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I’ve had this habit for quite a while that I kind of enjoy. I’m not sure exactly when I started thinking this way, but I find it very helpful. I call it my litmus test of sorts.

 

When I’m faced with a particular situation and have two ways I can react, I ask myself this question: When I get to heaven someday and stand before God, what is He going to care about more? Choice A or Choice B?

 

One example that I am faced with on a regular basis is keeping a clean house. We have three kids, busy lives (as does everyone who is reading this) and assigned chores. I have not done a great job teaching my kids to pick up after themselves when they are done with something. They are great at cleaning the house and doing their chores, but daily picking up after themselves hasn’t been a priority.

 

When it gets too messy for my liking, I remind myself of my litmus test: when I stand before God someday, is He going to be more concerned with how clean our house was … or more concerned that I chose loving responses and biblical parenting? I think He will be more concerned with the way I built up our relationships instead of how tidy our house looked 24/7.

This litmus test can fit any situation: work, family, extended family, friends, even strangers on the street.

 

Will I choose to honk at the person who refuses to move out of my way, or will I show God’s love and wait patiently, even if it means waiting through two cycles of a red light?

 

Will I choose to do extra chores around the house because my kids have finals or my husband is working extra overtime, or will I sit on the couch and relax ‘because I deserve it’ expecting them to do it all?

 

Unfortunately, I don’t remember to do it all the time or with everyone, but I’m getting better at practicing this habit on a daily basis.

 

Is this something you would like to start trying yourself? If so, who will be the first one you try it with?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

 

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Becoming Us, the book I told you about the last two times we were together gave me one more nugget of truth with this statement: “I only want to plant sweet things.”

 

Do you have that one person (or maybe several) in your life where the combination of your two personalities is like “oil and water?” You’re both looking at the same sky and one of you calls it powder blue and the other sees medium blue with hints of pink and yellow? That one person (or maybe you’re this person for someone else) who plays games in the form of manipulation, passive-aggressive behavior, or the ‘victim’ mentality every time you’re together?

 

What if from today forward, you decided to only plant sweet things?

 

What if, instead of dreading those times you get together with that “one person,” you ask God to help you see him (or her) through God’s eyes? You “pray up” ahead of time and ask God to give you the words and the ways He wants you to demonstrate love? What if, you choose ahead of time (and follow through) that no matter what, you will NOT be offended?

 

I like that phrase, “I only want to plant sweet things.”

 

Because the reality is, more than likely, that one person who causes you inner turmoil every time you’re together probably has no idea the way you feel, the thoughts you think, or the feelings you leave with when your interactions are over.

 

You can’t choose how that one person will respond to you; but you have total control over how you will approach that one person.

Do you want to sleep guilt free each night, knowing you asked God to help you plant sweet things, or do you want to stay awake all night replaying all the annoying behaviors that occurred?

 

I’m not there yet, but I want to be the person who makes it a habit to “only plant sweet things” into the lives of others … regardless of what is attempted to be planted into my life.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

Becoming Us, the book that spoke to my heart about the “vulnerability hangover” reminded me about the importance of the different seasons in my life … and how all seasons have a purpose to help me fulfill God’s plan for my life.

 

Do you have any seasons in your life that you wish you could forget? Maybe you made choices you regret? Maybe you’re still feeling the effects of those choices years later.

 

I have “seasons” in my life I wish I could forget. Times when I wasn’t living the way God designed. Times God was still important in my life, but not sitting on the throne where He belonged. I regret those times, and I wish I could go back and make better decisions.

 

However, as my pastor loves to say, “We’re all only one good choice away from turning things around.” While God allows us to suffer the natural consequences of living life outside of His umbrella of protection, when we make the choice to come back fully under His protection, we’re back on the right path and God can (and will) bless us again.

Instead of allowing the enemy to constantly remind me of my guilt for “less-than-stellar” seasons, I can remind myself that God restores and can take those lost years and use them for His glory.

 

I think we would do well to focus on the Apostle Paul’s (formerly Saul) example. He spent early seasons in his life killing Christians; yet instead of focusing on his sin and shame, he chose to focus on God’s grace and saving power.

