Starting Over In Christ

Most importantly, starting my life over in Christ gave me the opportunity to see and experience the fullness of God in my life.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (2 Corinthians 5:17 amp)

Hello Everyone!

This week God placed it on my heart to share a piece of my testimony about starting over in Christ.

As a single woman with primary custody of my 2 children i’ve had to work hard the past 6 years to reframe my expectations of life.  When I got married in 2003 to my now ex-husband, I thought for sure that I had finally got to a place of stability in my life.  Prior to being married, I had made alot of poor decisions that cost me time more than anything else and at the age of 25 I decided that I wanted to shift somethings.  I decided to go back to college and finish getting my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to really make a difference in my community and got involved in activism, and I knew at some point I wanted the American dream.  Find a fulfilling career, get married, have kids, buy a house and enjoy life.

While all of that has happened for me. There were some major detours, pitfalls, and setbacks along the way.  The first one being that my ex-husband about 4 years into the marriage didn’t want to be married.  We separated for almost 2 years and then got back together had our second child and we tried to make things work but after 10 years it was over.  At the time I was an at home mom living on the East Coast trying to build my sewing business and pick up temp jobs along the way.

The marriage had become very toxic and abusive.  I wanted so bad to work things out with my ex-husband that I began to settle for whatever he was willing to give (which was pretty much nothing).  I also didn’t really believe in divorce.  That’s not really something that exists in my family, along with the fact that I was a Christian who had been praying and believing God for a miracle in my marriage.  All of this caused me to hang on much longer than I should have.

Then one day God released me.  He sent me someone who really encouraged my heart and helped me to see that if this marriage didn’t work out, my life would be okay. That God’s grace was bigger than a divorce.  It was the courage that I needed to walk away and let go.  I talked to my husband and told him that I would agree to the divorce.

That was the beginning of the journey to where I am now.  My initial response to the separation was a huge amount of denial.  I had enough faith to wake up every morning and tell myself your starting over, its going to be okay.  But I wasn’t really dealing with the emotional side of things.  I pretended like I had it all together but I didn’t and to be honest I don’t think it looked like I had it all together either.  On top of my own emotions, I had to still parent my children, deal with my families emotions regarding my situation, move back to Wisconsin and into my parents home, and deal with the fact that my ex-husband chose to live in another state leaving me primary responsibility of raising our children through one of the toughest seasons of our lives.

I felt like the roof had fallen in on me.  I was embarrassed by the idea of being divorced, I was struggling with my son who had a speech and cognitive delay issue (he’s completely fine now), I took a job as a nail technician and started to crochet hats and scarve sets to make extra money on the side, and my daughter really needed my love and attention.  It was hard, completely imperfect, But it was my faith in God, my family and my church family that helped me to keep going.

As hard as the situation was to deal with, I’m thankful that I went through it.  It hasn’t been easy but I can say that without a doubt, my faith has been strengthened and my life has greater purpose.

What I realize now is that the life that I planned for myself was not exactly the plan that God had purposed for my life.  When I got married I was not saved, I knew God but I wasn’t living in holiness.  Many of the choices that I was making was based on what I thought a good life was suppose to be.  The life that my parents raised me to have.  Which wasn’t a bad thing, but I was doing all of this absent of the wisdom of God.

Psalm 37:23 says:

“The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way [and blesses his path].”

When I gave my life to the Lord 14 years ago, I was desperate for a change in my life and my marriage.  I wanted to become the wife and mother that I thought my family needed and I felt like I was lacking, because back then I blamed myself for everything.  I thought for sure if I got myself together then my husband would love me.

I was looking at myself and my situation through a faulty lense.  While there were definitely somethings that I needed to change, there was something bigger at work.

