Archives for the month of: September, 2016

When I did an internet search for “retirement advice” almost everything related to finances. While that is a very important part of planning for retiring, it is not all and I am certainly not the one to give guidance in that area. Having enough money for a comfortable living and a little to provide for satisfying hobbies/interests is essential to your physical and emotional well-being during your retirement years.

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Many people are diligent in financial planning for retirement and are to be commended for it. I was not one of them. Fortunately my employer made significant contributions to my pension and encouraged me to participate fully in that effort. After a lot of years I finally invested more for my future.

I am goal oriented and recognize the wisdom in planning and preparation. But when it came to considering the end of my working career, I just never gave it much (any) thought. I never thought it would happen. I have worked all my life and I found fulfillment in what I was getting paid to do. Then somewhere in the 40th year of my professional career things changed.

My change in thinking began one day when a colleague of mine expressed concern when she said, “I don’t hear you whistling anymore.” I am a whistler but I am not aware of it until someone asks, “What was that song you were whistling?” My wife tells me it is my subconscious way of expressing my emotions. Maybe.

I thought about why I had stopped whistling, I wondered if it was a way that my deep inner self was trying to tell me I needed to make a change. I was not unhappy, burned out, or angry. But maybe it was time for a change. During the next several months I pondered and prayed about it and it became clear to me that it was time for me- not to quit- but to do something else. I made that decision and transitioned into a new phase of life.

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When asked what I wanted to do after I retired my answer was consistently, “I don’t have a clue.” I just knew it was time. I have always believed that if you are doing what you should be doing today, you will be where you should be when God has something else for you to do. That is not a cop-out to justify poor or no planning. Rather it is a mindset that governs your life and work. I am convinced that everyone has a “calling” and fulfillment and contentment comes as one faithfully follows that path. It does not begin or end with retirement.

In making the decision to retire and think about this new era, I came across some suggestions that made sense to me. There are four questions in preparation for your new reality and they can equally apply to any stage of life:

  • Where do you want to go?
  • What do you want to give?
  • What do you want to learn?
  • What do you want to do?

Go, Give, Learn, Serve.

Go- There is a great big wonderful world to explore. Many beautiful places, near and far, to visit. Give- There are many places and situations where you can use your talent and experience to serve others. Learn- We are never too old to learn and there is much that will enrich our lives. Do- Individuals have different hobbies and interests that may not be fully explored or developed during the years of our “making a living.”

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I have been in retired status for a little over three years now and it has been wonderful. There have been more than ample opportunities to consider. I am taking advantage of the ability to make more choices and am attempting to remain useful and productive without much of the stress that surrounded my life for 41 years.

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I am grateful for the years of following God’s call upon my life and serving God’s people. I am glad those years are not over.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On the radio show Prairie Home Companion Garrison Keillor always ended his tales of life in Lake Wobegone by declaring that in that mythical town “all the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the children are above average.”

I don’t know about Lake Wobegone but my world is well populated with strong women. My wife, my daughter, my daughters-in-law, my granddaughter. My last two administrative assistants before I retired. Clergy and Laity staff at my church and others with whom I have worked. Women who have a good sense of self and are willing to step up, take responsibility, and use their talents well.

Louise Applegate Adams was one of those strong women until her death August 19, 2016, four months before her 87th birthday. She was a faithful wife, companion, and caregiver to Chuck, her husband of 63 years. She loved her family, especially her four granddaughters, her church, and her community.

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Louise loved life and lived it to the fullest. She believed that every day was a gift to be used wisely. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1950s at age 27. Her zest for life was largely due to the unlikely fact that she was a cancer survivor. Every day was precious to her and presented many opportunities to invest herself for the good of others. She welcomed responsibility to serve others far more than most people. She could keep up with the Energizer Bunny as she lived into the latter part of her eighth decade.

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At her funeral her friends and family remembered Louise with words like determined, strong willed, hard-working, devoted, a lover of learning, courageous, focused. Advocating for women’s rights and giving voice to those who could not speak for themselves were tasks that Louise took on gladly. If she believed in something she was more than willing to stand up and speak up.

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Among other things, Louise’s pastor said she spoke her mind, expected you to do the same and she respected you for it even if you disagreed with her. That is a quality that is all too rare among people.

