Why Dilapidated Love Trumps All

She loved him, not just because he had withstood his projected passing of time in their relationship, but because he’d proven he was willing to weather all manner of harsh conditions on behalf of her and others. It was as if he sensed how much she loved being a part of this place, how in love she was with the people of this land, how desperate she was each and every time to lend a hand when they were at their greatest need. And he showed he understood by consistently coming through.

A twinge of guilt sometimes ran through her whenever she thought about her original suspicions the day he’d first come into her life. She had grimaced that his tint couldn’t have been a worse match for her – all sparkly white – as he exited the cargo plane without exhibiting even the tiniest flaw on his body. “Whew, you are gorgeous,” she’d mumbled. “You won’t fit in here.” She’d begrudgingly slid behind his wheel. He’d revved in protest to her claim as they’d crunched through underbrush; bounced through merciless, mud-filled potholes; crossed a river whose flow didn’t cease across his floorboards. He’d wanted her to understand that wasn’t going to dampen his spirits.

By the time they’d reached their destination and the mud had sufficiently baked into his body, he could tell that her confidence in him had increased somewhat. On the day he helped transport the first two tiny malaria victims 15 miles across that rugged terrain to the mission hospital, where their young lives were saved, he knew he’d won her heart.

She hadn’t called him by name for the longest time. Truth was, that was the one thing that left him feeling as though he might not ever really belong here – with her. So don’t you know his motor hummed on the day that she walked out and noticed a difference in his wear and tear, his first rusty patch?

Russ is now assured his heart belongs here too.

As you can see, “Russ” (and those like him) haven’t chosen the posh and easy lifestyle


This 333-word story was written in response to the Trifecta Weekly Challenge…but was also written to honor those who give the very best of their hearts & themselves in mission work around the world. (I have a particular fondness for many of my friends who do their greatest work in South Sudan. Though by the world’s standards, we are never on the same time, I’m so glad you are always on God’s time. All my love, -j)

Fun Sidenote (for me, anyway): About 30 minutes after I completed this story & scheduled this post, I received a text from my teenage son, out of the blue, informing me he’d decided on a name for his truck. (Backing up, this is his first vehicle & he used his entire life savings of birthday, holiday, and lawn mowing money to purchase it on his own. It has a lot of character, so I told him a couple of weeks ago he needed a good name for it.) The name he finally chose, you ask? Bocephus. I’ve been given permission to call him “Bo” for short.

If you’re interested in joining the Trifecta challenge this week, here’s the scoop:

This week’s word is:

RUSTY  (3rd definition)

3a : of the color rust  

  • 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.
  • If your post doesn’t meet our requirements, please leave your link in the comments section, not in the linkz.
  • Trifecta is open to everyone. Please join us.

– See more at: http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/#sthash.lHt6PrT3.dpuf

Breaking the Cycle – through Love

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

New International Version (©2011)

To be perfectly honest, I’ve probably only ever looked at this verse in the context of how Christ laid his life down for us – literally – which leaves me wondering how my own love could ever measure up. I mean, as a mother, I can see doing this under dire circumstances. I easily recall the time I went whitewater rafting with my son on his first exciting excursion with a Class IV rapid, and our inexperienced guide (who had given me every reason already to be distrustful of her) caused our raft to nearly tip going over the falls. Realizing which way the raft was going and seeing my son losing his balance midair, I chose to let my own footing go & bail out portside, while uprighting the raft along the way. The hydraulics pulled me under, as I knew they would; and despite all my best efforts, I still got slammed repeatedly into the rock wall in the current beneath with a raft on top of me just about longer than I was able to hold my breath. Absolutely better me than my son, though.

But is there anyone else I love so much as to lay my life down for them, besides my family? I’m not sure. And yet…that’s what we’re called to do – to lay down our lives – in order to be Christ-like.

Maybe it’s not always as drastic as hanging on a cross, or allowing oneself to have a near-drowning experience. Perhaps laying down our lives is a calling to extend ourselves beyond…ourselves.

I know a couple of fellas’ who have been doing just that for the past few weeks – extending their schedules well beyond work on both ends of the day, extending their bodies in training beyond what they were comfortably capable of doing, extending their mission beyond the comforts of their own lives – laying down their lives to try to help save the lives of others.