 

He spent the rest of his seasons winning hearts for God from the viewpoint of a forgiven man. Not because of anything he did, but always pointing people back to what Jesus did for him.

 

Do you have seasons in your life you’re not proud of? Think about what you learned from those seasons, how they helped shape who you are today and be grateful for the seasons you have left to fulfill the purpose God has for your life.

 

In the words of my pastor, “we’re all only one good choice away from turning things around.” Let the seasons to come be some of your best yet!

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

About the Book

Book: The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

Author: Carole Brown

Release date: June 2016

 

How far would you go to avenge the murder of your daughter? Is beyond redemption too far?

Caralynne Hayman is angry and bitter over the abuse and death of her eleven-year-old daughter at the hands of a radical religious cult—The Children of Righteous Cain. So when her husband, a founding member of the cult, suffers a massive heart attack, Caralynne does little to help.

Caralynne’s secret seems safe until Dayne MacFarland returns. Determined to learn the truth about the cult, his investigation, and his rekindled feelings for Caralynne, lead the pair toward a confrontation with the group’s elders. But can Dayne’s comfort help Caralynne bridge the gulf of anger and bitterness that divide the community? Or will Caralynne’s deadly secrets prove too high a price for her redemption?

Click here to purchase your copy.

 

About the Author

Carole Brown’s debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, is a 2015 Book of the Year in General Fiction from Christian Small Publishers, a RWA Oklahoma International Digital Award 2nd place winner, a Clash of the Titles top three finalist, a Selah Award finalist in debut novels, and a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband have ministered and counseled across the country. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

I’d love to connect with readers at:
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/browncarole212
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

 

My Review of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman:

This book was told in such a way I wanted to research more about the cult The Children of Righteous Caine. The story begins in such a way that leaves a question mark in the mind of the reader .. spurring me on to keep reading so I can find out the answer.  However, the book itself is so good, I didn’t need the question at the beginning to keep turning the pages.

I loved the character development, the setting, the multiple characters and how they changed throughout the book. My only question is what happened to Elder Simmons’ wife at the end? Maybe I missed it but I have a question mark of what choices she made after … (I won’t give away any spoilers).

I don’t believe I’ve read any other books by Carole Brown, but this won’t be my last. I really enjoyed it. The back cover intrigued me to want to read and it was a book I’m glad I picked up. While I don’t need a sequel to this town, I do look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

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

 

I’m not exactly sure all I’m allergic to, but I hate taking medication as a general rule and would rather suffer a few days (or weeks) here and there than deal with a “Benadryl hangover.” Maybe you know what I’m talking about – that feeling of mental fog when you can’t completely wake up, but yet the medication isn’t taking away the allergy symptoms either?

 

Have you ever shared something personal with a friend (or family member) and the next day regretted how much you shared? Felt guilty you shared too much? Wondered if that person, next time you see them, will look at you weird?

 

I was reading a great book the other day, Becoming Us by Robin Jones Gunn, and they referred to that feeling as a “vulnerability hangover.” When I read those words, I thought, “what a perfect description.”

 

I find, for me, it’s all about who I choose to be vulnerable with. I keep thinking back to the example of Jesus and His disciples. He handpicked a group of 12 to do life with. However, if you read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), you will see there was a bigger group of people who traveled around with Jesus or at least spent time with Him on a regular basis.

And, within His group of 12 disciples, there were a few who He felt especially close to.

 

When I’m careful about the people I choose to be vulnerable with, the lingering feelings of guilt, regret, or second-guessing myself are almost nonexistent.

 

I think it all boils down to choosing well the group of friends you can be vulnerable with and share your deepest feelings. When that choice is made well, the risk of a vulnerability hangover is almost nonexistent.

 

What about you? Do you have that select group of 1-3 people whom you can be vulnerable with? Do they offer encouragement, prayer, or just a listening ear when needed? If not, have you thought about asking God to send them to you? I started asking about 5 years ago, and He has blessed me abundantly with a small group of women to whom I can share without the risk of a hangover the next day.

