Bloom where you are planted…

Thursday when we boarded the ship, I was surprised to hear an African American’s voice over the loud speaker welcoming us as the Cruise Director. Surprised, simply because out of the many cruises I’ve been on, this was a first. Alriiiggghhtt, Carnival! Lol

Anyway, sooooo…

Yesterday evening after one of the many shows on the ship, the cruise director, Tevin, opened a short Q and A with the audience to kill time before the next show.

Someone asked, “Where did you start?”

*Before I continue, let me give a little background about cruise directors for those who have not been on a cruise. Cruise directors are the face of the cruise. They are the only voice you hear. Their sole objective is to make sure the guests enjoy the cruise. They have to love people, have a welcoming personality, have to be extra funny, and their salary averages about $60,000 per year. *

After repeating the question back to the audience, “Where did I start? Hmmmmm”

He went on to say, “I started in housekeeping. After applying for this job several times and not getting it, I made the most of where I was…in HOUSEKEEPING (with Carnival.) While being a housekeeper, I behaved like a cruise director would. I made sure my guests were happy, I entertained my guests- making them laugh, making sure they were comfortable to the best of my ability…and then after receiving sooooo many 5 star reviews from guests, they CALLED me to apply for the cruise director position again and decided to give me a shot.”

Ha!!!

Stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this and this is sure to bless you…

A lot of you have given up on your dreams because you have not gotten your big break yet. So you are bitter, working a job that you have settled for because you didn’t get the job you wanted. So you treat people mean, you half do it, you complain all the time, you come late, leave early…unlike Tevin.

Instead of Tevin being bitter, being mad at the world, treating guests nastily, half doing his job, or even quitting Carnival, he became the best housekeeper there was…and most importantly, Tevin did what Colossians 3:23- 3:24 states,

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

‭‭

Tevin became a Cruise Director before he actually became a Cruise Director. (Catch that…)

I don’t know who this is for, but if this is you…

Delayed does not mean denied. Just because you have gotten NO after NO after NO does not mean that, that YES is not coming. While you are WAITING, make the most of this season; go ahead and become what you aspire to be- BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED…and your Father in Heaven will make it where people cannot help but to notice you.❤️

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Where is your focus?

Yesterday evening, I drove to Memphis after work for an appointment. I left around 3:30 pm which placed me in Memphis around rush hour. With all the construction on the interstate, that made rush hour even worse. To add, I had an appointment at 5:45 pm that I HAD to make. If I was a minute late, it would’ve canceled. That was explained to me before I accepted it.

Anyway…here I was at 5:20 pm, still 30-35 minutes away from my destination according to my GPS, still stuck in rush hour traffic. I was frustrated, antsy, and angry that it was a possibility that I had driven two plus hours… for nothing.

“Ugh”, I thought. “I hate Memphis’ traffic”, I blurted out.

But it wasn’t the traffic that was bothering me. It was the fact that I would be late for my appointment and miss it…and I had no control over it.

At about 5:30 pm, I guess, one of my favorite songs played on the radio which sent me into a full dance routine. I mean I was getting it.

Obviously, that took my focus off of the bumper to bumper traffic. Shortly after the song went off and I caught my breath from dancing, I noticed traffic was flowing.

Hmmm….

Stay with me. I’m going somewhere…

It was in that moment that I heard-

Difficult times become even more difficult when we are focused on them. It isn’t so much about what is happening to us that gets us; is the extreme focus that we give those times that makes us angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, feel powerless, and forces us to want to throw in the towel.

When that song played, I completely forgot I was in traffic that was barely moving. As a result, I unconsciously calmed down, drove, trusted the process…(catch this), and things flowed and worked out exactly how they were supposed to- I made my appointment at 5:43 pm.

Let me encourage you…

I do not know what’s before you- it could be financial problems, it could be trouble on your job, it could be your children who are going down the wrong path, it could be problems in your marriage, it could be problems with school…

Whatever it is, I dare you to take your focus off of it. Instead of worrying and stressing which are unhealthy, consume your time with other healthy things…and before you know it, things will start flowing and work out exactly how they are supposed to….

God bless you! ❤️

#TakeYourFocusOffOfIT

Are you Successful?

In the picture below are two of three of my college degrees. Now, I also have an Educational Specialist in Administration and Supervision. I aspire to be a principal one day. Many probably would say that I’m pretty successful huh?

