Archive for February, 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

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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



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.


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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

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Would you say the above statement is bold? A little crazy? Something you could do?


I know it’s something I want to do. I want to live in such a way that even if I’m struggling in a relationship, no one in my inner (or outer) circle will ever know. The way I talk about, talk to, and choose not to talk about that person would be the same as talking about my husband, children, or best friend.


In order to succeed, I need to implement a few rules. I need to make sure the person I go to vent to about the hurts I’m feeling is God … and no one else! He has big shoulders and can handle whatever feelings or emotions I’m experiencing – I do NOT need to ask my best friend or mom for advice on how to handle so and so.


I need to completely forgive whatever grudges I’m holding against that person. I need to make sure in my own mind and spirit I’m not allowing bitterness to grow. We all know how that happens, sometimes more so with women than men because we can’t seem to shut off our minds. We replay whatever happened over and over and over and over … rehashing what was done, our response, their response, how we should have responded, how they did respond, etc.

To that I say “enough!” When those thoughts threaten to overtake my mind and emotions, I choose to sing praise songs, pray, or think about something I enjoy … which eliminates the negativity from taking root.


Lastly, I need to pray blessings and favor over the person I’m struggling with. When you sincerely pray blessings over someone, it’s very hard to treat them negatively because blessings and curses cannot coincide with each other.


When I can successfully put these things into place, then I do live authentically according to the statement above. I live as though I have no problem with someone, because God has taken that hurt and “problem” and replaced it with love. And then the problem is gone.


© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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About the Book

Book: The Fifth Avenue Story Society

Author: Rachel Hauck

Genre: Fiction

Release Date: February 2020

An invitation to join The Fifth Avenue Story Society gives five New York strangers a chance to rewrite their own stories.

Executive assistant Lexa is eager for a much-deserved promotion, but her boss is determined to keep her underemployed.

Literature professor Jett is dealing with a broken heart, as well as a nagging suspicion his literary idol, Gordon Phipps Roth, might be a fraud.

Uber driver Chuck just wants a second chance with his kids.

Aging widower Ed is eager to write the true story of his incredible marriage.

Coral, queen of the cosmetics industry, has broken her engagement and is on the verge of losing her great grandmother’s multimillion-dollar empire.

When all five New Yorkers receive an anonymous, mysterious invitation to the Fifth Avenue Story Society, they suspect they’re victims of a practical joke. No one knows who sent the invitations or why. No one has heard of the literary society. And no one is prepared to bear their deepest secrets to a roomful of strangers.

Yet curiosity and loneliness bring them back week after week to the old library. And it’s there they discover the stories of their hearts, and the kind of friendship and love that heals their souls.



About the Author

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author.

She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club. She is also the recipient of RT’s Career Achievement Award.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.

Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or http://www.facebook.com/rachelhauck


Read an Excerpt

Read an excerpt here.


My Review of The Fifth Avenue Story Society:

I wanted to read this book because the back blurb sounded so interesting, so I was a tad disappointed that it took me awhile to get into the book. I felt, for me, it started out a little slow; however, I would encourage anyone else who feels that way to keep reading because by Chapter 11, I found I couldn’t put it down. I think the author had to start it slower than some other books in order to whet our appetites for the complexities of the characters, not to mention the list of main characters was five and secondary characters added even more length and depth. There were so many quotable moments from this novel and I would definitely not describe it as boring. The way the author showcased Jett’s childhood and heartbreaking memories to Lexa’s escape mechanisms … she did an excellent job describing and bringing the reader into each character’s past but also dropping clues for an amazing conclusion about their present and future. By the end of the book I loved each and every character for many different reasons … and I loved the twist about Coral, maybe, most of all. The twins’ birthday parties were written so well, I could literally see Trudy’s face. This is a book I am recommending to my friends to pick up and read. This is the type of book I want to read more of 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

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, February 10

The Avid Reader, February 10

Livin’ Lit, February 10

Genesis 5020, February 10

Locks, Hooks and Books, February 10

The Power of Words, February 11

A Baker’s Perspective, February 11

Rebecca Tews, February 11

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 11

Older & Smarter?, February 12

Seasons of Opportunities, February 12

Texas Book-aholic, February 12

Inklings and notions, February 12

deb’s Book Review, February 12

My Devotional Thoughts, February 13

Just the Write Escape, February 13

For Him and My Family, February 13

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, February 13

CarpeDiem, February 13

Remembrancy, February 14

Christian Bookaholic, February 14

Connect in Fiction, February 14

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 14

April Hayman, Author, February 14

Robin’s Nest, February 15

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 15

Britt Reads Fiction, February 15

Just Your Average reviews, February 15

Blogging With Carol, February 15

Batya’s Bits, February 16

Bigreadersite, February 16

A Reader’s Brain, February 16

Worthy2Read, February 16

Stories By Gina, February 16

Back Porch Reads, February 17

janicesbookreviews, February 17

Literary Reflections Book Blog, February 17

Inside the Wong Mind, February 17

Mary Hake, February 17

Through the fire blogs, February 18

Mia Reads, February 18

Baker Kella, February 18

EmpowerMoms, February 18

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, February 18

Maureen’s Musings, February 19

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 19

Coast and Anchor, February 19

Spoken from the Heart, February 19

SPLASHES of Joy, February 19

She Lives to Read, February 20

By The Book, February 20

Wishful Endings, February 20

Moments, February 20

Simple Harvest Reads, February 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Andrea Christenson, February 21

