Freedom to Steward Wealth

Noelle Schwantes

Today is the day.  I’ve been spending a lot of time with God lately in preparation for this weekend.  On some level it feels like a turning point.  A start of something new and at the same time a continuation of things that have been growing since I was a child. This morning God woke me up earlier than I wanted but what He put on my heart was worth it.  There is a strong peace and a sense that this weekend will be powerful in ways we can’t foresee ahead of time.  I feel His gentle confirmation that He will show up in powerful ways.

I’m not writing this blog to urge everyone to come, but I am urging those of you who have felt a tug on your heart to come. If He’s asking you to come it is because He has something for you and this weekend is a part of His calling on your life.  We believe you will get amazing things from Him.  If you make sacrifices to come He will bless and make it worth it.  I’m not asking you to take my word for it, but to seek Him and feel the confirmation of this.  If He wants you there, we want you there.

I feel yielded to Him in ways I have not experienced before and I want you to be a part of it.  This issue has a history of causing agony in my life and I took it for granted that it was just how things were.  Most everyone struggled the ways I did. I believe with every fiber in me that our struggle is because we have not fully believed in the promises of God.  We are provided for elaborately when we believe.

If He’s tugging on your heart, please come.  We want you to experience what He has for you. He is so amazingly good.

Some final details.  Registration is from 4:00-4:30 today at Embassy Suites in the Hamilton Mall area. We felt impressed to prepare for more than are registered so there is plenty of space for you.  If you decide to come at the last minute you are welcome and there is a space for you.  Our preparation has been directed by God and has defied logic and any sort of marketing or business plan so we’re quite curious to see what He has in store!  You can click here to register online and get details of the weekend, or you can register onsite. We can’t wait to see you and we are waiting with breathless expectancy to hear and see what God does in your life. Until then…

Freedom to Steward Wealth

Financial FreedomNoelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

Something has shifted in me over the weekend.  God and I had a “come to Jesus” talk because there was something in my blind spot.  Well, God has cleared that up and now I’m supposed to get clear with you about it.  I’m nervous.

I’m nervous because I don’t want to be accused of preaching “prosperity gospel.”  I’m not and I think the whole concept of loving Jesus so we can be rich is ridiculous. When you really fall in love with Jesus and start having an amazing walk with him, the idea of something being better or more important is just silly.  If you think I’m wrong, you’re probably still a bit stuck in religion rather than a relationship.

So here’s the deal.  The Financial Freedom Workshop has a particular focus.  I’ve been unclear about it because what God has put on my heart is` a bit controversial.  See, I’m still tiptoeing around it!  OK, here it is, really.

The Financial Freedom Workshop is for people who are interested in hearing the voice of God as it relates to their finances.  Who are ready to be launched into stewarding wealth for Kingdom purposes. Who believe somewhere in their hearts that they aren’t meant to toil and be a slave to debt, bills, or the American dream.  For people who want freedom in this area regardless of the size of their bank accounts or debts. For people who are ready to see God move in powerful ways in this and other areas of their lives.

I don’t believe in Jesus as some magic genie who will shower riches if we rub the lamp the right amount of times.  But here’s the nuance: I do believe God is looking for people who are so faithful to Him, so sold out, that they’re safe to steward large resources to be used for His glory.  Think, Parable of the Talents and Joseph for example.  I don’t know that this workshop is for everyone.

But here is what I suggest; if you read this and it strikes a chord.  If something in you stands at attention or lights up for a minute, I hope you’ll make it a matter of prayer and remove whatever obstacles would hinder you from making it. I believe God has brought us to this workshop for such a time as this and there will be healing and miracles in the ways He sets us free this weekend.  I’ll share a little bit of those details at the beginning of the workshop.

If you’re in, here are the basic details.  It is held at The Embassy Suites on Friday April 11 from 4-8pm and Saturday April 12 from 9-6pm.  Registration will be open from 4:00-4:30pm on Friday but you can click here to register online. (Which is of course a big help to us.) :)

If you aren’t going to be at the workshop but you have been following this blog and involved in the other ministries of String of Pearls, we would covet your prayers.  Thank you for your support; for the emails, comments, and questions we receive.  We are building and growing as a result of your support and God is being glorified as He sets us free.

We hope to see you this weekend!

 

Location for Workshop!!

