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.

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Good Advice

Some of the best advice I ever heard was indirectly. That’s the best kind. Simply an illustration, manifestation, of good sense. Or proverbial wisdom. Sharing an overlooked or misunderstood or obscure nugget without harsh or pointed intent.

It came through our friends, Richard and Tracy Potter. Haven’t seen or talked to them in quite a while. I hope Richard sees this and nods.

Their child had a tough choice. A good, tough choice. Go to a local prestigious university or halfway across state? The child was bright, talented and earned her way to either school. The differences in benefits of each school were minute. It was pretty much an equal choice aside from distance. So they asked this incredibly bright child, with no other information to weigh, “Which choice will make you more dependent on God?”

Woah.

I didn’t even think to ask that. My question would have been, “Which one’s easier?” My question for my daughter? No question. You’re living with Mommie until you’re 37. LOL

But this is the question, the one they asked of their girl, we should be asking of our children, of our spouses, our family, ourselves. What choice is going to make me focus on God the most?

I have to say, I feel somewhat guilty, leaving on a missions trip. I’m going to help others, but those motherly/wifey twinges of paranoia-guilt tug at my emotional heart. Will they survive without me? Will things, bodies, hearts be the same when I come back in two weeks? Will they feel forsaken?

But when I ask the Potters’ question, “What will make us depend most on God?” Going to Israel will bring all of us to the foot of the cross. Lilli will have to pray more. Guy will have to ask for help. They will have to seek each other for comfort and necessity. I will be completely alone emotionally and have to turn to God through all of it. That’s a good place to be.

I’m sure our family does much codepending all too often. We can’t help it. We like each other.

So I guess going is okay. I don’t have to feel guilty. I just have to trust God. And talk to him. Lift my family up to him. Make room to grow.


Good news! I’m going! I reached my immediate goal of $500 and then some. Thanks to all who helped. Now I will tackle those big Venetian fish and ask local churches if they have any discretionary mission funds. Pray, if you’re the praying kind. 😉 Or give if you can.

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.

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!

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.