Archives for the month of: July, 2013

When I retired the first of this month my wife and I embarked on a road trip.  We left with a vague sense of where we wanted to go but everything else was open ended. No real itinerary. No reservations. We planned to be gone about three weeks unless we got tired of driving or decided we had enough “quality time” together.

4600 miles and three weeks later we are still friends, still in love, and glad to be back home.

We like to travel but previous trips have been planned in great detail. We wanted this to be a different experience. If we came across something we wanted to see or do, we would do it. When we got hungry we would eat and when we got tired we would stop. We decided to stay off main highways and freeways as much as possible.

The absence of a real destination or schedule to keep allowed us to relax and enjoy the journey. Driving state and county roads on three-fourths of the trip contributed immeasurably to our pleasure. The slower pace that carried us through breathtaking scenery and beautiful small towns was refreshing.

The back roads of Lancaster County Pennsylvania carried us past many large well kept farms that looked like patch work quilts. An unplanned stop at one of the many fresh produce stands that dotting the roadside provided one of the memorable moments as we enjoyed a fresh blackberry pie “baked by the lady across the road.”

The owner of the Old Red Inn and Cottages in North Conway, NH suggested that we should not miss Diana’s Baths along Lucy Brook which is fed from Big Attitash Mountain. So we made the fairly easy 6/10th of a mile hike along a relatively flat, wide gravel path. Many adults and children were enjoying the tranquility of nature, and exploring the many rocks, ledges, cascading falls and pools at the bottom of the falls.

We visited Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod accessible only by boat and air. This provided a wonderful serendipity as we stumbled onto the historic Methodist Campground. The first campmeeting in what became known as Wesleyan Grove was held in 1835 and this year it celebrates its 178th year. The Tabernacle was built in 1879 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

By the mid-1850s, the meetings were drawing congregations of thousands and the dwellings had evolved from communal tents to wooden cottages. At one time there were as many as 500 cottages arranged in concentric circles around the Tabernacle. There are currently more than 300 cottages all decorated with gingerbread detailing, an architectural style now known as Carpenter’s Gothic. Each house is unique and all are painted in bright colors giving the cottages a quaint, almost storybook look. My wife said it was “campmeeting meets candy land.” 

As we drove across Vermont we saw a sign for Perrenial Pleasures Nursery and Tea Room. A detour took us to the tiny town of East Hardwick in rural Caledonia County. The nursery and tea room were closed that day but the owner allowed us to roam around the many acres of flowers in her garden/nursery. It was a fabulous and unexpected treat.

There is much more that I could share of the enjoyable experiences of our trip. More than sharing our adventure with you, I want to encourage you to enjoy your journey. God has created a beautiful world and we often miss it because we are focused on the destination rather than enjoying the journey.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

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I had never heard of Mount Desert Island until last week. It is located off the coast of Maine and is the home of Bar Harbor (pronounced Baa Haa Baa by the natives) and Acadia National Park- both of which I had heard of.

The island was formed by a huge, slow moving, continental glacier over a mile high and 2 miles thick in some places. When this giant glacier finally melted and retreated about 11,000 years ago, it left rounded and bare mountain tops. Thus the unusual name Mount Desert. The glacier also left long lakes, many boulders, and the only fjord on the east coast of the United States, the seven mile long Somes Sound. The area was originally inhabited by the Abnaki Indians whose permanent villages were located on the mainland but they regularly fished and gathered shellfish from Mount Desert Island.

The park was established in 1919 and was officially named Acadia National Park ten years later. Today, it encompasses approximately 49,000 acres and most of it is on Mount Desert Island. Over 40 species of mammal wildlife are found in the park. There are over 120 miles of trails for hikers to enjoy. About 2 million visitors each year make it is one of the 20 most visited national parks in the U.S.

The origin of the park is somewhat unique. The vision and donations of private citizens. George B. Dorr and Charles W. Eliot anticipated the dangers that over-development would bring to this Maine Coastal area and acted quickly to prevent it. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., also played a critical role by building the carriage roads throughout the park and donating over 11,000 acres of land.

Since 1999, propane-powered Island Explorer buses have carried more than two million passengers in Acadia National Park, eliminating more than 685,000 automobile trips and preventing 6,444 tons of greenhouse gases. The fare-free buses are provided by the L.L. Bean Company and are supported by entrance fees.

It was while riding one of those buses through the park last week that I was reminded of an important life principle. As the bus approached a curved overpass there was a sign stating that the clearance was 10 feet, 7 inches. The driver wisely adhered to the warning and steered the bus into the center of the road for maximum clearance. If she had continued in the right lane, the bus would not have made it through the opening.

I am not suggesting that driving down the center of the road is usually the best choice. But middle of the road is often the preferred place to be.

I have heard it said that most folk want to be in the front of the bus, the back of the church, and the middle of the road. I like being in the front of the bus. Easier to get off and on. Better view of the road ahead. However, I prefer the front of the church. There are not as many distractions. The music sounds better and I can hear the preacher more clearly. And I am most comfortable in the middle of the road.

