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Archive for October, 2019

God nudge …

A few years back I was at the grocery store on a Sunday night. Mondays (at that season in my life) were one of my catch-up days. Appointments, writing, phone calls – that was the day I used to get things done I didn’t normally have time for in order to work hard Tuesday through Thursday.

However, while at the store, I mentioned to my husband I felt like God was inviting me to ask a friend out to breakfast the next day. I knew it was short notice and I wondered if she would say ‘no’ because of that, but I asked anyway out of obedience.

After texting her the invitation, it wasn’t five minutes later and she had accepted. I didn’t know exactly what we were going to talk about, but I knew I was supposed to ask.

While eating breakfast the next morning, God guided the conversation and I was able to offer some encouragement in an area where she was struggling, an area that I understood well, and we prayed right there in McDonalds for peace, guidance and wisdom.

Have you ever felt God nudge you to extend an invitation to a friend, cook dinner for someone, or offer to babysit for another? What do His nudges look like to you?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Friendship …

Growing up I always seemed to hang out with people older than me. They were either my sister’s friends or kids a few years older in school.

 

Now that I’ve been married, the pendulum seems to have shifted more toward friendships with people who are younger than myself. It might have something to do with being married later in life and having children widely spaced apart.

 

I still enjoy friendships with others who are slightly older than me, and I have to admit, I love the variety that comes with friends of all ages and stages.

I glean wisdom and knowledge from each of my friends because even if I’m further along in the parenting journey with older children, I am less skilled at cooking, canning, or raising chickens.

 

When I have questions about stages of life I’m entering (first child leaving home for college, emotional changes, and dealing with transitions in general), I have other friends who have traveled that path already and are there to offer support and encouragement.

 

What about you? Do you have friends mainly older, younger or the same age/stage as you? Are your friends available and willing to offer advice, and also listen when you encourage them?

 

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Hands and Feet …

I’ve had the privilege of working many different jobs in my life: from working in a residential home with troubled children to daycare owner to foster care/adoption worker then back to daycare owner and more.

During one of my years of owning my own daycare, one family went through a season of hardship. The wife was pregnant with their second child and during her last trimester, her husband got into a motorcycle accident. The stress from that incident caused her to go into early labor, resulting in bedrest and eventually the healthy birth of their daughter (thankfully).

My husband and I decided this was the perfect opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives. From picking up and dropping off their daughter for them (neither of them could drive for a few weeks) to bringing them dinner and generally being available to help wherever possible, we grew closer to them and hopefully helped ease some of the burden that comes with emergencies.

Little did we know less than a year later, they would be God’s hands and feet for us when I suffered a miscarriage and two months later my husband got incredibly sick, with no diagnosis for over three months.

Do you have people in your lives who have been Jesus’ hands and feet for you during a difficult time? Have you had the opportunity to be His hands and feet for others?

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Sharing …

Doesn’t it seem like when two (or more) women get together, gossip inevitably starts? It usually begins with, “Would you all pray for …” and then the “juicy tidbits” spew out.

 

I think part of doing life with others is being allowed to share one’s feelings freely. How else can we be talked off the ledge when we’re feeling irrational or get encouraged to try a different perspective when ours isn’t working?

I have a few Sisters in Christ relationships where we share (at times) heartbreaking concerns with one another, but we’re very careful not to cross the line from sharing our hearts to gossiping and spreading rumors about another.

 

Do you know the difference I mean? Gossip is sharing all the details (even unnecessary ones) for the sake of “shock value.” Sharing is venting or pouring out your feelings while being careful how (and how much) you share about the specific situation, careful not to hurt the others involved.

 

The more I grow closer in my relationship with my Father, the more I want to be that safe person for another. I want people to know with confidence what is said doesn’t leave the room, the phone, the conversation.

 

What about you? When you get together with friends, are they comfortable confiding in you because they know they can trust you to keep it between the two of you?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Family Reunion

Our family switched churches approximately six years ago. While God had been calling us away from our “then” current church to a new church for months previously, when we finally found the new church He wanted us to call home, there was conflict in the church we were leaving and quite a few people left at the same time.

 

As we settled into our new church body, we began recognizing familiar faces we had worshipped with in a different sanctuary weeks prior.

One thing which stood out to me was how, even though we all knew the circumstances which stirred some families’ transition to a different house of worship was less than ideal, when we reunited in a different building, there was no gossip about what had been left behind but instead we chose to focus on a joyful reunion.

 

We never had to wonder if our conversations would be overheard and we never had to fear “facing those people” we had talked about behind their back. We were able to live out in the open, without worry of “getting caught.”

 

Our family found out months later part of our new church’s policy is “always think the best of others” and “let all your speech be edifying.”

 

What about you? Do you have similar rules in your home, your church, for your life? Do they bring about a natural peace because others feel safe, knowing they won’t be the subject of conversation when they aren’t present?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Prayer …

What happens when you pray? Do you feel encouraged, happier, more hopeful, and remember ways God has provided, protected and overall feel loved by the God of the Universe? Does prayer (usually) make you happier than you were before you prayed?

I have one particular Sister in Christ (SiC) who lives far enough away from me that we only get to talk on the phone. In fact, we’ve never met face to face (ever), yet we’re as close as family.

The first season of our friendship we emailed frequently but spoke on the phone maybe once or twice a month at most, and it was usually because one or the other was asking for prayer.

The next season we had time to talk (hours) almost each and every day. We would always pray, although not always first, sometimes after catching up with each other.

Eventually Abba told us He wanted us to pray first, and then talk. Most of the time we obeyed, but sometimes we would fall back into the habit of talking first with the plan of praying later … and something would come up and we would miss the opportunity to pray together.

We soon realized our obedience (when we’d pray first, talk later) blessed us as well as pleased our Father. Because when we prayed, God spoke promises over our lives, gave us hope during tough seasons, and reminded us of the ways He has answered prayers in the past and can do it again.

What does your prayer life look like? Do you like praying alone or with a friend?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Speak Truth …

I have a favorite saying … “I won’t say it if it isn’t true.” Therefore, if you know me at all, you can rest assure if it comes out of my mouth, I believe it.

However, I also hate confrontation, so if I think I might hurt someone’s feelings, I might not say anything at all, even if speaking the truth would help them in the long run.

Maybe you’re the type of person who doesn’t have a problem speaking the truth and automatically speaks it in love to everyone you meet. While I’m not there yet, I’m learning that in certain relationships, speaking the truth in love is mandatory if we’re going to move from superficial to deep.

I’ve been married for 20 years now, and my husband and I have learned the best way to speak truth to each other. We both know we have each other’s best interest at heart and truth is spoken to help, not criticize or condemn.

Parenting is similar. I still don’t like when I have to have a difficult conversation with any one of my children, but I always try to “cushion it in love” when those discussions are mandatory.

Friendship should be treated the same way. While I’m not suggesting going deep with every single person you call “friend,” you know which ones are the relationships that need to dive deeper in order to keep growing … and which ones are best left closer to the surface. Both still meaningful … just different.

For me, I find it’s easier and a better response occurs when I bathe the “truth in love” with prayer before initiating the conversation. Whenever God is invited into the relationship, positive things happen.

How about you? What’s your personality type? Do you like to dive deep in your marriage, with your children, in your friendships? Or are you more comfortable floating around on the surface splashing in the water?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

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