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Inspiration Report

2000px-Los_Angeles_Rams_wordmark.svgThe NLF is once again back in the spotlight. This time, however, it is not the players who are in the spotlight. It is the cheerleaders.

The Los Angeles Rams have garnered national attention after adding two men to their cheerleading squad. Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies are both classically trained dancers and have spent their entire lives on stage. Peron said that he was inspired to try out for the squad after watching the Laker Girls perform at an LA Lakers game.

“I thought, ‘Why not me? Why can’t I do this?’” said Peron. “So I called my friend and I asked her when auditions were for the Rams and she told me Sunday and I showed up.”

Jinnies described the audition as a lengthy and grueling process. “[The audition] was about three weeks long and we had a bunch of rehearsals in between and an extensive interview process, but it was really humbling and amazing to be invited every time you came back. High emotions, but it was worth it.”

The two men were among the lucky finalists chosen for the 40 person squad. For Peron, making the squad is a way for him to make a point. “I want to prove that boys can dance, too,” Peron said. “After college we’re not given a choice or a chance to do anything after. We’re, like, just told to get a nine to five job and that’s it. But that doesn’t work. I am an artist, I am a creative person.”

The Rams are claiming that the addition of Jinnies and Peron to their cheer squad is making history, but other teams disagree. Former Atlanta Falcons cheer squad member Billy Quercia came forward to point out that male cheerleaders are not actually anything new. The Falcons cheer squad was composed of 12 men and 12 women during the 1987 and 1988 seasons. The men were true cheerleaders as well. They did the dance routines with the women instead of being relegated to throws only. Similarly, the Baltimore Ravens had male cheerleaders who helped with stunts, and the Tennessee Titans had male yell leaders.

Still, Jinnies and Peron have been getting a great deal of media coverage recently, and Quercia is delighted to see more male cheerleaders.  “I think it’s fabulous that that’s happening because we’re all one people and I think that’s awesome,” Quercia said. “They have it going on. They know what they’re doing. I’ve seen them: they’re very, very good and very professional. And they deserve to be where they’re at.”

The NFL regular season starts on September 6th, and the preseason will begin on August 2nd with the Chicago Bears facing off against the Baltimore Ravens.

8609030890_3a0d01231c_zEaster is the time when Christians remember how Christ gave them eternal life through His suffering, death and resurrection. This year, however, it was also the time when a Texas church gave its congregation a very special, more earthly gift. Covenant Church in Carrollton, Texas paid off the medical debt of 4,000 local families. The debt totaled $10,551,618. The debts of local veterans were paid off first with special attention given to those who were suffering from injuries from war. The debt of every veteran within 20 miles of the church was paid off. Then, the rest of the money was distributed among others in the community.

The church usually spends more than $100,000 leading up to Easter Sunday in order to promote their services through radio and TV ads and even billboards which can cost up $30,000 per month. This year, however, they decided to listen to the Gospel’s teachings on generosity, and they put their money where their mouths are.

The pastor of the church, Stephen Hayes, understands the burden of medical debt all too well. He was hit by a car at the age of 17 and spent 12 days in the ICU. His family struggled to pay off the debt incurred from the accident until his church stepped in to help. Hayes wanted to give that same incredible gift to others in need. The church sent out letters to those they helped fund. The letters said, “We are Covenant Church and we are local in this area and can serve you in any way, and we would love to be your church. But even if we don’t get to meet you, just know that God loves you.”

Hayes compared the gift the church gave to local families to the gift Jesus gave the world. The “letter” to believers is contained in the Gospel, especially the passage from the Gospel of John when Jesus states, “It is finished.” On Easter Sunday, Hayes reminded his congregation of that fact.

“That’s your letter in the mail,” Hayes said. “If you can imagine what those people this week will be feeling when they receive the letter that you sent them saying their debt is paid. I prayed 100-fold that [is how] you would feel in reading the letter He wrote to you in the book of John 19:30. Hey, your debt of sin is paid. You are covered.”

This gift is not one that the local families will ever forget. Easter is always a day to be thankful and praise God, but this year, those Texas families have extra to be thankful for and are thanking their neighbors as well as Christ.

