Archives for posts with tag: family

I am a proud man.

Depending on how you interpret the statement above I am either a very fortunate human being or an arrogant individual.

The Bible cautions that “pride comes before disaster and arrogance before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 CEB). One source defines pride as “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” This definition allows for pride to be a positive or negative emotion, depending on what prompts the feeling. It can be self-centered or other oriented.

Wikipedia describes pride as “an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments… With a positive connotation, pride refers to a satisfied sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging.”

Merriam Webster defines pride as “a feeling that you respect yourself and deserve to be respected by other people, a feeling that you are more important or better than other people, or a feeling of happiness that you get when you or someone you know does something good, difficult, etc.”

According to John Maxwell, author of many books on leadership, “There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.” Christian author and speaker, Joyce Meyer, says “Pride is an independent, me-oriented spirit. It makes people arrogant, rude and hard to get along with.”

In other words, pride can be viewed as a virtue or a vice.

Ernest Hemingway believed, “All a (person) has is pride. Sometimes you have it so much it is a sin. We have all done things for pride that we knew were impossible. We didn’t care. But a (person) must implement his pride with intelligence and care.”

With all that said, I am a proud man. It is up to you how you understand that.

I am proud of my family- my wife, three adult children, their spouses, and two grandchildren. I am proud of my country. I am proud to be a Christian. I am proud to be a United Methodist clergy person (retired).

I hope I am not “puffed up with pride,” arrogant, or obnoxious. I don’t think I am blind to imperfections. I, and all of the above mentioned of which I am proud, are not always right. I (we) are not necessarily better than any other. We are different, but not superior.

I am proud of who we are and pray that God will continue to mold and shape us until we become all that God intended for us to be.

Jamie Jenkins

*This was first posted on Thoughts For Thursday on July 9, 2015.

Things don’t always work out like you planned. That is a truism that I realized recently.

My wedding anniversary is December 28. This past year was the 50th. A year or so ago my wife and I told our children that we did not want a party to celebrate the milestone. After all, no one needs another party sandwiched between Christmas and New Year’s. We decided that we just wanted all of our family to be together doing something fun. So we planned a family trip to Peru over the holidays.

After a year of planning the time came and we all arrived in Lima on December 22. After a short visit to this beautiful coastal city we made our way to visit historical sites of the ancient Pre-Inca and Inca civilizations in the majestic Andes Mountains.

Our itinerary would have us in Machu Picchu on Christmas Day. The Incas built this estate for the Inca ruler Pachacutec around 1450. It sits about 8,000 feet above sea level and is nestled on a small hilltop of the Andean Mountain Range above the Urabamba Valley. It was abandoned a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. This majestic city was unknown to most of the world until an American historian and explorer, Hiram Bingham, “discovered” it in 1911 and brought it international attention.

Everything was going as planned until Christmas Eve when I began to experience altitude sickness caused by low levels of oxygen at high elevations. Severe stomach cramps, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and weakness prompted a visit by a doctor to my hotel room. Medication helped enough to have a cursory visit to Machu Picchu the next day.

The next day after our visit to Machu Picchu we traveled to Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century. The city is about 11,000 feet above sea level and this caused my wife to suffer from altitude sickness as well. Another doctor’s “house call” to treat her prompted us to change plans because the next stop was on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the “highest navigable lake” in the world at 12,500 feet above sea level.

Initially we planned to have a 50th Anniversary Dinner at Lake Titicaca. Instead we sent the rest of the family on and my wife and I returned to the lower altitude of Lima where we “celebrated” our anniversary as we began our marriage- just the two of us.

While this was not what we planned, it really worked out alright.

We were happy that our children, their spouses, and our grandchildren were having a wonderful time exploring the Uros islands of Lake Titicaca that are inhabited by the Uru people who have lived on the lake for hundreds of years. The islands are made almost entirely from dried totora reeds which grow naturally and abundantly in the lake.

At the same time my wife and I, both of whom were feeling much better at the lower altitude, had some really good time together- just the two of us. We reflected on our life together and remembered many of the experiences of that half-century. We laughed and cried as we shared stories of good time and “not so good’ times.

