What To Do When Facing Dark Days and Sleepless Nights

What happens when you combine trust, faith, and hope?  They produce grit.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, grit in the context of behavior is defined as “firmness of character; indomitable spirit.”

In light of the recent deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas Police Officers, I decided to tweak this definition to be the ability to keep going despite setbacks, even when your efforts are not rewarded.  Grit is what you need when facing dark days and sleepless nights.

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Why You Should Be Working on Your Dream NOW!

Living in Chicago is, as Charles Dickens says in the Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

It is the best of times (at least for Christians) because there’s a dark political, moral, and corrupt cloud hovering begging for light (Matthew 5:13-14).  It is the worst of times because we’re witnessing some activists, politicians, glory-seekers, and even preachers/pastors clamoring for the spotlight to build their platform. It’s sickening.

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action, concept, tags on the table.

Watching this tragic drama unfold reminds me of Tony Gaskins’ quote:

If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs.

According to this quote, if don’t wake up and begin pursuing your dreams, someone will recognize your abilities and recruit you to help build theirs. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong, improper, or illegal about helping others fulfill their dreams, remember God has something He wants you to accomplish that only you can accomplish.

However, it’s possible to work on both at the same time. Everyone has the same thing in common: 24 hours in a day. Since time is passing, why wouldn’t you be working, at least, part-time, on your dreams.

It’s More Than Just Another Month – What Black History Means To Me

Black History Month means different things to different people.

As a Nation we have a month of recognition and silence for the mighty men and women of color who paved the way for all of us. We recognize them for their hard work, tears, and for those who died fighting for equality for people of color. I am proud to be a man of color born in America.

As we take time to celebrate this notable occasion, I would like to share what Black History Month means to me.  For me, Black History Month is a time of reflection, rejoicing, and recommitting to reach the next generation.

MLK Memorial Photo 20percent

Hey JRW: It’s Not Your Fault – Learn From This

Hey JRW, it’s not your fault – the adults in charge failed you.

The adults in charge put together a questionable roster with ineligible players who lived outside the team’s approved boundaries. In response, officials of Little League International stripped JRW of its U.S. title and much more.

In youth sports, when adults knowingly cheat, kids lose.

JRW
Photo credit: MLB Blogs Network

As a father whose son plays baseball at the highest amateur level, baseball is very much an old school sport, much like golf, with unwritten rules. Whatever you do, don’t get caught cheating. It’ll come back & bite you.

I Am Because of Him | Happy Birthday Frat!

On Christmas Day, I took my family to see Selma.  It was an entertaining movie, but being a Martin Luther King, Jr. fanatic, I did not recognize many of the speeches presented in the movie.  Why?  In 2009, the King Estate licensed his speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Bros. (along with the rights to his life).

King

Because King’s speeches are licensed to another project, Selma’s filmmakers had to find a way to re-create the meaning of MLK’s words without plagiarizing.  That means they had to rewrite MLK’s words.  The film skirts close to MLK’s words without using them.

One of the most memorable scenes occurs when Martin Luther King, Jr., while preaching to the congregation, explains why equal voting rights are crucial.  He rallies them to stand up for their rights and sparks a movement that would change the world.

It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless. As long as I am unable to use my constitutional right to vote, I do not have command of my own life. I cannot determine my own destiny. For it is determined for me by people who would rather see me suffer than succeed. Those that have gone before us say, ‘no more! No more!’ That means protest. That means march. That means disturb the peace. That means jail. That means risk. And that is hard. We will not wait any longer. Give us the vote. We’re not asking. We’re demanding. Give us the vote!  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Birthday frat!  You stood tall among giants and I am because of you!

6 Reasons Why Mistakes Can Be Good for You

Most people don’t take into account how many mistakes account for success. For some there is the idea that if you fail it’s the end: The end of the world, the end of the opportunity, the end to your chances for success. In reality the opposite is true. Mistakes are good for you because mistakes give the biggest opportunity for growth, learning and development.

“The only complete mistake is the mistake from which we learn nothing.” – Jacob Braude

Of all the great scientific breakthroughs, inventions or discoveries, not one of them achieved success on the first attempt. In fact when Thomas Edison was ridiculed for his more than 200 failed attempts to create a light bulb, his response was not full of self-pity or anger. Instead in his defense, he simply stated that he’d learned more than 200 ways of how not to do it. For Thomas Edison every mistake was a learning opportunity.   How many of us could do the same? making mistakes

Where Do We Go From Here?

