Thankful for Unreasonable Love

It’s hard for me to write these days. I don’t have extra time. But with Thanksgiving breathing down our wattles, I wanted to say a quick thank you to my husband.

My husband, Guy. He’s a rock. I know all women say that about their husbands. And some are referring to the stony outcropping of a lump that inhabits their sectional, but this man. This man is my rock.

He is the stone that I have built my adult life on. Over and over, my “home” has been torn down, ripped to the studs, overwhelmed by the storm and waves of PTSD, anxiety and mental/physical illness/addiction. My whole life seems like a chaotic whirl of emotion and pain. But in the middle of that whirl, the lighthouse I fix my course on, is Guy.

He’s brought me to Christ. He wouldn’t say that. He wouldn’t know that.

My mom taught me church, the Bible, what it meant to be a Christian, but my husband has drawn me to my knees in reliance on Christ.

We’ve had turmoil. We’ve had horrible fights. We’ve had almost 20 years of anger, bitterness and rage to conquer. But we’ve done that mostly hand in hand.

He’s supporting me in this crazy idea of mine, to go to Israel and help little children and elderly who use wheelchairs. He’s so excited for me. He has been my cheerleader throughout this whole process.

I’m so lucky and thankful to have such a passionate, caring, loving husband who desires me, cheers me, loves me and forgives me. A man who cares about my spiritual well-being as much as my physical and mental well-being. A man who cares about my being at all.

And gosh darn it, I just think he’s so handsome. That doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. And some ladies might think I’m legally insane to swoon over this rock, but he’s just so gosh-darn kissable. His humor and charm make him irresistible to many.

I’m thankful that God made such a wonderful man, a man after my own heart, to pair me with. To make a child with. To grow up and old with. I’m so very lucky to have honesty, loyalty and love in my life.

Thank you, God. I rejoice this Thanksgiving for friends, family and my forever friend and partner, Guy. :*

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Time for Christ: Carol in my heart

Carola folksong with religious meaning usually sung at Christmas, a familiar tune to welcome and celebrate the spirit of Christmastime


My friend Carol. She’s a wonderful lady. I met her several years ago, before 2012, at Shoal Creek Community Church, back in Missouri. Carol is soft in voice and features, hard to know. Blonde. Statuesque. She could be a secret, delicate ballerina that only dances for God. Full of passion. A deep river of heart and love, running fast, yet soundless. And at the bottom of all, a Christ-centered human. She is generous of spirit, kind and, in a way, mysterious. If she were a song (carol)–Silent Night. Awe-filled, yet restrained and humble. I admire her quiet dignity, beauty, strength and grace.

After I mentioned (several times online, sorry!) about my upcoming trip to Israel, I recently discovered that Carol volunteers at Habitat for Humanity and I couldn’t wait to interview her about her service. Thank you, Carol, for answering my questions with such thoughtful responses! Thank you for sharing your heart and being comfortable enough to do that! You’re a good writer, Lady!


What is the name of the organization that you volunteer with?

Habitat for Humanity RV Care-a-Vanners

What is their mission?

It supports Habitat for Humanity’s vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live.

How long have you been serving with this group?

3 years

Where did you go this summer on your mission?

Brookings, SD

What did you do on this mission?

It’s usually a two-week period of helping to build a house. We do whatever we are capable of doing, at whatever stage of building they are when we arrive. We have started from slab, framing walls and have gotten there at the stage of putting on siding, putting in windows and painting.

How do you feel you’ve grown as a Christian or person after this trip?

As a person, I’ve learned skills I never thought I would ever know. People are willing to teach. All you have to do is ask. Also, I’ve become more aware and accepting of other cultures and religions. Habitat for Humanity is a Christian organization, but they don’t discriminate on the basis of religion, age, gender or lifestyle. Morning devotionals are a regular part of every site build. It helps us keep our minds focused on why we do what we do. It doesn’t have to be a prayer. It can be a story or poem or quotes to inspire. We do usually close with a prayer and then hold hands and speak the Habitat motto:

“Habitat’s not a hand out but a hand UP!”

I now feel more comfortable sharing about my faith than I used to, so I feel I’ve grown some in that regard.

Why do you serve?

