Archives for posts with tag: spiritual

I had a fall a few months ago and injured my shoulder. I tore the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and their tendons act to stabilize the shoulder. This type of injury is fairly common occurring most often in people who repeatedly perform overhead motions in their jobs or sports.

An illustration of the shoulder joint and tendons.

The risk of rotator cuff injury also increases with age. Aging and a hard fall combined to cause my injury. Sometimes physical therapy solves the problem but some cuff tears require surgical repair.

A woman slips and falls on ice.

My injury required surgery after which I was given a sling to stabilize and support my arm. The surgeon told me in a follow up visit a few weeks later that I did not have to wear the sling all the time and he did not want my arm to be “glued to my side.” In other words, I was to move the injured arm as much as possible to prevent the shoulder from freezing up. I understood what the doctor said but it was extremely painful to do move that arm.

The surgeon and many people who have had rotator cuff surgery told me that recovery would take a long time and it would be hard. They are correct. Yesterday marked 4 months since surgery and 3 months since I began physical therapy. Things are better but I have still have a good way to go for full recovery.

One day during a physical therapy I heard one of the therapists tell another patient that “You have re-program your brain.” I am learning that is a very big part of recovery.

When we are injured, physically or emotionally, our brain signals us to protect ourselves. It is difficult to deal with the pain and easy to avoid it. If it hurts to move the shoulder, my brain tells me to keep it stationary. If is it painful to acknowledge words or actions that hurt me, it is easy to deny or try to forget. But things won’t get better if we avoid the issue.

Surgery and hard exercises are helping me to recover from a rotator cuff injury. Something similar also helps to overcome emotional injuries. All of our experiences and the feelings that accompanied the experiences are stored in our brain. Memories of painful experiences are tough to deal with but facing them honestly is the first step in overcoming their paralyzing grip.

Mike Robinson* says, “Many people bury the memories of wounds and injuries caused by negative words, actions and attitudes rather than face the pain. In doing so, they also bury the possibility of healing.” A long time ago I discovered a book by David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions, that was very helpful to me in dealing with painful memories. Robinson and Seamands both offer counsel to help heal emotional hurts that are every bit as real as physical injury.

 

It would have been foolish of me to deny that my shoulder hurt and refuse medical solutions. It is equally valid to seek spiritual help for emotional pain. We are physical, emotional, and spiritual beings. God wants us to be healthy in all three aspects of our life.

Jamie Jenkins

(http://www.barnabasnetwork.com/emotional_healing_2)

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??

advent 10

The season of Advent began last Sunday. It is a season that the Church has dedicated to preparing for the celebration of Christmas. The difference between Advent and Christmas is a small but important one. It’s no surprise that right after Thanksgiving we want to ask, “When can we sing Christmas songs?” But the question we must ask is: Are you ready to receive the one and only that God is sending our way?

ADVENT 6

Advent is a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was introduced in the Christian church. It is believed that at some time in the fifth century it began as a six-week fast leading to Christmas. In the sixth century it was reduced to its current length of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas Day and the fasting was no longer observed.

Rev. Mark S. Roberts, a Presbyterian minister, reflected on Advent in the following manner: “In our secular American celebration of Christmas, the Christmas season (or holiday season, ugh) begins in the weeks prior to Christmas Day. Generally, this season starts in early December, though retailers have a bad habit of beginning Christmas in November (or even October)… So Advent overlaps with what is usually thought of in American culture as the Christmas season. But its beginning and ending are well defined, and its themes are quite a bit different from what is commonly associated with secular Christmas celebrations.”

Rev. Roberts goes on to say there are two primary reasons why Advent is important to him. He found “that observing Advent enriched my celebration of Christmas. Taking four weeks to focus on the hope of Christ’s coming made me much more joyful when I finally got to celebrate it. The more I got in touch with my need for a Savior, the more I rejoiced at the Savior’s birth.”

ADVENT 8

In addition he found “in Advent a solution to the age-old problem of secular Christmas vs. spiritual Christmas… We (Christians) recognize that Christmas is, most of all, a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a holiday that focuses on the meaning of the Incarnation. Yet, given the secular traditions of Christmas, we spend most of our time preparing, not for a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but for fulfilling the demands of the season.” Buying and wrapping presents, attending and hosting parties, traveling to visit relatives, sending out Christmas cards, and if you have younger children “spending hours trying to assemble gifts that come with sketchy instructions written by someone for whom English is, at best, a third language.”