I wasn’t living my life lined up with God’s true intentions for my life.  It was like everything shifted when I got saved and I wanted my life previous to me getting saved to live up to the expectations of salvation in Christ Jesus.  I wanted all of my friends, my husband, my kids, my family, my career, everything to still be in my life and I wanted everything that came with salvation. Except thats not how salvation works. The word of God says:

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (2 Corinthians 5:17 amp)

What I came to learn was that I was the one who accepted Christ into my heart not the life I was living.  I became a new person in the spiritual realm but my life had to catch up with my salvation.  The way I thought, the way I talked, the way I made decisions, my overall lifestyle was headed for a major shift at the point of salvation and I didn’t know it. The more I read my bible, attended church and bible study services, the more I wanted to know more about Christ and living a holy life. And the more it seemed like life as I knew it was crumbling.

I experienced a lot of shifts and changes that I wasn’t expecting. Overtime, my friend circle changed, my marriage got worse, I felt like God was positioning me for a career shift from University Academic Advisor to seamstress entrepreneur.  (Which did not bode well with my then husband.) The closer I got to God the more I became detached from my previous life.

Not all of it was hard, It was a gradual shift.  Alot of which was welcome, because with those changes I found more inner peace.  With the loss of certain friend circles came new friends, with the loss of old mind sets, came more wisdom, understanding and compassion.  With the loss of my marriage came the opportunity to completely start over and become the seamstress, designer, sewing blogger entrepreneur that God created me to be.  Single parenting has become easier over time. My children enjoy the summers away with their father and I get a parenting break along with an opportunity to socialize more, build my business and contribute more to ministry. My ex-husband and I have a better relationship and he’s become more supportive of my entrepreneurial calling and financially supports me and the kids while I build my business. I no longer live with my parents and less than a year ago purchased my first home.

Most importantly, starting my life over in Christ gave me the opportunity to see and experience the fullness of God in my life.  God as provider, God as comforter, God as restorer, God as my peace, God as protector, God as my counselor, and the list goes on.  Every trial that I have encountered in the midst of re-building my life in Christ was meant to root, build and strengthen me in my faith.

There is a cost to living in Christ but the blessings that I’ve received far outweigh the things that I’ve lost.

That’s all for now. I pray that my testimony has blessed you. Until next time….

 

 

 

 

 

God Will Qualify You

When God gives you a gift its not always something that you might be naturally good at.  Sometimes its something that is in you but requires a process of cultivation.  

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected[and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (amp)

Hello Everyone!

Its been a while I know since i’ve blogged.  I have been super busy sewing for an upcoming fashion show and website launch for my Clothing Label Virtuous By Design.  I am super excited for this because i’ve been working really hard for the past year behind the seams researching the best business strategies, designing and testing markets for this  launch.  I’m believing that this is going to be a very successful and busy season.

Which leads me today’s post. The launching of my apparel line has me a bit reflective lately. As I was journaling yesterday morning I began to think back on my sewing journey. I really sucked at sewing when I first started, but I also really enjoyed it and soon found that I had a passion for it.  This journal entry very succinctly gives an accurate picture of the last 14 years of my sewing life.  I thought i’d share it with you.

April 2, 2019

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected[and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (amp)

I remember all the tears I shed, all the countless moments where I doubted my sewing abilities.  All of the grueling late night sewing sessions where me and my sewing machine were battling in the process of getting a project done.

The moment when God called me to sew professionally and I told him “i’m not good enough yet.” but He told me “do it anyway”.

The moments when God brought me clients who had more faith in me than I had in myself and when I cried over every sewing mistake that I made.

Every sewing book and blog post that I read, tutorial that I watched, online classes that I purchased, every successful sewing project that kept me encouraged and every sewing failure that kept me humble.

Countless prayers for sewing mentors and instructors that I could turn to for confirmation that I was doing it right. Only to find out that your Holy Spirit was guiding me the whole time.

Fashion Design school, to teaching others what I know and now the official launch of a dream that was conceived before I was even born.  For your word says in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Every triumph, every battle, every struggle, every mountain and every valley.  It was all in preparation for this very special moment in my life.  I now understand that my journey had to be painful…. You were teaching me that I didn’t need to be perfect to serve you.  I just needed to be willing to put in the work.  Thank you Lord for strengthening and perfecting me in the journey.