We like it because we love to travel, camp, meet new people and share God’s love by giving to those who are less fortunate. It’s a way we can do all of that and also work on keeping ourselves somewhat fit in our retirement. We love the camaraderie and being part of a group of like-minded individuals coming together to work towards a goal for the betterment of a family’s life. The thankfulness of the family shines through to return God’s love back to us.

Additional details:

Once you join the group you can go online to sign up. There is a schedule of locations and dates and number of spots available. Usually it’s free or reduced cost camping for the two-week period of the build.


Thank you, Carol! For your service to H for H! And for donating to my trip. I truly value our friendship, even if we can’t sip coffee together. Wouldn’t that be great?! If you’re ever in SW Florida, please do stay a while and we’d love to entertain you. I hope to serve one day with you and Steve! That would be so fun. H for H is a wonderful organization and it’s so inspiring to see our former president, Mr. Carter, still such an active participant. The organization and people like you give families dignity and hope. I admire you and your husband. You’re good, good folks with big hearts! ❤

Prayers for you and your family!

I get to do some Carol-ing of my own soon in Israel. 😀

Habitat for Humanity has many opportunities for those who own an RV or anyone who just wants to help, even locally. The have ReStore (local donation centers, maybe even in your town or nearby) and countless ways to serve. H for H is a nationwide organization that focuses on providing housing for all, no matter who they are or what they believe.

Crazy White Lady

I am a middle-aged white woman who has every advantage a person could have. I was born in America. I’m white. I’ve never hungered a day in my life. In fact, I was super morbidly obese for 10 years of my life. Just morbidly obese for the other 35.

I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t buy food. Only one day did I wonder about dinner. No food. No paycheck. And the long weekend to make it to money. And even at that low point, my husband went to our local food pantry and got enough to fix dinner for a few days. A friendly, benevolent nun gave us pasta and sauce. Humiliating as that was, we ate dinner with our school-age daughter. And we were so very thankful. We were full on grace.

I’ve been struggling this week. Last Friday, I was accepted for a mission trip to Israel. I rejoiced at being chosen, but immediately became worried after the joy subsided. I would have to raise the money for my trip.

I’ve never been good about asking others for money. I struggled with paying my medical bills, but hesitated in asking others outside of my family for help. So crowdfunding made me squeamish, but missions are something that I’ve wanted to do since I was 16. Go to another part of the world and help those in need.

I know you might say, “Martha, we have need in this country.” And I would say yes. But we also have overweight poor people. The need in this country is real. But even our poor people live better than most in other parts of the world. Even our poor people are among the 1 percent. THAT’s the truth. Being poor in America doesn’t automatically mean death. Being poor in other countries can mean starvation. Being poor can mean a violent or untimely death.

I need to raise ~$3500. The supplies for this trip are already provided for, but I need to get myself there, to help. But first, by Monday, I need to raise $500 to reserve my spot. GAiN is supporting me and encouraging me to keep trying, they want and need me there. I can serve in so many ways on this trip. But I need that $500 to reserve my travel. If I don’t have it, this journey ends here.

At 4:10 am, Tuesday morning, just this past week, I woke up in a NyQuil/Benadryl-induced fog because I’ve been very sick. Trying to write, work and raise money for a trip has been tricky. At 4:10 am, I didn’t want to be awake, but my eyes popped open. And a realization washed over me. It was God’s voice because there’s no way that I would have this thought.

God, carefully pulling me close, grasping my attention and pajama collars, whispered softly into my stinging eyes, “Martha. You’ve been worried. Terrified. About money. You don’t know how you will provide for this trip halfway around the world. You’re scared. You feel alone. You feel forgotten. Forsaken. You’ve only experienced that for a few days. NOW, my dear child, you have some small understanding of what these people I want you to care about face every single day of their lives.”

And I fell back into my dreamy, warm covers. Broken and blown away.

I can’t tell you why this crazy white lady wants to go to the Holy Land. I can’t justify it. Other than to say, I’m following God’s heart. And that plane is going with or without me.

If this trip dies here, it dies here. I don’t want it to though.

God, if you want it to happen, you will provide. I know that. Thank you for opening my tired, sick American eyes, at the very least. I’m going to run after you, every chance I get.


Please consider giving. GAiN for Martha Maggio. There’s more info about my trip and who we’ll be serving. If every one of my followers gave even $1, I could meet my immediate goal. Thanks!