40637403412_d573a0f08a_zWhether you turn on the news or talk to your neighbor, it is hard to escape the divisions carving themselves into the American landscape. Liberals call conservatives evil and heartless. Conservatives call liberals brainless. Millennials blame earlier generations for their struggles. Parents and elders say young adults need to stop expecting a free ride. Radicalized Muslims attempt to murder their friends in their beds. Neighbors turn on innocent Muslims in response. Murder, riots, rape, violence, insults and hate are all that anyone seems to encounter today. Where once differences were accepted and people could agree to disagree, increasingly Americans have told neighbors, friends and even family, “It’s my way or the highway.” In the midst of the cultural breakdown, however, hundreds of thousands of Americans set aside generational, racial and religious differences and came together in the name of a common goal.

On Saturday, March 24, 2018, Americans across the nation took part in “March For Our Lives,” a movement dedicated to student-led activism and tightening gun control laws. The movement was largely in response to the Parkland school shooting on Valentine’s Day that killed 17 high school students.

The official March For Our Lives took place in Washington, D.C. Thousands of people of all ages and ethnicities gathered in the nation’s capital to call for stricter gun laws. Survivors from the Parkland shooting attended as did celebrities such as Paul McCartney. For those that were not able to make it to Washington, there were sister marches all across the country. It is estimated that there were 800 similar events throughout the United States, and the total number of participants is estimated to be between 1.2 and 2 million people.  Every region of the country had at least a few marches, and in Washington, many of the streets surrounding the National Mall were closed to vehicular traffic in anticipation of the march.

The debate about gun control will continue to rage as people argue over how to define the Second Amendment in the modern era. Regardless of whether you are pro- or anti-gun control, however, there is something inspiring about seeing so many people come together. In a time when divisions run deep and those who try to reach out to those of a different political ideology are shunned, a student-driven march of over a million people shows that maybe, just maybe, the rifts in America can heal, and our nation can leave the insults behind and once again learn to agree to disagree.

Selena_Gomez_UNICEF_3,_2012_(cropped)Trolls and haters thrive in the depths of the internet and exist in legions on social media. Their most recent target was a series of pictures of Selena Gomez on a yacht off the Australian coast. The singer was photographed lounging in the sun with her friends while wearing an orange and black miss-matched bikini. Almost as soon as the images hit the internet, people began body shaming Gomez.

Gomez recently underwent a kidney transplant after suffering from lupus, an autoimmune disease that attacked her kidneys. The surgery was successful, but it had complications that required Gomez to have an artery reconstructed. She has since recovered from the surgeries and has worked to become more comfortable with her surgical scars.

“It was really hard in the beginning. I remember looking at myself in the mirror completely naked and thinking about all the things that I used to bitch about and just asking, ‘Why?’” Gomez said. “I had someone in my life for a very long time who pointed out all the things that I didn’t feel great about with myself. When I look at my body now, I just see life. There are a million things I can do ― lasers and creams and all that stuff ― but I’m OK with it.”

When the issue came up again with body shamers on social media, Gomez fired back at them. The singer did not respond with anger or insults but instead with an inspirational video .The video featured a montage of Gomez and her friends enjoying themselves on the yacht with a caption that called out “the beauty myth” as “an obsession with physical perfection that traps modern woman in an endless cycle of hopelessness, self consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society’s impossible definition of flawless beauty.” Gomez, however, is done trying to meet unrealistic expectations. Her post when on to say that te singer has chosen to “take care of myself because I want to, not to prove anything to anyone.”

The post has gone viral on social media with well over 3 million likes and nearly 60,000 comments. Gomez friend Amy Schumer put up her own post that said she was “inspired” by Gomez. “No striving for another version of yourself,” Schumer’s post said. “Let’s love ourselves today. Just how we are.”

Gomez is merely the latest celebrity to use inspiration or humor to shut down body shamers without adding further fuel to the fire. By answering hate with encouragement and insults with inspiration, Gomez left her haters without something to fight and gave her fans a reason to smile.