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Archive for July, 2019

We have three children. During the school year, they would come home and tell us about their day. Some days were especially hard because one of them would feel misunderstood, “picked on,” or judged by a teacher or a friend.

 

I realized after listening to them and hearing their heart, whether or not they really were picked on or judged or misunderstood that day didn’t matter as much as the fact that those feelings were their perception of what happened.

 

It was my job, as their mom, to help them feel heard, understood and supported, because that was how they felt. Then, after they felt heard, I could gently talk about ways to deal with those feelings and future incidents: assuming the best, not the worst; reaching out and talking with the teacher or friend to find out what they really meant, or sometimes just choosing to let it go.

 

What if the next time we’re in a conversation with someone, we first take the time to find out what his/her perception is of the situation instead of thinking about our response or how to defend ourselves?

In my opinion, until a person feels heard, according to his/her perception, any other viewpoint or perspective won’t be heard.

 

Maybe, instead of having our first agenda be one of “winning,” what if it was to go into situations covered in prayer, willing to listen, and then asking the Holy Spirit to help guide our words?

 

Never when I’ve used this method to handle situations where I didn’t know what to say has God disappointed me or left me on my own. He always provides the right words, the right attitude, and the right message to be shared. It may not be the message I thought needed to be said; but it’s always the message that needed to be heard at that time.

 

Ultimately, our job isn’t to convince others they need a relationship with Jesus. Our job is just to let them know how much God wants a relationship with them.

 

I wonder if taking the time to discover another’s perception about a situation would help open up the conversation to introduce others to Christ? What do you think?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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My great grandparents went to one-room school houses where more than one grade was taught at the same time. Most only went to school through the 8th grade because they were needed on the farm or in factories.

 

My generation had classrooms for specific grades, but we didn’t learn our letters until kindergarten. Kindergarten was more about learning social skills – areas that are covered in preschool today.

 

My children had to know their alphabet and how to write their name before entering kindergarten, because kindergarten was used to introduce them to reading and counting to 100.

 

My point is this: In each example above, while the style used to teach was different, the message was the same. Each teacher’s goal was to help her students learn to read, write their name, and other skills needed to function as an adult.

I was introduced to a great speaker approximately eight years ago. His name is Kent Julian and he used to be a youth pastor. He now goes around the country motivating school personnel and church leaders, among others. I remember him specifically sharing how he had a different version of his speech (same message) depending if he was speaking to a secular audience or a Christian audience.

 

His theory was this: If he approached both audiences the same, one would possibly shut him down before he could get started while the other would welcome him and his message. However, just as Jesus came to earth to save the lost and the broken, he didn’t want to teach only Christ followers because there are people in both groups who need to hear God’s message.

 

He said that he used a different approach to get into the door of secular audiences because once he was invited in, “his lifestyle, his actions, and his message would clearly introduce those who were seeking to talk to him further about what made him different,” opening the door so he could share his beliefs.

 

He didn’t water down his message. He didn’t deny God’s influence in his life. However, he was conscious to change his style, depending upon the audience God allowed him to speak in front of, so that the message could be heard by those who were ready to listen.

 

What about you? Do you agree or disagree that sometimes the style presenting the same message needs to be altered depending upon the audience you’re speaking to? Do you find it hard to change the style of presenting without changing the message? Why or why not?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

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Several years ago I made the choice to get to know God better. I wanted to be used of Him, and I wanted to learn how to trust Him.

 

When I told Him my desires, He answered that prayer by bringing us to a church that preached the biblical truths He wanted me to learn. He brought people into my life that challenged my old way of thinking (in a good way) and helped me peel back some layers that needed to go, introducing me to new levels of closeness with Him that I didn’t know existed.

 

One summer, approximately six years ago, God started waking me up with a song. Most days it would be a different song and not always my favorites, which helped me realize they were coming from Him and not just because I’d heard them on the radio or sung them in church.

 

Other times, I would wake up in the middle of the night with a new song (usually the right song to correspond the panic attack that woke me to begin with) and still other times I would have a song on repeat throughout the day while I was working.

At first I wondered about it because it was something new. Then I got to where it happened so often I took it for granted. Then I thought “this must happen to everyone,” but realized later, “no, not everyone walks around with a song on repeat in their brain.”

 

Since then, I have had periods of time when the songs are absent. Days will go by without a song waking me up or putting me to sleep. Months occur with … nothing. I usually find that during those periods I’m not as in tuned to Him due to letting busyness get in the way, a spiritual truth I’m wrestling with, or exhaustion of some kind. During those times, I miss that personal closeness from my Father.

 

This past year, God has shown me that praising Him through music (i.e. singing along to the melodies in my brain) are a form of prayer from me to Him. He gave me an assignment in February to praise Him with music, using that method to fight a specific spiritual battle. He even gave me a particular song to use.

