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Archive for May, 2020

This year I decided I wanted to “plant seeds.” I wanted to be used of God to sprinkle His truth, His love, His message of salvation to whoever was ready to hear it, and then let the Holy Spirit take over from there.

 

As the year has passed, I realized I’ve always been a seed planter. Everything that comes out of my mouth plants a seed.

 

If I’m sarcastic, I’m planting a weed in the heart or mind of someone.

 

If I plant a compliment or share God’s love with someone, I’m planting a seed God can use to open someone’s eyes to the gift of salvation He offers.

My heart this year is to always be used on the continuum of the harvest. Will I be used to plant the seed, water the seed, or get to be part of the harvest of actually sitting with someone and leading them through the prayer of salvation? It doesn’t matter to me where I fall, but I want to be used by God as often as He wants to use me.

 

So I’ve started asking myself before I open my mouth: am I planting weeds with what I’m about to say, or am I part of planting seeds toward the kingdom of God today?

 

I pray when this year is over, I’ve planted far more seeds pointing people toward God, then weeds, drawing them away from God.

 

Have you ever thought about the concept that everything we say either plants a weed or a seed?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

 

 

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About the Book

Book:  On A Coastal Breeze

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Genre:  Amish Romance

Release Date: May 5, 2020

For Madison Grayson, life is good. Newly licensed as a marriage and family therapist, she can’t wait to start her practice. Despite the unfortunate shortage of eligible bachelors on the island–they’re all too young, too old, or too weird–Maddie feels like she’s finally found her sweet spot. Not even one panic attack in the last year. Not one.

And then Ricky O’Shea drops in. Literally. Floating down from the pure blue sky, the one man in the world she hoped never to see again–the one who’d been her archnemesis from kindergarten through her senior dance–parachutes into town, landing on Boon Dock, canopy draping behind him like a superhero. Ricky O’Shea. Now Pastor Rick, the new minister on Three Sisters Island.

Time to panic.

With wit and a bit of whimsy, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to Three Sisters Island where family, forgiveness, and a second chance at love await.

Click here to get your copy!

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty books, including On a Summer Tide, as well as the Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, The Deacon’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, among other novels. She is also the author of several nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and Amish Proverbs. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.

More from Suzanne

Dear Reader,

The minute you step off the ferry and onto Three Sister Island, magic begins. Crisp ocean air acts like an elixir. Stress starts to evaporate, like a wisp of steam from a cup of hot tea. Happiness moves in, and you’ll feel more cheerful, more positive about the future.

And then there’s time! Somehow, there seems to be plenty of it.

Little things will catch your notice—finding seashells on the beach, watching waves crash against the rocks, gazing at the star-studded night sky.

Life just starts to slow down…and you wonder if you really want to ever leave Three Sisters Island.

Nor do you have to! That’s the beauty of books—they are the perfect escape. Always available, just waiting to be picked up. Always ready to transport you to a fresh and new state of mind.

On a Coastal Breeze is that kind of a read. The Grayson Family saga continues as they move to Three Sisters Island off the coast of Maine for a fresh start. Maddie Grayson takes center stage in this story. Life is finally coming together for Maddie. On the very day she opens her counseling practice, she spots a billowing skydiver. Parachuting in is Ricky O’ Shea—the one person on earth Maddie hoped she’d never see again. But Rick’s the new pastor for the island’s only church and he’s not about to leave. That’s when sparks start to fly.

Join me for a getaway by the sea that will leave you in a happy, relaxed, vacation-y state of mind…without leaving your home. Once you board the Never Late Ferry, even in your imagination, the island will take it from there.

Warmly, Suzanne

My Review of On a Coastal Breeze:

I was really excited to read this book, because it was the next in the Three Sister Island series. I loved reading all about Cam in the first book, with her adopted son, Cooper, and her relationship that budded with Seth. This book took me into the life of Maddie, along with the life of Ricky, or newly known as Pastor Rick. And it also set up the third book, where I will learn even more about their youngest sister and her life.

