Note to Serena: Don’t Let The Ump Beat You On the Inside

Serena US Open 2018
Was Serena Williams treated differently than a man would have been treated for doing exactly what she did and saying exactly what she said?

Serena let her emotions get the best of her. In the US Open Women’s Final, Serena was offended and insulted and slighted; she was harmed and therefore she hurt and was unhappy and upset all at the same time. Ever been there? I’m there now. But thank God there’s a way out of the darkness of defeat.

The remedy for pain is praise. The remedy for hurt is to sing hallelujah. The remedy for sorrow is to shout for joy. Only God can give beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for morning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

I’m proud of how Serena stood up for herself. She was affronted, but she stood her ground and did not back down. Even though it cost her the match and millions of dollars, in the end she won the admiration and adoration of loyal fans the word over. She was wronged, and, in an effort to clear her name, she took a loss, and a worthy opponent got the win.

In other words, Serena won on the inside. Outside she was heated and it caused her to be hampered. She was upset, but that’s ok.

She won anyway.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy! (The Phillies Are In First Place!)

Phillies Logo

That’s right folks; the Philadelphia Phillies are in first place in the National League East. And they’re looking good doing it. Well, kinda good.  It’s a stunning turn of events. The Nationals were SUPPOSED to be the best team in the East, but not so. And the Braves came out this season with a little something to prove, but they find themselves going neck and neck with the Phils. And I love it.

It seems like this: every time I watch Sports Center or pay a little too much attention to my ESPN App or am a little too concerned about the standings, they’re losing or they’ve lost. Conversely, when I don’t pay attention or forget to check in or deliberately say “whatever” in a good, unfazed and nonplussed way, they win!  So, is that the formula and the principle — don’t be anxious, don’t worry about it, and don’t sweat the small stuff?

It seems like the same philosophy that pays in life works for us on the field of play too, and vice versa. In essence, sports and life are teaching us, and each other, the same lesson. It seems, yea rather, it is in fact the prescription for a stress free, worry free life.  Whatever happens, in spite of what happens, and yea, even BECAUSE of what happens, we must learn to live this way. The ticket to being “care free” in this life of cares is that feel-good, Bobby McFerrin song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” . . . in Jesus!

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0geKeeye1Zbd8sAYxdXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0N2Noc21lBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNwaXZz?p=Don%27t+Worry%2C+Be+Happy&fr2=piv-web&fr=mcafee#id=9&vid=78f30eec3fdd9a9a1412ac84a021a934&action=view

And here’s our scriptural ammunition for the fight:

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.    New American Standard Updated Version

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.     New Living Translation

 

 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

1 Peter 5:7, KJV

Coach Jimmy V: Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds

UCT Cover

Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds: get your copy TODAY!

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https://read.barnesandnoble.com/book/upsets-comebacks-and-turnarounds-2/cover#1

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo is worth a thousand pictures. The image is that powerful. 

Every time I look at the cover photo for Upsets, Comebacks and Turnarounds, a book about God and sports, I get goose bumps. It’s a photo that you almost want to jump into. It’s the party that we all want to crash. It’s the celebration that we all want to be a part of. It’s a picture of pure, unbridled and unapologetic joy. There’s nothing in the world like it. That’s why we need Heaven’s help to get it. It’s unspeakable joy.

Coach Jimmy Valvano experienced this kind of indescribable joy when his team pulled off the upset of the ages and won the 1982 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. The picture speaks volumes. After the big win, Coach Jimmy V is being carried off of the court by the fans. The FANS!  It’s not that this doesn’t happen often, it’s that it NEVER happens. Being carried off the court or the field by the players? Yes, that’s happened. But to be carried off by fans is unheard of. After this historic win, the excitement and ecstasy of victory was so moving that it moved the fans close to the winning coach to the point that they undertook this unprecedented uprising.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack defeated the heavily favored University of Houston Phi Slamma Jamma team in a NCAA Men’s Basketball Final that will never be forgotten.  Coach Jimmy V’s arms and hands are stretched wide, as the hands and arms of his fans are stretched high to lift him and laud him and raise him and rally around him for the great victory he’d won. And great victories deserve and even demand great celebrations. And that’s what we witness here in this iconic photo.

