Miracle Mom

For my friend Esty. She’s strong and awesome and funny and so talented! A mighty writing maven.

Really thinking about her and her fam.

Hope you’re well, Gal.


When the devices sleep
When the dishes are dry
When the beds are full
When the stars are high
Mom is still

Still
ThinkingPlanningReading
WritingWishingWorrying
HopingDreamingDoing
LearningLovingLiving.

Making the impossible world a bearable place for the people she loves.

Robbed

I’m so angry! I just got robbed.

I wrote an article, published it on my blog, shared it with a local marketing department. They said they would credit me or even help me get it published. They then sold an article two weeks after receiving my article to a local paper. Their byline, my stuff.

They heavily referenced my article, used key phrasing and structure, MY RESEARCH! and never told me they sold an article to a local newspaper. It’s not worth pursuing because they pay is so low. I was flat-out robbed. Be careful out there! if you’re a writer. Never share your work. Better to kill it or let it die, then have it stolen.

I’m nervous now about this blog. How many times have people stolen my work?

Oh well.

I can write more. Those of you who have to steal? God help you because that is a crazy train of chasing the dragon. I pity you, Thief.

I can’t help feel violated though. You could take my possessions, I can replace those, but my words? I built those from nothing. Those are my thoughts, ideas, research, and time. My kindness, care, intention, and effort. How very dare you.

Keep your shitty job and life. I have other work that needs my attention! Woe to you. Not from me or by my hand, you shall remain nameless by my account. But woe to you because you’re a cheat. The universe, IMO, does not forever reward cheats.

Let’s hope that’s true at all levels at this very cheat-y time in history.

I’ve counseled my daughter on intellectual property theft.


Be original. Totally.


She’s an artist and she’s very conscious of copying, plagiarizing, and borrowing. She has grown to hate it. She’s seen her fair share already on DeviantArt, YouTube, REDBUBBLE,  and other places. They do their best to cancel cheaters, but it’s a massive problem.

So mad. But I have no time to waste on negativity from here. This very brief blog will be the only belly-aching on the matter. Learned a big lesson. Get it in writing (I did) and trust no one. If someone needs to steal my shit, I guess I’m really good, huh?

Protect yourself.


Ever had something stolen from you? Your work? Leave a comment!

Christmas

It’s Christmas in our part of the world. Christmas hasn’t come for Israel yet. Soon.

I went to Israel last year (on a mission trip) and I got to see Bethlehem on their Christmas Day. That was special to me. I worshipped in a Christian church on Christmas Day (actually our Day of Epiphany) in the city where Christ was born.

We sang Christmas carols for the pastor and our tour guide. It was amazing. But riding into Bethlehem was frightening.

We arrived by tour bus. We had to go through a checkpoint. We had to agree to a tour, pay that fee, visit the gift shop owned by the tour company, to even enter Bethlehem. It was like Disney for Christians. But it didn’t look like Magic Kingdom. Huge neighborhoods lined either side of the tall stone walls. The top of the wall tinseled with razor wire. Not very festive.

I was looking around the town, hopelessly expecting the nativity, a manger, the barn? All the storybook signs of the birthplace of Jesus, right? I didn’t really expect those things, but I expected some sign. What widened my eyes and stiffened my spine wasn’t a neon sign pointing to a mysterious pile of hay, no pine trees and mistletoe, not even palm trees strangled in Christmas lights. There was Main Street, lined with beret-ed men bearing arms. I hadn’t noticed them at first, but as soon as I looked down–shoulder-to-shoulder soldiers–each armed with an Uzi or rifle. I was scared.

You see, as an American, I don’t see that. Really ever. I don’t see soldiers lining the street to keep order. A military parade with a band, perhaps? One may see a police officer cruising the lane on occasion. And we slow down. We obey all traffic laws. We buckle our belt if wasn’t already. Our neck hair may bristle, our eyes may squint, our lips may tighten, but we aren’t scared for our lives. I’m mainly scared for my wallet, but I’m a law-abiding citizen. And I have the advantage of being born in a wide-open space with wide-open inalienable rights.

