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“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7 (NIV)

 

We’ve been talking about how God has taken the last two years and healed me from several areas of bondage: fear of winter driving, depression, holiday depression and panic attacks.

Today I want to share how sometimes modern day miracles aren’t freeing us from bondage, but instead God giving us a gift of one of His attributes.

In the midst of all the healing God was doing in my life, I was still doing my best to be wife, mother and working four jobs.  That schedule can sometimes get stressful and I don’t always handle stress very well.

One day in early January, while praying with my prayer partner, I was “venting” – telling her about all the things that needed to be done, how there weren’t enough hours in the day to be fully present with all my assignments and not collapse from the weight of it all.

Feeling convicted that I should be talking to my Father about these feelings instead of “venting” to a friend, we started to pray and I surrendered it all over to Him.  I imagined bringing a backpack to His throne room, filled with various heavy stones, each representing a different area in my life and leaving the stone at His feet.  After going through each issue I was dealing with and knew I couldn’t handle on my own, God spoke that He breathed His calm over me and told me I would remain that way.

Just as with the healing of winter driving, depression and panic attacks, the enemy isn’t happy I’m growing closer to God and being released from bondage. He is going to do what he can to try and make me doubt that healing did occur or I truly did receive God’s calm over my life.

January has not been stress free; however, I have maintained that sense of peace God breathed over me.  I first learned what it felt like to have His peace when it was my word for the year in 2016.  Without seeking it out for a full year, I don’t think I would’ve known what it felt like when God replaced my depression with His peace in May 2017. Now that I know what it feels like, I recognize it quicker and know how to enter into His presence and ask for it when I need it.

Modern day miracles are personal, unique for each believer. While my pastor experienced a warmth before his healing took place, I received the feeling of being surrounded by God’s peace. Some miracles take us by surprise, such as the freedom from driving in the winter gripped in fear.  Other miracles occur after intense and long-term petitioning before God for freedom, as was the case for me with freedom from depression.  Still other miracles come in stages, much like peeling the layers off an onion – first overall depression and then more specifically its cousin, holiday depression and sidekick, panic attacks.

My encouragement for you today, my friend, is this: Take that step of faith and invite God into all situations in your life. Ask Him to make the changes necessary for you to experience freedom from the bondage you’re facing and then believe He is working.  Watch and see what will happen.  Because as I love reminding us all, “What God is willing and able to do for one, He’s wanting to do for all of His children. He’s just waiting for us to ask.”

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

 

I’ve spoken in depth about the healing I’ve received from winter driving as well as from depression that I’ve lived with off and on since childhood.  Today I want to talk about another miracle God chose to give me in 2017, not because I deserve it, but because I asked and He answered.

Just as I’d lived with the label of “irrational fear of winter driving” and “depression” throughout the years, I knew I also suffered from time to time with panic attacks.  I didn’t think much of them, though, because the depression took center stage and tried to steal all my attention, keeping the panic in the background.

However, as the depression blanket was burned and I was resting in God’s peace, the enemy didn’t want to leave me alone quite yet.  He ramped up the panic attacks which would wake me in the middle of the night, terrified of things that normally during the day I could rationalize away.

At first I was upset.  Why would God allow me to suffer with panic attacks when He had already healed me from fear of winter driving and depression?  I thought this chapter was done and I was moving on to learning another lesson.  However, I soon realized God had given me the tools I needed to fight this struggle, and if used properly and consistently, I wouldn’t have to suffer for long.

The first time I woke up with the panic attack and all the fears streaming through my head, God also gave me a song, one that I’ve sung along to on the radio numerous times.  While I didn’t remember the whole song, the phrase that kept playing on a loop in my mind was exactly what was needed to combat the thoughts swirling and vying for my attention.  I realized I had a choice: pay attention to the thoughts and fears or start singing along with the song and believe in the truth behind the words God was giving me. I chose to sing, silently of course because my husband was still sleeping soundly, no clue that his wife was fighting a spiritual battle next to him.

While it wasn’t instantaneous, the longer I sang, the calmer I got and the fears quieted. I was able to get back to sleep and wake up fairly refreshed and ready for the day. A few hours later while driving the car, the exact song came on the radio and I was able to listen, really listen to all the words. They were so fitting for what I’d been fighting only hours before.

