Archives for posts with tag: travel

I did not want to be late but it was rush hour. Although I was traveling a familiar route I sought assistance by opening Waze on my smartphone.

According to the Waze website it “is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app” that allows you to “join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money.” That sounded like exactly what I needed to make the best of drive time in this very heavy traffic.

The website promised “millions of drivers… working together towards a common goal: to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route.” Many “friends” on the road would send alerts about “police, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams, all shared by other drivers in real-time.” That was what I needed for a timely arrival at my destination.

Only one problem. I knew the way to my destination. I had made this trip many times before and I knew all the shortcuts. So, when the directions of the traffic app seemed contrary to what I thought I knew, I ignored them and went the way that I knew would be “best.”

The first time I approached an intersection with a long line of vehicles stopped at the traffic light, I decided to bypass all of them waiting to go straight ahead. The right turn lane allowed me to bypass that long line of traffic. I was on my way smiling until I Waze told me that my estimated time of arrival was now 5 minutes later than before I made the turn. That irritated me.

The app adjusted my route accordingly. Then I did the same thing again. And again. Each time I failed to follow the directions I was given, time was added to my ETA.

I hope I am not revealing too much about myself but this was a learning experience for me. It helped me realize that instructions/directions are given for a reason. Whether it is an item with some assembly required or help with navigating a journey, my way might not be the better way. Directions/instructions are provided for my benefit. Ignoring them probably does not give me an advantage.

I know that in the grand scheme of things it will not make a lot of difference if I follow GPS directions when traveling or instructions when putting together a purchased item. Short cuts may not be a better alternative but it probably won’t matter most of the time. However, in some instances ignoring the instructions can be very detrimental.

This recent experience reminded me of the times I have read the Owner’s Manual of life- the Bible- but failed to follow the guidance it provided. While it does not always give specific and detailed directions for every experience, there are many directions that are pretty clear and many other principles that should not be ignored.

I don’t always want to “love (my) enemy and pray for those who mistreat (me).” Often I think I have a better way of dealing with folks that are not “on my side” but I know that taking another course of action or having another attitude is not good for me.

Turn the other cheek is what The Good Book tells me do to when someone does me wrong,. My natural instinct is to get even, strike back. Scripture instructs us to live peaceably with everyone but that it hard to do.

I am very well acquainted with The Bible. I know it pretty well. God help me to avoid “shortcuts.” Give me the desire and ability to follow the directions of the Scripture and apply the principles in my daily life and in my relationship with everyone.

 

Jamie Jenkins

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

Nearly 1600 years ago St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I agree with this ancient theologian and philosopher but I wonder what he would say today. Would he see a world that is much larger and complex or would he see a world that is smaller and interdependent? Would he recognize our similarities or our differences?

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Regardless, I agree that travel is life changing. It helps you to see a great big wonderful world but “travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” (Gustave Flaubert).

In one of Willie Nelson’s songs he longs to get back “on the road again…making music with his friends.” I have no experience or desire to travel the same way Willie does but many experiences have been enhanced by others who have been on the journey with me. At the same time I think Mark Twain is right, “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

Whether it is the snow-capped peak of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, Israel’s Mt. Hermon, the Tyrolean Alps in Austria/Italy, or the Rocky Mountains in the western United States- photos and videos are not adequate. Books and journal articles are not enough. There is no substitute for being there.

Hummus in Israel/Palestine, a churro with cajeta in Mexico, fish and chips in England, Nasi Kandar in Malaysia. You can eat these foods anywhere but it is not the same as when you eat them “there.”

People can tell you about the great cathedrals of the world but no description can compare with actually standing in awe when you visit Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s in London, the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

There is no way to fully appreciate the Parthenon in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids of Egypt, or the rose-red city of Petra carved into the hillside in Jordan without being physically present in those places.

One cannot comprehend the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, or the Northern Lights without traveling to those locations. Turia Park, Keukenhof Gardens, Bellingrath Gardens, and Monet’s Garden require a visit to Valencia (Spain), Amsterdam, Mobile, and Giverny in order to be captured by their splendor.

The significance of the beaches of Normandy, Pearl Harbor, the Cabinet War Rooms in London, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima cannot be understood unless you have been there.

A few years ago a friend and his family spent the Christmas-New Year holidays in a distant land where violence and tension provide daily news stories. After returning to Atlanta I asked him what was the most memorable part of that experience. He replied, “I realized that we are all alike. We want the same thing for ourselves and our families.” Maybe Aldous Huxley was right. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

I enjoyed a recent trip to England. We drove through the beautiful Cotswold region and stopped by William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon Avon. I saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham and Windsor Palaces. But the trip centered on places of significance to the Methodist Movement in the late 18th century. My faith was strengthened by traveling to places of my religious heritage as I learned about the Wesleys and the spiritual awakening that they fostered. Many trips to the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine) have made the stories of the Bible come alive.

