Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White Christmas Dream

What if on Christmas morning when we woke up and looked out the window, everyone had the same amount of snow? A child would be born on that same day, a ray of hope in a desolate winter. The snow would last a lifetime until the child became a man and died and then it would fade away. Everyone would look out and praise him because the snow would turn to an eternal spring.

Christmas should be white according to the song but many have never seen a white Christmas. We create ideals of what a perfect life should be like but most of the time we project it on other people.

Sin seems to be the same way. If sin were snow then everybody would have a white Christmas, no one would be exempt. But we would see 10 feet of snow in our neighbors yard when we only see a few inches in our own.

The truth is we all really have the same amount of snow. No one's would be greater than their neighbors.

 Sin is clearly defined in the bible as well as who is to judge that sin. Most people don't like to have their sins singled out but in the same breath will lash out at another damning them for their transgressions.

We focus on things like sexual sin but give light to using God's name in vain. We curse the vagrant for being poor while we binge on all that is unhealthy for our bodies and our souls.

My dream for Christmas is one day sin will be looked at like snow. Before we shovel our neighbors driveway we must shovel our own realizing as we shovel the snow is always falling around us. When we learn to manage our own snow and see our neighbor doing the same we will understand the truth about sin.

Then we can look across the street and wave, invite them in for a warm cup of cocoa and talk about a God that has forgiven both of us. A loving God that sees us as equal and wanted. A God that wants us to seek him out no matter the snow fall. We can share our experiences without judgement and live with each other not just in harmony but in the joy of knowing the amount of snow each of us has is the same.

Merry Christmas 2013

© A.Quintin Smith


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wake up America. It's Patriots Day 2013

Wake up America. It has been 12 years since the fall of the twin towers and we are still healing from our wounds. September 11, 2013  is a great day in our nation's capital. There is a Million American March led by our American Muslim community. In response there is also a 2 Million Biker Ride that will fill our capital with motorcycles. But these groups will get it wrong if they don't come together. It is time we stopped being afraid of each. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. We have the right to demonstrate peacefully and are still a power to be reckoned with on any given day. We are even more powerful when we come together.

What would have been better than these two groups organizing separate rallies would have been if they would have done it together. Imagine 2 million bikers showing up to be the security detail for a community of Muslims that want nothing more than to be Americans and have the religious freedom to worship their faith just like all other Americans. Imagine muslims and bikers high fiving in the street, waving the American Flag and shouting freedom, while standing next to each other. Imagine these same people standing on the capital steps discussing politics, making friendships and sharing a story or two about how they arrived at this moment.

It is time to stop looking at people as a different color, differently dressed, or with different beliefs as someone to fear. It is time to stand up and say we are American. We live in a land that not only gives us these freedoms but we will fight to defend the right to do so for us and others.

Politicians have divided us. They would like nothing better than a people that disagrees with each other and argue to the point that we refuse to talk to each other. It gives them power and takes the focus off them.

The recent Syrian crisis brings to light what a powerful people we are. The conservative right and the liberal left, for there own reason, opposed the bombing of Syria. They came together and forced the hand of the President to seek a diplomatic resolution instead.

Wake up America, it is time for this great nation to say once again, we are the land of the free people, we will support the people in our country and not confuse them with foreign intruders. I am not afraid of them and I don't want them to be afraid of me. They may have chose to be American or were born here, regardless we are brother and sister in a land of democracy, a land of free speech and a land when challenged by a foreign threat will respond as only American Patriots can.

God Bless us on September 11th and every day. Wake up America, It's patriots day 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Finding Angels

A MYSTERY PRIEST  SHOWED UP AT A CRASH SCENE THEN VANISHED in a small Missouri community , he gave hope to a dying girl and STRENGTH and calm to the emergency response team that saved her. Some said he was an angel...until he was found

Christians have a very odd way of looking at the world. They get excited when miracles happen from unexplainable circumstances but when it is simply a man or woman who creates the miracle the story doesn't seem near as compelling or exciting. 

Rev. Patrick Dowling, a priest from  Jefferson City Missouri was travelling along Hwy 19 between his work assignments that morning in northern and central Missouri when he came upon the accident. He parked his car and ask the sheriff if he could approach the scene. He absolved and anointed Katie, (the girl in the mangled car) and, at her request, prayed that her leg would not hurt. Then he stepped aside to where some rescue personnel and the pilot were waiting, and prayed the rosary silently.” 
Then, he left the scene just as the helicopter was about to leave. Interestingly, he notes that he gave his name to one of the emergency personnel, but somehow it was seemingly not passed on. 