These men were simply present in this volatile tiny town to protect Christmas Day. There would soon be a Christmas parade and these Israeli soldiers were there to keep order.

Here in America, on the day of a parade, children would line the streets. Hands in the air, grabbing for candy, confetti, or Christmas spirit. Not in the City of David. The only thing up for grabs was peace.

A cool breeze greeted me off the bus, but it carried sand, dust and anxiety. Don’t look at anyone, don’t smile, just pay attention, follow directions, don’t speak. “And don’t take pictures!” We had been advised. I don’t know if that was the group’s ideal, good advice, or just good-ol’ Puritanical/Evangelical thinking. It wasn’t clear, but again, I’m a law-abiding rule follower. Just do it.

The sun brought warmth as it peaked over a nearby building. The streets were crowded with buildings and people. Sidewalks were uneven. Building codes were a suggestion. Signs were confusing. Horns blared as the bus blocked the narrow lanes to let us off, but I simply followed the group.

Spices always on the air. Food always warming. Israel always moving.

I snapped one photo on the way out of town. I couldn’t help myself. You can see a distant city on the hill.

bethlehem

What’s important? What’s worth dying for? It’s not the places were born. It’s the places we’ll go. But mostly, the people we’re capable of loving.

These people fight over this land. They launch rocks, bottles, rockets, and hate over these walls. For a place to stand. Live. Work.

My American spirit tells me–my God tells me–there is land enough for everyone. You just have to be willing to move. If you love, you will be loved. How far are you willing to go for love? I would go around the world from here until the Second Coming for my loves. I’m trying to expand my territory of love to even those who do nothing for me. Because it’s unusual. And it feels good. And I am commanded to be a city on a hill.

Merry Christmas!

Matthew 5

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

I did see a cool nativity though! At the gift shop, carved out of olive wood. I asked to take a picture. 😀

nativity

Beloved

Yes.

Today will be tough.

Today might suck hard.

You might have to climb the tallest mountain you have ever faced today.

You might have to:
tell someone the truth,
lose 1 pound,
love someone who is unlovable,
discover a clumsy lie.

You might:
gain 3 pounds,
fight with a loved one,
discover someone’s gone,
ruin or have your day ruined with an ugly word.

God may ask you to face something really horrible and ugly about yourself that needs to change before you can move forward.

You may have to live with the shame, guilt and heartache that sits in your throat like an immovable lump because there is no one to hear your pain.

You may be paralyzed by fear.

But.
YOU ARE ALIVE!

He didn’t give these problems, friends, husband, kids, parents, body, mind or life to anyone but you because He knows how strong you really are when you’re loved. When He loves you.

Go out and get whatever it is you need today! And stand strong in the knowledge that you are LOVED! The daughter of the one, true king.

Amen. ❤

monstrous responsibility

i may be a monster
but i possess some good
which i see is inconvenient
to the ending of your book

i may be a monster
but it’s implied that i was made
every wall was built
every evil brick was laid

which part did you construct?
what sins did you leave behind?
what dark design did you
conjure with your mind?

I’m simply a mirror
held to the face of man
when i’m wielding the ax
my hands execute your plan

sympathy for the seduced medusa

raped because he could
cursed for no good
snakes under this hood
see myself and turn to stone

never meet another eye
pretend that i am shy
lock the truth behind this lie
walk this wicked earth alone

someone’s out for my head
“i’m a monster,” it’s been said
made from blood a man has shed
i was merely trying to learn

the only wisdom i would gain–
knowledge of Poseidon’s pain
it’s a wonder i’m still sane
endless hell in which i burn

product of your sex-crazed town
you kick me when i’m already down
my heart dies without a sound
so you can ignore it

coerced/seduced
cursed and abused
quite simply reduced
to the slut who asked for it

 

Don’t Say Ain’t

Lithograph from erased highlight charcoal self-portrait, 2010–Martha Maggio
Ain’t nobody gonna love you like God, your mama, or you.
And ain’t nobody gonna love you ’til you do.–Martha Maggio


Walk in the room
Automatically assume
No one could ever love you

Why can’t you accept
That body they reject
Is just a vehicle for truth

The truth is–
Your beauty doesn’t come from:
A jar.
Your hair.
A great pair of: eyes, boobs, legs, shoes.
The end of a knife.

