Archives for the month of: August, 2012

I wear a pedometer every day. The small device from my health insurance provider can be attached to your belt or shoe and can be carried in your pocket. It counts the steps you take and when the data is uploaded to a computer it measures the distance and calories burned.

This little gadget is reminder to remain active and there are rewards if you reach certain targets. The financial incentives encourage me to be conscious of my activity level. They motivate me to achieve at least the minimal goals.

The digital device does not make me more active. It simply provides information that raises my awareness and thus encourages me to keep moving.  And that helps me to be healthier- which is the real reason for the pedometer.

There are a lot of things in life that serve the same purpose of offering information that reminds and rewards.

After a good year in kindergarten, my youngest child became resistant to the idea of school. He would cause quite a fuss the moment you pulled into the driveway to drop him off for first grade classes. This became a great source of frustration until one day I came up with an idea that proved to be a stroke of genius.

As we entered the driveway of the school I was prepared for the usual argument and his refusal to get out of the car. Then I suggested, “If you get out of the car and don’t make a scene, I will pick you up this afternoon and we will go to the Dairy Queen and get a blizzard.” Magically (or miraculously) it worked. He got out of the car with no fuss. Regular reminders that good behavior has its rewards (I really like Blizzards) established a weekly ritual that lasted for several years.

I wear a gold band around the third finger on my left hand. Lena slipped it on my finger during our marriage ceremony on December 28, 1968. It has been a silent reminder of my commitment to her for over 42 years. Our marriage would be just as valid without that wedding ring but it is a constant and conscious symbol of my vows and the incredible benefits of the love she and I share with each other.

As I drive the streets and highways around Atlanta everyday (and we Atlantans drive a lot), I encounter signs that remind me of the speed limit, road construction (everywhere), curves in the road, and much more to remind me of things that will make my time behind the wheel more pleasurable and safe.

Every time I see a cross or a church steeple I am reminded of the love of God and God’s Presence among us. Those visual and physical symbols help me remember the ultimate gift of Jesus’ love and the reward of a rich and full life here and forever. They provide motivation to serve others in the name of Christ.They also remind me that the Church is a gift to the world and has the responsibility of sharing God’s love, grace, and forgiveness that transforms.

Thank God for these and other reminders and rewards.

Jamie Jenkins

Scroll down and share your comments regarding the reminders and rewards in your life.

 

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We are Number 1! is a shout that is often heard. Seldom do we hear anyone celebrate the fact that they rank lower than first. But sometimes it is better to be #2 or lower rather than hold the top spot.

Two area institutions of higher education are touting the fact that they are NOT #1. Wesleyan College of Macon and Agnes Scott College of Decatur were recently ranked #8 and #14 respectively as “stone cold sober schools.” The rankings are a part of the Princeton Review’s 2013 edition of “The Best 377 Colleges,” a book that contains 62 lists of all aspects of college life.

The Number One spot for “stone cold sober” schools went to Brigham Young University for the 15th straight year. Students on the Provo, Utah campus celebrated the honor by using the hashtag, “soberisthenewcool,” on Twitter.

The Princeton review also names the top “party schools.” West Virginia University received this recognition. The University of Georgia was ranked #5 this year. UGA earned the highest ranking in 2010 and then dropped to the second spot in 2011. Five other schools in the southeast ranked in the top 20.

Wikipedia identifies a “party school” as “a college or university…that has a reputation of heavy alcohol and drug use or a general culture of licentiousness.” In contrast, schools on the “stone cold sober” list had a combination of high personal study hours (outside of class) and a relatively low use of alcohol and drugs on campus.

Unlike college football ratings, the Bulldogs should be proud of their decline in this poll. Likewise, Wesleyan College (a good United Methodist institution) and Agnes Scott College should stand tall and celebrate this acknowledgement.

This presents a good opportunity for parents, faculty, administrators, family and friends to encourage wise choices and healthy lifestyles- both in precept and practice.

Jamie Jenkins

 

It has been 25 years since I have been to Six Flags Over Georgia. Until last Saturday.

With four children, ages 6-11, my wife and I headed out to the popular attraction just to the west of Atlanta. The weather forecast indicated that the temperature would be in the high eightiess, hot but not bad for mid-August in Georgia. A perfect day to spend at an amusement park with thousands of other fun lovers on the last weekend before school starts back.

My family lived for 12 years just a few minutes away from Six Flags when our children were young. We had season passes for most of that time and went to the park more times than I can count. We enjoyed having relatives visit us when they came to Atlanta and enjoyed accompanying them on their visits to the amusement park. At least for the first few dozens of time and then we would show them the way down I-20 and welcome them back to our house at the end of their full day.

I remember Buford Buzzard and all his insulting remarks about people from Alabama and the musical entertainment at the Crystal Pistol Theater. One of my most vivid memories is riding the Great Gasp that lifted you 225 feet into the air and you are were secured in your open seat only by a seat belt and a restraint bar. The “Parachute Drop” would quickly release you for the downward journey. Thus the “great gasp” as your heart fell into your stomach.

My daughter was 3 years old when we shared the Great Gasp experience. When we safely landed (whew!), my wife asked, “Jennifer, did you scream?” She replied, “No, but my daddy did.”

If you get the idea that I am afraid of heights (and rapid descents), you are right. You might also figure out that I am not a big fan of roller coasters- and Six Flags has 11 of them.

