Archives for the month of: May, 2016

I am not a contemplative person. Not one given to long periods of quiet meditation. Although I understand the value of silent and thoughtful reflection, that is not my nature. However, last week as I sat in my backyard I was reminded of how important it is to stop my ceaseless activity and be renewed.

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A gentle breeze was blowing as I sat in the swing watching the birds flitting to and from our bird feeders. The bright red flowers of the Crocosmias in my wife’s beautiful garden had not yet appeared but their sword-like leaves swayed and the leaves of the Japanese Maple began to flutter in the wind. Three chipmunks scurried along the rock wall and paused to eat some of the bird seed that had fallen to the ground.

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There was hardly a sound. Just the creaking of the swing as it moved back and forth. It was a silent and sacred moment. Refreshing. Renewing.

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As I looked around at the beauty of our small space nestled between sub-division house on either side and behind. I sensed the Voice of the Eternal saying, “Be still and know that I am God.”

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Observing the seemingly carefree way the birds and the chipmunks went about their ways and seeing the beautiful flowers of the garden I remembered the words of Jesus, “Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith?” (Matthew 6:26, 28-30)

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Sitting in that relaxed environment I found the words of a familiar hymn running through my mind:

This is my Father’s world,*
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

Jamie Jenkins

* Words to the hymn, This Is My Father’s World, by Maltbie D. Babcock

 

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Dear Dr. Clamp,

I am writing concerning your request for additional information. In block number 3 of the accident report form, I put “poor planning” as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I needed to explain more fully. I trust that what I am writing below is enough.

As you know, I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a six-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had 500 pounds of brick left over. Instead of carrying the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley which I attached to the side of the building on the sixth floor. I went down and secured the rope at ground level and then went back up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Next, I went back down to the ground, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. (You will note in block number 11 of the accident report that I weigh 135 pounds.)

Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

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Somewhere near the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. That explains the fractured skull and broken collar bone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent not stopping until my right hand was two knuckles deep into the pulley. That accounts for my broken fingers. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope, in spite of my pain.

At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Without the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed about 50 pounds. (I refer you again to me weight in block number eleven.)As you might imagine, I began my rapid descent down the side of the building. Again, in the vicinity of the third floor I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for my two fractured ankles and the bruises on my legs and lower body.

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When I passed through the barrel, it slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of bricks and fortunately only three ribs were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that while I lay there on the pile of bricks in pain- unable to stand and watching the empty barrel six stories above me- I again lost my presence of mind and let go of the rope!

The point of this story: Think things through from beginning to end.

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Jamie Jenkins

*source of this story is unknown

 

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My mother-in-law had a saying: Chicken one day, feathers the next. It was her down home version of the old axiom “feast or famine.” Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose. Into every life some rain must fall.

Life has a way of reminding you that everything will not always go your way. It is full of ups and downs. One day you are on the mountain top and the next day you are down in the valley. Better get used to it. That is just the way it is.

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Sports fans in Atlanta are reminded of that daily. Braves fans will always remember the 1991 season when the team went from “worst to first.” That was the beginning of a fourteen year streak of Division titles. Although winning only one World Series during that period, the Braves played in four. They were in first or second place in their division five out of the next ten seasons. We became accustomed to having a winning team. But our beloved Braves have fallen on hard times. At the time of this writing they have the worst record in the major leagues and their top slugger, Freddie Freeman has struggling at the plate but is showing signs of improvement.

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Our city’s basketball team has been in the NBA Playoffs each of the last nine seasons (which is not hard to do since half of the teams make the playoffs) but the Hawks have won only one Conference and Division title (last season) and a total of only four other Division titles since moving to Atlanta in 1968. They won the first round of the playoffs by defeating the Boston Celtics 4-2 last week and almost beat the LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the first game of the second round. Maybe this is their year.

We have not fared well in football either. The Falcons have had only 11 winning  seasons in the NFL in the past 35 years. They have been in post-season playoffs the same number of times since 1980 and have been in only one Super Bowl (1998), which they lost to the Denver Broncos.

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I am not very savvy when it comes to financial management and investing. But it does not take a genius to understand that the stock market fluctuates, sometimes dramatically. 15357958-stock-market-chart

The “Great Recession” that began in 2007 was responsible for the destruction of nearly $20 trillion worth of financial assets owned by U.S. households. During this time, the U.S. unemployment rate rose from 4.7 percent to 10 percent  By 2010, college graduates fortunate enough to find a job were, on average, earning 17.5 percent less than their counterparts before the crisis. We have still not fully recovered from that downturn.

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Anyone who has children has experienced roller coaster emotions at various stages of parenthood, and it does not end when the children are grown. Marriages go through many stages of emotional stress. Businesses and careers are subject to factors over which they have little control.

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My wise mother-in-law was right. Enjoy the chicken and endure the feathers. You can’t always get what you want. Some days you have to create your own sunshine. And never forget what the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, said: “Best of all, God is with us.”

Jamie Jenkins