This World Is Not My Home

This World Is Not My Home (Statler Bros version!)
gospel song by Jim Reeves

This world is not my home
I’m just a-passin’ through
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue

The angels beckon me
From heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
In this world any more


This was a song at my dad’s funeral. A friend played it on guitar live at the funeral home. I still love it. At the time it meant, my dad’s journey was over and he gets to go home. That was hope. It means something different now though. But still hope.

I don’t feel at home in this world. I have taken the red pill and I’m awake. I’ve been flushed out of my Matrix pod and I want to go back. Except. I can’t. After having been convinced of the need I see around the world, I can’t sit at home any more. I have to serve in some way. I can’t complain about injustice, I have to change it.

I give to the needy. Except I don’t tell you every time I do because you’re not supposed to, right? I buy or try to buy homeless guys tacos. I donate my very expensive bike to charity so that they can fix it up and sell it to benefit homeless vets. I give where I can. I give to local theaters. I volunteer my time at the local community theatre when they need hands. I am kind to children, small animals and jerks. I take care of neighbor dogs when the family goes to Disney World or to the opera (yes, I said the opera, I can’t pick neighbors’ activities). I remind myself to be patient when I’m stuck behind Grandpa Trumpsticker. I treat old people with dignity and kindness and slow down to remember their gifts. I open my eyes to those around me.

I walked into an assisted living facility one day to collect labs. I was walking down a long narrow, winding passageway and I heard the most beautiful piano music waving through the hall. I couldn’t tell if it was a fancy player piano in the lobby or an actual pianist. As I saw the piano and the old woman sitting at it, I was filled with emotion.

As I passed her, I said, “That is beautiful. Thank you.” And her face was shining from droopy lobe to droopy lobe. What I wanted to say, but didn’t, was, “I hear you. You’re beautiful. Thank you. Keep going!”

I had a job to do. I couldn’t stop and talk with her. But I wanted to.

I see you, Grandma. I see you. I long for the day that I can sit and watch you. Listen to you. Love you. Wait on you.

I have to love others. I have to provide for need when I see it. I have to reach out for poor people, dirty people, hard-to-love people who are entitled and snippy. I have to call out beauty when I see it. I have to love my enemies because if I can’t do that, God can have no part of me. I can have no part of him. I must live by grace.

Jesus loves us. Even when we don’t deserve it. Because we never deserve it. We mess up all the time and constantly need forgiveness. He has told us to go and love the people of the world and help where we can. To show his spirit.

“The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door.” But they are beckoning me to help now. Here. In this place. On this earth. To love the hardest to love.

That’s why I’m going to Israel. I am convinced of the need. I hope you will be, too.

GAiN for Martha Maggio


Many people of different ethnicity and faiths will benefit by the support provided. I am serving at a wheelchair and eyeglass clinic in several different ways. Please consider giving.

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I swear I’m not crazy.

I’ve been reading the Bible this week, along with following the news, and a few things popped out at me. Almost.

First, a stone popped out of the Western Wall. Also, the stone was large enough to be described as a boulder by one article. The wall has stood for 2,000 years. Built around the time of Christ’s birth. Nearly finished by 4 BCE, fyi.

So, honestly, I had to look up the significance of the wall. I knew, generally, it was an important site and that many religions hold it as a holy place, but I didn’t really know the precise geographical layout or the turmoil over this spot.

It’s the closest you can get to the old Jewish temple. So Jews and Christians have come to this holy spot for centuries. They pray at the wall. They write down their prayers and insert the paper into the crevices, between the stones.

So. At the base of the wall, would have been the foundation of the old Jewish temple. But now the courtyard of the old temple has been filled in with rock, dirt and time. Muslims have built their temple on top of everything. It’s a very holy site. Everyone wants it. So I would say that probably no one can dig on this site to search for the old temple or anything inside it. Some people think the Ark of the Covenant is still housed in the Holy of Holies (inner sanctuary). Not sure since Rome rained hell down on the Jews in 70 CE and destroyed the temple for a second time. Wouldn’t they take the Ark? Or destroy it? If they could? Super valuable religious iconography and they are going to leave it? Don’t know. I don’t think so.