Today we just wanted to update you about the upcoming workshop.  When we originally began posting and marketing this workshop we didn’t have a location yet!  We were so committed to making it happen though we went forward with faith and boldness. :)  We are happy to announce this week that the Financial Freedom Workshop will be held at  Embassy Suites in the Hamilton Mall area of Chattanooga.  This is a beautiful new hotel and those of you who attend the workshop will hear about the amazing way God brought this about.  So for this week, we simply ask you to click here for updated details about the workshop.  You can register online and reserve your seat now.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Financial Freedom Workshop

Racing heart

          Sweat

                Choking fear

                        Head in a vise

                               Shame

                                     Gut clenching

                                              Blinding panic

                                                        Pride

                                                              Anger

                                                                      Envy.  

These are a few of the words used by different people to describe their feelings around money. You may be surprised to know that these were feelings described by people who had a lot of money as well as those who had very little.  We have found the feelings to be almost universal and String of Pearls has a passion to see that change.

Fear Quote

String of Pearls is committed to seeing individuals obtain and live in freedom spiritually, emotionally, physically, and financially.  Often though, while we have seen many come to freedom in their physical, emotional, and spiritual health, finances are an area where many still struggle.  There are thousands of books on how to manage money and many people have read them and aren’t able to follow through.  They now know what to do with their money and the shame deepens as they make another poor investment or go back into debt…again.  What is the missing link?

We at String of Pearls believe that much of the missing link is simply coming into the light.  Shining it on your shame and fear and watching them disappear.  What would you give to have peace around your money situation regardless of the circumstances and get rid of the blocks that keep you from having more of it?

Emotional Freedom

String of Pearls is pleased to announce our Financial Freedom workshop  scheduled for April 11 and 12, 2014. 

In this workshop you will learn to…

  • Identify faulty beliefs around money and erase their power over you
  • Identify blocks to hearing directly from God and remove them
  • Learn how to give without guilt
  • Obtain boundaries so you are not ever manipulated into giving when it doesn’t feel right
  • Identify your purpose and pick investments in line with God’s calling on your life
  • Set a Biblical foundation for beliefs about money (that is guaranteed to surprise you.)
  • Address and clear shame in regard to finances
  • Practice listening to God
  • Leave the workshop with peace
  • If you wish, leave the workshop with coaching in place to solidify learning and implement new tools.

Noelle Upper Body - Smile

For many years our presenter, Noelle Schwantes, would have used the same terms from the top of the page to describe her relationship with money.  The road to financial freedom is one she’s particularly passionate about because for years fears about money defined her every waking moment.  These fears and the shame about poor money habits defined all her decisions and drove her further into poor habits to cope with the negative feelings.

At one of the worst times in her life she cried out to God.  She was separated from her first husband.  She shared a cramped and dingy basement apartment and was working as a server at a restaurant because she couldn’t emotionally handle the job her degree had trained her for.  She was broke and driving an unsafe car and became hysterical when unplanned expenses came up.  She describes waking up at night with what felt like a python curling in her belly.  In a word, she was desperate.  She prayed that God would teach her financial surrender or that he would allow her to die.

2012-12-21 19.16.03

He didn’t allow her to die (Something you may have deduced since she’s the presenter for the workshop!) and she no longer has a snake in her belly!  Instead, God taught her a series of amazing lessons that have led to freedom from compulsive spending, preparation for habits that lead to wealth, peace around finances REGARDLESS of what her bank balance looks like, and a conviction on knowing that there is work to be done and God is looking for people to financially bless. She is thrilled to get this chance to share the amazing lessons God has taught her and looks forward to see freedom spreading!

Date: April 11, 4-8pm and April 12, 9-6pm

Cost: $25.00 Non-Refundable Fee to Reserve Your Space.

Location: Embassy Suites Chattanooga — Hamilton Place

Address: 2321 Lifestyle Way, Chattanooga, TN 37421

Directions: Click here

So you have decided you’d really like to do this workshop but feel some frustration because it seems like everyone who would like to teach you how to deal with money wants you to pay them thousands of dollars to do it.  This workshop is different.  There are limited spots as this is an experiential workshop so the $25.00 will cover materials and make sure we attract individuals who are serious about this area of freedom.

At the end of the workshop, there will be an exercise that will allow you to pay a workshop fee based on what you feel you got out of it in combination with what you feel God is speaking to your heart.  We are excited about this payment plan because it means that we are accountable for delivering excellence and you are able to practice skills you’ve learned in a tangible and powerful way.

