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Archive for March, 2020

The above statement is one that took me almost four decades to take from head knowledge to heart knowledge. I lived too many years feeling as though God was angry with me, ready to judge me if I remotely stepped out of line, standing above me with His thunderbolt in hand, ready to punish me if I stepped out of line.

 

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to sit down with my younger self and have a heart-to-heart over a cup of coffee. That is not an accurate description of the God I serve.

 

The God I serve loves His children – all of us. Those who are lost and don’t want anything to do with Him, those who have drifted away from a close relationship with Him, and those who wake up every day choosing to serve Him with our whole hearts.

 

As I’m known for saying, God is a gentleman and while He will woo us and put situations in our lives to help us turn toward Him, He isn’t going to force Himself on us. He waits for us to receive the gift He offers, freely and lovingly. He loves us so much He will let us choose eternal separation from Him if that is what we want.

He also loves us enough that if we choose to step outside of His boundaries (found in the Bible), we step outside His umbrella of blessing, but He is ready to welcome us back the minute we repent and choose to do life within His guidelines.

 

God loves to bless His children. He loves to give us good gifts. He wants a close relationship with us, just as those of us who are parents want a close relationship with our children.

 

When bad things happen in life, and they will, because we live in a world where evil (and sin) is present, that pain is not something God wants for us. He wants us to come to Him, give Him the worry/anxiety/pain/hurt and let Him exchange it for His peace, joy, and love.

 

He wants us to fully trust Him to take care of everything we will face … and rest in the knowledge He has whatever we are facing. And when we do that, when we stay out of the way and let God work as only He can, that’s when miracles happen … blessings happen … and breakthroughs occur.

 

God truly does want the best for His children. So much that He gives us guidelines in His Word of how to stay under His protection so that those blessings (good things) have room to flow.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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About the Book

Book: Encountering God’s Heart for You

Author: Diane M. Stortz

Genre:  Nonfiction devotional

Release Date: September 3, 2019

God put the Bible together for you, and he wants you to understand and know him better. But sometimes you can get lost in the details and miss the big picture. The Bible is more than just a collection of wisdom, instructions, and history. It’s one unified story of the incredible love of God!

Encountering God’s Heart for You
takes you on a daily journey through the full narrative of Scripture in a year. And in the process, it will draw you nearer to God as you discover his love and compassion. It won’t cover every verse, or even every chapter, in the Bible, but by the time you’re through, you’ll have a strong grasp of what the Bible is all about.

Reading Scripture isn’t just a way to collect information or check something off a to-do list. Let this book bring you into God’s presence to better understand the Bible’s story of love, sacrifice, and redemption as he draws you to himself.

 

 

About the Author

Born in Detroit and raised in Southern California, Diane Stortz has lived in Cincinnati, OH, since graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in journalism. She writes for children and adults with one goal: Making God’s wonders known to the next generation.

In January 2000 Diane joined a group of women who planned to read through the Bible in a year and meet weekly to discuss what they had read. The experience taught her that reading the Word to get to know God changes lives because God changes lives. Her heart’s desire now is for children (and their moms and dads) to know God’s Word so they can know God.

Through her blog at DianeStortz.com, Diane helps parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers find the best in Christian children’s books. She also offers encouragement and tips for engaging the Bible, sharing God’s Word with children, and the importance of reading good books aloud.

Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five young grandchildren–all boys! When she’s not writing, Diane enjoys walking, gardening, and planning her next trip to visit her grandkids.

Facebook
facebook.com/diane.stortz.books/

 

My Review of Encountering God’s Heart for You:

This one-year devotional is beautiful and a great addition to any believer’s library (or unbeliever too). It’s a perfect compliment to any Bible reading program one is following. We’re reading through the New Testament in a year and I’m using the devotional to add additional insights into the Bible reading for the day. On the weekend, I’m turning to the Old Testament and reading those devotionals. I love how the author set up the devotional so I can easily flip to the section and book I want to read. While the devotions don’t cover every single chapter in the Bible, they cover enough to give a great overview and be a supplemental reading to my Bible reading plan. A friend and I are reading the Bible together and we’re reading this devotional together too.

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.

 

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

For the Love of Literature, March 21

Through the Lens of Scripture, March 22

Holly Jo Morris, March 22

Inklings and notions, March 23

amandainpa, March 24

deb’s Book Review, March 24

Genesis 5020, March 25

For Him and My Family, March 26

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 27

Spoken from the Heart, March 28

SPLASHES of Joy, March 29

Texas Book-aholic, March 30

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 30

She Lives To Read, March 31

Remembrancy, April 1

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 2

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 2

Lis Loves Reading, April 3

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Trust

“David said: ‘This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety…my God and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you…If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up…so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone…The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation’” (Ps 91:2-16 NLT).

