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Sherwood from the cartoon series “Angelo Rules,”

School is back in session. For some that means new students, new teachers, new classes and new friends with a few old ones.

Growing up, I prepared for the first day of school in some pretty “different” ways. I was a very particular kid when it came to getting ready for back to school. I wanted the kind of school supplies that was on-par with that of someone who was ready to go to war!

Know Your School Better Than The School Knows You

Days before the beginning of school, I would map out the location of my classes using a chart of the school. Some kind of way, I managed to always get my hand on a chart of the school. I would even walk through the hallways and around the campus to test how long it would take me to get from one part of the school to another. I did NOT want to be late for classes. I even got clever and began to measure traffic density within the school hallways during the first few weeks. I immediately learned all of the hot spots and the worse possible locations to get to a class and prepared shortcuts.

Carrying Inspiration & Personality

I specifically would choose folders and trapper keepers and notebooks that were focused on a kind of cartoon series or hero I admired. It kept me focused and I always enjoyed being able to sort of show off. But, I wanted to have the kind of supplies that really encompassed the full spectrum of my personality. I had certain kinds of writing utensils, folders, backpacks and other supplies. Each item that I carried with me to and from school said something about my work ethic, my style, my creativity and my passion for learning.

The Connections

I made it a point to do two things: make myself known by teachers, faculty and staff and connect with classmates who were close by in the classroom. I did this for multiple reasons. I made myself known clearly by teachers, faculty and staff in case of any issues that occurred beyond my control between me and other students or between me and life altogether. Why!? Because if they see that you are serious, then more than likely they will help you when things get a bit “iffy.” As for classmates, I built a relationship with the ones closest to me create good class notes, keep up with assignments and studying.

However way you prepare for your first few days of school, may be you successful and may you have a positive and incredible year.

 

 

Angelo Rules, produced by "Cake Entertainment" and "TeamTo"

Angelo Rules, produced by “Cake Entertainment” and “TeamTo.” From Left to Right, “Lola, Angelo and Sherwood.”

 

It is no surprise that I am epic fan of the cartoon series, “Angelo Rules.” And once again, a true-life situation availed itself where I was able to use the series as a way to talk about ones faith walk and relationship with God.

Angelo Rules,” is about a charismatic boy whose a self-proclaimed expert at trying to work his way in and our of messes through plans and ideas. Often joining Angelo in his adventures (and misadventures) are Lola, whose as charismatic as Angelo and Sherwood, the brains of the outfit.

Late Monday evening, I spoke with a friend of mine about some of the issues he was facing. In the midst of our conversation, I shared with him that he reminded me so much of “Sherwood,” one of Angelo’s best friends and sort of a young genius.

Sherwood constantly calculates the likelihood of something good or bad occurring in many of Angelo’s plans. And yet, in spite of Sherwood’s findings, Angelo continues to invite Sherwood into the adventure, no matter how likely or unlikely the results of something good coming out of it are.

But, that’s just the point. Angelo has the character of someone who is constantly planning and working something out.

Angelo is intentional with his planning and is never out to do harm for Sherwood or Lola or anyone.

Sherwood in the end often joins Angelo and follows his lead, but, will often add his analytical, critical and philosophical thoughts about what’s to likely happen next.

In some ways, we do the same thing to God. The Lord is inviting us on an epic adventure and sometimes because of our doubts or issues we tend to do the thing that Sherwood does: pull out a calculator and analyze and calculate and pre-calculate the situation before we step out on faith.

God invites us into a relationship with Him through His son Jesus, and He invites us into a life filled with more than what we could ever ask for both here and eternally.

Much like Angelo calls his best friends into a child-like adventure filled with fun, excitement, danger (and yes I did say danger just after fun), craziness and much more, we too are invited into something quite similar.

The only real difference is this…the adventure is for more than just to skip a pop quiz or avoid bullies.

"Angelo Rules" by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

“Angelo Rules” by Team TO and Cake Entertainment

Saturday night I was scrolling through my news feeds on Twitter. Then, unfortunate news tweets show up in droves on my smartphone: “black young man unarmed shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri.” The headlines were different but the titles remained the same.

Days after, analysis after analysis and commentary on white-on-black crime, police brutality and distrust as well as racial injustice followed.

History repeated itself over the past few days as rioting and looting ensued, and intense police response of a militarized kind against peaceful protesters unfolded in a scene similar to that of a major battle in a far of country.

But, my deep concern is how we are carrying on as Americans and how will we carry on months to come? We watch the coverage and we make our opinions known in our jobs, in our places of worship, around our dinner tables and at the water cooler, but, will we remember months and maybe even years after.

Will their be change in ourselves and in our communities and will we work one day at a time, together, to improve and make things better after all of this.

We can no longer continue as a community and as a country get angry every time an incident like this occurs, only to go about our lives in a complacent fog.

Critical Thinking In The Midst Of Obvious Racial Tension

Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by a white police officer. The ugly and horrific details that followed after created an explosive reaction that developed after years of built up tensions.

President Barack Obama has announced a Federal investigation from the Justice Department and the F.B.I. independent from the Ferguson, MO. Police Department’s according to the latest reports.