Your value is eternal, divine
Twinkle in God’s eyeshine
Not for everyone.

You are–
Far, far away from long, long ago
From freaking outer space.

So act like an alien and conquer the earth.


Or just love yourself from this rebirth.

To Dust You Shall Return

Photo: Martha Maggio, from the garden at Mount Carmel, potted Cyclamen, Israel

I know it’s not easy to love me.

Temperamental
Hard-to-handle
Hot-headed
Hothouse flower

Fading in the bright light
Swamped in the black of night
Wilting with any slight
Change

Strange
Delicate
Difficult
Intricate

Complex and rare
Complicated care
But my air is sweet
And I only bloom for you.

To my unfortunate gardener ❤
You shall turn the earth.

Karma’s Full-time Job is Being a Bitch

Bitch is working overtime.


When I was 21. I was overweight. Over 350 lbs. I think. I didn’t really keep track of my weight. I didn’t care. Everyone else cared. I hated everyone else for caring.

I knew how much I weighed because I used to donate plasma at the local plasma bank and they always weighed me on their very accurate medical scales. I think they wrote 348 one day on my chart. So we’ll just say I was 350 lbs. or more. Anyway.

I went to stay with my brother and his family in Ohio for Christmas that year. I always loved seeing my brother, his wife, and their kids. I was always attentive and ready for fun. I tried to please everyone, laugh, crack jokes and just get along. I was the ultimate get-along girl. I just wanted peace and happiness for everyone around me. That’s when I felt my most happy and secure. When everything was going good for everyone else. It’s my nature as an empath.

We were all sitting around in the dining room one afternoon, watching my brother and his son put together some piece of DIY furniture. Talking, laughing. It was interesting enough. I was sitting on the floor and my 5-year-old niece sits down on my lap.

“Aunt Tina (my nickname was Tina), why are you so fat?”

No salutation. No beating around the bush. No pretense. No shame. Just straight to the fat. I thought for a minute.

“Well, why are you so skinny?”

She wasn’t. She was just a normal 5-year-old girl.

No hesitation. “Because God made me this way.”

Hm. Ok. “Well, God made me this way.”

Then my nephew contradicted me. “No! It’s because you eat too much.” My brother laughed. He didn’t chide his son. He didn’t correct him. He laughed.

This rebuke coming from a self-professed bacon thief. My brother’s wife had to cook a pound of bacon any time bacon was served at breakfast. This was even a topic of conversation during this trip. Of all the people in the room to say I ate too much? My brother and nephew ate more than anyone.

In retrospect, I had a normal appetite. Maybe I had seconds of certain dishes from time to time, but everyone had seconds. I was no different than anyone else at the table. I had always been overweight. Since the age of 5. Just about my niece’s age.

What no one knew, or cared to know, was that I was battling my own body. For years. I was on my way to cancer. Thyroid. And no one cared. I was a joke. I was humiliated for a cheap laugh. I was made to feel that my battle was my own lazy fault. I was gluttonous. Slothful.

I pushed my niece aside. Quietly got up and left. I took a lonely walk that afternoon. Down an isolated back country road. I had no car, no place to stay, no place to go. I just walked. I was so angry. So hurt. I fumed and cried. But I didn’t want to be near anyone from that room. Not one person stood up for me.

My mother eventually drove up, parked the car, and we talked. But.

That day hurt. My relationship with my brother’s family was never the same after that day. Never. We left early the next morning.

Oh well.

Today I weigh 220 lbs. I’ve lost over 293 lbs. after losing my thyroid to cancer, my gall bladder to weight loss surgery and dragging myself through hell and back.

My brother’s family has had to struggle with weight and medical issues as well. I wonder if they still think it’s just a matter of overeating?


Matthew 7:1-3 NASB

Judging Others

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

God Exists

First.

I have to tell you a little story. Completely true.