The panic attacks didn’t go away immediately.  They would show up throughout the months at random intervals, when I least expected them – sometimes during the day, sometimes at night, much like the bouts of depression had occurred.

I prayed for God to heal me from the panic attacks but didn’t receive an answer right away.  The week of Thanksgiving, our church had a worship night – a night to come together as one and offer our praises to God in the form of song.  My kind of night! Our daughter and I went and during the evening, our pastor issued an invitation for anyone who needed prayer for anything in their lives, to come forward and a member of the church would pray with them.

I felt God inviting me to go up and receive prayer about the panic attacks.  While I hadn’t had an attack in several weeks, I felt led to obey and went up.  It was my pastor’s wife who prayed for me and she interceded on my behalf for God to completely heal me.  I went back to my seat and had a wonderful time of worship, one on one with my Father and left that night feeling yet again … His peace.

It’s now February 2018 and I haven’t had a panic attack since.  There have been a few instances where the enemy tried to stick panic back on me as well as the day I had to stand up to the enemy and pray to eliminate holiday depression for good. But full blown panic attacks haven’t returned. I know God has healed me completely and He gets all the glory.

Come back next time as I talk about how modern day miracles aren’t always healing us from things but instead sometimes God putting other things in our lives for His glory.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“’But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord,”

Jeremiah 30:17a (NIV)

 

Last time we were together I shared about how God healed me from the fear of winter driving and how it wasn’t even on my radar to specifically ask for healing.

However, there was another area in my life that I prayed earnestly for healing from for over four years … and that was healing from depression. Approximately five years ago, God called us out of our former church and into the church we now call home.  Within the first month of sermons we heard, our pastor gave a testimony about how God healed him supernaturally from depression which had plagued him his entire life. He spoke about the warmth he felt travel throughout his body as the depression left and how he felt God’s healing power. I left that day knowing I wanted what he had.

And I began praying for God to release me from the depression that had a grip on my spirit as well.  I never knew when it was going to show up but always knew when it arrived because it felt like a big, heavy blanket had settled over my shoulders.  One I couldn’t shake off. For many years I attributed it to a reaction from the circumstances our family was dealing with but that didn’t account for it settling during what should have been my happiest moments – on the weekends when I was surrounded by family, while on vacation, etc. And, the longer I prayed for God to heal me, the more it seemed to intensify.

However, that didn’t stop me from praying and believing in a miracle. If my pastor could be set free from depression, I believed God could heal me too.  It was in February of 2016 when God chose to heal me from my fear of winter driving.  Then, beginning in January 2017, God invited me into an even closer relationship with Him.  My prayer time grew deeper, my worship time was stronger and I overall started hearing God speak in more ways that I had previously. It was also at that time I started praying with a prayer partner on a regular basis.

In May 2017, I felt God nudge me to begin praying every day for a month for complete healing from depression.  I told my prayer partner what God had said and asked her if she would be willing to pray with me.  She readily agreed and so during our prayer time, I asked God for complete healing amid the other conversation we had with Him.  The second day of praying that way … God healed me.  I was expecting a warmth to spread over my body, tingling, some sort of supernatural “feeling” to let me know that it had occurred, but instead all I got was … peace. Sweet, gentle peace. I knew that I knew that I knew the depression was gone, the heavy blanket was gone… and God had replaced it with His peace.

It stayed gone throughout the summer.  However, after Thanksgiving I wondered if it was coming back. I started to feel as though I was sinking down again under a heavy blanket.  However, God showed me that the depression itself was gone, but I needed to fight and reclaim my joy for the holidays – a gift the enemy had stolen 11 years prior when our miscarriage occurred two weeks before Christmas.

This time, instead of praying for healing from depression, I got quiet before God and reminded myself of His attributes – His faithfulness, His love, His provision, His promises, and the heavy feeling left. It was then I knew His joy for Christmas was back for good.

2017 was the first Christmas I’ve completely enjoyed the embrace of God’s joy and peace since 2005, the year before the enemy chose to snatch our baby early from our family.  I have the hope of meeting our child in Heaven and now can say as well that God has restored my peace and joy, completely burning the blanket of depression that held on for far too long.

