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 .

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 .

UNFORGIVING SOIL

UNFORGIVING SOILOther seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. Mark 4:8

 

It is nearly impossible to get anything to grow where we live. I have actually broken hand tools in the clay soil in our yard. My passion for gardening is fueled by the short growing season here in Minnesota, and my soul is fed and healed by the warmth of the sun and by getting plants to cooperate and grow! But the soil in our area must be reckoned with if it’s going to produce. It is mandatory that compost and other organic matter be mixed into this unforgiving, pasty, mucky clay before any sort of evolution occurs. And when left alone, it seems the clay continually wins out. More good stuff must be added to bring that dirt back into compliance. God does allow beautiful plants to flourish in our terrible soil, but only if I tend it carefully and patiently.

 

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught the people about a farmer who went out and scattered some seed. As He explained later to the disciples, He wasn’t really talking about planting seed, but about spreading God’s Word. “Some people are like the seed along the path,” Jesus said, “…Satan comes and takes the Word away” because it never takes root (Mark 4:13). People whose hearts are like “rocky ground” don’t develop a deep enough faith to develop deep roots and they fall away (vs. 16-17). Thorns are like “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things (that) come in and choke the Word” (v. 19). But “seed sown on good soil” will be heard, accepted, and produce an abundant crop (v. 20).

 

I can look to my gardening experiences and note that not all soil is “good” without some diligent, patient, and appropriate work. In my spiritual life, as in gardening, I cannot just sit by and expect my faith to flourish. Through the years, I have continually studied God’s Word, soaking up each phrase and verse and doing my best to apply it to the way I live. In good times and bad, I must keep “feeding” the soil of my faith to make it grow.

 

Great God, thank You for tending the soil of my heart through Your mighty Word. 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 THE LOCAL WELL WAS THE FACEBOOK OF BIBLICAL VILLAGES

WellGuest Writer, Stephanie Landsem

 

As I like to say, women of today and women of biblical times have more in common that we might realize. Community, for instance. We might stay in touch with our friends and family in a different way, but we do it for the same reasons. Consider the local village well and Facebook. They don’t seem to have much in common until we look a little more carefully.

Water — as always — was of vital importance in the Bible as it is today. It was just harder to get than turning on a tap. Women needed water in ancient Israel not only for drinking, irrigation, washing, and cooking, but also for religious ritual. Because of its importance, water was a common spiritual metaphor. From the great flood, to the parting of the Red Sea, to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee—water had huge significance.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the well was the most important place in the ancient village. We see plenty of important happenings at village wells in both the Old Testament and the New:

Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was found at a well.

Moses and Zipporah met at a well, as did Jacob and Rachel.

Jesus stopped at a well in Samaria and proclaimed himself the Messiah to a lone woman.

The well was the center of a village’s social and economic life. Early every morning, before the heat of the day, women would go to the well to fetch water in heavy clay jars, sometimes carrying it long distances back to their homes.

Using just a little imagination, we can surmise that friends used the well to check in with each other before starting their day of work —much as many of us do with our social media sites today. Maybe they even made a plan to go at the same time so they could have something to look forward to each morning before they started their many chores. Surely, they were eager to tell friends any good news they had—who was betrothed, who with child. They asked for prayers for aging parents or sick children. They mourned with each other or rejoiced.

Kind of like we do with social media. We check in with our friends, share news, discuss family and politics. Just like Facebook, there was no doubt some vice at the well—gossip, snubbing, some not-so-subtle bragging.  Probably some unfriending happened on the long walk home after the water was drawn. We can be certain that information was passed along from house to house until the whole village had had a chance to like, comment, or share each bit of news.

Next time you check in with friends online– be it first thing in the morning, on our lunch hour, or late at night–take a moment to remember these women of the Bible that were not so very different from us.

Stephanie Landsem writes novels that bring the unknown women of the Bible to life. The Living Water series—The WellThe Thief, and The Tomb, a Novel of Martha—are biblically authentic stories of women who are transformed by encounters with Jesus, the Incarnation. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, occasional adult children, two cats, a dog, and a tortoise named Moe. When she’s not writing, she’s gardening, cooking, and dreaming of travel to far-off places. You can find out more about Stephanie and her books at StephanieLandsem.com.

