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“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

II Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

 

Everybody in life has trials and struggles and difficult days. It’s just part of living and will be until we finally get to meet Jesus face to face. I believe that those trials, which are part of “living,” have a purpose and that purpose is to build our “choice” muscles.

Every one of us has a choice when faced with a difficulty. We can take the easy way out or we can make the right choice, which is sometimes the hard choice. I was faced with such a situation earlier this year. When it occurred, the first thought I had was grace for the others involved. Not so much for myself and the part I played in the situation (I’m my worst judge), but for the others involved. God gave me compassion and forgiveness and by the end of the day, it was over.

Except it wasn’t. That’s when the enemy stepped in and engaged me in a fierce mental battle but again, I had a choice. Was I going to engage, reliving the situation over and over in my mind, replaying the conversation to myself – or was I going to take every thought captive and not let the enemy get the upper hand? I knew this wasn’t about the situation I dealt with the day before – it went much deeper than that and it was about which choice would I make, not just today but going forward, because when I give the enemy a foothold, he likes to run wild. After all, the Bible clearly tells us that he is like a prowling lion, seeking to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10, I Peter 5:8)

However, the part I love about this battle is that I’ve battled a few times with the enemy and he is pretty predictable. He may mix things up slightly, but his weapons are fairly similar. And I had a secret weapon – God and I are closer now than we were when I first starting fighting these types of battles with the enemy, so I knew I could call on Him and He would send reinforcements. And He did … in the form of two specific songs. One song which we sing at church often and the other one being a song I hear on the radio occasionally.

Come back next time and I will share with you how this particular battle ended.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

 

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“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV)

 

God has been working on my attitude for the past six years. Okay, let me be completely honest. God has been working on my attitude my whole life. One of my most vivid memories is being called out in fifth grade by my music teacher for rolling my eyes after he gave a direction. I didn’t even realize I did it, but I did and still feel guilty about it 35+ years later.

Even though I don’t mean to, I have a tendency to grumble and complain, and at times, my memory can be so short that even if God came through in a miraculous way last week, I’m focused on how He didn’t show up the way I wanted Him to this week instead.

However, while I’m a slow learner, God has truly been working on this area in my life and I’m starting to see progress. I’m continually reminded from Bible story after Bible story that miracles/breakthroughs happen after the thanksgiving. Paul and Silas were released from prison after staying up all night “praying and singing hymns to God,” and even though God released them, they chose to stay. As a result, many of the prison guards and their families all became part of the family of God that night.

There has been a situation in my life, one of my own doing, that I have asked God to release me from for several years. Several long years. I’ve begged, pleaded, thanked Him ahead of time (hoping to persuade Him to answer quicker), all while nurturing and feeding my miserable attitude and spirit.

 

 

I’m not sure the exact moment it happened but sometime last fall, all that God has been teaching me for the past three years about this situation clicked into place. I realized, “This is where I am in life right now. My situation may change in the future, but for now, this is where God has placed me. I have a choice. I can be miserable and choose to wake up every morning dreading the day … or I can choose joy despite my circumstances and find the blessings in living life for Him.” No one else can choose for me … it’s my choice.

The next day I made a decision to praise God for every circumstance. If He closed a door of opportunity, I would thank Him for the closed door. I would look for the blessings in my life and choose to praise Him for those even if nothing else in my life was changing at this point.

A few days after I made this conscious decision, I was exercising with a friend and sharing with her my newfound attitude. I told her when I chose to have the right attitude, it truly did change my inward spirit and I was feeling more joy despite my situation.

Wanting to encourage me, she replied, “So you’re enjoying your situation now?”

“Oh no,” was my quick response, “I’m still hating it, but now I’m hating it with the right attitude.”

For me, it wasn’t enough to know I needed to thank God for all circumstances in life, even or especially the ones that were downright miserable. I needed to consistently choose the right attitude about the situation before my joy returned and I could honestly say while I still hate the situation and am ready and waiting for God to move in mighty ways, I’m hating it with the right attitude and that makes all the difference in the world.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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Go … and Wait

 

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.” Genesis 12:1-4 (NIV)

Always in the past when I’ve read the story of Abraham, I focused on the promise God gave that he would be the father of nations, sometimes remembering it took 25 years from when God first promised it to him until it was actually fulfilled, but mainly taking away that God does keep His promises. Rarely do I remember God called Abraham to take action first (leave your country and relocate to a foreign land) … and then grew silent while He made Abraham wait … for a long time.

