Stories of faith, life, and love

Tag: plans

Best Laid Plans

Botanical garden pictures, fountains, hedge mazes, flowers.

You know what they say about best laid plans. Or if you’re like me, you have to google the rest of the saying because people stopped using the complete phrase. It’s actually, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. That was my weekend.

The main character in my work in progress owns a cupcake truck. Rural southern Illinois is not known for its food truck options. The closest place for sampling the fare is St. Louis, Missouri. I researched to find one with great reviews and my husband and I left Friday night. We would spend the night and be at the food truck when it opened on Saturday.  The day would give me valuable insight into locations, ability to operate in the cold winter months, and the food truck atmosphere.

While enjoying the botanical gardens Saturday morning, I checked Facebook every hour for the food truck to post the day’s location. When opening time came and went without a post, I messaged them. The return message was prompt and disappointing. They were closed for Labor Day weekend! I tried to find other trucks, but none really appealed to me. I couldn’t find locations for the couple that we agreed sounded okay. I couldn’t keep searching because reading in the car was making me sick. We stopped looking. My research trip was suddenly research-less.

Choosing to stay positive, we visited an antique mall we’d seen. We were unimpressed. Everything on our list of things to do was failing to deliver. We were having a pleasant time and enjoying the time spent together, but our plans weren’t working out as we’d hoped.

On a whim, I found a used bookstore since Andy and I love the one we go to in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  We stopped. Like everything else, we enjoyed ourselves, but it probably won’t receive a return trip. It did, however, give us the prompting we needed to take a less familiar way home, off the interstate.

Barn, tractor with wagon, country store

While we drove the highway through forgotten small towns, we decided to pull over if anything we saw looked good for lunch. If not, we’d just wait until we got home. That’s when I saw the sign for Eckert’s orchard. We have several orchards in our area, but even the most commercial ones are not like this. It was home-grown fun for the entire family. Eckert’s boasts a restaurant, custard stand, country store, garden center, and U-pick apple and pumpkin fields complete with tractor pulled wagon rides to the trees or vines.  They even had a carnival area for the kids.

Our first stop was the country store filled with products made from the produce of the farm. The store contained everything a small country market would have along with gifts and home décor. We quickly had more on our list of things we’d like to try than we guessed possible and decided to eat first, shop second.

We weren’t sure what kind of quality could be expected at an orchard restaurant, but we were pleasantly surprised. The portions were good, and the food was too. The service was excellent. Everyone we met at the restaurant and in the store was pleasant and helpful, taking the time to chat with us. With our hunger satisfied, we went back to the store and spent way more than we should have on fudge, cider, pancake mix and syrup, flavored coffee, cider doughnuts, and grilling sauces.

Eckert’s orchard wasn’t on our list of things to do when we set out for the weekend, but it was the highlight of our trip. On the way home we talked about how we would have missed it had the food truck been open or if we hadn’t veered off course to find the used bookstore. We wouldn’t have seen it if we’d taken the interstate as originally planned or decided to call the trip done and wait to eat until we arrived home. So many things in our plans had to go wrong for us to end up in the one place that turned into the most memorable part of our weekend.

How many times do we gripe and whine to God when things don’t go the way we planned? How many times do we pout over missed opportunities and unexpected twists in our lives? We lay out great plans for our marriages, families, careers, and ministries only to lash out at God as if He’s betrayed us when something we didn’t plan and don’t like enters into our carefully constructed pictures. We intended to go through life on the fast-moving interstate only to find ourselves on the backroads of a country highway. And I can’t help but wonder how many times we’ve missed the times of joy, redemption, and restoration God has for us around the next bend in the road because we’re too busy focusing on how all our best laid plans have fallen apart.

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Main Character Monday #9

carolina dream

 

Welcome to Main Character Monday. It’s a little different than my regular blog posts, a little more lighthearted. But stick with it, and you just might find some characters you’d like to read more about. And even though it isn’t my usual devotional style, you may still come away with an encouraging word from the Word. I hope you enjoy Main Character Monday!

Today’s Guest is Sarah Jane Crawford from Carolina Dream by Regina Rudd Merrick. Thank you for joining me.

Thanks for having me, and welcome to the beaches of South Carolina! It’s been an exciting year for me!

A life verse is a scripture that has spoken to you deeply, impacted the way you live your life, or become like a theme verse for your life. What would you say is your life verse?

That’s easy! My life verse is Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. That has certainly been true for me. I used to think that made God kind of a “genie in a bottle,” granting wishes and desires, but now? Now I know that when my heart is in tune with God, HIS desires become MY desires. What a wonderful promise He fulfills every day!

What person from scripture do you most relate to?

I guess that depends on the situation. Many times I feel like Martha – always trying to do the right thing, making sure everyone is taken care of, and not enjoying sitting at the feet of Jesus. This year, I’ve felt a little like Esther. She was placed in the right place, at the right time, and that’s how I feel about my broken engagement and the inheritance that brought me to South Carolina. I wanted to be away from home because I was hurting, and this was the perfect excuse for me – and in the process found that BEST that God had for me!

The New Testament says that all the law and prophets can be summed up in two commands: love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. Which of these two commands do you feel you have the most trouble following?