 

When I read these words, they bring such comfort. Today I allowed my coffee to boil in the microwave (didn’t realize it) and when the boiling coffee hit the cold air, it “exploded like a volcano” covering every surface area. If it had been a full cup, it would have burned my face. As it was, it burned my hand temporarily (the one holding the cup). Yet, God protected me (from my own stupidity).

There have been so many times throughout my life when He has shown me how He has protected me (or our family) so that when we walk through a valley a day, week, or month later, I know I can trust Him with the situation.

 

We had confirmation of some unexpected news this week. We were warned of the possibility last week and instead of “worrying” (my old go to emotion), I declared out loud, “God will supply as only He can.” And when the news was confirmed yesterday, instead of getting upset, I waited and God showed me how He would provide. I didn’t even have a chance this time to get upset … He answered immediately.

 

I didn’t use to live this way….but I’m so grateful He has taught me how to live in His peace, to trust Him no matter what the circumstances look like. I live from the perspective of resting in His love. He wants to work things out for our good so that He gets the glory, instead of the mindset of “He’s out to punish me and doesn’t care how miserable I have to get in the process.”

 

The key is to invite Him into the situation so we can watch Him move.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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I started asking God for a word for the year in 2013. I didn’t come up with this idea. It was something I read in a blog I subscribed to, but I wanted “what she was having” and didn’t want to be left out. If God was handing out specific, personal words to people, I wanted to be included. And I’m so glad I started asking!

 

Always in the past my words have been things like moderation/balance, grace, peace, joy, hope, victory, blessings … and this year my word was whisper! I thought that was a strange word … but after my two words last year of delight and victory, I’m starting to realize it makes perfect sense.

 

Every word God has given me has “piggybacked” on previous words. I didn’t know it at the time, but I couldn’t learn about peace without first learning how to hope. I couldn’t learn about joy until after experiencing peace. I couldn’t learn about hope or peace without first learning the meaning behind grace … and I couldn’t take the time to learn any of those life practices without first learning how to have balance in my life.

Last year God gave me the word delight. I thought I was to learn how to delight in Him … but I also learned how He takes delight in me! And it was only after I learned that important truth that I started to see victory in areas of my life I have struggled with for over four decades!

 

When I was given the word whisper, I immediately fell in love with it, and assumed it meant I needed to work more on listening to my kids, whispering advice during this stage in their lives instead of trying to control them … and I think part of that is true.

 

However, I’m equally as excited about the other end of that word … and that is learning to hear and recognize God’s whispers to me! Learning to hear the voice of God is something that takes practice. Sometimes I know I hear Him loud and clear. Other times I think I hear Him clearly … but realize maybe I don’t. And still other times I miss the mark despite my best intentions.

 

God speaks in a variety of ways but He tells us over and over again in His word that while He is in the wind and the thunder and the noise, He speaks in the quiet whispers that follow.

 

I want more of that. I’m excited about carving out more time to sit and listen for God’s whispers. I’m looking forward to tuning into His quiet frequencies and being certain when I hear Him so I never speak falsely (even if it’s with good intentions).

 

I’m sure God is going to show me many other amazing aspects of this wonderful word.

 

And a little bonus for those who enjoy Christian fiction: God has given me a full story that I will be writing in 2020 about a woman named … Whysper. Her story has been bursting, ready to be put on paper. And I can’t wait to introduce you to her and let you know why her name is so significant.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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About the Book

Book: One Little Lie

Author: Colleen Coble

Genre:  Romantic Suspense

Release Date: March 3, 2020

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.

Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.

After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.

 

Click here to get your copy.

 

 

About the Author

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. You can visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.

 

My Review of One Little Lie:

I fell in love with Colleen Coble’s books about three years ago. I found and read her entire Rock Harbor series one Christmas. Ever since then, when I see a new book of hers, I get so excited to read it. This series is just as wonderful. I love the backdrop of the cult as well as her always present suspense woven throughout. The way she wrote all the characters was wonderful – so much depth and so different from each other. I have to admit – while I had a few suspicions about some of the people, I did not solve “who dun it” correctly, which I enjoy because I don’t have to solve the mystery to enjoy the book. I remember at one point in the book I was worried about Jane’s dog, Parker, because she talked about leaving him alone in the police station and I thought, “Please don’t let him die!” (He didn’t – whew!) I’m not sure if she meant to scare us about the dog, but that’s how invested I got into the lives of these people. I absolutely love how she ended the book … setting it up for the next one and thankfully it comes out soon so I don’t have to wait too long to continue in the lives of these people I’ve grown to love. Excellent book – highly recommend!

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.

