Archives for the month of: February, 2014

The 22nd Winter Olympic Games are history. They ended last Sunday with an extravagant ceremony to close out the most expensive games ever. The temperatures that reached springtime level made for some interesting events. Thankfully the feared terrorist attacks did not occur.

As always, some “stars” failed to shine and other athletes took the spotlight. There are many stories of dreams denied and others realized. Records were broken and some of them by less than the blink of an eye. New events appeared in the line-up and controversial judging at the skating competition was once again a part of the story.

NBC televised 1500 hours of the competition and some of it without the perennial host Bob Costas. He had to be relieved a few days to get over a serious eye infection that was hindering his work. I enjoyed much of it but after a while it became repetitious and anti-climactic. Too much of a good thing.

I was especially interested in following the women’s two-person bob sled competition. This was not because I know anything about the sport but because one of the competitors was from Douglasville, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb where my family lived for 12 years. After crashing the sled in one of the trial runs, driver Elana Meyers and her brakeman barely missed the gold medal by 53/100ths of a second. How close can you get without winning?

Gracie Gold was one of the darlings of ice skating. She is the 2014 U.S. national champion and was expected to be on the podium to accept one of the medals for the U.S. in the Women’s Figure Skating competition. However, she failed to achieve that goal. After coming in fourth she was asked if she was disappointed. The teenager replied “I am fourth at the Olympic Games. What are you talking about? Why is that disappointing?”

I like that response. Of course she had hoped to come home with a medal. Of course she had trained long and hard with that goal in mind. But she realized that you don’t always have to be No. 1 to be a champion.

We live in a culture that tells us “win or go home” but winning is not what it is all about. Life is about doing your best. Giving your all. Constantly striving to improve. But you may never beat out all the others in the competition. You cannot always be at the top of the pile. You may never see your name at the top of the leader board.

It is OK to be 2nd or 3rd or whatever if you have prepared yourself and if you have done the best you can. You can learn from “losing” and that can be more valuable than “winning.” Life is an ongoing experience and even when you are at the head of the pack there is still much to learn.

The Apostle Paul said, “I do not count myself to have attained… but I press on ….” When you don’t achieve your goal, you don’t quit but you don’t despair. Just press on knowing that perfection is not the goal. Realizing one’s full potential is what should be the goal. When you have done that being number 2 or 4 is alright.

Jamie Jenkins

Just as you approach a long checkout line at the supermarket they announce that “lane six is open with no waiting” and you are right in front of lane six. You quickly aim your shopping cart into that direction and you are out of there in no time.

You approach the elevators and precisely when you push the button the door opens. You step in and are on your way without a moment’s hesitation.

The weather is terrible as you enter the overflowing parking lot hoping to find a space close to the entrance. You prepare to circle as long as it takes but someone comes to their car parked right at the entrance to the mall. You gladly wait for them to leave and you park almost at the door.

You are about to purchase an item and someone comes just ahead of you and reduces the price dramatically. Since this is such a bargain you buy several.

You are in line to buy cheap seats for the ballgame. A kind woman walks up with tickets for the most expensive seats in the stadium and gives them to you. Yea!

As you arrive at the gate for your departing flight an announcement is made. The flight is overbooked and the airline is making an extremely generous offer for those who are willing to take the next flight an hour later. You have plenty of time and you can use the voucher for an upcoming vacation so you take it.

You hear the winter storm warning and are able to immediately head home. Many people wait a little longer before leaving work or abandoning their plans. You arrive home in minutes and watch as thousands are stranded in their cars in sub-freezing temperatures, some for more than twenty-four hours.

You lose an item of considerable monetary or sentimental value and you are heart sick. Then the seemingly miraculous happens. Someone finds it and returns it to you.

A terrible storm passes through and many of your neighbors’ homes suffer major damage but somehow your house is untouched.

If you have experienced any of the situations described above or something similar, what was your reaction? Did you think, “I must be living right.” Or, “God was looking out for me.” Or did you think, “I was just lucky.”

Was your good fortune the result of divine intervention as a reward for your faith or was it simply the “luck of the draw?”

