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 .

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.

JUSTICE

JusticeHe will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. Matthew 12:20

 

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. This week the billionaire American financier, indicted on numerous charges for running an international child sex trafficking ring, was found dead in his jail cell by apparent suicide. His victims thought this was their last best hope of obtaining justice for his kidnapping, rape, and “sale” of possibly hundreds of underaged girls.  Now, his co-conspirators (some female) and other men named in the court proceedings are shouting for joy, believing Epstein’s death will give them a pass from a similar fate to his. His victims may try to bring civil charges, but it won’t be quite the same without the monster in the courtroom, facing his victims.

 

What is to be said of justice that never comes? Of peace of mind that is ripped from the survivors’ hands and hearts? Of a real sense of closure lost to the winds of fate? Our indwelling sense of right and wrong says offenders should be punished and victims protected. Deuteronomy 3:4 says The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He. His justice is compared to a plumb line, ever straight, never faltering (Isaiah 28:17).

 

There is no perversion of justice with the Lord our God (2 Chronicles 19:7). But human actions are never as “straight” and pure as God’s plumb line. Somewhere, in this broken world, survivors of trauma induced at the hands of others must come to grips with the fact that justice is not always assured, peace is not always promised. We are left to figure out what justice might look like, in the absence of perfect law, perfect courts, perfect circumstances. As a survivor of sexual violence never brought to justice, I have learned a hard lesson, but a good one: sometimes justice is just knowing that God believes us, feels our pain, collects our tears in a bottle, and tells us, “Keep going, My child, you are precious in My sight and for that reason alone, you must keep going.”

 

God of Justice, hold close to You those who never see justice in this world. Help them know Your justice prevails in the end. Amen

THE BIBLE IN A BOX

Bible In A BoxBut when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” Mark 10:14

 

Our super-creative pastor and youth director embarked on a project last year that had them scrambling every Sunday morning. A simple, empty cardboard shoe box was given to a different child to take home each Sunday for several weeks. The instructions were simple: each child was to place something in the box that was meaningful to him or her and bring the box back to church the following Sunday. One non-negotiable rule: the “something” could not be alive or formerly alive! Each Sunday during the children’s sermon, the pastor and the youth director took turns opening the box and preaching a short sermon on what was inside. When a boy brought in his favorite action character, the message was about how Jesus is always “in action” in our lives, watching over us and directing us on safe and sensible paths (Psalm 119:105). A girl’s collection of leaves and twigs brought a lesson in how God wants us to care for all the living things on our beautiful planet (Genesis 1:26,28). Twin brothers each placed very different items in the box the same week: a photo of their grandpa who had just passed away, and some crayons. These items brought to mind that their grandpa was now in heaven which is even more beautiful and colorful than our home here on earth (John 14:1-4).

 

Adults often don’t give children credit for the things they understand. We hold kids to a specific curriculum for religious education, from Sunday school through confirmation and beyond. We might do better to simply present a passage of Scripture and then listen as they tell us what it means to them. We might be pleasantly surprised what we would hear. Over the years, the vast majority of our confirmands have expressed a firm grasp on what it means to be a Christian. I am always encouraged to realize that we will have a new generation of believers to carry God’s sacred Word to the world when we are gone.

 

Lord, watch over our youth and help them in their faith struggles. They are the bright and shining future of our church. 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

 

NO MORE SNATCHING

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of My hand. John 10:27-28

 

Members of the temple leadership asked Jesus if He was really the Messiah. “Jesus answered, ‘The works that I do in My Father’s name testify to Me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to My sheep.’” The leaders couldn’t understand what He was saying because they did not “belong” to Him. They were “Messiah deniers,” in today’s vernacular. They had seen the miracles Jesus had performed, and they had heard his crystal-clear interpretations of ancient Scripture, but they would not humble themselves to believe that Jesus was the Christ, Who had been foretold in the very Scriptures He now quoted with magnificent authority.

 

As a survivor of a brutal sexual assault at gunpoint—an incident which nearly cost me my life—I am shaken to the core when I hear or read about “sexual violence deniers.” A legislator stated that a woman’s body “shuts down during a true rape,” preventing pregnancy. Arguments have abounded about women “asking for it,” and “men who can’t help themselves.” A talk show host recently opined that women have abortions so they are free to party on a tropical island. My own home state of Minnesota took until 2015 to pass a law that correctly labels sex trafficked minors as victims, not perpetrators. Survivors of sexual violence can tell you that (a) she/he did not ask for it, (b) was not a willing participant, and (c) lives with the trauma from the horrible experience for the rest of her/his life. Women who become pregnant as a result of sexual violence pay double, triple, many times over, regardless of the outcome of that pregnancy.

