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…..

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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

Love Yourself

I have been declaring this scripture alot since I made the decision to work on accepting who I am in Christ. Whatever my body size or life situation I am choosing to remember that I am everything that God’s word says that I am.

 

“I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”  Psalm 139:14 (AMP)

Recently I had the opportunity to challenge my self-esteem.  A friend of mine invited a group of Christian women entrepreneurs to collaborate on a photoshoot.  It was partially to update our professional headshots and website photos as well as to celebrate each other.

This was a big challenge for me personally because despite the age of selfies, I am not a huge fan of taking pictures of myself, especially since I have put on about 25 pounds over the past 3 years.  However, I decided to use this as an overcomering opportunity. So instead of running for the hills I decided to stand on Psalm 139:14  “I will give thanks and praise to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” 

I have been declaring this scripture alot since I made the decision to work on accepting who I am in Christ. Whatever my body size or life situation I am choosing to remember that I am everything that God’s word says that I am.

So…. armed with my scripture I pressed my way forward praying and asking God for wisdom every step of the way.  From my garment selections, to make-up, hair and even my poses I asked the Lord to guide me.  My goal for the shoot was to be pleased with myself and that’s exactly what happened.

I am soooo glad that I did it! Despite a few nerves in the beginning I ended up having a great time and when the photographer sent the sneek peak photos I was delighted to see how amazing everyone’s images turned out.  Below are some of my favorites.

These first couple of photos are some fun shots of me. I chose a selection of garments that reflected how I really like to dress.  I love my jeans and try to build alot around them. So I used these jeans that I recently bought from Forever 21 as my wardrobe foundation.  I also love my pumps especially if they have a pop of color.  Classic, pretty, mulitfunctional.  

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This jumpsuit was a bit of a wildcard so to speak for me.  I love to sew them but until this one haven’t bought or made one for myself to wear (which is about to change). I got it at NY and Company on super clearance. I only paid like $12 for it and overall I like the fit.  

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This shoot also was an opportunity for our group to take some more professional photos for our websites.  This was a staged photo of me consulting a client.  The jumpsuit the model is wearing is one of my designs from my first collection. I plan to use this photo for my business website (coming soon!).  As you can see I paired my same jeans with a white blazer, t-shirt and necklace.  You can’t see my feet in this shot but I have on some blush colored pumps.  

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This final shot was one of a series of group photos we took at the end of everyone’s session.  There were so many awesome ones that conveyed power and unity.  This one is my favorite.  I love the laughter and sense of sisterhood this one conveys.

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I am so thankful for this opportunity and my biggest take away from this experience was that my decision to shift my mind set allowed me to see the glory of God manifest in me; instead of overfixating on things like body image. This caused me to really see myself and not my perceived imperfections. Hallelujah!

As always I pray this post was a blessing.  Until next time!

xoxo

Iris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Lessons I learned from the story of the Widow with Oil

This story has encouraged me quite a bit over the last 5 years primarily because I feel very much like the widow with the oil.  I am a single mom trying to raise two children while building a business

“Then she came and told the man of God. He said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” 2 Kings 4:7 (amplified)

Since the beginning of the year I have been working on paying down my debts, saving to buy a house and rebranding my business.  All of these things are very ambitious goals on their own; but after putting somethings on hold for the last 2 years in order to complete design school I feel like I really don’t have a choice.

Which leads me to today’s post.  I recently went before the Lord in prayer asking him for direction regarding my business, and some concerns that I had regarding my current financial situation and I was reminded of the story of the widow with oil found at the beginning of  2 Kings 4:1-7.

“Now one of the wives of a man of the [a]sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha [for help], saying “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant [reverently] feared the Lord; but the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves [in payment for a loan].” 2 Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have [of value] in the house?” She said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a [small] jar of [olive] oil.” 3 Then he said, “Go, borrow containers from all your neighbors, empty containers—and not just a few. 4 Then you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out [the oil you have] into all these containers, and you shall set aside each one when it is full.” 5 So she left him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing her the containers as she poured [the oil]. 6 When the containers were all full, she said to her son, “Bring me another container.” And he said to her, “There is not a one left.” Then the oil stopped [multiplying]. 7 Then she came and told the man of God. He said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.” 

This story has encouraged me quite a bit over the last 5 years primarily because I feel very much like the widow with the oil.  I am a single mom trying to raise two children while building a business, and in addition to the cost of living, I have credit card debt Inspiration(i’m about 1/2 way finished paying off by the way yay!) and student loans.  So there are times where like this widow I feel stretched.  So when I revisited this scripture there were some new insights that I gained and I wanted to share with you.

1. God will use what you have to bring a turn around to your financial situation.

Elisha didn’t respond to the widow’s distress by giving her money, he didn’t offer to speak with her debtors.  Instead he asked if she had anything of value? Olive Oil in biblical times was used as a commodity of trade or personal income (www.biblestudytools.com).  In other words Elisha was asking her what do you have of value that you can sell.  He told her to start a business.  This caused me to think and ask the question… “If you were in the widows shoes and Elisha were to ask you right now?  What do you have of value? or what gift, skill or talent do you have that God could use to help you generate income or start a business with, what would it be?  For me it has been sewing, nails, or crochet?

