A PRIVILEGED PLACE

Standing on Solid RockThrough Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. John 1:3-4

 

Each year when Advent begins, I have a particular sense of awe about the coming of Christ. Our Savior is like a super-hero Who comes to avenge all evil in the world and bring healing and hope to the masses. The magnitude of what He comes to accomplish is overwhelming. It pushes aside all the pettiness of our collective yearning for the “stuff” of life, the achievements and accumulations that bind us to our own humanity. God in the world is a scary thought, even while it is comforting. So…there is hope after all. There is a reason to think that goodness prevails in this seemingly wicked world.

 

But when I think of Christ coming to redeem the world, I can’t help but think of what His coming means for me personally. Yes, me, just little old (and-getting-older) me, insignificant in the world’s view perhaps—but not in Christ’s sight. Jesus thinks I’m really something, and He wants me to know that. He looks at my meager accomplishments and says, “Well done!” He views my spiritual immaturity as great progress—after all, what other way is there to learn to live like Christ than to find our way slowly, haltingly? Like the father of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, our Lord sees us when we are “yet far off.” He runs to meet us and celebrates every accomplishment in our lives. God is the expert in working with people’s mistakes. He never grows tired of waiting for us to push our egos out of our own path and find our way back to Him.

 

As if that isn’t enough, Christ also came to tell us that our bodies—our imperfect, decaying, funky bodies—are His temple, His sacred place (1 Corinthians 3:16). He dwells in us, inhabiting our very beings if we ask Him to. And in so doing, He declares that we are sacred and precious to Him. How astonishing it is to know that my Lord calls me a privileged place for His Spirit to dwell! This Advent, remember this God Who came to dwell in your heart and mine.

 

Abiding Savior, make Your home here in my heart forever. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

JESUS DELIVERS

Jesus DeliversPeace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. John 14:27

 

Every Christmas season, retailers seek to outdo their records from the previous year. They strive for more sales, better deals, quicker delivery, and happier customers. The website holidaycommerce360.com tallies ten factors that go into retail selling in the United States from Thanksgiving weekend until New Year’s Day. The site reports that in 2018, “consumer confidence” (public trust in the economy) was the highest it has been in eighteen years. Last year’s sales growth (total dollars in sales for the year) was up fifteen percent from the previous year. Sixty percent of consumers planned to spend at least fifty percent of their shopping dollars online, and seventy-six percent planned to purchase at least one-fourth of their holiday dollars online—up seventy-three percent since last year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the top two days of shopping on Amazon Prime. Purchasing online to pick up locally and same-day delivery were important factors in people choosing to order online.

 

If you think this data is a strange way to celebrate the birth of the Son of God, you are not alone! While the Christmas spending “hype” is going on every year, Christian pastors around the nation are proclaiming the true meaning of Christmas from their pulpits. Choirs and church bands and Sunday school coordinators are practicing in preparation for special Christmas programs throughout the Advent season. Many who believe in the coming of the Son of Man at Christmas—including me—know that the season we call Advent cannot be measured by sales growth or percent of online purchasing. Jesus came to deliver the very best deal of all time: His presence here on earth, walking, talking, healing, bringing a message of peace and love. He gave the ultimate gift when He willingly went to the cross thirty-three years after His birth, to show that He indeed could conquer death and live in our hearts forever. Jesus doesn’t care if we worship Him through a televangelism program or at a physical place of worship, as long as we come and have fellowship with Him and our fellow believers.

 

Precious Jesus, how did we ever get here, where the celebration of Your birth has become so commercialized? Take us back to seeing only You in Christmas. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

PROPER PRONUNCIATION

Lucy and DesiChrist did not take on Himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to Him, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:5-7

 

I Love Lucy was an American television comedy broadcast on CBS from 1951 to 1957. In the series, Lucille Ball and her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, played a married couple (Lucy and Ricky Ricardo) whose hilarious experiences highlighted their characters’ loving relationship but also their many differences. Arnaz, originally from Cuba, spoke with a heavy Spanish accent. In one episode, Arnaz’s character Ricky receives tutoring from his wife Lucy in the proper pronunciation of English words. She asks Ricky to practice reading a children’s book for their son, Ricky Jr. Ricky begins reading about a peasant who spends his days in the forest cutting tree “booches.” Lucy quickly corrects him: “boughs,” she says. Ricky complains that the word doesn’t look like the way it’s pronounced. He reads on about the peasant’s hands which “become strong and ‘ra-oo.’” Lucy says, “rough,” and again Ricky shakes his head. Next, the peasant works quickly and his day is soon “thruff.” Exasperated, Lucy corrects him, saying “through.” Ricky throws the book down and says, “I’ve had enough! Or should I say, ‘e-new?’” He then states that Spanish is a much easier language than English, which by now is an understatement.