That’s a very interesting question. I would say my biggest difficulty lies with loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind. My biggest struggle is in trusting Him implicitly, because I try to solve my problems on my own. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a “fixer” and a “planner,” and I’m much more confident when I have a schedule in front of me and know what’s going to happen. I love Him, but I try to take over for Him quite frequently. I’m learning, though! Moving to a new state? Meeting a new love? Considering a new job? Without God, I would be a total wreck!

Solomon asked God for wisdom. If God gave you the same opportunity, what would you ask Him for?

I would ask God for inner peace. By nature a worrier, I’m working toward letting the past stay in the past, and realize that it’s just a part of my life from which I needed to learn more about God and my relationship with Him.

If you could give one message to those reading this interview, what would you tell them?

Do your best to “delight yourself in the Lord.” He delights in you, and wants nothing more from us than to love Him and glorify Him in all we do!

Just for Fun:

Dark or Milk Chocolate? BOTH! I never met a flavor of chocolate I didn’t like.

Autumn or Spring? Both, but Spring has the benefit of coming after dreary late Winter! At the beach, they’re all perfect!

Coffee or Hot Cocoa? Coffee. I like Hot Cocoa, but given the choice, I’d pick a Mocha Latte! The best of both worlds!

If you could describe Regina Rudd Merrick in three words, what would those words be? Smart, funny, and a little self-conscious.

Thank you to Sarah Jane Crawford for joining me for this interview. And special thanks to Regina Rudd Merrick for allowing her to be part of Main Character Monday. If you’d like to know more about Sarah Jane, you can pick up Carolina Dream on Amazon in e-book and paperback formats. 

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By Sweet Design

bakery2Growing up, it was a frozen yogurt place. Too bad it was before the frozen yogurt craze. It didn’t last too long. After that, it housed various pizza places. None of them stayed around too long either. People blame it on the location, sitting on the fringe of the town’s business area. I think the location could be a success with the right business.

I think the cute little building would make a great bakery. I love to bake. And since the last pizza place moved out and the newest For Sale sign went up, I’ve imagined it as one. A fresh coat of paint would give it new life, as well as covering up the graffiti on the lamp posts. A good cleaning would allow the windows to sparkle. It would be fun, yet comfortable. Inviting. People would stop in each morning for traditional pastries as well as clean eating options. Regulars would provide a solid base to keep the doors open even when the students left the nearby university each summer. It might not make the owner rich, but it would provide a decent living. I even know what I would name this imaginary bakery, By Sweet Design.

I have it all planned out, and the building still sits empty. It’s been that way for a couple years now. There’s no fresh paint. There’s not a brand new sign sporting a fun cupcake and the name of a bakery. The windows definitely don’t sparkle at this point. I don’t own a bakery, and I never will. But my planning wasn’t completely in vain.

By Sweet Design has come to life. The color scheme and décor are everything I dreamed they would be. The sign is quirky and fun.  And customers love the pastries, from the brownies to the scones and everything in between. It’s a relaxed atmosphere that draws people in and invites them to stay a while.

Want to know the best thing about my bakery? It’s never going to go out of business. The empty building and my own bakery ideas are the inspiration for Austin Blake’s bakery in my book, Faith’s Journey. I even kept the name the same. Austin didn’t mind. He loves the way people like Erin and Katie hang out after a girls’ day out. He knows his regulars by name, and treats each customer like they’re his best customer.

Through writing Faith’s Journey, I’ve gotten to create my bakery. I’ve gotten to see it become everything I knew it could be, and I love it. It may not be the way I imagined when the idea popped into my head, but my plans for By Sweet Design add life to the story of Faith’s Journey. My time spent daydreaming and planning weren’t a waste. And though I didn’t see it at the time, I know God did.

Jeremiah 29:11 promises there is a plan and purpose for our lives. It’s not our plan. It’s Gods. And it’s comforting to know His plans are for our good. It doesn’t mean they won’t surprise us though. And it doesn’t mean we’ll understand everything as we go through it.

I didn’t know why I had such a clear vision for a bakery I would never own. Now, I do. A woman I know dreamed of being a missionary. Her husband didn’t share the vision. Her desire to go into all the world never wavered. Years would pass before she began taking youth groups on mission trips throughout the United States. It wasn’t all the world, but she was sharing the gospel outside her immediate vicinity. More years would pass before she started blogging. Her blogs share the truth of scripture and a strong gospel message. Her followers include people from around the world. God has brought her to the realization of her dream of world missions.

Does it look like she expected it to look? No. Blogging didn’t exist when the spark to reach others was first lit inside her. Computers and the internet were not in most homes. Now, they are, and God is using them as the vehicle to take her into the world.

She could fight God on it. She could refuse to see this as God’s fulfillment of her dream. She could gripe about how this wasn’t what she meant when she said she wanted to impact the world for Him. She could do these things and lose the gift God has given her. She could miss His purpose and plan because it doesn’t look the way she thought it would. Instead, she chooses to embrace it. She sees it for the blessing and provision it is. She chooses to live by faith, trusting that each step of the way has been planned by God’s sweet design.

By the Book: When has God worked things out in your life in surprising ways? Have you embraced His plan or do you fight it because it doesn’t look the way you envisioned?

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