Archive for August, 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



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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.


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I have bad allergies …

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



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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


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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


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About the Book


Book: The Yellow Lantern

Author: Angie Dicken

Genre: Christian Historical/Suspense

Release Date: August, 2019

Josephine Is Forced to Spy for Grave Robbers
Step into True Colors—a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

In Massachusetts in 1824, Josephine Clayton awakes on the table of the doctor she’s assisted all these months. She was presumed dead by all and has become the doctor’s next corpse for his medical research. Frightened, the doctor tries to kill her, but Josephine begs to be spared. A deal is struck—Josie will leave her village and work at a distant cotton mill. All the while, she’ll await her true mission—posing as a mourner to help his body snatcher procure her replacement. At the mill though, Josie is praised for her medical remedies among the mill girls, gaining attention from the handsome factory manager Braham Taylor. Yet, when Braham’s own loved one becomes the prey for the next grave robbing, Josie must make a choice that could put her dark past behind her or steal away the promise of any future at all.

What price will Josie pay for love when her secrets begin to unravel?


Click here to grab your copy.


About the Author

Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in England. Now living in the U.S. heartland, she’s a member of ACFW, sharing about author life with her fellow Alley Cats on The Writer’s Alley blog and Facebook page. Besides writing, she is a busy mom of four and works in Adult Ministry. Angie enjoys eclectic new restaurants, authentic conversation with friends, and date nights with her Texas Aggie husband. Connect with her online at www.angiedicken.com.


My Review of The Yellow Lantern:

This was the first book of this author I have read. While her writing style took me a little while to get used to at the beginning, soon I was lost in the story and it flowed more easily for me. The characters were well developed. I got to the point where I had to keep reading simply so I could find out what happened. The storyline was definitely one that was intriguing and to know it was based on history made it that much more interesting. At times I found myself compassionate for the characters, other times frustrated, which is also the mark of a good book, in my opinion. I’m glad I had the chance to read about this topic in history and while it wasn’t my favorite topic, the author made the subject interesting.

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.

More from Angie

Barbour’s True Colors Crime concept intrigued me from the very beginning. Being the daughter of a doctor and discovering the ties of grave robbing to the early medical profession, I was excited to dive deep into 19th century Massachusetts. Grave robbing around Boston and New York was often employed by doctors desperate for medical advancement. Men and women were both involved in the procuring of bodies for doctors. Finding these accounts led me to take took a look at the current medical remedies of the time—tinctures, elixirs, and herbal concoctions. My heroine was created in the tension of a desire to heal and the desperation of medical pursuits.

Amidst these medical ties to the historical moment of 1824, something was also shifting among women in rural areas of New England. Many women were employed by newly built cotton mills (Lowell Mill was my inspiration for the fictional Gloughton Mill in The Yellow Lantern). These working opportunities for women offered an escape from their home-bound lives and the rare chance for independence. Of course, with such industrial environments, injuries, and sometimes death, would occur. Noting the accounts of these kind of fatalities in historical articles, my research came full circle.

I found three strong threads to weave into my grave-robbing story—desperate doctors in need of research, a doctor’s assistant needing an escape from her village, and a mill, not only offering that escape, but the chance at bodies for the desperate medical community.

My heroine, Josie Clay, found life in the tangle of these threads of mills, medicine, and grave robbing—all playing out within the pages of The Yellow Lantern.


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

Genesis 5020, August 15

Seasons of Opportunities, August 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, August 15

Bigreadersite, August 16

Emily Yager, August 16

Inspired by fiction, August 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, August 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 17

Daysong Reflections, August 17

Retrospective Spines, August 18

Spoken from the Heart, August 18

Kathleen Denly, August 19

Through the Fire Blogs, August 19

Christian Bookaholic, August 19

Maureen’s Musings, August 20

For the Love of Literature, August 20

Simple Harvest Reads, August 21 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Godly Book Reviews, August 21

A Reader’s Brain, August 21

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 22

Betti Mace, August 22

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 22

Hallie Reads, August 23

Mary Hake, August 23

Inklings and notions, August 23

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 24

For Him and My Family, August 24

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, August 24

Connie’s History Classroom, August 25

Pause for Tales, August 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 26

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 26

amandainpa, August 26

Blossoms and Blessings, August 27

Texas Book-aholic, August 27

janicesbookreviews, August 27

Back Porch Reads, August 28

Just the Write Escape, August 28



To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of each of the books in the series!!Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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Listen without interruption.


I have to admit, more often than I like, I’m bad at this. I listen to correct or train my children. I listen to defend with certain people. I listen to encourage and empathize with others, but when do I just listen without interruption?


I have a friend who is going through some tough stuff … heartbreaking, tough stuff. And with her, I’m learning how to listen without interruption.

I admit to her I don’t have any answers. I don’t have encouragement to offer except, “I’m praying for you, all the time.”


Sometimes, our friends don’t need advice. They simply need us to listen. To care. To offer a hug or a shoulder or a brownie. To be quiet and let them talk.


How hard (or easy) is it for you to just listen when a friend is hurting … or just needs to be understood?


© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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I have told my kids from the time they were little that it’s not my job as their parent to make them happy; it’s my job to teach them the values and skills they need to be fully functioning adults.


After they get over the initial shock of thinking I don’t care about their happiness (I do, it’s just not my goal for their lives to be happy), they soon realize the condition of their soul is my primary focus.


