Today, I’d like to introduce you to Christian author, Cheri Swalwell. Cheri is an incredibly sweet person, and she writes books designed to help hurting people. She has a true heart for God, and I feel very honored to have the opportunity to interview her.
Danele: Hello, Cheri! Thank you for being with us today!
Cheri: Thank you so much for having me, Danele. I’m so glad God allowed us to meet when I discovered one of your blogs on Facebook. Like you, I love dragonflies too…and God incidences!
Danele: God really is awesome! That dragonfly incident was one of the most amazing moments of my life. (For those of you who haven’t read about the dragonfly, you can find the story on the “Welcome!” page of my blog.) Now, Cheri, I’d love to learn more about you. My illness taught me the importance of trusting God—have you experienced something that’s helped you trust the Lord?
Cheri: I’ve been a Christian since I was six years old, and I learned back then it was a relationship, not a religion. However, it wasn’t until I had been married seven years and I had the courage to ask God, “Do I really trust You?” that He began showing me what a real relationship with Him involves. It was fall of 2006, and I was in a women’s Bible study at church. The subject of trusting God had come up, and as I was driving home, I asked Him, “God, do I really trust You? I don’t think I do,” and I remember being afraid of His answer. (If that doesn’t answer the question of trust, I don’t know what does.) I remember telling Him, “I want to trust You, but please be gentle with me in the process.”
Danele: What happened then?
Cheri: Two months later my husband and I found out that I was pregnant with our third child—one planned by God, not by us. One day shy of the twelve-week mark, I lost the baby. Two months later, we began what has been an eight year (so far) journey with chronic illness affecting my husband. Then, in August 2013, my job began a downsizing that was finalized February 1, 2015 with a complete job loss (I like to say job transition).
Danele: Oh, Cheri! I’m so sorry! That must have been incredibly hard!
Cheri: Yes. However, God used all those circumstances in my life (you could say I’m a slow learner) to help me learn how to let go of fear and instead replace it with faith in Him. He also taught me just how much He loves me and who I’m truly working for—not bosses on earth, but Him. I haven’t perfectly learned every lesson He’s wanted to teach me, but I have been obedient and this work in progress is willing to continue learning.
Danele: I love how God brings us triumphantly through all of our hardships. I really love Psalm 30:5b, “Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” It’s nice to know that hardships will always pass away and joy will always return. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
Cheri: I have many favorite Bible verses, but one that God gave me in the spring of 2013, just a few months before He allowed the second phase of my family’s journey to begin, was Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV): “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 only need to be still.’” There were so many symbolic “Egyptians” in my life at that time—I would take time every morning to name them while praying this prayer over my life, and it truly helped me to realize just how much God loves each of us and wants to fight for us. We are never alone when we are His children.
Danele: That’s lovely Cheri. It’s nice to know that we don’t have to be afraid even when surrounded by problems. Can you tell us a little bit more about how God helped you through that difficult time in your life?
Cheri: As I mentioned before, I didn’t fly through our miscarriage, my husband’s chronic illness, or my job loss effortlessly. I was human and showed God human emotions—anger, fear, sadness, depression, even a few pity parties. However, He was always faithful in patiently bringing me back to what He wanted me to learn. And He gave me plenty of practice until those characteristics were a new way of life for me. I can honestly say that while the trials I’ve experienced the last several years haven’t always been pleasant, and at times downright scary, I’m so glad God allowed my family to walk through them. We have empathy we wouldn’t have otherwise. God created good from what Satan meant for evil, and I have a closeness with God that might never have gotten to this level had I not had to press in and really make the choice—do I trust Him or not? And the icing on the cake? While I miss my child that I never got to meet, I have a baby waiting for me in Heaven for all of eternity, and I know that God is the best babysitter of all time. I truly believe that when I die and meet Jesus face to face, He will greet me with the little one who was always His to begin with.
