I was 8 months pregnant with Haven, my first born.
I was in good health, happy, and excited about her impending arrival.
But I was ready to have this baby.
I didn't have any unconventional cravings while pregnant.
I pretty much enjoyed the same diet. And when I wanted something unhealthy that would hit the spot, I usually ate the same 'bad' things that I'd usually eat pre-pregnancy when enjoying a cheat day.
But one day, out of nowhere, while just minding my business, I was hit with an insatiable desire for sweet potato pie.
It was overwhelming.
I could taste the soft potatoes in my mouth, intermingled with cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and sugar, ALL layered on top of a nice, buttery, flaky crust.
Sitting there, I could taste it in my mind and my mouth.
So I called my mother and asked her if she'd make me a pie.
I explained that her grandchild wanted it.
My mom told me that she'd make me the pie, but that it would be later in the week on the weekend.
THAT SIMPLY WOULD NOT WORK FOR ME AND THE BABY.
I was craving the pie in the here and now.
So with full intentions to satisfy this craving, I left work that day and went straight to the grocery store.
I carefully went down each aisle gathering all of the ingredients that it would take to make my pie.
YES. I knew how to make sweet potato pie.
My Mom had shown me quite some time ago when discovering that they were my favorite.
I knew how to make them EXACTLY how I loved them.
I took my time selecting the potatoes, vanilla extract, pie shells, butter, pet milk, eggs, and spices, being careful not to forget anything, lest I end up having to wobble back to my car, and back to the store.
This was to be one trip for all of it.
I drove home, unloaded the groceries, and started making the pies, step by step by step.
Making sweet potato pies is easy, but a task.
Baking is a task.
There is an art to it. It's not quite like regular, every-day cooking.
You have to understand, I am not one who enjoys cooking, let alone baking.
I can do it. But I'm not enjoying myself while I am.
I'm thinking of so many other things I'd rather be doing the whole time that I'm cutting, measuring, and stirring.
But here I was, dead set on satisfying my craving, cutting, stirring, blending, sprinkling, sampling, and getting the pie mix just like I liked it.
An hour later I was staring at a fully cooked pie sitting on the stove, complete with the perfect shade of baked orange color, complete with the "sweet sweat" on top as it cooled.
I cut a hefty sized slice, kicked up my swollen feet on the couch, and devoured the piece of pie.
I could feel the dopamine in my brain responding to the joy of rewarded satisfaction.
THIS WAS IT.
This was desire completed.
It was hope fulfilled.
The next day while working, I thought about the pie the entire day.
I sat for hours thinking about how good that one slice of pie was, and how it would be even better chilled.
A cold piece of sweet potato pie is ten times better than a hot piece.
Throw in a cup of coffee or glass of milk, and it's a meal.
My mouth began watering every time it came to mind.
I told myself for eight straight hours:
"Shaunee, just wait until you get home. You have something wonderful waiting on you."
I'd gotten a call from my Aunt the night before. Somehow she'd found out that I made a pie, and had asked for a slice.
While sitting there working, thinking of my pie, she called to let me know that she was on her way to get it.
I'd cut her a slice that morning, wrapped it up, and put it in the fridge.
I called my husband and told him the following:
"Gayle, my Aunt is coming over to get a slice of sweet potato pie. I already cut her a piece. It's on the top shelf, wrapped in foil inside of the Kroger bag. She'll be there shortly to get it."
He told me okay. And that was the end of that.
While driving home from work, I thought about my pie.
As I pulled into the driveway, I thought about my pie.
As I walked into the house, I thought about my pie.
As I hurriedly took off my coat and shoes, I thought about my pie.
The baby was thinking about the pie.
My brain and heart was thinking about the pie.
I'd gone completely, and intentionally around my dislike for cooking and baking to make this pie.
This was a "labor of love pie".
It was a pie produced through great inconvenience.
As I peeled every potato, cut them up, boiled them, and blended them, the only thing that kept me going was the end result.
It was the vision in my head, and the taste in my mind.
This pie was different.
It cost me something.
And in this moment, as I was ready for a second helping, it all felt worth it.
I grabbed the refrigerator door and swung it open.
My eyes went directly to the second shelf where I'd placed the pie.
THE PIE WAS GONE Y'ALL.
I started moving things around in the fridge, looking for the pie.
I wasn't panicking yet.
I wasn't the only one that lived in the house.
It was common for my husband to move things around the fridge.
But as I shifted items around, it was an inescapable truth that it was nowhere to be found.