While my healing looked far different from my pastor’s healing, both are permanent, both are gifts from God because He loves His children and doesn’t want us to live in bondage.

Come back next time as I share about one more layer, one more modern day miracle God chose to give me, not because I deserve it but because of His great love.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

Psalm 94:19 (NIV)

 

I shared with you in Spoken from the Heart: Walking in Freedom how God had healed me from the fear of winter driving approximately two years ago now. Then, in Spoken from the Heart: God’s Joy Lasts a Lifetime I told how God healed me from depression, something I had lived with since childhood.

Each instance of healing occurred in a different way.  I had lived with the fear of winter driving for approximately 17 years at the time God took it away. I just assumed it was my “normal” and didn’t expect that fear to ever change. While my prayer every morning was to invite God into all areas of my life, I don’t recall specifically asking God to heal that area for me, because as I stated, I figured it was something I had to live with. However, God hears all our prayers and I believe because I invited Him into all areas of my life, He chose to answer that prayer in order to work more completely in my life to heal other areas that needed attention as well.

One night in January, in the heart of the winter season, I was driving home from Awana with our kids in the snow and realized I didn’t have the death grip on the wheel I usually did.  While I wasn’t singing to the radio or engaging in chitchat, I wasn’t petrified and it was enough of a difference for me to notice.

The following morning when my husband left early for work (due to the blizzard that still raged), I kissed him goodbye with the same calm I had in the summertime with blue skies and clear roads.  I didn’t have that irrational fear I had lived with for years that he would instantly be killed on the highway. And that peace and calm has, for the most part, stayed with me for the past two winters.

Last winter, the first full winter after God healed me, was a less than usual snowfall year.  I enjoyed that.  We had a high schooler taking college classes 35 minutes away and it was nice not having to worry about him driving back and forth on the highway with bad road conditions.  There was one evening, though, where the roads were very slippery and I had to get out and drive.  I didn’t have a choice. There was no one else who could do it.  I felt as though this was a way to prove I trusted God and I believed I was healed. While the drive wasn’t fun (who really enjoys driving in whiteout conditions?), and I gripped the steering wheel tightly, it was normal cautious driving that evening, not irrational fear or panic attacks. I knew God was with me throughout the drive and He had the power to keep our family safe.

This winter, the healing has come full circle.  While I used to panic driving seven minutes from my house on back roads with a few snowflakes in the air, with our oldest in college with full time classes, I have been called to drive him 35 minutes away, on the highway, in wintry conditions a few times. And while it’s still not my favorite pastime to drive in a storm, the irrational fear is completely eliminated.

I would even say I enjoy when it snows now.  I can look up from driving and see the beauty in the swirling flakes, feel peace when I get behind the wheel and know God is trustworthy.

Come back next time and I will share how healing from my depression occurred just as completely, but very differently, than God took away my fear of winter driving.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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 “But Jesus was matter-of-fact: ‘Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don’t doubt God, you’ll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you’ll tell, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God.’”

Matthew 21:21-22 (The Message)

 

Last time we were together I spoke about how sometimes the obstacles in our life are too big for us to tackle all at once.  Sometimes, we need to ask for God’s strength in one-minute intervals.

Lately, I’ve had what have seemed to be some pretty big assignments land on my lap. I’m talking life assignments – some have to do with work, some have to do with lifestyle, some have to do with … life.  And they’ve seemed overwhelming and I’ve wondered where I’m supposed to start.

And then God reminded me the best way to tackle any assignment that comes into my life if I want to have success.  First and foremost, before doing anything to begin the assignment, I need to start with prayer.  People may roll their eyes or say this is the required response or “you have to say that, Cheri” and give a half-hearted, “go through the motions ‘Help Me God’” prayer before rolling up my sleeves and tackling the project ahead, but seriously, this is the most important step.

Pray first.  I have noticed when I take the time to quiet my heart and mind and invite God into the situation I’m dealing with, He changes things. Nothing is too big for our God and nothing is too trivial that He doesn’t want to be bothered. Prayer, when I come to Him not with my agenda but fully surrendering to His agenda, changes situations.

