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Archive for March, 2019

I was listening to the radio one morning this spring and a wife made a comment, “we’ve rubbed off on each other.” She went on to explain how both she and her husband have each changed a little bit, moving from their polar opposite positions to meet “more in the middle.”

That got me thinking … in what way have you “rubbed off on someone else” – whether a friendship, spouse, child, co-worker, or neighbor?

In what way has someone else “rubbed off” on you?

Here’s the biggest question of all. Has the “rubbing off” been positive, negative, or a little bit of both?

 

 

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God Protects

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

 

I have been praying for the last several years for God to intervene in a situation in our family’s life. Praying for provision, protection, wisdom, and guidance. I was sharing with a friend during our walk yesterday about how I believe God is getting ready to work in a mighty way and how I’m asking Him to protect us until it happens. She reiterated to me that God hasn’t left us unprotected yet and He’s not going to start now.

Her answer reminded me of a time four years ago, when I was told within 30 days I would be without any income. My job had been phased out. Two days after finding out that news, my husband, our 5-year-old and myself were almost in a car accident with a herd of deer (not one, but 7) that ran across the road mere seconds in front of our car. If my husband hadn’t slowed down to look at a distraction, he and my son would have taken the full impact of 7 deer. God used that example four years ago to remind me if He could protect us physically from a herd of deer without a scratch, He had my employment covered.

Immediately following the walk with my friend, our youngest and I went for our bi-monthly grocery shopping trip. The first store went without incident. However, at the beginning of the second store, I had an encounter with a man that left me feeling extremely uneasy. The Holy Spirit alerted me to the fact his body language, the tone of his voice, his mannerisms and movements were to be paid attention to and I was to end the conversation he drew me into immediately. Without being rude but being abrupt, we walked away from that aisle and without alarming our son, I told him to stick close by as today wasn’t the day to wander or look around. He needed to stay right with me and we needed to hurry. We were in the store maybe 20 more minutes and we saw him staring directly at us at least three other times, in three very different sections, which added to my high alertness.

By now I started praying, asking God what He wanted me to do. It was dark outside, I parked fairly far away, and we were there by ourselves. I felt “relatively” safe inside the store but didn’t want him to see me leave and try to follow us. The Holy Spirit nudged me to check out at the far end of the store, the side away from my car, hoping he wouldn’t see me, and as we’re walking in that direction, one of our dear friends from church was standing in another checkout lane. While I always love seeing him out and about or at church, I was even happier to see him this time. I truly felt God had put him there at that time for us. I debated about telling him about my feeling of being followed, but instead made chitchat before proceeding to head to the other checkout. I was tempted to stand behind him in line, but then he would be heading home and we would be left in the store alone.

Checkout took longer than I planned because I kept having problems, but as always, it was another way to see God’s perfect timing! As we started heading to our car (with me looking all around to see if the man was still watching us), our friend from church was heading to his car too. We had finished at the same time. Only God! We ended up walking out with him and it was only when we were in the parking lot that I let on to him I was scared and God used him to make me feel safe. I thanked him for being there and being used by God that night. As God would have it, we were parked in the same row. We were further down from him, but I felt more comfortable and peaceful now.

We headed to our car, moving quickly and as we were putting our groceries in the backseat, a lady pulled into the spot next to us with a giant van (couldn’t see the store from the other side of the van – God hid us from plain sight) and she was so friendly and outgoing. I offered her my now empty cart, we were able to get in our car shielded, and I drove home knowing it was God once again who used a scary situation in the store to remind me if He could (and would) keep me and our son safe from someone who might have intended to harm us, He definitely was going to protect our family in the situation we’ve been praying about for several years.

I’m so thankful God takes care of His children. And I’m grateful He chooses to show me sometimes the ways He does protect so that I can trust Him to protect while we’re still waiting for the answer to come.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

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“Jesus speaks in truths and promises.” Pastor James Sunnock

 

For the past few weeks I’ve been sharing with you about the miracle God gave our family back at Christmastime. You might be reading about what happened and yet be skeptical, asking me, “Was it a miracle, Cheri, or just you working hard to get money to pay the bills?”

 I think, when God wants to show off, He sets the stage so that one can’t argue it was God doing all the work instead of human effort. I, for one, love giving Him the glory, always, and will forever point others to see His power and glory in its finest.