Danele: I love how God helps us through sad times, and He also helps us through scary times. Has God ever helped you when you were afraid?
Cheri: Yes, He has. I will never forget one particular night. The first Monday in January 2015, I received the email from my boss that my job would be terminated in less than 30 days. I will admit—I was scared! The next night I rode with my husband and our youngest child to get gas while our older two stayed home. It was supposed to be a quick trip, less than 10 minutes. As we were driving down a very familiar road, my husband let up on the gas briefly because we saw police cars in the driveway of a house. Two seconds later, a herd of deer (not just one or two) ran across the road in front of our car, directly in the path of my husband and our five-year-old’s car doors. If God hadn’t allowed the police cars to slow us down, my husband and/or my son would have been dead. I was shaken, but at the same time I felt as though God was saying to me, “If I can protect your loved ones from this—don’t you think I will protect your family from a job loss?”
Cheri: If that wasn’t enough, three days later we woke up to a blizzard. My husband chose to call into work that morning (something he never does) and our children had snow days as well. While we were tucked into our house nice and warm, we heard of a hundred car pileup on the highway—killing several, injuring many, leaving hundreds stranded. Once again, God said to me, “I protected Bill again from injury—I have your situation under control, Cheri. Just trust Me.” I believe that God protects us more often than we realize, and I truly believe He “lifted the veil” on those particular days to show me just how much He loves me and that He was in charge of the job loss.
Danele: That’s really beautiful. Have there been other times when God has given you a definite feeling of peace?
Cheri: Yes. Every year I ask God for a word for the next year. The word He gave me for 2015 was “hope.” I didn’t really want hope–I thought that meant I would still be working toward my goals, and I was tired. I wanted to see results. However, He showed me hope is so much more. My word for 2016 is “peace.” I am so grateful to have the word “peace.” One – I’ve learned never to be ungrateful for a word God chooses to give you. Second – Peace is a person (Jesus) and God has allowed me to experience His peace in different circumstances in my life. The circumstances may not have changed, but when God’s peace floods me, there is no better feeling in the world. I am choosing in 2016 to ask for God’s peace whenever life throws a curve ball instead of automatically hitting the panic button. I’m not perfect at this, but I’m slowly improving with each chance to practice. God’s peace is indescribable but once you’ve had the privilege of experiencing it, you want it again and again and again.
Danele: Cheri, thank you so much for sharing your heart with us! Before I let you go, I’d like to talk with you about your writing. Can you give us a list of the books you have written?
Cheri: Sure! I’ve written: Hope During Heartache and the Spoken from the Heart Series.
Danele: There are several books in the Spoken from the Heart Series, aren’t there?
Cheri: Yes. Journey from Fear to Faith, Taking it to the Next Level, Digging Deeper, Parenting 101 (Volumes 1-4), Connections, Blessed By His Love, Embracing the Adventure, and The Adventure Continues.
Danele: I know that three of your books speak directly about your job loss. Can you tell us more about them?
Cheri: A blessing God gave out of the trial of job transition from 2013 through 2015 was my books: Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith, Spoken from the Heart: Embracing the Adventure, and Spoken from the Heart: The Adventure Continues. These books are about learning how to trust God through trials in our lives. They chronicle the journey my family took, but they are relevant to any trial people face, not just job loss (transitions).
Danele: Can you give us links where we can find them?
Cheri: Of course! Spoken from the Heart: Journey from Fear to Faith: http://amzn.to/1PiQRf5 Spoken from the Heart: Embracing the Adventure: http://amzn.to/1NB3phk Spoken from the Heart: The Adventure Continues: http://amzn.to/1NK4r8o
Danele: Your books sound really special! Cheri, thank you so much for being with us today! I really enjoyed talking with you!
Cheri: Thank you so much, Danele, for allowing me this privilege. I’m so glad God allowed us to meet!
Friends, Cheri is a really wonderful person! If you would like to read more about her or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!