MY PLANS VS. 2020

This week marks one whole year since Justin and I made the move from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the Southern Shores of North Carolina. Happy Move-iversary to us! It’s so crazy to look back and remember how fast everything had happened, from the point of Justin’s colleagues in North Carolina reaching out to him, buzzing with “pipe dream” rumors of opening a Wilmington branch, to the official announcement of its construction 4 months later, to the company flying Justin to Charlotte for an interview, to receiving the offer letter a week later and a start date with barely one month’s lead time. God was certainly on the move and our heads — okay, MY head — was spinning!

So many details needed to be handled, from the point of listing our home for sale, packing a portion of our belongings for our temporary living arrangements with my sister and her family, celebrating milestone birthdays of our loved ones, etc. Unfortunately, we only had enough time to check off a few of those boxes, as our actual “move” date was expedited due to Hurricane Dorian threatening to hold us hostage in Florida. So, we quickly packed what we could, and set out for Wilmington with our pup in my lap and ESPN’s College Game Day on the dashboard so as to not miss out on our Florida State Seminoles playing their first game of the season!

We arrived in Wilmington safe and sound, and when we disconnected our “Game Day” phone, the radio kicked on and randomly landed on a local station playing “A Whole New World” from Disney’s original Aladdin soundtrack as we pulled into the driveway! You can’t make this stuff up. We were welcomed with a Veuve Clicquot Champagne (and juice box) Toast by our sibling-friends and watched the rest of the FSU game together. We were finally “home” and the winds were a-changing. No, seriously. Hurricane Dorian actually followed us right up to Wilmington instead of keeping his original plan to visit Florida — go figure. So a few days later, we 3 Shores took shelter with my sister, brother in-law and our two little nephews for our first official hurricane in North Carolina during our first week in town. Although tornadoes had peppered the areas around us, not one of those twisters touched down in my sister’s neighborhood. God is good!

I feel like making plans can sort of be compared to making the perfect deviled eggs. Hear me out. We have this perfect idea of what they should look and taste like when we add them to our brunch menu, but we don’t always get the picture-perfect looking boiled eggs we’d had in mind when we first began peeling away the shells. Sometimes we luck out and get a batch of perfectly smooth, peel-able eggs, while other times we may get some good ones to start out with, but then they stop peeling our way, and inevitably, we end up losing our patience and permanently disfiguring them (No? Just me?). Instead of throwing them away when this happens (you know you’ve wanted to), I suppose there are other ways to handle their blatant defiance against our plans.

I suppose we shouldn’t discard the flawed ones — as long as they’re peeled and haven’t fallen on the floor, there’s still hope for them yet. Although, if they did fall on the floor, you could rinse them off, but that’s 100% dependent on your personal level of Germophobia. Another thing we could do is consider a new purpose for them and allow their imperfections to be used in another capacity — like egg salad tea sandwiches, for example. Once assembled, they can be displayed proudly next to their brunchy deviled hors d’oeuvres counterparts, and who would ever be the wiser that they were once so disfigured? In fact, check out my Lemony Dill Deviled Egg Salad Recipe below! I recently used it to make some darling little flower-shaped tea sandwiches! The shapes were made using one of the mini sandwich cutters that came in this super fun sandwich cutter variety pack.

Lemony Dill Deviled Egg Salad Recipe (Small Batch):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Extra Large Boiled Eggs, peeled
  • 2 TBSP Mayo (I used Kraft Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil)
  • 1 TBSP Dill Relish
  • 1 Tsp Yellow Mustard
  • 2-3 Sprigs Fresh Dill or 1 Tsp Dried Dill
  • Juice of 1 Lemon Wedge (about 1/8 of a large lemon)
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • With a pastry cutter or fork, mash the boiled eggs in a small mixing bowl.
  • Once well-mashed, add the next 4 ingredients and stir with a spoon.
  • Season lightly, starting with two dashes of each seasoning, then add more as needed, to taste.
    • Tip: Go lightly on the salt at first — the relish and mustard already add an element of saltiness, so you don’t want to overdo it! If you accidentally overdo it, just add a little more lemon juice!