I think one of the things I love most about this series is where they live. It’s so charming and while they have real jobs with real stresses, it just feels a little like a vacation. Also, I studied psychology in school so I can relate with Maddie and her new vocation and her desire, sometimes overeager desire, to help others. And while I’m in between the ages of the sisters and their father, I can relate to his generation as well – his feelings about how life is slowing down and he’s on the other side from where he’s used to being. I am very glad I got to continue the journey with these sisters and can’t wait to read the final book when it comes out. My only complaint is having to wait for it!

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

Through the Fire Blogs, May 18

The Avid Reader, May 18

By The Book, May 18

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, May 19

Locks, Hooks and Books, May 19

Artistic Nobody, May 19 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Betti Mace, May 20

Lighthouse Academy, May 20

The Power of Words, May 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 21

Texas Book-aholic, May 21

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 21

Wishful Endings, May 22

Inklings and notions, May 22

deb’s Book Review, May 22

Blossoms and Blessings, May 23

reviewingbooksplusmore, May 23

Connect in Fiction, May 23

Remembrancy, May 24

Writing from the Heart Land, May 24

Blogging With Carol, May 24

Blessed & Bookish, May 25

Inspiration Clothesline, May 25

Back Porch Reads, May 25

For Him and My Family, May 26

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 26

Daysong Reflections, May 26

Spoken from the Heart, May 27

Mary Hake, May 27

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, May 27

Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Bigreadersite, May 28

Splashes of Joy, May 28

Older & Smarter?, May 29

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, May 29

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 30

EmpowerMoms, May 30

Pause for Tales, May 30

Batya’s Bits, May 31

Southern Gal Loves to Read, May 31

Hallie Reads, May 31

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a copy of her book to five winners!

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/fb52/on-a-coastal-breeze-celebration-tour-giveaway

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I’ve been speaking about my prayer life lately and how I’ve changed my approach to my Heavenly Father. Another area I’m working on being more consistent about this year is how I speak about myself.

 

God has been nudging me to be more kind and gentle with the words I use in my inner dialogue as well as speaking out loud over myself. Our pastor had a sermon in January which further reinforced ways that will help me succeed in this area I’m working to reset in my life.

 

The best way to overcome negative speech is to read God’s Word, the Bible and declare what God says about us over our lives. For instance, instead of calling myself stupid for making a mistake, I can remind myself I’m a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) and learning from my mistakes. If I’m dealing with financial issues, I can remind myself Jesus is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider, and will take care of our needs.

 

During the sermon in January, I had a conversation with God about a particular area in my life I was struggling with. I told Him I trusted Him and instead of worrying and trying to fix things myself, I would sit back and let Him take over.

It wasn’t two hours later when God literally showed me the answer for my dilemma on a billboard! Yes, on a billboard! I talked to my husband about it, we took the necessary steps and this month we took the first step to fixing a mistake I made the year before … learning from it instead of staying stuck in the “I’m a failure mindset” I was starting to believe.

 

Living from a mindset of trusting God, thanking Him ahead of time for His answers, and then sitting back and waiting to see how He’s going to fix things I’m worried about in life is a great way to live. He wants to be in charge, He wants us to surrender control to Him and He wants to bless us when we obey and live according to His Word.

 

I’m still practicing speaking life over myself but giving myself grace is coming easier and the word stupid or failure when referring to myself is being spoken less often.

 

Do you struggle with speaking life over yourself and your circumstances or have you mastered trusting God for all things and extending grace?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

 

 

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About the Book

Book:  Seeing Voices

Author: Olivia Smit

Genre:  Contemporary Young Adult

Release Date: April 15, 2020

Skylar Brady has a for her life—until a car accident changes everything.

Skylar knows exactly what she wants, and getting in a car accident the summer before twelfth grade isn’t supposed to be part of the plan. Although she escapes mostly unharmed, the accident has stolen more than just her hearing from her: she’s also lost the close bond she used to have with her brother.

