Freedom to Love Well

Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

The other day Marcel, Joseph, and I took a trip to a new restaurant we wanted to try.  Our waiter was friendly, but something was off.  He made a pest of himself.  He hovered, bragged, invaded space, and generally missed the million social cues I was throwing at him.  It occurred to me that he was likely high. I recognized the signs of drugs and I got furious.  I hate being conned and I hate even worse when people think they’re getting away with it.  I felt he was feeding us a bunch of lies in order to try to increase his tip. (Which in my mind was dropping drastically by the minute.)

server at restaurantMy husband and I have been praying for awhile now that God will show us how to love like He does.  So even though we were both irritated, Marcel engaged John (name changed), our server.  My frustration continued to sky rocket because my nice family dinner was being interrupted by someone I didn’t believe would remember the conversation due to his “flight status.”

But, I was nice.

As John talked to my husband he shared that he was in an outpatient program for heroin addiction but planned to quit and get another doctor because he wasn’t ready to face the emotions it was bringing up.  I thought to myself, “bingo.”  My gut appeared to have been correct.

As we pulled out of the restaurant, something inside me was wrestling with the entire experience.  I began praying about my reaction.  I felt my old compulsion as a Christian girl to be “nice” and I followed through with that.  And it made me angry.  It didn’t feel loving.  The actual result was that he seemed to feel we bought everything he said.

God says that the truth will set us free, but I hid every honest emotion I had during that exchange.  I also recall that Jesus never let people’s masks stay in place.  With love, he would gently and without shame (and sometimes not so gently in the case of the Pharisees)  expose their hearts for what was truly inside.

I am quite certain I didn’t love John well.  Being “nice” covered the issue.  

After several days of processing this and praying about it I came up with an idea of what Jesus might have done.  The restaurant was small and he wouldn’t have shamed him in front of his co-workers.  Words may have also gotten lost in a drug fog.  So I believe he may have written the following:

John,

I sense a deep pain in you that you try to cover.  I know you said you weren’t ready to deal with the emotions that were coming up, but I want you to know that God has the answers to your pain and when you’re ready to stop running you will find your freedom there.  When you take off your mask you will find that God is not like the ones who have hurt you and you are passionately loved just as you are.  Know that you are in our prayers and that if you ever want to talk more we’d love to get together.  You can reach us at noelle@stringofpearls3.com.

Noelle and Marcel

Peace came, I didn’t have to fake anything, but I realized this cut to the chase and didn’t buy a lie.  The only sadness came from realizing a missed opportunity.  So guess where I’m going for dinner tonight and guess who I’m requesting?

What I realize is that loving well is not what I thought it was.  It is confounding, confusing, and impossible without a source to draw from.  It’s also a little terrifying.  But as I look over my life, moments where I was loved well changed the course of my life and offered me healing and freedom.  I can’t live with myself if I don’t give it away.

What are the ways love has touched your life?

How do you practice loving well?

 

 

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 to Wait

 

 

African American Model 2

Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

I’m very excited about today’s post because the topic was suggested by one of our readers!  It also happens to be a topic that is very dear to my heart (while at times I hate it) because I have spent a good deal of my life doing it.  Today’s post, however, is about asking for information from our readers prior to writing the final post.

The topic was brought up in the context of waiting for a life mate.  I waited a good bit for my spouse (and he was worth the wait) but in the midst of the wait I grew tired of people’s pithy responses to my pain.  With that in mind I am very prayerful and interested in knowing what the struggles and questions are for those of you who are currently in a waiting period.

How can we support you best with this post on an often painful topic?  For those of you who prefer to ask your questions in private, please email me at noelle@stringofpearls3.com and for others who wouldn’t mind some dialogue, please post your questions in the comments box below. I will plan on addressing this topic next week.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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!

 

Emotional Freedom: Roots and Fruits

Emotional Freedom

Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP

Picture a tree planted in soil near a toxic waste dump.  The tree, if it is still alive at all, is stunted and brown, twisted and pathetic looking.

Neuroscience is teaching us that the neurons in our brains can actually be twisted, stunted and start to die when we think negatively, or when we endlessly criticize and compare or stay stuck in our shame.  This is also true for shame that has been unaddressed.  Often we are tempted to cover our shame with good soil, but root systems are not fooled and toxins are toxins. You could say that our critical, negative thoughts are a toxic waste dump and trying to fulfill our God given potential with that soil is impossible.

