Fiscal Cliff Diving

How will we survive

On the edge of a fiscal cliff

With dems and republicans

In their usual rifts?

 

How long can we hang on

to this dreaded ledge

Before someone finally stops

Driving this painful wedge?

 

How many more doll-

ars can they tightly squeeze

Without a Thank You, You’re

Welcome, or even a Please?

 

All we’re going to get

Is more and more taxation

While fattening their pockets

With their re-presentation.

 

Uncle Sam’s momma

Needs a new pair of shoes

So the rest of us keep on

Singing our green blues.

 

When out they called

‘Healthcare for all,’

They tried to pretend

They could carry that ball.

 

But when they cried out,

‘Feed the hungry,’

They forgot to mention

The missing word, ‘money.’

Money Hungry Food Pyramid

Money Hungry Food Pyramid

© Dec. 31, 2012  jody love

____________________________________________________________________________________________

As the 2013 year rapidly approaches, U.S. national leaders scramble to try to build a bridge off one side of a fiscal cliff. Nothing like planning well in advance.

I wrote this poetic little pondering (because I thought it was better than our politicians’ poetic little panderings) in response to Trifecta’s Challenge for Week Fifty-Eight:


This week we want you to write on the third definition of:
survive

1: to remain alive after the death of <he is survived by his wife>
2: to continue to exist or live after <survived the earthquake>
3: to continue to function or prosper despite : withstand <they survived many hardships>

Please remember:
  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • Only one entry per writer.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone!!  Please join us.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Advertisements

Recycling Christmas Cheer throughout the Coming New Year

Of the left-over items from the holiday season, CHRISTMAS CARDS may present the most perplexing puzzlement of all.

leftovers2

Christmas cards have become somewhat of a societal anomaly, after all. Where letters have transitioned into e-mails and passing thoughts get texted without enough thought, Christmas cards are one of the few remaining print expressions that actually still (most often) travel through snail mail – frequently from those who we’ve not truly heard from in ages past, despite potential social networking opportunities that often reveal very little beyond “it’s complicated.”

Perhaps because they’re a little more festive or maybe because we try to imagine the people opening their postal boxes, then opening our cards, we take a little more time in their preparation. After choosing a card (or making one) that conveys our personalities (or maybe our children’s growth), sometimes we buy fancy colored pens that glitter, or make a trip to the post office to buy season-appropriate stamps, or tuck a special thought or a little gift inside. Whatever the case, the recipient is left to understand that he/she was “special enough” to have been gifted with this extra effort.

Therein lies the quandary – what to do with this special endowment once the holiday season has passed. When the halls are no longer dutifully decked – and the house is no longer a jolly wreck…when everything around you appears sterile once more…what do you do with the remaining evidence of others’ thoughtful Christmas spirits? Do you just throw them into the trash – to be carried off and tossed onto a garbage heap? How very un-green (and red) of you!

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

Christmas Left-overs for Fun Recycling at our Home

How about some GREEN Christmas Card Re-Cycling Ideas that will continue to spread Christmas Cheer instead?

  1. Okay, here’s the most obvious “re-cycling” idea. Choose some of your favorite cards and cut out pieces to make your own homemade Christmas cards next year. Don’t do it on your own though – how does that spread any Christmas cheer? Have a little card-making party. If you want to wear silly sweaters and do it with your BFF’s, fine. But instead of setting yourself up to say, “I thought we’d never come back from that one” (yes, that was an eye roll)…What if you included some young, glue-sticky hands in your fun? Invite the creative energy of kids to join you (e.g., youth group, boy or girl scouts, children’s church, foster kids, mission trip kids – wherever you might be able to get involved). You may have to hold onto these cards for several months, but by fall, these children could be making cards to give to special people and brighten their days. Up the ante by having the kids send (or deliver) the cards to folks in an elderly residential home or to soldiers. Look beyond yourself and share the spirit from beginning to end.

  2. Re-cycle the blessing back to the individual(s) who originally blessed you. Place your pile of Christmas cards into a basket. Each night (or once a week – you can set your own reasonable time schedule), pull a card from the basket and resolve to pray for the name(s) on the card. Not only will you be blessing the sender of the card, you’ll be sneaking in another blessing for yourself once again. The card that keeps on giving…

  3. Take your re-cycling efforts a step further. Mail that card back to the original sender, letting that person know you prayed for him/her. (Or if you are not comfortable with that, then just follow my lead from here.) Enclose a special note to the person(s) whose name(s) is/are in that card, letting that person feel the special touch of Christmas at an unexpected moment. You may not even know what’s going on in that person’s life; but I’ll bet he/she could use a blessing. How’s that for spreading cheer throughout the year?

