When Ray Gets His Ring

raylewisI am deeply disturbed by the number of articles, tweets, and social commentary I have seen in the past weeks denigrating and overshadowing the achievements of one of the greatest players of all time. I have seen more attacks ad hominem than I have ever seen against Ray Lewis’ actual skill. Such attacks are fallacious, and in no way do they validate the arguer or the arguer’s team, neither do they invalidate Ray’s outstanding accomplishments nor his tenacious journey to league and spiritual redemption.

And let’s be real, our future generations would be much better served to hear the story of the man who made a mistake yet turned his life around rather than of a society that out of an inability to forgive replayed over and over again the images of a man in an orange jumpsuit.

So, in light of the coming victory for the Ravens, here is my suggestion for how we should spend our time when Ray does get his ring. Try these:

  • Praise the Lord: That’s precisely what our main man Ray has done, ending several games with an acknowledgement that he owes his great success to God. In fact, both he and the Raven’s chaplain have mentioned using this platform to glorify God above.
  • Get in a good workout: People either love or hate the infamous “squirrel dance.” And while I am content with simply practicing it, many others will want to make up their own dance. Either would help fulfill this inside linebacker’s desire to see a more fit and healthy America. Even better, check out his RL52 workout app, available for $0.99 on the whole iFamily.
  • Give to someone less fortunate: You know, like Ray does, equipping impoverished students with school supplies, or giving food to needy families. Just a thought.
  • Be great at something: Instead of mudslinging, it might not be a bad idea to put some of that energy to good use, cultivating some of your own gifts. There is theoretically room for everyone in greatness, but few find it. Let’s alleviate some of that crowding in Haterville.
  • Moreover, Give credit: There’s really nothing more to discuss once Ray gets his ring. And none of the snubs of his character, however narrow, will matter any more. So let’s give credit for the 17 years, 2,056 tackles, and 100% heart he gave to the Ravens and to this game.

When Ray gets his ring, let’s give our kids the story of a man to look up to, not another scandal.

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The Salsa And Chips Dilemma


I pour out on my plate fourteen light, crispy tortilla chips, tortilla chips cupped to hold just the right amount of mild salsa, which I pour onto the plate right beside. I scoop. I eat. I scoop, and I eat. I scoop and eat fourteen times until I am swiping away the last bit of corn tortilla from my twelve year molars. I look down at the plate. There is more salsa, at least three scoops’ worth, so I retrieve four chips (just to be safe). But I overestimated. I am left with two lonely chips, craving the accompaniment of robust, sweet, and smokey salsa. I pour on more salsa. I scoop twice, yet I am left still with half a scoop more salsa. I retrieve another chip–okay three more chips, but again I need more salsa with which to dress my chips. I cannot stop unless I resolve to stop. I cannot strike balance between chip and dip.

I have scooped the last bit of salsa finally. Then I reach my hand into the bag, pull out another chip, and dip it directly into the salsa’s glass container.

I marvel at the rules we make, then break.

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What We Gain by Slowing Down

I bought my first house almost three months ago, and while I had a “love at first sight” experience, I must admit that I was suffering from buyer’s remorse. My new house wasn’t any closer to my job than my apartment had been. The house was about thirty minutes from my closest friends, family, and church. And I allowed myself to keep checking the realty website when new listings appeared. I couldn’t help but notice that there were houses closer to where I lived before with bigger bathrooms, garages, and community pools. Where I live now, I have to separate my belongings into two rooms, my bedroom and my dressing room, because all of the gaudy furniture doesn’t fit into just one. This house had appeared to me the object of perfection. How had I not noticed these imperfections before?

But then it hit me. It hit me when instead of rushing into the house, I sat outside for a while with Ms. Mary, Mr. Bob, and Ms. Lorraine, my neighbors. In those moments, I recognized the peace that made this place so special before.

As we sat outside together, I noticed that they were not so concerned with filling the space with words. Many times, when our conversation lulled we sat silently, and it was never awkward like small talk pauses. Ms. Mary noticed that someone was cooking something good, and asked if we smelled it too. We all nodded. Ms. Lorraine chuckled as the little boy across the street hid from her glances. Mr. Bob remarked that even though those children across the street are a handful, their mother dresses them up every Sunday and marches them up to her minivan for church. Ms. Mary thanked God for the breeze.