This story became an instant sensation, he became a miracle worker, a saint, or an angel depending on who was telling the story. But now he has been found. He has a name. He is just a man, a holy man that had reason to do his job. This story doesn't seem as spectacular now  does it? 

That is exactly the wrong way to look at things to me. God gives us grace as Christians our entry ticket in to heaven, all we have to do is ask and he opens the door. Our heaven starts hear and now, as soon as we chose to be Christian. Many seem to wait. They are looking for something greater, waiting to see dead loved ones arise from the grave, waiting for evil to be banished and everyone around them live forever. They refuse everyday happenings as miracles like the one above because they want something more than the here and now. They forget to walk through the door. 

What if Patrick Dowling is more than a priest? What if he is already a Saint or an Angel? What if he has already walked through the door?

I am surrounded by Angels in my heaven on earth. I feel there presence and see them do good works. They may not be the Angels of heaven in the bible. They certainly don't have wings but they do God's work. They accomplish things I couldn't begin too and sometimes in very mysterious ways. 

My mother is one of those Angels. She has answered the call to care and heal many times. She prays and forgives. She has martyred herself for the sake of others more times than I could count. Those that have not opened the door see her as just a woman. They struggle even when she is there to help. Sometimes they don't believe in the miracles she provides. She doesn't seek recognition for her acts but is humble and I am humbled by her. 

My wife is also an Angel. She has given me grace and mercy many times. I have watched as she has saved lives. I have held her when she could not. She is harder on herself than she should be. She wants to be perfect at everything she does and I have found even Angels fall short sometimes but Angels they are anyway and an Angel she is. 

If we as Christians are given grace and an open pass to heaven, why do we wait? Why doesn't our heaven start now? Why can't we see Angels among us? 

I think we can. Most of us chose not too. Heaven has too many barriers. We would have to give up everything we are to get there, at least that's what we believe.  

If our heaven started hear and now. If we believed there are Angels among us. If our God was present in everything we do then Patrick Dowling just might be an Angel. The story seems to sound better when you say it that way. Why don't we want it to be true? 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Killing the College Education

Feeling blessed today that my kids do not have to borrow money to go to school in 2013. 

College students that have to, will see interest rates almost double to 6.8%. This applies to 1/3 of all kids in college that will borrow an average of $6500.00 for the school year. 

That will be more than 42 billion dollars borrowed and almost 3 billion owed in interest per year from here on out. Most of these will be paid to colleges and universities that are also subsidized by tax dollars. 

After the Affordable Care Act takes effect in 2014 students will come out of college owing more than ever in debt, required to have health insurance whether they have a job or not, expect medicare and social security to still be bankrupt within their lifetime and make less than a student that graduated with the same degree in 2007. They are less likely to buy a home, own a new car or take long vacations in the first 5 years they leave school. 

Yes and 50 percent of these students will drop out before they receive a degree. The class of 2013 may create the largest working class poor population of all time and this is just the beginning. College enrollment is declining at 2.3% this year and will continue to fall at a much larger rate as the cost of education goes up. The cost of a 4 year degree at a public school is now above $80,000.00. Many of these institutions have been on a building spree to keep up with other schools and soon will be searching for funds to sustain what they have. 

So what will the next crisis be the government will try to solve and be unsuccessful in doing so? You got it, they will try to save the college education. 

Institutions that are smart and see this coming will have more and more classes online and less infrastructure. Text books will be digital and professors in lecture halls will become less necessary to the curriculum. Most of them will try to save their precious buildings instead. 

The largest union of the government, the department of education will cry foul and sadly find out while they have diverted too many employees to the school lunch program they should have been coming up with a plan to prevent the coming crisis. 

My suggestions to students, instead of borrowing money, find a job in or close to the field you would like to pursue and take longer to get a degree. Start at a community college, keep your grades high and finish at a school that is well established in finding jobs for the graduates for the degree program you are in. Look for every scholarship or grant you can get and apply. Or plan to live in mom and dad's basement for quite some time after you leave school. Students still have choices. They are just different than what they used to be. If it takes the student six years to finish college instead of 4 and they come out debt free they will still be ahead by not having to make a student loan payment for 10 years or more. Another option would be military service which still provide for a great subsided education and experience along the way.

Education is not the end all for those that can't afford it. You can self educate yourself online now for next to nothing if you have the desire to do so. Search engines provide answers to almost any given question. You can learn to program a computer or create an app easily now. 

