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“If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.” James 1:5 (The Message)

 

I was having a conversation with one of our children the other day and God gave me this analogy to use which I think works well in many situations, not just for kids.  He has been teaching me a lot lately about preparing my children for adulthood/independence and I think the biggest lessons being taught are from God teaching me the right way to let go.

I love new beginnings, a change to evaluate where I am and to prepare for where I’m going.  God gave me the image of a tool belt.  We have three children, each in various stages of childhood, and so their tool belts all look different.  Our younger child has a tool belt where we’ve supplied most of the tools.  He is still in the stage where we are teaching him good habits, instilling in him our values and holding his hand as he walks down the path of life.

Our older two, while at both ends of high school, have tool belts that look different still.  Our oldest has had the opportunity for the last four years to start building his own tool belt with his own actions, choices, decisions and values.  Our middle child is at the beginning of her high school career and therefore, I used the analogy that she has an empty tool belt that she gets to start filling with her own tools.

Because she’s only in high school and not living independently yet, as her mom I am here to help guide what tools should go in the tool belt, go with her to the store to help pick out her tools for the tool belt and in some cases, insist that until certain tools have been placed in the tool belt she won’t be able to participate in any activities that require the tools, but the choice of whether or not the tools actually make it to the tool belt and then get used regularly is solely up to her.  Her older brother has already experienced this aspect of the tool belt and now is just adding additional tools, becoming an expert in using the tools already in his possession and even, at times, sharing his tools with others who need them.

At the stage our older two are in, I can’t force them to use any of the tools that are in their tool belt. I can’t force them to place certain tools in their tool belt.  However, I can restrict privileges and experiences until I see the tools in there and see the results of their regular use.

While my approach to parenting may seem extreme to some and a little too hands off to others, our ultimate goal is all the same: to grow healthy, independent adults who have the tools needed to build that relationship with the only One who can help them thrive in life.

Come back next time as I continue sharing from my heart the reason I feel so strongly about what tools belong in their tool belt.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017

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“Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all! Let the whole earth know what he’s done!
Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion! The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”” Isaiah 12:6 (The Message)

 

Last time we were together I spoke about how God has been wanting to teach me how to have fun, how to stop living with false guilt and how to let go and trust Him.  My first test occurred less than a week later when my husband wanted to take a short get away with the family and I automatically moved to false guilt about enjoying ourselves and worry over our finances.  I chose to trust God, step aside, praise Him ahead of time for His answer and then watch and see what He was going to do.

The week we wanted to go away was also one of two weeks a month I pay bills.  I sat down on Wednesday night to go over our budget, pay our bills and determine how to pay for the short get away and God blew me away.  He showed me money I didn’t realize we had and in no uncertain terms laid out for me how we could afford a short get away, complete with fun family activities guilt free.  In addition, we had been blessed by a special friend who bought us dinner one of the nights and the hotel provided dinner and breakfast for another of the days.  We were set.

I have to tell you – I think I was more relaxed that particular trip than I have been on many of our other “planned months in advance” trips.  It was a guilt free night of relaxation, a guilt free day of adventure the following day and special memories built with teens who before we know it won’t be living under our roof any more.  Two days after we returned, God revealed another reason why He provided that trip when He did.  The end of our summer suddenly got much busier, so God allowed our family to bond ahead of time instead of missing out on the opportunity to bond at all.

When I asked God 12 years ago to help me learn how to trust Him, I had no idea the rollercoaster ride that awaited.  My pastor taught me in 2015 to embrace the adventures God invites us on instead of asking for a free pass to avoid them altogether.

I would be lying if I said I was 100% cured of false guilt and have become the life of the party.  Having fun is something I’m still learning.  Choosing to ignore the lie of false guilt is still something I have to make a conscious effort to do. However, the more I practice, the quicker I am at trusting God at His word, leaving my worries at His feet and finding the joy He wants to bless me with – presented multiple times a day in numerous ways if I just open my eyes to receive it.

I don’t deserve a relationship with a Father who goes out of His way to show me how much He loves me. You know what’s even better?  I think God has been trying to show me for years this same sort of deep relationship with Him, but I couldn’t see it before.  Now that He’s removing the layers of fear, lack of trust, depression and yes, even working on the anxiety attacks, I can see Him for who He is.  Love, Blessings, Joy, Peace… and learning how to have fun.