So anyway. Jews can’t go to the old temple, but they can get as close to it as possible by worshipping and praying at the Western Wall. This is where they can worship and pray without offending anyone or being arrested.


And I know what you might be thinking, “Hey! Maybe quit putting paper in between the stones and they won’t pop out!” But it was much higher than where people can reach. And no. No one can kick it out from the other side. There is no other side. It’s buried under rock and dirt. It. Just. Popped. Out.


So. A stone popped out. Weird. Damaged the wooden deck, broke the stairs. Just a day before, it would have crushed someone or several someones. Why? Tisha B’av.

Second weird thing. Tisha B’av. Did you know that the 1st Jewish temple and the 2nd Jewish temple were destroyed on the same day? I never knew that. That seems like more than coincidence. Right? In fact, 5(+) really bad things happened to the Jews on that same day throughout history. In fact, in 1942, the same day was a mass exportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to an extermination camp.

This shit blows my mind.

So, just hours after Tisha B’av, where people observing Tisha B’av would have been praying, a stone pops out (the remnants of the old temple falling/being destroyed)? Of the Western Wall? And observers would have been crushed.

All around the same time, within hours, Israel shoots down a Syrian jet with a US Patriot missile.

Hm.

Guess what?

This weekend is the longest 21st century lunar eclipse that turns the moon blood red and one of the best places to see it is the Middle East. Gah! Holy of frackin’ holies.


I’m not crazy. I just had to share these strange happenings. I don’t think it’s the end of the world. But I might have a popcorn movie blow out this weekend. Just in case.

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…

Tell Me About My Chris

My friend, Chris Churchill, filmed a documentary about his mom. It’s about his whole family, really, Tell Me About My Mother.

It’s compelling. Hard to watch in places. Private. Heartbreaking. Bare-to-the-bones revealing. Honest. Touching.

This documentary challenges my idea of what a doc should be. And that’s okay! Chris is seen, on camera, part of the story, asking questions. But, because of the subject matter, because of his inclusion in the events, because of his expertise in these realms, his participation is certainly needed and wanted.

The film is edited well and contains original music. Those elements of pictures, interviews, soundtrack and special effects all contribute to one’s understanding of Chris’ heart and mind during/after such a chaotic time.

Chris’ mother is a funny, charming, sweet, old lady. Like anyone’s mom. But we hear early evidence to contradict that initial image. Having had a parent with mental illness, I feel compassion and empathy for Mother and Chris from the first moments of the film.

It’s 3:33 am. I woke up with so many questions, Chris.

Q: It seems almost impossible that your mother would leave her small town for Chicago. She left to attend Salvation Army training. Both of your parents were officers in the Salvation Army, at one time. In the movie, we see an inattention from SA to help the very families serving them, much like the US military branches. Did that lack of sympathy from SA disturb your spiritual life? Did you struggle with Christianity and God? Where are you spiritually?

A: When I was young, I was extremely religious. At first, I was extremely and specifically into the Salvation Army because it was all I knew. But also, because it was…connecting with my parents in a way I knew they’d be constant. As I got older, I began to notice and question the less loving and accepting parts of the Bible and, in particular, our church’s interpretation of it. I wanted to love everyone as they were, but it seemed like the God I was being taught about wasn’t like that. I was also lucky enough to be able to see that what people said God was didn’t seem to match up with what they all said God did or felt. So I began that lifelong search for a spiritual truth that works for me and isn’t reliant on what authority figures insist I believe. To be fair, the Salvation Army has evolved on a lot of issues over the years, too. But I can’t see myself ever returning to…any church services regularly. I know what it’s there for and I don’t need or want that. No disrespect to those who go and are satisfied with their experience and who actively love all of humanity. I also understand that getting wrapped up in the minutiae of any religion diminishes the overriding point of it all. And if the point isn’t as simple as love thy neighbor as thyself, then it’s missing the point. All that came from being immersed in a faith that had the tendency to overlook the primary importance of love over laws. To quote The Thompson Twins, “Love IS the law”. That’s where I am now. Love is the point. Everyone is equally important, even the people who are your purported enemies. I believe in God as the fabric of the universe that connects us all. The information I was raised with that makes the most sense to me involves compassion and mercy and love. I believe God, that thing that creates, heals, teaches and connects us all, is love. And love is both a noun and a verb. To be with God, you have to love. To love more and more deeply is to be more and more deeply with God. To love less is to be less with God.