Here are a few reasons why I know it was a miracle God performed and nothing I did:

 

  • When God gave me the choice (Option A or Option B), when I chose to let God handle restoring what was lost, I kept my hands off. I didn’t seek out how to recover what was lost, I didn’t have conversations with people about how to recover my income – the only conversations I had were with my husband (we prayed together), a couple I pray with at my church, my pastor, and two close friends. I also told our kids because I knew God was going to move in a mighty way and when He came through (not if), I wanted the stage set so they knew who got the glory!
  • God brought the restored income to me! I didn’t seek it out. I didn’t ask for more work. I went about my normal agenda and God orchestrated the conversations for me with each and every opportunity. Each and every one.
  • Back in November when I published Rejoicing in Closed Doors – Part II, I referred to some doors God closed pretty tightly. I was confused because I had gone into the meeting knowing He was with me, yet, He still closed doors tightly that I had been waiting patiently to open for 18 months. I chose to praise Him for the closed doors instead of getting disappointed and His answer was “be still and wait,” a familiar verse/theme all year between Him and I. I believe He opened the door with a one-month assignment in December purposefully – His timing is perfect, never early, never late and exactly what I needed. I also believe I wouldn’t have been given that opportunity in December if I hadn’t obeyed and chosen Option B, keeping my hands off.

 

The miracle occurred on Thursday. Three days later, God used that week’s Advent sermon to further encourage me. Our pastor spoke from Mark 4 and 5 about two separate events which were connected. The first event he explained involved the disciples and Jesus in a boat during a storm. The disciples were terrified and woke Jesus up to fix it. He had been sleeping peacefully, fully trusting His Father’s words that He had a destination to go to and God would get Him there. The second event is what happened when they arrived at their destination. They arrived at the region of Gerasenes where they met with a demonic man (who was possessed by many demons) and through another miracle, Jesus was able to free the man who had been held captive by demons for years. Our pastor explained that “we will weather many storms in our lives when we’re on our way to our greatest victories.”

That got me thinking. At the time of this writing, we have received our miracle, which is more than enough for me, but at the beginning of fulfilling it, He gave a glimpse of something more to come – possibly the answer to a several year-old prayer. And I believe at the time you’re reading this, God will have either already answered that prayer (it will have been time) or we will be even closer to the answer and He will have revealed even more of His plan for our family – not because we deserve it, but because we have been obedient and faithful to what He has asked us to do.

Feel free to ask me in the comment section or private message me … and I will be happy to share with you the amazing changes that have occurred in our lives.

And as I always love to say and can never say enough – what He’s willing to do for our family, He’s willing and waiting to do for you. It’s up to you to start the conversation with Him, though. He’s a gentleman and won’t push Himself on you.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

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Only God – Part II

“So be very careful to act exactly as God commands you. Don’t veer off to the right or the left. Walk straight down the road God commands so that you’ll have a good life and live a long time in the land that you’re about to possess.”

Deuteronomy 5:32-33 (The Message)

 

For the past couple weeks I’ve been sharing how God gave our family a choice in the fall of 2018 and while I didn’t feel Him wanting me to choose one more than the other, we chose to step outside our comfort zone, take our hands off, and watch God perform a miracle.

Last time we were together, I shared with you the miracle God blessed us with – not only did He recover what was lost, but He chose to bless us with half as much again as well. And … if that wasn’t enough, He did it three weeks before the loss would hit our family. That could only be explained as a miracle!

All day Thursday and Friday I was sharing with whoever would listen to me how God provided a miracle to our family. And I completely meant every word. Friday night, after working hard, the house was finally quiet and I decided to spend some long-needed extra quiet time with my Father. It was during that time of silence, He reminded me that while He gave back what was lost and then some, there were other blessings He had given as well that weren’t as “showy,” but equally important to acknowledge and give Him thanks.

