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Learning to trust …

“Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’” Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)

 

Trust is huge for me. I had a conversation with God way back in 2006 about trust … whether or not I trusted Him … and whether or not I wanted to pursue a journey of learning how to trust Him.

I chose the latter – despite all my fear and anxiety about what situations I’d face if I uttered the words, “Lord, please teach me how to trust You” which caused me to add the following … “and please be gentle during the process.”

Learning to trust God has been an adventure. Such an adventure I could write a book about it.

In fact, I ended up writing FOUR books about it … and since the adventure isn’t finished yet, I’m sure more books are coming on this subject.

 

Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith

 

Spoken from the Heart: Embracing the Adventure

 

Spoken from the Heart: The Adventure Continues

 

Spoken from the Heart: Choosing a Faith-Filled Adventure

 

Each one of the books above shares how God heard my prayer years earlier and lovingly answered it, slowly peeling back layer after layer of the onion of my life and revealing the beauty He planted inside me at birth.

 

From my experience, trust is the foundation of the Christian life. If I can’t trust God, I will always be afraid when He calls me to step out in faith for Him.

If I can’t trust God, I won’t have the peace He promises to His children.

If I can’t trust God, I won’t see the blessings in my life which come directly from Him.

If I can’t trust God, I won’t live a thankful life, have the ability to keep calm, learn to be joyful, or be able to love with His love others around me.

If I can’t trust God, I won’t be living the full and abundant life He promises to those who love Him.

What about you my friend? Do you have an issue with trust as I used to? Are you halfway through the peeling process and you trust God with most things but not everything yet? Or have you never had a problem with trusting God – it’s as natural to you as taking your next breath?

Please reply in the comments and share with me your experiences. I would love to be encouraged by the way God is working in your life.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

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I have an exciting announcement this morning: Peace During the Pain, four years in the making, is now available in paperback and eBook on Amazon!

The eBook copy is only $2.99 for a limited time …

And the Paperback is a great price at $11.97

 

Either version makes a perfect gift for those who need encouragement.

 

Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to start shopping for those you love.

 

 

HERE’S A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE BOOK:

Cancer. It is a word no one wants to hear when sitting in a doctor’s office or from a loved one during a phone conversation. It is a word so prevalent in our society today. I don’t think there is anyone who has not been personally touched by this word, this disease, this diagnosis.This book is not a “how-to” guide regarding cancer. You won’t find resources for the best doctors, the latest research, diet/nutrition, or even statistics about outcomes regarding the specific type of cancer that has entered your world.Instead, this book offers the comfort of 11 different men and women who have been personally touched by this diagnosis and have found peace despite the pain.This book is not written solely from the standpoint of people who have experienced cancer personally – there are many chapters written by wives, daughters-in-law, and children, sharing how their loved ones fought valiantly and how close and personal God was during the journey.Join me between these pages as you read firsthand, from the individuals or their loved ones, how God showed up in every situation. He took what the enemy meant for evil (pain) and replaced it with His perfect peace.

 

I have a special invitation for all of you, my Spoken from the Heart READER’S CLUB. If you would like to read the book and would be willing to leave an honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, simply email me back and I will send you a link to download the book for FREE.

 

My prayer is that this book will encourage those who are either going through the pain of cancer or family and friends who are walking alongside their loved one who is going through the pain. Eleven different people share their hearts and their lives, showing how God was right there the whole time, offering peace in exchange for their pain.

 

If you want to read it for FREE and are willing to write an honest review, email me and I will send you the link.

Then, if you want to get a copy for those you love:

The eBook copy is only $2.99 for a limited time

And the Paperback is a great price at $11.97

 

 

The Wrong Focus

“Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do.” Deuteronomy 29:9 (NIV)

 

If you have hung around me for any amount of time, you’ve heard me talk about how God has had our family on quite the adventure for the past five years now; however, looking back, we can see God started the process much, much earlier. While there have been several catalysts throughout the years (miscarriage, chronic illness, financial issues, job loss), the adventure really hasn’t been about those details. The adventure has been about two main themes: learning to trust God and learning the lessons along the way instead of focusing on the finish line, which actually, would more accurately be described as the starting point.

 

Learning to trust God.

 God used the above events in our life to get me a crucial question: Did I trust God?

He also gave me several invitations throughout the years to loosen my hands from the things I had trusted (which didn’t deserve my trust) and instead tighten my hold on Him whom I can implicitly trust completely. My family? I trust God. My life? I trust God. My future? I trust God. My finances? I trust God. Safety? Protection? Relationships? Ministry? Service? I trust God.