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 21

Pause for Tales, February 21

For The Love of Books, February 21

Lis Loves Reading, February 21

Reader’s Cozy Corner, February 22

Hallie Reads, February 22

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 22

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, February 22

To Everything There Is A Season, February 22

Godly Book Reviews, February 23

Daysong Reflections, February 23

SusanLovesBooks, February 23

Lights in a Dark World, February 23


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God nudges

I decided in September to try something new … and it was a God nudge that started it. I decided I was going to keep my eyes and ears open 24/7 for God nudges, and when I felt one, I would act on it, whether or not I wanted to.


Now, while I didn’t do this perfectly, I did react to God nudges more than previously. And it was fun! Who doesn’t want to enter into an “I’m listening, God,” game every day.


Some of the nudges included texting friends when they came to mind to let them know I was thinking about them (or more importantly to let them know God was thinking about them) or baking brownies or something else yummy for my contractor as a thank you for all the extra work he did to help us get the repairs for our house. Setting boundaries and using the word “no” more often than usual because God was inviting me into a busier-than-usual writing season and I needed time (and energy) to accomplish that.

Sometimes, though, God would nudge and I was either too tired, too embarrassed, too stubborn, or too lazy to want to follow through. And I regret those times.


I love living my life in tune with God’s nudges. Like I said, I don’t have a perfect track record, but I do know when I listen, He blesses me. And when I don’t, I regret it.


Just remember though, God doesn’t nudge us to do anything that doesn’t line up with the Bible. The things He nudges us to accomplish draw people to Him, not away from Him.


Have you ever been nudged by God … and if you have, do you follow through right away, does it take some convincing, or do you ignore it?


© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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Our family experienced some difficulties a few months ago. As I’m sure happens with most people who are going through trials, while you’re in them, you don’t really have time to process, analyze, or wonder “why” because you’re so busy putting out fires, taking a breath before the next wave hits, or trying to build a storm shelter because the tsunami isn’t letting up anytime soon.


One day toward the end of the trial, I was having a conversation with one of my kids (one who was dealing head-on with some of the struggles) and mentioned that since we could now see a light at the end of the tunnel, maybe God was ready to start using that child to encourage someone else who was going through something similar.

He thought for a minute and shared with me how he had actually done that toward the beginning of the storm that was brewing, before the full eruption.


That was a great reminder to me. Whether you are of the mindset that God allows trials to build our character, trials come exclusively due to sin in this world, or another reason why humans suffer, one thing we can all agree on is this: God doesn’t waste suffering. If we stay pliable and allow God to use us as He wants to during or even after the storm, our suffering hasn’t been wasted.


You can share with others how God helped you through the storms in your life and when they are done with their storm, they can “pay it forward” and share with another how God helped them … and the circle continues.


If storms have crashed into your life, take heart. Be encouraged. Ask God to bring someone who can encourage you through your storm … and then be ready to encourage someone else in their storm. It is only then when storms aren’t wasted and instead God gets the glory!


© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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I lived the majority of my life not really understanding the difference between grace and works. Maybe it was because I was younger and my brain wasn’t fully developed (and maybe my brain takes longer than most people’s to connect the dots), but I had a hard time grasping the difference between “works” (serving God) and “faith” (salvation which is freely given).


It was difficult for me not to feel “extra good” when things were going well. My thoughts were along the lines of, “Look at how obedient I am. God must be extra happy with me and I’m going to be blessed!”


The same was true, though, when I was in the valley and I found myself praying “Why do I always do what I don’t want to do and not do what I want to do?” I’d think all I need is a little more self-control and then I’ll be “good” again. During those times I’d automatically feel as though God hated me, was mad at me, and was ready to punish me.


I wish I could sit here and tell you what caused the shift for me, but I can’t. I think it was more gradual and then finally, one day, without my realizing it, it all clicked into place. I stopped striving to “do” for God and started enjoying just “being” with God. I gave up.

Instead of striving and pushing myself and creating impossible rules to follow, and then even more rules when I failed to successfully complete the first set of rules, I started to do things because I wanted to please Him. I think I finally understood how much He loves me, really loves me, and when someone loves you despite how many mistakes you continually make, and you can feel that love in your heart as well as know it in your head, it changes you.


It was then I started doing things for God because I wanted to please Him. Not because I wanted Him to love me more, but because of how much I loved Him. That mind shift changed everything. There was freedom in how I served God because I wasn’t doing it to follow some imaginary rule. I was doing it as a gift, an offering, a way of saying “thank You” for what He’s done for me.