Fairly early last Saturday I was waiting for our grandchildren (ages 6 and 9), their 11 year-old cousin from Japan, and our 10 year-old neighbor who were riding the mini-roller coaster, the Dahlonega Mine Train. I was reviewing the park map while I waited and trying to plan our next stops. One of the park employees saw we looking at the map and asked if she could help me find something. I replied that an escape route would be wonderful.

Did I mention that the wait time was 45 minutes for the Mine Train and the Wheelie, an hour for the Great American Scream Machine (appropriately named), and 30 minutes for the Bumper Cars (more my speed)? And the cost for the day was almost enough to require a second mortgage. If we had bought any souvenirs, I would have needed a government bailout.

The words of a popular song of the 1970s offer a good summary of my day at Six Flags:

The things we do for love

Like walking in the rain and the snow

When  there’s nowhere to go

And you’re feelin’ like a part of you is dying

I’m OK if I never have to go again but I’m ready to go any time the grandkids want to.

Another song offers the final word on the day. Although it is a song about romance, it applies to love in general

Love is nature’s way of giving
    A reason to be living
    The golden crown that makes a man a king

Jamie Jenkins

Many times the real story is behind the headlines.

All too often we get caught up in the sensationalism of a particular moment or event that is in the spotlight and miss the bigger picture. We read the headlines or hear the sound bites but miss the details that provide deeper insights and fuller understanding of the situation.

Once the precipitating event is over or the immediate crisis passes, the media turns our attention to something new. And we move on.

Hurricane Katrina. Earthquake in Haiti. Tsunami and nuclear plant failures in Japan. Mass murders at a movie theater in Colorado and a religious site in Wisconsin. And the list goes on.

One of the news stories of last week was the massive power outage in India. Three Indian electric grids collapsed in a cascade July 31, cutting power to 620 million people in the world’s biggest blackout ever.

Electricity was lost to an area stretching almost 1900 miles and including 620 million people — double the population of the United States. Most of the power had been restored by evening but    it would be the next day before the system was back to it’s normal operating level.

India has become accustomed to regular localized power outages and many are prepared for these episodes. Hospitals, factories and the airports switched automatically to their diesel generators during the hours-long outage across half of India. Many homes relied on backup systems powered by truck batteries.

Tucked away among the details of the Associated Press news story about this blackout was this sentence: And hundreds of millions of India’s poorest had no electricity to lose.”

But that story goes untold. Only an afterthought.

The bad news is that much of the country of India had no electricity for a day or two. After 24 hours that situation was remedied. The worst news is that those without this modern convenience (we would call it a necessity) still languish in their poverty and are left to survive the scorching heat.

Why is that not news?

I get upset when my comfort is disturbed even slightly. Why am I not similarly affected when I am aware that there are people near and far who lack so much? Clean water. Food. Shelter. Medical care. Education. A safe environment.

What did Jesus mean when he said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”? Do I lack understanding of the story of the Good Samaritan? Do I not feel the responsibility to “go and do likewise”?

It is one thing to respond with a short term “fix” but a one time emotional response is not enough. The needs of the world call for long term commitments and a willingness to sacrifice.

Jamie Jenkins

Out of the mouth of babes is an old saying that reminds us that children can be remarkably wise and insightful.

My 9 ½ year old grandson Jamie (isn’t that a great name for a grandson) and his 6 year old sister, Felicia, are here from Tokyo for a five week visit with Nana and Papa (my wife and me). Three days after they arrived  we took them to Lake Junaluska, in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. I was scheduled to attend a conference there and they could have fun with their grandmother while I attended the sessions.

On the first morning while we were having breakfast and discussing what Nana had planned for her and the grandkids that day. Jamie asked if I was going to be with them for all the fun activities. I told him that I could not because I had to go to a meeting. He seemed bewildered as he asked, “Why would you go to meeting here?”

Good question. Looking out over the lake, the mist shrouded mountains, and the blue skies, there was not a good answer to why anyone would choose to attend a meeting inside and miss the beauty and tranquility of this place. Why would anyone go to a meeting in such a wonderfully beautiful setting?

Out of the mouth of babes.

Several days ago Felicia was misbehaving. While discussing her bad attitude and improper actions she said, “You don’t understand. I’m trying!”

Don’t we all face that same predicament? And we are not alone. The Apostle Paul said, “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway (Romans 7:19, New Living Translation).

Out of the mouth of babes.

Although Felicia is not perfect, she has a great attitude toward life. When her father picks her up from Day Care (Japan does not have Kindergarten) and he asks, “How was your day?” she almost always says, “Great!” On occasions she replies, “Kinda Great!” Her days are never “terrible” or “so-so.” Her worst days are “kinda great.” Maybe she understands something about the quality of life that God intended for all God’s children.

Out of the mouth of babes.

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is born an artist; the problem is to remain an artist once they grow up.” I think he was suggesting that rational thought processes crowd out the creative tendencies and abilities as children “mature” and are taught how to deal with the realities of life.

In the same way I am convinced that children have an inherent understanding about things that learned and sophisticated adults have forgotten or choose to ignore. As they grow up the image of God becomes tarnished as innocence and the innate sense of how life should be lived is lost. Perhaps that is a part of what Jesus had in mind when he said “unless you become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

I am not suggesting that adults abdicate the role of training children in the way they should live. Adults have much to teach children and the duty to do so responsibility. On the other hand, adults have much to learn from children.

Jamie Jenkins

P.S. What wisdom and knowledge have you learned from children?