Earlier this year, God used a situation at my job to show me just how much He wants to show up and work in my life. I was facing what felt like an impossible agenda and honestly didn’t know what to do. So I prayed.  A heart-felt, “God I don’t like this, I don’t want to do this, but I trust You will use this to grow me” type prayer. As I prayed, I felt God’s peace settle on me and I knew I was ready to begin.

While I waited for Him to work, I rolled up my sleeves and chose to start at the beginning and focus only on the first doable piece.  As I worked on accomplishing that part to the best of my ability, I watched God take over and work on the whole situation.  He changed schedules, freed up time, took other projects off my plate – all while I was still working on the pieces, one at a time, that had been assigned.

While God didn’t wave a magic wand and make the situation disappear, He did show me by fully surrendering to His will, His way, I would see how much He loves me and provides and fights for me.  That was a bigger lesson, for me, than Him taking the work away completely.

I’m not completely finished with the assignment that was placed before me, but God has been shrinking it to a manageable size over the course of the last few weeks.  Part of the shrinking has been Him removing obstacles to help me accomplish the goal and part of it has been me obeying and actually finishing it in bite-sized chunks.

The reason it’s been successful and I’ve maintained peace throughout is because I have fully surrendered the process over to my Father. I’ve told Him through coming to Him in prayer first that I trust Him and I trust He will work all things that enter into my life for His good. I have also stayed open to learning whatever lesson He is using this situation to teach me.

Prayer. Surrender. Trust. Working one minute at a time. When I allow God to be boss in my life, He creates a schedule that helps me finish the assignment I’ve been given in life while still living in His peace during the process.  He’s the best Boss – I wouldn’t want to work for anyone else.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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Is there a mother in your life that has everything, but could use the one thing money can’t buy …

Encouragement??????

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 6

is available for sale TODAY.

If you order in the next few days on Amazon, it will arrive in time for Mother’s Day on Sunday – time to bless a friend, a mother, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a cousin.

There are six volumes to choose from … choose the one that speaks to your heart or buy them all today:

Parenting 101

 

When you envisioned being a parent, did it involve juggling a career, household duties, and extracurricular activities? Or, did you image being a stay-at-home parent who excels at growing a garden and keeping the budget balanced? Regardless of what type of parent you dreamed of being, I think we can all agree that when done right, parenthood is one of the most challenging, but rewarding jobs we’ll ever undertake. It takes skills to balance our time and finances alongside the needs of multiple children and household responsibilities. Our mission is to raise children who are self-sufficient and productive members of society – while at the same time making sure the most important goal is modeled daily – a personal relationship with God.

While some of your desires and passions may vary from mine, if you’re reading this book, we share the common thread of parenthood. With God’s wisdom and our choice to keep Him first in our lives, it will not only be successful but we will rekindle the joy we felt when our child was first placed in our arms. Please walk with me as I offer encouragement in what is hands down one of the biggest blessings in your life. I pray you’ll be challenged and inspired to continue to make a difference in the lives of those God lovingly entrusted to you.

***

Parenting 101 Vol. 2

Do you have one child and have the opportunity to focus solely on his individual strengths and weaknesses? Or are you the parent of multiple children each at varying developmental stages, with individual interests, hobbies, and challenges unique to them?

No matter how many children make up your own family structure, I think we can all agree. Just when we think we have this thing called “parenting” mastered, our children change, again, and we’re left wondering what to do next. Instead of getting frustrated, we can turn to the ultimate training manual, God’s Word, to help us maneuver these crucial years. By studying God’s blueprints and applying His truths, parenting turns into a gift, a way to embrace the fleeting years we have with our children under our roof and a chance to make memories that will last a lifetime.

Join me as we fill our homes with laughter, love, and the opportunity to model for our children a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. Without His wisdom, this parenting journey would be much more difficult. I pray you will find answers to some of your questions, hope in the midst of struggles you might be experiencing, and a chance to sit and rest. Maybe you will find a new or deeper relationship with God in the process or just a place to start discovering all He wants to give you. As I love saying, “The God I serve is personal. What He’s willing to do for me, He’s waiting to do (and much more) for you.” Let’s sit down, friend-to-friend, as we seek to find some wisdom, peace, and happiness in this high energy, fast-paced world.