Those couple of days of “down time” really helped to realize that we had much to celebrate. In sharing this time together we both were acutely aware of our blessings and felt the strength of our love for each other. In a couple of days our family returned to Lima and all of us celebrated God’s gifts to us- all together.

I am glad that our plans fell through because something better occurred. Thanks be to God!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

I often forget how fortunate I am. I tend to take things for granted. That has probably never been more truthful than in my marriage. I have not always been as thoughtful and considerate as I should have been. I have been too focused on myself, my work, or something else more than my wife and family.

Some would say that I am a lucky man and they would be right. But I realize that I am more than “lucky.” I am blessed by God.

Tomorrow marks 50 years of marriage to Lena. December 28, 1968 is the most important day of my life next to the day that I decided to follow Jesus. Three days after Christmas a half-century ago I said yes to the questions: “Will you have this woman to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?”

I have fulfilled those promises but I have not always been as sensitive and helpful as I could have been. Nevertheless, Lena has loved me and stayed with me for all these years. That has not always been easy. There have been many challenges but I am grateful to her and to God that we are still together and still in love.

I am acutely aware that the blessings of life are not always deserved or earned. That is certainly the case in my marriage. When I first met and dated the woman who would become my wife I had no idea how strong she was and how supportive she would be to me through many changes and difficult times. We have traveled together, literally and figuratively, through territories that we could not have imagined at the beginning of our journey.

My life partner and I are very different personalities. We have different strengths and gifts. We have not always been in lock step but we have always been together. There have been many times we have disagreed but I have never doubted her sincerity or her devotion to me and our family.

Daniel Boone said, “All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.” I don’t have a good gun. I have never had a horse of any kind. But I do have a good wife!

Someone said, “Of all the home remedies, a good wife is best.” I can affirm that to be true in my life and family. I agree with Thomas Edison, “A man’s best friend is a good wife.” Lena is and always will be my best friend.

Thank you God, for sustaining Lena and me for 50 years of marriage and for helping us to stay in love with each other.

Jamie Jenkins

 

In my quieter moments I realize how blessed I am. When I think about it I marvel at the richness of my life. Each year has grown better than the last.

On this National Day of Thanksgiving there are more things to be thankful for than I can begin to imagine but below are a few.

I AM THANKFUL FOR…

A warm and dry place to sleep at night.

A safe neighborhood.

Good friends.

My good wife of 50 years (come December 28).

My three wonderful children and their equally wonderful spouses.

My two exceptional grandchildren.

The call of God on my life and God’s willingness to let me serve in the Church.

The opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

The privilege and freedom to vote.

People who allow me to disagree with them without demonizing me.

Teachers.

Clean water.

Retirement.

Good health.

Freedom of religion.

A good sermon- and I hear one every Sunday at my church.

A good church choir- and I hear one every Sunday at my church.

The opportunity to travel and experience this great big wonderful world.

The amazing advances in modern medicine.

Music that entertains, inspires, and instructs.

Technology- when it works.

A reliable automobile that gets me where I want to go.

Folks who do what they say they will do when they say they will do it.

People who say “You’re welcome” instead of “No problem” when I say “Thank you.”

Ice cream.

A winning season for the Braves and Atlanta United.

Coffee in the morning.

Volunteers who serve with no expectation of reward.

The forgiveness of my sins and the grace of God to keep on forgiving.

The following Prayer of Thanksgiving was offered during last Sunday’s worship service. I share it with you today.

Gracious God, creator of all things, you have given us much to be thankful for: this place of worship, the blessings of this day, the world around us.

Apart from you we can do nothing. With you we can do everything. By the power of your Holy Spirit we live and serve you at home, at work, and at play.

We remember how much we have, in the face of a world that says we need more. We are reminded of your graciousness as we see those who go without. Yet in the face of little, you give us much.

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Give us the courage and the strength to put our hands to plow your fields. As we do, help us to remember the laborers who first shared with us the Good News.

As we prepare to gather with family to give thanks and feast upon the blessing s of a day set apart for rest, Bread of Heaven, Water of Life, fill us until we want for nothing. Pour out yourself for us. Let us take, eat, and see that the Lord is good.