I marvel at how much we miss when we move too fast.

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What it costs to support the hustle

I recently read Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, and while I am not readily willing to accept most of the advice presented in self-help books, there were a few bits and pieces from Godin that stuck. One in particular was his concept of gift-giving within the tribe. Simply put, as members of the same tribe (not “tribal” tribes, but a small group of allies), we should share our gifts freely or at cost and offer them for profit to those outside of the tribe. I like the idea, and I am sure that there are several business moguls and entrepreneurs who submit to this model and succeed. But his discussion of this one concept lead me to think about another: seeing the gifts of tribe members as valuable. So often what we need is in the room, but we don’t honor the gift enough to gain any use from it.

In our “tribes” are so many talented individuals, but instead of supporting the hustle, we disregard it altogether, distracted by the rough packaging, and we look for that same gift outside of the tribe where we will be up-charged. In the meantime, a fellow tribesman fails because his people overlooked his gift. So the tribe suffers, but the other tribes thrive because we saw in them more value than we did in our own.

Now I’m not trying to get all motherland on ya’ll or anything like that. I don’t even mean tribe in a racial sense. Realistically, you could be a member of many tribes these days. But I’m concerned when we are more likely to use social media, a tool designed to bring us closer together and to bring greater opportunities for success, for hating, criticizing, and complaining rather than supporting. Our tribes need value added to them, and It’s our responsibility to add it. Just consider how much it would cost us not to support the hustle.

I marvel at how much disregarded talent there is out there. 

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How Much Time I Dooooo Have


If I kept a journal of how I spent my time, it might look something like this: Laid around fighting to get out of the bed (35 min), stared at the TV (2hrs), checked and re-checked my twitter (40 min)–you get the idea. Granted, these aren’t the only things I do in a day, but they are those heinous, life-sucking, depression inducing time-wasters. And somehow, when they creep their way into my day, I can’t seem to find the time to do all that I plan. I would like to replace that time with things like prayer (1hr), exercise (45 min) homework/reading/study (1 hr), and oddly enough, if I did, there would be time left over to cash in. I know how I victorious I feel after a good workout or after conquering a scriptural question I’d had, and I know how guilty and lazy and spent I feel when I let technology entertain me all day, so why isn’t it easier to choose to spend my time wisely?

I marvel at how much time I really do have.

~Eph 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.~

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The Way Black Folks Talked in the 70’s


So I sat in my house late this evening, mimicking the voices I heard in “Sanford and Son,” “Good Times,” “The Jefferson’s,” and all the other 70’s television shows I remember watching (don’t judge me). I found it interesting how men and women alike seemed to hold out their vowels in their nasal cavities until the sound pierced and scattered the air. Even men with the deepest voices somehow found a pitch in the lower register that could cut. From my couch, I spoke like this lady I remember hearing speak in some court case on television. I’m not sure what it was about. I just remember that whatever I was watching had that old seventies haze about it. I emphasized my Iiiiiii’s and e’s in reeeeeeally. And when I said all, I remembered how Louise Jefferson called her husband, Geoooooorge, and my all came out something like auuuuuwl. And after several like exercises, I realized that the vernacular of Blacks in the seventies required much more investment from the mouth’s muscles than does our current one.

One day, I will be old, and people will be puzzled by the way I used to speak. In fact, I know that there are some linguists and anthropologists studying the dialect of Black-twenty-something-single-American-women right now.

I marvel how often we study yet do not fully grasp
. .

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Born This Way???

I get fatigued with the whole “born this way” assumption society makes whenever it encounters a specimen whose  characteristics we can’t fully explain. Take for instance these children who exhibit psychopathic characteristics (http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/kid-psychopath-221400341.html). Because society cannot understand how a child who was not physically abused or neglected becomes a psychopath, it begins to ponder whether or not this is some sort of genetic issue.

But trust, there are other entry points. We are so trained to base our understanding on the things we can see that we completely ignore that there are influences we can’t see. I pray that even scientists begin to see the invisible. Perhaps they will find that not even Judas Iscariot was born that way.