I quickly walked over to the kitchen sink to see if my husband had eaten it.
I knew that he hadn't (he doesn't like sweet potato pie), but I wanted to check just in case.
I felt my heart starting to beat fast, and as I called for my husband, my voice was cracking.
I called his name feverishly with panic, causing him to run up the stairs in alarm.
"Gayle......Where is my pie?!"
His eyes were big with alarm.
What on earth do you mean 'What pie?'
Are you kidding me?!
The pie that you watched me labor over.
"......The sweet potato pie that I made yesterday!.....Where is it?!?"
"Oh! I gave it to your Aunt like you told me to."
If ever there was a time for God to crack the sky and perform the rapture.....THIS was it.
I felt like someone had gut punched me.
I felt my blood pressure shoot up to the moon and my knees buckling.
I immediately burst into tears.
I'm not talking about a few trickles.
I was crying like my dog had died.
My husband looked at me in horror.
"WHAT?! What's wrong?! Why are you crying?! What?!?!"
I could barely gather my words.
I was pregnant and emotional.
But I was LIVID.
I felt heat crawling up my spine to the nape of my neck.
There were a billion other times that my husband had tuned me out and not listened to a thing that I'd said.
I stood there thinking of grocery store trips, conversations, instructions, phone calls, DIY projects, laundry tasks, and several other times he'd missed a detail that I'd relayed that he'd needed to secure.
I'd forgiven them all.
I was used to forgiving them.
Most men miss details.
BUT NOT THIS TIME.
This time he was going to hear it for this time and every other one before it.
I turned to him like The Incredible Hulk, in a pool of tears, and told him that he needed to get in the car ASAP, and drive over to my Aunt's house to get my pie back.
He looked at me in disbelief.
He said: "Shaunee!! Are you serious?!"
Then a chuckle slipped from his lips.
He didn't like to see me this upset. He was in shock that I actually was.
He knew it was serious.
I'm not a big cryer.
He knew that this was legit.
But that chuckle was the result of nervous shock, failure, and the disbelief that he'd actually have to get in his car, drive over to her house, and get back a half-eaten pie.
I understood the chuckle.
But it set me off.
I cried even harder and screamed: "OF COURSE I'M SERIOUS! ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW!?!"
He looked so guilty.
He knew that chuckle had sealed his fate.
He went in the fridge and grabbed the slice I'd cut for her, and said: "You can eat this right?"
I couldn't see my face.
But I felt it.
I had to be looking at him like a gargoyle by the way he looked back at me.
Silence filled the kitchen.
He didn't say anything else.
He grabbed the slice of pie, his coat, and keys and left out of the house to go get my pie like he was on a mission to get the nuclear war codes from terrorists to give back to the government.
He was on a life-saving mission.
30 minutes later he returned with the pie.
He didn't say a word as he placed it on the counter.
And I didn't say a word as I picked it up to inspect the contents.
I sat down on the couch with tears stains still on my face, grabbed the controller, and ate the rest of the pie.
Here I am almost 11 years later and remember every detail surrounding that event.
We laugh about it often.
I added it to a sermon once.
I had someone ask me later: "Were you really crying for real?"
YES. No exaggeration. I was done for.
Even though I'm back to healthy estrogen levels, not pregnant, and can think straight, the tears and reaction still seem appropriate.
It wasn't about the pie.
It wasn't about the craving, or the baby wanting it.
It wasn't even about me wanting it.
It was all about the desire, hope to have it, and abnormal, out of character work that I'd put into making it happen.
In one moment, the reward for my work was taken from me.
And the thought of having to do it all again felt like too much.
Loss and Starting Over created more grief than not having the pie to enjoy.
This came back to me this week as many of us forge ahead into 2023.
Some of us have already quit our New Year's Resolutions.
Some of us have already experienced loss, or no fruit from hard work.
The thought of loss, or starting over again feels more depressing than not having what we wanted, hoped for, or worked for.
Nobody likes starting over.
Nobody like seeing their results go to waste.
But I want to encourage you in truth.
The feeling of not trying again is much worse than the feeling of quitting.
Regret is a highly underestimated poison that tells us that our dreams and desires are not achievable or attainable.
I don't know where you are in life.
I don't know what needs your effort again.
But don't let grief, fear, or a lack of self-esteem/confidence keep you from doing it all again if you have to.
You are able.
And even though getting around our discomfort is highly inconvenient, it is often the one ingredient that is missing to our success and overcoming.
Bake the pie again if you have to.
You'll be happy that you did.