2. The widow was obedient.

She didn’t fight with the man of God when he told her to take the oil and ask her neighbors to borrow pots to pour the oil in.  She did what he told her to do. This is so important.  Like any good advise.  Its only good if you apply it to your life.  God cannot do a work in our lives if we aren’t sensitive to his voice and guidance.

3. God will show you favor with others.

Just like the neighbors who borrowed the widow to the containers, God will use people who are around you or put you in places to surround you with the right people who can help you. Maybe its not money, maybe its resources, skills, expertise, or new connections.

4. God will meet you where you are at.

The widow didn’t have a whole lot to offer,  She says in verse 2 “Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a [small] jar of [olive] oil.” However, the little bit that she had God took as a seed and multiplied it.  I remember a few years ago when I first separated from my ex-husband, I was in a rough financial situation and I needed a miracle.  God told me to use my gift of crochet to make winter scarves and hats to bring increase.  All I had were some crochet hooks and a box full of acrylic yarn.   I used this scripture to encourage my heart and I did what God told me to do.  In a 6 week period of time I was able to make an extra $500 that I used to supplement my income and buy my kids some christmas gifts.  The following winter season I did it again but started earlier and tripled my increase from the year before.

5. Have confidence in the gifts that God gives you.

Sometimes we don’t think that we have anything for God to multiply because we lack confidence in the gifts and/or resources that God has given us.  I have struggled alot in building my business for this very reason.  This lack of confidence has caused me at times to hesitate and walk away from opportunities that seemed too big for me.  A lack of confidence is a form of doubt and doubt is a lack of faith which blocks God from moving in our lives. We have to believe that if God brought it to us he will help us to see it through.

6. You can’t do it alone.

The widow poured the oil as her sons brought her the containers.  When you are in business or maybe trying to grow a ministry. You can’t do it all and you can’t do it alone.  The widow was wise. She turned it into a family business. Don’t be afraid to delegate and/or collaborate with others who are in a similar situation to help bring  vision forward.

7.  As long as there is a container to pour your oil into it will never cease to  multiply.

The little jar of oil kept flowing until she no longer had vessels to pour it into. I always looked at the vessels in this portion of the scripture as people who need whatever it is that God calls us to offer.  When you look at it this way it suggests that as long as there is a person who needs what you have, your oil(gift) will always be there to provide.

8.  Her oil caused her to struggle no more.

This revelation caused me to be filled with so much joy.  As I realized that God not only encouraged my heart but he also through this story gave me a strategy to move my business forward and bring me the increase that I need.

What about you?  Are you like me finding yourself in a situation where God is calling you to use your gifts and skills to create a business opportunity or to generate extra income?  If so I would love to hear what it is. Please leave a comment below and I would love to come into agreement in prayer with you that God will provide you with everything that you need to launch that idea. Matthew 18:19 says:Again I say to you, that if two [h]believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 

Well thats all for now! I pray this post has encouraged you as much as it has me. Until the next time.

♥ xoxo,

Iris

15 Confessions To Help Build Your Identity in Christ

Over the course of my journey with Christ I have learned the power of confessing the truth of God’s word as a prayer strategy against negative thinking, negative self-talk and low self-esteem. 

“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)

A few weeks back, I was working on a sewing project for the blog and I was listening to  Pandora; when I noticed this song by Casey J called “journal”  was playing.  I have heard this song play countless times on this station, but for some reason on this day the lyrics began to minister to me. The song starts with the following lyrics:

Failure
Not worth it
It’s too late to start again
And I’m sure I’m useless in the hands of the Creator
I’m not enough to salvage
And I’m not enough to build with
So don’t try
No, I won’t try
But then came your word

Healing
Affirming Word

Writing on my heart
Writing on my mind
So I’ll never forget it
Your word

Psalm 119:11 (NIV) says: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” 

The lyrics to this song gives a clear image of why it is so important to keep God’s word hidden in our hearts.  Seriously….  How often have you experienced your mind bombarded with negative thoughts and untruth about your worth…?  your identity…? Telling you that you aren’t pretty enough, good enough, smart enough and the list could go on and on.  Yet in the bible there are so many scriptures that clearly tells us that in Christ we are called to live an empowered life. Not a life filled with negativity and doubt.

Over the course of my journey with Christ I have learned the power of confessing the truth of God’s word as a prayer strategy against negative thinking, negative self-talk and low self-esteem.  In today’s post I wanted  to share with you 15 of my favorite confessions that I have stored up in my heart to help build my identity in Christ. I hope they bless you as much as they have me!

15 Confessions To Help Build Our Identity in Christ

1.  I am a child of God (John 1:12 NIV)

2. I am rooted, built up and strengthened in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:7 NIV)

3. I am victorious (1 Corinthians 15:56 NIV)

4. I am always on top and never at the bottom (Deuteronomy 28:13 NIV)

5. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14 NIV)

6. I am virtuous (Proverbs 31:10-31 NIV)

7. I am redeemed (Galatians 3:13 NIV)

8. I am the lender and not the borrower (Deuteronomy 28:12 NIV)

9. I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37 NIV)

10. I am strengthened in Christ (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

11. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

12. I have a purpose (Jeremiah 1:5 NIV)

13. I am loved (John 3:16, John 16:27 NIV)

14. I am prosperous (Deuteronomy 28:11 NIV)

15. I am blessed (Deuteronomy 28:2 NIV)

I hope they bless you as much as they have me over the years. 

XOXO,

Iris