Obama’s Healthcare Plain

I have been struggling a lot with Obama’s plan for healthcare reform. It isn’t that I don’t think healthcare is an important issue here in the United States. With almost 50 million people without healthcare (including myself at this moment in my career), this is a very important issue that needs to be brought to the table. With the help of a few people who are knowledgeable in “healthcare jargon,” I am going to attempt to lie out what Obama would love to put in place within a year of being President of the United States.

Obama breaks his healthcare reform plan down into three parts saying that it builds “upon the strengths of the U.S. healthcare system.”

The three parts are:

1. Quality, Affordable & Portable Health Coverage For All
2. Modernizing The U.S. Health Care System To Lower Costs & Improve Quality
3. Promoting Prevention & Strengthening Public Health

Obama claims that his healthcare reform plan will save the typical family up to $2,500 every year through:

* Health information technology investment aimed at reducing unnecessary spending that results from preventable errors and inefficient paper billing systems.
* Improving prevention and management of chronic conditions.
* Increasing insurance industry competition and reducing underwriting costs and profits in order to reduce insurance overhead.
* Providing reinsurance for catastrophic coverage, which will reduce insurance premiums.
* Making health insurance universal which will reduce spending on uncompensated care.

I guess the big question – the questions a lot of people are asking is: “Is this even possible?” Can he really promote these ideas and have them work well? Would all the criticism he has received for his “outrageous claims” need to be retracted? I am not sure.

First and foremost, this is going to cost the United States a lot of money. We are talking Billions of dollars to institute a new reform for healthcare. In fact, one website I read quoted Obama saying this new reform of healthcare “will cost between $50 and $65 billion a year when fully phased in. He assumes that it will be paid from savings in the system and from discontinuing the Bush tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 per year.”

I have a different idea. Why don’t we invest more in paying off our national debt? Why don’t we attempt to do something very few countries – and individuals as well – those we, as the united States, are debt free to the world? I think investing in those matters would be more important than spending all of this money for something that might not actually work (please see the $700 billion dollars that we no longer have).

I guess I must be alone in this. I personally hope that Obama keeps his promises to the American people. I hope he maintains his “charismatic” youthfulness as Commander and Chief. Most importantly though, I hope people – even those who did not vote him in – will be hard-pressed on their needs to pray for him. He needs it – our country needs it.

So – back to the healthcare issue: Do you think it will work? Yes or no/why or why not?

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Practicing Patience and Praying Hard

I usually attend a Bible study on Friday night. I didn’t attend this evening though because I had a friend in from Wisconsin at his parent’s house for the weekend. Since I doubt I will be able to go out much, I wanted to take the time I have and spend it with he and his wife.

Jathan and Becky is a unique couple. I say that tongue-and-check because Jathan has become a great friend of mine over the past couple of years. Before he got married and moved to Wisconsin, we used to hang out a lot together. We would talk about God, do meaningful studies together, and play volleyball somewhere in between. He knows a lot about me and I him. It is a great friendship to have.

Seeing Jathan and Becky happy is a great thing. I am glad they are married. At first, I thought perhaps they were running too fast into marriage. Knowing someone for a short amount of time and getting married quickly is not always the best thing to do. It definitely takes a certain someone and a clear moving of God to do something like that. Seeing them together this weekend confirms in my mind that it was a God ordained marriage. They really do look happy together. They kiss a lot, which is weird for me seeing Jathan kiss someone since he has never kissed a girl before Becky. I can tell that Jathan wants the very best for his wife and for his marriage. It is a beautiful thing to see played out in their relationship among family and friends.

Sometimes it is hard though seeing people married and such. It isn’t because you would want them to be single. As I said, I am glad they are married and together. What is hard though is being single while all your friends are getting married around you. You are extremely happy for them and truly desire for God to bless them with happiness and joy in Christ for many long years. It is during those times where, for me anyway, where I start to ask myself a ton of questions.

Questions include: “Why am I still single? Is there really someone out there for me? I know God loves me but why does it feel like He is holding out on me? Why is it so hard to trust that God has someone out there for me who will love me and care for me? What if God really wants me single and I am missing His signs? Why is it so hard to be happy and content with God? Will I ever meet someone who cares enough for me to want to be with me?” I have asked these questions all the time – not every day – but enough that I have them memorized quite well.

I love when people try and quote scripture like they are being helpful. The one I hear the most is, “Tim, remember what Jesus said: Keep seeking, knocking and asking. Eventually you will find, the door will be opened and you will have answers. It’s a promise so cheer up!” Don’t get me wrong. What the person said is true – very true in fact. The problem is that it isn’t helpful. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat there and thought about how much I have knocked or asked God. So often, it feels like God isn’t even there to open the door or answer my call. I feel like He is busy or has something better to do – like fixing up other people as couples so they can get married. It is so easy to be cynical when you feel like the possibilities of married are slim to none.