Tom & Brian will be embarking on an almost 200-mile journey this coming weekend on their bikes with the goal of raising awareness and funds towards ending malaria.

You see, they’ve gotten to know a few people in South Sudan, during their travels there, who have touched their hearts. More than that, their hearts are broken – in love – for the people there, especially so many children whose lives will be lessened or lost there to a disease that IS preventable, IS treatable, and IS BEATABLE – with the right resources.


The World Health Organization reports the following:

  • The African Region accounts for 85% of malaria cases
  • and 90% of malaria deaths worldwide.
  • 85% of malaria deaths occur in children under five years of age.
  • Every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria. (Some sources say every 60 seconds. In either case, I hope you agree this is unacceptable.)
  • As a result of the scale-up of use of insecticide-treated nets, indoor residual spraying, intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy and Artemisinin-based combination therapy, 10 countries in the WHO African region have reduced malaria cases by at least 50% between 2000 and 2008.



Among those who care and who are willing to respond are these two men – with full-time jobs and life responsibilities. No one pays them for their time to train to do this. As a matter of fact, they have to take time away from other activities and people who are important to them to be able to accomplish the training this takes. They aren’t wealthy. They don’t live extravagantly. Yet their gear, the tuneups, the bike tubes can all become costly. They could’ve saved themselves this trouble and just pulled a few dollars from their pockets…and that’s a start…


These two won’t get any glory for their endeavor, as no one will be there to cheer them on as they cross any finish line. They don’t get a cut of the proceeds or even a support vehicle to lean on or to supply their needs. They won’t get special IVs to replenish their body fluids after making a mile of ascension in less than two days. Instead, their worn bodies will come off the road hopefully in time for them to arrive at their destination to meet and fulfill their next responsibilities.


And get this. After all that, and after delivering a check made out from our church organization who has received the funds that were pledged on their behalf, they won’t even get to choose who they think should receive the benefit of these funds. They are laying down their lives in this instance for complete strangers – strangers who are in need and to whom they want to show the love of Jesus Christ.


As a matter of fact, if these men had their choice, there would be enough funds to help everyone who needed the treatment, education and other community prevention measures to eradicate this disease. And the good news is – there can be! Malaria is a disease that CAN be eradicated and as little as $10 could save 1 person’s life from this affliction.



The smallest of these gets the principle of how one or two people can make a HUGE difference. Children began overhearing how the adults were trying to help other children & their hearts were moved to help. Without even being asked, they began making their own plans to watch God’s good works multiply…

Our friend’s daughter, Mary, heard about these children in Africa from her mom and how they could be saved, and she gave up all of the money that she had been saving to buy something special for herself. She understood that saving lives had such greater value for her to treasure. So, by her own desire, she brought her money to her mom and asked how she could give it to help those children. I see 2 lives just in the 1 bill on top – Mary gives BIG because Mary dreams BIG!


Two of our own ‘littles’ caught the vision simply by overhearing the mission. Without asking or explaining, they got together, found a used postal box and a magic marker and painstakingly wrote out “Donation to Sudan” on it. They made a slot to insert (cram) money into, taped the box shut, and began to deposit all spare change they had or could get donated over the next few months. Would you believe that 10 lives were saved in the deliberate spare change of children – because they excitedly chose to put it into the box that saved lives instead of into vending machines and the like?

And need we wonder why God loves child-like hearts, innocent eyes of faith & cheerful givers?



Ten bucks. In the grand scheme of sacrifices, for most of us, that isn’t much. A movie ticket. A couple of cups of coffee. That being said, if you feel so led to be a part of this worldwide effort, it’s not too late. You can make an online contribution in support of these efforts at:



Or you can take the time to investigate if what I’m telling you is true at ImagineNoMalaria.org – a partnership dedicated to eradicating malaria before it has the chance to eradicate any more lives.



HAPPY WORLD MALARIA DAY!!! How do YOU intend to celebrate?

Imagine No Malaria…

I think that’s what I’ll do today. No, wait. Maybe just imagining isn’t quite practical enough…but it’s a great start!