The Bible has this take on the topic,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil. 4:8, NIV)”

What does this look like?  It doesn’t mean denying the toxic root system, it means facing it with gentleness and kindness, it means allowing the Holy Spirit to clean the soil, and it means focusing our minds on the power of God to heal rather than the power of our shame.

This toxicity may be as simple as constantly criticizing the cellulite on your thighs or as big as being dishonest in your finances.  Both are toxic fruits that will keep you from the fruit you really want on your tree.

Do you have fruit in your life you don’t like?  For those of you in the Chattanooga area, come join us on Wednesday night this week to clean up root systems with the power of God’s word and prayer.  All of us were meant to be trees like the one talked about in Psalms 1,

“You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom. (The Message)”

What fruit do you want that you don’t currently have?

Do you recognize some toxins that you’d like to get rid of?

What would your life look like if you were the tree in Psalms 1?

 

Freedom: Live!

Freedom

Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP-NCC

I was talking with a dear friend this weekend.  She is a vibrant, powerful woman of God.  I have been privileged to see and know her heart for many years.  I was surprised when she mentioned that I was one of the few people she had been so open with.  She is brilliant and multi-talented  A passionate seeker of God with Spiritual insights that have literally changed the course of my life.

I was shocked as she shared the reality that with most people she has been, “hiding her light.”  She also shared that for years  she has told God, “I love you.  I would die for you.”  Recently she felt God respond this way…”I know you would die for me, but will you LIVE for me?”

All humans have an innate desire to survive, but many of us have also faced the moments where we wish we could give up the struggle.  Go to sleep, literally or figuratively, and leave life behind.  Others of us just fake living, putting on a mask of happiness when we feel desperate and alone inside.  Some people minimize the gifts they’ve been given; feeling a twisted sort of humility that just robs the world of what they’ve been created to give.  So for some of us, saying we would die for Christ is no great sacrifice.

But what about living?

Do we have the courage to recognize the talents and purposes He has put in us and use them?  Even if others disagree?  Can we take the risk to open our hearts and love with passion and purpose?  It admittedly feels terrifying at times to live like this, but it is what we’re asked to do and it also happens to be our path to freedom.  We are meant for abundant life.  Joy.  Peace that doesn’t make any sense.

What would you be willing to sacrifice in order to live with those things being a constant reality?

How will you step into your calling to truly live today?

What is one of your favorite scriptural pictures of living fully?

Freedom: Know Your ‘Why’ and Deal With Your ‘Why Not’.

Emotional FreedomNoelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC

In a recent business meeting my partners and I were talking about the importance of knowing your “why.”  It’s common knowledge among business leaders that if you don’t have a compelling “why” for what you do, you won’t be effective or meet your goals.  One leader stated, “Your ‘why’ should make you cry.”  This is true on a business level, but it is true in every area of our lives.  Why do you eat what you eat?  Who are your friends and why do you hang out with them? Why do you want to get married?  Or why don’t you want to get married?!?

In discussing our business “why” though, I had a moment of brilliance.  (It’s important to be able to pat yourself on the back) I blurted out, “I’ve had a great ‘why’, but I also had a really strong ‘why not’!”  In a flash my struggle of the last year became really clear.  I worked my business…sort of.  There was always a push/pull that seemed to alternately tug in two different directions insuring that while I made some progress, my “why not” was sure to pull me back the other way.  It’s kind of like what Paul talks about in Romans 7:15.

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

I had a “why not” that whispered that “people won’t be interested, people are tired of hearing about home based business, I don’t want to be seen as a salesperson who doesn’t care about people.”  This got me to think about other “why nots” in my life and how they’ve held me back.  The funny thing is that we don’t usually acknowledge the “why nots.”  You may want to get to a healthier weight…If the “why not” of eating healthier doesn’t acknowledge that there are aspects of your life that are so discouraging that chocolate cake and fried chicken feel like your only solace; then the weight won’t come off because you’ll need the food to cope.

If your “why not” is not acknowledged and dealt with it will always be stronger than your “why.”  In my case, I first had to acknowledge the “why nots.”  Since I knew that God had brought me into this business I figured it was His job to address the things holding me back.  I asked to have them removed and through the course of events this began to happen for me.

Today, if you are having trouble making progress in an area that is important to you, start by acknowledging the conflicts that hold you back and address them honestly.  If your life is discouraging, get support about addressing the source of your discouragement; if you are secretly embarrassed about your dreams ask God to remove the shame; He created you for ABUNDANT life, He will do it.  It is His will that you live in your “why.”

After you do it, tell us about it!  We are cheering you on and joining you on the journey.

What is the “why not” that has held you back from something you want?

How are you going to deal with it?