 

I understand how Ricky felt. I have often had to read Scripture passages at church that have many difficult names in them. Though I check the pronunciation guides and practice the readings ahead of time, I’ve stumbled many times when it came time to say the names correctly in a church full of people. Names like Melchizedek from today’s passage, or Abel-meholah from 1Kings 19:16, or the names in the genealogy of Jesus in Luke 3 can throw even the best linguist for a loop. Fortunately, today we have Google, the pathway to a number of sources of help in saying Bible names correctly. And it is important to remember that God knows we are from another time and that we speak another language from the ones spoken and recorded in Biblical times. God gives us a pass for our faulty pronunciation. He’s just happy we are reading His Word at all!

 

Lord, You declare that we are a “priesthood of believers.” Thank You for Your faith in us! Amen

ASHAMED

Greta ThunbergThe earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. Psalm 24:1

 

Greta Thunberg arrived on the climate crisis scene like a meteor crashing into the earth—the fragile earth that she is trying desperately to protect. The sixteen-year-old Swedish environmental activist is pleading with the adults throughout the world to do all they can to reverse the effects of human-induced climate change that multiple experts claim will begin ruining the planet before Greta herself is an adult. Speaking at the United Nations climate action summit earlier this year, an emotional Thunberg accused members of ignoring the science behind the climate crisis, saying, “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth—how dare you!”

 

Some continue to call the climate crisis a “hoax.” But the science is overwhelmingly compelling.

A 2018 report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program says a 100% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 must be achieved to avoid irreversible climate disaster. Melting icecaps are causing water levels to rise across the planet. Longer and harder droughts are being experienced, as are more frequent and violent forest and brush fires. Heat waves are one of the most common causes of death from natural disasters, in spite of climate change-induced stronger hurricanes, tornadoes, snowfall, hail storms and sandstorms. My husband and I recently installed a residential solar power system on the roof of our home, a simple and obvious way individuals and businesses can combat the ruination of the planet. But “climate deniers” continue to turn a blind eye to what humans are doing to cause these problems and what we must do to turn things around before it’s too late.

 

The Bible says God will reckon with those who destroy the earth because of selfish interest and refusal to believe the situation is critical (Revelations 11). Abusing the earth to make a profit, as Greta Thunberg has charged, is not the solution. We must care for and about each other, and for the great God-given blessings the earth has bestowed upon us.

 

Lord, You have warned us that Your wrath will come for those destroying the earth (Revelations 11:18). Let us be counted as those who honor Your great gift of life and our beautiful place to live. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

 

THE BATTLE STILL RAGES

Traumatized SoldierHave I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

 

When I was a child, my family visited my mother’s brother Norvel and his wife Mabel. Norvel had been an American soldier in Germany during World War I. During trench combat, he was one of many soldiers exposed to “mustard gas,” a toxic chemical used liberally by all the “antagonistic” nations during that way, including Germany. Although the use of chemicals in warfare had been banned worldwide in 1899 and 1907, the practice killed and wounded 1.3 million allied soldiers during World War I. Besides coping with lung problems, Norvel also experienced “shell shock”—now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—from the psychological wounds of war. Aunt Mabel scolded her husband when he tried to talk to us about what happened to him. “We don’t talk about the war,” she said.

 

Fortunately for our veterans, nations throughout the world have come a long way in the understanding of and treatment for both medical and psychological combat experiences. The symptoms haven’t changed: my Uncle Norvel and many other veterans past and present carry the scars of war with them every day. It is commonly accepted today that the path to recovery from trauma is to talk about one’s feelings, sometimes—but not always—recounting the exact atrocities that occurred. How sad for my uncle and countless others past and present who have not been allowed or felt comfortable speaking about the unspeakable.

 

It has been said that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is fear that has said its prayers. The Old Testament recounts many tales of fierce battles fought by the people of God. They were never promised that the battles would be easy, but they were given Someone to turn to when the situation seemed unbearable. As long as flawed human beings live at odds with each other in this world, there will be conflict. But God promises to be with us through any battles we face. He will uphold us with His righteous hand. The victory belongs to the Lord.