 

I know He’ll do the same for you if you want to ask Him yourself.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

 

Like many other people, throughout my life I’ve worked multiple jobs at the same time. I like variety, and I have been blessed to enjoy most aspects of what I do, so it’s worked out well.

 

However, approximately 16 months ago, God gave me a dream where He specifically told me the following: If I have too much on my schedule, not all will be done correct. Some will be done perfectly, some partially, some not at all.

 

Thinking back over what He said, I have started to examine my schedule and see what needs to stay, what needs to go, and what needs to be adjusted.

 

I started with adjusting my schedule in my personal life. Beginning with prayer, I asked God to start taking things off my plate and when given opportunities to add more, to please let it be crystal clear whether I should say “yes” or “no”.

 

 

Next, I had a conversation with one of my three bosses, and the result has been really positive. I have had some things taken off my plate which allows for more “perfection” in what has remained.

 

Yesterday I was working and it struck me. Because my boss heard my heart in our conversation and has made my work more manageable, I end the day feeling satisfied that what I’m presenting back to him is high quality work. I have the time to be creative (which is part of my job description), to give the time needed in the customer service areas of the job, and work with excellence as I have always tried to, but fallen short when there was too much work and not enough hours.

 

While my job is still very busy, it’s much less busy than it was even three weeks ago.

 

I had felt like a failure for about four years now. That I wasn’t able to help grow the areas I was assigned and I was a mediocre employee at best, not capable of doing the job at worst.

 

However, I see now it wasn’t a matter of being capable; it was that I was attempting too much. With a more manageable (still busy) workflow, my abilities are able to be seen and I can take pride in my job again.

 

It’s so important to ask for God’s best “yes” before saying “yes” to the next thing. Have you ever been in that position where you’re more than qualified to do your job, but something is preventing your best from showing up?

 

Please reply in the comments if you have a similar story to share, or if you have encouragement to give to those wondering how to find God’s best yes for their lives.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019

 

I try to work late only twice a week – I used to only work late one night a week. Tuesdays were those nights and only until 10 PM, because I know I need enough sleep to function at my best.

 

However, when deadlines are looming, the family calendar is filling up, and there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, my late nights will sometimes stretch for a brief period of time into two nights, and last until 11:30 PM.

 

The alarm still goes off at 4:30 AM the next morning, though, so I’m mindful to make sure that lack of sleep is for a short season, not a new way of life.

 

Ironically, one of the messages I was editing last night talked about one way to be an effective parent included getting enough rest so that you are functioning at your best.

 

This morning? I can definitely say I’m missing the mark. After three cups of coffee, my eyes are open more than the slits that greeted me with the alarm, but it’s not taking much to tip the irritation scale in the wrong direction.

I’ve shared a few times over the past year that when my husband and I got married, we had a “dream” that lay dormant. We didn’t think it was the right time to walk into that ministry, but it lay waiting in the back of both of our minds.

 

About 18 months ago, God started waking that dream back up. I approached my husband first and he was on board. Next I spoke to the kids and while there was some hesitation, nervousness, and a little resistance, they are now excited too.

 

As a result, we have started walking in the direction of waking up this dream (we’re in the preparation stage), listening for God’s voice to tell us to continue or to stop. So far, continuing is what we’re hearing.

 

Every morning that I wake up after a late night session of work and I’m more tired than usual, I start to smile (sometimes while I’m growling – I admit, I’m not always at my best when I’m tired). If God allows us to walk through the doors of this ministry, I will have seasons of less sleep. It will be a ministry of pouring out of ourselves and making sacrifices.

 

However, while I choose to press through and “practice” grace and extra patience and especially kindness when trying to function from a sleepless state now, I also am learning ways to keep myself as rested and with the energy reserves I will need to function well with the ministry God might be giving us. After all, under title of “daughter of the King,” wife and mother are my favorite roles. I don’t believe God’s best is for us to neglect the blessing of the family He gave me in order to serve Him in other ways.

 

So now, during these seasons of working late, I smile through my tiredness. I know God is preparing our family as well as my heart and schedule to step into a ministry that only He knows exactly what it looks like. However, I’m excited to keep moving in the direction He planted on our hearts 20 years ago and see how it unfolds.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2019