 

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

Back Porch Reads, March 10

Life of Literature, March 10

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 10

Texas Book-aholic, March 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, March 11

The Avid Reader, March 11

Lighthouse Academy, March 11

By The Book, March 12

Older & Smarter?, March 12

Through the Fire Blogs, March 12

Remembrancy, March 12

Betti Mace, March 13

April Hayman, Author, March 13

Emily Yager, March 13

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 14

Bigreadersite, March 14

deb’s Book Review, March 14

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, March 15

Inklings and notions, March 15

CarpeDiem, March 15

Christian Bookaholic, March 15

Just the Write Escape, March 16

For Him and My Family, March 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Robin’s Nest, March 17

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 17

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 17

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, March 17

Stories By Gina, March 18

Janicesbookreviews, March 18

Mary Hake, March 18

Empowermoms, March 18

For the Love of Literature, March 19

Blossoms and Blessings, March 19

Because I said so – and other adventures in Parenting, March 19

Hallie Reads, March 19

A Baker’s Perspective, March 20

Quiet Quilter, March 20

Simple Harvest Reads, March 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Splashes of Joy, March 21

Moments, March 21

amandainpa, March 21

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 21

Pause for Tales, March 22

Britt Reads Fiction, March 22

Spoken from the Heart, March 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 22

To Everything There is a Season, March 23

Life love writing, March 23

Daysong Reflections, March 23

Lights in a Dark World, March 23

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Grace …

I wrote last time about how I blew it recently.

 

And today I want to write about how God restores. He wasn’t mad at me (disappointed maybe) but He restores when we submit, confess, and have an attitude that wants to learn from our mistakes.

 

Two days later I had another chance to have a different, but similar, potentially difficult conversation. It went differently this time. I whispered, I listened, I asked questions, I tried to hear the heart behind the explanation. I didn’t judge. I didn’t lecture. I wasn’t quick to react …

And God reminded me that some of the “tough” that was gone through a few months prior was actually a blessing from Him….protecting and preparing and helping the shift occur. Reinforcing the good decisions being made and helping with the transition. Blessing the obedience and patiently working out the changes.

 

And then as I was replaying the conversation later and wondering if I had blown it again … God reminded me through a devotional that I am not Him, He has every situation under control so much better than I ever could….and to trust Him. He’s got this! And He has those I love!

 

And I was humbled and grateful and felt overwhelming love.

 

And realized some of the best teachers in this life are life itself. No lecture teaches the way life can.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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I blew it recently. Big time. I started with the best of intentions. I tried to set the stage for success for myself and the other person involved … and yet I ended up blowing it badly. Saying things I regretted. Hurting the other person involved and feeling guilty the rest of the day. I even tried to salvage the connection with an apology and praying together … but that didn’t happen. Guilt engulfed me all day.

 

I called my prayer partner and asked her to pray with me for the situation. God confirmed that He had the situation under control and I had temporary peace … temporary because I didn’t know my role to help restore the relationship and as my prayer partner gently pointed out, was borrowing trouble years ahead due to one horrible conversation.

 

It was a work day so I needed to get busy. With my focus on work, I was distracted for a few hours, then started working on something that didn’t take complete concentration and the enemy hit me hard … feelings of hopelessness, depression, and self-loathing washed over me. Wave after wave and the weight crashed down again.

I sent an S.O.S. to my prayer partner who, this time, took my plea to God herself and reminded me yet again my Father was in charge and He had this. I told God I trusted Him, and concentrated on God’s faithfulness instead of my failures.

 

My husband stepped up and took over that evening. He supported, encouraged, and got to the heart of the issue … and restoration began.

 

The next day I was talking to God and telling Him how I still felt residual guilt feelings from the day before. I reminded myself I had asked for forgiveness immediately after the incident and I know He forgives when we’re sincere because His word promises that.

 

Then I realized if God had already forgiven me (and He had), then who was I not to forgive myself too? I’m not better than God. If He says I’m forgiven … I’m forgiven. Remorse and conviction are different from condemnation and guilt. Instead of “hating myself,” I could look at the mistakes I made the day before, bring them to Him, and ask Him how I can do better next time.

 

One area He highlighted for me was I need to process statements before answering … so if I’m in the middle of a conversation and I start to feel defensive or stressed, I need to step back and ask the person if I can respond later, after having had time to think through what was said. When I do that, I gain a perspective I simply don’t have in the heat in the moment.

 

Today I’m working guilt free. I have peace knowing God is giving me the tools I need to succeed in future conversations and resting in the knowledge I’m completely forgiven and loved by my Father. I’m also motivated to keep working at the relationship I blew yesterday. Hopefully I have enough of a connection with that person that love will cover over the whole mess and we can pick up where we left off, fully forgiven by the other.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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