  4. Combine any of the above ideas for a whole new dimension of bless-ed fun! Help some kids cut out cards to make new seasonal cards. Can you imagine Santa saying “Hoppy Easter”? Or sending a partial card with a note to your friend, explaining the other parts of it were prayed over &  sent out with a special note to someone in the armed forces or in an elderly living facility?

  5. Create a collage of the fronts of Christmas card clip-outs onto a board and shellac it for a family member who either can’t be with you for the holidays or can’t be with you throughout the rest of the year. Send it to them as a writing/laptop board to remind them of your cheery love throughout the time you all are apart.

Come up with some new ideas of your own – and share them here for the rest of us to enjoy!

And may your year be full of Christmas blessings!

-just jody

Exercising my Exorcising Capability

________________________________________________________________

Trifecta’s Trifextra Weekend Writing Challenge is: This weekend we’re asking for 33 of your own words that exorcise a demon.  One of your own, or one from your imagination.  Let it bleed on the page.

I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning! Here goes…

(Oh, if you like it, exercise your own capabilities by linking over & voting for my little exorcism here – or even someone else’s. Then you’d better ‘Get Out!’)

________________________________________________________________________________

Exercising my Exorcising Capability

Exercising my Exorcising Capability

A Resolute New Year

New years resolution

Need a worthwhile resolution for the New Year?

Resolve to save a life for just $10. 

No More Malaria Gift Link

No More Malaria Gift Link

Eventually, the life could become your own.

__________________________________________________________

One of this week’s WordPress Daily Prompts was this:

Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?

The last recent thing I’ve read that’s bit and stung me is that nearly 1 million people are dying annually from being bitten by malaria-infested mosquitoes, a large majority of them being children. And, truthfully, that really does bite! 

We’re not talking fictional horror here. We’re talking about precious little faces that are very real to me – little ones who have survived a war-torn world only to face continued daily threats that could realistically be wiped out if enough people cared to make a difference. The cost is even ridiculously low. And, yet, few people are willing to respond. In further honesty, that reality stings.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s the BUZZ:

Malaria is not a disease that only occurs in third world countries.

It’s not a disease that’s been eradicated.

As a matter of fact, my own grandmother suffered from the malaria parasite here in the United States. Once a person acquires malaria, it can be treated, but there is no cure. Outbreaks may occur throughout that person’s life, with malaria being responsible for many deaths, particularly in children under the age of 5.

3.3 billion people live in areas where this disease is a constant threat. 

The “elimination” of malaria within developed countries, such as the U.S. and European ones, does not mean that it no longer exists. In the U.S., this “elimination” definition went into place circa 1950, through the impact from spraying and improved drainage. Yet, malaria still has the capability of affecting residents even of developed countries. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates approximately 1,500 cases in the U.S. annually.

Outbreaks generally come from either mosquito-borne transmission, “airport” malaria (whereby mosquitoes survive from one country to another on a plane), congenital transmission (mother to child, during pregnancy or birth), and blood transfusions. Don’t fool yourself into feeling too safe. The CDC also explains that there are still ample numbers of the same types of mosquitoes around who created malaria problems for us within our past century.

In under-developed tropical/sub-tropical countries, malaria can run rampant. The largest worldwide malaria burden is in Africa, where 90% of malaria-related deaths occur. The CDC explains the reasons it is difficult to contain the disease there as:

  • an efficient mosquito that transmits the infection,

  • a high prevalence of the most deadly species of the parasite,

  • favorable climate,

  • weak infrastructure to address the disease, and

  • high intervention costs that are difficult to bear in poor countries.

Prevention efforts include spraying, mosquito nets and education. Treatment efforts include getting medicines to the medical clinics and communication efforts to get people to them. Our nation, along with others, have assisted in funding many of the spraying efforts, and I’ve read articles recently explaining that if such efforts get reduced, we will go back many years in our worldwide efforts towards eradication.

The Imagine No Malaria campaign was put together by some strong and dedicated partners – partners that have no need to skim your money off the top before it goes to meet greater needs – including the United Nations Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The World Health Organization, the people of the UMC, and others. No one is a stronger partner than those individuals willing to give to this effort, though.

I can’t imagine that $10 is too much to ask to save someone – particularly a young child – to either save a life, in general, or to greatly improve a person’s quality of life.

Will you resolve to make that difference?