With grateful hearts we give thanks. Amen.

Jamie Jenkins

 

Close-up of Multi Colored Figurine

This week includes two very important dates. First of all, this past Monday was Christmas Day. It is a high holy day for people all over the world because it is the celebration of Jesus Christ. The birth of that baby in the tiny town of Bethlehem was an event that has changed the world and divided time.

TFree stock photo of decoration, christmas, celebration, goldhanks to my wife, our house was beautifully decorated for the Advent Season as we anticipated Christmas. I was blessed by the devotional thoughts that the staff and many members of our church shared. My family and I participated in worship services and attended several musical programs leading up to December 25. It was a joyful and hope filled season. Then on Christmas Day we enjoyed visiting with friends as we gathered around the table for a holiday feast.

Christmas Crib Figures, Christmas

On December 25, near the end of the calendar year, Christmas reminded us of God’s promise of peace on earth.

Close-up of Wedding Rings on Floor

Today, December 28, is the second day of significance for me. Forty-nine years ago today my wife and I vowed to love one another “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.”

When we stood at the altar of that little church on Stone Street in Mobile, Alabama three days after Christmas in 1968 I could not have imagined how wonderful marriage would be. Also, I had no idea how difficult it is to merge two distinctly different personalities into a unit of mutual respect and love. But over the years I have come to realize that two can become one without either individual being lost in the process.

There have been many challenges as well as joyous experiences. Struggles and triumphs. I am grateful that Lena has stuck with me through the good times and the tough times. “A true lover always feels in debt to the one he loves” (Ralph W. Sockman). I would not call myself a “true lover” but I certainly acknowledge that I am indebted to her.

Victor Hugo said, “Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.” I have never doubted her love as she has been my chief critic and number one cheerleader. She has traveled with me through three states, nine houses, and many different contexts. She raised our three children with minimal help from me. She is a strong woman, a wonderful wife, and a great mother/grandmother.

“We recognize a soulmate by the supreme level of comfort and security we feel with that person. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that remain to be ironed out. Rather, it means we know intuitively that we can resolve issues … without losing his or her love and respect” (Linda Brady). I am grateful for 49 years of marriage to my soulmate and I am excited about our future together.

Jamie Jenkins

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States and I have much for which to be thankful. I am thankful for (not necessarily in this order):

– comfortable shoes that fit

– one shoulder that does not hurt

– the Atlanta Braves baseball team (but I am not happy with the front office for recent rules violations).

-my wife of 49 years (in 35 Days)

– my three children and their spouses

– my church where my faith is nurtured by excellent preaching, exceptional music, and friends that are invaluable

– good health (for a man my age)

– the rhythmic sound of ocean waves crashing onto the shore

– civil discourse where mutual respect is practiced

– the privilege of living in the United States

– the Bible and the guidance it gives

– opportunities to travel and experience the wonderful world and it’s diverse peoples and cultures

– my bed and pillow when I return from traveling

– opportunities to serve others

-blues singers like Etta James, B.B. King, Diana Krall, Muddy Waters

– my extraordinary grandchildren (a biased opinion but true nonetheless)

– ice cream

– the laughter of children

– people who are smarter than me who don’t make me feel like an idiot

– Skype webcam

– air conditioning (I live in the Deep South)

– people who love me in spite of myself

– the Comics- especially Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Baby Blues, Zits, and Garfield

– preachers, politicians, and other public servants who know it is not about them

– the Church (with all it faults)

– teachers

– the diverse community in which I live

– good food and good friends

– quiet time

– coffee in the morning

– Alex Trebeck and Jeopardy

– hats that protect my bald head from the cold and sun

– neighbors who look out for each other

– soul (southern) food and cornbread

– growing older without getting “old”

– folks who are not like me who like me

– God who loves and forgives me

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday

I celebrated another birthday last week. No big deal. But it is a big deal. Every year is a gift from God and I am grateful.