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While the articles and podcast interviews of the website www.anepiceducation.com focuses on family traveling, there is so much truth to it’s tagline- “Travel is an education and the world is the classroom.”

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

Jamie Jenkins

Best-Travel-Quotes--better-to-see

My next trips are to the Holy Land (March 11-22, 2019), Greece and Turkey to follow the journey of the Apostles (April 23-May 3, 2019), Holy Land (again Feb. 15-26, 2020) and to the Oberammergau Passion Play and European Capitals (Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Regensberg, and Prague- June 3-12, 2020.

Your are invited to join me. Contact me if interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter weather prevailed when I left on February 2 for a trip to the Holy Land. The high that day was 42 degrees. Three weeks later I returned to see evidence that spring was just around the corner.

Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford') in bloom.

All the way home from the airport I saw Bradford Pear trees with their bountiful and beautiful white blossoms. As I neared my house I saw a Redbud tree and a Japanese Magnolia tree in all their brilliance. When we arrived at our house the daffodils in our front yard greeted us.

Closeup photo of the beautiful Redbud blossoms

The words of the Hymn of Promise came to my mind. “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be. Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.” (full lyrics below).

Atlanta Braves 2018 spring training

After unpacking and getting a good night’s rest I checked in on the Braves Spring Training which began while I was away. I miss not being present in Florida as the team begins preparation for the regular season. It was good to hear about the promising young players like Ozzie Albies and Ron Acuna and the team leaders like Freddie Freeman and Julio Tehran.

One more, I know you can : Stock Photo

A couple of days after returning from my travels I got started back with physical therapy for my surgically repaired shoulder. Progress from a torn rotator cuff has been slow and painful but after a few weeks of therapy I can see progress in my range of motion and reduced discomfort.

The next day there were seven babies baptized during the worship service at my church, Peachtree Road United Methodist in Atlanta. We recalled that “Jesus gave a special place to the children.” We were reminded that “Through the Sacrament of Baptism we are initiated into Christ’s holy Church. We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit. All this is God’s gift, offered to us without price.”

The parents of the children being baptized all promised to “nurture these children in Christ’s holy Church, that by your teaching and example they may be guided to accept God’s grace for themselves, to profess their faith openly, and to lead a Christian life.”

The congregation vowed, “With God’s help we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that these children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith and confirmed, and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.”

PRUMC Habitat for Humanity Build

That same morning I heard of the church’s plan to build their 46th Habitat for Humanity Home because we believe that every person should have access to a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Also an announcement was made about The Great Day of Service, Saturday, March 24. This is our annual community volunteer day when all ages put their faith in action as they serve those in need across Atlanta. Each year during Lent, nearly 1,000 church members and friends take this Saturday to make helping others a priority. 

Great Day of Service 2017

We were also informed of the plan to help “Fill the Pantry for Buckhead Christian Ministries” as we work together to prevent hunger and homelessness for those facing life-changing events such as a job loss, a reduction in work hours or a medical problem.

This year’s Lenten Offering will be used to support the 16 agencies and ministries with whom our church partners in the Greater Atlanta area to make a difference in the lives of others. We were encouraged to give something up during this season and to give the money that we would have spent on what we are giving up to this offering.

I am grateful for these and other signs of hope!

Jamie Jenkins

HYMN OF PROMISE (words and music by Natalie A. Sleeth, 1986)

In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity,
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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??

Retirement 1

I open my eyes and look at the clock beside my bed. The digital numbers are 5:55. It is still dark outside but I hear the words and the tune in my head: “O what a beautiful morning, O what a beautiful day.” It is time to get up.

But wait! I am retired. Why am I am getting out of bed before it is daylight? Because I want to, not because I have to.

Retirement 4

I prefer getting up early. Morning coffee. Quiet devotional time. Read the newspaper. Then I am ready to get on with whatever the day holds.

For many years, my alarm was set for 6:00 AM every day. I seldom set the alarm anymore. I don’t need to. I just wake up about the same time every morning. If I happen to sleep “late,” it is alright. I am retired.

I have worked most of my life starting at age nine shining shoes on the streets of Mobile, Alabama. Morning and afternoon paper routes, various jobs in grocery stores, and ending with 41 years as an ordained United Methodist minister when I retired in June 2013. I was not tired, bored, or burned out. I loved my work (most of the time). I felt like I was able to make a difference in people’s lives. There just came a time when it seemed like it was time to do something else.Retirement 3

I had no idea what I would do after I quit having specific responsibilities and expectations placed upon me. However, I knew it was time to make a transition. I believe if you are doing what you should be doing today, you will be where God wants you tomorrow. I had no real plans; nothing that I had put off until this time in my life.

