Front Camera

How many times have you taken your phone out to take a picture of something, you click on the camera icon, and somehow the camera is already on the front camera, rather than the back camera? Or maybe you take your phone out to take a picture and you accidentally flip the camera to the front camera?

It always looks weird doesn’t it? You get this magnified version of yourself that shows how many hairs you have in your nose, every pimple you have had since 5th grade, your double chin, your lips that need a little chap stick, and so on. If you are like me, your first response is, “Uuugggh. It’s on front camera” and you quickly flip the camera because it is not always the best sight. Lol You are just there, looking crazy, really crazy. 😂

You all know exactly what I mean. I know I am not the only one that this happens to. In fact, it happened to me this morning, and that was my exact reaction…probably even worse because I was just waking up…😂😂

Hmmmmmm…Go with me. I’m going somewhere with this. God used this to minister to me and oh how it blessed me.

It is so much easier to look at life through the back camera isn’t it? The picture is so so much prettier. The focus is not on us. We are not the subject at hand. We are not in the spotlight.

The toughest part comes when it’s “LIGHT, CAMERA, ACTION” for us, when we have to flip the camera to see ourselves…to look at our faults, our flaws, our insecurities, to look at the mess we have created…but wait before we are ready to “see” us, we want to “fix” ourselves so that the camera portrays what we want to be seen. (CATCH THAT)

When the camera is on the “front camera”, it becomes very uncomfortable because there is no one else in the picture…but self. There is no one to point the finger at. There is no one to blame.

See, we are quick to want to flip the camera from the front camera because instead of dealing with self, it is so much easier to blame it on what mama did, what daddy did not do, the circumstances we were born into, the childhood we endured, who walked out on us, and so forth. As a whole, we have become comfortable with playing the “blame game”…because the more I point the finger at Jim, Sally, Jane, and John, the less time I have to look at myself…when in reality, we are the only responsible party, even if it means being responsible for our perspective about it, how we handle it, how long we hold on to it, or how we allow it to affect us.

See, the enemy never wants us to use the “front camera”…and he definitely never wants us to become comfortable with using it because he knows that with using the “front camera”, self-reflection starts, and with self-reflection, growth is inevitable…and yep, his goal is to impede our growth.

Hmmmm…..God said, “Flip the camera to the front, Erica, and take FULL responsibility for the person who is there. That is where growth starts.”

Was this just for me? Or was it for you as well? ❤️

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Not bending…

My freshman year at Delta State University, I took Dr. Elizabeth Sarcone for English. I hated that class. For three reasons- One, the obvious, it was not an easy class and she graded extremely hard. She would catch every single tingle wingle mistake. Lol….reason number two, she was obnoxiously sarcastic. THE QUEEN OF SHADE!!! I mean, she could embarrass you and you would not realize it until two days later. You would be sitting in your dorm room and it’ll hit you. “Did Dr. Sarcone suggest without suggesting that I need to return to high school 9th grade English?” Lol…and the last reason, in high school I was always an “A” student in English, but Dr. Sarcone had a way of reminding me that I was barely a “C-“ student. 🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️ Talk about college hurt…😥😥 I cried after every class that she gave us graded papers…I mean ugly cries too. See, leaving high school, I wantED to be an English professor….so yeah, she crushed those dreams. QUICK!!!! “Yeah, maybe I do not want to be an English professor after all.” 🤦🏾‍♀️🤣

…but you know what? As much as I hated the class, I loved her. I could not quite figure that one out. She was like the boyfriend who hurt my feelings by constantly cheating on me but I kept taking him back. I took her twice for English- 101 & 102, both times I got a C, BARELY. 😥

It wasn’t until I went to see my advisor for the preregistration of my Sophomore year that I realized how much I loved this toxic relationship Dr. Sarcone and I had. You would think I would be happy to get away from Dr. Sarcone right? INSTEAD, I asked my advisor to place me back in her English 102 class for a second dose. I was determined to get more than a C out of that l class! I was determined to conqueror this beast. Nooo, not her 🤣…but the class…

The first day of my sophomore year of me retaking her class, she called the roll, called my name, looked at me and said, “You’re back huh?” and moved to the next name. Every one looked at me with a smirk. Talk about getting off to a bad start already…YEAH…but I was determined to stay the course. It was something that this lady possessed that I needed. At the time, I did not know what it was.

Stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this…

As the semester progressed, same results “C-“ “C-“ “C-“. I cried to my advisor, but she reminded me that I chose that fight and I would have to stick with it.

I finally built up the nerve to go see Dr. Sarcone in her office one day. She was leaving which forced us to walk and talk. I voiced my concern…with tears in my eyes… and asked her, “What do I need to do to get more than a C- on your papers?” Her response, “Do more than C- papers I would think ”…and sarcastically laughed…and gave me the location to the Writing Center in the Keithly Hall on campus. 😥

I went to the writing centers a couple of times…still C- papers, LEGITIMATELY. She always provided explanations with every mistake along with the rubric sooooo she was not just “giving” me a C-. I was earning it….and that’s the part that hurt.

Fast forward to the end of the semester, I received a C again.

I know you probably was expecting I worked hard and eventually got an A ending right? Nah…

I tried though…at least that’s what I had “fooled” myself into believing.

Hmmmm…

Later in life, I realized what I loved about Dr. Sarcone. She was teaching me lessons that had nothing to do with English…and I have carried those lessons with me throughout life. She taught me that, for one, past success will not transcend future endeavors without effort, and most importantly, she taught me that you should have standards…and those standards should never change because of someone’s inability to meet those standards or in my case, because of someone not putting forth the effort to meet those standards. See, what I failed to mention about getting a “C-“ on every paper is the fact that I was waiting until the night before the paper was due to start…the fact that I was not using the suggestions from previous papers…the fact that I was riding on my high school “A’s” and felt that I did not have to work as hard. See I thought just by retaking her class would show her that I was determined enough.

Negative!! #CatchThat (There are some people in your life who believe that just because they are “around” that’s enough. News Flash!!!! It takes more than your mere presence alone.)

Do not apologize for having standards. It’s okay to have standards! Those who are going to meet those standards, WILL. Those who are not, WILL NOT. To You (who this may be for) you often wonder why no one seems to stick around…. or why you do not buy into the fake effort or….why you can walk away from things and people easily, you’re a Dr. Sarcone. You know your worth. You inspect what you expect. You are who you expect and you have a level of expectation that does not bend. ❤️

RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE…RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE…RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE…

Yesterday after work, I had an important meeting concerning a project I am trying to get off the ground before the year concludes. I entered the address in my GPS in my school’s parking lot, checked the details of the route, and proceeded to drive to my destination. About 15 minutes into the drive, I guess I got comfortable with the route because I stopped looking at the turn-by-turn directions and then, I had turned the volume down to where the guide was not being projected through the car speakers as I normally would have it. We all know that GPS instructions can be kind of annoying at times. 🤷🏾‍♀️

As a result, I took the wrong exit. I noticed that I had taken the wrong exit about a minute after taking it, I guess. I should have taken exit 16 onto Bill Morris Parkway; instead I took exit 15A onto Poplar. Immediately, I turned the volume up and I heard, “Please return to the highlighted route.” “Please return to the highlighted route.” Please return to the highlighted route.”

So at this moment, I am kind of frustrated…and to add to my frustrations, it was 5:00 traffic, I was looking at my phone for directions, horns were honking because I’m driving extremely slow trying to find my way, and then I was faced with the fact that I was going to potentially be late for my scheduled appointment…and truth be told, it was nobody’s fault but mine. I was traveling to an unfamiliar place, in an unfamiliar city (should not be being that I’ve been here for a while 🤷🏾‍♀️) and I became self-sufficient when I should have been relying on my GPS every step of the way.

Anyway, after much maneuvering, I finally was able to “return to the highlighted route”…as the GPS instructed…and I arrived at my destination. I was a little late, but she understood.

This morning during my quiet time and my reading, yesterday’s experience dropped in my spirit, and the way God used it to minister to me FOR ME blessed me!

READ ON…It will bless you too.

How many times do we seek God for instructions to carry out a vision He has given us? He gives us those turn-by-turn instructions, as my GPS did. We start, and because things seem to be going very well, we become comfortable and dangerously, we start to suffer from self-sufficiency, thinking we can do it on our own, in our own way.

Therefore, we stop relying on God, stop seeking His guidance, and stop acknowledging that we stIll NEED Him just as much as we did in the beginning…before we started. See, had I not entered that address before I left my school’s parking lot, I could not have even started the route. CATCH THAT.