I used to think it was an outer appearance issue – the whole, “You’re not good looking enough” syndrome.  The only problem with that is that we are all messed up in some manner. There are no perfect people. Don’t get me wrong. I have to continually work on taking care of myself so I can be attractive for my wife. I can’t be lazy and look like a slob. I don’t think I am. I dress well and smell nice. That definitely helps a lot.

Maybe this sounds like I am venting – and in some ways I am. Sometimes one has to just get it all out and then all seems right with the world – at least for a little bit. Truth be told, I do believe God has someone out there for me. I don’t know who it is or where she is. Maybe I have met her in my past or maybe she is someone I have yet to meet. I know God has His best for me and I need to be patient. I don’t like being patient. It takes too long to be patient. I am learning though and trying to focus on my relationship with God so that I can be a great husband and leader one day.

So in closing, I hope, for those who are in the same boat I am, that you will continue to have faith in Christ and believe that He truly has the best for us. He wants to bless us and not hurt us at all. That is the hope I am leaning on. I hope you will lean with me. Perhaps together, we can be strong enough to be patient and wait for the wife or husband for us.

Snapshots: Embracing Identity

This past Sunday, I was asked if I would take 7-10 minutes and share what God has been doing in my life at Church. I have to admit I was nervous. I don’t get many opportunities to address people in this fashion – especially a personal fashion. When I found out that I would be sharing, I took a lot of time to consider how I was going to approach this service. Here is what I basically shared with the Church with a few extra thoughts along the way.

Have you ever taken a picture that, after you took it, you showed off to all of your friends? We are always so eager to share the pictures that come out beautiful with others. We rarely show off the pictures that have our thumb in the way or are blurry. Those are the pictures we would rather delete from our cameras. We have that luxury now in the digital era to remove a picture from our memory disk and save room for that next National Geographic photo.

I think we do the same thing in our lives. We have some great snapshots of our life that we love to share with other people. They make us look good after all. They are pictures of beauty. Meanwhile, we have these snapshots of our life that we would rarely show to anyone else. They embarrass us. They are pictures that make us look as those we are a failure. The only problem though is that we are unable to remove these snapshots from our mental disk. They are forever etched into our craniums and often rear their ugly head when we are less than prepared to deal with them. Since deleting these snapshots are a no go, we attempt to store them away in a private album that collects dust in the back of our minds – at least that is what we hope. I have come to realize though the mix of good snapshots, along with the bad snapshots might not be such a bad thing after all. At least, that is what I am learning.

I have a lot of great snapshots I could share with you:

I was adopted when I was a baby. I lived through a heart surgery that I was not supposed to live through. Confessing Jesus as Lord when I was 9-years-old. I joined a marching band and played the drums. I had my first kiss, which was awkward at first. I didn’t know how the nose and the lips worked together. Being apart of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Going to Bible College. Meeting great friends. Finding a great home church.

These are great snapshots of my life. Though only a few, I would never have a problem showing you these snapshots. They are beautiful. I have other snapshots though that I would struggle to show you:

Finding out I was a rape baby when I was 12. Hating God. Wondering why all of my friends were getting married while I was still single. Dealing with sins that included but are not limited to: lying, anger, and lust. Then there were the times of feeling abandoned, times like I wanted to give up. I would never show you those snapshots of my life because they are ugly times in my life. They are messy. As I said though, both the good and the bad snapshots of our life are mixed together and I think perhaps that is a good thing.

For me, these snapshots make up my identity. They show – for better or for worse –this is who I am. I am learning to accept my identity though. It hasn’t been easy but I am getting there. That is why I am so glad that I am in a faith community like the one I am in. The friendships I have found there are powerful and awesome. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Embracing my identity is hard. I think that is one of life’s biggest challenges. This is what I have come to learn about this identity though recently: Sharing our snapshots is important. It helps us to be more of ourselves than someone else. Also, our identity can oftentimes be compared to a Polaroid photograph. It can take a little while for it to come into focus. Sometimes we have to take a small step and watch as God takes what is not so clear and adds light to our identity. I think the reason we often struggle with our identity is that we are never willing to wait for God to bring it into focus. We are so consumed with now that we often miss out on the image we are supposed to see.

In closing, I would just like to say that our snapshots continue to take. We can’t shut off the camera. Even if we were to gather all the snapshots of our life, we should never fully see the fullness of who we are through them. There are also the snapshots others have taken along the way that are essential to our journey in knowing who we are. They are valuable. That is why I find it so hard to understand God. We only have snapshots of who He is through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. We can’t and will never have a full image of who Christ is. What we have though is more than enough for us to handle.