Retirement means many things to different people. Some see it as an opportunity to cease from their labors. Others use this period of time to launch new careers. For me it meant a time of reduced stress and the opportunity to make more choices. Some retired people say they are busier now than when they were employed. That is not true for me. I have workaholic tendencies and have always had plenty to do. I am busy nowadays but it is “my busy.”

Retirement 5

There are occasional opportunities to preach or teach and I am grateful for those who issue those invitations. The church where my wife and I worship allows me to provide some pastoral care for the members. This has been very meaningful to me and hopefully helpful to others. There are a few other minor responsibilities that I have assumed but the buck always stops at someone else. I love to travel and share that experience with others (have passport and ready to go).

God has granted me good health and opened doors that I could never have imagined. I am grateful. It has long been my contention that folks in their “sunset years” have much to offer but are often overlooked or choose to be unavailable. The Bible tells us “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding” (Job 12:12). I am not sure how much wisdom or understanding I have and I am not looking for another “job” but I want to be useful to God and God’s people as long as I am able.

Retirement 2

Retirement is good.

Jamie Jenkins

In my travels many places fail to live up to their publicity. They look and sound good on their website or in their brochure but don’t measure up when you see them in person. One place that lives up to your expectations is the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon 1

I have just returned from my second visit to this massive National Park in Arizona.  The last time I was there was almost 25 years ago. The only way I know how to describe the views from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is WOW! And that does not begin to describe the awesome beauty of this 277 mile gorge rising above the Colorado River. The colors, shapes, and textures of the rock formations are overwhelming.

Unless you fly into the very small Grand Canyon Airport, it is a long drive to get anywhere. We used Flagstaff as our base for seeing many of the sites of the area. The ninety minute, 80 mile drive up Highway 89  and 64 from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon was less than spectacular. However, the first view of the canyon from the tower at the East Entrance made the drive worthwhile.

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We had to go through a lot of nothing to get to the breathtaking beauty. I think much of life is like that. Every experience cannot be exceptional. Every moment cannot be exhilarating. There is a real value to the drudgery of the routine and ordinary.

I am a fan of college and professional sports. The beauty of a well executed double play in baseball of a behind-the-back-without-looking pass in basketball is beautiful to see. They are the results of many hours of hard work and practice. Pushing through the drills and sticking to the routines of physical conditioning. Athletes have to go through a lot of nothing to get to the beauty of performance.

double play

The same thing is true for most, if not all of life. The principle of no pain, no gain has applications in just about every aspect of living.

I remember when my son resisted doing the “busy work” assignments in 3rd grade. I told him then what I am sure he has now learned. There is a “lot of nothing” required to achieve any worthwhile result.

It has been said that the devil is in the details. While that may be true, the details may not be exciting but good and enjoyable results occur because of them. Planning a trip, a surprise birthday party, or some job related event is often boring and exhausting. And they are never noticed… until they are not done.

Jamie Jenkins

People who know me know that I like to travel. I often say that if you will pay my way I will go anywhere. I think that travel provides a person with a real education and a realistic view of the world.

Many people have traveled much more than I but the opportunities that have been afforded me have been plentiful. Over the past 35 years I have covered much of the United States and have made more than two dozen trips to Israel. I have been privileged to travel to 27 other countries. I have seen a lot of the world, but there is still a lot that I hope to see.

When I am about to leave on another journey instead of hearing “Bon voyage,” people most often wish me “safe travels.” I am often asked whether I am concerned for my safety. I always reply that I am more likely to encounter violence in my hometown than anywhere I will be going, including the Middle East.

Rick Steves is a travel expert who has written 30 travel books, hosts TV and radio shows, and has a thriving tour business. I agree with what he wrote in an article for the LA Times in November 2014. He said, “It seems that the most fearful people in our country are those who don’t travel and are metaphorically barricaded in America.”

Steves expressed his belief that “fear is for people who don’t get out much. These people don’t see the world firsthand, so their opinions end up being shaped by sensationalistic media coverage geared toward selling ads.”

He also suggested that the news media also contribute to the fear factor. Instead of an event being news, it’s a “crisis.” Because the 24/7 news channels have so much time to fill they “have to amp up the shrillness to make recycled news exciting enough to watch.”

This travel expert worries “If we all stayed home and built more walls and fewer bridges between us and the rest of the world, eventually we would have something to actually be fearful of.”

Travel helps you realize that we Americans are just 300 million out of 7 billion people in the world and it is good for us to engage with the other 96% of humanity. When we do we begin to realize that all people everywhere are more alike than different. Most of us have the same hopes, dreams, and concerns. As we engage people from other cultures we are more likely to have empathy for our fellow human beings and value them as brothers and sisters in this human family.

God created the cosmos and everything in it (Psalm 89:11). Thank God for sharing the wonderful creation and all its creatures with us.

Jamie Jenkins