I am in the Holy Land. We are handing out wheelchairs and eyeglasses. I am running around, taking pictures, sewing vinyl wheelchair footrests, counting rolls of velcro for inventory and sorting gifts for gift bags for our local volunteers for the end of the week.

I am the pop-fly shagger. The gopher. The water boy girl for the team.

I don’t mind. I’m happy and humble to do it. I have no idea what I’m doing, but as with improv, you simply accept what someone says and build on it.

“Martha, will you…?”

YES! Would you like fries with that???

I was not perfectly humble. Sometimes I grumbled. But then I would just pout in private, pray and move on when I could smile again. In the Holy Land, my butt-hurt recovery period was very short. Thank God! That 4:30 AM call to prayer came early and loudly. Right into my hotel room from the neighboring mosque. Punctuating the snores of my roommate. I would say my own prayers when I woke to those pre-dawn mournful meditations. I prayed. A lot. All day. For everything. Trying to incorporate that into this American life.

It also helped that I was witnessing miracles on a daily basis. Here’s just one. A tiny miracle that sows seeds of faith.


I was mostly in the wheelchair clinic. We were in a very large community center divided into two sections by a beautiful, dark red tapestry. The wheelchair clinic was about 2/3 of the space and the eyeglass clinic was on the other side of the curtain. Because I was helping with the sewing/upholstery department, I didn’t see but a few glimpses of the eyeglass clinic. I took many pictures, but I didn’t get to know the volunteers or patients very well.

They had a young man helping during the week with eyeglass distribution. He was a local tween or teen. Maybe 11, maybe as old as 13 or 14, I’m bad at carnival-guessing anyone’s age under 18, especially boys. I didn’t really notice him until the final two days.

Before the banquet on Friday, we were cleaning up the facility, putting things away, packing up our gear and returning the space to the condition we found it. Perhaps even cleaner!

I had brought several kid-centered trinkets from my home in the States. We had received an email before the trip about all the families and children that come to the clinics and how they might appreciate games, more interaction, activities and attention. I decided to pack a few things that my daughter didn’t want, we couldn’t use or that were cluttering our overfilled home. Things that kids would love. Stuff for bracelets. Pins for older kids. And a pair of neon sunglasses that were given to us. No one in my family wanted them and they were cool, but a little too…bright for us. 🙂 Perfectly good pair of sunglasses.

Well. They were sitting on our small utility table Friday as we were packing up. I never found a kid to give them to. They just sat all week. I looked at the sunglasses. I looked at my overfilled bag of cameras, computer and sewing accoutrements. Looked around the room and saw Swoopy-bangs Kid.

He had curly bangs. A little too long. Swooped to the side. Cool.

Maybe he wants these shades.

As I walked over to Swoopy-bangs, I had a sudden, slight sinking feeling of “do kids still like things like neon sunglasses? Am I the dorky old lady who offers the nerdy object to the cool kid and is totally oblivious to my own ridiculousness?”

Just ask.

“Hey man, do you want these sunglasses?” in as cool a voice as this 45-year old white lady could muster.

He looked surprised. I couldn’t tell if it was disgusted or thankful surprise, so there was an awkward pause.

He asked with a slight accent, “Who are these for?”

I pointed to him. “You! If you want them.”

He cracked a broken smile, averted his eyes sheepishly and heartily accepted them. Phew! Yay!

Sunglasses given! Smile achieved! Backpack and heart loaded for bear. Cool status confirmed.

What I didn’t know until later that night at the banquet…

Final banquet. Dinner. Speeches. Pats on the back. Gift bags!

Can I just say? As the Gift Bag Coordinator for 2019 Holy Land Trip, stop giving gift bags!

Or, buy one thing and give it. Don’t weigh down your luggage from America, burn jet fuel to get it there and then make some hapless pop-fly shagger distribute your American trash. I mean–Merry Christmas.

Fine. Praying over here.

Gift-bag giving was hell. Not one person was happy with the way I distributed gifts to the local translators. I relinquish my duties as the Gift Bag Chairman for 2019 and may all future gift-giving souvenirs burn on the Gehenna piles of Jerusalem. Ahem. Sorry. I’m still bitter. Still praying.

