Archive for November, 2019

Favorite traditions …

Every year, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my daughter and I indulge in the same tradition. It started approximately four years ago and it’s one I’ve come to look forward to weeks ahead of time.

Our kids go to different schools and her school happens to be off the day before Thanksgiving, whereas our youngest has a half day. Being the only two females in a house full of males, we take the opportunity the day before Thanksgiving to rent a “movie of her choice” from the library and have the house to ourselves for a few hours.

Sometimes we buy donuts (since it’s early in the morning) and sit together eating them while sipping coffee (for me) and whatever drink of choice she prefers that day. Other times we just come home, curl up with blankets, and enjoy what’s on the screen.

We usually pick a movie that stays with us long after the credits are done. We both like movies that make us think, sometimes cry, and start conversations with many rabbit trails.

Those four hours in the morning set the stage for five days of family togetherness and a host of more Thanksgiving traditions our famly indulges in every year.

Do you have certain traditions you enjoy with your spouse, children, extended family, or friends? May you spend this holiday weekend embracing those things you’re thankful for and getting to let those in your life know how much you love them.

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Season of transition

The last few years our family has been in a state of transition. Our children are growing up and transitioning out of the home, we bought two “new to us” cars in one week at the same time we were negotiating a settlement for our roof and siding (all thanks to the hail storm we experienced this past summer) among other bigger life promotions.

Through all these changes, God has offered me a choice: embrace the fact life is full of change (good and less-than-ideal) or resist and make yourself and others around you miserable.

I’m learning not only how to surrender gracefully, but to embrace change and find joy during the different seasons. Some days are harder than others; some days I fail miserably. Rarer still do I succeed, but I’m learning.

Each day I’m reminded by a great friend to offer myself some grace in the midst of the transitions, changes, and new seasons.

I’m encouraged to lean on others who have been there ahead of me … and then offer encouragement and support to those who are coming behind me.

As we enter into 2020, what changes, transitions, and life promotions do you see on your horizon?

Do you have someone to lean on for encouragement and is there someone a little further behind you that you can then reach back and offer a helping hand to as well?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Have you ever stopped to think about your gifts? Those are different from your passions (although sometimes they interact nicely with each other).

I have the gift of encouragement … and welcoming others into my house.

However, I do NOT have the gift of hospitality. That gift was given to my sister and mom who can throw terrific parties! (If you come to my house, expect clean clutter and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Crumbs will be picked up later, noise is encouraged, and feel free to put your feet up on the couch.)

I never thought I had the gift of prayer, and while it still isn’t easy for me, I’ve learned lately there are different prayer gifts. Guess what – I have a few more than I thought!

If you want to learn more about the different gifts in prayer, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the book, When You Need to Move a Mountain by Linda Evans Shepherd. What an encouraging book!

I’m finding it’s okay to concentrate on the gifts I do have, and let others concentrate on the gifts they have. And when God invites me to work more on the other gifts, it’s a good idea to accept that invitation and get busy.

What are some gifts that you have?

What areas in life come easily for you and what areas are more difficult?

Are your gifts similar (or different) than your close friends and family?

Do you complement each other or work in the same giftings together?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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I’ve talked many times about my “Sister in Christ” (SiC) who regularly walks with me. We also attend the same church and our boys are in the same grade, same class so we have lots of time to spend with each other, sharing life and making memories.

However, without talking to the other specifically about it, we have always wanted to make anyone who wants to join us feel welcome. The more the merrier.

You want to walk with us and you can’t make it in the morning? We’ll walk in the morning and once a week after school.

You want your child to take swimming lessons with ours? The more the merrier. We’ll save you a seat on the bench.

We both have made a point as well to invite others to share church with us. We both enjoy how much we get fed every week (through worship and preaching) and we want to share that with anyone who wants to come. Our goal is to make sure everyone feels welcome and included because they are!

Do you have that type of relationship with other women?

If not, is God nudging you to extend that invitation to another who may be wanting a close friendship but doesn’t want to invite herself in?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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In order for friendships to be genuine, each person needs to be honest with the other. I’m not talking about the kind of honesty that hurts another’s feelings (“I hate your haircut – it’s hideous!”), but I’m talking about the kind of honesty that shares true feelings and hard to talk about topics at times for the betterment of the other.


I’ve shared about a Sister in Christ (SiC) who would walk the school track regularly with me during the school year. Some days we were both enthusiastic about either how the sermon spoke to us (we attend the same church too!) or the way the plot is coming along in our fiction books, or how God answered a prayer, showered another with a blessing, or we just feel happy because we have energy and it’s a great day.


Other mornings one (or the other of us) would be discouraged, frustrated, or one particular morning I actually sobbed (yes, sobbed – not my finest moment) because I had reached the end of what I could endure in a situation and simply needed to vent.


During one of those walks is when my friend offered to help me with marketing. She knew I was struggling and while she didn’t know more than I did, we both know how to read and could follow directions. Having a friend willing to walk alongside you in something that seems hard makes it appear easier.

In return, I’m helping her with the steps in publishing and writing that I’ve already learned, but she is starting to venture into.


In what ways have you come alongside a friend and offered encouragement or something tangible during moments of discouragement?


Has someone come alongside you and offered you support when you needed it most?


© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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Book: Smoke Screen

Author:  Terri Blackstock

Genre: Christian Suspense

Release Date: November 5, 2019


About the Book:

One father was murdered, and another convicted of his death. All because their children fell in love.

Nate Beckett has spent his life fighting wildfires instead of the lies and rumors that drove him from his Colorado home town. His mother begs him to come to Carlisle now that his father has been released from prison, but it isn’t until he’s sidelined by an injury that he’s forced to return and face his past. But that means facing Brenna too.