There was no party (didn’t want one) but there were a lot of birthday greetings from friends and family. A good morning hug and kiss from my wife of almost 49 years. Phone call from my daughter in California. A webcam with my oldest son and his family (especially the grandchildren). A trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium for an Atlanta United soccer match with my younger son. Dinner, compliments of a very dear friend. Nothing is better than to know that you are loved and appreciated by the folks who are closest to you.

family and friends

I remember years ago when one of my nephews asked me how old I was. “I replied that I was thirty. By the look on his teenaged face I must have appeared to be ancient. 30! His expression indicated that he thought I was surely on my last leg. He probably could not imagine that I would still be alive 44 years later.

I can remember when I thought persons my age were “old.” I still catch myself referring to people just a few years my senior as “old” or “elderly” although I don’t feel that way about myself. You are probably thinking, “He is out of touch with reality,” and you may be right.

There are many benefits to aging especially if one enjoys good health, and I do. I am alright with getting older. I just don’t ever want to get “old.” In thinking about the aging process I came across the following “Prayer of an Anonymous Abbess” by Margot Benary-Isbert.

Lord, thou knowest better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.

Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples’ affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But thou knowest, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends.

Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.

Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains — they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.

I will not ask thee for improved memory, only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn’t agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.

Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint — it is so hard to live with some of them — but a harsh old person is one of the devil’s masterpieces.

Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so. Amen.” (Margot Benary-Isbert)

Life is good but another birthday brings with it the realization that life on earth is not forever and I am reminded of the psalmist words: “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:12)

Jamie Jenkins

 

The second most important day of my life was December 28, 1968.* That was the day Lena and I exchanged wedding vows. Yesterday we celebrated 48 years of marriage.  She is a gift from God to me for which I am most grateful.

img_2201

It has been over 50 years since Lena and I first met. We have loved each other for more than a half century. WOW! It is amazing how love has grown over those years. We have very different personalities and talents but have learned to appreciate and complement each other. And we are still learning. With God’s help we have grown together and that process is ongoing.

img_0773

God has been so good to us since the day we pledged our lives together in that little church on Stone Street in Mobile, Alabama. “For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish till death us do part.” We have had our struggles and trials but our lives have been blessed since we loaded everything we had into that 1965 Chevrolet Impala and headed to New York.

dsc_0735

Lena and I have three adult children. In spite of the struggles of the early years of marriage and parenting, they have grown to be wonderful adults. Each of them has wisely chosen life partners. They and our two grandchildren are priceless treasures.

Lena has sacrificed a lot as she has accompanied me on our journey from Alabama to New York, Tennessee, and Georgia. She has been my chief critic and most devoted helper and cheerleader through the nine times we have moved since our wedding day.  She shares my love for travel and has been my companion as we have explored more of this world than I ever imagined. We have more plans to “see the world” near and far as long as our health and resources last.

My spouse for two-thirds of my life, the mother of our three children and grandmother of our two grandchildren, is one of the most generous persons I know. She loves people and thrives on caring for others. She is a happy person who laughs a lot and loves to dance. She is a talented woman whose creativity is displayed in many ways. As a Master Gardener her flower garden is one of the most visible evidences of her gifts.

lenas-garden-1

The love of my life is a spiritual person who believes in a loving God and understands that what a person believes should inform and impact how they live and treat others.

She is one of the most authentic persons I know.

I am grateful to God and to Lena for the 48 years of marriage and I look forward to sharing many more years and adventures together, God willing.

Jamie Jenkins

*The most important day of my life??

oze1671

The pursuit of happiness is one of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration of Independence says has been given to all human beings by their Creator. However, happiness is often considered elusive and fleeting. Nathaniel Hawthorne said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

happy-quotes-and-sayings-4

Recent research suggests that happiness can be attributed to three major sources: genes, events and values. Data suggests that if we understand them we can improve our lives and the lives of others.

According to the researchers, data on happiness remain fairly consistent. Arthur C. Brooks reports in the New York Times that every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.”

Although there are demographic differences that can affect the statistics, about 48 percent of our happiness is inherited from our parents. Studies further suggest that isolated events control up to 40 percent of our happiness at any given time. Social scientists say that we can control the remaining 12 percent if we pursue four basic values: faith, family, community and work.

