Use Lenten Season to become a good memory

1962651_10152085125563381_1856722289_nNo matter what church I’ve attended for worship – AME Zion, United Methodist, Baptist, United Church of Christ, we have always commemorated the Season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and is a time of penance, reflection and fasting to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

That resurrection is the door He left open for our redemption. It represents the moment that even the greatest nonbeliever understood who He was and whose He was.

But fasting doesn’t always mean from food. Many of the Christians fast rom something for 40 days, a sacrifice that helps them be faithful to the season and to count down to redemption.

I’ve given up something every year.  This year is no different.

Except that I’m sharing my time of sacrifice with a friend.

This year, my dear friend, Melia and I chose each other’s sacrifice. I shall not reveal hers, but she chose for me something that means I will have more time and money to devote to worthier causes than myself: No movies for 40 days and nights.

kinopoisk.ruThat’s right – no matinees, no $8 popcorns, no films.

That means I won’t see The 300: “Rise of an Empire” until after it’s been in theaters for weeks.  I predicted the success of “The 300,” a brilliant re-imagined account of the Battle of Thermopylae, when King Leonidas led 300 Spartans  into battle against Xerses, a magically powerful Persian who led a 300,000 man army.  The film earned more than $450 million at the box office. Its sequel, while just as flawed and just as historically accurate, will be just as good, I think.

I also won’t see “Veronica Mars,” the film I’ve been waiting for for almost seven years. It’s based on a CW TV show that I LOVED, and I was thrilled by the Kickstarter campaign to fund its filming.

MV5BMTQ4MDc0Mjg4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk3NjYyMTE@._V1_SX214_I am one of those people who sees movies on opening day, on Friday nights, before the social network has anointed or killed them. I go to premieres as often as I can to see movies before they’re tainted by opinions I don’t trust.

I love movies.

So at first, I was horrified by Melia’s choice. But then I realize she chose exactly right, and I am grateful. I’ll save countless hours at at least $200 bucks, which I’m sure a charity could use more.

I have another sacrifice I’m making that is between God and me. It is a spiritual and special thing that probably means more to God.

But please use the season, whether you believe in only this world or this and more, to reflect on who you are and who you can be.

And no matter what age you are, please find ways to be a good memory after you’re gone!

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

Remembering Angelo Henderson;
making sure his legacy lives

Whenever you talked to Angelo Henderson, on the phone or in person, you had to work to keep up.

He talked at 78 rpm; so if you were chatting at 33 1/3, you had to increase your speed. (For anyone younger than 30, those numbers refers to old records. For anyone younger than 20, records are big CDS.  For teenagers, CDs are something people used to put music on before iTunes.)

The funeral program from Angelo Henderson's Homegoing Celebration.

The funeral program from Angelo Henderson’s Homegoing Celebration.

Angelo, who lived life at a hundred miles an hour, just never stopped. He didn’t rest until his death on February 15. That’s because knew he had a lot to do. He, after all, had five jobs. And he was successful at all of them.

He was a journalist who rose to the top of the industry, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1999.

He was one of the most popular radio talk show hosts in Michigan.

He was an activist who co-founded a community group, the Detroit 300, that literally changed the way people lived in troubled Detroit neighborhoods.

He was a minister who heeded God’s calling and became a minister, while continuing all of his other work.

But his most important job was as husband and father.

Writing the words “Angelo died” out loud still doesn’t make it real. I needed it to be a false rumor – like the one Wikipedia afflicts on Sinbad every few years, not for his friends, but for his wife and son, Felecia and Grant.

I’ve never seen any couple more in love than Angelo and Felecia, a fellow journalist who was his perfect match, calm to his tornado, grace to his flurry.

And Grant? I’m so glad Angelo got to see his son become the young man they groomed him to be, a 20-year-old college student with real basketball skills.

There is a scene in the film Remember the Titans where Denzel Washington, as Coach Herman Boone, talks to the media about losing a player before the big state championship.