 

Heavenly Father, on this and all Veteran’s Day, stir us to give thanks for the brave men and women who fight to preserve freedom and justice in this world. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of three books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child; Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. She holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling from the University of New Mexico and has over thirty years’ experience working with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, war veterans, and other trauma survivors.  Her books may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

COMING HOME

Oakdale Sanitorium

by Betty Brandt Passick, Guest Writer

Photo: Oakdale, Iowa Sanitorium in the 1900s, www.asylumprojects.org

 

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 KJV

 

A portion of Emma Bierkoff’s letter to her rural family in Iowa after undergoing treatment for tuberculosis at Oakdale Sanitorium, from the chapter “Even the Sparrows,” Gangster in our Midst (2017), Betty Brandt Passick, bettybrandtpassick.com:

 

“I am writing with such wonderful news—I am coming home! Though plans have yet to be finalized. I will write again in a few days to let you know when you should arrive at the sanatorium to collect me. Isn’t it all so wonderful? I am well—finally well enough to come home! Several month ago, when I desperately wondered if this day would ever arrive, I got on my knees and prayed, prayed more fervently than any time before in my life, and I asked God for a sign—a sign that confirmed He was real; that He knew I existed; and that He was hearing my pleas to rejoin you and be back in my home caring for you in the way I have done in the past. I reminded God of His promise in Matthew 10:29-31. I asked God to give me proof that He heard my prayers: I didn’t need beautiful doves—just send me lowly sparrows, I pleaded. Then feeling bolder, I asked Him to send me a whole flock! Almost before the last words had pass from my lips, outside the window next to my bed, a single sparrow soon appeared, landing on the sill, and turned its head to seemingly stare into my eyes. I did not write of this before because I feared what I had experiences might have been a delusion. I waited to see if the promise would come to fruition—and just yesterday, Dr. Sparrow pronounced me well enough to return home. So it is true, once and for all: God is real, my beloveds! God hears our prayers! We are not alone! And—isn’t it strange that my doctor is Dr. Sparrow?”

 

Creator God, life can so overwhelm us that we can become unsure of the path before us; even of Your very existence. In those moments, we call out for proof that You hear us in our darkest hours. I can confirm that when I cried out to You from the depths of my sorrow, You not only heard me…but answered. Amen

 

Contact Betty Passack and find out more about her books at bbpassakauthor@comcast.net  

WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST LEAVE?

The Battered DoorHusbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that she may be holy and without blemish….husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25, 27-28

 

A friend’s Facebook post reminded me of my long-ago job as a county social worker helping victims of domestic violence. Rarely did one of these victims—mostly women—leave her partner; rarer still did she have money to hire an attorney. I often accompanied the woman to court, to face her batterer and his attorney. I was an advocate, not a legal representative, and I was raked over the coals in those courtrooms. One of the most frequent questions asked by the man’s attorney was, “If it was so bad, why didn’t she leave a long time ago?” The complex answer to that question was the subject of my friend’s Facebook post, written by a woman named Rachel Smith:

 

Because he has her so brainwashed that it’s all her fault…she’s no good to anyone…no one will want her or love her…there’s no way she can possibly make it on her own. She thinks that if she just tries harder…if she’s a better wife and a better mom maybe he will be happy with her and wouldn’t get so angry. And maybe he will be the same sweet, charming man that he was when they first met. He has her convinced that if she leaves, he will hurt or kill her or her family. He has threatened to tell the judge she is a bad mom and she will lose her kids and never see them again. He has taken away her money and convinced her that she cannot make it on her own financially and she will always need him.

 

More people are concerned with why women stay in abusive relationships than why men are abusing women. Unless you’ve been in an abusive relationship people have no idea how hard it is to escape. Abusers fool those outside the home because they usually only abuse those inside the home.

They need your support. They need your love. They do not need your judgement.

 

Jesus, You said husbands and wives are to be subject to one another out of reverence to You. Help us end domestic violence throughout the world. Amen

 

OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH. PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THESE VICTIMS DID NOT ASK TO BE ABUSED. REMEMBER TOO THAT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS A FAMILY DISEASE AND A SYSTEMIC PROBLEM IN OUR NATION AND IN OUR WORLD.

SMILEY FACES PAIN CHART

smiley faces pain chartHe will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

 

Chronic pain is so…chronic. It is present, to some degree, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, year after year after year. And many types of chronic pain are invisible, so people—doctors, physical therapists, health care workers, counselors, and even close family and friends—tend to view those of us who suffer from chronic pain as malingerers. A friend of mine says she believes people with invisible chronic pain are not faking being sick; they are faking being well. I have severe, persistent, progressive osteoarthritis and I’ve tried for most of my adult life to act like I am not hurting. I have pushed myself every day to get as much done as I can so that I don’t feel like I am “less than” someone with no pain. But after ten orthopedic joint surgeries, it is getting harder and harder to “play well.”

 

Anyone who has persistent pain—including emotional pain—has been presented with the annoyingly clear Wong Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale of the increasingly distressed-looking smiley faces and asked, “How would you rate your pain/mood today?” And we all probably want to ask, “Which pain? What body part? If three parts hurt and three parts are pretty good today, does that cancel out the score I would give myself?” I’ve literally never been a “zero,” and I’ve been told that a “ten” means “call me an ambulance.” I can function with a score of “three” to “five,” but above that, things can go downhill (or uphill, depending on one’s perspective) rather quickly. A “nine” finds me curled in the fetal position in bed with the electric blanket turned up to nine (to match the pain rating). Given half a chance, I’d call that ambulance, if I thought it would help my pain.