Q: Your dad seems very unsympathetic at times. He is currently a minister. Do you feel that his lack of compassion toward your mother is a Christian ideal?

A: It’s interesting that you say that about him because I’ve heard people say the opposite as well. Some people see him as a man whose calling was to lead a flock in a church his whole life. He certainly sees that. He did the best he could for us but he was always split in his duties between us and the church. And, yeah, the church will always win. It seems “un-Christian” of him but my dad was also serious about serving others which is very “Christian” of him. You could look at it both ways and you’d be right both ways.

Q: Do you think he was having an affair?

A: I believe him when he says he wasn’t at the time that this movie covers. I’m not sure, however, if during the time they were separated, but before they were divorced, that he wasn’t in a relationship with my first stepmother. I know why you’d ask and why anyone would wonder. He’s still extremely flirty. But I’ll tell you, he’s been married to my second and final stepmother for 38 years. So, I’d say that generally, in terms of flirting, his bark was always far worse than his bite.

Q: Being Salvation Army officers, your parents made some strict choices, but also, some not-so-strict choices. Some very non-SA choices, I would venture to say. It seems demanding that your father would expect your mother to attend SA training and become an officer, but also sleep with her outside of marriage. Do you resent this seemingly arbitrary thinking?

A: I see the premarital sex as a mistake or a “sin” in the eyes of that church at that time, but I don’t really see it as a “sin” in general. My dad explained to me 25 years ago when I was living with the young lady who I would ultimately marry that he didn’t consider it a “sin” because the Bible never describes any specific ceremony that determines that you’re married. It’s in your heart. The decision to be committed to another person is a marriage. That’s why you should never judge anyone. The love and the “sin” all happen in people’s hearts and minds where we can’t see it.

Q: Or do you see it simply as two young people unable to reconcile their belief system with natural, biological urges?

A: I would agree with the latter, but it’s also none of my business.

Q: Do you think your father was too demanding of your mentally-ill mother?

A: I think, like most people who have never experienced a mental illness themselves, he didn’t have a good idea of what she was going through or why. He certainly only had the tools he was raised with to help. Those tools were based on a strict sense of duty to the church.

Q: Even if his upbringing was different, do you feel a more compassionate person would have left SA and not been resentful? I personally believe your father, as a man of God, had a responsibility to put his family first. Even above SA. Not above God, but SA. Because SA is just an institution, not God. Do you think if your father could have prioritized the family and helped your mother, things would have turned out differently?

A: It seems like it, at first glimpse, but here’s the real issue. My mother’s illness would have probably manifested to this extent even if he had been the world’s most attentive husband. Part of her illness was (and still is) the compulsion to push the ones they are closest to the edge. I think that’s part of the definition of a borderline personality disorder. I think. And I’m pretty sure that’s one of her issues.

Q: Do you feel that your home life represented a contradiction or the hypocrisy of the SA lifestyle/rules? It sounded like SA swept much under the rug, er–cross.

A: Kind of. But it’s not that Dad treated us poorly or that mom was choosing to hurt us. It was Dad doing what he thought was right and mom was doing the best she could in light of her condition.