And I agree-d

…at one point.

To many people success means multiple degrees, a flourishing business, a nice home, nice cars, a husband, children, and money.

That’s what success meant to me, too, and years ago, I was well on my way to success.

At least that what I thought anyway. I had a Master’s Degree from a well-known university, working on a 3rd degree, had a husband, cars, in the process of buying a house, money, and traveling often. The only thing I was missing was my child.

I praised those “things” you see in that picture because I felt that, that they made me “successful.” I felt that my education had gotten me to where I was.

Whenever someone said, “Tell me something about you.”

My first statement, “Well I have two degrees from Delta State….”

I was a two-time college graduate! You couldn’t tell me nothing!

Humph!

Guys, the world has deceived us. We chase the money, the cars, the houses, the degrees, men/women, and all this other stuff that the world defines as success.

So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. (1 Corinthians 10:14 NLT)

All of those things are nice; in fact, God wants us to be successful, but He doesn’t want us to lose sight of Him.

Anything you worship and chase more than you worship and chase God, becomes your god.

Delta State was my god.

My degrees were my god.

Traveling was my god.

Money was my god.

My marriage was my god.

Everything was my god but God himself…

And when God sees that you have idols, He’ll strip you of it all to get your attention.

So, he did just that. He took it away.

They worshiped their idols, which led to their downfall. (Psalms 106:36 NLT)

Here I am at 31, I don’t have half of what I have then, but for the first time, I feel that I’m successful.

I have a genuine, growing relationship with God. God is my main entree and all that other stuff are just sides. So with or without the sides, my appetite is filled. “FULL”filment is found in God and God alone.

Now, when I’m asked, “So tell me something about you?”

I respond, “I’m God fearing….” and so forth.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m still proud of my accomplishments because I worked very hard, but now God comes first in my life and I acknowledge Him in all things.

Let nothing or no one will stand in the way of you succeeding in Christ.

THEY want to “kill” you…

Do you all remember Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Bible?

Joseph had been having dreams that he would one day be King. He was excited about the dreams…as he should have been. He did what most of us do- get excited, then run and tell everyone what God has revealed to us.

Sooo….Joseph shared the dreams with his BLOOD brothers, who secretly despised him. They felt Joseph was favored more by their father, which held some truth…but Joseph did not have control over his FAVOR, right? Wouldn’t it have made sense to despise the father? Anyway, that’s another message. So as I was saying…Joseph shared his dreams with his brothers…

“His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.”

Genesis 37:8 NLT

They despised him even more after that and eventually made plans to kill him.

Awful right? His blood brothers?

“Erica, where are you going with this?”

I’m glad you asked…

Stop sharing your BIG dreams with small minded people. Everyone cannot handle the call that is on your life. See, it was not Joseph the brothers despised. Had Joseph been a “regular” person without favor and a major “calling” on his life, the brothers would not have been intimidated by him or jealous of him. It was the favor on Joseph’s life and where God was taking Joseph that the brothers wanted to kill.

Beware!

People will go to great lengths to “kill” what God has placed on the inside of you.

…but as the story continued, the brothers’ plan to kill Joseph, failed. They sold him into slavery- so they thought. Joseph was taken into Egypt where He earned the FAVOR of the King there. The King then put Joseph in charge of the entire land.

Ha!!! That’s another message! -When God is for you, it does not matter who is against you. That will be my next post! I just love The Bible- written sooo many years ago but sooo relevant and timely!

It’s nothing new under the sun…❤️

The ROOT

About a month ago, when temperatures were below freezing, although the heat was turned up to the MAX, the building was still freezing. We called the maintenance team several times to check the boiler. Each time, everything with the boiler checked out perfectly. So we all drew the conclusion that since this is an old building, it was just taking a while to “heat up”.

A couple of days later, one of the technicians returned (I guess he had a revelation…lol) and took the covers off all of the units throughout the building and in every classroom, and what you see in the second picture just about sums up what was discovered in the inside of almost every unit.

This is what I received that day…

A lot of times, on the outside (what you see in the first picture), this is our public life. We look good; we appear to have it together, doing good works – love, service, attending church every time the doors open, faith, patience, and so forth…

…but underneath the nice looking leaves and FRUIT (the clean, well painted unit covering), we are rotten to the core, polluted with all types of toxins, dirt from our past, trash that “people who were just passing through” *catch that* dropped in us and on us, contaminated with sin, unforgiveness…just plain filthy…(what we you see in the second picture.)