Mission From God

Blues Brothers: On a Mission From God

I have just been accepted to go on a mission. I am going to the Holy Land in January. Because it’s an area with delicate political issues and potential risks, I have been asked to only say the very general region. I can tell you the people we’ll be serving are in need.

We will be serving at wheelchair and vision clinics. Please click on the link below if you want to know more or can donate:

Help me go on my MISSION!

Here are the tiers at which you can donate:


1-Shout out! I will tag you on Facebook or WordPress and thank you personally for any donation of $5 or less.

2-Reblog! I will reblog your favorite or most recent post on my site! Or, if you don’t write at WordPress, I’ll post your favorite article or excerpt. I’ll even write a personal introduction and tag your blog for my 400+ followers for any donation of $10.

3-Reading materials! Signed manuscript of any of my online Amazon publications (Present Tense, Updo, House Full of Hope), your choice, with a personal note of thanks, plus all of the previous rewards for any donation of $25.

4-Double reading materials! 2 signed manuscripts, your choice, personal note of thanks, plus the first two rewards for any donation of $50.

5-Pictures! Full color bound picture album of my mission (from Shutterfly), plus the previous rewards (1, 2 and 4) for any donation of $100 or more!

Thank you in advance for just reading about my trip and learning more about GAiN!

You may ask yourself, “Why, Martha, are you going halfway around the world, burning jet fuel, to aid others in a difficult country? Why not help at home?”

Good question.

This has been something I’ve been taught my whole life. Support missions, go out and teach the world about Jesus, go on missions, spread the Word. And I used to assume what that meant–convert the world to Christianity.

I’ve come to understand it’s more complex than that. What the Bible shares, what the Bible teaches Christians, is slightly more nuanced than just “make others submit.”

If we teach? How do we teach? By showing.

If we love? How do we love? By acting.

We don’t win hearts by conquering, punishing, extorting. We show God’s love through acceptance, kindness, tolerance. By example. We do what Christ did. We heal. We live small. We show humility. We are meek. We take care of our speech and actions. Mainly because–if we act nice, if we act lovely, won’t others want to be the same and be close and find out more? Won’t they want to know why we act this way? Won’t they want to know Christ in the same way? They cannot deny Christ if they see him in us. Even if not, then we have still served as we are commanded.

We serve. We serve the least of these to show that we live what we believe. We show Christ by doing the things he did. By loving the people he loved. By going where he went. By washing the feet of the least deserving to be washed. Because who on Earth deserves to be cleansed?

I will admit, I want to see the places where Christ walked. But I also want to serve where he served. Die to myself where he died. Continue in service in His Spirit as we are asked to do. I want to touch those walls and earth and stones that he touched. But I also want to touch the souls of those he reached for.

When people look at me, I want them to see Christ and his love. His smile. His care. His heart.

That’s why I’m going. Plus. That plane is going, with or without me. Why not be on it? Time to do good in the world.

This is not a luxury vacation and people go to the Riviera every day. This will be work. Hard work, long days and a risky environment. But God has rebuilt this temple of mine. I’m ready to put it to use.

I’ve thought about crowdfunding before. Especially when I faced my very expensive medical debt, but I paid most of my surgeries through savings or one bill at a time. It was tough. I spent thousands of dollars, but I made it through without crowdfunding. Most Americans can’t do that with rising healthcare costs.

I will need your help to make this goal. That’s tough for me. To ask for help. But this is exactly what Christ has called us to do. Help each other. Please help me help those in need! If you can. I will go in your place even if you only have $1 to give. If you have nothing, that’s ok! I totally get it.

Thanks for any help. Truly. I need to raise at least $500 in the next ten days to go (to reserve my spot), but the total goal will be ~$3500!

GAiN for Martha Maggio

 

Your Face Here

Your face goes here.
Doing what you fear.
Healing an injured ear.
Wiping every tear.
Making the most of years.
Keeping faith near.
Sweeping the path clear.
Changing this whole sphere.
Shouting for the back to hear.
Ready for God to appear.

Your face goes here.

martha jesus


Galatians 2:20 NIV

20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…

Blessed

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


It doesn’t say blessed are the poor in finance. It says poor in spirit.