Q: How does your dad reconcile the continued family crisis under his belief system? The film doesn’t really address his deep understanding of her mental illness. Does he understand from a spiritual standpoint?

A: He understands better now than he did then. He’s a good man. He just didn’t know how to make both halves of his world work together back then.

Q: I have much anxiety about your accident. Does it concern you or cause you anxiety to think about what could have been? It was a miracle that you weren’t more seriously or gravely injured. Do you resent your siblings or mother because of the accident? Or making you wear that horrible bandage at the dinner table? (LOL)

A: I don’t remember any of it. I have anxiety about a lot of other things, but that isn’t one of them. I never think of what could have been because my earliest memories…are of me with a big scar on my head. I hold only deep appreciation of the fact that they themselves cared enough about me to be traumatized at the thought of seeing me so severely injured or of losing me.

Q: Do you think you have trust issues with people as a result of your familial relationships?

A: Yep. I only recently started internalizing the feeling that people love me. Even those closest to me. I couldn’t take it in. Which means that even when you’re surrounded by people, you’re still lonely and you don’t understand why.

Q: Do you feel that your mother’s early childhood abuse played a part in her mental illness?

A: I think it might have played the biggest part (except maybe a physiologic tendency towards mental illness).

Q: Many members of your family seemed dissociated from that time. Understandably. Do you think they are aware of that?

A: Each of them are aware to varying extents. It’s hard to be aware of your own biases and weaknesses. I was probably the least aware, though. Which is why I’m the only one who’s been hospitalized for mental illness.

Q: In light of modern day approaches to psychotherapy, it’s sad to see that your mother was treated harshly in the mental healthcare arena. It’s horrific that she was subjected to ECT and a padded cell, but that seems typical treatment of those patients from that time. How frustrating is that for you?

A: She and I have talked extensively about it. I have had plenty of time to process it so it’s not frustrating to me. It’s just a reality. I suppose it would have been more frustrating if she were to spring it on me now for the first time. But then again, it’s so long ago—I don’t know.

Q: Do you feel that most of your family holds your mother responsible for the dissolution of the marriage? Or do they see it as a complex situation? Some family members seem to point the finger mainly at your mother. Am I just being defensive of Mom? You know them more intimately.

A: l certainly appreciate anyone being defensive of my mom. So thank you. But I think we all understand it to have been a complex situation. Of course we were all kids then and incapable of seeing it that way at the time.

Q: It took me years to come to terms with my father’s mental illness. To demystify and unmonstrify (is that a word? it is now!) him. Did you ever blame your mother for her inability to care for you or hold the family together? Or were you too young to remember?

A: I always knew she had problems. I was never mad at her, but I was frequently scared by her. Again, this movie only covers up to when I start to have memories. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I dealt with later and some when it was just me in the house with her. No dad or siblings around to help.

Q: As the youngest, I think I do the most question-asking and memory-sharing with my mother. Is that true for you? Why do you think you ask the most questions? Do other family members like to forget that time?

A: I ask the most because I understood the least. Everyone else saw these things take place when they were old enough to consciously deal with them. Much of my neglect and abuse happened when I was too young to have episodic memory or an ability to understand the meaning of what was going on. Which is why I became the one with the biggest psych problems. Primitive neglect is what they call what happened to me. So I try to find out why I feel how I do or panic or get depressed the way I do. It’s because of all the stuff I should have learned about feelings as a baby and young child but I didn’t.

Did you already receive an award for the film? (He has already received two!)

Silver Spotlight Award at Spotlight Documentary Film Awards and Exceptional Merit in Human Spirit at the Docs Without Borders Film Festival


You can purchase the DVD on Amazon. Find out more at IMDB as well. It is so personal, yet a comprehensive view of what it’s like to live with someone who is trapped in severe mental illness. It’s profound, cathartic and so informative. Thanks, Chris. For answering these questions and sharing your story. It’s important!