The website www.lifehack.org offers another formula for happiness: Letting Go + Acceptance + Gratitude. This suggests that the best things you can do with your life is to “let go of what was and what will be and be okay with it, thankful for it, and appreciate it.”

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaihaaaajdixmdg3owzhlwm4n2mtndfkzc1iowzllwnmzjqwzjgzztliza

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at University College of London have provided another formula for happiness. They created an equation that accurately predicted the happiness of over 18,000 people. Participants in the study completed certain decision making tasks. Then researchers used MRI imaging to measure their brain activity and asked them repeatedly, “How happy are you now?” This testing resulted in the following equation:

FORMULA FOR HAPPINESS

You will have to do your own research to figure out what all that means.

The suggestions based on studies that are offered above are worth considering, but I commend the following to you as a formula for happiness that I think will work.

Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, offered another formula for happiness in his sermon last Sunday.* He based it on Philippians 4:4-7 in the Bible.

  • Be gentle
  • Don’t worry about anything
  • Pray about everything
  • Be thankful for all things

Actually Rev. Britt gave only three steps. I have added one: Be gentle. The Message translates those two words in verse 5: “Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”

This formula sandwiched between “The Lord is near” and “the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds” offers a simple but effective process for pursuing happiness.

Jamie Jenkins

*Rev. Britt’s sermon can be viewed at http://www.prumc.org

 

History has recorded many tyrants, despots, and dictators. They have destroyed civilizations and wreaked havoc wherever they have been. Inestimable damage has resulted from their autocratic and violent reigns. Currently terrorists are creating chaos and destruction throughout the world.

Whether they rule a nation, control a radical religious or political faction, or espouse racial bigotry, they are all bullies. Some are powerful political or religious figures while others are angry societal misfits. They are all bullies.

“Everyone likely has a bullying story, whether as the victim, the bully, or as a witness.” (Michael Honda)

We have heard a lot recently about bullying among children and youth but bullies are not only nasty kids or mean teenagers. Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. They don’t all capture the news headlines or make a big splash. But they cause immeasurable harm to individuals and groups of all sizes.

Bullies may be aggressive drivers, pushy salespersons, bossy friends, co-workers, or angry strangers. They are the kid who steals a classmates lunch money. They are the boss that uses their position of power to harass those who are less powerful. They are close friends, neighbors, and family members.

Bullying can include repeatedly making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, or excluding someone from a group, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

You may not call them bullies but you know them. You have encountered them. With their words and actions they use intimidation, threats and fear. They play mind games of manipulation and control. They cause much emotional and physical  damage.

The Irish Times (Dec. 12, 2015) reported that “one third of trainee doctors say they have experienced bullying and harassment at work, according to a survey by the Irish Medical Council. The survey also found that over half of trainee doctors – 56 per cent – have witnessed someone else being bullied or harassed.”

“Bullying is a national epidemic.” (Macklemore)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, asserts that “matters of workplace harassment (bullying) have gained interest among practitioners and researchers as it is becoming one of the most sensitive areas of effective workplace management… Under occupational health and safety laws around the world, workplace harassment and workplace bullying are identified as being core psychosocial hazards

Bullying never has to do with you. It’s the bully who is insecure. (Shay Mitchell)

Bullies are unhappy and unhealthy people who act out in inappropriate ways that inflict harm on others in an effort to boost their own sense of self-worth. They will continue to have their way at the expense of others and cause harm until we stand up to them and say “no more.”

We must recognize the strength that lies within each one of us- whether the bully is a radical Islamic terrorist, a family member, a friend, or whoever. We must resist the efforts of bullies to force their agenda upon us. We must not allow any individual or group to destroy our dignity as children of God.

In the beginning of this new year let us pledge to be present for those who feel they have no voice. To stand with those, near and far, who are oppressed. To oppose anyone who will attempt to impose their ideas and ideals upon us or others through intimidation and harassment. Let us join Jesus in his mission “to set free the oppressed, downtrodden, and bruised” (Luke 4:18).

Jamie Jenkins