Archives for the month of: April, 2017

Love Is A Game That Two Can Play And Both WinWinston Churchill and I have something in common. We both believe that our most brilliant achievement was our ability to persuade our wives to marry us. There is nothing else that I have ever done that comes close to it.

Jamie and Lena- Valencia 2016-1

After forty-eight years of marriage to the same woman I can attest to the inestimable value of a life partner who loves you and supports you through good times and bad times. One who lives out the vows to love, honor and cherish. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. I also understand that having a good marriage requires a lot of patience and effort on the part of both persons.

divorce decree document and paper family figures Stock Photo - 10180323

Recently I saw a billboard that offered to help folks who wanted to “Undo the I Do.” There is no question that marriages can grow stagnant. Relationships can become strained. One or both parties may stray from their marital vows. With our human frailties and limitations, divorce sometimes may be the best alternative.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. Marriages that seem to be “made in heaven” often have to “live through hell” before they survive. Yet, in spite of everything, sometimes divorce might be the best choice. Marriage litigation experts can be helpful but I hope that everyone will try to “re-do” the “I do” before coming to the decision to make the marriage null and void.

Falling In Love

Mignon McLaughlin suggests that “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  Falling in love may be easy but staying in love is an ongoing exercise.

Marriage therapy, communication, relationship advice:

There are many keys to a successful marriage. “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have” (Gordon B. Hinckley).

Sometimes maintaining marriage vows is depicted as a burden and a duty. Although it is a responsibility to be taken seriously, I do not see it as bondage. Instead I believe it is a privilege that provides rich rewards.

Happiness in marriage is doing little things for each other repeatedly. Common courtesies and kind deeds that are present before marriage continue in daily life. It has been said (humorously I hope) that when a man opens the car door for his wife it is either a new car or a new wife. While I understand that customs have changed and women certainly are not “the weaker sex,” little gestures of courtesy are still important in a marriage relationship. Each “serves” the other with gratitude. These “little” acts of affection make up the hundreds of tiny threads that bind marriage partners to each other.

The illusion that everything will just turn out magically without having to communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs in a relationship is an immaturity that will make true connection impossible.:

Another key to a healthy and happy marriage is the recognition that each person in the relationship is unique and it is not necessary that both persons thinks alike and share all the same interests and skills. Ogden Nash said, “Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets them.” That is to say it is a good thing when each one brings something different to the relationship and those differences are seen as complementary rather than competitive.

I am no expert on marriage and I have made many mistakes in my relationship with my wife. I am extremely grateful for God’s grace that has been extended to us as we have worked together to make our marriage as healthy and happy as possible. I realize what Franz Schubert said is true. “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.

Jamie Jenkins

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Working Smarter, Not Harder...Literally

Work smarter, not harder is good advice. This axiom takes into consideration that there might be a better way to accomplish a task. Analytical data present options that may be preferable to the old way.

That is the central premise of a book by Michael Lewis. It is the story about the Oakland Athletics, a Major League Baseball (MLB) team, and it’s General Manager Billy Beane. A film based on the book starred Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game proposes a better way to assemble a competitive team than how baseball insiders have done it in the past. The Athletics, and Beane in particular, believe that the use of computer-generated analysis to acquire new players produces better results than the system used for many years. The conclusion was that rigorous statistical analysis demonstrated better indicators of success. This strategy enabled the A’s to reach the playoffs in 2002 and 2003 in spite of having the third-lowest team payroll in the league.

If you are not a baseball fan, don’t quit reading.

Theo Epstein

In 2004 Theo Epstein became the youngest GM in the history of MLB when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28. Using the Moneyball approach, he led the team to six playoff appearances and two World Series titles (something they had not accomplished in 86 years) in nine seasons.

In 2011 Epstein resigned from his job in Boston to become President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. His devotion to the data-driven analysis that helped teams identify and accumulate players with little-noticed but crucial strengths had succeeded inestimably in Boston. However, “a few weeks before spring training of 2012, in the ballroom of a budget hotel in Mesa, Ariz., Theo Epstein stood before nearly every person connected with the baseball operations of the Chicago Cubs and told them how the Cubs were going to win the World Series” (Fortune Magazine).