Maybe this story has touched my heart lately because it seems to parallel the journey I’m on right now. Approximately six years ago, God started our family on a path which began with preparation. I used to be a medical transcriptionist and one day, while typing away at home, God whispered to me, “Finish your book.” Unlike Abraham, who didn’t question God’s authority but promptly obeyed, without any details, I argued. “What do You mean finish my book? I’m not a writer, this book is just something I do in my spare time, a form of therapy, and while we’re on the topic of spare time, with three kids under the age of 12, I don’t have any of that.”

God, in His infinite patience and knowing I wasn’t back talking (not really) but instead I more so mirrored the insecurities of Moses, answered with three simple words, “Finish your book.”

This time I obeyed. Without knowing what exactly God wanted me to do, I “finished my book” … which led to attending a writer’s conference … which led to creating a blog … which led to joining some writers groups … which led to a job for a book club … which led to the elimination of my medical transcription job … which led to where I am today, having published over 20 nonfiction books on a variety of topics and working on writing and publishing in the fiction realm in 2019.

Just like with Abraham, my path in the direction God wanted me to go hasn’t been a straight line. I have taken a few detours (rushing ahead in trying to find employment when God instructed me to rest) and suffered a few lasting consequences just like Abraham did also when he had a son with Hagar. However, just like with Abraham, God has taken my mistakes and allowed me to experience blessings as well. One major blessing I have noticed is that God used my 10 years of medical transcription work to teach me grammar and typing skills which come in handy with my current employment, not to mention with writing itself. In addition, He has taken these past three years with various jobs and taught me skills and given me experience I need for whatever future He has for me, which appears to be somehow in the world of writing.

Rereading this story in Genesis, I was encouraged with God commanding him to take a step of faith and then providing a waiting period of 25 years before fulfilling the promise He spoke over His friend, Abraham, and Abraham’s wife, Sarah. And despite the many detours they took and the times they failed to wait and tried to make things happen quicker, God still fulfilled the promise in His way, His time.

While I’m not comparing myself to Abraham, it is encouraging to me that I took the step of faith God asked and “finished my book,” and now, while I wait for God to reveal the ministry or purpose He has for my life more clearly, I can wait with purpose, continuing to take each next step He commands, whenever He chooses to speak, and until then, learn to wait patiently and expectantly. Learn being the operative word because as with my latest manuscript, I’m still a work in progress

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

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Happy New Year

 

Praying Blessings and Favor over Everyone in 2019!

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Merry Christmas

 

Merry Christmas to all my Friends and Family

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As I was getting ready to write blogs in preparation for Christmas and New Year’s, I got a sense God was inviting me to take two weeks off to spend quality time with my friends and family. To take a break from the hustle and bustle and just sit quietly … more time with Him, more time with family and more time to rest and refresh before 2019 begins as well as all the busyness that goes with a new year.

 

However, I also felt like God was nudging me to offer an invitation to each one of you. What if, in the next two weeks, you decided to get quiet with God and ask Him one or more of the following questions:

 

  • Is there a specific goal God wants me to focus on in 2019?
  • Does God have a special word He wants me to focus on in 2019?
  • Does God have a special verse He wants to give to me for 2019?

 

In December of 2012, I was reading a blog I regularly subscribe to and the author was talking about the word God had given her for 2013, as well as some of the words God had given her in past years. Before then I had never heard about asking God for a specific word He would want me to focus on for an entire year. The thought excited me and I wondered if I asked, if God would give me a word too. He did! Each and every year since then, I’ve asked God for a specific word for the following year, sometimes asking as early as August, because, I like to prepare ahead of time.

How, you might ask, did I know a specific word was the one God was giving to me? Have you ever bought a new car (or new to you) and as soon as you buy it, it’s the only kind of car you notice on the street? Our son recently bought a Jeep Patriot and I had no idea how many Jeeps were in our town until he signed on the dotted line.