Anyway. Let us not dwell. LOL

Before the gift-bag portion of our evening, one of the directors of the clinics summoned me. “Martha, do you have an extra bag for this guy?” The director pointed to Swoopy-bangs.

Crap!

“No. I’m sorry. If I didn’t have his name before tonight, I didn’t prepare a bag.”

This had become my script. Before Eyeglass Director had asked this specific question, I had been bombarded with questions over the gifts all week.

Did you get this person on your list?
Do you have an extra bag?
Did you put my souvenir in my translator’s bag?
When are we handing out the bags?
Did you get the tea bags I brought?

Can we hand out the bags:
Before?
After?
During?
In front of…?
Can I be in charge of my bag?

Gah!

*In the voice of Pontius Pilate* I wash my hands of this.

The spirit of Christmas was truly lost on this night for me (it was Christmastime for this part of the world). People were obsessed. It was not a very Christ-like environment and I really had to pray hard. Not judge these Americans for their entitled, demanding, materialistic behavior. I made it through the night. Dinged and daunted, but not broken.

But to refuse Eyeglass Director yet another time, I started to feel defeated. He immediately dismissed his last-minute request and understood my frustration. “Nevermind. He just really helped us out. It’s fine.” I felt bad though because I really liked Swoopy-bangs. We only shared a few words, but he seemed appreciative of such a simple thing like the glasses I handed him. Gratefulness, in anyone, is something I admire and appreciate.

Later on that evening, I was relaying my frustrations to a new friend. We sat at different tables that night, based on our clinic service assignment. So when we got to talk after dinner, she asked how my night was going. We had become fast friends, despite our age difference and geographic extremes. (We live on opposite coasts!)

I told her I felt bad about the kid. “I didn’t have a gift for him. Did I miss his name at the beginning of the week?” She was in the eyeglass clinic, so I thought she might know more.

“That kid?” She pointed to Swoopy-bangs. “Don’t worry. He was there part of the time and he was helpful, but it’s fine. I think (Eyeglass Director) felt bad because the kid wanted a pair of sunglasses from the eyeglass clinic and he didn’t have enough.”

WHAT?!

“That kid wanted sunglasses???” I asked. I was dumbfounded.

“Yeah. It’s no big deal. We just didn’t have enough and he seemed disappointed, but it’s fine.”

“No! You don’t understand. I just gave that kid sunglasses before we came to this restaurant. I had no idea.” I was shocked. Humbled. I just kept repeating, softly. “I had no idea.”

I wanted to run over to that kid and hug him. Throw my arms around his neck and scream “Hallelujah!” But I just sat quietly with shiny eyes pooling with tears and the overwhelming knowledge that God had orchestrated all those tiny, tender moments.

Giving me some pair of neon glasses.
Packing them in my overstuffed suitcase.
Traveling halfway around the world.
Preparing hearts.
Creating desire for sunglasses.
Fulfilling wants.
Planting seeds.
Watering my desperate heart with words from my new friend.

God whispers small urgings to our overwhelmed hearts on a daily basis and we usually drown out his pleas with doubt and busy-ness. But this time, because I was tuned to his grace, alone in a foreign country, relying completely on his protection and will, praying my keister off, I took a small risk and the dividend was immense.

There were so many miracles on this trip of people served. This is just one, tiny example of God at work. But this is a reminder to me. God exists and he knows the number of hairs on your head. In the middle of our struggle, pain, ramblings, writhing, he cares. He is at work. And he cares about a boy, on the other side of the planet, and where that boy will go. Who he will touch. Whether seeds are planted in his brain of kindness and love and providence. And if his eyes are protected and stylish. 🙂

Luke 12:22-27 NASB

…“For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.


As I was writing this, knee-deep in word construction and heart-pouring, my computer shut down, unexpectedly. Nothing was lost. Everything was saved. Thank you, God. Thank you, WordPress. Thank you, AutoSave. God exists.

If kind, loving people exist, then God exists. If the watch is designed, the Watchmaker designs.