As a result, our family has many conversations about values, morals, what would you do in different situations, as well as the “why” behind the direction …, and more. I have 18 years to introduce them to their Heavenly Father, teach them to put their trust in Him, learn to listen to His voice, and grow their heart to desire to obey His Word. Trust me when I say it’s over in a blink of an eye.


Once they have moved out of our house, my role will shift to one of, hopefully, friend. I will still be there for them, but instead of instructing and teaching, I will be there to encourage, guide, and if asked, offer wisdom from my experiences.


We currently have a 19-year-old who will be moving out at the end of the summer to finish college; a 16-year-old who has three more years left here at home before she leaves the nest; and a ten-year-old entering middle school.


With the oldest, the shift from “full-time parent” to encourager has already begun. We’re still here to offer our wisdom, but he can choose whether or not to take our advice. He is still under our banner of protection, but not to the degree as his siblings. More consequences fall on his own shoulders for the decisions he makes.


Our middle child is slowly gaining more freedom, as naturally occurs, and that will continue for the next three years. There are still many discussions about values and skills, but they are taking on a different flavor than they had previously.

Our youngest is still in the thick of being parented. While he continues to gain freedom (slowly), it’s not at the level of his siblings, which is age appropriate.


My husband and my goal is that when they grow up and move out, they will desire friendship with us as much as we desire it with them. Our parenting role will be finished and we get to enjoy their wonderful personalities – adult to adult, with maybe some spouses and eventually grandchildren mixed in as well!


What is your parenting philosophy? I’d love to hear how you’re doing it, or how you did it, with your own children in the comments below.


© Cheri Swalwell 2019



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Our pastor did a sermon series on parenting last summer, and he and his wife talked about the fun use of the “red plate.” Whoever in their family had a special achievement or a good day, they got to eat on the “red plate” and be celebrated.


My husband and I really liked that idea, so we decided to implement it in our house. We looked all over for our “red plate,” knowing it had to speak to our family, not imitate our pastor and his family.


We were given a beautiful Pampered Chef wooden plate that has the words “thankful, grateful, blessed.” It’s actually a cheese board but can be used in a variety of ways. We decided it would be perfect as our “red plate.”

In addition, I bought two of those felt message boards. You know the ones – you see them on Facebook announcing cute things or accomplishments.


I have tried to be intentional this year (I’m still a work in progress and miss the mark more times than I hit it) by celebrating the little as well as the big. Some of the things we have celebrated include:


  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Being picked to be a kindergarten helper
  • Induction into the National Honor Society
  • Graduating with an Associated before turning 19
  • Completing the C25K race
  • Publishing my book


I’m really trying this year to be more intentional about celebrating family this year. Big, little and things in between. Life is too short and I have spent too many years with Eeyore hanging over my shoulder.


I’m grateful to our pastor and his wife for reminding me not to take life too seriously and instead to celebrate more.


What about you? Do you like the idea of celebrating the big and little moments in life regularly? I’d love for you to comment below and share your ideas.


© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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I hate confrontation. I hate defending myself.


However, there have been specific times in my life when God has told me He will fight for me; I need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14), and other times when I have heard Him clearly that I need to confront in love.


One particular time that stands out occurred approximately a decade ago. There was a leader in our church that God was nudging me to talk to. I didn’t want to. I avoided it for weeks using the excuse I was still praying for confirmation. However, God loved me (and him) enough to keep inviting me to confront in love until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. After much prayer (and seeking godly counsel and prayer from those spiritually ahead of me), I called and asked for an appointment and then, feet dragging, went to have the dreaded conversation.

I’ll admit. It didn’t start out well. He was rushed, in a hurry, and wanted me to “get on with it.” However, I carefully chose my words, but used complete honesty, and said what I felt God wanted said. The conversation ended better than I could have expected. He apologized (which I didn’t go there for an apology – I went out of obedience), explained some things happening in his life, and I think God used that conversation as a wakeup call for him.


Except for the confronting part, it wasn’t a difficult conversation for me because I had no anger toward him. I had worked all that out with God ahead of time. I only went, as I said before, out of obedience to His nudging. I think it would have ended differently if I was harboring anger or unforgiveness and went with an agenda he had to fulfill for me to be satisfied.

Fast forward years later and once again, God nudged me that I needed to have a difficult conversation with someone in authority. This time, though, I was frustrated, and I questioned whether I was hearing God correctly or reacting out of negative emotions.


I sought godly counsel (asked my husband if this was something I should or shouldn’t do), prayed and asked God to allow me to pray with my prayer partner so I could have peace this was His leading and not me with ulterior motives. I hadn’t even finished that prayer and God hand-delivered my pastor to my gas pump who prayed with me on the spot! After that, I felt peace I was supposed to confront in love.


I covered the meeting in prayer up until it occurred, and then I started talking. The words that came out of my mouth were not what I had rehearsed. I said much more than I had planned … but the minute the other person responded to my “speech,” I knew God was completely in this conversation, the same way He had showed up years earlier.


Have you ever experienced a similar situation? Maybe you hate confrontation too, but after covering a “God nudge” with prayer and following through in obedience, you have seen God show up in ways that have His fingerprint all over them? I’d love to hear about your experience if you want to share in the comments below.


I still hate confrontation, conflict, and defending myself. However, I hate disobedience more … so when God invites me into a conversation, after I’m prayed up and have others praying with me, I’m willing to go where I don’t want to go knowing God will be there and do something amazing!


© Cheri Swalwell 2019

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