As indicated in the imagery above, and like most people out there, my plans for the past 12 months did not pan out as I had intended. Over the last year, I was ping-ponging back and forth to fulfill the commitments I had made with my home church through the end of 2019 and to get our house sold. It was February 2020 by the time that I was able to permanently move, so I had all kinds of plans for the rest of the year. I was to move up here to join my husband and our pup, explore and fall in love with our new surroundings, make lots of new friends, find a new church home to get connected and serve in, go on vacation to my family’s favorite little Florida oasis in the summer, finish building our house before the Fall, all while continuing my HSN TV airings in between. Enter COVID-19. Instead of the perfect, smooth transition I had envisioned, our plans were met with shutdowns, shutouts and cabin fever. I even resorted to binge-watching Dawson’s Creek, filmed in Wilmington, as a way to see a little more of the area while still complying with the stay-at-home orders. Heck, I could even pretend that my morning coffee came from Port City Java (a local coffee chain) just like Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) had in the scene below! (Joking. I’m a geek and all, but that part I did not do, I swear.)

Nice little Port City Java cameo on Dawson’s Creek, Season 5 Episode 21!

Funny thing about watching Dawson’s Creek is that the storyline revolves around a group of over-thinking adolescents who are constantly dissatisfied with how their lives turn out when things don’t go as they had planned. Maybe it was the “garbage in, garbage out” theory in action, but I, too, was taking my problem areas and futilely attempting to wrap my mind around them, trying to understand why my plans had been thwarted and figure out how I could possibly fix it. Perhaps I was too optimistic after moving and needed to better manage my expectations. Perhaps. Maybe I just needed to try harder to plug into the church we had expressed interest in joining up here. Sorry, church is closed. Okay, so then maybe I needed to cling to my church and social life from Florida a little tighter. Sorry, church is closed here too, plus, you moved away. Or, maybe if I found a job to fill the void of my HSN airings (and be a contributing member of the household), I could meet people and have more of a sense of purpose. Um… it’s called a “shut-down” for a reason. Everything. is. shut. down. So, naturally, I dealt with things in my own special way. Ever wished you could just take a pastry cutter to your problems?

The answer is Yes. These are in fact the disfigured “2020” eggs from above.

Honestly, before I knew it (and in the monotony of my routines) all I could hear in my thoughts over and over again were the things I longed for most but with the term “-less” added at the end of each to describe my current situation.

  • Friendless
  • Jobless
  • Houseless
  • Churchless
  • Childless
  • Controlless
  • Beautyless
  • Supportless
  • Purposeless

I was doing my daily devotionals (quick reads) with scriptures, and most of the time they had just barely the amount of encouragement I needed to get through the day; however, my surrounding circumstances continued to remain unchanged and so I remained frustrated. Clearly, that season was not over for me. The theme of my previous blog post was that 2020 will inevitably be what we make of it. Remember that? Well, true to that mindset, instead of sitting idly by, waiting for the season to change, I started changing the things I could and modified my routines a little. I set my alarm a little earlier. I made sure to make my bed every morning. I started going on nature walks by myself and turned them into prayer walks. Full disclosure: the oppressive heat has since deterred me from most outdoor jaunts lately, but it was during one of those prayer walks when God made it so clear to me that the items on my list of deficient traits that I had thought were the key to satisfaction in my new surroundings were all primarily dependent on my understanding and, ultimately, my expectations of people: connecting with people, approval from people, outreach from people, validation from people, looking pretty to people, stacking up next to people, missing my people.