If you have ever felt fear or shame around finances.  If you feel trapped because of your financial situation.  If you long for things to be different.  If you feel called to do something but face financial obstacles, this workshop is for you.  Reserving your seat now could change your life.  We look forward to seeing you there.

 

Freedom: The Plot Thickens

20 Dollar Bill

Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

It started a couple weeks ago on Friday night while listening to a sermon by Bill Johnson titled, “The Theology of Blessing.” The sermon was great and I highly recommend it, but one phrase in particular nailed me to the wall.  Pastor Johnson asks the question, “How much (money) is too much?  I don’t know, it’s whatever amount causes you to withdraw your trust from God and place it in money.”

WHAM.

Those of you who follow the blog know that I have been sharing about our journey lately specifically as it relates to a promise of stewarding wealth and how ridiculous that seems lately due to our current financial circumstances.  Back when we heard about the lay-off I began to pray that this would be the time that God brought us into our callings more fully. I felt I was ready.

Well, Bill changed all that in one sentence. In an instance I knew that when I have a lot of money in the bank my trust is in the money.  I naturally feel more peaceful and confident with a fat bank account.  Maybe some of you are saying “that’s normal”…I would gently respond that it is not the walk of faith.  We are called to walk by God’s promises and not what we see in the natural realm.  This blog is about freedom and to be true freedom, it  has to work under all circumstances.  It has to be something that can’t be taken away from us.   It is my belief that to be ready to steward wealth and know in my soul that it’s God’s means I have to be able to trust Him and rest fully in the lean times.

So all of a sudden I’m at an impasse, something I have no idea how to fix.  I blurted out upon hearing that sermon, “Well God, take it all then if that’s what it takes to learn this lesson.” Crazy maybe, but I ACHE to be in the calling God placed on my heart all those years ago and this is part of the puzzle.  Every time I sought God about this I felt a strong impression that He was not going to reveal any new direction until January.  Strange, but this impression has come consistently with my prayers. And so the ache continued without clear answers, just a knowing that I was to stand firm.

Now let me back up a bit…since this journey began there have always been options.  Savings, stocks, increase work hours, etc.  But I’ve been able to stay relatively calm because there were options.  I may not like them but they were there.  I have always been able to figure something out.

Coming back to current events, Marcel found out that the unemployment we made a part of our current budget was over the last week in December. We thought we had 6 months. This knowledge came just days after my prayer to take everything if it is what I needed to learn this lesson.

It appears God is answering my prayer.  In the next blogs I’ll share more about what has happened thus far in January.

How much money does it take to replace your trust in God?

What  happens when you find you’re out of options?

Freedom to Wrestle

Financial FreedomNoelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

Many many years ago God told me I would be wealthy one day.  This blog is not a debate about how God speaks to us.  You’ll just have to take my word for it that it came out of nowhere and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Him.  I was horribly poor at the time and when I heard it, my head immediately jerked up to look at the sky and I muttered, “Well don’t give it to me now, I can’t be trusted with it.”  Despite the fact that I had very little, whenever I did get something extra I spent it on clothes, books, movies…you get the idea.  Credit cards were my friend. Money was used to fund my emotional needs and compulsions.  In a nutshell, I knew I was not to be trusted with a lot of resources.

Despite my financial dysfunction, I did know that I was only to be a steward of whatever resources God gave me. Saying I would be wealthy was a fallacy of sorts because I knew that as a steward of a lot of money, it would be God’s and not mine.  Over the years I have never doubted what I heard and I was never anxious to see the fulfillment of the word because I had so much to learn in that area.  It has taken the almost 15 years to learn financial surrender and trust and recently those lessons have been refined by some fire! (The book I’m working on and workshop String of Pearls is planning are both based on these lessons.)  Much of our current circumstances are consequences of the years that I didn’t trust God for financial provision.  Even though I have not lived on credit for quite awhile now, we are still digging out of the debt hole that came because I wanted what I wanted and didn’t trust God to supply. And truly, the debt is insurmountable in our current circumstances.

Recently I realized that every financial lesson I’m aware of God putting in front of me, I have surrendered to and been faithful to.  I do not spend compulsively, I pray about purchases big and small before making them…Seriously, I ask permission before buying ice cream.  We don’t trust in debt or use credit cards.  If we can’t pay cash we don’t get it. The lessons continue and I’m not perfect by far, but I am surrendered. For the first time since hearing that word from God I have felt that I would be able to be a trustworthy steward.  I started looking to God for the fulfillment of His promise to me.