“You cannot replace a Gerry Bertier – as a player or person,” the coach tells gathered media.

Well, Detroit is our team. And you cannot replace an Angelo Henderson. All we can do now is to let him continue to serve as role model and inspiration.

Everything Angelo did, he did in the name of Jesus.

Everything we do should be the same, except, additionally, we should do it — for Angelo.

A group of Angelo’s friends from 14 different states across the country will be working to not just preserve Angelo’s legacy but to lift it up. to find ways to ensure that he is always remembered and to help others as he always did.

Stay tuned for details. But know this: We might, in his honor, be working at a hundred miles an hour.

To join the Angelo Henderson Legacy Project, send an email to Rochelle Riley at rochelleriley@aol.com.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley. You can find her Free Press page here on Facebook.

End of financial fast is beginning
of different economic living

So what happened to the end of the 21-day financial fast, you wonder?

I completed it. But more important, I paid attention to the things I learned on it.

I paid off my car (and am about to pay off one of the only two credit cards I have).

I do not buy anything major now without giving myself a week to think about it.

And I’m cleaning up my house and life, getting rid of all the crap and not replacing it with things I don’t need.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.09.35 PMWhen I began Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary’s 21-Day Financial Fast, I figured I’d save a few bucks, learn a few things and go back to business as usual.

I saved a lot. I learned more about myself than my money. And things will never be the same.

Example? I went to have my annual teeth cleaning. I’m a big baby at the dentist’s office. The hygienist said “You want nitrous (the wonderful gas, nitrous oxide that makes you not care that she’s in your mouth)? Rather than immediately say “Yes!”, I asked “How much?”

It was $40. I said no.

What?!

I needed a new wallet. I went shopping in my closet. I found one with the tag still on, and I have had great compliments on the style and color. I don’t even remember buying it.

My next task is to clean the garage, so I can take the stuff I have in storage and put it in the garage. That stuff has been there since April 2012 because I didn’t have time to deal with it. When I realized that the money I’d spent holding onto it would have paid for a trip to Paris, I got motivated.

checkbookSo I want to thank Michelle and the fast. And she’ll be happy to know that, unlike some people who might not have wanted people to know what they were doing, I talked to everybody. The best encouragement I got was a gift from a dear friend, who knew that I would be experiencing several special occasions occurring during the fast, including my birthday. She gave me a checkbook whose checks were actually dollar bills.

“Snack on these and stick to your fast,” she told me.

And the moderator at my church now wants our entire church council to do the fast and give the proceeds to the church.

Now that’s spreading the good word and good habits in a good way.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

My apology to Russell Wilson

russell-wilson2

First order of business, since I’m Monday-morning quarterbacking, is to apologize to Russell Wilson.

Yes, he’s the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, and I was rooting for Peyton Manning. I wasn’t rooting for the Denver Broncos. I don’t know most of them. Well, I don’t really know any of them.

I was rooting for Peyton because I like to root for history. I wanted him to become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl with two teams. I wanted him to reach the highest pinnacle he could. And then I wanted him to retire.

After his injury and doubts about his return to football, he not only found a team, but he was relentless with that team, pushing them to the Big Game like old times. But it wasn’t like old times. I winced every time a defender got CLOSE to him. I was worried about his neck every game of the season.

But back to that apology.

I was so focused on Peyton that I paid no attention to Russell Wilson, a phenom from Virginia who played at N.C. State in my home state, a young man who turned down a professional baseball contract offer from the Baltimore Orioles while playing football and baseball at the Collegiate School, a Richmond high school, because his father wanted him to attend college.

Read The Washington Post’s Kent Babb describe his journey:

2019947954“Harry Wilson, the son of educators, was living with adult-onset diabetes. His vision was disappearing and his health was deteriorating. But he wanted his son to earn his degree. Russell had heard for years about how the family valued education and about Harry’s father, who was once the president of Norfolk State University and whose sons had become attorneys. With an education, Harry told his son, who knew what greater opportunities — bigger even than a million-dollar bonus — were possible?