 

Psalm 73:23 tells me that God “takes hold of (my) right hand and says to (me), Do not fear; I will help you.” When my pain is at its worst, I always have God. And His all-surpassing love is enough.

 

Healing Lord, hold me in my worst hours. Keep me in Your loving care until the storm has passed. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net

MY ROAD TO DAMASCUS

Paul on the Road to DamascusI regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:8

 

The Apostle Paul could have been ashamed of the life he led before he met Christ. After Jesus’ miraculous deeds on earth, Paul stood on the sidelines and watched Jerusalem’s religious authorities stone Stephen, an avid follower of Christ (Acts 7:58). As a devout Jew, Paul believed Jesus was a fraud. He made it his mission to eradicate as many followers of Jesus’ way as he could. Acts 9:1 finds Paul “still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.” But Jesus surprised him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9) and Paul was never the same. At first, many of Christ’s followers rejected Paul, not believing that he had indeed been converted. Eventually, Paul was able to convince other followers of Christ’s way of his own conversion, and he became one of the fiercest advocates for the advance of the early church. He travelled extensively, and eventually told the citizens of Philippi, “For (Christ’s) sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

 

Because of the dramatic way in which I came to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I have often compared myself to Paul. While I could never have been accused of “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” in my former life, I was quite jaded about the very existence of God. I grew up in a time when women were becoming “liberated,” and for me that meant no one was in charge of me! I had developed an attitude that I was the captain of my life, and whatever I chose to say, do or think was perfectly fine. The only problem was that I was never happy in that state of mind. When God literally sent a bolt of lightning down onto my “road to Damascus,” In love and mercy, God pursued me relentlessly until I finally reached the end of my very dismal existence and laid down my life for Him. I can say with Paul that my former life was “rubbish” compared to the joy and peace I now have every day, thanks to my living Lord.

 

Praise You, Lord, for redeeming me as Your child! Amen

 

Both candid and humorous, insightful and ponderous, Meg Blaine Corrigan’s memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, takes the reader through her chaotic childhood with an alcoholic mother and enabling father to a violent assault that nearly ended her life. She populates her tale with vivid descriptions of her parents, other influential adults, the attacker, and her disastrous first marriage. But this story has a happy ending, when Meg finds solace in a God she didn’t think she’d ever believe in, when He gently helps her heal from her past lives and move into the best times of her life. Meg has also written a novel, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, about said first marriage, as well as a Christian devotional, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, comprised of blogs from this site. Stay tuned for sequels to her last two books! All of her works may be purchased through her website, www.MegCorrigan.com or from www.amazon.com .

YOUR FEARLESS INNER CHILD

Your Fearless Inner Child

by Guest Writer Louise Griffith

He called a child, whom He put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3

 

As a grandmother, I’ve noticed how children tend to live freely and flow through life without many inhibitions. It is only when adults begin to impose their “stuff” on them that they limit themselves and start tiptoeing through life. Though we have to learn certain adult behaviors to get along in the world (sharing, for instance!), we tend to block our childhood selves completely and lose part of the freedom and flow we once enjoyed. It’s time to reclaim it….

 

Have you ever observed young children at play as they tap into their limitless imaginations? They often do or say whatever they want, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to adults. They pretend to be other people or animals or even objects (like a truck or a boat), and immerse themselves in the role completely.

 

Children are brave. The world is new to them, so they are constantly trying new things and testing limits. Every day brings new opportunities to learn and grow, and they often walk into the unknown, trusting that everything will work out just fine.

 

If only we, as adults, could capture some of the spontaneity and courage of a child! Too often, we grow cautious and fearful. We’ve been hurt or scolded so many times, it makes us tiptoe around others and holds us back from speaking our minds or doing what we really want to do. We stifle our natural flow—and sometimes our natural selves—in order to conform to expectations.

 

What if you let yourself be free?

 

What if you allowed yourself a little more space to truly be yourself and speak your truth? What if you tapped into your reserve of childlike courage and made the important life changes you know you need to make? A small dose of courage can make all the difference. It can help restore the you that’s been hiding away, too timid to come out. It can help you flow through your days like a river, instead of treading water in a narrow pool.

 

It’s time to embrace your inner child and welcome them back into your life.

 

Lord, You are our heavenly Father. Teach us to love You with abandon, as children love life. Amen

 

Learn more about Louise Griffith and her book, You Are Worth It, at www.oneshininglight.com , or email her at louise@oneshininglight.com .