Related:

Daily Prompt: Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution that you kept?

Lessons at the Dinner Table: The Wonder of it All

dinnertimeEver wonder what makes a particular group of people click? And then keep on clicking for years afterwards? Essentially, such interaction requires ‘role acceptance.’

If you ever wish to learn how a person interacts within his/her designated family role, the dinner table is an excellent place to begin your investigation. As a matter of fact, families who don’t interact around a dinner table traditionally don’t interact well with one another in other areas of their lives.

Here’s an edited excerpt from a little dinner table investigation in At the Water’s Edge, where Douglas Donnelly has just returned home from a business trip to find a most unexpected and interesting interaction culminating between his two eldest sons.

I revised this little blip of insight to meet the Trifecta Writing Challenge standards for Week Fifty-seven. The word to be included is wonder (without variation), based upon its third definition: (noun) 3: rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty. The writing also has to be between 33 and 333 words. (I’m at the exact maximum.)

More than anything else, I hope you enjoy interacting with the Donnelly family, as you get to know them better while clicking with their group.

________________________________________________________________________________

Wey frowned, directing his own heated gaze onto Wil. He couldn’t understand why his brother had chosen their Ma’s lovely house guest as the target of his murkiness lately; and even Wey, normally light-hearted, was being infected by this sudden personality change.  Not that Wil hadn’t always been more intense about everything, by Wey’s standard, but things were getting out of hand here.

Douglas was next to notice the sudden change in atmosphere, looking upon his wife in utter confusion. Cairine simply glanced back his way with an agitated, baffled shrug, as if to convey, ‘And this is how it’s been while you were away. Welcome home.’

Keeley leaned over to their guest, whispering something in her ear and giggling. Danielle attempted to muster a polite grin for Keeley’s sake. Wey hummed to himself – well, pretending for it to be to himself – to test the waters. Wil pretended to ignore him while continuing to sulk. Danielle wriggled in her chair.

 Cairine let out an aggravated sigh, moving to stand and gather plates; but Douglas reached for her arm, giving a nearly imperceptible shake of his head. He was home, this was his family, and they would be having breakfast together. Plus, he was taking particular interest in the effect the pretty American guest was having on his two sons.  He’d never seen either of them make much effort towards courting a young wan. And – unlike his fretting wife – being a man, he didn’t get too concerned over competition or even a few fists being slung around (as evidenced by the fact he hadn’t even brought up the fading black eye of his eldest son). A smirk of wonder twisted its way around his mouth as he considered whether the girl might have had something to do with that shiner.  He tried to remove the amusement from his eyes before his own attractive and perceptive wife caught onto his thoughts. He inwardly grimaced, knowing from his peripheral vision it was too late.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Follow the Trifecta link here to vote for my entry or others this week in the Trifecta Community Challenge.

Hope you enjoyed clicking with the group! -jody

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Related articles:

O Little Town of Bethlehem – & other places for a Christian woman to cover her head

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/thousands-flock-bethlehem-celebrate-christmas-article-1.1226868

Manger Square in Bethlehem 2012

After the unrest in the Holy Land as of late, it was heart-warming to hear the good news reported by the New York Daily News: “Thousands of pilgrims and Palestinians converged on Bethlehem Monday to celebrate the first Christmas in this West Bank city since the U.N. vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member state.The celebrations capped a boom year for the city of Jesus’ birth, with a record two million tourists in 2012 helping an impressive economic revival.”

I dare say the importance of this news (and that picture above) makes little sense to many Christians anyway. We Christians like to romanticize the little town of Bethlehem, as though it somehow belongs to us. We sweetly sing our caroling song about it, our faces aglow, basking in the candlelight. How still we-e see thee lie. Well, that’s a lie. (Somehow we forget that Jesus wasn’t exactly welcomed in that restless place with open arms – he was only welcomed by a mangy manger.) Commerce hasn’t come through there, either, like it used to (mostly due to an ugly Apartheid wall that blocks it and is responsible for blocking the harvesting of many age-old olive trees now destroyed or inaccessible), and hearts are still restless there – so “pilgrims flocking” – and buying – is good news of great joy to the people of ‘O Little Town.’

Going to Israel’s West Bank has made one of the greatest life impacts on me, putting many things in perspective for me, while also knocking many of my perspectives off-axis. That’s why it was important to go there.