The imaginative power of flying

The imaginative power of flying

Imagination. We too often forget its power.

That envisioning power that moves us to act.

When I was younger…

I imagined being a teacher.

I imagined falling in love.

I imagined becoming an explorer.

And I’ve gotten to experience each of these wonderful things – sometimes more than once!

But I also imagined contributing something great to society. Something worthwhile. Have you ever imagined that too? But what?

Well, I happen to know a couple of guys who imagine they can ride their bikes nearly 200 miles (to our church’s Annual Conference in June). They’ve made it their goal to save at least 300 lives from the sponsorship in pledges they hope to gain from supporters who imagine they can do it too!


T_BYou see, these fellas’ have traveled to South Sudan, and they’ve fallen in love with their brothers and sisters there – and they want to make their friends’ lives better there by breaking the cycle (the tragic morbidity and mortality rates) that malaria has held over these people. Do you realize that Malaria affects 4-5 million people per year with about 1 million losing the battle? In fact, the disease is so prevalent in Africa, among other underdeveloped countries in our world, that Malaria claims 1 life every 60 seconds.

The good news is that it is 100% preventable, treatable and beatable. 

seeking shelter in the shadeThe very sad news is that many lives lost are those of children. And even if not lost, once malaria is contracted, it’s a lifelong disease.

Those two guys I told you about?  Well, they’re riding for very personal reasons – for people they know. One of those little people, for instance, is Sarah, one of the daughters of the pastor in a small South Sudanese village.

Sarah’s a bright eyed 9 year old little girl with a beautiful smile (who gets a little more serious when a camera’s around). 🙂  Sarah has contracted malaria.  When she did, her family worried that she would lose the battle and prayed for God’s help. Fortunately, Sarah was one of the lucky ones and was able to get medicine and treatment to fight off the worst of the disease; however, she will have to deal with malaria and the side effects for the rest of her life.  That means approximately 4-5 times per year, she will relapse and experience severe flu-like symptoms.

I rejoice that Sarah received treatment. It makes me sad that eradication would’ve prevented her from what she’ll continue to endure from this disease – especially when I know that enough people giving just $10 each does have the ability to put an end to it altogether.

We’ve made worldwide efforts for several decades, and the greatest problem is that, if we don’t continue battling this issue, many of those efforts will be lost and many of these countries and people will be back to square one.

Imagine…just $10.00. It can buy mosquito netting or fund spraying that is necessary to prevent Malaria. Imagine…the most vulnerable Malaria victims – children under the age of 5 – who will have the opportunity to live full lives – thanks to your caring & generosity.

In essence, I have the ability to SAVE A LIFE for $10.00



Imagine that…

And the best part is that large administrative costs don’t get scraped off the top. (Yeah, I watch for things like that with charitable organizations that can turn out to be most charitable to themselves. But not on this one.)

Could I really live with myself knowing that I could have fore-gone some expendable $10.00 item for myself – even 1 meal if I had to – to SAVE A(n un-expendable) LIFE?

This money doesn’t go through me and definitely doesn’t come to me. Heck, I won’t even get “credit” for it if you decide you want to give this gift. Unless you tell me about it, I’ll never even know if I made one ounce of difference when you read this (or even if you made it this far). I won’t even know which lives were saved.

But, you can be assured…


I’m going to imagine it!

Clicking on this link will take you to a place where you can SAVE A LIFE:


Recipe for Baking Earth Pie – in honor of Earth Day

I thought I’d rerun this, in honor of Earth Day:

Carl Sagan is credited with saying, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

So I thought, ‘Who isn’t up for a good geography lesson on the earth’s layers – while hanging out at the dinner table, eating a worthy illustration made of ooey-gooey pie?’ I figured we could have our pie and live on it too!


Brick oven in South Sudan

Insert two parts core.

Center, magnetize, stir

at faster rotational pace.

Layer mantle. Use

Easybake oven, circulating heat.

Add crust.

Thin, crispiness of

Continents, ocean floors,

oozing volcano pie.

Serve on tectonic plates.