There’s freedom in that mind shift. Now when I serve God and it goes well, I know He doesn’t love me anymore than He did that morning. And when I fail (and I still do, often!) I have the freedom to give myself grace and try again the next day.


Where do you fall on the imaginary line of “do” versus “be?”


© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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Last summer there was a hail storm in our area, and as a result, we received a major blessing of having our roof and siding replaced late fall. I work from home and knew ahead of time, our dog probably wouldn’t like the banging, people in the yard, and extra chaos in our normally quiet, boring days.


But, I did think he would eventually get used to them and STOP barking! Every single day. Every single time they took a break or left to get lunch and came back … every single time he would start back up again as though he was hearing the noise for the first time.


However, I knew the place where the barking was coming from – protecting our family (although the workers were so polite and nice, I didn’t need protection), a little bit of fear mixed in with not knowing what all the banging was about (maybe), and just feeling unsettled. Because I could easily understand his feelings, I didn’t get upset with the constant barking for almost two weeks. I was able to comfort and not let it get under my skin. I was able to stay out of the turmoil he was experiencing and be that “safe place” for him instead.

I’m the same way when babies cry. While I do what I can to help them stop (change diapers, feed, rock), sometimes babies just cry. They have emotions that get pent up like the rest of us and sometimes they need to get it out. Their main form of communication is crying.


Before you think I’m painting myself as a saint, I hate to admit it, but I’m not as patient with other people, people I think should “know” better. People who can communicate with words, yet choose not to. People who … are just being people. My children tell me I’m not very sympathetic (at times) and while I try, sometimes I think they simply want to be heard and not have whatever is wrong turned into a life lesson. I’m very guilty of that.


I’ve come to the conclusion this morning that I’m going to take the approach with people that I do with my dog. Sometimes, when people are constantly “barking,” or their bark is a little too loud, instead of trying to fix them, getting irritated with the noise, or ignoring them altogether, maybe God will remind me they’re just trying to be heard … and He will stop me long enough to let them know I’m here to listen.


© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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A few months ago I was struggling, really struggling. Something happened to someone close to me (Don’t you find it easier to ‘let it go’ when the hurt has happened to you instead of someone you love?) and it was my responsibility to do something about it. I prayed, prayed some more, and for extra measure prayed even more before taking action. I knew that the action I was taking was justified and even necessary, but that didn’t make it easy.


I did what I needed to do, kept the issue between our family and the parties involved, and then it should have been over … only it wasn’t. I get the feeling the enemy wasn’t too happy that I took the problem to God and handled it His way, so he was going to do what he does best, and use my own emotions against me. The problem was … while I had given the problem to God, I was willfully holding onto the anger.


If I had asked others’ opinions, they might have told me I was justified to be angry. They might have said I get a free pass this time, or this instance is the exception to the rule and supported me in my anger. But, the problem is … I knew better. I know what God says about anger, and unforgiveness, and He doesn’t give us a free pass. He doesn’t make exceptions.

I’m close enough in my walk with God to know that holding onto unforgiveness, bitterness, refusing to let it go or pray for the person who wronged the one I love becomes a sin that separates me from my Heavenly Father. And I felt every square inch of that separation. And I found I couldn’t pray.


How could I pray when I was willfully and wrongfully holding onto anger? I couldn’t. Thankfully my stubbornness only lasted a few days. I couldn’t stand to be out of God’s favor. I couldn’t stand to have distance between me and my Heavenly Father.


So one night I made the choice. I told God I would give Him my anger … and probably have to give it to Him again tomorrow … and probably again in another five minutes … but I was going to give it to Him until I didn’t feel it anymore.


It’s been a little over a month now … and I can honestly say the unforgiveness and anger are gone. Not because they magically disappeared. But because I made the choice to forgive, and forgive again and forgive again until forgiveness was greater than the initial anger.


While the incident I’m talking about occurred in a short period of time, the person who wronged the one I love showed remorse and asked for forgiveness, and I have seen a heart change in that person. One could say that makes it easier to forgive and let go of the anger. And I would have to agree.


I have other issues in my life I’m dealing with repeatedly and it’s harder to forgive. I’ll forgive one incident … and then something happens again a week, a month later and I have to choose forgiveness all over again. And I do … most of the time. And when I don’t, God lovingly reminds me what the alternative is … emotional separation from Him until I get my heart right.


I don’t have answers at this point for those types of forgiveness situations, except that again, in the Bible, there are no exceptions and no free passes. Whether someone needs forgiveness extended once or a million times, it is not for us to decide. It’s simply for us to forgive.


What I’m still having a conversation with God about is how to set up appropriate/healthy boundaries for all parties involved. To where I can forgive, have a healthy relationship and yet not continue to put myself in situations where I’ll be hurt (or someone I love will be hurt).


The only thing I know for sure is this … I can’t pray and stay angry at the same time. Can you?


© Cheri Swalwell 2020

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