The very night I first arrived in Jericho in January 2006, Hamas was elected into power. There was immediate unrest, with gunfire celebrations going all through the night, as Islamic Palestinians anticipated release from Israeli authority (while Americans – a.k.a. Christians there, regardless of religious affiliation –  had enough sense to remain in their hotel rooms). It’s interesting being over there as an American. Politics & religion become one in the same – don’t bother trying to explain our principle of separation of Church & State; you’re wasting your breath. So if you’re an American without obvious Islamic ties or without Jewish transfer as an Israeli soldier, you’re classified as Christian – no exceptions (which I am Christian, but coming from America, I had to come to understand this particular paradigm). And if you’re an atheistic American, I guess you’ve just become a secular Christian. Yeah, well, academic arguments don’t really matter. Life stinks out for you, huh?

I had just come from Ammon, Jordan, where I’d seen the Palestinian refugee camps and had begun to understand the true extent of potential hatred between the Israeli & Palestinian people because of decades of displacement (and how U.S. Christians are viewed in the turmoil with a Zionist worldview). Nerves were a little on edge in Israel, anyway, as Prime Minister Sharon had suffered two strokes (which had resulted in his vegetative state). It seemed the Hamas must have been surprised to have come into power (certainly unprepared, as were America & Israel about it) because it took them several days to effectively organize and begin disseminating ‘power’ statements. By the time all that had occurred, I had made my way into Bethlehem.

The "Apartheid" wall that encloses Bethlehem(Note the sign on the wall when leaving Jerusalem to go into Bethlehem. It reads, "Peace be with you.")

The “Apartheid” wall that encloses Bethlehem
(Note the sign on the wall when leaving Jerusalem to go into Bethlehem. It reads, “Peace be with you.”)

The wired fences, the walled Apartheid barricade, the armed soldiers, the long wait during passport inspection at the ‘you are leaving Jerusalem & we’re not sure if we’ll let you back in’ checkpoint – all matched well with the ominous gray sky the first day we entered Bethlehem. No sooner did we get off our bus and begin walking to Jesus’ supposed birth site than I began to realize the desperation of the Palestinian people there. Tourism and commerce were down significantly (I was told to less than one-third of what they had been), with great limitations on supplies that could come into the city. Residents didn’t necessarily have the means to get out of the walled-in city to sustain themselves either. We were swarmed upon several times by people desperate to make sales with very little to actually sell (even though, honestly, I’m not much of a shopper anyway, avidly avoiding Black Friday & Walmart like the plague). I accidentally offended one man by backing away and holding up my hand, trying to make the point I wasn’t interested in being crowded any further. (Well, it always works as a good signal to those upstanding people trying to sell you stolen goods at U.S. gas pumps. You must understand that I’m also the person who will ask to be excused from the no-longer-has-met-its-weight-limit-elevator as people keep trying to push me towards the back to suffocate me.) This fellow was persistent in sharing my personal space, as he boldly pursued me, yelling at me that he, too, was a Christian and that I was not “the Mrs. of the World” (which was a little heart-breaking that he hadn’t recognized me without my sash and crown). Desperation creates frustration; frustration causes tempers to easily flare. As disconcerting as this experience was, my heart did hurt for him and the others, one of whom actually was successful in picking another woman’s pocketbook in our party that day, passport and all.

I don’t believe we traveled too many more steps down the road before the speakers on top of the mosques began to blare. I had become accustomed to chants coming from them often, but this time seemed different. Apparently, Hamas had begun to make some decisions, and at least one was relayed to us. Did it come from the very loud-speakers? I can’t recall. Did the words first come in Arabic and then were translated from the speakers? Or were we simply thereafter informed of their meaning? Regardless of the details I’ve failed to remember, I do quite clearly recall the gist of the message we received as we stood out on that street: “Hamas is now in power. Bethlehem is an Islamic state. Christian women will cover their heads” (hijab – yep, I got that part of the announcement).

Now, I’m all for honoring customs and traditions. (Nobody wears green to keep from being pinched better than me on St. Patrick’s Day. Admittedly, I don’t go out of my way to find black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s; but when my sister says we have to eat them, I hold my nose and play along – even when I can’t recall the point). Seriously, I have no problem with head coverings when they’re called for. I had already taken one with me to the Wailing Wall in Old Jerusalem, and I didn’t even make a stink about having to go to the “girl’s side.” I understood the expectation. Had I known a head covering was going to be a requirement in Bethlehem that day – a town composed of both Islamic and Christian Palestinians – I’m sure I could’ve brought one along. It was the ‘immediacy’ of the matter -without any pre-designed rule book or warning – that kinda’ got my hijab in a wad that day. (That, and this, if you want more info about why the ruling wasn’t really ‘kosher.’)

