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Grace …

I wrote last time about how I blew it recently.

 

And today I want to write about how God restores. He wasn’t mad at me (disappointed maybe) but He restores when we submit, confess, and have an attitude that wants to learn from our mistakes.

 

Two days later I had another chance to have a different, but similar, potentially difficult conversation. It went differently this time. I whispered, I listened, I asked questions, I tried to hear the heart behind the explanation. I didn’t judge. I didn’t lecture. I wasn’t quick to react …

And God reminded me that some of the “tough” that was gone through a few months prior was actually a blessing from Him….protecting and preparing and helping the shift occur. Reinforcing the good decisions being made and helping with the transition. Blessing the obedience and patiently working out the changes.

 

And then as I was replaying the conversation later and wondering if I had blown it again … God reminded me through a devotional that I am not Him, He has every situation under control so much better than I ever could….and to trust Him. He’s got this! And He has those I love!

 

And I was humbled and grateful and felt overwhelming love.

 

And realized some of the best teachers in this life are life itself. No lecture teaches the way life can.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

I blew it recently. Big time. I started with the best of intentions. I tried to set the stage for success for myself and the other person involved … and yet I ended up blowing it badly. Saying things I regretted. Hurting the other person involved and feeling guilty the rest of the day. I even tried to salvage the connection with an apology and praying together … but that didn’t happen. Guilt engulfed me all day.

 

I called my prayer partner and asked her to pray with me for the situation. God confirmed that He had the situation under control and I had temporary peace … temporary because I didn’t know my role to help restore the relationship and as my prayer partner gently pointed out, was borrowing trouble years ahead due to one horrible conversation.

 

It was a work day so I needed to get busy. With my focus on work, I was distracted for a few hours, then started working on something that didn’t take complete concentration and the enemy hit me hard … feelings of hopelessness, depression, and self-loathing washed over me. Wave after wave and the weight crashed down again.

I sent an S.O.S. to my prayer partner who, this time, took my plea to God herself and reminded me yet again my Father was in charge and He had this. I told God I trusted Him, and concentrated on God’s faithfulness instead of my failures.

 

My husband stepped up and took over that evening. He supported, encouraged, and got to the heart of the issue … and restoration began.

 

The next day I was talking to God and telling Him how I still felt residual guilt feelings from the day before. I reminded myself I had asked for forgiveness immediately after the incident and I know He forgives when we’re sincere because His word promises that.

 

Then I realized if God had already forgiven me (and He had), then who was I not to forgive myself too? I’m not better than God. If He says I’m forgiven … I’m forgiven. Remorse and conviction are different from condemnation and guilt. Instead of “hating myself,” I could look at the mistakes I made the day before, bring them to Him, and ask Him how I can do better next time.

 

One area He highlighted for me was I need to process statements before answering … so if I’m in the middle of a conversation and I start to feel defensive or stressed, I need to step back and ask the person if I can respond later, after having had time to think through what was said. When I do that, I gain a perspective I simply don’t have in the heat in the moment.

 

Today I’m working guilt free. I have peace knowing God is giving me the tools I need to succeed in future conversations and resting in the knowledge I’m completely forgiven and loved by my Father. I’m also motivated to keep working at the relationship I blew yesterday. Hopefully I have enough of a connection with that person that love will cover over the whole mess and we can pick up where we left off, fully forgiven by the other.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

Sometimes I’m a fun mom. Sometimes I’m a crabby mom. Always I’m a mom who loves her kids enough to step into the hard to help them become the adults they were designed to be.

 

One such instance occurred lately. One of our children has a habit of leaving a rabbit trail behind … giving me clues to what this child has been doing from the evidence. This isn’t a case of deliberate disobedience … it’s a case of “mind elsewhere” that still needs to be trained, but should be done with grace and humor, not strict consequences.

 

I let our child know the importance of picking up after oneself. I explained that it’s respectful to the whole family and is necessary for learning how to take care of oneself. And I said I was going to help (him or her) learn this lesson in a fun and creative way. (Whether or not the child thought this was a fun way – well, I guess you’ll have to ask my child.)