Stephanie Landsem

The Well (Howard Books/Simon&Schuster)

The Thief (Howard Books, 2014)

The Tomb, A Novel of Martha (Howard Books, April 2015)

sblandsem@comcast.net

https://www.facebook.com/stephanielandsem

https://twitter.com/#!/stephlandsem

http://pinterest.com/slandsem/

POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH

Light in the DarknessBut for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Malachi 4:2

 

Army Surgeon Rhonda Cornum’s helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. Her injuries were many but not life-threatening. She was captured by Iraqi soldiers, a situation which checked all the boxes for post-traumatic stress: a mock-execution, near death experience, sexual assault, helplessness in the face of the enemy. But Cornum refused to succumb to the terror by immediately beginning to focus on how she could improve her life when she survived. Cornum says resilience is like a muscle: it strengthens when exercised and atrophies when neglected. She was released by her captors within a week and eventually directed the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. Today, every Army soldier goes through resilience training; psychologists believe the training can help individuals in all walks of life to survive and thrive following any type of trauma.

 

Two researchers, Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, coined the phrase “post-traumatic growth.” After working with survivors of cancer, severe injury, war, and other traumas, the men identified growth in five main areas: personal strength, relationships, life perspective, appreciation of circumstances (thankfulness), and spirituality. As a survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint with a clear threat that I might not live, I concur with Tedeschi and Calhoun: I became a stronger person because I had seen myself at my most vulnerable. For me, God’s gracious love and healing meant a brand new start for me. I did not “deserve” to be assaulted nor to be threatened with imminent death; the perpetrator was a monster by all accounts. But when I survived, I had a clear choice: to succumb to the fear and panic rising in my mind, or to move forward with my life and heal. I chose God’s healing.

 

I have talked to many whose trauma has left them in a precarious place, but I believe there is much hope in studies like the one on “post-traumatic growth.” Skilled therapists using these sensible techniques can guide trauma survivors into optimism, hope, and resilience to help them live productive and meaningful lives.

 

God of Grace and Healing, touch the broken places in survivors of trauma and lead them to trust in Your loving goodness. 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 .

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

WALKING WITH GOD

Walking With God Kathi HolmesGuest Blogger, Kathi Holmes

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” Job 12: 7-9

 

Collapsing to the floor, I tried to stand but my legs would not move. The paramedics transported me to the nearest hospital. Pain medication made me groggy, befuddled and frightened. I was told my spine was damaged due to heavy doses of prednisone and the start of osteoporosis. Due to my health history it was too risky to operate. I was told I would be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of my life. All I asked of God was that He give me the strength to go on in whatever direction He had for me. “Thy will be done.”

 

God didn’t send a lightning bolt that hit me and I suddenly walked. I worked very hard with land and pool therapy, sweat dripping with every movement. I was amazed each time I made a positive step forward.

 

Then God blessed me with my first grandchild. I could wheel her around in my power chair, but as she grew I needed to stand long enough to change her diaper and pick her up from the floor. She was my inspiration to work as hard as I could to improve.

 

Three years later I was walking with a walker. That’s when my husband and I decided to take the leap and get a dog. Charlie was in a wheelchair because of an amputated leg due to a diabetic infection. I would be the sole dog walker. Our rescue dog, Honey, got me walking. Together we stroll down the neighborhood sidewalks and wooded paths. At first we didn’t go far as I got tired quickly, but as the months passed I got stronger and our walks became longer. Honey is not just our companion dog. She is my motivation to walk every day so as not to lose what I worked so hard to gain.

 

I have also developed a friendship with my fellow dog parents. When I walk Honey I smile and say “good morning” to everyone I meet. Occasionally a person looks angry or unhappy, but most often I can get at least a small grin. Rarely does someone not return the “good morning”.

 

Every day the Holy Spirit directs us, sometimes in unusual ways, to be the best God wants us to be.

 

“I can do everything through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

 

Dear Lord, open my ears to hear your words so I may follow your direction as you guide me through my days, knowing you will lead me on the path of goodness and grace. Amen

 

 

Kathryn Holmes is an author and inspirational speaker. Her books include: I Stand with Courage: One Woman’s Journey to Conquer Paralysis; Reflections; Watershed Moments. Contact her at k.m.holmes@comcast.net

 

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