When her parents decide to take a house-sitting job halfway across the province, it’s just one more thing that isn’t going according to plan. As the summer progresses, Skylar begins to gain confidence in herself, but as she tries to mend her relationship with her brother, she stumbles upon another hidden trauma. Suddenly, she’s keeping as many secrets as she’s struggling to uncover and creating more problems than she could ever hope to solve.

Click here for your copy!

 

 

About the Author

 

Olivia Smit loves baking, visiting small towns, and writing stories that face hard truth with hope and encouragement. Olivia has an Honours Specialization in Creative Writing, English Language, and Literature and lives in Canada with her family. Seeing Voices is her first novel. Learn more at https://oliviasmit.ca/

 

 

More from Olivia

Although “Seeing Voices” is not the first book I ever wrote, it is the first one that felt like it held a little piece of my heart. Skylar and her older brother, Mike, popped into my head one afternoon, both coping with the aftermath of a car accident in totally different ways. It took me ages to figure out what kind of story they belonged to, but right from the beginning I knew it would be a story about siblings and families, pain and guilt, and also (perhaps most importantly!) togetherness and love.

In so many ways, “Seeing Voices” was for me, before it was for readers. I wrote the rough draft when I was 18, fresh out of high school and still figuring out a few tricky situations within my own family. As I wrote about Skylar and Mike, I poured a lot of my own confusion and emotion into the pages, trying to make sense of my own feelings of responsibility, frustration, and ultimately, hope. Words from the book still float through my mind when I’m in certain situations, little reminders of lessons I learned once and need to hang onto with both hands.

I prayed my way through the writing process, trying (and failing) to find a story that fit with Skylar and Mike, who felt so much like real people. I prayed through querying, trusting that if God wanted this story out there in the world, He would find it a home … and if He wanted Skylar and Mike to be a story just for me, I would be okay with that, too. In so many ways this process has been a team effort, and I feel convinced that this isn’t my story, after all — it’s God’s, and I’m just doing my part to help tell it.

 

My Review of Seeing Voices:

My normal genre of books isn’t usually YA, but I read the back blurb of this book and wanted to try it. I didn’t realize the main characters in this book weren’t believers; however, I enjoyed the way the author introduced Skylar to the gospel in an authentic way through the use of Cam. Cam was probably my favorite person throughout. His character was written authentically, genuinely, and he was someone I’d like my child to hang out with. I also understood the feelings and emotions Skylar and Mike were experiencing as much as a reader can who hasn’t experienced the same traumas they went through. I was a little confused, though, with how much Skylar could (or couldn’t hear) even with her hearing aids in and why she didn’t wear them the majority of the time? I understood why she took them out sometimes, but when she knew she was responsible for her brother and sister’s safety – why did she take them out then?

I also enjoyed the addition of Anastasia to the book, although I would have liked a little more closure with what happened to her and her part of the story. I loved the way the author wrote the mom, and dad, into the story as well. I could feel the warmth, love, and sadness they were dealing with as well. Overall, it was a good book; and I think the ending message of how Skylar finally comes to see God is one many teens need to hear now-a-days. I think, also, the author will reach more people by having Skylar come to that conclusion slowly, being an unbeliever throughout the majority of the book because other teens will be able to relate to her feelings and emotions more than if she started out a believer.

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

Remembrancy, May 15

Batya’s Bits, May 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 17

For the Love of Literature, May 18

Older & Smarter?, May 19

Andrea Carmen, May 19

Texas Book-aholic, May 20

Inklings and notions, May 21

Writing from the Heart Land, May 21

For Him and My Family, May 22

deb’s Book Review, May 23

Spoken from the Heart, May 24

Nancy E Wood, May 24

Pause for Tales, May 25

Hallie Reads, May 26

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 27

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 28

With a Joyful Noise, May 28

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Olivia is giving away the grand prize package of coasters and a book sleeve!!