Joy is great delight, and only comes from something exceptional and unusual. And the 1982 Wolfpack win was truly exceptional. It was a stroke of coaching genius on the part of Coach Jimmy V. The theological tie in is this: isn’t our spiritual victory over sin and Satan by the power of the Cross even more exceptional and extraordinary and moving and marvelous? I believe that Jimmy V’s sports victory is God’s way of giving us a glance and a glimpse of the glorious celebration we will have in Heaven with Him at the end of time.  It’s pure, unspeakable joy, and we don’t have to wait till the end of time to get it.

 We can have this joy in Jesus right now. 

Squeeze Every Possible Ounce Of Joy (Out Of Each Day)

jump-for-joy2

You need people in your life that will make your unborn baby jump. And I just had a conversation with someone who did just that for me. For those who don’t understand the reference, here it is:

Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:39-41 New Living Translation

In other words, when the Virgin Mary learned she was pregnant, she went to see her cousin, Elisabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. When Mary arrived, the sound of her voice caused unborn baby John to jump for joy in his mother’s womb.

Our victories are not won in a vacuum or in isolation. Our expected babies are not born without the knowledge of our family and friends. They are won and they are born in community and in society. We don’t win alone. We always have help.  Always. And today my carpooler gave me a boost and a bump and a lift and a push and a prod upward and forward. It was just what the doctor ordered.

You see, one of my goals is to teach college, and to do that I need to obtain my doctorate. I have an MDiv, or a Master of Divinity degree, but I also need at least a DMin, or a Doctorate of Ministry degree. Teaching includes mentoring and shepherding and counseling and guiding the next generation. And this is my passion. Well …

My carpool driver today is a very special lady. And I’m not just saying that.  I ride with different carpoolers every day. I live in Northern Virginia and “Slug” up I-95 to work (and for those who have no idea what slugging is or means, I’ll write more on that later). Anyway, I carpool or “slug” to work and so I meet a lot of people. I’ve slugged with this one carpool driver only once before. It was about a month ago and we had a wonderful ride home in awful traffic. How ironic, right?

Well, today I was fortunate enough to meet up with her again. And I had another wonderful ride and we had another delightful discussion all the way down I-95 from the Pentagon. It was such a treat. And since I “know” people, I know that you don’t meet and greet a great treasure of a person like my driver today every day.

You see, through the conversation, I learned that my driver has a PhD in Physics. I said physics. And she doesn’t sound like an old ogre either. I bombed physics in high school AND college, so I don’t have many  – or any –  fond memories of my time in the classroom being beset and besieged by my hard-nosed, old fogey physics instructors. But surely I digress.

A PhD in physics is not a degree given to the faint of heart. So when I got in my carpoolers car and realized that she was my carpool comrade from about a month ago, my heart smiled. And then as the conversation commenced and consumed, and I learned of her competence and her excellence, my immediate goal was to squeeze every ounce of joy out of that carpool ride and that blessed exchange. 

My carpool comrade gave me the thought for this blog. She said “you need to squeeze every ounce of joy out of each day.”  What an amazing thought! So that’s it; we should do this every day. We should squeeze every ounce of joy out of every day.

So what’s the lesson? It’s simply this: when a Dr. is in the house (or in the car), make sure you squeeze every ounce of joy out of the moment. Remember, as much as we all need a doctor, at times, as unfit as we may think we are, we just may be someone else’s doctor.  Dr. or patient, be sure to prescribe or procure the right medicine for what ails you.

jumpforjoy

And the prescription is always joy.