And then Marcel got laid off.  We lived on savings for almost 6 months always expecting that any day, God was going to show up with our miracle.

I was reading in Jeremiah 20:7-12 this morning and I feel like him right now.  God’s words to me burn in my belly, but right now they look absolutely foolish.  When I see my husband’s pain and questions I ache. When I realize that without any debt we would be just fine I struggle with intense shame for the moments when a meal at J. Alexanders was more important than trusting God.

So I will not make that mistake again.  This blog series is a defiant proclamation that I will trust even if the heavens fall.  I refuse to live a Christian walk that is not sold out in dependence on God’s promises and I demand and expect Him to fulfill them.  Even if I limp the rest of my life, I will not let go until God blesses me.  So keep reading this series and see how God handles that!

What are the ways you are desperate for God to show up right now?

What blessing is worth wrestling/limping for?

Freedom from Humiliation

photo-2Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP

I’ve found it difficult to write my promised series lately because I keep running into topics I’m hesitant to share about.  Case in point, this journey we’re on has led to a sojourn in the house of my parents.  We are renting our house out to lovely ladies we care about because we can’t afford it right now.  We share a cozy loft room and I realize after my time with God today that Satan has gotten a little foothold in my heart by whispering horrible things in my ears.  You see I have turned down a lucrative job lately and continued to keep the hours in my private practice limited.  When talking about it I have told Marcel, “That’s why God gave me the boobies.”  I am very clear that my first priority is to Joseph.  But we have made some significant sacrifices to lean into that. Marcel is working full time to build up his coaching and consulting practice rather than go to corporate jobs he is less than thrilled about.  God is clearly moving but it all takes time.

I read someone venting on Facebook the other day about how a mom was using food stamps and had a Coach purse.  We have considered applying for food stamps and I have a few Coach purses and drive a Lexus! These used to be things I could afford and still live well under our means.  There have been many temptations to give into shame…The funny thing about this time period is how fully it has shifted any care I have about material things.  I’m grateful for my fancy purses because of the quality that doesn’t wear out.  And for our fancy car that is one of the most dependable on the market.  But the car is for sale and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest to lose my purses, clothes, etc. (OK, the clothes would hurt!)

So while I battle voices of condemnation, I get quiet and shed a few tears this morning as I talk to God about it and He says this…

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced.” Isaiah 54:4

and this…

“Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold I will do something new.” Isaiah 43:19

We know the callings that God has put on our lives, we know that He loves faith, and we know He has promised to care for us.  We are not always certain that we are taking the right steps; we are toddlers on this faith journey.  There are times when we falter and agree that our choices lately are crazy.  But peace is in our hearts and we trust God’s grace to work for our good even if we are misguided!  It is amazing to walk with a God who promises to bring good out of everything!  So we walk one step at a time, grateful to family and friends who support us and look forward to the new things that God has in store.

What new things is God doing in your lives?

How does it feel to have God say you won’t be put to shame?

What are the ways God is asking you to let go of the past?

Freedom: Faith Not Sight

Faith

Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

I’ve been thinking about faith a lot lately.  Maybe because it is being required of me in larger doses than ever before.

Several months before Joseph was born Marcel was told he would be laid off of his lucrative corporate job.  When Marcel prayed he felt impressed that his job would last through May even though he was told it would only last through February.  His final day at work was approximately a week before Joseph made his appearance…in May.  He left being able to cash out his vacation, we had insurance until the end of the month, and he received a severance.  It was a slice of humble pie for my very accomplished husband who now began to seek God pretty diligently to understand how to care for us.

A few months later he got a call from a former colleague that the employees had all been let go with no notice, no severance, no nothing…the company had folded.  It was a rather dramatic example of how we were cared for even when it didn’t feel that way.  We’ve been pretty quiet about it, only sharing the details with close friends and family.  But recently, as I’ve studied the impact faith had on Jesus when he walked this planet, I thought about stretching my faith by writing about the gory details we’ve walked through, before we see the miracles.

I don’t want to just survive this time and I don’t want to feel sheepish that I didn’t trust when we’ve come through this time and seen the amazing ways God provided.

So with the support of my sweet husband, I will be writing the next few posts about the snippets of our lives in this challenging time. We pray and trust that when amazing things happen, it will be clear that there is a God who watches over us and organizes details we never could have imagined.  And we hope that our journey will impact yours as well.  Rest well friends.