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/fa00/seeing-voices-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

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About the Book

Book:  Avalanche

Author: M. Liz Boyle

Genre:  Christian YA

Release Date: September 27, 2019

When fifteen-year-old Marlee Stanley joins her two sisters and the sons of their family friends on a secretive hike in the middle of the night, she is thrilled and nervous. Battling her conscience, she prays that the hike will go flawlessly and that they will return to the safety of their campsite before their parents wake. The start of the hike is beautiful and wonderfully memorable.

In a white flash so fast that Marlee can barely comprehend what has happened, an avalanche crashes into their path. Buried in packed snow, Marlee is forced to remember survival tips learned from her dad and her own research.

This group of friends, ages eleven through seventeen, is about to endure bigger challenges than many adults have experienced. Digging out of the packed snow is only the first of many challenges. Injuries, cold, hunger, fatigue, aggressive wildlife and tensions in the group make this a much bigger adventure than they ever imagined. As the kids strive to exhibit Christian values throughout the trials, they learn numerous life lessons. But they are nearly out of food, and their energy is waning quickly. How will they ever reach help?

Click here for your copy!

 

About the Author

 

Liz is an author, the wife of a professional tree climber and the mom of three energetic and laundry-producing children. She received her Associate’s of Arts at the University of Sioux Falls, where she received the LAR Writing Award for her essay entitled, “My Real Life Mufasa.” Liz once spent a summer in Colorado teaching rock climbing, which she believes was a fantastic way to make money and memories. She resides with her family in Wisconsin, where they enjoy hiking and rock climbing. Liz and her husband have also backpacked in Colorado and the Grand Canyon, which have provided inspiration for her writing. She likes making adventurous stories to encourage others to find adventures and expand their comfort zones (though admittedly, she still needs lots of practice expanding her own comfort zone). She has thoroughly enjoyed working on her first novel, Avalanche, and the sequel Chased, which will release in the summer of 2020.

 

More from Liz

Have you ever been tempted to take a risk even though your conscience was screaming at you? Were you able to justify the pursuit of the thrill, actually convincing yourself that what you knew to be the unwise decision made perfect sense?

I did. So did my sisters. And so did Sawyer and Marshall Miles. When Sawyer first proposed the idea of the moonlit summit on our families’ annual backpacking trip, I was terrified. But I was also hooked. Sawyer convinced us that we would be fine, and we would be back to camp before our parents woke up with the sunrise.

Hearts racing and hands trembling, we five kids snuck away from camp in the middle of the night. Hiking toward the peak, the full moon was breathtaking, the wildlife abundant, and the experience unreal.

It became a whole lot more unreal when an avalanche, roaring, white and enormous, thundered into our path. Buried in the packed snow, I would have given anything to go back in time and change my decision to go along with this foolish idea.

Digging out of the cemented snow was the first of many challenges in the coming days. Physically, emotionally and spiritually, we were all pushed to our limits.

I had always loved hiking Colorado’s peaks. But, of course, I had never had to evacuate my own sister. I had always trusted Dad’s orienteering. Now I had to trust Sawyer, who, by the way, was the brain behind this dilemma. I usually slept best while backpacking. But, mountain nights are warmer when spent in a sleeping bag. But I can’t let my mind go there. I must keep a positive outlook and trust God to bring us to safety. That’s easier said than done.

Avalanche is a Christian teen and young adult novel. This engaging journey, told by fifteen-year-old Marlee Stanley, captures a timeless sense of adventure. The five young adults strive to exhibit godly character throughout their escapade, but they have not been in such a dire situation before. It will take immense strength and cooperation to hike out of this mess.

 

My Review of Avalanche:

I don’t usually read Christian YA, but the back of this book looked intriguing so I picked it up and I’m so glad I did. It was told from the point of view of a 16-year-old girl, caught in an avalanche with her sisters and two hiking buddies. I learned a lot about survival in the mountains, in the snow, but also a lot about teenagers’ perspectives and how fragile they can be. I loved the way Christ was naturally sprinkled throughout the book, not in a forced way but as though they really had a growing relationship with Him and were comfortable inviting Him into their messes and their everyday life. I loved the easy comraderie portrayed between the different friends and how their different personalities shone through. It was a well-written, easy to read and enjoyable book. It’s definitely one I want to pass along to my teenage daughter.