Below I want to share with you the “extra” blessings God had set up for this miracle months (and even) years prior. I want to use this to encourage you, my friend, even if you think nothing is moving in your situation, God is working behind the scenes. Continue to trust Him, continue to obey what He asks, and continue to praise Him for the answer, before you even see it get answered:

  • Wednesday (the day before the Thursday miracle), as I was doing bills, I continued noticing something interesting which had happened for the previous two paychecks. Almost since the beginning of The Blessed Life series, our finances looked to be growing. Wednesday, when I finished putting everything into the checkbook, I noticed that with the remaining paychecks we would receive in December, if no other money came in, our bills would be covered for December and January. That was the beginning of the miracle and while I acknowledged and thanked God, I didn’t realize there was more.
  • God reminded me on Friday night that He started this miracle in the fall of 2011. He had allowed me to attend a writer’s conference which got me started blogging twice a week. I have faithfully blogged from November 2011 through the present, never missing a week. Those blogs have been turned into devotional books. If I hadn’t been obedient to God years ago when He changed my dream from fiction to nonfiction writing (He gave me back fiction writing this past year, and I will be publishing a six-book series sometime in 2019), I would’ve never had the content I needed to accept this assignment. As I was working on the assignment yesterday, I realized God used my obedience to help make this a miracle and not more hard work.
  • Because of the above detail (having already written much of the assignment), I was able to prepare everything ahead of time and will still get to have a genuine, extended time off of work to spend with my family over the Christmas holiday. Something I have been preparing for since Thanksgiving and we are all looking forward too.
  • While I was still watching, trusting and waiting for God’s miracle to show up, I was also trying to be frugal and prepared for the loss of income. As a result, I had shopped ahead of time for some food for our kids, but had told them they couldn’t eat it until January, when school was back in session. (Don’t be alarmed, they were far from starving, these were the extras and having them go without for a couple weeks wasn’t going to affect their health or growth.) Friday morning one of our children commented “there was nothing good to eat” and proceeded to tell me what they had run out of already, one such item being peanut butter crackers. That is when I was reminded: I had already bought another package of them and they were waiting for January to be opened. But … if God was going to be so generous to replace our income plus half, He would want me to be generous with the peanut butter crackers too. I loved telling our child, “Go get the peanut butter crackers. God made it so you don’t have to wait.”

(I know that last example sounds a little silly – it’s just a bulk package of peanut butter crackers. However, when I was trying to be wise with our spending and knew withholding peanut butter crackers from our kids for two weeks’ wouldn’t stunt their growth but would help with the family budget, I don’t mind sharing that. But I also love sharing how God cares about all the details – even the peanut butter crackers (and lunch choices) of our children. It reminds me of Matthew 18:21-35, the parable of the man who was released of a huge debt only to throw a friend in jail because he couldn’t pay a tiny debt. Never do I want to praise God out of one side of my mouth for the blessings He gives our family, only to withhold blessings myself (no matter how small) to my family. It was really nice to be able to give those peanut butter crackers now, instead of waiting until January.)

  • I truly believe there will be future ripple effects that I’m unaware of currently … but God will surprise our family with in the weeks, months, and even possibly years to come.

 

Like I stated above my friends … there have been so many times during our family’s journey over the past five years it has felt like nothing was moving forward. However, God showed me through this miracle that He was always moving, always working in the background, and lining things up for the miracle to occur. I believe there is more to come for our family … that this is just the beginning of the answer we have been praying about and waiting for during the journey God invited us on five plus years ago. Not because we deserve it, but because when offered a choice, we choose obedience. And when we miss the mark? We recalibrate and choose obedience again until we get it right.

I also truly believe God wouldn’t have allowed the phone call to occur on Thursday offering me an assignment, a one month assignment, during the month of December when I needed to recover what was lost, if I had chosen Option A.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

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Only God – Part I

“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’”

Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)

 

Two weeks ago I wrote What Will I Choose? and ended it with the following statement: “At the time of this writing, I’m peaceful. God hasn’t fully recovered what we have lost, but He’s working and we can see it. By the time you read this, I know, in faith, we will have recovered all that has been lost with the potential of God having given more. Feel free to ask me in the comments for more details and I will be happy to share the way God answered this choice He gave us.”

 This past week God gave our family a miracle. A bona fide, cannot be explained any other way, miracle. It was a direct answer to the choice God asked me to make at the end of the November, right before Thanksgiving. Would I choose option A and fight the person (email) and receive only what was lost … or would I choose option B, let it go, and watch and see how God would provide, possibly more than what was lost? I chose option B … choosing to believe God wanted to work a miracle for our family.

