Archives for posts with tag: grandchildren

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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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

 

 

My grandchildren speak three languages. Don’t leave me now. I promise I won’t bore you with an exhaustive description of how wonderful they are. This is more than a story about my grandchildren. It is an attempt to offer a parable for living.

Jamie and Felicia were born in Tokyo and lived there until 4 years ago. They are now ages 14 and 11.Thus Japanese is their first language but they are fluent in English as well. They have just moved from Spain where they have lived for the past two years. Although they spoke no Spanish when they arrived, they were immediately enrolled in Spanish schools. As result, after two years of immersion in Spanish culture they have added a third language. At the end of this month they are moving to Mexico and will have to adjust to the Mexican version of the Spanish language.

The main train station.

I promised that this was not about my grandchildren and it is not. Rather I offer their experiences as an example of the importance and the difficulty of being multi-lingual. For the first years of their life they lived in a “Japanese world” in Tokyo. Except for spoken English at home and with a small group of other English speakers, everything was in the native language of their mother. Their parents intentionally spoke only English at home so the children became comfortable in the languages of both my son and daughter-in-law.

Two weeks after moving to Valencia, Spain in 2015 both children (ages 9 and 12) began school where all classes and assignments were in an unfamiliar language. Their lessons presented in the classroom and their conversations with classmates were in Spanish. Homework assignments had to be translated from Spanish to English and then back from English to Spanish. This was hard but as a result they now can communicate comfortably in the new language they learned.

Now what does that have to do with anything?

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We live in a world that is increasingly diverse and all of us could benefit from learning a second (or third language). The purpose of this writing is not to suggest that in a literal sense. However, I am proposing that there is another “language” that we need to learn for the well-being of ourselves and our world. It is the language of love.

Inscriptions of vandals in the fortress of Santa Barbara. Stock Photography

One does not have to look far or know much to realize that our civilized society shows many signs of becoming/being very un-civil. We are seeing all too frequent expressions of anger and hostility instead of understanding and mutual respect. There is the increasing need to learn or re-learn the language of love.

Yes!

The language of love is not easy but I believe it is necessary for our survival. Let me suggest an exercise that might help in this effort. Every day for the next week read Matthew 5:21-48 and Luke 6:27-42 in the Bible. Try to understand and to practice the principles of that “new language.” I believe it will make a difference in your life and in our world.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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??

 

Thanksgiving 9

Today is the fourth Thursday in November. That means it is Thanksgiving Day in the United States.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared in one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For the next two centuries days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that a national Thanksgiving Day be held on the final Thursday in November. Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. There was much opposition to Roosevelt’s plan, known as Franksgiving, and in 1941 the president signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

This past week I visited several people who are homebound or hospitalized. A common thread in all our conversations was thanksgiving. Repeatedly I heard expressions of gratitude and an acknowledgement that we are blessed beyond our imagination.

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Like many others I will gather with family and friends for an abundant feast today. We will eat a lot and watch seemingly endless football games. All of this is important because it nurtures our relationships, but thanksgiving requires more than a passive attitude.

I am thankful for my family who love me and has always supported me. Therefore I do everything possible to provide whatever they need.

I am thankful for God who loves me unconditionally. Therefore I devote my time, energy, and talents to serve God’s people in the Church and throughout the world.

I am thankful for good health. Therefore I attempt to take advantage of opportunities to learn and explore.

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I am thankful for the freedoms that I enjoy in this country. Therefore I will strive to protect and preserve them for everyone.

I am grateful for all my resources. Therefore I seek to use them not only for myself but for the benefit of humankind.

It would be impossible to list all the things for which I am thankful. There are so many and so many which I simply take for granted. If you are interested, you can take a look at a few of them in the postscript.

Last Sunday Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, said “We don’t give God thanks for our circumstances. We give God thanks in our circumstances.” I think that is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “In everything give thanks for this is the will of God for you.” All things that happen to us are not God’s will but God does desire us to always have an attitude of gratitude.

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Author and publisher Fred De Witt Amburgh said, “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Thanksgiving is not self centered or passive. People with grateful hearts give. According to philanthropist W. Clement Stone, “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”

Thanksgiving is, after all, a word of action. In other words, it is “thanks-living.”

Jamie Jenkins

Thanksgiving 1

P.S. Other things for which I am thankful:

A good cup of coffee in the morning

Grandchildren (and their parents)

Ice cream (especially on weekends)

A wife who love sports (and me)

A safe neighborhood

The internet (when it works)

Skype

A comfortable pair of shoes

Opportunities to travel and see the beauty of God’s earth and its people

An electric car that is fun to drive

Any automobile that gets me where I need to go

All the folks who volunteer in the church and other helping organizations

The Atlanta Braves (wait until next year)

People who give generously of their time, talent, and money for the benefit of others

The United Methodist Church that has nurtured me and my family

My wife’s love for flowers and the beauty of her garden

Music- everything from classical to blues

Story tellers

My children and grandchildren who roll their eyes at my corny jokes but love me any way

The comics and their creators- especially Get Fuzzy (Darby Conley), Overboard (Chip Dunham), Pearls Before Swine (Stephan Pastis)

People who are positive about life no matter the circumstances

A warm house and a comfortable bed at night

Good (clean) jokes

Gifted preachers who work at their craft and deliver meaningful and challenging sermons

Church choirs who work hard to learn their music and offer it in worship

The people of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church for embracing me and my wife

Rainy days and Mondays- and every day whatever the weather

My children’s spouses who love them and enrich our family

 

 

 

 

In today’s world it is certainly an advantage if you can communicate in more than one language.

