It feels like September has only just begun, and yet we’re nearly halfway through the month already! Anyone else feeling like it’s been a whirlwind these last couple of weeks/months/seasons?!?!! Admittedly, I’ve been MIA on the blog and sporadically on social media because it’s been one exciting project after another — praise God! From a return to HSN product launches on live TV, to co-coordinating / modeling in a bridal runway show, to family birthdays and fun with friends, this busy season has been such a blessing for me. Full disclosure… it actually wasn’t that way at all until very recently.
At the church we attend, the mission is “Joining God in His work of transforming lives”, and our worship leader asked the band after practice how our lives had been transformed recently. Well, let’s see… a year ago, I had just started working at the bridal boutique and it was most definitely an answer to prayer being around people again, in a happy setting, making a little extra money and speaking life into other women. Meanwhile, Justin and I had recently joined a small group at church and were itching to serve with our church’s worship team but were still undergoing the new membership process required before we could serve. My heart was bursting to lift my voice again after the shutdowns, it had been so long. We “officially” joined the church in October, just before moving into our newly built home, and immediately began serving. My heart was full — another answer to prayer! The following month, right after Thanksgiving, Justin was let go from the job that moved us up to Wilmington. He struggled to find the right full-time job for about 6 months, which I’m sure you can imagine was a bit of a strain on our finances, and my “extra” income quickly became “not enough” income. I began to misplace the Source of my sufficiency — and I didn’t even realize it. I thought I was doing the right thing by pursuing opportunities that would bring us more financial stability and before I knew it, it became my primary focus and avalanched into a measurement of self worth. I was “trusting God” with the outcome (or so I thought) but still trying to work things out my way.
I’ve spent a lot of time here recently contemplating my self worth and where I find my deepest satisfaction. I know as a follower of Christ that the only true and accurate source of valuation is God, and that the things and achievements of this world will all pass away; but somehow, I still found myself falling into the trap of validation efforts and calculating my self worth by worldly measures — which, not surprisingly, left me feeling inadequate, run down, and ultimately worth-less. Likes and follows and LikeToKnow.it (LTK) shop interactions have been pretty stagnant despite my efforts; I coveted the former title and financial success of my corporate career as an accessories buyer; and I couldn’t shake the feeling that my time of airing products for HSN had come to a close after more than a year without airings (since the studio was closed off to guests – thank you, COVID). All of which saturated my spirit with an overwhelming sense of failure and lack of direction.
Again, deep down, I know where my Treasure is. I KNOW I should not put my valuation into the hands of this world, but when the “carrots” of those darn likes, follows, bank statements and career opportunities are dangled in front of you, it’s a real challenge not to try and snap them up. I cannot tell you how many times I received fruitless outreach attempts from talent acquisition reps for buying roles, only to have the opportunity disappear before I could even apply; or brand partners for HSN reach out with hopes of airing new products only to have the airtime pulled before the item could launch on TV. Then there were plans of attending summer High Point Market as well as the Atlanta Apparel Market with the boutique I work at, both of which were inevitably snuffed out too. Seriously, every creative and professional pursuit of mine seemed to hit a wall. Newsflash: when God closes door after door of your pursuits, it usually means you’re either pursuing the wrong thing, or you need to wait for His perfect timing.
So, when asked during my existential crisis how my life had been transformed recently, I couldn’t help but reflect on how misguided my pursuits had actually been, and how unaware I was, until that moment, of my undermining the sovereign hand of God in my life. God had already faithfully answered my prayers with my job, our new church and a place on the worship team — all of which I had pleaded with Him for — AND if that wasn’t enough, He moved my parents up to Wilmington in a miraculous way. But, when it came to trusting Him with the rest, I grasped at the reins and changed course altogether. When He revealed to me the err of my way, it weighed heavy on my heart and I needed to confess it. I needed to ask forgiveness. I needed to THANK God for His provision — for every bill being paid on time, every body clothed, every mouth fed, every birthday gifted. I needed to hand the reins back.
When I did that and unclenched the reins, He blessed me immeasurably more than I had asked or imagined. Many doors that had been shut had unexpectedly swung wide open. The partnership I had forged with Country Living Magazine last year as a guest for their product line on HSN came to fruition just last month, along with a new product launch with a brand called Eco Serve within the same week, followed by yet another partnership with a new luxury home fragrance partner launching later this Fall (BIG reveal to come). I co-organzied and walked in a runway show with the bridal boutique I work at, and my knack for accessorizing was put to use in every ensemble that appeared on the runway (stay tuned for broadcast info, coming in November). Not to mention, LTK decided they were no longer going to pester me with anxiety-inducing “nastygrams” about not reaching my goals each month and would let me post at my own pace without the threat of being kicked off the platform (a huge weight lifted). THANK YOU, JESUS!
Now, this doesn’t mean we don’t need to be wise(er) about our finances — we do. It doesn’t mean that I am now suddenly free from difficulties in life — I’m not. There will always be difficulties. But my marriage is stronger now than it was before this season of turmoil ensued. My perspective is furthermore tempered by faith in God’s Will than before. And, I can see now that the rough patch and remaining closed doors have been expertly placed in our path to bring us to a better work/life/spiritual balance than we could have envisioned for ourselves. However, we are also responsible for maintaining that balance, and with keeping the Will of God at the forefront of our life choices.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that I need to get back to the roots of Haute to Joy, this little platform I’ve been given. Bobby Bowden said, “Don’t go to the grave with life unused.” Upon his recent passing, his words deeply resonated with me and I have yet to shake them. I fear I have indeed spent much of my life unused, mainly due to a crippling fear of failure and rejection, a somewhat lesser-known form of worldliness. The thing about worldliness is that it is confined to the bounds of this world. You can’t take it with you into eternity, whether it’s popular opinion or physical possessions. All the accolades and financial accomplishments of achievements past will be rendered meaningless and all the accessories the world has to offer will never make it to Heaven’s gates, much less through them. The only way to enter into Heaven is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. You don’t NEED the accessories I share in order to have an abundant life. You don’t NEED the makeup I share to be radiant. You DO need Jesus to clothe you in righteousness. You DO need Grace daily (I know I do). And believe me when I tell you that His Grace IS sufficient for all your needs.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”Isaiah 61: 10
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”2 Corinthians 12:9
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21