I said that every time I find something of this child’s laying around the house, they will owe me some form of physical exercise: pushups, sit ups, wall sits, jumping jacks, or running the stairs. Not as a form of punishment, per se, but a “fun” and creative way of instilling in our child the importance of picking up after oneself.

 

My goal is that as the child learns to pay attention to what is being left behind, the physical exercise will get less and less and the house will be cleaner and cleaner.

 

Sometimes parenting requires a firmer hand when dealing with disrespect, deliberate disobedience, or defiance … and other times it requires creativity to get the point across without creating tension or stress.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

Five years ago when we talked as a family about introducing another dog into our unit, I made it perfectly clear what the rule was going to be. I work from home and said I was more than willing to let the dog out all day, however many times necessary, when home alone, but once everyone came home, the job was shifted to them and I would pick up again when it was just our puppy and me. Everyone agreed, and it’s been that way for five years.

 

However, recently I’ve realized something. Because I spent so much time training and bonding with our puppy five years ago, I became his alpha. His master. And because I spend more time collectively with him than anyone else in the family, I am his alpha and he listens to me. The first time.

 

That includes when he has to go out. He has invented this game at night (he’s a very intelligent breed). When he’s bored, he will give his “I have to go out” noise and then said child has to get up and go take him out, only to have him sniff the grass, run around, eat grass, and generally explore. They complain because it happens a lot.

If I take him out, he will quickly find a spot, do his thing, and we come back inside. I think the reason for his quick obedience with me is because I’m his alpha and he wants to please me. They are his playmates and he wants to have fun.

 

That’s similar to how our relationship should be with God. He’s our Alpha, our Savior, Our Heavenly Father and we should want to submit to Him, obey Him, and please Him. But even if our hearts want to obey, sometimes it doesn’t come naturally and our sinful nature gets in the way.

 

God doesn’t force our submission, just like I never forced our dog to submit to me. I submit willingly to God for the same reason our dog submits willingly to me – because we want to.

 

That’s what true surrender is.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

This past fall I was given an exciting opportunity. My initial reaction was “YES!” but I told the person who extended the invitation, “I want to pray about it and talk to my husband before saying yes, although that’s my gut response.”

 

Being someone with a strong faith, she agreed and waited patiently, praying as well. I prayed, and didn’t hear an answer. Nothing. Not yes, not no, not maybe … nothing.

 

About a month later, I was issued another invitation and my gut reaction, instead of “YES!” was turmoil. Something felt off, something felt wrong, and while I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was, it didn’t set well with me. At all.

For this opportunity, I prayed immediately and waited for God to answer … and again heard nothing. I talked to my husband, and he suggested we pray about it too. And again, I didn’t get yes, no, or maybe. I got nothing.

 

That night God invited me to get up early and have some time alone with Him, in the quiet of the house. I wasn’t purposefully praying about either opportunity. I was simply sitting in silence, and that’s when God answered.

 

He reminded me about the first opportunity and how it was in direct opposition to the second opportunity. He reminded me about very specific details of the first opportunity which answered the questions that had me in turmoil about the second opportunity. And it was then I felt immediate peace. Not “kinda” peace, not “maybe” peace, but full, all-encompassing peace. And that peace has remained just as strong for the last month as it did the night God gave it to me.

 

When I contacted the person about the first opportunity and said God had given me the green light, it was met with enthusiasm. And God allowed the second opportunity to quietly fade into the distance, never having to be dealt with again.

 

I realized that while God never changes His promises, His decrees and His love for us, He sometimes will mix up from time to time the way He answers us. I was thinking God would answer in ways He had in the past … yet He had something different to teach me in this season of my life by answering me the way He did.

 

I don’t really care how God answers me. I’m just grateful He does, and also grateful for how personal He is with His answers. And I always know which are His answers because they come with unexplainable and constant peace.