Yei, South Sudan

Here’s to earth pie in your eye! -jody


The ingredients & recipe for Earth Pie were originally written in response to:

Trifecta’s weekend Trifextra Writing Challenge forty-nine: As you’ll recall from your elementary science class days, the structure of the earth can be divided most simply into three sections: core, mantle, crust.  (Diagram is below.) Give us 33 words from it.  Interpret the prompt however you wish–literal, metaphorical, or somewhere in between.

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


And while we’re talking about the Earth, did you know there are still people dying on it every 60 seconds from a disease that is strictly related to poverty and that is both treatable & preventable?

That disease is malaria – and it especially strikes out against young lives. Of the children who die under the age of 5 in Africa, approximately 1 in 5 of those is from malaria. (The photos above were taken in South Sudan, where many of these children live – and die.)

Just $10 could make a difference in saving that 1 life. Here’s a little more information, if you’re interested in celebrating Earth Day on behalf of people who struggle to survive on it daily:

Imagine No Malaria – Break the Cycle

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?


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

Top 10 Ways to Avoid being Perceived as the Holiday Jerk: Wrap it Up!

Steve Martin as "The Jerk"

Since it’s unlikely that any of us can be as proficient (or make as much money) as Steve Martin being “The Jerk”…

As you wrap up 2012, making your lists & checking them twice

probably best to check your “jerkiness potential” during this holiday season.

Let’s do this “David Letterman” style – with a Top 10 Count-down to Number 1:


10. You might frustrate recipients of your postcard that you’ve sent from your swanky tropical paradise island with the words, “Happy Holidays! Wish you were here!” when you know good and well if you’d wanted them to be there, you would’ve invited them. Better yet, you might’ve paid their way as a gift for the holidays — if you’d REALLY meant it!

dogs-in-a-manger219. Putting your cat in the manger of the neighborhood nativity scene and telling everybody who comes by that you have the cutest baby Jesus ever this year might put some people on edge – or just make all the townspeople call you the crazy cat lady. (Don’t you dare tell them you really named that cat Jesus, either, just for this special occasion!)

temper tantrum8. You really need to rethink that idea about spoofing your temper-tantrum-throwing kids with your stupid pranky present ideas (that really aren’t that funny – no, really, they’re not funny at all), just so late-night drunken viewers can spew their beer out their noses while laughing over Jimmy Kimmel’s ratings, when those viewers won’t even remember what they saw the next morning anyway.

reindeer7. Throwing your dog’s feces from your yard onto the neighbor’s roof that sits at a level below your house to prove to your kids that reindeer came through on Christmas Eve could start a Christmas day neighborhood brawl.

*temp*6. Listen, Cutie. You might want to carefully review how to go about asking to borrow the sweater of the mom of that guy you hope to call your fiancé by next year – (you know, the sweater she wore to last night’s holiday outing) – just because you and your besties think it would be absolutely perfect for your Tacky Holiday Fashion Fun get-together.

5. goofyMen, it’s probably best not to laugh obnoxiously too many times at the holiday dinner table while proclaiming, over and over again ad nauseam, that money’s always the best gift because picking your present should be like picking your nose – it should be something only your wife does for you.

nonono4. Guys, it’s probably not a good idea to insist on holding the family’s holiday feast at one of the booming ‘breastaurants’ because they have “ample portions” and the servers’ outfits say “Ho Ho Ho” on them.hohoho

3. Repeatedly going up to your own lady and shouting, “Merry Christmas, Ho, Ho, Ho!” – then adding, “Get it? I just called you a Ho, Ho, Ho,” stands a good chance of getting yourself on the “Not so Nice & you can go somewhere that will never have a snowball’s chance of being as cold as the North Pole” list.

Apparently, this gal was saying “Keep your mitts off, Jerk!”

Apparently, this gal was saying “Keep your mitts off, Jerk!”

christmas-debt-young-woman2.  Avoid making purchases for yourself with the gift-giver’s credit card so that person can be lucky enough to get you exactly what you wanted for Christmas (particularly if that person didn’t even know you had possession of his/her credit card).

dirtySanta1.  Finally, please reconsider the idea of wrapping yourself (or especially individual body parts) up and saying things to your significant other such as, “I was thinking of you when I got this.”

So, wanna’ get off the “Jerk” list for this holiday season?