I think at this point I should mention that when I received the email, it was approximately one month before what was lost was going to negatively affect our family. (I also should mention our family is relatively healthy and rarely visits the doctor, but since the day after Thanksgiving, we have had four doctor’s visits in four weeks, so four more bills to add to our normal pile.)

So … humanly speaking, our family either had 30 days to scramble and recover what was lost or watch and see how God would come through. We chose to continue to watch how God was going to come through.

Our week started out normally. It was still approximately 3 weeks before crunch time and the peace I had three weeks prior was still evident. I was watching and waiting, choosing to be frugal and not overspend, but not actively pursuing anything to recover the loss.

Thursday I received a phone call from someone offering me a short-term job. Duration? One month (December 10th through January 10th). I consider this person a friend and to have the opportunity to work for him, knowing from past conversations what the details were and already having my husband’s blessing because of the past conversations, I agreed immediately. We talked through the details and agreed on the price. As soon as he told me what he was willing to offer, I KNEW it was God! Not only was what was lost recovered, but it was recovered plus half again!

I got off the phone and proceeded to share the news with anyone and everyone who would listen. First I told my daughter and her friend (they were caught in the car with me as I had just picked them up from school so they didn’t really have a choice.) Then my husband was next (who I wanted to be first). Then I shared with anyone and everyone who would listen.

Not only did God recover what was lost with half again as much given on top of that, but the assignment I am doing is something I love! I worked all day Friday preparing for it ahead of time, getting everything ready so it will easy to fulfill what I promised, even while taking time off over the holidays to spend with my family.

There is no other way to explain it. God didn’t just recover what was lost. He gave it back and then added another half as much on top as a bonus. Even more than that, though, He further cemented I can trust Him in all situations I will face because He takes care of His children when we obey.

Please come back tomorrow and I will share with you the ripple effect of our obedience and blessings still resulting from this miracle He gave to our family.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

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“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” John 6:11 (NIV)

 

My husband and I made the choice not to fight the email (or the person) and to trust God for full recovery of what was lost while wandering through the aisles of a department store. Nothing significant happened immediately when we made that choice, and I was still trusting God He would give me confirmation we were doing the right thing before Monday morning.

The next day, Sunday, was the beginning of His confirmation. It was supposed to be the last video in the series; however, God had been speaking to our pastor and on Friday (two days prior) he felt God tell him to preach from his heart instead. I cried throughout the entire sermon as he shared the three steps needed in order to make room for a miracle in your life using the example of the miracle in the Bible of the two fish and five loaves of bread. (John 6:1-14)

 

  • Let go and trust God with the situation
  • Ask for God’s blessing over the situation
  • Give away in order to see it multiply

 

In addition, there is a specific couple on our church’s prayer team I’ve been praying with for the past 18 months about this very situation. They know the details and have been walking with me on this journey for quite a while. The week before God had nudged me to go up and share with them how He had taught me to “hate it (the situation) with the right attitude,” giving Him glory for the way He has taken care of me even though outwardly we weren’t seeing any change in the situation itself.

This week, while my pastor was preaching, I got the sense the couple would be there again and I was to go up and pray with them about this new turn of events. The interesting thing is they serve on the prayer team twice a month, every other week. This was two weeks in a row and God changed their schedule so they were up there ready to pray with me again this week! He confirmed to me through the sermon as well as them being available to pray that this was indeed a choice from Him and I felt confident (and peaceful) that the choice my husband and I had made the night before was absolutely an invitation from God Himself.

Less than 24 hours later (Monday) and more than four weeks before it was needed, God recovered 10% of what was lost with an unexpected job. Then on Tuesday, God showed me a glimpse of just how powerful He is, because He showed me a glimpse of what might be coming – which is an answer to a prayer I began over five years ago.

At the time of this writing, I’m peaceful. God hasn’t fully recovered what we have lost, but He’s working and we can see it. By the time you read this, I know, in faith, we will have recovered all that has been lost with the potential of God having given more. Feel free to ask me in the comments for more details and I will be happy to share the way God answered this choice He gave us.

No matter what the answer is, though, God receives all the glory. I have learned to trust Him with all areas of my life, knowing He loves us and wants the best for us – not because of anything we do, but simply because we’re His children and He is Love.