While vacationing in the Caribbean in January – February 1967, Dr. ML King, Jr. wrote the 1st draft of his last book “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” King looks back at the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.  In his book, Dr. King discusses what African-Americans should do with their new, dearly fought for freedoms found in-laws such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He concludes that all Americans black and white must unite to fight poverty and create a new equality of opportunity.

King

How To Get Past Your Past

Someone once said “your past can be used as a crutch or a springboard to a better tomorrow.”  Those who use their past as a crutch are hindered by it and fail to move forward.  Our past is important because it influences our future, it reminds us of God’s grace, and provides helpful lessons for today.

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Why Is It Important To Remember The Past

It is vitaly important to study and remember the past to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. History is littered with leaders & politicians who have not studied the past and have fallen into the same trap as their predecesors.

Our Past Influences Our Future

*Then Jacob called together all his sons and said, “Gather around me, and I will tell you what is going to happen to you in the days to come.”* (Genesis 49:1)

Jacob blessed each of his sons and then made a prediction about each one’s future. The way the men had lived played an important part in Jacob’s blessing and prophecy. Our past also affects our present and future. By sunrise tomorrow, our actions of today will have become part of the past. Yet they will already have begun to shape the future. What actions can you choose or avoid that will positively shape your future?

Our Past Can Be a Reminder Of God’s Grace

*Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—”the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” *(1 Samuel 7:12)

The Israelites had great difficulty with the Philistines, but God rescued them. In response, the people set up a stone as a memorial of God’s great help and deliverance. During tough times, we may need to remember the crucial turning points in our past to help us through the present. Memorials can help us remember God’s past victories and gain confidence and strength for the present.

The Pain From Our Past Provide Helpful Lessons For Today

*All these events happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us, who live at the time when this age is drawing to a close* (1 Corinthians 10:11)

Today’s pressures make it easy to ignore or forget the lessons of the past. But Paul cautions us to remember the lessons the Israelites learned about God, so that we can avoid repeating their errors. The key to remembering is to study the Bible regularly so that these lessons remind us of how God wants us to live. We need not repeat their mistakes!

Common Sense Just Ain’t Common

My father, the late Rev. Dr. Clarence E. Stowers, Sr. was a wise man.  He had a lot of what’s missing today – COMMON SENSE.  He was an expert at summing up life with quick pithy statements.

Stay Out Of Debt

The best financial planning seminar I ever attended was my dad’s.  It didn’t involve plane tickets, hotels, conference fees, or books.  It took less than five minutes & here’s what he said:

“Son, it’s not the money you make, it’s the money you hold on to.”

  1. Make yourself a budget.
  2. Live BELOW your means.
  3. Pack your lunch.
  4. Pinch pennies.
  5. Save as much as you can.
  6. Get the education you need for as cheap as you can get it.

The art of holding on to money is all about saying no to stuff you don’t need. Say no to eating out, $4 fancy coffee, and that shiny new computer when the old one still works fine.

That’s my dad…his advice still works! LOL!

 What would you add to my dad’s list?

What I Learned From Watching ‘Scandal’

Like many, I eagerly anticipated the airing of the show Scandal. Whenever I see beautiful, African Americans who are power players in our Nation’s capital, I’m excited.  So, like millions, I was glued to the TV wondering what would happen to Hollis, will Fitz divorce his wife, and would Olivia & Edison become a permanent item.

Scandal Photo

 DISCLAIMER:

If you’re a fan of the show, you may be offended if you continue reading.

With all the strong television shows for women, I don’t know why a beautiful, African American women forsakes a relationship with an African American Senator (Edison) for a married man (President Fitz).

I know why…love makes you do crazy things & act out of character.

Before you go sucking your teeth, rolling your eyes and calling me self-righteous, hear me out. I think there is an opportunity here to encourage the writers of the show to be bold and courageous.

I am rooting for the show to succeed, but, the creators have to be fearless and let Olivia Pope not be another man’s mistress. She’s too beautiful, too strong, and too smart for that.  I say let Olivia Pope control the interactions with her lovers. Don’t allow her to be a woman of straw that bends in whatever direction her lover needs. Additionally, I’d love to see her relationship with Edison grow into a beautiful picture of a healthy/strong relationship.

Finally, If not Edison, Olivia needs a new love interest and assert her independence from Fitz.  People seem to be ignoring the fact Olivia is having an affair with a married man.  In my humble opinion, that isn’t romantic…it’s actually tragic and pathetic.

Why?

At the end of the day Olivia goes home to her apartment ALONE and single…hardly an equal relationship.

What are your thoughts about today’s post?