Through the process of learning to trust God, He has given us many amazing adventures (blessings). Paying bills with money that came in at the last minute, some amazing vacations paid for by loving family members, blessing others with no strings attached only to be blessed in the future by God Himself to a higher degree than we gave. One major lesson I’ve learned from this experience is one can never out give God. Ever.

 

It’s all about the journey and learning the lessons along the way, not the “finish line,” which is really the starting point.

 For so long I was focused on the prize at the end, the destination, the “Promised Land,” where I foolishly thought I would sit and sip iced coffee and rest after the long journey it took to get there.

God, who is so patient and kind, took all the time I needed to teach me it’s never about the destination or finish line. It’s about the journey, the lessons He wants to teach me along the way, the maturation process so that when I do step into His dream (purpose) for my life, I’m equipped, ready and able to step in with confidence to do the work He has been preparing me to do. A ministry that lines up with the way He uniquely made me. A calling that feels like second skin but with the maturation to endure, press through and be able to handle the challenges the enemy will use to try and distract me from God’s mission. (We all know when we’re doing God’s will, the enemy steps up his game to distract, deter, and destroy.)

 

When I was finally able to get my focus where it needed to be, you’ll be amazed at what God showed me.

  • I learned to trust ….
  • I learned to look for the blessings …
  • I learned to be thankful …
  • I learned to let go of fear …
  • I learned to focus on the truth …
  • I learned to keep calm …
  • I learned to be joyful …
  • I learned to love …
  • I learned to leave with blessing …

 

During the next few weeks I’ll share how God taught me to let go in each area … and maybe you will be encouraged to begin letting go of some things in your life too.

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (The Message)

 

Why would God open a door from three years ago only to close it so quickly? That was the question one would think I was wondering.

However, that’s not what was going through my head. Instead, I was even more excited and choosing to praise God even louder.

God allowed that conversation to take place at this particular time in my life for the following reasons (in my opinion):

 

  • God used the conversation to encourage me. If God can resurrect a conversation from three years ago, He can turn the closed doors I was experiencing that week into the open doors He wants me to experience.
  • It was a reminder to me to be still and watch … and wait. God had been telling me that all year. Psalm 46:10 (NIV) has been my verse this year “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted among the earth.” When God gives me the open door to step through, He will be the One who gets the glory and praise because it will be nothing I’ve done but everything He’s done.
  • God’s working to custom design His dream for me. Even though the conversation became a closed door, I was encouraged that when God does open the door, it will be specially crafted around my gifts and talents and desires God uniquely created within me and has been taking the past three years to grow in me.
  • It’s less about the blessing and more about the growth along the path. Sometimes it’s not about open versus closed doors – but instead about refining fires and doors of opposition. This was one of the topics spoken about during the women’s retreat and the main takeaway was “never ever give up.” Endure, because at the other side of the door of opposition is God’s dream for your life … a bigger blessing than one can even imagine. I’m willing to wait for God’s dream even if that means I have to endure a little bit longer and never ever give up.
  • God gave me a choice – I could have my answer “now” but possibly have to compromise my faith or I could wait for God’s best for my life … to me it was a no-brainer. I want to wait for God’s best for my life even if that means waiting awhile longer.

 

I hung up the phone that Thursday afternoon excited, knowing that if God took the time to encourage me in such a dramatic way, He has great plans for my future and the three years I’ve been waiting for an answer haven’t been wasted. He has been teaching me the lessons I need to know for when He reveals His dream for my life. And I have confidence I will be stepping into it prepared instead of floundering. I’m excited to see the details of my answered prayer when God chooses to reveal them. Until then, I’m going to continue to choose peace and joy while faithfully obeying and learning the lessons God presents.

What about you? How do you react to closed doors? Are they a disappointment or a source of encouragement?

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

“Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top.” Psalm 37:7 (The Message)

 

I chose not to complain when God closed the door to an experience I had been counting on since April 2017. I had waited patiently for 18 months for this, what I thought was a sure thing … and it turned out to be a solid “no.”

Instead of allowing myself to sink into depression or getting angry, I chose to believe God had something better, that His dream for me was far greater than what I had been hoping for, and He needed me to get out of the way before He could give it to me.

Two days later I was in the car with our daughter and my phone rang. I get telemarketing calls all the time (as I’m sure you probably do, too), and so I dismissed it as it was from out of state and I didn’t recognize the number. Two minutes later up popped a voicemail. I don’t know about you, but telemarketers rarely leave me a message. I played it back and it was someone I had reached out to three years prior! I didn’t even remember who this person was, it was so long ago.