I am not a rape baby. I am not a waiter at a restaurant. Those things do not adequately show who I am. I am a child of God. This is where my identity lies. He adopted me – He chose me because He loves me to death – literally. Being adopted has shown me that I have a loving family that cares and being adopted shows me that, for whatever reason, I am God’s.

I encourage those of you who read my site to embrace your identity and to share your snapshots with others. Allow the snapshots that are beautiful to be shown with the snapshots that are not so beautiful. Allow people to see who you are through the snapshots of your life. Embrace your identity and journey with me. Let’s struggle together and pray for one another in hopes that we will come to a place where the snapshots of our lives and our identities meet. In it we will find clarity and fulfillment through Christ. This is who I am. This is my identity. Care to share yours?

Obama: The First Black President of the U.S.

“Not in my lifetime.” That is what an older black man said when he saw John McCain concede to Barack Obama this evening. Watching the news, many Black men and women are crying and shaking their heads in disbelief. Black husbands are kissing their black wives and songs are being sung in the streets.

I am not sure even Barack Obama can believe what he is experiencing. He will be the 44th President and the first black President of the United States. With that, this honor and position will be very difficult for Barack Obama. He will be tried and tested by both the Democrats and the Republicans – both the Senate and the House. All eyes will look to him as a leader of a world power.

In some respects, I am extremely happy. There have been a lot of firsts for black people that are historic and important to our history. Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player in the major league. Ella Fitzgerald was the first black woman to win a Grammy Award in 1958. Nat King Cole was the first black man to be a Network television show host in 1956 – Oprah Winfrey was the first black woman television host in 1986. Willie Thrower was the first black NFL player to hold the position as a quarterback in 1953, and the first black Miss America was none other than Vanessa Williams in 1984. Since her reign, three other black women have held that honor. Tonight, another historic black moment has been witnessed. Barack Obama will fill the highest office of President. I can only imagine why that guy – the older black man – responded, “Not in my lifetime.” Maybe he has seen a lot of hate and struggle as a young black man. Perhaps memories of the Black Panther group, Malcolm X and signs that said, “Whites only” still burn deep into his mind and his heart.

With all of that said, I will be praying for Barack Obama and this nation. Barack has very little experience. In fact, he has all of 2 ½ years of experience. He has also made a lot of promises to the American people that I find to be difficult to keep. He has promised healthcare to the masses, to end the war in Iraq, bring our troops home to reunite with their families, to stabilize the US economy, and to provide the kind of change the American people have been waiting for. For Barack Obama, it seems that many hours of his Presidential elect period will be spent “learning the ropes” of running a country of 300 million people and learning what it takes to be a one-of-a-kind ambassador of the American people to the world. I can honestly say without a burden of conscience that I am not jealous of Barack Obama. The position of president, despite all the jokes made by comedians and analysts, is very difficult on the individual and on the individual’s family.

In closing, I want to ask the American people – black or white, male or female, young or old, Republican or Democrat – to pray for Barack Obama and the leadership and the government of the United States of America. I hope you will join me in prayer for all the “change” we are going to experience – both the good and the bad – that ultimately comes with a new face in the oval office. I firmly believe that God’s sovereign hand is upon His people. I truly believe that God love us individually and corporately. I know God is in control over all things. Let us not waste anytime in taking the Presidential elect to prayer before the throne of God. Pray for his family. Pray for his safety. Pray for his leadership and his plans. Let us be a people of prayer that really cares about what’s going on here in the United States and around the world and how those we have put in those positions act and lead.

P.S. For those who did not vote, shame on you. Please do not sit in front of your TV’s and complain about an action taken by the President or run your mouth about how you don’t agree with something. You didn’t vote. Voting is a right we have been given in the United States. There is this thing called The Constitution of the United States that gave you that right. There was an Amendment that was added so that those of color could vote as well. Black, White, Asian, or whatever colors your skin might be: You could have voted. You could have made your voice heard. If you find yourself getting upset about something that happened, perhaps you will take a moment and get on the ballet for the next election. For now though, the polls are closed, the votes are in, and we will have a new President on January 20th, 2009. His name is Barack Obama. God bless America.

How to Not Vote

I have been thinking a lot about the election that will start in almost six hours in Pennsylvania. I have been thinking about the potential candidates and their leadership abilities and their ability to lead this country for the next four years. I have been thinking about a lot of the issues both candidates stand for and what they are against. All of this to say: I have done my research for this election – more than I have done for any other election and feel as though I have a decent grasp on how I am going to vote tomorrow. Instead of telling you how I am going to vote, I have decided to share how I am not going to vote tomorrow. Here is my list of things that will not matter to me tomorrow when I poll my vote:

Both McCain’s and Obama’s age will not affect how I will vote. People have made a big deal about this on both ends. The LA Times writes, “Barack Obama and McCain are separated by the largest age difference of any two presidential candidates in history. If Obama is elected, he will be, at 47, among the youngest presidents in history; if McCain wins, he’ll be the oldest to win the office, at 72.” Being the President of the United States has never been an issue of age. Why should a 25-year gap between both candidates be an issue? How is that going to really affect either candidate from leading the US? I honestly think the arguments on both ends are a little ridiculous. The Republicans have chosen McCain and the Democrats have chosen Obama. If both parties are confident in their choices to represent their parties, then let’s move on already.