Financial Freedom: Workshop Opportunity

-Noelle Schwantes, LPC,MHSP,NCC

Financial Freedom

Heart Racing                                                      Sweat

Choking Fear                                                          Head in a Vise

                                            Shame

     Gut clenched                                                                                                      Envy

Blinding Panic                               Pride

                                                                                               Rage

 

These are some of the words people have used to describe their feelings around money.  You might be surprised to know that these words are used by people who have a lot of money as well as those who have very little of it.

Often, while we may come to freedom in our physical, emotional, and Spiritual health, this is an area that many still struggle with.  There are thousands of books on how to manage it and many people have read them and aren’t able to follow through.  They now know what to do with their money and the shame deepens as they make another poor investment or go back into debt…again.  What is the missing link?

Wouldn’t you like to have peace around your money situation regardless of the circumstances and get rid of the blocks that keep you from having more of it?

String of Pearls is pleased to announce our Financial Freedom workshop tentatively scheduled for late January, 2014. 

This experiential workshop is designed to measure your beliefs around money, give you a Biblical perspective of what God meant it to be, and clear away the issues that hold you in bondage in this area.  You should be warned though that the workshop is designed to access deeply held beliefs that may be hard to face.  It will be life changing, but the String of Pearls team is interested in attracting participants who are ready to dig in deep and allow God to change hearts and wallets!

In celebration of the first String of Pearls manuscript based on these concepts, String of Pearls is offering the workshop for only $99.00 per person and $150.00 per couple. Please contact Noelle if you are interested in attending and she will put you on a contact list.  You can reach her at noelle@stringofpearls3.com.  We’ll look forward to hearing from you!

 

Spiritual and Emotional Freedom: French Silk Pie

Spiritual Freedom-Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC (Written 2/12/13)

It is the middle of the night and I am sitting in my comfy chair with an amazing soft blanket over my lap, feeling my baby kick, and enjoying a piece of French Silk pie, recipe courtesy of The Slow Roasted Italian.  One bite at a time, I’m savoring every smooth, rich moment.  I began craving a piece of this pie in my first trimester but due to constant nausea, it wasn’t an option.  I got pneumonia over Christmas and cut out sugar completely. (Although I will always love a good dessert, sugar cravings have not been an issue since taking Ambrotose.  Feel free to click here and check it out.  I highly recommend it.) Instead of pie, I was eating fresh garlic to kick the infection without having to use antibiotics.  (ick)  This past weekend I found a recipe for what sounded like the perfect pie from The Slow Roasted Italian. It was time to make the long awaited pie.

You wouldn’t know by this idyllic picture that I woke up in fear tonight.  You see, things have changed recently in our financial picture.  When we look at it with Spiritual eyes, we’re thrilled, when we look at it with human eyes, we’re scared.  And tonight, I was scared.  After trying to fall back asleep for an hour I gave up, came into my office, and pulled out my journal.

Here’s the short version…

* I realized I was scared of our finances changing to the point that we can’t afford our iPhones or going out to eat.

(Strangely, house payments or labor and delivery charges are not what scared me.  Those are necessities and God promised to cover those. “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers-most of which are never even seen-don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving.   People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things but you know both God and how he works.  Steep your life in God-reality, God initiative, God provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:30-33, The Message.)

* I acknowledged that this was pathetic and yes, even embarrassing, to tell the King of the Universe.

* I acknowledged feeling helpless, because with this little one on the way, my priorities have drastically shifted from career to mommy.

* I acknowledged looking at the waves instead of at God. “Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.  But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. ‘Master, save me!’ Jesus didn’t hesitate.  He reached down and grabbed his hand.  THen he said, ‘faint heart, what got into you?’ (Matthew 14:29-31. The Message)”

*I asked for help with my unbelief.

* I told God I wanted to learn the lessons of trust more than I wanted my iPhone or the ability to go out to eat regularly. (This one took a minute.)

*I became peaceful again.  Deeply, fully, completely, peaceful.

* God’s quiet voice whispered, “Have some pie” and I did.

Let me tell you girls, there is nothing like eating pie from a peaceful, fully present place.  I didn’t need to eat it all, because let’s face it, chocolate pie is rich.  After savoring every bite that I did have, the whole piece wasn’t necessary.

This is what freedom means to me tonight.  To be at peace, in the middle of the night, regardless of my circumstances.

 

What are some of the possibly surprising aspects of freedom you’ve found so far in your life?

What did you have to do to find it?

What would you tell someone who is struggling with feeling a lack of freedom right now?