation while I was hooked up to a gazillion wires and waiting, He loves His children so much more than just protecting us physically.

When we take the time to invite Him into our lives, all of our lives, He promises us protection in every area – spiritually, physically, emotionally, physiologically, psychologically, financially … and the list goes on.  Whatever area of life that the enemy can touch, God promises protection when we invite Him in.

Sometimes that protection includes having to go through the trial, as happened to our family three days after my procedure.  We still had to go through the “emergency,” but even when in the midst of it, I could see God’s protection keeping it from being much, much worse.

I’m actually glad I had the routine procedure last week.  It reminded me to be thankful for God’s protection – not just physically but in every area of my life.  I’m even grateful for the emergency three days later because God used that to show me He protects even when we have to go through the trials, keeping things from being much worse than they could be.

Now when I pray for God’s hedge of protection, I don’t just envision the angels surrounding our home in a ring around the rosey position. Now I realize God uses them to offer us protection in every area of our lives. And that allows me to rest in God’s peace not just throughout the night but all day too.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

 

 

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“And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:20 (The Message)

 

Last time we were together I shared how I’m a recovering “controlling Momma.”  I don’t mean to be, but God lovingly showed me how much that title truly fit.  I think it started when our kids were infants and I feared for their safety.  Therefore, to keep them safe I must pay attention to what activities they participate in, where they go, what they eat … basically how they live. If you had asked me years ago if that was what I was doing, I probably would have denied it, thinking I was just being an involved parent. Now that God has released my grip on fear and taught me how to trust Him instead, that’s exactly what I was doing.

After losing our baby to miscarriage and then welcoming our bonus blessing two years ago, I even drove myself crazy with how protective I was of our youngest.  There was such an age gap between our older two and the “baby,” that I worried about him eating small pieces to toys that weren’t even on my radar when our first two were young. Looking back, I feel sorry for our older kids because their formerly playful mom had temporarily turned into a lunatic.

When God showed me this morning about how it’s not up to me to control anyone, including or especially my children, He reminded me that He, the God of the Universe, doesn’t try and control His children either.  He has given us free will (a fancy way of saying we’re allowed to make our own choices in this world and He won’t step in and stop us even if those choices are dangerous or fatal), even to the point of allowing us to choose hell for eternity instead of Heaven with Him.

That’s a sobering thought, but that’s the truth staring me in the face.  God loves His children so much that He didn’t create robots. He created human beings with minds and thoughts and desires, likes and dislikes.  He loves us so much He will let us choose death for eternity if that is what we want.

That means … if God is willing to let us choose death, then we as humans need to allow our children, parents, siblings, friends, extended family choose death too if that is what they want. Because of God’s great love, though, He came up with a way for us to receive the free gift of salvation (eternity in Heaven) but it’s still a choice. In addition, God wants us to share the plan of salvation with everyone we have contact with – that part is our responsibility.  However, the ultimate choice of whether or not someone will spend eternity separated from God (in hell) or in a relationship with God (receiving the free gift of salvation) is not ours to control.  Cajoling, pleading, threatening, bribing, getting angry, pouting – don’t bother, because it’s not ours to control.

Do you know the one method that does work more than any others? Prayer. Share your heart and God’s plan with those you love (and come into contact with) and then pray.  Ask God to open their hearts, minds, eyes and ears to His loving invitation.  Pray for moments inspired by God Himself to share more about your relationship with Him, answering questions they may have about a relationship with Christ or however the conversation is led.  But pray for God’s divine intervention to soften the other’s heart to want to receive the invitation of the free gift offered to all of us.

While where anyone other than ourselves spends eternity has never been ours to control, we still have the power of prayer and authentic sharing of how God is a living, breathing deity who personally and individually does mighty things in our lives and others who are His children. And it is definitely within our power to decide whether or not we will share.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

 

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“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 (The Message)

 

We have two teenagers in the house and one elementary school child.  Looking back over this past school year, I’ve realized that God has been teaching me a big lesson regarding control … and how little of it I actually have in life.

Throughout the past five months, we’ve had the privilege of shopping for clothes for high school dances. First for our daughter who was on the homecoming court and most recently for our son who was nominated for the winter fest court. Neither shopping experience was pleasant at first. Soon, I realized I was the common denominator for that discomfort.

I haven’t learned how to give up control yet.  I know in my head our kids are older and the independence they express is healthy and natural.  Truly I do.  However, my heart hasn’t quite received the memo it’s time to step back and watch them fly. Our kids are truly wonderful.  They know how to stick with a budget, they shop within that budget and are extremely grateful for what they receive.  The issue had nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. To make matters worse … I’m not even sure I can articulate what exactly I was trying to control because they weren’t pushing back at all.

Three days later, I was driving home from dropping our youngest off at school and God brought these events back into my mind.  I realized that a much smarter choice, for my personality, would be at the beginning to give them the allocated budget and then go ahead and participate with the intention of observing what styles and colors they gravitate toward, making the effort to get to know their preferences instead of injecting mine into the conversation. Oh how I wish God and I had this conversation on Saturday, the day before we went shopping!

 

However, He used that shopping trip to remind me it’s very similar to more important decisions people make in life.  It is never my role to control any other human being.  It’s my privilege to support, encourage, love and comfort my spouse, children and friends. It’s my job to teach, train, disciple and guide my children – but never does God tell me in the Bible to control another human being. Ever.

I wish I’d learned that lesson 17 years ago when our first child was born. However, with that knowledge now, and lots of practice to get it right, I hope to change the atmosphere in our house for the better.  Despite my tendencies to try to control things (and people), my children have turned out pretty fantastic.  In fact, going back to the shopping trip, I did excuse myself from the primary decision making and took a backseat role to my husband (forever the patient, non-controlling personality) and our daughter (the fashion guru who is amazing at giving suggestions and not taking it personally if they aren’t eagerly accepted). The final outcome of the shopping trip was a success – an outfit that our child feels confident in and peace among all family members.

Come back next time when I share an even more important time in one’s life that others should never try to control.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

 

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