Fourteen years ago, Nate was in love with the preacher’s daughter. When Pastor Strickland discovered Brenna had defied him to sneak out with Nate, the fight between Strickland and Nate’s drunken dad was loud—and very public. Strickland was found murdered later that night, and everyone accused Roy Beckett. When the church burned down, people assumed it was Nate getting even for his father’s conviction. He let the rumors fly and left Carlisle without looking back.

Now, Brenna is stunned to learn that the man convicted of murdering her father has been pardoned. The events of that night set her life on a bad course, and she’s dealing with a brutal custody battle with her ex and his new wife where he’s using lies and his family’s money to sway the judge. She’s barely hanging on, and she’s turned to alcohol to cope. Shame and fear consume her.

As they deal with the present—including new information about that fateful night and a wildfire that’s threatening their town—their past keeps igniting. Nate is the steady force Brenna has so desperately needed. But she’ll have to learn to trust him again first.

Click here to get your copy.


About the Author


Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of InterventionVicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com; Facebook: tblackstock; Twitter: @terriblackstock






My Review of The Freedom Challenge:

I have always wanted to read more Terri Blackstock books and I’m glad I chose Smoke Screen as my first. I love family dynamics in books and this one didn’t disappoint. I also love suspense/mystery and twists and turns in books and this one delivered that as well. Blackstock writes well, drawing me into the storyline, the characters, and wondering how it will all end up. This was a great book I will be recommending to others.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.


Excerpt from Smoke Screen

I woke up in a blinding bright room, my clothes off and something clamped to my face. I tried to reach it, but I couldn’t bend my right arm, and my hand stung. An IV was taped to my other hand, but I moved carefully and touched the thing over my face.

An oxygen mask. I tried to sit up. “What happened?”

T-bird came to my bedside, a sheen of smoky sweat still soiling his face. “Nate, lie back, man.”

“The fire,” I said. “Need to get back. My men.”

“They’re still there. Making progress. But you’re not going anywhere near a fire for a month or so.”

I took the mask off and coughed a little, but managed to catch my breath. “A month?”

“Yep. Second degree burns on 20 percent of your body. Some of the burns are deep.”

It came back to me, the event that had gotten me here.

“The family. Were they injured?”

“Not a scratch or burn. Turns out it was a U.S. Senator from Kansas. He says you’re a hero.”

“You know I had no choice. They were in the path—”

“Take the praise where you can get it, man. We don’t get that much.”

I looked at my right side. My right arm was bandaged, and so was my side and down my right leg to the point where my boots had stopped the flames. Second degree wasn’t so bad, I told myself. Third degree would have been brutal. I’d be able to leave the hospital soon. I’d heal.

“I won’t need a month,” I said.

“Yes, you will. They can’t let you go back. Doctor’s orders. You’re grounded until he releases you.”

I managed to sit up, but it was a bad idea. The burns pulling on my skin reminded me why I shouldn’t. “I can’t be grounded during fire season. Are you crazy? I need to be there. You don’t have enough men as it is.”

“Sorry, Nate. It is what it is. Why don’t you go home to Carlisle for a while? Take it easy.”

Go home? Pop had just been pardoned, and he and my mom were trying to navigate the reunion. Though she would love to have me home, I didn’t know if I was up to it. My father could be challenging, and fourteen years of prison hadn’t done him any favors.


Taken from “Smoke Screen” by Terri Blackstock. Copyright © 2019 by Terri Blackstock. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.


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Blog Stops

As He Leads is Joy, November 9

Sara Jane Jacobs, November 9

CarpeDiem, November 9

Christian Bookaholic , November 9

Fiction Aficionado, November 10

KarenSueHadley, November 10

Quiet quilter, November 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 11

Among the Reads, November 11

Genesis 5020, November 11

A Reader’s Brain, November 11

Robin’s Nest, November 12

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 12

Bigreadersite , November 12

Blogging With Carol , November 12

Betti Mace, November 13

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D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 13

Emily Yager, November 13

By The Book, November 14

For Him and My Family, November 14

A Baker’s Perspective, November 14

Splashes of Joy , November 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, November 15

Through the Fire Blogs, November 15

Andrea Christenson, November 15

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, November 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, November 16

Just the Write Escape, November 16

Mary Hake, November 16

Remembrancy, November 17

Simple Harvest Reads, November 17 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

EmpowerMoms, November 17

Bloggin’ ’bout Books, November 17

Blessed & Bookish, November 18

Older & Smarter, November 18

For the Love of Literature, November 18

Inklings and notions, November 18

Lights in a Dark World, November 19

amandainpa , November 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, November 19

Pause for Tales, November 19

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 20

For The Love of Books , November 20

Hallie Reads, November 20

Cathe Swanson, November 21

Christian Bookshelf Reviews, November 21

All 4 and About Books, November 21

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 21

Batya’s Bits, November 22

Livin’ Lit, November 22

Texas Book-aholic, November 22

janicesbookreviews, November 22

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Have you ever been excited to get together with a friend? But then, after you leave, you feel worse than when you arrived? Whether sad, a heavy heart, or just like something’s off?

What about a time when you got together with a friend and you left feeling supported, heard, encouraged, and prayed for?

While I don’t believe a person should seek out friends who only make them feel good about themselves, I do think it’s important to evaluate your friendships once in a while and see if there are any trends worth noting.

Every single encounter with a friend isn’t going to be perfect and leave a person feeling happy and carefree. However, if most of the interactions leave a person emotionally exhausted, heavy of heart, or “feeling badly about themselves,” it might be worth asking God why.

What kinds of friendships do you have – ones that are mutually encouraging, supportive, and centered around God values?

Or do your friendships lack that feeling of togetherness and commitment to each other?

© Cheri Swalwell 2019



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