See, the thing with God is He will allow us to venture onto the wrong exit to get our attention…to show us that we can never become comfortable and complacent in Him…to show us that we do not know as much as we think we know…to show us that we desperately NEED Him.

This morning, God spoke TO ME and said, “Erica, you’ve taken the wrong exit because you turned me down…as you did your volume (OUCH)…because you’ve become self-sufficient (OUCH). My daughter, RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE.”

Was this just for me? Or is it for you too? If so,

RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE…RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE…RETURN TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE…

Be Selfish

While I was out and about this weekend, running a couple of errands, I decided to take the Walnut Grove exit (which is my least favorite) to return home. Immediately, after exiting, I regretted it for the very reason that it is my least favorite. Traffic was backed up….as always!

“Ugh”, I thought. “Another accident. Memphis drivers are the worst.”

As I sat in the barely moving traffic, pressing the accelerator and then the brakes what seemed like every two seconds, I finally approached the cause of the traffic pile-up. It was a wrecker service truck that had broken down. Ironic huh? The truck that is supposed to come to everyone else’s rescue had broken down…and had traffic piled up…(catch that)

In that moment, God spoke…

Sometimes we get so busy trying to be EVERY thing to EVERY one else that we neglect the one person who needs us the most- SELF. We become so attentive to the needs of others and running to their rescue EVERY single time they call, that we do not realize that we…ourselves… are coming apart, slowly unraveling thread by thread…or maybe, we do realize it but turn a blind eye to all the signs that we are running on empty. We go on carrying their “weight” along with our “weight” (and sometimes, it is heavier than their weight) until we “break down”…as that wrecker truck did…and then there’s a “pile-up…”

Are you that person? Are you one who feels that you have to constantly pour from your cup, even when it’s empty? Are you one who plays so many roles- mom, dad, wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, friend, associate, sister, brother, daughter, son, employee, business owner, prayer warrior, listening ear, lender, etc….but then, you neglect the role of self???

Read on…

It is perfectly okay to be selfish…yes, I know the word selfish has gained such a negative connotation, but just think? If you are not well, then you cannot be anything to anyone. If you never stop to rest, to replenish, then you are well on your way to a “break down”…as that wrecker truck did. Selflessness is such a beautiful trait, but being selflessness should not require you to take from you. YOU NEED YOU.

Listen, do not ignore the signs…take a break…and figure out what is it that you need? Do not lose yourself on the mission of helping everyone else to find themselves. ❤️

What are you wearing?

Last night, my coworker and I ate at Joe’s. Just as we were about to pay, an older gentlemen walked over to us and asked me, “What color shirt is that you’re wearing?” I looked down at my shirt and responded, “Purple.” Then he pointed at his friend who also had on a purple shirt with the “Q-Dogg” letters and asked, “What are those letters?” So I responded, “Y’all are Q- Dogg’s?” He said, “No, we are Omega men.” There’s a difference. (Catch that) Then, he said, “Just because you are wearing purple, I am going to put this on your bill.”

Weird huh?

Well, not really. I’m going to tell you why in a few.

…and let me just add this, the amount he gave was the difference I had to pay because the rewards I had earned on previous visits had covered the other portion. Hallelujah!!! That alone blessed me as well, but LISTEN!!!!!!….

The encounter with this guy ministered to me in a way like no other. First off, it was unexpected, but this morning as I was reflecting on that situation again, I heard God say, “Because NOW you are wearing what you are SUPPOSED to be wearing (catch that…and I am not talking about clothes either), I AM about to release some unexpected blessings your way.” Hallelujah!!!!!!! Glory to God!!!

Can I be honest? See, until we put on what we are SUPPOSED to be wearing, there are a lot of things God will withhold from us….until we get it right…because Lord knows, in the last months or so, I had put on some STUFF that I know I should not have been wearing…but because God is a merciful and graceful God, He helped me undressed and then redress. See, we cannot keep serving Satan but expecting an overflow from God. It just will not happen. There are some things that you are going to have to cut off and there are some people you are going to have to say “bye bye” to….Yes, it may break your heart but to be in RIGHT STANDING with Jesus makes it all worth it!!!!!