The magazine article was based on The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Baseball Team and Breaking the Curse, a book by Tom Verducci. He reported that “Epstein devoted the first three days of the session to on-field strategy: hitting philosophy, pitching philosophy, defense, and base running. But the entire last day was devoted to character. The Cubs, Epstein insisted, would acquire only players with outstanding makeup.”

Near the end of his tenure at Boston he came to understand that character and chemistry were strengths that could not be captured with a strictly analytic approach and “their absence was painfully clear as the team underwent a late-season collapse. The more the team lost, the more it broke apart from within. Players ­feuded with one another. The egos that had created cracks in the clubhouse while they were winning caused deep fissures as they lost.”

Epstein had put so much faith in numbers when he began as general manager of the Red Sox. “Now character did not just matter. It was essential to Epstein’s blueprint to win the World Series.” He gave his scouts very specific instructions about how to assess not only a player’s skills and abilities but the kind of person he was. How he treated other people. How he responded to adversity. What others- friends and enemies- said about him. His character.

Chicago Cubs 1908 & 2016 World Series Champions Team Photo (Size: 12" x 15") Framed

The brilliance of what the Cubs did was to put their faith not just in numbers, but also in the type of people they acquired. In 2016, five years of applying this new approach, the Cubs won their first World Series championship in 108 years.

Epstein understood that character counts!

Isn’t that what Jesus was implying when he told his disciples “Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.” “Don’t say anything you don’t mean” (Matthew 5:33 CEV, MSG). Repeatedly the Master points his followers to a high standard of morality and instructs them to be genuine in their relationships.

Jesus wants us to know, character counts.

Jamie Jenkins

I woke up and looked at the clock. It is 5:00 and it is still dark. In my head I hear the words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

Charles Wesley.jpg

It is Easter morning.

I remember the words of the Gospel of John: “Early in the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

Sons of men and angels say Alleluia.

She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they’ve put him.”

Raise your joys and triumphs high. Alleluia.

Peter and one other disciple ran to the tomb and when they got there they saw that the grave clothes were still there but there was no body. The tomb was empty.

“They didn’t yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to the place where they were staying.”

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!

Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Then Jesus appeared and spoke to her.

Jesus Reveals Himself to Mary Magdalene

“Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, ‘I’ve seen the Lord’.”

      Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Later that same day while the disciples were behind closed doors Jesus came to them. He offered words of peace to their fearful hearts and he empowered them to go into the world to carry on His work of forgiveness and redemption.

      Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

How could I stay in bed.

      Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
Foll’wing our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

      Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

It’s Easter!

He is not here - for He is risen

Jamie Jenkins

 

Mobile, AL: Springhill Ave Mobile Al.

I grew up in Mobile, Alabama where Mardi Gras was a part of life. Although the celebrations in New Orleans are more well-known, Mardi Gras has its origin in my home town.

 

Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition in the 17th Century. King Louis XIV sent Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville to defend territory that included parts of what is now Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and eastern Texas.

Mobile, AL: Conde Charlotte Museum house 1822 Mobile, Alabama

The settlement of Mobile was founded in 1702 as the first capital of French Louisiana by Bienville. In 1703, fifteen years before New Orleans was founded, French settlers in Mobile established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. By 1720, the French capitol had been moved to Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1723, the capital of Louisiana was moved to New Orleans. It was not until 1837 that the first Mardi Gras parade was held in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Poster

The festival of Mardi Gras that began in Mobile as a French Catholic tradition evolved into a mainstream multi-week celebration across the spectrum of cultures in Mobile (as well as New Orleans). The last couple of days became school holidays  regardless of religious affiliation.

As a boy growing up in Mobile I looked forward to Mardi Gras but I had no understanding of its religious significance marking the beginning of Lent the day after the last parade and Carnival ball. I have come to understand that “Mardi Gras Day” was also known as Fat Tuesday, a day to feast and celebrate before Ash Wednesday which was the start of 40 days of fasting and introspection for devout Catholics and many other Christians.