Until we deal with the ROOT, we may be able to produce, but anything that we produce will not last. It will always wither up and die, eventually. Until we deal with the ROOT, we will never be able to walk in the fullness of what we were placed here to do. Until we do with the ROOT, we will never operate in the capacity of our gifts…just like this unit, until it was cleaned, ridded of all this gunk, it could not fully produce the HEAT, the manner in which it should have been producing!

Holy Spirit, Speak!!!!!

Jesus!!!!!!!

Until we deal with the ROOT!!!

So, I leave you with this, WHAT IS UNDER THE COVERING OF YOUR UNIT? ❤️

No, it’s not a good move. It’s a GOD move!

When I first started this job as Academic Coach, I hated it- I hated being back at home and in The Delta, I hated traveling to two schools, I hated not being able to work directly with children…and the list continued. I can be honest right? Soooo, yeah, I hated it. One day after work, I was on Shelby County’s website reapplying for Kingsbury and preparing to move back. In the midst of reapplying, I heard God say, “Are you going to trust me or are you going to trust your emotions?” Then He gave me specific instructions. He told me to start declaring, “I love my job” every time those feelings of hate surfaced…and I did just that. Then He said, “This may not feel like a good move right now, but it is a GOD move. Trust Me.” 

…and between then and now things shifted. I’ve grown to LOVE my job. I love being back in the house with my parents and in The Delta. I get cooked meals, free car washes, and I get to save (a little) money. Then, I’m especially excited about the visions God has given me concerning ministering here. I love working at and traveling to both schools- it gives me time to collect myself when I’ve become overwhelmed- like a mini vacation sort of, and while I don’t get the chance to work with children directly, I do get the chance to impact the lives of those who directly impact the lives of children. 

You see the change of perspective? The job didn’t change. I did. A lot times God isn’t interested in changing our circumstances. He is interested in changing us. 

…and I mean I really really LOVE my job now.  One morning, my mom jokingly said, “Erica, in all my years, I’ve never gotten up excited for work like you do.” 

While we are focusing on what doesn’t feel right, God has a greater purpose. 

Let me encourage you. I don’t know where you in your life or what you are facing, but  tune out your emotions and trust God. His promises don’t waiver. If He has led you to a place and now you’re doubting if you heard from Him, be still and trust the process. Don’t allow the enemy to attack your victory.Just as He spoke to me- this may not feel like a good move, but it is a GOD move…and when it is a GOD move, you cannot lose. ❤

…but what have you been instructed to do???

Transparent Moment (It’s long…as most of my posts are…lol…but seriously, this will bless you.) 
As June 8th approached- the date I was scheduled to move “home”, I’ll admit- I became unsure…uneasy, wanted to change my mind several times…wanted to rescind my resignation at Kingsbury…wanted to contact the leasing office at my apartment to sign a new lease…wanted to cancel my U-Haul and storage reservations…ALTHOUGH I AM POSITIVE I HAD HEARD FROM GOD that He wanted me back at “home”…and even still, I was toying with the should I go and the should I stay. All I could think about was, “I am comfortable here”…but then I heard God say, “Being comfortable is okay except when you’re comfortable, I can’t do very much with you.” 
So, as I was saying, I became unsure…uneasy as my “move out” date approached. I kept asking myself, “What happened to the certainty that you’ve had for the last year? Moving “home” is what you wanted, it’s what God wants for you, and it’s what you’ve prayed for.”…and I couldn’t come up with an answer. So, I pushed my feelings to the side and decided that I was gonna go where God wanted me to go. 
So, let me tell you how when your steps are ordered by God, distractions become plentiful. I interviewed at a charter school earlier this year, even before I interviewed in Sunflower County. It was a loooong interview process too. You have to do a meet & greet, a phone interview, an in-person interview, plan and teach a lesson, and a post interview. About a month after that process, I gave up on that because I had not heard from anyone. I thought, “Maybe I am not what they are looking for.”
As I was saying about distractions becoming plentiful- FOUR DAYS before I was scheduled to move out my apartment, I received a call from the principal of that school where I interviewed months ago, asking me to check my email for an offer letter. I checked it, and I stared at the salary, $5-,—.– . I was like, “but God, this is more than what I have been offered in Sunflower County.”