Another area that will not affect how I vote is color. I am not a racist nor am I prejudice. I have worshipped in churches that are predominately black several times over and have found black people to be more welcoming and friendly than many predominately white churches. Some of my closest friends from Bible College are black as well. I find it funny that people would still make a deal about the color of someone’s skin. I guess we – the United States – still have a lot of growing up to do in this area. On the other side of the coin though, my vote will not be swayed for history’s sake. Do I think it would be awesome that we would see a black President in the United States? I think that would be awesome. I think it is well overdue actually. When I turned 18, I wanted to vote for Allen Keys. I think of all the candidates I could have voted for, Allen displayed the ability to lead the United States well. Black or white should not be the reason someone is elected as the President of the United States – period.

Vice President choices will also not be the reason I vote one way or the other. Once again, there could be the tendency to vote for McCain because he has chosen a female running mate to be his Vice President. Obama has chosen a man. Some people really want to see diversity in the White House. Having a female as a V.P. would do just that. That is a wrong motive and reason though.

Donkeys or elephants don’t matter either. I really struggle place myself as a Democrat or a Republican. I think both candidates seem to fall into the same confusion. McCain will make a statement that seems more Democrat than Republican while Obama will make a statement that is more Republican than Democrat. Both sides make statements in which they promise a variety of  “to do’s.” Both sides pad their promises with statements that both candidates know will be impossible to make. I say all of this to say – donkeys or elephants – that is not my reason for the season of voting.

Finally, I will not be voting based off the commercials that are running continuously on TV. I honestly think the commercials hurt both candidates rather than help. In many of the commercials I have seen, both candidates seem prideful. They have no faults of their own. They never make mistakes. They are essentially mini-gods of sorts. Their opponents however “mean well” but are the worst choice for President. Both candidates find “dirt” on the other and exploit it on the airwaves. Both candidates twist words to make the other candidate look like a fool, unable to lead. How can we really watch these commercials and build a profile on either candidate? That’s ridiculous. It is foolish.

In conclusion, I am going to vote tomorrow for a candidate that I believe will lead this country well. After doing all of my research and going to God in a lot of prayer – in community with my church and individually – I feel confident in voting tomorrow. I have a lot of reasons for which I am going to vote for. I hope your vote will not be based on the above reasons. I hope your vote will be one that is done on solid research and a lot of prayer, meditation, consideration, conversation, and/or thought. Happy election day folks – vote well.

Chase Utley Dropped the Ball…

I am a Phillies fan – hardcore. I watched every game this past season and followed the glories and the pains of the season. When the Phillies won, I was so excited that I ran to the nearest Modell’s to grab some World Series, 2008 gear. When I got there, they were out of gear so I woke up at 4 AM and drove to Modell’s once again and waited till 5 AM for the store to open. Some people might think I am nuts. Perhaps I am – and the 800 other people who were in line with me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t go to the parade on Friday. I had to work and therefore could only watch the parade on a 50” TV. I did my best to take time and watch the festivities while providing the best service to my customers. It’s hard being a server and wanting to watch a parade on TV. There was one thing though I heard and saw that disappointed me. Chase Utley is a guy that I have respected a lot as an important player for the Phillies. In fact, a lot of his plays made it possible for the Phillies to win the World Series. The pump fake to first and the throw to home was the climax of Utley’s season. I had a lot of respect for Chase – that was until he opened his mouth and said what he said to the fans of the Phillies.

Why am I a little pissed off about it? It is simple: Chase was given an opportunity to thank the fans that ultimately paid for the luxuries he enjoys as a baseball player. Over 3 million people this past year went to a Phillies game. All the gear that was bought, food that was consumed, and everything else the fans paid for went into his pocket in some way. And how does Chase Utley repay the fans for spending all their time and money for this past season? He decides to take one of the largest pedestals of sports and broadcast his foul mouth across the airwaves.

I am glad that I do not own any Chase Utley gear – honestly, I would probably sell it or burn it. For a guy who could have been a class act, in my eyes, he dropped the ball. It is a shame. Should Chase be reprimanded for his actions? Would it really matter? I doubt it. Should he have to apologize to the fans of Philadelphia for his words? Absolutely. I can’t help but wonder what the young fans think about Chase’s words. I think maybe Chase’s words will come back to haunt him later on. For now, all he can think about is Chase Utley. In short, it is just a shame that Chase Utley had to use foul language to express his “excitement” for winning the World Series.