 

Sexual violence is a global problem which is not going away unless and until “deniers” start hearing the voices of the living survivors as we speak for ourselves and for those of us who did not get to come home. Jesus says those who know Him will not be “snatched” from His loving embrace. His sheep “know” His voice, the voice of peace and love and compassion. All we can ask is for deniers to just listen.

 

Lord, we know we live in a broken and hurting world. We ask that Your voice will be heard throughout the globe, and that we will end sexual violence of all types soon. 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

HUMANITARIAN. CHRIST. US.

Kids In CagesBlessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3

 

Here’s the thing: I feel totally helpless. I watch the news night after night, and some days there is coverage of the unconscionable treatment of migrant children at the southern border of the United States. But most often now, other news cycles dominate the airwaves and we’re “moving on.” I can’t get those images out of my head. As surely as there is a God in heaven, can we agree that this isn’t right? Whether you belong to the Republican or Democratic party, the Coffee party, or the Friday night party, can we just agree: this needs fixing now? Could any person in his right mind take his own child or grandchild—the younger the better—and place her in a cage with a Mylar blanket for a bed on a cement floor, with only the absolute barest of necessities, with perhaps well-meaning but overworked and way understaffed adults to take care of her, to hear the visiting pediatricians’ and child psychologists’ warnings about the enduring emotional and psychological damage these conditions are doing to this child—and not be on his knees with sorrow and compassion in five minutes? Would any person who is not a complete sociopathic lunatic think that this is the way to deal with the global migrant crisis?  Does the color of a person’s skin really make the cut for why these children—and their parents, for that matter—should have to endure these conditions for even one minute? I believe the vast majority know the answer to that question. In our heart of hearts, we know.

 

Then why aren’t all of us totally outraged? Why aren’t we listening? Why aren’t we contacting our people in Washington? Why aren’t we doing more than “sending thots and prayers?” Jesus said, “Go.” He didn’t say watch the news, and say, “Ain’t it awful?” He said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The word “therefore” refers back to all that Christ taught. “Teach all nations” means there are NO EXCLUSIONS to those we are called to serve. That includes each child and adult, no matter the nation or color or creed. So go. Go.

 

Healer of All Nations, we implore You to light the path for this nation to work together to solve this migrant crisis now. Amen

 

To locate your Congressional Representatives and Senators in any state in the USA, use this link: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

 

Special Note: The Lord woke me up at 4:30 a.m. this morning to write this blog. He’s been telling me to do it for weeks—maybe months—and He finally got my attention by putting Matthew 28:19 on a loop tape in my brain, 24/7, for a couple of weeks. It didn’t “click” until this morning. Lesson learned: I need to stop and listen to what God is telling me!

 

SIX DOLLARS

Six DollareBy Elizabeth Sullivan,

Founder/CEO at EmpowerSurvivors-Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse-Nonprofit

 

April is Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Prevention Month. Thank you to my friend and fellow survivor, Elizabeth Sullivan for her guest entry this week.

 

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:7

 

This afternoon I stopped at the store on my way home and when I was coming out and got into my car, I noticed a man coming up to my window. I have to admit I was a tad nervous because he had a determined look on his face and I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Being that I tend to go worse-case scenario I thought here goes, I’m going to get car jacked, mugged, raped or something else.

 

Needless to say it was none of those things. Instead it was a kind man that had seen the EmpowerSurvivors signs on my car, looked up our website, and said he was moved to give a donation.

In talking to him we both got teary eyed. Although he did not divulge any private information, I could feel that connection of a wounded warrior. Sometimes when you meet a fellow survivor of childhood sexual abuse you just know. You see it in their movements, the way the eyes sit in conversation and the way their heart shows in their words. I could see the tears being held back on his part and felt tears welling up in my own eyes as he spoke.

 

As he walked away, he gave me $6.00. On one of the bills he wrote to keep fighting for those who have no words, to be the truth no one else wants to see, and to keep the faith now and forever. I left our interaction feeling reflective and joyful. Reflective because I know where I’ve been and where so many have been and how now we are finally putting words to the unspeakable. Joyful because the tides are changing, and human connections are happening where they may have never happened before.

 

Funny how chance meetings can happen and how big of an impact they can make.  It was a nice moment. A moment that touched my heart and made me feel good for continuing the work I’ve been doing. Sometimes this work is painful, tiring to say the least. But so worth it.