 Immediately, I heard, “Don’t fall for the bait.” So here I am, in Indianola, back “home.” I start my new job here July 10, 2017. The salary at the charter school is more, but my salary in Sunflower County is still an increase from last year.

Hmmmm….

See, if the enemy can’t get you off God’s path one way, he’ll go to the extreme. He tried to use money (his most used distraction) to get me to do the opposite of what God has told me to do. It may be less now, but it’ll be more later. I trust God wholeheartedly. There’s a reason I am here. 
I don’t know why God placed this on my heart to share tonight, but I know there’s a reason. Whoever you are, do what God has told you to do. You may not see the benefit right now, but it’ll pay off in the long run. Sometimes, you have to take a loss now to win LATER. Stay on God’s path. That’s where His grace resides. ❤️

Get Through It…

*This post is shorter than usual, but I still wanted to share as it was put on my heart to…*

For two nights, we have been without power. I have suffered through the heat  (and anybody who knows me knows that I hate heat. I use my A/C year-round.) I have not suffered through the heat because I have to, but because I’m trying to teach myself how to deal with less than desirable circumstances. I could have driven home to my parents, my brother and my sister-in-law are in Southaven, several of my Kingsbury coworkers have offered their places, one of my Facebook friends even offered her place, or I could have gotten a hotel room. Instead, I have decided to stay where I am. I am not about to die, so I will be okay. Is it uncomfortable? Absolutely!…but sometimes, we need to be reminded. The things that we THINK are a given like food, shelter, clothing, air in the summer, heat in the winter, we tend to take for granted. We have been forced into thinking that we are not blessed if we do not have the big houses, fancy cars, and flashy clothes & shoes. 
My point? We have to learn to deal with some things and get through it. While we are always busy looking for an escape route every time a difficulty occurs, God wants us to not only go through the process but also trust that the process is working for our good. This time without power has allowed my cellphone to die on several occasions and has allowed the TVs to be turned off. As a result, I have spent less time on social media, have not indulged in the Law & Order series, and have spent more time on my face seeking God. As I posted this morning, even the worst set of circumstances has good in them. Life is not so much about what happens to you; it is more so about how you respond. If you’ll change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. ❤️

#MondayMessage #ItIsAllAboutYourPerspective #BeGrateful #ItCouldBeWorse

Are you an “on surface” cleaner? 

As I was cleaning this morning, I found myself cleaning like my mom – behind the refrigerator, inside the oven, inside the microwave inside the cabinets, behind the couch, under the pillows on the couch, and inside drawers. 
As I finished cleaning inside this and under that, I notice that “stuff” was still everywhere although I know had been cleaning for about two hours. Then, I realized that most of the cleaning I had done was “under the surface”- not visible to the eye. Then, I thought about something my mom would always say – “If you really want to know how clean a person is, move their appliances and look under the pillows on their couch.” She prides herself on NOT being an “on surface” cleaner. 
When I was a child, I used to clean my room by piling clothes under the bed and in the closet, not straightening up the sheets before pulling the comforter up, and making everything else look extra neat and pretty on the outside. My mom would come in and pull everything out and then say, “Now clean this room.” I’d be so mad, mumbling under my breath, but I’d clean it though…the right way. Lol 
Hmmmmmm….
How often do we clean up the “outside” and ignore what’s under the surface? 

Ladies, we’ve watched makeup tutorials and have mastered how to do the “perfect beats.” Guys, you go to your barber three times a week to get a fresh line and black paint. We browse Pinterest and come up with the perfect outfits. We post perfect selfies and every perfect moment on social media and forget that when we log off, we have a reality to face.
Starting today, I advise you to be like my mom and do some “under the surface” cleaning. What’s in your heart? What’s hoarding your space? Are you harboring unforgiveness? Are you broken? What is it about you that “needs cleaning” that’s not visible to the eye? 
Take it to God with a sincere desire to want to be cleaned. He’ll cleanse you, but your first step is to stop pretending like everything is okay. GOD CAN’T HEAL WHAT YOU WON’T REVEAL and HE CAN’T HEAL THE PERSON YOU’RE PRETENDING TO BE. ❤️