My first thought was … is this God’s answer to my prayer for the past three years? Wow – when God answers, He does it in amazing ways. I was excited and couldn’t wait to call this person back, but needed to because I was in the process of picking up our youngest from school and thought it would be better to get somewhere quiet so I could concentrate.

I called my husband and filled him in, excitement mounting even more and talked to my daughter as well. What a testimony I was thinking … all because I surrendered to God. I was smiling because I thought, “He sure answers prayers quickly when I get out of the way!”

I made the phone call which lasted quite a while. It appeared to be going well, but soon became evident it had taken a drastic swerve toward the “closed door.” I still had a choice, but I knew as a Christ follower I could only have one answer and that was “closed.”

I was left wondering … Why would God open a door from three years ago only to close it so quickly?

Come back next time for the conclusion …

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. ‘Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”

Matthew 16:24-25 (The Message)

 

On September 8th, God issued me an invitation to let go of my agenda and instead embrace His dream for my life. I was left with this question: Was I willing to trust His way … or would I continue to insist on mine?

I chose to give up my dream of the vision I had for my life. I gave up my schedule and my desires and chose to trust that God’s dreams for my life would far outweigh anything I could ask or imagine. Taking that first step toward the altar that day at my church was difficult, but I was left with a peace and an excitement to “test God and see that He was good.” But it wasn’t really a testing … it was more of a “trust God and see that He IS good.”

Monday God allowed me to have a conversation with someone which gave me hope … hope that the answer I had been praying for was starting to come into reach when it had been out of my grasp for weeks, months, years.

That conversation spurred me to have a conversation with another on Tuesday, after God had reassured me ahead of time He was in this meeting. I was still nervous though. After five minutes or less, I soon realized that God was closing this door … but I wasn’t worried. I had plan B and plan C to still talk about so I had hope.

Nope. Plan B and Plan C were quickly shut down too. Tightly. Okay. I had a choice. I got off the phone and realized I could do one of two things. I could repeat my attitude in the past and feel like a failure, get depressed, allow the enemy’s lies to beat me down, and give up hope.

Or … I could CHOOSE to trust God. I could CHOOSE to praise God for this closed door. Yes, praise God I was told “no” and trust He had a better plan. So that is what I did.

But, before you think I had it altogether, the enemy sure had fun with my thoughts and emotions all night long. I had to continually choose, about every five minutes, to praise God for the closed door, remind myself His dreams are far greater than anything I could ask for or imagine and God sometimes loves to wait until things look the worst before swooping in and showing off a miracle or two. The one thing I wasn’t going to do? Give Satan the satisfaction of winning over my emotions or thoughts or stealing the peace and joy God had given me three days ago.

Come back next time to see what God did next …

© Cheri Swalwell 2018

 

“The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Galatians 2:20 (The Message)

 

I have been praying the same prayer for weeks … months … over three years now. God has already told me He has released me from what I’ve been praying about … but He hasn’t shown me the next step.

I thought I knew the direction He wanted me to walk. I had packed my suitcase and had it waiting by the front door, ready to put it into the trunk, punch the destination into my GPS and get going as soon as God gave the green light. I thought I was “finishing strong,” I thought I was obeying, I thought I was being faithful in the little (and bigger) things, and yet still nothing was happening. No movement.

This past summer was a summer of growth. God invited me to grow in a few areas, some of which were quite painful:

  • Diet and exercise
  • Choosing joy – not complaining
  • Living intentionally
  • Choosing not to be offended

I realized that instead of focusing hard on making sure I hit the mark with each of the items above, if I choose to live a life of “love,” I would hit the mark more often than not. If I loved God first and then loved others more than myself, I would take care of my body, have more joy in my life and complain less, live intentionally and overall not be offended by others but instead have more compassion, love and grace to extend to those around me.

Approximately three weeks before the beginning of the school year, I felt nudged to seek God in prayer and find out what He wanted my schedule to look like for the remainder of 2018 and the next year (2019). I definitely heard Him speak and began the new school year with excitement. The first weekend our church had a women’s conference and God confirmed all the things He had been telling me over the summer as well as giving me an invitation to … surrender my dreams and trust God with His dream for my life instead.

What?!? I thought I had done that two years ago when He invited me to take a sabbatical from writing for 9 months. I thought I had given up my dreams six years ago, and two years ago, and even more recently than that. But I realized I hadn’t. I was still holding onto the way with which I wanted my life to look. Call it a dream or wishful thinking, but I was holding tightly and I hadn’t surrendered it. God invited me that Saturday afternoon to trust Him completely … to let go of what I thought life should look like and instead let Him paint my schedule His way.

Was I willing to trust His way … or would I continue to insist on mine?

© Cheri Swalwell 2018