***

Parenting 101 Vol. 3

Do you remember the day your little one was placed in your arms? Does it sometimes feel as though the years are rushing by – not willing to slow down enough for you to savor these moments?

Parenting is a journey filled with opposites – laughter and tears, stolen moments and crowded days, sleepless nights and bleary-eyed mornings. However, I also pray that parenthood is something you look at with excitement, enthusiasm, and love.

Let this book offer encouragement, hope, humor, and an escape from your busyness to remember how special your children are and how much you love them. May the words remind you of Who blessed you with your family and while not perfect, perfectly handpicked for you!

Sit back, relax, and let’s journey together as we travel the road of parenthood.

***

Parenting 101 Vol. 4

 

When you think of parenthood, do you envision camping, late night movie marathons, and pillow fights?

Does parenting leave you filled with dread or excitement?

Parenting can be an opportunity filled with laugher and chances to build positive memories – both for yourself and your children. It’s a time to cherish the ones that God loaned to you for a little while, to help guide them in the direction God has planned for them and to be their friend throughout adulthood as you hold them tightly in your hearts forever.

Please join me while I encourage, challenge (just a little), and help you remember all the fun that parenting can be while reminding you it’s not a solitary assignment. We’re in this together…so let’s have some fun!

 

***

 

Parenting 101 Vol. 5

 

Now a days it seems as though everyone has an opinion on how you parent… and isn’t afraid to share it!

If you choose to read the words between these pages, don’t expect lectures, how-to guides or magic formulas. Nope. No judgement here. Just one parent to another, sharing my own experiences and the truths that the best parent, the First Parent, our Heavenly Father, has shared with me. Please join me on this adventure of parenting… one of the most rewarding positions in life.

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May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

 

Toward the end of 2017, I felt as though God was telling me to take a break for the month of December.  I envisioned days of sitting on the couch reading with the Christmas lights on in the background, a nice relaxed wife and mother to greet her family when they returned home from school and work and yummy smells coming from the kitchen because I had time to actually cook something more than grilled cheese sandwiches or frozen pizza and watch to make sure it didn’t burn.  I even got all my Christmas presents wrapped by the beginning of the month and was ready to just … refresh.

While I didn’t write anything new in December, I still was working two of my other jobs and publishing the new Bible study book I had written earlier that year, Caring for the Caregiver. I think I had one afternoon where I took the time to sit and read by the Christmas tree, but most of my spare time was spent actually living life – volunteering at our child’s school, impromptu (surprise) lunch dates with a few of our kids, or just connecting with my family.

I assumed that entering into 2018 I would be refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to work hard on new goals for the new year. Instead, I found myself tired as I detoxed from all the extra sugar I consumed over the holidays and not motivated to jump at all.

God used that tiredness and lack of energy to teach me another lesson about grace. Sometimes, circumstances in life aren’t easy. Sometimes we’re just tired and it takes all our energy to put one foot in front of the other. And instead of beating oneself up over that lack of energy or lack of motivation, when we ask God for strength, sometimes we have to ask for Him to give it to us in one minute intervals.

 

God, I have this huge assignment in front of me and I don’t even know where to start.”

I’m battling the obstacle of quitting smoking, eating moderately or choosing to exercise more and I just can’t last another minute without that cigarette, donut or moving one more second on the treadmill.”

Abba, I can’t stop listening to the voices in my head replaying that conversation over and over again. I blew it. I’m stupid. I’ll never change.”

 

God doesn’t ask us to have all the answers.  And our Father certainly doesn’t ask us to fight in our strength, ever. He wants us to come to Him with all our burdens, all our concerns, all our struggles. He already knows what they are.  He also already has the answer.  But I’ve learned in the last few months He won’t step in to help until we invite Him in. He’s a gentleman like that.  If we want to handle life alone, He’ll step back and let us. He loves us too much to control us. But … when we ask, He’s ready to step in and show us the way to victory.

Sometimes we’re strong enough to ask God for the whole situation at once.  And, sometimes, the circumstances we’re facing require asking for help one minute at a time. God doesn’t care which way we ask – He just wants us to start the conversation.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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