The death of the public education is on the clock now. It will come sooner than we think. Make plans to succeed anyway. I know my kids will.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Andy's Top Ten Things to Make Your Life Wonderful

1. Eat everything people tell you not too. Just don't eat to much of anything.

2. Laugh out Loud often. This is the only infectious thing in life that is worth giving and receiving.

3. Make friends that last a lifetime. Stay in touch. It is worth that much.

4. Make a few enemies and then love them like your friends.

5. Dance. Dance. Dance. You will never feel bad when you are dancing and when you move, others will follow.

6. Travel, go places you have never been. Meet the people learn the culture and enjoy the differences from home.

7. Drink water and nothing else. It will save you thousands of dollars over a lifetime and you will be healthier for it.

8, Remember what you work for, your job is there to feed you, clothe you, and put shelter over your head but it should never become so much that you loose yourself in it.

9. Dream, wish, think, plan, take action. A simple model for every thing you do.

10. Love passionately. Find a person you can sleep with, even when they snore, a person you can fight with and is worth fighting for. Find a person that will fight for you and love you with passion back. Love deeply.

11. Believe in God, you will find he listen's when no one else does. He will love you during the times you deserve it and the times you don't. He will give you strength. He will give you peace.

12. Share your gifts. You have talent and others will benefit from it and So will you.

13. Always give more than you promise and take less than you want. © A.Quintin Smith

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Running Toward the Bomb

I am the guy that heads straight into danger when most everyone else runs away. I don't do it to make people like me or dislike me that is just the man I have become. Why do I stop for a guy changing a tire in a pouring rain on a dark night? Why do I run into the burning building? Why do I say and do things that that others won't?
When I was 15 I was a life guard at a local pool. A ten year old boy who I had seen there a few times left the pool and got on his bicycle to go home. He drove down the hill and out of site. Just then from the pool we could here the screech of a car brakes and then the collisions and a deafening scream. I couldn't see but I knew what had happened.
Some one shouted he has been hit by a car, get the lifeguard, he needs first aid. Many adults stood at the fence looking out. One mother with small children looked at me and said you need to go help. So I jumped off the stand and ran down the hill. A crowd had formed around this small child as he lay crying in the middle of the road. None of them dared to approach him.
It was my job, I was as much as told so but what I learned in Boy Scouts and from the Red Cross did not prepare me for this. He was slumped over a mangled bike his leg broken in two places, blood flowing from his side, head and hands.
I tried to calm him down. I pulled him from the bike and helped him straighten his leg. I removed my shirt and used it to put pressure on the wound on his side, the most critical issue I could see. Then I sat there and held him and talked to him, not really knowing what to say but wanting to keep him conscious until real help arrived.
The ambulance arrived, the real care takers took him from me. They splinted the leg, cleaned his wounds and treated him for shock. Someone told me I was a hero, a few others applauded as I made my way back to the pool. I looked around and most never left the pool deck. The ones that did were merely spectators, curious or otherwise. I felt terrible. How would I know if he was okay, I was not sure if anyone knew his parents or how they would know where their child was.
Someone pointed out I was covered in blood. At that moment I went from hero to almost getting fired because of what I did next. I jumped into the pool.
The mother that had told me "I needed to go help" screamed for me to get out of the pool. She grabbed her children and rushed to tell my supervisor that I had turned the pool into a septic pond.
From that point on I knew that no matter what good I did in life there would be someone that could make it all disappear in a moment. Someone who sat by being both commander and critic but really did nothing of value to improve anyone's quality of life but their own.
I didn't care. That boy needed me. I was there when no one else chose to be.

Six years later I became the boy, I had an accident, crushed by an overturned forklift, my pelvis broken in eight places, my leg dislocated with my foot dangling in front of my face. A crowd gathered round as I screamed and bled from a hole in my back. A man who was with me on the forklift had been thrown clear but he was hurt as well. He could of laid down but he got up. He cared for me until the ambulance arrived. There is more to the story but what matters here is this: the man, my hero was also the driver of the the forklift. It was not his fault it tipped over. It was an unavoidable accident. There were people that wanted to crucify him. They made him feel bad when he should have only been glad he could help.

I have been the hero. I have been the victim. In neither case did I feel like it was my choice. The only person I never want to be is the one who doesn't act but judges those who do. At times I ruffled a few feathers and maybe I meant too. I have made the choice to live big, to say and do the things that many only dream, to be the guy that runs toward the bomb.