 

For me, it’s the same type of thing. I asked God for a specific word and then I paid attention around me and see if a specific word started appearing more than usual. They would show up in Bible verses, on signs, even on Facebook. One memory I have in particular was when Grace was my word for the year and I was surfing Facebook and clicked on pictures of a random house for sale. On the bathroom counter was a decoration that said, “Grace.”

Some of the words He has given me have included: Moderation/Balance, Grace, Hope, Peace, Joy/Blessings, Be Still/Watch/Wait. In 2018, when I started praying for my word for 2019, God actually gave me two words: Delight and Victory. I asked God to confirm the word delight for me … and this is the first year He has used Scripture more than any other means to assure me “delight” is one of my words. Victory, my other word, has been showing up regularly in Christian blogs, Scripture, messages, and people speaking it over my life. I’m excited to see what God has in store with those two words … especially since Be Still/Watch/Wait were my words for 2018.

Another very special conversation I have with God regularly is about a specific verse He wants to speak over my life and my season. For me, verses sometimes last a year, sometimes six months, sometimes several verses in one year or sometimes He will give me back a verse from a previous year: It’s similar to when He gives me the word of the year. I will see the same verse at least 2-3 times in the beginning (that’s my signal from God to pay special attention) and then He usually confirms it even further from there.

Some of my favorite verses over the years have been: Exodus 14:13-14; II Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 41:13; Isaiah 43:19 and my favorite verse from this past year: Psalm 46:10. Each one of them has spoken directly to my heart during a time when I needed the reassurance in my life that can only come from Scripture.

 

So … as I get off Facebook and my blog for two weeks to Be Still/Watch/Wait and spend more time with our Heavenly Father and my family, I want to encourage you.

Do any of these suggestions speak to your heart?

Are you excited thinking that God could have a specific goal, verse or word He wants to speak directly into your life?

 

As I love to say, the God we serve is so individual, so personal. He wants nothing more than to have a personal relationship with each one of us. He created each one of us and knows what will speak directly to our heart. My invitation to you is to get quiet with God and ask … because when we ask with a humble, expectant spirit, He will answer.

 

If God reveals a special verse or a word for 2019 and you want to share that with me, I’d love to hear from you. Comment in the section below. I’m excited to see what God has planned for your New Year!

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

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“Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” Psalm 5:12 (NIV)

 

One piece of sage advice my parents gave me, and I’ve heard from countless teachers and mentors is this: “Be careful not to burn bridges when you leave a situation because you never know when you might need the support of whom you left in the future.”

While that is sound advice and I have heeded it with all jobs I have transitioned from, when we started attending our home church five years ago, there was an added piece to the advice I hadn’t really considered and certainly had never actively pursued and that was: “When leaving a position, a ministry, a service, do whatever is in your power to achieve the blessing of the one who is letting you go.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to honor my boss, my mentor, or the person who was in authority over me in years past; it was that I had never thought about how important it was to receive that blessing, both for myself and for the one in authority over me in the position I was leaving.

Everyone who has ever worked knows it’s important to give a resignation letter and allow at least two weeks, sometimes a month of transition before fully exiting a position, depending upon the level of importance you hold with the job and the level of training needed to get another person hired and ready to take over fully.

 

I share in Spoken from the Heart: His Plan, His Purpose about the importance of doing life God’s way. If we want to be blessed by our Father, then we need to obey His commands. He loves all of His children unconditionally and equally, which means His plans include blessings for each of us.

 

 

This concept doesn’t just apply to work situations or ministry situations. It involves all areas of our lives.

Whether we’re dealing with relationship issues, conflict with others, work, ministry or serving difficulties, God calls us to live in peace. Slipping out the back door leaves room to harbor anger against others which can lead to bitterness and hatred.

God asks us to do life differently. He asks us to be bold and courageous, sometimes to speak the truth, sometimes to choose to remain silent but always to leave situations better than when we began.

Are you dealing with a situation in your life that seems hopeless? One where you just want to escape and pretend it didn’t exist?

While that appears to be the easy way out, God calls us to do better. What is one action you can do to leave blessed instead of slipping out the back door? Please reply in the comment section and let me know how God is helping you resolve the situation you’re facing so that it’s better when you leave than it was when you were in it.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

 

 

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