The website, http://www.adventconspiracy.org, asks, “Can Christmas still change the world? The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and  relationship. So what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress, and debt?” Then it suggests four ways to change the way we celebrate Christmas.

ADVENT 1

Worship Fully

It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where we are called to put down our burdens and lift a song up to our God. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath. It’s the party of the year. Entering the story of advent means entering this season with an overwhelming passion to worship Jesus to the fullest.

ADVENT 2Spend Less

Quick question for you: What was the one gift you remember getting for Christmas last year? Next question: What about the fourth gift? Do you remember that one? Truth is many of us don’t because it wasn’t something we necessarily wanted or needed. Spending Less isn’t a call to stop giving gifts; it’s a call to stop spending money on gifts we won’t remember in less than a year. America spends around $600 billion dollars during the Christmas season, and much of that it joyless and goes right onto a credit card. By spending wisely on gifts we free ourselves from the anxiety associated with debt so we can take in the season with a full heart.ADVENT 3

Give More

I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, didn’t you just say I should spend less, and yet here you are telling me to give more? What gives?” The most powerful, memorable gift you can give to someone else is yourself. And nobody modeled this more than Jesus. So what does this look like for you? Tickets to a ball game or the theater? A movie night? The main point is simple: When it comes to spending time with those you love, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

ADVENT 4

Love All

It all boils down to love. Love from a savior. Love to a neighbor in need. By spending just a little less on gifts we free up our resources to love as Jesus loves by giving to those who really need help. … It’s not that there’s something wrong with the shopping mall—it’s that the better story is about loving all.

It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many. We need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.

Jamie Jenkins

Mental Health 3

Americans are very health conscious. Regularly we see and hear reports about obesity, heart disease, and cancer. There is much concern currently over the flu virus that has swept the country.

Medical professionals are constantly cautioning us about one thing or another. A lot of emphasis is placed on certain medical tests, methods of disease prevention, or proper diet and exercise. Strong public campaigns abound for breast cancer awareness, prostate screening, flu shots, and other health related concerns.

It is important that we properly care for our bodies but we need to pay attention to more than our physical wellbeing. Humans are complex creatures and wellness involves a balance of physical, spiritual and mental health.

Churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations emphasize spiritual health and the practice of spiritual disciplines such as personal and corporate worship, Bible study, and service to others. There is an abundance of programs and initiatives to develop strong spiritual beings.

While physical and spiritual (or at least religious) health is a priority in our culture, we fail to focus  as much energy and attention on mental health. We talk about the value of exercise and positive thinking to our mental health but little attention is given, and even less conversation, about depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

Mental Illness 5

Statistics indicate that 1 in 4 Americans experience mental illness every year. Mental health expert and researcher Dr. John Grohol believes that is more likely 1 in 3. That means that 75 million people in the United States experience some form of mental disorder  annually. The National Alliance of Mental Illness indicates that about 14 million adults live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

In 2011 the World Health Organization reported that mental illness — that is, any mental disorder — accounts for more disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. Yet all we hear people talk about in the media is reducing your risk of these health problems. We rarely hear anyone talk about anxiety or depression.

Mental Illness 8

According to the U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Mood disorders such as depression are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults ages 18 to 44.
  • Adults living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions.
  • Over 50 percent of students with a mental health condition age 14 and older who are served by special education drop out− the highest dropout rate of any disability group.
  • Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years.

Mental Illness 7

Efforts to address this significant public health issue are complicated by the  fact that there is a stigma associated with mental illness and experts claim it prevents many people from seeking help. Therefore “people coping with mental illness have a lot more to deal with than just the disorder itself. Many people report that the stigma of mental illness, and the prejudices they encounter because of it, is nearly as bad as the disorder’s symptoms themselves.” (www.healthyplace.com)

Mental Illness 9

What stigma? The following scenario may help answer the question. Imagine that you have breast cancer. Now imagine that instead of NFL football players supporting your illness by wearing sneakers with pink cleats and pink logos on their jerseys, society blames you for your illness. Imagine others looking at you with accusing eyes and whispering about you behind your back when they find out you have breast cancer. Imagine feeling fearful of seeking proper medical help because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job if anyone finds out about it.

People with mental disorders must cope with this type of stigma on a daily basis. But why should they? Mental illness is a disease just like cancer. No one wants to develop cancer. No one wants to deal with mental illness either.

Mental Illness 4

Former president Bill Clinton said, “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”  God help us to destroy the stigma by addressing mental illness with compassion and working to find cures.

Jamie Jenkins