I had entrusted a void that only God is equipped to fill with my understanding and with people, and it wasn’t until I spent quality time with Him that it all made sense. I hate to admit it, but it’s not the first time I have fallen into this little mindtrap either — I had learned the same lesson less than 2 years ago when understanding and people both fell short in the support department following the abrupt close to our IVF journey. While it hurt tremendously to feel so alone, I also recognized that no one really knew how to help when they hadn’t experienced our specific situation themselves. Many kept their distance thinking they were somehow sparing us additional heartache or awkwardness. And I think most of us feel that way — as though we can’t be of any help if we have not walked in the shoes of the one who is hurting. But not God.

The reality is, whether it be a matter of deep personal loss or something as simple as moving far away, our perceived need for the support of our loved ones can often times eclipse our greater need for God’s healing presence, causing a misplaced longing for comfort from people and understanding when what we really need is God. It’s like when your body is thirsty, but you think you’re hungry, so you eat a snack instead of hydrating yourself. (No, really — it’s a thing, check it out.) And it’s not that your body doesn’t need food, I mean, everyone needs to eat, right? But food is not what your body needs when it’s thirsty.

The same is true for our heart’s need for connection. As the body of Christ, we do need each other, but that will never be greater than our need for an authentic connection with God. Perhaps isolation from people was necessary for me return to Christ for true fulfillment. I mean, there I was feeling abandoned by people, when in actuality, I had abandoned my First Love. I hadn’t even realized it because I had just been going through the motions of my routines, checking off the boxes as if I had done my due diligence for the day — but I really hadn’t. And perhaps I experienced those seasons of isolation for another reason as well — to henceforth be intentionally aware of and empathize with those hurting, those searching, those needing to feel seen, and to reach out with the same standard of outreach that I had hoped to experience myself.

The scriptures and messages from my most recent blog post, the one before it and the one before that derived from a few spiritual epiphanies I have been experiencing throughout the different phases of this season, especially with regard to reaffirming where my hope is found and Who can restore my Joy and contentment. While my heart had planned for a drastically different story in 2020, it seems God had a great deal of work to do on the desires of my heart and the direction of my steps, which in turn required me to surrender my plans and satisfy my thirst with Living Water.

“A man’s heart plans his way,

But the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

In this life, I have found that the carefully mapped out long-term plans God has for me will not always align with what I want in the short-term and, try as I may to figure it all out, no amount of my own understanding could ever successfully chart my course better than He can. I can also look at my struggles (and there will always be struggles) and know that they are temporary and a means to a far better end. We all have flaws and bumps in the road that discourage us, but there are lessons to be learned and greater plans set in motion when we overcome our difficulties. Remember those darling little tea sandwiches? Those humbling seasons of discomfort can either be wasted and discarded, OR we can allow ourselves to be seasoned by it all and stir up our routines so that something better can take shape within us.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:6-7

Season Updates: Over the course of the last few months, God undoubtedly placed Justin and me on the hearts of a couple at the church we expressed interest in joining. We have even been included in a virtual connection group and are starting to experience that familiar “community” feeling again that we have missed so much. We may actually become members after all and perhaps even serve in the worship ministry there in coming months, God willing and in His own perfect timing. I had mentioned in a previous post that I recently accepted an opportunity as a bridal stylist here in Wilmington and, to be honest, I feel like I cannot even call it a “job” because I sincerely LOVE accessorizing my clients so much! It is also a unique opportunity to speak life and positivity into these women, some of whom arrive insecure about their beauty or their bodies, but then they walk away feeling beautiful, excited and more confident after our time together. Those experiences make my heart so happy! Also, HSN’s studios are aiming to reopen in Q1 2021, and in the meantime I have been selected by Country Living to be one of the on-air guests for their Home Accessories & Textiles collection that launched with HSN this year — so we’ll see what’s in store there next year! To top it all off, construction on our new home is nearly in the final stages and I am getting more and more excited with each passing day! God is still very much at work, and while I know that life will never be perfect, my heart sure is feeling pretty full of hope these days and I am excited to share that hope with my kindred spirits who need it just as much as I do.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

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