Mobile had a strong community of Roman Catholics and a variety of other expressions of Christianity. Unlike them, the religious environment in which I grew up did not give much emphasis to the Christian Year and accompanying traditions and liturgy. We celebrated the High Holy Days of Christmas and Easter and acknowledged the events of Palm Sunday. However the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent were not a part of our tradition or practice.

Lent Concept Watercolor Theme

I have learned to value those periods of time that the Church has observed that have nurtured and enhanced the lives of Jesus’ followers.

A lit candle and the text holy week

The six weeks of Lent are about over. Holy Week began last Sunday with Palm/Passion Sunday when we remembered the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem but with the realization that the week would end sadly.

Today is Holy (Maundy) Thursday when we recall the last meal Jesus had with his disciples just before he would be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Tomorrow is Good Friday commemorating the day that Jesus was crucified. How could such a tragic event be “good?” Jesus sacrificed himself to show the world the extent of his love for each person. He said, “When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to me.” This “disaster” was transformed a couple of days later when Jesus arose from the dead.

My celebration of the Resurrection this Easter Sunday will have added meaning because of the period of introspection and the emphasis of sacrifice during Lent. I have consciously reflected on God’s love for humankind that was demonstrated in Jesus. I have the remembered the severity of his sacrifice. I have examined my life as I have prayed, read, and meditated.

Today I feel a tinge of pain thinking about the extent of Jesus’ suffering. The sadness I feel because of the abuse Jesus endured is mixed with a deep sense of gratitude for his extraordinary love for me and all people of the world.

Today I am taking a deep breath allowing the Holy Spirit to enliven me and lead me to a life of devotion to the Suffering Servant. You are invited to do the same.

 

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Spring finally arrived. The redbud trees, tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and dogwoods were welcome sights after the drab look of winter.

Cherry Blossoms

I got excited when I noticed buds on the cherry trees a few weeks ago. Then I worried that the blossoms would appear only to be killed by the last blast of cold weather. Fortunately the blossoms were wise enough to wait.

The trees have been in full bloom for the past few weeks and they are gorgeous. But their time has come to an end. By the time this is read the blooms will be all gone and the trees have sprouted green leaves for the rest of the season.

Cherry Trees 2

As the weather warmed, the cherry blossoms began to blow in the wind like snowflakes. That which had been picturesque became messy. Last week I became frustrated as I attempted to clean up the fallen cherry blossoms. I blew them out of the yard into the street so I could gather them up. When I would get a pile of them together a gust of wind would blow or a car would come down the street and they would scatter.

Finally I thought I had cleaned up all of the blossoms but as the breeze began to blow ever so gently another shower of the tiny white blossoms spread across the front lawn again.

This experience helped me to remember a few things about life.

  •  Life. Is not always neat. Things can get messy at times.
  • Nothing is forever. The Apostle Paul reminds us that even our human body is a temporary dwelling.
  • Life is cyclical. Good things/times come and go. “There is a time for everything under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
  • Change is inevitable- and can be very good. Aren’t you glad that we no longer heat our homes with fireplaces fueled by wood? And can you imagine navigating a new metropolitan area without a GPS? Can you remember when you had only three television channels to watch?
  • Everything has a price. A line from one of Carole King’s songs reminds us “If you want to be complete, you have to take the bitter with the sweet.” Gaining and losing are equally essential for life.
  • It is important to enjoy the good things in life but not to hold onto them too tightly.

I have welcomed springtime with all the beautiful offerings of Mother Nature. But I look forward to the warmth of summer that will give way to the changing colors of fall. Even cold winter will be welcome because the earth needs time to rest and be restored.

“So I (have) made up my mind that there’s nothing better for us men and women than to have a good time in whatever we do—that’s our lot.” (Ecclesiastes 3:22, The Message)

Jamie Jenkins