Listen, ya’ll! I pray this blessed you as it blessed me. I do not know about ya’ll, but I want ALL God has for me….and to receive that ALL, we have to be wearing a “specific garment”; we cannot wear just any old thing; we cannot look like the rest. We have to STAND OUT! The ROBE OF RIGHTEOUS is what we have to be wearing! ❤️

Rerouting…

I don’t know if anyone else is like me, but I use my GPS even if I know where I am going; I like to know what time I’ll arrive. This morning, I was en route to work. In the middle of the route, the GPS rerouted me. Rerouting usually happens when you take a wrong exit, but that was not the case. I was following the route given “To a T.” When it rerouted, I hesitated for a minute and even thought about not following the but then, I took the new exit in the 0.6 miles as I was instructed to. Now, what was even more puzzling, the new route delayed me for about 8 minutes more than the usual route. Of course, frustration set in and I’m thinking, I know I should have followed my initial route, but I kept driving. As I continued, the arrival time kept increasing. I’m like, “Really????” I picked up my phone to text the principal and every time, there was a distraction. So I just threw my hands up and just accepted and embraced this NEW route and said, “Whatever happens, happens.” I arrived at work at 7:58, 8 minutes earlier than the arrival time stated…AND when I arrived at work, the parking lot was not as full as usual. I learned that there was a bad accident on 240 W (the route I usually take) and over half of my coworkers were stuck in traffic…and to jump forward, most did not arrive to work until 9:20. Wow. Stuck in traffic for a whole hour and some. Yikes!!!

My point?

Sometimes in life, things will be going smooth and then all of a sudden we will get “rerouted”. We won’t always like it nor will we always understand it, but we have to accept it and embrace it as God’s will. When we fight against it, we found ourselves stuck, going nowhere, feeling frustrated, feeling purposeless because we are traveling a route outside of God’s will. Just think, had I fought against that NEW route because the old was familiar to me, I would have, too, been “stuck”, going nowhere, in stand still traffic for over an hour. Because He sees what’s ahead, we have to trust Him. Yes, I know we like the familiar and like being comfortable, but sometimes the NEW…and REROUTES are for our good. Sometimes, God comes along and shakes up what we are used to, to get us to where we are supposed to be, when are supposed to be there…if we would trust His leading. ❤️

AT YOUR PACE…

Oh my!!! Let this bless you!!!!!

This morning when I walked in the gym, the only available treadmill was beside this woman who appeared to have the treadmill on a speed of 12 and an incline of 12 as well. She was getting it!!! I was hesitant about getting on the treadmill next to her because her speed and incline would put my speed of 3.5 and incline of 1 to shame….but I did anyway.

I started…and about a half mile in, I glanced over at her treadmill readings and she had burned nearly 500 calories while I burned 50. 😩 I would have to walk 5 hours at my pace to get there. So I upped my speed to 4.5 and incline to 3.0….and picked up the pace. Toward the end of my first mile, I glanced over at her readings and she was nearly at 700 calories…sooo I upped my speed and incline again…and about one minute later, I had to completely stop my treadmill because I was short of breath, felt like I was about to vomit and pass out…while she kept going…(Catch that)

My point?

So many times, in this walk of life, we try to “keep up” with others. We see someone else start a business, then we want to start a business. We see someone else buy a home, we want to buy a home. We see someone else get married and have a baby, we pressure our boyfriends and girlfriends to marry and have babies. We see someone else get a promotion, we want a promotion…when really we don’t know what they have done, how much they have prayed, or how much they have sacrificed to get to where they are. Just like the woman next to me, I don’t know how long she has been working out to build her endurance. All I wanted to do at that moment was KEEP UP…when I know I have been inconsistent and have a jacked up diet. (Catch that) We want God to give us the world when we have not sacrificed a town.

On this walk, it’s important to keep our eyes on our OWN walk and move at the pace God allows us to move. When we take our eyes off our walk, we start comparing…which starts the slippery slope to an ungrateful, envious, and jealous heart.

Walk your own walk….at your own pace. When you move ahead of God, His GRACE for that walk and for that time gets left behind as well….just like it left me this morning. God has us where we are for a reason. Some are farther along than others…and some move faster while some move slower.

Wherever you are on your journey, TRUST IT…and keep moving…at the designated pace. ❤️

God is a PROMISE KEEPER…

Yesterday, I had a moment. After work I sat in my car for about 30 minutes and boohooed like a baby. I always sit in my car after work for a while; I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember. That gives me a moment to collect myself and make a mental list of things I need to complete before bed.