An Abundant Life always starts with a choice and the first choice is the most important: Who do you want in charge of your life? For me, the answer is Jesus Christ.

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

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About the Book

Book Title: I Love to Tell the Story

Author: Susan Barnett Braun

Genre: Christian Memoir

Release date: November 8, 2011

Is it possible to emerge unscathed from an evangelical upbringing? Yes, as surely as David slew Goliath!

I Love to Tell the Story is Susan Barnett Braun’s account of growing up Baptist in a small midwestern town, touching on many cultural icons common to those who came of age in the 1970s. Braun recounts childhood obstacles, which loom as large as the walls of Jericho in her eyes. She encounters a trio of Sunday school mean girls who make King Herod look tame. She worries about being “ugly as sin” due to her chubbiness, glasses, and braces. She’s so consumed with the idea of Jesus’ imminent return that she wonders whether it’s even worthwhile to brush her teeth at night.

Humorous, poignant, and ultimately triumphant, I Love to Tell the Story is a Christian memoir that will stay with readers long after the last Vacation Bible School craft stick cross has fallen apart.

 

About the Author

Susan Barnett Braun grew up in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. She earned a BS in retail management from Indiana University and an MA in elementary Education from the University of Alabama. She taught elementary school for eight years in northwest Indiana. During that time, she wrote grant proposals which won a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Study Scholarship, both on topics relating to European royalty.

Susan’s writing has appeared in many online and print publications, including Parents, Children’s Ministry, Mommy Tracked, Family Christian Blog, Visit Fort Wayne Blog, and The Teacher’s Mailbox. She blogs at Girls in White Dresses.

Susan is married with three wonderful young adult daughters. She enjoys reading, playing piano and organ, and spending her time with her family and pets (currently three rabbits and a chinchilla).

 

Guest Post from Susan

One of the reasons I began blogging, ten years ago now, was to document my childhood memories for my kids. Why? When I was a teacher, before I had kids, I used to tell my students stories from my youth. They loved them and begged for more. Same thing when I had my own kids. I wanted to document these tales, but the problem always came in finding the time and the motivation to actually get around to writing them down.

Childhood Memories Friday posts on my blog helped get me moving in the right direction. Eventually, I began thinking I’d like to compile a bunch of the memories into book form. Since many of my most vivid memories revolved around church, I decided that that was the perfect theme. And “I Love to Tell the Story” was born. Each chapter is titled with a hymn that reflects its theme. As I delved into the writing, I had a lot of fun reliving the decidedly memorable life I had led as a youth :). I realized, too, that many aspects of my conservative midwestern upbringing don’t exist anymore in the 21st century. I became nostalgic thinking about the many cultural markers of the 1970s — Lawrence Welk, the Flintstones, — even macrame and latch-hook!

Another goal in writing this book was to put out a positive Christian memoir. So many that I read started out fine, but then dissolved into abuse, disillusionment, or even worse. I began to wonder if anyone had grown up in the church and actually enjoyed the experience … surely I wasn’t alone, was I?

Treat yourself to a stroll down memory lane. It’s my hope that you’ll enjoy yourself.

 

My Review of I Love to Tell the Story:

 

I Love to Tell the Story by Susan Barnett Braun was a delightful book. It took me right back to my Baptist upbringing in church, the era when I was born and the fun we used to have in childhood. It was a great read and I love how she correlated the stories of her childhood with the stories in the songs I grew up on. I love how she described the church she attended, the preaching, salvation, baptism, etc. It was such a great read. I felt like I was traveling down memory lane. I laughed, I reminisced. It was a great read. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Celebrate Lit and was under no obligation to post a review. All opinions are mine.

 

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, March 7

The Power of Words, March 8

Artistic Nobody, March 8

Spoken from the Heart, March 9

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 10

Where Crisis & Christ Collide, March 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 12

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 13

Texas Book-aholic, March 14

janicesbookreviews, March 15

A Reader’s Brain, March 16

Inklings and notions, March 17

The Becca Files, March 18

Real World Bible Study, March 19

Just the Write Escape, March 20

 

Giveaway

 

 

 

To celebrate her tour, Susan is giving away a grand prize of a copy of the book and a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card!!

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/dcda/i-love-to-tell-the-story

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