What God is willing to do for me, my friend, He’s wanting to do and so much more for you.  All you have to do is ask.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017

 

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“Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo! Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!”

Psalm 47:1 (The Message)

 

For as long as I can remember, I notoriously feel guilty.  I remember one particular time when I worked my first real job and we were called into a staff meeting.  Someone had been sampling from the till and they were giving said person a chance to confess.  I had the guiltiest look on my face – even though my job never involved even getting close to the money and I wasn’t the offending party.

My guilt complex carries over into every area of my life.  If my husband or kids are in a bad mood, I feel guilty that I caused it by something I did or said.  If God chooses to bless our family with something unexpectedly wonderful, while I thank Him for the gift, I feel guilty and unworthy of the blessing.

God has been patiently and repeatedly telling me He doesn’t want me to live that way any longer.  He has taken 2017 and showered our family with blessing upon blessing in an attempt, maybe, to help me feel comfortable with being blessed and not suffering false guilt instead.

As I spoke about in another blog, God has been speaking to me on a deeper level this year.  He very plainly spoke on three separate occasions.  The first time He told me I was struggling with fun and relaxing and that I need to let go.  The second conversation He had with me was to talk to me about my continuous guilt and how I never really accept that I’m totally forgiven, but I am.  I decided that if God loved me enough to try and help me heal from those false assumptions, then I would do my part to practice letting go and choosing to believe I’m forgiven.  The third conversation included this, “Abba wants you to cease worrying and trust Him.”

I had the opportunity to practice the third principle not even a week after God spoke.  Finances have been extremely tight for our family for the past three years.  They are improving but we aren’t in the safe zone yet, so I feel on edge that we have to make every single penny count.  However, God doesn’t look at pennies – He looks at experiences and when we are faithful with tithing and wise with spending and paying for what we owe, He is all about having FUN too.  Something my husband is wonderful at and me… not so much.

My husband approached me that he was taking some extra time off work and wanted to go away for a short trip.  My immediate thought, instead of “How fun, where should we go?” was “How are we going to afford this unbudgeted expense?”  I hate my default button, so after I stopped hyperventilating, I decided I was going to take a step of faith and take God at His word.  He said He wants me to cease worrying and trust Him, so I prayed that day something similar to this, “God, You told me You don’t want me to worry.  So, I’m choosing to trust You to supply the money to go away on a short trip with my family.  I’m trusting that it will be an opportunity to practice having fun ‘just because’ and to learn to let go.”

Come back next time and I will tell you how it turned out.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017

 

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“God reminded me that even though I can’t see how He’s working… He’s working behind the scenes, getting everything ready so He can answer the prayer in His time. And that offered me encouragement. I have heard a lot of silence this fall… but also been given encouragement at times to keep going. God knows what we need… and faith isn’t faith when we see the road ahead. True faith is continuing to believe even though it appears as though nothing is progressing. As I mentioned in the previous chapter, God tends to give me encouragement before I need it… and He had encouraged me to believe this fall. He knew I would have moments of disbelief. He knew people would question whether or not I had truly heard God correctly. He knew I would wonder if God had forgotten about us and if things were truly going to change or not… God was still working. He was still lining things up so that when the time was right, when we were prepared for the next step, everything behind the scenes would be ready and waiting for His word.”

Excerpt from Day 31: Spoken from the Heart: His Plan, His Purpose

 

Four Book Series Available Now:

Spoken from the Heart:

Walking in Freedom

Living a Life of Obedience

God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime

His Plan, His Purpose

Get the First in the Series FREE On Amazon:

November 3rd through November 7th

Please share with your friends

 

You can still buy the paperbacks at the low price of $5.97 for those who don’t have access to a Kindle or to give as gifts this Christmas

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

 

*** EXTRA BONUS *** 

Spoken from the Heart eBooks

All Volumes Only 99 cents

Get all volumes here:

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

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Good Morning Spoken from the Heart Family:

 

I have a question I was hoping you would all help me with today.  I’m in the process of publishing a life group/Bible study.  The study is a survival guide for caregivers, those who take care of the loved ones in their lives who are sick.  While the study is written from the viewpoint of a caregiving spouse; I believe the points talked about in the study would be useful in all family caregiving situations.