I marvel at our rejection of truth…

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Bows, Bowels, Vows, and Vowels

When I was younger, I guess between Kindergarten and 2nd grade, I had this amusing confusion of the words bows, bowels, vows, and vowels. I had no idea what people were talking about; I thought people were renewing their vowels and making bow movements. It was so absurd! I wasn’t alone though. I remember a childhood friend of mine (we’ll call her Toya) pulled me aside and told me “I know how people renew their vows! They sit on the toilet!.” I thought Toya was brilliant! It all made sense. And since I went to a private school, we girls were always being forced to curtsy at assemblies and dances, so bow movements were simply what the boys did.

I don’t actually remember when I clarified the differences between these four words, but thoughts of the time spent in ignorance make me chuckle.

Americans are always looking for ways to make their babies smarter than the last generation of babies. One of the more recent devices claiming to guarantee genius offspring was the Baby Einstein DVD set. But in an article in Time, Alice Park debunks the product’s effectiveness, citing research that stated, “the more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew. These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos.”

I’ll be honest. As an educator, I am not certain that the children I serve are any smarter than the generation I came up in or the ones before mine. They do have access to more, but many of them refuse to apply diligence in solving problems. Often, I have to scold children for trying to take pictures of their homework directions instead of simply writing them down. I love my students, and I know many of them will do great things eventually, but if these are products of the most sophisticated technologies and ideas, I don’t have much confidence in the next wave of advancements.

At seven years old, I couldn’t conjugate verbs, speak four languages, or distinguish between bowel, bow, vowel, and vow, but I worked hard and had a lot of fun. And I don’t think I turned out so bad.

I marvel at our tendency to fix what isn’t broken.

Time article cited featured here: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,00.html#ixzz1rpy6OFmI

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Saw another post that reminded me of this one. Guess it’s on other people’s minds too.


Holding HandsLet me say first that I am a lover of love, regardless of race, and I am in no way attempting to submit language that divides or offends. Nor am I trying to change minds. I just have questions, nagging ones, so this title may be a bit of a misnomer because I don’t really have questions about interracial relationships as a whole. I myself have participated in, daydreamed about, and enjoyed them. And I have found interracial relationships to be dreadfully similar to same-race ones. My questions though are about Black professional athletes. And as another disclaimer, my goal is not to discredit other races of women as reasonable and qualified mates. I just want to know why dating women who aren’t Black seems to be such a status symbol.

My question stems more from a place of hurt than of mere curiosity because I notice that more often…

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What’s Wrong With My Social Circle?

So, according to Paul Brunson, when we get older “our social circles begin to shrink and the dating process becomes more challenging.” This makes a  lot of sense, but I am only nearing twenty-five, so what the heck is wrong with my social circle?! Although I play a lot of roles, I meet very few new people, especially not new guys. This is sad, but I don’t think I am the normal case, so I am going to take a moment to introspect and diagnose my own problem areas. Maybe this will be helpful to some of the other weirdoes out there like me (I doubt it).

  • Problem Area #1: Über-Coyness
    So, I’m so pressed to be coy that sometimes my slight diversion of the eye becomes an eye-roll and my grin is a snub. You won’t even get a hello unless you come up off one first.
  • Problem Area #2: Oh So Routine
    I go to the same places ALL THE TIME. And they are all in the same area. Granted, there is a nice pool to choose from in this area, but so far, no bites. But my desire to save gas and my irritability when I can’t find my way around prevent me from making any quick fixes to this one.
  • Problem Area #3: Not So Routine
    If I have been going to the same place for a while, and, all of a sudden, a guy who also frequents that place seems to be interested, I will avoid it altogether. Weird, right? But my nerves can’t handle the awkwardness of getting to know someone while I’m on my routine. A rare occurrence the other day might cure me from this one though (I really like that place and he was fine enough to endure the awkwardness).
  • Problem Area #4: I’M MUCH TOO COOL FOR THIS!
    Getting down those first three was such a dig, and truth be told, I think I’m too awesome to try to figure out what’s wrong with me. In fact, I really just thought it might be entertaining to share some of my own weird quirks; no real solution was ever intended. There is so much dating advice out there, but sometimes I am not convinced that it is really that deep. I marvel at how complicated we make this whole dating thing though…

Paul Brunson excerpt from Essence Magazine May 2012 issue.

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