Anyway…

As I sat in the car yesterday, scrolling through pictures from last night’s Data Night, I kept scrolling and somehow I started looking at pictures from six years ago.

…and that’s where the boohooing started.

It was this one picture where I was, too, sitting in my car after work. I remember so vividly because I remember the shirt I was wearing and how I had soaked it with tears and makeup and the makeup would not come out.

As I looked at that picture,I remember that I had just left my husband and moved to Greenville. I had just started a new job so I was full of doubt. Along with the doubt from the new job, I was hurt, embarrassed, depressed, and broken…spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and financially….but no one had a clue, no one but me. I had mastered the art of pretending to be happy…but I was a total wreck. I was crying myself to sleep every night, battling with suicidal thoughts, battling with low self-esteem and low self-worth, and was completely lost.

So here I was yesterday, feeling completely opposite of what I felt six years ago- at PEACE, full of JOY, WHOLE, and FREE, and it was in that moment that I was reassured that GOD IS A PROMISE KEEPER.

Let me encourage those who may be today where I was six years ago. You do not have to pretend to be okay. You can actually be okay….but God cannot heal what you will not reveal. I have traveled this road and I know how painful it is. I know exactly how you are feeling and what you are dealing with; however, this is NOT your final destination. You are just passing through. This pain is only temporary, and God is going to give you beauty for your ashes.

See, you cannot appreciate the sunshine until you have gone through the storms and rain…you cannot appreciate being WHOLE until you’ve been broken…you cannot appreciate a full night’s rest until you’ve tossed & turned all night…you cannot appreciate crying tears of joy until you’ve cried tears of sorrow…you cannot appreciate the PEACE until you’ve endured mental & emotional turmoil.

Go through it!!!

Starting today- be honest with yourself and with God about what you are feeling. He loves you and He cares…and you will, too, be able to look back and cry….tears of joy…because you are not at that place anymore….and it will be in that moment that you will understand why you had to go through this and will, too, realize that God is a PROMISE KEEPER. ❤️

The Wait…Ugh…

Y’all remember Hannah in the Bible? She was one of the wives of Elkanah. Elkanah’s other wife was Peninnah. Hannah had no children and Penninah did…and Penninah, with her little mean and dirty self, taunted Hannah because of this. Penninah knew how badly Hannah wanted kids, and I can imagine how badly Hannah felt. The other wife (which I could not have dealt with- Thank God I was not born back then. Lol) had multiple children by THEIR husband and Hannah could not conceive even one.

Stay with me…I promise you I’m going somewhere with this….

Putting myself in Hannah shoes, I’m sure she often wondered what her purpose was and felt upset, embarrassed, worthless, frustrated, impatient, anger, and probably even envied Penninah and her husband’s relationship a little….or maybe a lot. I would’ve been all up in Elkanah’s face asking, “What you doing to Penninah that you ain’t doing to me?” 😂😂😂

Okay, let me continue…

…but you know what I love about Hannah, even with all these emotions she must have been experiencing, she never stop clinging to God and she never stopped praying that God would give her a child. Even with all these emotions rising, she still had FAITH. She knew God would do what He promised. If she didn’t believe it, she would’ve stopped praying…

……like most of us do. Hmmmm…

See, when you are experiencing tough times is not

the time to run away from God but to run to Him. God cares about our emotions and what concerns us. Having emotions do not make Him upset. It is dealing with those emotions in an unhealthy manner- turning to temporary fixes, pretending we are okay, resorting to unbelief- that makes His heart grieves. He wants to hear about all our troubles, although He already knows.

Let me encourage you- you may not be like Hannah, waiting on a baby but whatever you are waiting on, I encourage you to keep waiting. I know how you are feeling and how frustrated the wait has been, but allow those feelings to push you deeper into God. Allow those feelings to make you cling to God even harder. People may be taunting you, mocking you, laughing at you, may think you are a fool to still be waiting, and may have counted you out, but you keep pressing into God…until the PROMISE manifests.

and you’ll be like Hannah one day, able to rejoice and be a witness to the world that God is ONE who does not lie. God eventually blessed Hannah with a child who she named Samuel who went on to be a world changer.

Trust God’s timing. If He is making you wait, He has good reason. Don’t trade God’s timing for your deadline. ❤️❤️