I have two possible titles and can’t decide which one is better… or maybe neither.

Would you look at the two titles below and write in the comment section which one speaks to you more?  Which title would make you want to pick up and read the book or join the group if offered at your church? If you don’t like either, please let me know that also.

Thanks for taking a few minutes and helping me this morning.  Praying blessings over your week!

 

In Sickness or Health:

God’s Survival Guide for Caregiving Spouses

 

Or

 

Caregiver’s Guide to Survival:

How to Thrive God’s Way

 

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Healing Has Many Layers

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:11 (NIV)

 

In a previous blog titled, God Never Quits, I spoke about how I was awakened with a panic attack and how God used the lessons He had taught me last year about His peace to calm down and slowly go back to sleep.  When He burned the blanket of depression a few months ago, I assumed that meant the anxiety/panic attacks were part of that package and they would disappear too.  Nope. I was wrong.

If anything, I can say that I have been more anxious, which is different from fearful, since the burning of the blanket.  I haven’t been able to understand why God would take away part and leave what seems to be its twin, or maybe it’s a cousin.  Either way, it’s not welcome.

However, God’s ways are not my ways.  One thing I do know about my Heavenly Father is that He is Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals.  Complete healing, not partial, not halfway, not the bare minimum, but full healing.  As I talked before in God Burned the Blanket – Part III and Healing Doesn’t Always Look Healthy, sometimes God requires action on our part for full healing and sometimes God just heals.  Again, not for me to decide or to always understand His ways.

There are a few things I’ve learned through walking this journey.  I think there was always a layer of anxiety/panic attacks that was hidden by the overall spirit of fear I lived with daily.  And while God didn’t choose to heal me of everything at the same time, He’s been working with me by slowly peeling off the layers in the order that makes the most sense… making sure I have the knowledge and training I need ahead of time to help me be successful.

God healed my fear of winter driving without fanfare or even much acknowledgement.  One day I was white knuckled driving down the road; the next I realized I wasn’t pacing the house nervously when my husband went off to work and I got the kids ready for school with the threat of a looming blizzard.

A year later God invited me into the journey of watching the blanket of depression get burned.  I appreciated that healing on a deeper level because of the lessons He had taken the previous years to teach me about hope and peace.

I’m still learning how to completely surrender to Him in order to walk in the freedom from food addiction and the emotional hole I dug deep before asking for help.  Maybe that’s why I’ve had so many false starts and stops.

And lastly, it wasn’t until I recognized the healing of fear in certain areas of my life and the freedom from the weight of depression that I could feel the full effect of the anxiety that had a hold on my life.  Now that I’ve recognized it, and God has taught me the tools I need to effectively fight in His power, I have been fighting back every time it tries to gain a foothold.  I fight back with Scripture verses, I fight back with worship and I fight back with the promise of previously answered prayers.

I may not know when freedom will come from anxiety/panic attacks or what the next layer God wants to work on in my life, but I do know from looking back that He always prepares me ahead of time, He always wants the best for our lives and He always is right there to fight for me, teach me how to fight or encourage me as He fights right along with me.

© Cheri Swalwell 2017

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“As I’ve learned to trust God in other areas of my life these past two years, He’s been working on setting me free in all areas of my life. He doesn’t just care about one or two issues or problems. I can never be too needy, too broken, too messed up for God to patiently help me learn to walk in freedom and become more like Him. As I love to say, what God’s willing to do for me, my friend, He’s waiting to do for you, too. You just have to ask!”

Excerpt from Day 13: Spoken from the Heart: Walking in Freedom

 

Four Book Series Available Now:

Spoken from the Heart:

Walking in Freedom

Living a Life of Obedience

God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime

His Plan, His Purpose

Get the First in the Series FREE On Amazon:

November 3rd through November 7th

Please share with your friends

 

You can still buy the paperbacks at the low price of $5.97 for those who don’t have access to a Kindle or to give as gifts this Christmas

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

 

*** EXTRA BONUS *** 

Spoken from the Heart eBooks

All Volumes Only 99 cents

Get all volumes here:

http://amzn.to/2in2qI4

Read Full Post »

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