Young Russell agreed, making the pledge and turning down the Orioles. And like when they let their hair grow, the father and son could experience this together, too. He signed in 2007 to attend North Carolina State, where he’d play baseball and football, beginning an unexpected journey to the Seattle Seahawks and the Super Bowl.

“Harry planted a dream in Russell’s mind,” said Ben Wilson, Harry’s brother and an attorney in Washington. “And now we’re all watching it come to fruition.”

The brothers occasionally traveled to Raleigh, N.C., Ben leaving his home in Northwest Washington and picking up Harry on their way to watch Russell.

When Harry’s disease sunk its teeth in, his eyes no longer working, they’d sit at Carter-Finley Stadium with Ben describing the action to his brother…”

I didn’t know that in advance. I didn’t read the reams of pre-Super Bowl coverage. I didn’t watch the coverage leading up to the game. None of my teams were in it, so I missed the biggest story of this year’s game.

redskinsMy teams are Washington and New Orleans. So when they’re not playing, I’m watching the Super Bowl because it is an American tradition that was watched by nearly half of us in 56 markets this year. So I didn’t pay attention to Russell Wilson, or his amazing story or how he honored his dad or how he won the sports’ biggest game in only his second year in the league.

Second year.

“The second-year player has racked up a 100 passer rating in each of his first two years, along with over 1,000 yards rushing, while leading the Seahawks to 28 wins, including the playoffs,” according to a nicely done Forbes piece about his future. “The only other QBs with a 100 passer rating each of the past two seasons are (Aaron) Rogers and (Peyton) Manning. Wilson has done it at a bargain rate as a third-round draft pick on his first contract. His 2013 salary was $526,217, or less than Manning makes per game, providing the Seahawks ample salary cap room to address other needs.

malcolm-smithRussell Wilson wasn’t named MVP of the Super Bowl. It went to the Seahawks’ defensive team. They gave it to Malcolm Smith because of two flashy plays that were part of a season of excellence, but I hope he knows he was accepting it for a defensive team that was dang near perfect.

But Wilson was MVP of football this year. His is a story that’s worth telling over and over. Here are the entire Forbes and Washington Post pieces. Learn about him.

Because he’s going to be a $100 million quarterback. He’s going to be one of the greats.

And I’m sorry I missed it. I’m sorry I wasn’t seeing him accomplish what he did in the Super Bowl while knowing how he got there.

I’m sorry, Russell. But I promise I’ll be watching from now on.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley. And she hopes you will support her Kickstarter campaign to record an acoustic gospel album here!
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Co-signing credit is giving your reputation
to someone else to use and lose

It’s not that I’m selfish, but Days 13 and 14 of the 21-Day Financial Fast were easy.

Chapter 13 in Michelle Singletary’s book that accompanies the fast explained the curse of credit. That curse taught me a harsh lesson more than a decade ago. That curse kicked my butt.

Suffice it to say, after my foray into unlimited twentysomething spending, I soon learned to treat credit cards like alcohol, and I didn’t want to become an alcoholic.

I cut up all my credit cards but one, (My company gave me a second for business expenses.), and I began paying off my bills.  That was a huge step for someone who got her first credit card when she was 19.

creditcardsChapter 14 was one I didn’t even have to read. It was called co-signing is crazy. As I said, it’s not that I’m selfish, but I wouldn’t co-sign something for anyone, not even my mother.

What I would do is find a way to get what she needed, whether it was a car or a house without attaching my name to someone else’s credit.

It is a standard I’ve always had, but one that became a life mantra that speaks to a larger issue: Do not give your reputation to someone else to use and lose! If they mess it up, you can’t get it back – not for a long time.

So these days, these chapters, were easy: Do not get a bunch of credit cards. They are not money, and you’re still broke. And don’t let someone else’s poor credit keep you from using your own.

Got it!

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley, and she hopes you will support her Kickstarter campaign to record an acoustic gospel album here!