Much of the rhetoric we hear nowadays tends to polarize people. Extremists from both right and left leave no room for disagreement or discussion. They contend that their position is THE correct one. I certainly agree that there are times when there is less latitude than at other times. But I believe that much of the time both extremes have some merit and the most appropriate position is to gather the best from both and settle in the middle.

Today I want to send a “shout out” for those who take their stand in the middle of the road!

Jamie Jenkins

“Virginia is for Lovers” was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame on September 21, 2009. Forbes.com identified “Virginia is for Lovers” as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time.

The official tourism website of the Commonwealth of Virginia says, “No one knows exactly why ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ has been so durable, but part of the mystique of the slogan is that it has meant many things to different people. Today, a new generation is discovering love for Virginia’s mountains, beaches, history, theme parks, vibrant cities, outdoor activities, sports and hospitality.”

My wife and I visited Virginia over the Independence Day holiday weekend. I am now numbered among those lovers. I have learned much and have been inspired by the indescribable scenery along with the rich history and heritage. Following are a few of the things that I learned- and an occasional comment:

– God made a beautiful world and much of it is in Virginia.

– Black bears may be big but they can run very fast.

– With the number of churches and colleges/universities in the state there is no excuse for everyone not to be educated and evangelized.

– Virginia is rich with American history. You can hardly take a step without stepping on an historic site whether it be Native American, early settlers, the American Revolution, or the Civil War.

-Eight United States presidents came from this state.

– If you are going to Luray Caverns, get there early or be prepared for a long wait in line to purchase tickets. But, if necessary, the wait is worth it.

– 16,000 Mennonites reside in Rockingham County and represent a much broader diversity than I imagined.

– Skyline Drive is a 105 mile road of unbelievable scenery in the Shenandoah National Park.  It is easy to become speechless as you look out over the vast expanse of natural beauty. As we drove along the ridge overlooking the Shenandoah Valley we were greeted by one breathtaking sight after another. After a while we were so overwhelmed that I almost became bored. I wonder if the folks who live there take the beauty for granted.

– The small town of Elkton is home to the 2011 State Little League Champions.

– Singers Glen, VA is a small community in the Shenandoah Valley about 8 miles west of Harrisonburg just off US Route 33 near Shenandoah National Park. This small community is the birthplace of Southern Gospel music and is the site of the publication of the oldest continually published hymnal in America, Harmonica Sacra. Still in print today, it is the oldest continually used hymnal published in America. It contains the first printing of the hymn, How Firm a Foundation.

– Seen on a church sign on Highway 340 between Elkton and Luray, VA: “Jesus is the answer to all our problems.” Yes but He is also the cause of many of our problems because He set such high standards and we struggle to adhere to His teachings.

– When we visited Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello I was reminded of his opinions on religion and government. His comments include the following: “Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that…of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support” (Reply to Baptist Address, 1807).

-Thomas Jefferson believed that the ethical system of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. He attempted to separate the ethical teachings of Jesus from the religious dogma and other supernatural elements that are intermixed in the four Gospels. He presented these teachings, along with the essential events of the life of Jesus, in one continuous narrative in what has come to be called “The Jefferson Bible.” It is important to see Jesus as an ethicist but He was much more than that. He was the Son of God and the Savior of the World.

Jamie Jenkins

The best things in life are free. Good health. Happy relationships. Fulfilling work. Supportive family. Enjoyable activities. The things that really bring joy to life make a very long list. And there is no price tag that can be placed on them.

On this Independence Day I am keenly aware of the freedoms that we enjoy in this country. I realize that those who dared to sign the document declaring independence from Great Britain and its king placed their life in extreme danger.

General Colin Powell says that when the 56 members of the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence they actually brought a “28 count indictment against King George.” Their action constituted an act of treason against the Crown and if any of them were captured they would likely face death. Benjamin Franklin said to his colleagues, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

The declaration came 442 days after the first shots were fired in the American Revolution. The American War for Independence would last for five years. Many lives were lost and much sacrifice and suffering occurred.

No, freedom isn’t free. There is always a price to be paid.

Franklin reminded those gathered: “I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid?” We are indebted not only to those who have come before us and sacrificed to preserve our freedoms but also to God for His guidance and provision.

I am proud to be an American and to live in this “land of the brave and the home of the free.” But there is another freedom for which I am more thankful.

Jesus has given us freedom from a life of destructive thinking and behavior. He has freed us from being bound by sinful habits and thoughts (Romans 6:20-22) and has invited us into a relationship with Him. Therefore we must be diligent to stand firm in the truth of the Scripture and actively resist the tendency to return to being slaves to our own harmful and destructive desires and actions (Gal. 5:1).

Just as we are endowed by our Creator with certain “inalienable rights,” so we are entitled to freedom from sin and its destructive effects. As precious as that freedom is, it too is costly. Jesus gave himself for us and rescued us from slavery to sin (Galatians 1:4). His sacrifice is a precious gift and it is through faith in Him that we live the rich and full life that was intended for every human being.

Jamie Jenkins