There are people whose image of God is either One sitting in a giant control room and calling all the shots or a cosmic puppeteer pulling the strings and all human beings are the puppets. In their opinion everything good that happens to them is because they deserve it. It is helpful to remember that “God gives his best- the sun to warm and the rain to nourish- to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” (Matthew 5:45, The Message)

Some folks believe that every misfortune or bad circumstance is the result of an angry God or punishment for misdeeds. If that is true the biblical prophets, Jesus’ disciples, and many giants of faith were under God’s judgment. If our circumstances are unpleasant we are reminded that “trials and troubles… taken in the right spirit will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Jamie Jenkins

I have heard that building a house is one of the most difficult things a couple will ever do together. I have never done that but I think buying a house might provide competition for the honor. My wife and I are now engaged in another venture that rivals either of those mentioned above.

In 2001 my office moved to the suburbs so we started looking for a house that would eliminate long daily commutes. We began the search with a particular price in mind. It did not take long to realize that we were going to have to raise our spending limit to find anything suitable in the areas where we were looking. Then raise it again.

At the beginning we had high hopes of finding a house that had everything we wanted. One of our friends suggested that we make a list of things that were absolutely essential. Things that we would not compromise on. Would give up only “over my dead body.” Shortly we began to understand that the perfect house was not to be found. Our expectations had to be revised.

After looking at a lot of houses we found one that was close to my office, in a nice neighborhood, and had many (certainly not all) of the things we wanted. After thirteen years in that house we are about to do some upgrading and remodeling. This is a new experience for us but after 45 years of marriage I think we can manage it. At least I hope so.

Our house is 18 years old. Some things are a bit dated. There are changes we would like to make to more adequately meet our current and future needs and improve the appearance. So we developed a list of all the changes that were needed or wanted. A couple of items were higher priorities than others and there was a long list of changes we would like to make.

As we developed plans for the remodeling and upgrading, financial, structural, and functional issues presented themselves and caused us to re-think our plans and re-evaluate our needs. I have heard it said that any building or remodeling project will cost more than you planned and take more time than you expected. I am coming to realize there is a lot of truth to that statement.

As we have pared down the list and gotten estimates for the work, reality has begun to set in. Should we try to coordinate the several projects or should we find one person or company and let them deal with the details? The projected cost raises questions of whether some plans need to be altered or priorities need to be reordered. Is this the right time?

Any house requires regular repairs and maintenance. Periodic upgrades and improvements are wise to insure the comfort, functionality, and value of a home. And all of it comes with inconveniences and cost.

The same is true with the “house” that provides residence for our mind and spirit. We must be diligent to care for our physical, emotional, and spiritual self. It is costly and sometimes difficult to establish and maintain healthy practices. But it is even more costly if we do not. Lord, teach us to live wisely and well (Psalm 90:12).

Jamie Jenkins

People who know me know that I like to talk. However, I have been accused of talking a lot and saying very little. There is probably more truth to that than I want to think.

I admit it, I do talk a lot and, OK, I admit that most of it is not very memorable. There are a lot of things I wish I had said. Below are a few of them.

Fill your years with life not your life with years.
— Church Message Board

If you don’t learn to bend, you will eventually break.
— retired Church of Christ missionary

If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.
— Thomas H. Palmer

Common sense is not so common.
— Voltaire

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
— Paul (Romans 8:38-39)

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
–Helen Keller

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.
— John Wesley

He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do anything.
— Samuel Johnson

The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.
— Oprah Winfrey

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
— Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:13)

Not to the strong is the battle, not to the swift is the race but to the true and the faithful victory is promised the grace.
— Fanny Crosby (Conquering Now and Still to Conquer)

It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and no deserve them. — Mark Twain
He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.
— Confucius

Life is either a great adventure or nothing at all.
— Helen Keller

What soap is to the body laughter is to the soul.
— Yiddish proverb

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
—Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 13:4-18)

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
— Victor Borge

The greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
— Martha Washington

Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not come yet. We have only today. Let us begin.
— Mother Teresa

When you have the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.
— sung by Lee Ann Womack, lyrics by Mark Sanders

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
— Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:13)

Pray, but row away from the rocks.
–Indian proverb

Pray as if everything depends upon God and work as if everything depends upon you.
–Francis Cardinal Spellman

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who treat you badly.
–Jesus, (Luke 6:27-28)
God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.
–Chester W. Nimitz

What are some of the things you wish you had said?

Jamie Jenkins