If there is anything that my sewing journey has taught me is that “God does not call the qualified.  He qualfies the called”.  When God gives you a gift its not always something that you might be naturally good at.  Sometimes its something that is in you but requires a process of cultivation.

Well that’s it.  I pray that my testimony encouraged you.  Until next time…..

blog signature

 

 

Sewing and Self-Care

“She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] And makes her arms strong.” Proverbs 31:18 (amp)

Hey Everyone!

I pray all is well with you!  With the new year swiftly approaching 2019 goal setting or re-setting has been high on my priority list.  One of those goals is always self-care.  Tis’ the season to overeat then diet and detox. lol!  That’s not what today’s post is about.  I actually have been thinking about self-care from a sewing perspective.

What do you mean a sewing perspective…? Isn’t wellness a universal thing…?  Yes it is.  It is also my belief that no matter what you do professionally we as humans should strive to live a healthy lifestyle.  However, there are certain professions that physically demand more from us than others.

Sewing is one of them.  I didn’t notice it when I was hobby sewer, because I made a garment for myself or a loved one and worked at my own pace.  But when it became a vocation for me and I started to sew for others.  I began to really notice the effects on my body.

I began to have lower back and neck pain.  I would feel physically drained from the stress of sewing under constant deadlines.  Which had its affect on my cortisol hormone and caused belly bloating and sudden weight gain.  I had constipation.  Overall, I was pretty miserable.

At first I didn’t understand what was happening but as I met some older women who worked for factory sewing companies they began to share their stories with me about the strain of sewing on their health.

One woman told me she had suffered a stroke from the strain and stress of her job. Leaving her slightly paralized on one side of her body.  Another woman shared that her eye sight had weakened from so many years of sewing.  One of my professors from design school use to contract sew like I did and she told me she had to give it up because of the stress as well as wore a back brace when she would have to sit sewing for long periods of time.

After hearing all of these stories, I began to realize that I needed to figure out a way to live out my sewing dreams without the expense of my health.

Proverbs 31:18 says: “She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] And makes her arms strong.” Proverbs 31:18 (amp)

When I read this scripture two things dawned on me 

  1. While health is a promise from God; we have a responsibility to take care of our bodies.  It has been my experience that God will provide opportunities, resources and tools to aid in the journey.  But we still have to do the work and make the right choices.
  2. I also quickly realized that sewing for me has to include a self-care component.  When I workout before going into my sewing studio I noticed that I have less body aches, my mind is clearer and I can even sew a little longer or it doesn’t take me as long to complete projects because I make less mistakes.

However, like many people prioritizing self-care can be a struggle for me.  It is also something that I have to be intentional about. Through self-examination, I have been able to pin point stress triggors and map out wellness strategies that help me maintain a balanced life.

Here are just a few things that i’ve learned along the way.

  1. Rise early, pray and the read the word of God and journal often.
  2. Exercise at least 4 days/week.
  3. Eat healthy plant based meals.  I’ve tried to be a vegetarian for many years now and its not easy, especially because my family likes meat.  So I strive to eat plant based meals as much as possible and sometimes I include meat and fish.
  4. Drink a lot of water daily.
  5. Take a multi-vitamin.
  6. Limit sugar and caffeine.
  7. Try and get at least 8 hours of sleep daily.
  8. Enjoy my life. As a single mom I tend to get tired easily from work and kids.  Going with friends or socializing beyond phone conversations isn’t always on my list.  But I have afew activities that I try to hold onto when i’ve got a little free time.  Like salsa dance, lunch with a friend, or taking a yoga class with a friend.

9. Stay organized. Even if its a simple To Do List and a calendar app

10. Attend weekly worship service and bible study at church.

I know it seems like a lot but its not.  Outside of my church acitivies all of these things can get done anywhere from a few minutes to an hour at most.  And when I do these things consistently, I get to a place where I have energy, a focused mind, increased productivity and i’m a nicer person and mom.

So as your preparing for the holiday season and thinking about your 2019 goals, I hope that you include a strategy to maintain your health so that you can keep sewing for a long time.

Until next time!  Have a blessed rest of your week!

xoxo,

Iris