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

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 9

Remembrancy, May 10

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, May 11

For the Love of Literature, May 12

Life love writing, May 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 13

Lukewarm Tea, May 14 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, May 14

Texas Book-aholic, May 15

Inklings and notions, May 16

For Him and My Family, May 17

deb’s Book Review, May 18

Blossoms and Blessings, May 19  (Author Interview)

Rebecca Tews, May 19

Lots of Helpers, May 20

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, May 21

Spoken from the Heart, May 22

 

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, M. Liz is giving away the grand prize of a gift basket with the items pictured above!!

To celebrate her tour, Catherine is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon 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/f9f4/avalanche-celebration-tour-giveaway

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I have an amazing prayer partner. She has taught me so much and we have grown together in the last few years when it comes to our prayer life. This year she gifted our family with a beautiful prayer jar. It’s clear glass and the entire design is beautiful.

 

The idea is to write your prayers down on a piece of paper, pray over them, put them in the jar and then leave the prayer in God’s hands. I decided I wanted to practice this awesome idea … with a twist. I made construction paper hearts (because it reminds me of God’s love and I love colorful things), and when I write my prayer requests, I’m writing them in the form of “thank You, Father, for …” showing God I’m standing in faith that He has whatever is on my heart and mind already taken care of and I’m done worrying about it.

This is an ongoing activity in our family, one I hope the whole family joins in, and then my desire is for us to open the jar in December (around Christmas time) and read through the prayer requests and see how many God has answered throughout the year and how many we need to put back in the jar to wait for God’s answer still to come.

 

Is this activity something you’d like to do with your family too? If so, leave a comment below and we can do it together!

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

 

 

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I’ve been learning a lot about prayer for the last few years. I used to approach God fearfully, ready for Him to strike me down, afraid of expressing myself too honestly because I didn’t want to make Him angry.

 

Over the past few years, God has been developing my prayer life in a much deeper way. Not only am I not afraid to approach my Father anymore, but I come to Him regularly with my honest feelings (always in a respectful way). I know that He knows how I’m feeling anyway, and He wants me to be honest with Him. And I’ve learned He’s the only One who can help me work through my feelings in the healthiest way.

 

Two things I’ve learned lately that I want to keep putting into practice in 2020 are the following: Before coming to Him with my needs, requests, and feelings, I want to start by praising and worshipping Him. Not only does He require that of us, but it reminds me of Who I’m approaching and to do so with respect, honor, and humility.

Then, instead of coming from a position of begging, asking, or demanding, I’ve started thanking Him for answered prayers before I see the outcome. I wasn’t completely sure how to do this, so started out slowly, with my twice monthly grocery shopping trip. Throughout the day I knew I was going, I started to thank God for the sales I would get, and for staying under budget. Every time I thought about shopping, I quickly sent up a prayer of thanksgiving for deals/sales and staying under budget. Nothing profound, nothing drawn out, just a thankful spirit.

 

When we went shopping, I bought our usual items and even a few extras for our son to take back to school with him. I didn’t skimp on our list and except for what I couldn’t find (which was only 1-2 things), I bought everything I set out to get and a few extras. As I was leaving the store, I was amazed. Not only was I under budget, but I was $32 under budget. I thanked God the whole way home and was amazed because that type of savings doesn’t usually happen.

 

Three days later I realized God is even more amazing that I already knew. We were able to take that $32 in savings, combine it with other money we had saved for groceries and use it with a huge sale for chicken, cereal, pulled meat, and other items. We now have plenty of meat to feed us through spring (or longer) and our regular budget wasn’t stretched too thin.

 

Guess where I’m headed again tonight? Yup – grocery shopping. And guess what I’ve been doing already today? Yup! Thanking God ahead of time for deals/sales and staying under budget!

 

What about you? Are there specific areas in your prayer life God has been speaking to you lately? How has He confirmed your choices? I’d love if you wanted to share them with us!

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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