When you’re one of less than a handful of American women with uncovered light-colored hair and skin walking down the streets of an agitated town in the middle of the day, you don’t have to wonder if you’ve just become a magnet for creating a potential offense! (Especially when there are women fully covered with a niqab or burqa who you realize are now only giving you uncomfortable side glances, as they quickly shuffle away in a direction quite obviously opposite from your own.) Obviously, the impracticality of not being forewarned of the possibility of immediate governmental law changes does not necessarily negate the severity of the perceived offense.

So, you see, had I but only known the wonderfully gracious and giving TravelingMarla back then – my blogging friend, Marla, who just recently sent me a lovely green forever-scarf as a gift for playing along in her writing challenge… (I would like to say it was because I won it for being such a profoundly gifted writer; but then I’d be creating a new offense by not simply saying she is a fun and generous gal!)…I could’ve easily pocketed that little green scarf and pulled it out quicker than a redneck Muslim could say “Hee-yawb.” (That’s some bad American Christian cowgirl humor for ya’, since all Americans notoriously are western cowpokes, too.)

Thank you, Marla, for my forever-lovely forever-scarf!

Thank you, Marla, for my forever-lovely forever-scarf!

For the record, this isn’t the ending story of my Bethlehem visits – there’s a really good one in there that ends in prayer in an upper room. But I’m saving that one for another day. For now, there’s one more thing I have to say because there’s a small likelihood I haven’t offended enough religious (or non-religious, as the case may be) affiliations yet. I came back to the states and later went to see a family Christian production in the movie theaters. It began with a commercial from Evangelical Christians, essentially stating (as fact) that “all” Palestinian children were sent to camps to learn to make bombs. (It was a nasty little hate message, in case you didn’t get that.) It was the same sort of hate message that was keeping the residents of Bethlehem from being able to get any commerce or supplies into their town to survive. As a Christian, I felt more horrified over that commercial than I had during my own uncovered-head-day-in-Bethlehem excursion. I wished I’d had a hijab with me at that moment, along with a dark niqab to cover my reddened face.

News flash to those of you calling yourselves Christians while persecuting Palestinians: Somebody’s been leaving out some pertinent information while filtering their agendas to you. A reality check will reveal that, even if you care about no others outside of ‘your own,’ there are Palestinian Christians who remain just as displaced in both homeland and affiliation in the Middle East as any other Palestinian. Because they are neither Islamic nor Jewish, these governments tell them to go to America (because we all know that is where Christians reside,  of course. Yep, lots of secular Christians.) While in Bethlehem, I witnessed Christians and Muslims living and socializing peacefully together as individuals (well, commiserating over their woes), rather than acting out separately like governmental entities of this region. So are we truly, as proclaiming Christians, going to persecute our Palestinian brothers and sisters with lies such as those being promulgated in that movie theater commercial? Are you truly willing to  be the means of persecuting anyone, according to religion or beliefs, based on picked-up propaganda perspectives? I, for one, did not appreciate it – so much so that it makes me think long and hard before I take any political stances – especially those that might cost people their lives.

I found out, first-hand — Persecution Stinks. But what gets me most is that Jesus came into the world knowing his arrival would mean persecution – persecution to the point of eventually giving up his very life. He even found out how un-welcomed he’d be from the very beginning – right there in Bethlehem, when there was no room anywhere but with the animals down in a musty cave.

But that didn’t stop Him from coming. The Prince of Peace – coming into a restless world. Emmanuel (God with us) – coming not to hoard his power over us with unreasonable rules and restrictions we couldn’t meet or to throw new ones on us to embarrass us and trip us up, but so we could be free of the things that bound us;so His light might shine brightly upon those of us who had been hiding in the darkness.

Perhaps we should revisit that song, O Little Town of Bethlehem – especially that part where it says:

Yet in thy dark streets shineth,  the Everlasting Light

the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

We need to uncover that light within us – a light that desires to shine in the darkness for others to witness; not the darkness trying to snuff out the Truth – that God’s light has come into the world.

The Perfect Present – Merry Christmas!

Christmas

takes the historical,

the theological,

the magical

and the whimsical

and wraps them all together 

in a most delightful present.

whimsical_nativity

Year after year,

the beauty of this same familiar package

never wears down,

it never fades.

The surprise never lessens,

the Christmas spirit never dies –

not as long as we determine we’re going to prepare our hearts to continue to open

-and cherish-

this eternal, priceless gift.

Merry Christmas 2012! – jody

nativity