Promise

ok. take all ur hopes, dreams and wishes and.

throw them out the window.

start over and ask God what he wants for u.

ask him to show it to u. be patient. look for it. be brave.

when u put God first, u start wanting things u didn’t even know were possible, things that he’s set aside just for u.

it looks weird. it feels weird. but I promise, God promises, that it will be magical, supernatural and unbelievably good.

he has promised to prosper us and not harm us.

my husband looked at me one day and wondered, “how we can we be in such a good place right now?” (after bankruptcy and foreclosure, cancer, medical debt, heart failure)

and I think it’s because we finally straightened out our priorities. we stopped wishing for better and started being better.

he gives us good things when we put him first. u can’t wish for a boat/motorcycle/bigger house/pool/money and pretend like that’s ur prayer to God. those things won’t make it better.

u can’t ask for a better kid/spouse/life until YOU become a better kid/spouse/person.

give it up and hand it over, u’ll be surprised. promise.

Thoughts and Prayers

I offer my thoughts and prayers.


God, please watch over and protect our children. Every. Day.

BUT. ALSO.

God, please help us to have common sense and protect our own children by enacting reasonable gun laws to keep military-style weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. Please, help us to love our children more than guns. Please, help us trust you more and our ability to protect ourselves less. Help us to trust love instead of fear. Please, help us see the error of our ways and practice modesty, humility and peacefulness instead of looking for a fight. Please, help us reach out for those kids who need help. Not rebuke the misfits. Please, restore our country to the great nation it can be with loving instead of arming, shouting and hating. Please, God, bless our ailing, failing country. We have forsaken the love you sacrificed on the cross for Facebook, status, celebrities and guns. Help us.

AND. PLEASE.

Keep the NRA out of Washington pockets.

A-BOLDFACE-men.

I ask all of these things in all seriousness and fervor. I ask these things in your son’s holy name. We should all sacrifice what we love the most for the sake of healing the world as you did with your son. Please, help us see that.

I don’t want to wonder what that noise was after I drop my daughter at school.

from 2016

i know some people question God. God is cruel, they say. or “where is God?” i think the question should be more, “is God fair and just?” and to this i say, yes. God is perfectly just. no action can go without consequence, our actions and/or other people’s actions. those are the rules whether u believe in God or not. those are the rules whether God exists or not. the choice of our will radiates out in never-ending ripples of consequence. we drop a stone, that is our choice, and it has repercussions, good or bad, forever. if we make a series of good choices, life gets easier. but only until someone else’s will runs up against ours. is that God’s fault?

God allows free will and therefore, allows man to have his way. how much more just can an all-powerful being be? if He does indeed exist. how patient He is. it would be much easier to just take over and start again. i don’t see God as cruel. i see Him as ever-so merciful and gracious to give me several chances at life even though i destroy my body. and He also offers me infinite redemption, love, grace and forgiveness so long as i acknowledge that He is the one to grant those things.

i have no problem in doing that. i am grateful for that. it is a welcome respite from a cruel world.

Conviction

We are not convicted by pastors and preachers. We are not convinced by bible-thumping, church-going and rule-following. We are introduced to the power of Christ over our dinner tables, in our bedrooms, on the street corners. We are tugged at by common images we see over and over that we know and feel deep down are against God’s love. The little girl who is abused, the old man who is cold and alone, the adult who has been abandoned and misguided. We are convicted by hand-holding, grace-giving and life-living. We are not motivated by anger or fear, we are pushed forward by compassion and understanding. We are compelled by the Holy Spirit. His presence in our lives is only possible if we make a home for him. If we clear out the clutter of the world and prepare a place for him to dwell.

Prepare ye the way of the Lord.

Mark 1:3 New Living Translation
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!'”

This can be a metaphor for our lives. Clear the mind, body and soul for him to do his work through us. As Jesus moved through the crowd to perform miracles in his time, he does that now as well. He moves through us, from person to person, performing miracles through the kindness of outreach. His presence is here. His presence is love. We need only open our eyes to it.