Poor in spirit means that we ALL are spiritually bankrupt and are in need of spiritual currency. Not only bankrupt, because that would mean even, but DEEP in debt.
How many dollars have your parents given you to save your bacon before you could stand on your own two feet? Can you ever repay them?
That’s God’s love for us.
In Christianity, the currency is Jesus.
We all require Christ to know heaven. That’s what we believe.
All Christ means? All Christ stood for?
LOVE. Grace. Grace and love are the same thing.
Blessed are those who require LOVE, deal in LOVE, freely give LOVE. For they shall see heaven.
To forgive and be forgiven.
To live in peace.
We require grace because we continually get it wrong. Because we are human. Fallible.
We give grace because we want it and get it.
The whole of the law is LOVE.
I wanna be rich!

Jesus was table-flipping mad.

if we are to prepare a space for the living God (holy spirit), then we shall have to turn the tables as Jesus did in the temple. when he saw the mess and corruption, he didn’t go find a bucket of suds or the latest swiffer mop, he went radical, he went nuclear. we are the temple. our bodies and minds are compared to the temple. more accurately, we are the tabernacle (worship tent). the portable home for God to dwell. Jesus didn’t neatly put everything away: sort, keep, donate, trash. he violently flipped the tables aside and cleared the space for God to come in. he showed them the error of their thinking immediately and required a change. stop tidying up and start flipping out!

Christmas

Christmas isn’t special.
Christmas is just a day.
Christ wasn’t born on the 25th
In a lighted ornamental display.

There wasn’t any tinsel.
There was not one flake of snow.
There wasn’t any cocoa.
There was no electric glow.

Mary and Joseph
And a little baby God
Sharing time and space
With travelers abroad.

No one cared who they were.
No one even knew
What on Earth was happening,
Except for a special few.

Shepherds watched.
The stars flew close.
Entertaining angels bowed
And played Heaven’s host.

No food or present can capture joy
No movie or card can free
Tomorrow you’ll find your pretty box
Is empty under the tree

The only thing empty to find
Is one important place–
The tomb in the morning with Jesus’ clothes
Replaced with amazing grace.

Light the tree and sing your songs,
I won’t begrudge your choice.
Just don’t forget the simple birth
Of your freedom to rejoice.

Christmas is Temporary

From 2014:

Christmas is fleeting. All year long, we wait in anticipation of the holidays and then we complain the whole time. It’s too crowded, cold, busy, expensive, gluttonous, hurried. I didn’t get what I wanted. I gave everyone a present and now I’m broke and alone.

The spirit. The spirit of the holidays. The joy of Christmas. What is it? Is it lights? Is it cocoa? Is it candy, presents, cookies? Is it the promise and hope of magic? But it never comes. We wait all year and it never comes. And then the lights fade and the tinsel is taken down.

Christmas is temporary.

But it’s not. What is it we are waiting for? What is it that we miss every year and chase after time and again? It’s Christ. That’s what we are really looking for and we’re looking in the wrong places. Is it in this tin of cookies? Is it in this neatly-wrapped box? Is it at the bottom of my second cup of cocoa? Is it at my 2nd, 3rd, 7th Christmas karaoke party?

An entire season is dedicated to what started out as a celebration of giving and hope. Hundreds of years have come and gone, each renewing the tradition of Christmas. But each year some family grows further apart. Each year some person grows more jaded, cynical, greedy and Scrooge-like. Each year our eyes grow more narrow and short-sighted. Each year we try to chase our pleasure, fulfillment and that indescribable magic that only caught us as children because we were bright-eyed and open.

Years ago, at the Blue Ridge Mall, they had a display. I don’t remember now if it was all the time or just at Christmas, but I remember it at Christmas. We were in line for Santa and the line snaked by a huge oil fall. It’s a waterfall except they used oil on strings. It’s like a waterfall in slow motion. It was magical, beautiful and a wondrous summation of the holiday experience for me. I lost myself in the endless strings dripping with glowing, hypnotic oil. I felt warm, silly and excited. I drank in the luxury of it all as I waited for Santa. I don’t remember Santa exactly, but I remember the strings. I wanted to reach out and grab them. But instead I swallowed my fingers and excitement over and over again at simply being near them. At that point, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember Mom and Dad close by. I remember my siblings there too. I remember the sounds of cheerful shoppers as they shuffled by and their muffled packages swaying back and forth in their clasped hands. I remember the soft mall lighting and the quiet aromas of furniture, leather shoes, popcorn, clothing, carpet and mall food. I remember feeling safe, happy, joyful. The mood was love. And everyone felt it.