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020

About the Book

Book:  Childhood

Author: Greg Schaffer

Genre:  Contemporary

Release Date: February 10, 2020

Katie lived a lonely childhood, her after school time filled with responsibilities to her father and special needs brother. Her chores prevented her from experiencing the carefree life her peers, including Joey, her neighbor and secret crush, lived. She began running to impress Joey, then discovered track as a possible way out of the small town of Nortonville, Tennessee. But as the promise of a college scholarship drew her closer to the escape she had dreamed about since childhood, she wondered why she didn’t feel better. What was missing?

Childhood is the novelette prequel to Fatherhood, a full-length novel about abortion from the father’s point of view.

 

Click here for your copy.

 

 

About the Author

Greg Schaffer has written several novels, beginning with Forgiveness (2014). Each conveys the message that hope is always available, even in the darkest of times. His other works of fiction include horse-humor and poetry anthologies. A northerner by birth and a southerner by choice, Greg resides with his wife and rescue dogs in Franklin, Tennessee.

More from Greg

My last novel Leaving Darkness was difficult to write. I felt called to showcase depression and how the trusting environment of Christian small groups can lead those lost in the darkness to the light of the life they are meant to live. The novel was a direct response to a God-calling to apply my skills as an author and my experience leading similar type groups to create a story that may serve to help some who feel hopelessly lost.

For the next novel, I waited for a similar calling. And waited. And waited. I tend to be impatient like most. I wanted to get back to the creative process.

I wound up waiting several months. God’s time, not mine.

Then it happened, through an article I read on the Internet about a man suing a clinic for aborting his child without his knowledge. The article delved into the father’s rights in the abortion decision.

Abortion from the father’s point of view. That was the calling.

Very early into the project, though, I realized I had unintentionally created a problem. If I told the story completely from the father’s point of view, the mother’s would be diminished, reduced to a two-dimensional interpretation as seen through the father’s eyes. I could solve that by including both points of view in the novel, but that wouldn’t work well for two reasons: first, there are plot elements that the mother knows that are best kept from the readers as part of establishing tension. Second, as noted before, the project calling is from the father’s point of view. I had to stay within that.

But how to deal with the problem?

That’s when Childhood was born (no pun intended). Childhood is a novelette from the mother’s point of view, following her growth as a person from fourth grade to her first year of college. Through Childhood, readers have the opportunity to understand the character as a protagonist who would then become the antagonist in the novel Fatherhood.

 

My Review of Childhood:

This was a very short novelette, prequel to Fatherhood. I enjoyed it, but it was a quick read. I grew to really like Katie and Joey, and at first really liked Lynn; however, she seemed to change from the sweet girl in elementary school to a jaded girl in later high school and college years. Maybe Fatherhood will explain why the change for us. Having read the back blurb for Fatherhood, I’m curious about the storyline and feeling invested with the characters from this short novelette, I’m intrigued and can’t wait to read the “rest of the story.” This author is new to me but I liked his tone, style and he drew me into wanting to read more.

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

Texas Book-aholic, February 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 12

Older & Smarter?, February 13

Artistic Nobody, February 14 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, February 15

For Him and My Family, February 16

Through the Fire Blogs, February 17 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, February 17

deb’s Book Review, February 18

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 19

By The Book, February 20 (Author Interview)

Just the Write Escape, February 21

Mamma Loves Books, February 22

Lukewarm Tea, February 23 (Author Interview)

Spoken from the Heart, February 24

 

Giveaway

To celebrate his tour, Greg is giving away the grand prize of a $50 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/f5bc/childhood-celebration-tour-giveaway

Would the people closest to you agree that you act the same way in public as you do at home? Do you act the same way at church as you do at the grocery store as you do when watching TV or trying to get your kids to do their chores?

That is my biggest desire. That my children, if asked, would honestly say I’m the same person at home as I am at church as I am at the store as I am with friends. While I have a “professional” voice for my job and a “friend” voice when I’m unwinding at the end of a long day, I want the words that flow out to be the same as the ones I would feel comfortable sharing with my pastor, my husband, the clerk at the store, or my children.

 

I think there is always room for improvement (ever heard of hormones or a really bad day or … menopause?), but if the majority of the time you are the same person no matter who you’re talking to, that’s authentic living and that’s my goal.

 

What about you?

 

© Cheri Swalwell 2020