There is no shortage of people who will boldly express their views and are forceful in making their point. Louise was one of them but she gave you equal opportunity to state your position, even if it was different from hers, and did not demonize you for it. That made her different from most folks.

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We are called upon to “speak the truth in love” and sometimes that seems harsh. However, expressions of different opinions do not have to be mean spirited or demeaning to persons of other persuasions. Louise seemed to understand that. While she seemed more than willing to be the “fly in the ointment” she did not “take her ball and go home” if things didn’t go her way. While she hoped to convince you to see things her way she did not desire to “defeat” you. She understood that making an argument was not the same as having an argument.

Many people avoid conflict and just want everyone to get along. This is an appropriate attitude but it does not require everybody to share the same perspective. It is possible to be respectful and appreciative of others with whom you disagree. That was something Louise realized and practiced.

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Louise was not a peace lover. She was a peace maker. And that means working together even when we disagree. Sometimes I will be right and sometimes you will be right. Sometimes both of us are right and sometimes we are both wrong. But if we continue to be respectful in our relationship and engage in civil dialogue, we will most often come to wise and constructive decisions.

Thank God for the spirit of Louise Adams and the women in which it lives on.

Jamie Jenkins

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I enjoyed sports as a player in my earlier years and have always enjoyed as a spectator. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama and during my teenage years I lived near Baltimore Park, a city recreation center. I played on a baseball team there. Our team’s Coach Campbell also played in a softball league at the park on Tuesday nights and I would often go to watch him play.

If Coach Campbell booted a ground ball, made a bad throw, or struck out, I would remind him of it the next day at my team’s practice. This was not received kindly and I can still see his face grow red as he would say, “Don’t do as I do. Do as I say!

Many years later in a church board meeting there was discussion about whether we should continue to have worship services on Sunday night. After many comments the chairman called for a vote. When asked for those who believed we should continue Sunday evening services almost every hand in the room went up. Then the chairman asked another question: “If we continue Sunday evening services, who will attend?” This time there were far fewer hands raised.

Sometimes our actions don’t match our words.

One day Jesus told a parable of a farmer who had two sons (Matthew 21:28-32). The farmer went to the first son and said, “Go work in the vineyard today.” The son was somewhat rebellious and replied, “I will not.”  The father was disappointed but did not say anything else.

The farmer then went to his second son and asked if he would help out in the vineyard today. The second son said, “Yes sir, I will go.” With the assurance that the second son would help out, the farmer went to work in another part of the vineyard.

Things didn’t turn out quite like the farmer expected. The first son who answered, “I will not,” changed his mind and spent the entire day working in the vineyard. The second son who said, “Yes sir, I will go,” also had a change of mind. The second son, the one who promised to help his father, did not.

Jesus asked the religious leaders, “Which of the two did the will of the father?” “The first,” they answered.

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Best-selling author, Steven Covey, writes about the time he was a professor at the Marriott School of Management. One of the young executives asked him how he was doing in class. As they talked for a while Covey confronted him directly. “You didn’t come in to find out how you are doing in class,” he said. “You came in to see how I think you are doing. You know how you are doing in the class far better than I do, don’t you?”

The young executive said he knew how he was doing in class. He admitted that he was just trying to get by. He gave a host of reasons and excuses for cramming and taking short cuts. The young man came in to see if it was working. Reflecting on this incident Covey writes, “If people play roles and pretend long enough, giving in to their vanity and pride, they will eventually deceive themselves.”

Such was the case of the religious officials that Jesus was talking to. They had been using all the right words, going through all the ceremonies. They had God on their lips but not in their hearts. They had said “yes” to God but God was not real to them. Sometimes we go through the motions, not really meaning what we say. Empty words. Sometimes we are like them- our actions don’t match our words.

It is easy to sing the song, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. Over mountain or plain or sea. I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord. I’ll be what you want me to be.” It is another thing to really do what we say we will do.

God expects us not only to “talk the talk,” we are also expected to “walk the walk.” Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

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We are called not just to say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” But to actually “go” where God sends us. Not just to say, “I will” but to actually “do” what we say we will do. Not just give lip service but to actually practice what we preach.

 

Jamie Jenkins