 

For me, praising Him with music is a big part of my worship. I use it as prayer, a way to focus on Him, a way to thank Him, and a way to remember His promises.

 

What about you? Is music important to you? Have you ever considered using music as a form of prayer to our Heavenly Father? Has God ever woken you up with a song in your heart?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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I’d love to encourage you to take a few minutes and watch the video. (I love his Tweet below – well said, Steve, well said.)

 

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertainment/2019/may/id-still-be-going-to-hell-steve-harvey-tells-of-salvation-after-gospel-singers-prophecy-brings-him-to-tears

 

 

Steve Harvey‏@IAmSteveHarvey

God really wants to help us, but he requires that we have a relationship with him. If you’re out here trying to make it without God, you are making life harder than it needs to be. There is a higher power, there is a God. It’s time to get in touch with God. #FridayMotivation

2:27 AM – 31 May 2019

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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. I saw a headline online the other day “to the extroverted mother raising the introverted child.” While I can sympathize, it got me reflecting on how I deal with the opposite combination: I am an introverted mother raising an extroverted child. In fact, our household is comprised of 60% introversion, 20% extroversion and a 20% balance of the two.

 

I do have sympathy for our one extroverted child, raised in a family (mainly) of introverts. In one sense, it has to feel like being a fish out of water because while this child loves to be doing and going and experiencing; sometimes the rest of us just need to … rest.

 

As a mother, I sometimes feel guilt because I don’t have the same level of energy of my child. My multiple jobs (even though I work from home) require a lot of mental energy and at the end of the day, my brain (and body) are depleted from all I’ve poured into others. I need time to regroup and I do that best alone.

 

However, in another sense, I think having one extrovert and one child who is a healthy combination of extro- and introvert is good for our family. It reminds me to take time to replenish on days when I can, soI have energy left over for those who truly matter. It gives me a chance to see life through their eyes and step out of my comfort zone because of the fierce love I have for my children.

Lastly, living in a family with so many different personality types, it helps our family be more accepting of others. We realize when people say “no” to invitations, it may have nothing to do with us and everything to do with their comfort level or whether or not their they have extra reserves to have fun.

 

In my opinion, living with extroverts and introverts helps me to be more like Jesus. It helps me learn to listen to the times when I need to get alone and refresh; it helps me be less selfish by taking care of my energy reserves so I have enough to pour into my family, and it helps me be more understanding of how others refuel (sometimes by being with others and sometimes by going off alone).

 

What about you? Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you live in a household with others who are similar to your personality or polar opposite? How do you create a balance with those you love?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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We had a guest speaker at our church in May, and he spoke about the following passage: Romans 12:18 (NIV): “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

 

Normally, when I think of this verse, I think about the big issues: respecting other people’s opinions when they differ from yours or being kind to “Weird Uncle Charlie” at family reunions. Maybe even ignoring the mean comments from friends who always love to point out your weaknesses or faults.

However, what do you think family (and friend) dynamics would look like if we took that verse and applied it to the “little things”?

 

  • When you borrow your child’s car, making sure you are back when you say you will be so they aren’t late to where they need to go.
  • Choosing to wait for that all important (to you) conversation until after your spouse (or child’s) favorite show is over.
  • Putting down your phone (and walking away from social media) to give your friend (or family) your undivided attention instead of “Oh yeah? Is that right?” while your face is glued to your screen.
  • Choosing to do the dreaded chore (you know the one – the one everyone in the house hates!) even though you worked as hard as your spouse or your child and your tired too, as a way to say “I love you” and thanks for all you do for me.

 

Do you think it’s harder (or easier) to focus on keeping the peace with the big things or the little things?

 

What is one thing you can do for a friend (or your family) to “live at peace” and let them know you care?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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God gave me two words for 2019: Victory (which I’ll talk about today) and Delight, which I’ll talk about another time.

When I got the word “victory,” I was thrilled! Finally, I thought, I will be done working so hard and ready to step into the “victory” that God is blessing me with. Victory felt like a long-awaited reward after so many long, hard years of faithfully obeying what I thought God wanted me to do.

 

Well, it’s now six months into the year and I’m learning an important lesson. Victory doesn’t come without winning more battles than losing. Victory takes discipline, focus, self control, and obedience.

 

Victory is not easy … but I’m realizing it’s worth it. As I drove home today, I began speaking victory over two areas in my life: thoughts and food.

 

I know what to do when negative thoughts come into my mind. I’ve fought this battle many times and know how to win.

I also know what to do regarding healthy eating and taking care of my body.

 

Both require discipline, self control, and obedience.

 

And I decided this week I want victory more than I want to keep playing games.

 

May I taste the victory over these two strongholds in my life before 2019 is complete.

 

Are there any areas in your life that you need to declare victory over? Leave a comment and I will be happy to pray with you about how God wants to deliver you from your strongholds.

 

I would love prayer, too, to continually make choices that take me one step closer to living in the victory God promises for His children.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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