The Final Four and Basketball Body Language

Nova-Final-Four

I love taking and critiquing a good photograph, especially a sports photograph. A really good photo must be formed and framed, fashioned and formatted. Not surprisingly, the photos I choose for each blog are as important and as the blog itself. I agonize and scrutinize dozens of stock photos to get just the right one for each blog. The pictures and the prose go hand in hand.

In the first photo, both hands are raised and the eyes are ablaze (or should be) and the winning Villanova teammate is celebrating a big win over mighty Kansas. It’s a picture of positive body language. Nuff said.

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The next photo, showing two of my Maryland Terrapins, is a classic lesson in negative basketball body language. You don’t have to know the final score to know that these two didn’t win. You didn’t even have to watch the game to know that their team didn’t move on. You just have to watch and study the body language.

Rasheed Sulaimon, the player on the left, is moving slowly, the shoulder on the left slightly lower than the shoulder on the right. Melo Trimble, his partner in crime, is also moving slowly as he sulks and saunters his way off of the court and out of the competition for the National Title. Both heads are hung and all four shoulders have none of the bounce or buoyancy that they had just minutes before. Both player’s bodies are slumped like they’ve been dumped and they’re wilted and faded like an old flower that has faded. Both players seem empty and dry, without direction and with simply no words left to mention.

How different will the body language be for the winners of tonight’s Final Four games? Either North Carolina (my pick) or Syracuse, Oklahoma or Villanova will be laughing and leaping and running and dancing and shouting and screaming.  There will be joy and gladness and rejoicing and yes, shear utter madness.

Winners and losers have different body language. And these two languages are as far as the east is from the west, and as far apart as night is from day, and as sunshine is from rain, and as the dead of winter is from the high heat of summer.

And so the lesson is this: don’t let the roller coaster emotions of March Madness get the best of you. Don’t let your body dictate your language.  Yes you can be elated or deflated, up or down, jubilant or jettisoned, but you don’t have to let these emotions drive the train. Yes the winners will be glad, and yes the losers will be sad, but the seasoned veterans will be able to take it all in and eventually be moderate regardless of the final score.

And in life, we should be too.

Curry Wins The Cute Kid Contest

riley

Nothing is as appealing and attractive and likeable and loveable as a cute kid. And Stephen Curry’s daughter Riley ranks right up there with the cutest of ‘em all. While daddy Curry has been lighting it up on the court, Riley Curry lit up a post-game press conference while her father tried in vain to address questions amidst her competition.

Steph Curry’s two-year-old daughter joined him for a post-game press conference after Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Curry had 34 points in the Golden State Warriors’ win over the Houston Rockets, but his daughter stole the show with her hand-waving, microphone-hijacking and just general cuteness. Yes, Riley Curry has become the star of the show that everyone wants to watch. And so there was an ACT II in which she was just as endearing and adorable as the first appearance.

Riley-Curry-Post-Game

Not everyone thought it was adorable, however, as several members of the sports media communicated their opposition for children at “pressers,” which is sports speak for press conferences. For instance, Skip Bayless of ESPN’s First Take said Riley’s presence “hurt the process.” Really? Seriously? Bah humbug.

Unfortunately, Skip Bayless’s reaction once again proves that you can’t please everyone. And you can’t appease everyone. But you can displease anyone who does not have a fix and a focus and hold and a handle on what is right and real. Such is life. Somebody is going to be cross and crass and cranky and contrary even with something as pure and pristine and picture-perfect as Riley’s presence at the press conference was. It’s a sad truth that some just don’t get it. But such is life.

The prophet Isaiah may have said it best:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!

Isaiah 5:20-21, KJV

So don’t let the unfortunate, untoward and unseemly undermine your joy. The unbecoming and unbefitting ones amongst us should not steal the show. The knock and the “No’s” of the negative naysayers shouldn’t stop the rest of us from enjoying the fresh and tender and sweet and pleasing and memorable moments Riley rendered for us. The right and reasonable thing to do is to enjoy joy and gladness anywhere we can get it; we should always laud and applaud the Riley’s amongst us, whenever and wherever they show up. Even at a post-game press conference.