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!
At the beginning of December 2013, the Holy Spirit impressed my heart with the thought that my word for 2014 is “Discipline.”
My first reaction was a watered-down version of my old self. Not a full blown temper tantrum on the floor, but definitely resistance.
He gently reminded me that in the fall of 2012 I had prayed and asked Him for more of the fruit of self-control. Grumbling, but caught with my own words, I let a bit of my guard down.
I didn’t like the picture that was beginning to form in my imagination that included boot camp tyrant personal trainers yelling in my face, and the martyr in the circle watching others eat cake at a party.
When I walked into the Joyce Meyer Power Thoughts class I was attending that day, I found that the Power Thought that day “happened” to be “I am disciplined and self-controlled.” I laughed. Of course it was! How like God!
As the month unfolded, God began to gently reveal His plan. His idea of the word “discipline” was for me to focus on pausing, asking, listening and obeying step by step, day by day, throughout the year. Considering I had also been praying that my heart would get into a place where I obeyed immediately, completely, and willingly, this too made sense.
I won’t be surprised if 2014 includes some discipline from a personal trainer and some denial of things that aren’t good for my health, but that’s not the focus. (How like the old me to go straight to the perfectionism and the works. Doing.)
I asked Him why we were beginning in December, a month early, and He chuckled and said, ‘This work needs an extra month.”
So enter the middle of January and I had my first A-HA moment for the year.
On a Saturday I was talking with a friend who has honed obedience to God’s voice for many years. She talked about being obedient to get out of bed at whatever time God awoke her in the morning. And how when she resisted and went back to sleep those days didn’t work out so well.
Shortly after that conversation I had a day where I was so exhausted that I asked, when awakened, if I could go back to sleep and was impressed with a peaceful, “Yes.”
Then I had one of those days. It began to rain while I was out and about. I hadn’t taken the umbrella. I’d had a really vague impression to check the weather report and carry it, but I hadn’t paid attention.
I stopped to run into a store for two items and locked my keys in my truck.
When I called AAA, there was a message saying that there were long delays due to the weather and the increased number of service calls. The dispatcher who finally answered told me the wait was going to be over an hour.
Maybe the average person wouldn’t care about an hour wait at a store. One could browse. But I’ve learned not to do that to myself while on a faith journey with no steady income, living on God’s provision for my needs. The temptation to feel sorry for myself for all I can’t buy is too great when I browse.
No worries. I’ve got a good book on the Kindle on my phone. Then I see the battery status. I best not even text or my phone might die before the locksmith gets here and calls me from the parking lot.
So I stand under cover and watch my truck… and think… and pray… asking God what this is all about… And I remember the conversation from the prior Sabbath.
My initial temptation was to pick up the idea that God had done this to me… to teach me a lesson. (And I wasn’t even going to be sore at Him for it!)
But then I realized the lie.
Each day has darkness in it. My time with God in the morning prepares me to submit my plans to Him and to receive instruction. When I start my day slow, with Him, I am tuned into the prompts to “check the weather report” and “carry the umbrella’ or to “put the spare truck key in my pocket.” He KNOWS what is coming in my day and He prepares me for it when I take the time to tune in the radio dial to His frequency and listen before I head out into the day.
I wanted to grumble that He told me it was ok to go back to sleep. And He reminded me about 2012’s word “freedom” where I learned how much He values choice. He honored my choice that morning.
I am thankful I wore a hooded sweatshirt.
I am thankful that I had my cell phone and AAA card.
I am thankful that I had a dry place to stand and wait.
And I am thankful that I was listening close enough to catch the subtle heart shift between “He did it to me” and “He works all for good.”
-Noelle Schwantes, LPC,MHSP,NCC
Heart Racing Sweat
Choking Fear Head in a Vise
Gut clenched Envy
Blinding Panic Pride
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll look forward to hearing from you!
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?
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?
-Noelle Schwantes, LPC-MHSP, NCC
I screwed up and today’s post is about taking ownership. The last post was marketed as “sex beyond your wildest dreams.” Some of our readers gave incredibly invaluable, and yes humbling, advice. I missed the mark with my last post. I forgot to speak to my audience. It repelled them rather than attracting them.
I’ve been mulling this over for weeks. Those of you who follow us may have realized that there has not been a post for several weeks (Angela is waiting in the wings with great posts so don’t worry, she’ll be back!). Between fighting spam and chewing on this, there has been a bit of paralysis on my part.
As God is prone to do, He will sometimes wake me in the middle of the night with something important. Tonight I felt led to re-do the post. So here is something with valuable feedback taken into account. We hope you’ll share if you feel led to compare the difference in the two posts!
I am a therapist in private practice. I have been a therapist for approximately 9 years. I see, maybe in a little more detail than others, the pain and longing that is wrapped up in longing to love and be loved and how that gets played out in the physical realm. Our sex lives. Being a survivor of sexual abuse and being in a painful first marriage that struggled mightily in this area, I brought a lot of pain and baggage into my marriage to Marcel. I didn’t even know about it. But I knew it when we had sex. I knew I felt pressured and afraid and I knew Marcel felt sad and broken hearted. My reactions didn’t make sense to me and the more I struggled to figure it out, the guiltier and more frustrated I became. Our discussions about this area became louder and louder.
And then came the phase where we wondered if this is just the way things were going to be. Let’s face it, you don’t hear a ton of married couples talk about how great their sex life is! Marcel and I decided though that we were going to stand on God’s promises. We were not going to settle for anything less than life to the full! (John 10:10) So I, therapist extraordinaire, went back to therapy. I got some objective help in seeing where my baggage held me up and during this period of time huge break throughs occurred. I am deeply happy to report that God has brought abundance in this area of our lives.
In my professional work, I’ve also seen the devastation that occurs in this area. This report, which we are supplying for free, shares clinical and personal experience of what it took to find a sex life that encompasses joy, excitement, deep connection, passion, adventure, and peace. There are not many things that can offer such a breadth of richness and so it is our hope that you read this report and it will be a part of what God uses to flourish you or prepare you to flourish in the future. We hope you enjoy fully and that God blesses it in a powerful way!