Late Friday evening, news sites like Politico released the name of the police officer who shot and killed Brown. A rough sketch from the Ferguson Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, regarding what happened on the day that officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown.

Understandably so, our first assumption and diagnosis of the incident being racially motivated makes absolute sense at first glance. However, all of us must critically consider the fact that no one has been officially charged with a crime and that a thorough investigation at the time of this article has yet to be done in completion.

We don’t even know WHY the young man was shot. Apart from the fact that he was a young black male, which was more than enough to be upset, we do not know why this young man was a target. It is the search and acquisition of the truth that will not only move us to consider the issues of racial prejudice, injustice and profiling, but, also move us to consider the direction we will go with regards to providing justice, peace and closure for the the family of Michael Brown as well as healing and regained trust for the community of Ferguson, MO.

President Obama also spoke on the issue of violent responses to what was happening in Ferguson. According to the Associated Press, “Obama said there was ‘no excuse’ for violence either against the police or by officers against peaceful protesters.”

Peaceful protests, involvement in ones community and considerate and calm conversations that are filled with wisdom of old and history taught leads to a rebuilding and refocusing of a community that can strongly stand against injustice for all!

Rebuilding A Hurting and Angry Community

Over time, we’re finding out that Black Americans in the city of Ferguson, Mo. have dealt with the racial tension for several years. The lack of community connection and trust between the community and city officials and the police is next to nothing based on the reports from multiple legitimate news agencies and from people on the ground.

Of course, when a community lacks positive, legitimate connection and communication with leaders that are supposed to represent them, the system breaks down.

If you were not being represented or seen as someone who matters or who has value you would be angry, frustrated and upset too!

Black America, and really, all Americans, have healing and realistic connecting to do with one another. Most have had enough with ignorant, closed-minded thinking and commenting from people who lack the time or patience to understand the other side of an issue. America is in great need of realistically considering the injustices that are taking place both outside of our own communities as well as within our own communities.

We cannot afford to any longer cry foul when something happens in our community by someone else that doesn’t look like us or represent us, and yet, turn our heads when we do it to ourselves. On the same note, we cannot allow misrepresentation and mistreatment to take place only to leave it as a problem for the next generation.

Releasing and letting go of our stereotypes, our assumptions and our previously poisonous teachings about communities or cultures apart from us, and embracing our neighbors from across the street, across town and state is what will lead us to true resolve that is filled with real results and real changes.

The change cannot take place from JUST the Federal government. It has to take place from our own places. Change has to be a two-lane highway connected from our house to the White House and back.

 

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Happy 30th Birthday

It seemed like only yesterday that I stumbled into my 20’s, filled with wonder and excitement and promise. Now, I’m 30! Three decades old and counting. And you know what, I’m just fine with that. In fact, I feel great. Thankfully!

I held back the temptation to read online articles about turning “30 years old” in an attempt to keep my heart and mind as pure as possible with regards to opinions about my age and livelihood.

Over the past few days, I had a chance to reflect on some of the most pivotal lessons I learned during my 20’s:

Let It Go & Heal Now

I had a LOT of hurts and pains from past relationships and people in my life. As you read this, you probably can relate. But, I learned during my 20’s that you definitely need to let that pain go. Harboring un-forgiveness, hatred and anger towards someone or towards a group of people or a community cannot and will not help you. It’ll leave you bitter and alone.

After all, once you think about the issue and about the affect it had on your life, it probably wasn’t all that deep, especially when much worse could or probably has happened to you.

I’m healing now from a lot of my junk through healthier relationships, friends, my pastor, Christian counseling and simply enjoying life. If I waited till later to do this, my 30’s would’ve been an up-hill battle.

You Don’t Know It All (And You Don’t Have To)

I used to think during my 20’s that I HAD to know everything I possibly could about everything. This was driven by my desire to be, quite literally, the smartest brother in the room. I was not going to let somebody outsmart and outwit me. I had my guns ready to blaze.

Then, I found out over time that was meaningless.

The key around this is simply this….learn and ask questions. Seek WISDOM along with the KNOWLEDGE. If you just seek knowledge, you’ll walk around like a very informative fool with very little life application.

Also, stop trying to impress yourself or people around you with your intelligence and intellect. It is more impressive to be an excellent listener, a critical thinker, an inquisitive student and an action taker.

Be True To Yourself

So many 20-something’s want to front and flaunt because the world says it’s how to survive. The world gives this impression that the more real you are as a person, the more awkward you are, which is pretty ironic since so many people want you to supposedly “keep it real.”

If you want to pursue a career that others may find you crazy for doing, then do it! If you like watching cartoons and you’re an adult, have at it!

But, remember, use your 20’s to take care of business and work on being more yourself.

Your 20’s isn’t high school anymore, and, you can choose now or later to live in adulthood or a extended adolescence.

For me, puberty was bad enough. I’ll stick with my adulthood thank you!

You’re 30, Now What

As of late, I realized that in my 20’s, while I learned a lot of GREAT lessons, lessons that helped me become a better man and a better person, I also learned something else…something that is going to shift my very career path.

It is the only thing, really, that does make me feel just a little funny about being 30-years-old. And yet, I’m excited! I’m very excited! I’ll share more of these findings really soon.