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My grandchildren (ages 9 and 12) are bilingual. They were born in Tokyo and lived there until 18 months ago. Consequently their first language is Japanese although they are very fluent in English. A couple of years ago my grandson said he wanted to learn Chinese. When asked why he replied, “When Mom and Dad don’t want us to know what they are saying, they speak in Chinese.” There are many reasons for wanting to be fluent in more than one language.

In a couple of weeks those grandchildren and their parents are moving to Spain to live for at least a year. Their English and Japanese, or the parents limited Chinese, will not be of much value to them in this new country, especially when the children enter Spain’s public schools. They will quickly learn that the ability to speak and understand Spanish would be a definite advantage.

I took three years of Spanish in high school many years ago. Recently my wife and I participated in two 10-week Spanish classes. I know a little about conjugation of verbs and recognize a lot of words and phrases but I cannot communicate very well in Spanish. The primary reason- I don’t use the language in my daily life. Most of what I learned a long time ago has been lost due to the failure to use it on a regular basis.

Of course words are not the only way to communicate. Language is not always verbal. A smile can speak volumes. An embrace or a thumbs-up can be very affirming. Listening attentively to another person’s expressions of grief, frustration, anger, or dreams can be therapeutic.

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As a matter of fact, words sometimes are the least effective means of communication. They are often perceived as being empty and meaningless, and sometimes they actually are. The effort to verbalize may in fact obstruct communication.

It has been said that actions speak louder than words. Of course, deeds don’t actually create sound but they can clearly demonstrate understanding, caring, and compassionate in ways that words alone cannot. The Apostle Paul said, “If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1, Common English Bible).

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St. Francis of Assisi is often quoted as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” There is a lack of evidence that indicates that he never actually said that. However, in his instructions on how the Franciscans should practice their preaching, he said, “All the Friars … should preach by their deeds.” Essentially he is saying make sure your deeds match your words.

 

Of all the languages we might learn and “speak”, perhaps the language of love is the most important. It always includes words and actions.

Love in action 3

Jamie Jenkins

Chipmunks

In 1958  a novelty record featured three singing anthropomorphic chipmunks. Within three weeks of being released The Chipmunk Song had sold over 2.5 million copies, making it the fastest selling record of 1958. It hit #1 on December 22, 1958, and stayed there for 4 weeks. This is the last Christmas song to hit #1 in the US. A remixed version of this song returned to the American Hot 100 in the first chart of 2008 after a gap of 45 years, thanks to the box office success of the film Alvin And The Chipmunks.

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The song was written and produced by Ross Bagdasarian. The inspiration came to him from his youngest son, Adam, who in September would regularly ask if it was Christmas yet. He figured if his son was asking that question, other kids probably were too.

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Bagdasarian, whose stage name was David Seville, performed all the voices of the group by speeding up the playback to create high-pitched voices. That process resulted in two Grammy Awards for engineering. After his death in 1972, the characters’ voices were performed by his son Ross Bagdasarian, Jr and Ross. Jr.’s wife, Janice Karman, in the subsequent incarnations of the 1980s and 1990s.

The singing chipmunks were mischievous leader Alvin, brainy Simon, and chubby, impressionable Theodore- all named after the executives of their original record label. The trio is managed by their human adoptive father, David (Dave) Seville. The characters became a success, and the singing Chipmunks and their manager were given life in several animated cartoon productions and films.

I have had the privilege of having my grandchildren (and their parents) visiting with us for over two months as they transition from living in Asia to their next destination in southern Spain. We have spent a good bit of time visiting and eating meals on our patio and looking out on the beautifully landscaped back yard created by my wife.

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We have enjoyed the cardinals, finches, doves, and other birds as they play and sing in the tree and around the feeders. As we have watched the birds I have observed that Alvin, Simon, and Theodore also live in our back yard. At least the chipmunks that scurry around look a lot like them.

These cute little creatures scamper around and scavenge for food everywhere. They are a joy to watch most of the time.

The birds are attracted by the feeders that we have placed in our yard and a couple of years ago I discovered bird feeders that stymied the squirrels. They finally gave up on their efforts to rob the birds of their food but last week I discovered that the chipmunks have found a way.

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As I sat on the patio the birds were fluttering all over and feasting on the food I had provided. The chipmunks were playfully chasing each other along the ground and eating the seeds that the birds dropped. Simon, Theodore, ALVIN! One of them had climbed onto the bird feeder and was hanging upside down in such a way that his weight did not close the feeding openings. He was enjoying the safflower seeds until I yelled at him and he scurried away.

After a few times of scaring “Alvin” away when he tried to eat the bird’s food, I decided to leave him alone. After all what he ate was a small price for the enjoyment he and his friends provided as they entertained us with their playfulness. I am happy to have the chipmunks and I am willing to pay the price.

A lot of life is that way but often I forget that the good times come with a price.

Jamie Jenkins