Think outside of the box (and yourself) & give inside this box:

Click the “NO MORE MALARIA” Wreath above to give a $10 gift that will SAVE A LIFE !

Yes, that’s what I said.

10 bucks.

It really can SAVE A LIFE!

You’d be a Real Jerk not to consider doing it.


For other “Top Lists” of the year, visit WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge: Wrap It Up

SAVE A LIFE by Using Your Imagination!!!

ImaginationImagination. We too often forget its power.

That envisioning power that moves us to act.

When I was younger…

I imagined being a teacher.

I imagined falling in love.

I imagined becoming an explorer.

And I’ve gotten to experience each of these wonderful things – sometimes more than once!

But I also imagined contributing something great to society. Something worthwhile. Have you ever imagined that too? But what? With the giving season upon us, I can’t help but be reminded of the story of the little drummer boy and how he wanted to bring something special to the newborn babe of Christmas. What could I possibly have to bring?

At least I’m asking a better question. You know, a better one that “What can I possibly get for myself?” The fact is, I know I already have more than I need. Most of us do.

Whenever I fuss about my closet being too small, I think of the small village huts in South Sudan in which an entire large family lives (if they all live) that aren’t any bigger than one room in my house.

Whenever my air conditioning goes out (always in the hottest part of the summer, I grumble), I remember how my brothers & sisters in South Sudan only have ‘open air’ all year long – to whatever they’ve been conditioned, where it’s over 100 degrees Fahrenheit week after scorching week.

Whenever I turn my nose up at my abundance of dinner choices…okay, you get the idea.

So what can I possibly give that will make a difference in this world?

I can only imagine…

The holiday season brings with it an attitude to imagine great possibilities in our lives and in our world.

For me, as I try to follow the teachings of Jesus, it’s a time when I contemplate the meaning of his very being coming into this world. What must it have been like for my LORD, the GOD of the Universe, to squeeze and constrict Himself into the soft, fleshy, awkward body of a tiny baby boy? On the one hand, we Christians like to imagine him there, all snuggled up in warm cuddly blankets, lying peacefully in that precious little manger on that first Christmas Eve. Then reality hits us. (Or it needs to.) The King of Kings has been given a place in a smelly cave full of livestock (who, by the way, generally leave behind slobber when they’re eating from that manger). That’s where his birth took place. He was lying in that manger (and possibly no more peacefully than any other babe that’s ever been born) because there was no room for him anywhere else in his world. Apparently, the earth was too busy to take notice of his arrival or to care about his existence. I’m left to ask myself – how often might I have declined an invitation to make a difference in someone else’s life for far less substantial reasons than that? I can’t even imagine.

And yet, He still didn’t hesitate to come!

While we’re imagining, let me ask you another important question.
How often have you had a chance to SAVE someone else’s life?

vulnerable childrenWell, it just so happens that, this holiday season, you can.

Imagine that.

I’ve found that I have the ability to SAVE A LIFE for $10.00. And the best part is that large administrative costs don’t get scraped off the top. (Yeah, I watch for things like that with charitable organizations that can turn out to be most charitable to themselves. But not on this one.)

Could I really live with myself knowing that I could have fore-gone some expendable $10.00 item for myself – even 1 meal if I had to – to SAVE A(n un-expendable) LIFE?

Imagine your $10.00 buying a mosquito netting or funding spraying that is necessary to prevent Malaria. Imagine the most vulnerable Malaria victims – children under the age of 5 – who will have the opportunity to live a full life thanks to your caring & generosity.

INM_wreathClicking on the image above or this link will take you to a place where you can SAVE A LIFE: http://www.causes.com/actions/1717866

John Lennon once sang these words, years ago, and I can’t imagine how they wouldn’t apply to this appeal today:

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

You, you may say
I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

This money doesn’t go through me and definitely doesn’t come to me. Heck, I won’t even get “credit” for it if you decide you want to honor or memorialize someone with a gift for the holidays. Unless you tell me about it, I’ll never even know if I made one ounce of difference when you read this (or even if you made it this far). I won’t even know which lives were saved.

But, you can be assured…


I’m going to imagine it!

Clicking on the image above or this link will take you to a place where you can SAVE A LIFE: http://www.causes.com/actions/1717866