 

Father of Peace and Power, strengthen us in the difficult task of comforting those who, like us, have been abused. Amen

For more information about EmpowerSurvivors, see the links below:

#EmpowerSurvivors
www.EmpowerSurvivors.net

WALL OF SHAME

Berlin_Wall_1961-11-20There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6

 

The year was 1990. I was with a tour group in what had been called East Berlin, Gemany, during the Cold War, a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union and the United States and its allies after World War II. East Berlin had just been opened for tourism, and the city was a strange sight indeed. Our group agreed that East Berlin was not ready for visitors! The “hotel” where we stayed had been a barracks for occupying Russian soldiers and their families. The beds were iron cots with army green blankets, rough muslin sheets, and a peppermint on each pillow (a nod to more advanced tourist destinations). A huge armoire served as a closet, but behind it was plumbing that must have connected to a small kitchen. From the window, we could watch the last remnants of Russian troops goose stepping through the Brandenburg Gate. Checkpoint Charlie, once the only passage from East to West and back again, was now just a curiosity rather than the heavily guarded gate that few qualified to pass through.

 

Berlin Wall Decorated 1986But nothing could have prepared our group for the sight of the Berlin Wall, a heavily patrolled barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 until the year before we stood before it. The “Wall of Shame,” as the Westerners called it, was constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It divided West Berlin from all of surrounding East Germany and East Berlin, included guard towers and a wide area known as the “death strip.” The Soviet Union and the GDR built the Wall to “protect (their) population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the ‘will of the people’ in building a socialist state in East Germany” (Source: Wikipedia.org).

 

Today, repressive governments still cause many to flee their homes and seek asylum in other countries in which they are not always welcome. As Christians, we have an obligation to seek fair, equitable policies that build bridges, not walls. The lesson of the Berlin Wall must not be forgotten.

 

Lord, You are gentle and humble, and You will give us rest from life’s burdens. Amen

Photos courtesy of Wickipedia.org.

 

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 .

STREET MUSIC

Vijay Gupta Street SymphontFrom palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad. Psalm 45:8

 

Quick! What does a child prodigy who enrolled at the Julliard Music School’s pre-college program by age seven have in common with homeless people on the trashed-up, tent-strewn sidewalks of Los Angeles’ skid row? The answer is humanity. Virtuoso violinist Vijay Gupta is an L.A. Philharmonic musician and social justice advocate whose nonprofit Street Symphony has been performing free concerts for Los Angeles’ homeless and in county jails since 2011. In the shadow of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Gupta’s Street Symphony performers and special guest artists bring exquisite music to the ears of the most unlikely recipients. Gupta says, “The role of the artist in today’s world is not only to heal and inspire, but to disrupt and provoke.”

 

What would motivate this celebrated musician to attempt such a profound offering of his talent and the talent of his fellow performers? Some might say this is throwing pearls before swine. Gupta would tell you that he, too, is broken, just like the homeless audience he serves. The child of Indian immigrants, Gupta’s parents worked hard to provide their two sons with music lessons. But Gupta told the Los Angeles Times that he paid a price of “pain and isolation….in windowless practice rooms for hours…,” describing his home life as “abusive…physically, psychologically and emotionally.” The sadness he carries from his childhood provides a special bond between him and the homeless people he serves. He sees the arts as a way to “disrupt” the cycle of poverty and provide hope for those on the margins of society. By the popularity of his program, I would say the homeless agree.

 

What obligation do we as Christians have to meet the marginalized, the outcasts where they are and offer them hope in any form? Jesus would say that is part of His main message: to first love our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and then love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:38). Vijay Gupta has sacrificed much time and energy to become one of the best violinists in today’s world, but it is his own struggle to love himself through his personal pain that makes him reach out to those less fortunate than him.

 

Lord of Love, grant that we may show our love for others through our accomplishments and our pain. 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 .

SERVING WELL

He will not shout or cry out or raise His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth. Isaiah 42:2-4

 

I recently looked at my notes in a Bible study some of our church members completed last year. The lesson was based on the passage called “The Suffering Servant,” where the prophet Isaiah foretells the coming of Christ several hundred years before His arrival. In reflecting on Christ’s service to mankind, I wrote, “These days, I am not strong enough to serve God as I wish I still could. I regret deeply that I did not do more for Him before it was too late. I am reduced—and elevated—to writing. Praise Him that I am still able to do that!”

 

Time marches on. I will not bore the reader with all my “ailments of aging.” Suffice it to say, I’ve had my share. When I was strong and working full time, I thought, When I retire, I will do more for the church. Retirement came, along with physical limitations I never expected to occur. To quote an old phrase, “Life is hard, but God is good.” Shortly before I retired, I was blessed to take a paid sabbatical to write a memoir about growing up in an alcoholic family and surviving a brutal sexual assault. It is a story of sorrow, but also of healing, and I discovered I could write. What a comfort to me now, to be able to continue to hold up my Lord and Savior by writing about all He has done for me and for others.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” When I read the words of Isaiah 42:4, that God “will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth,” I know that as long as I am able, I will still serve God by writing. No matter what happens in our lives, no matter what ravages our physical bodies, our spirits can still soar in unique ways with God as our guide.

 

Servant Lord, thank You for giving us endless ways to serve You, even when we think we can’t. 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 .