Now, I’ve begun a tradition with my family. We try to see Longview Lake Lights. We’ve been coming off and on for a few years now. And the best part. They have a field full of trees made from lights. Those are my favorite. They remind me of the oil fall. Delicate pearls of light suspended in the darkness, soft purple and blue, hanging on invisible strings melting into the night. For the last couple of years, it’s the most peaceful and the most child-like capture of innocence and wonder I’ve known. I’m five again. I’m eight again. I’m me before all the bad. I’m in Christmas up to my neck and in love with the world.

I wish I could take that with me. I wish I could visit the lights every night. But I can’t. The lights are even closer now that we live here, but even so, I can’t see them every night. But I can look for Christ. I can look for him every day and celebrate his birth. I don’t have to wait for “the day”. And I can try to capture his joy, his love, his intention, his gift every single moment, all year long. I can look for it as I drive, shop, eat and talk. I don’t have to wait all year and miss it. I can look and find it. I just have to be bright-eyed and open. His love is hanging right in front of our faces on an invisible string of light, dripping down and mesmerizing us with the delicate, graceful fall and we just have to reach out and grab it.

Merry Xmas! Happy Holidays! May you find many joys and love.

Christmas Crash

This is a poem I wrote several years ago. I wrote it for the church I was attending. The drama director had doubts about a white woman writing a spoken word poem in a masculine voice. The piece was for a male performer. That made me want to do it all the more. I think I did a good job and the voice is neutral. Men and women can both be strong. Both love God. Both raise their voices to honor Him.

The drama director was surprised at how well the piece came across and apologized for her doubts. She still never fully trusted me, but that’s her loss. This was my first spoken word poem. I still love it. Here’s a link to me, my husband and my daughter performing it from our home in KC. It may be slightly overwrought, but we’re actors. You can’t fight city hall.


Crash.Crashing.Crushing.Crushed.

I stagger here crushed, crashed into by God,
Crushed by the weight of his mercy and grace,
My sin gone without a trace.
And it feels like…heaven.

A flash.
Flashing.
Hit by lightning, the wonder of his coming,
Saved by his dying,
Crying at the moment I see his glory
And he is revealed to me.

This world is full of:
Head-on collisions,
Rear-view visions.
Hurt may appear
Closer in the mirror.

Hitting, hurting, burning,
Scratching, fighting, scarring.
And we don’t even know
Who we’ve struck on the road

With our carelessness. Our thoughtlessness. Our inhumanity.

Though–we are saved.
Without reason or cause.
Captured and raptured.
In spite of our flaws.

Made by his hands,
Made for his plans,
Made just like him.

Built for relationship.
Desiring fellowship,
Asking for love and loyalty–
Our trust in His royalty.

Our undivided attention.

And when he crashes into us,
It doesn’t hurt.
But you know that you’ve been hit.

Crash.

He crashes into us.
He leaves a mark.
Stunned mind, ears ring.
A mark made by the one, true king.

Crash.

He came on a star.
He left on a cloud.
Here but a brief second.
A drop in the bucket.

But he changed man’s heart forever.

Hit and run.
Hit and stun.
Crash.

Crash.Crashing.Crushing.Crushed.

Crushed by his glory, stick around for the story,
The story of Love.
A story of grace.
God came to earth and showed us his face.
The face of a child in such a lowly place.

Eternal spirit become flesh.
Forever and finite, in a sense,
Wisdom clothed in innocence.

Power in weakness,
Eternity from meekness,
He does nothing but seek us.

He came here to this dangerous space.
A tiny member of the human race
To save.  The.  World.

He crashed into history.
He flashed into being.
Everything changes,
Believing is seeing.

The story gets better.
The story is a letter.
A letter from me to you
By Him.

Read it from beginning to end.
And read it again.
And again.
And again.

Brace for impact.


I feel so lucky that God came down for Christmas. Happy holidays. ❤