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.

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 .

ALGORITHMS

Algorithm MockupPeter told them, “You know it is against the Jewish laws for me to come into a Gentile home like this. But God has shown me in a vision that I should never think of anyone as inferior.” Acts 10:28

 

Wikipedia.org provides an “informal” definition of an “algorithm” as “a set of rules that precisely defines the sequence of operations, which would include all computer programs….Algorithms are essential to the way computers process data.” I recently read an article explaining that social media platforms use algorithms to determine what people like and to bombard them with advertisements for those things. Thus, our computer usage keeps us in somewhat of an “information bubble” where we are only exposed to the same things over and over again—unless and until we express an interest in something else. If you only like cupcakes, your computer screen will continue to show you cupcakes until you demonstrate that you also like fudge, and then you will be bombarded with both fudge and cupcakes.

 

This pattern would seem to stymie our exposure to diverse life experiences. Indeed, algorithms help companies develop “target markets” where cupcake manufacturers don’t waste their time with fudge lovers. But this type of marketing also keeps us from learning that we might like fudge. How would we know if we are never exposed to fudge?

 

Peter had a vision of the heavens opening up and a large sheet being lowered containing “all sorts of animals, snakes, and birds forbidden to the Jews for food” (Acts 10:12). A voice said, “Go kill and eat any of them you wish.” Peter’s “algoriths,” as it were, caused him to reply that he would never eat unfamiliar things “forbidden by (the) Jewish law” (v. 13). But the response was, “Don’t contradict God!” The vision was repeated three times. Shortly thereafter, Peter was summoned to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius, a Roman officer, “a good and godly man, well-thought of by the Jews” (v.22). Cornelius, a Gentile but clearly a believer in God, beseeches Peter to enter his home and spend time with him. Peter “algorithms” are radically changed when he realizes that his vision was not about food, but about God’s ability to cleanse the hearts of people other than the Jews. He accepts Cornelius’ invitation.

 

Lord, free us from the “algorithms” of sameness, and move us to love all of Your precious children! 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

 

SPIRIT AND TRUTH

mirror on wall“A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

 

I hired a team of women editors to review my early memoir manuscript. For a fee, they read my book and provided feedback. “Putting my story out there” was a little unnerving. Having survived my mother’s alcoholism as a child, I was sexually assaulted at gunpoint at age twenty-five. God’s miraculous healing in my life was a story I had to tell. But I wasn’t prepared for the all-out criticism I received from these three supposedly experienced literary critics. They said my book was too long. What was my “target audience?” Would my story “sell?” Following a very negative critique, these women asked me if I had any questions. I timidly asked if they thought I had any future as a writer. Expressing disbelief, they proceeded to tell me they thought I was an excellent writer! “Why,” I asked them, “didn’t you tell me that in the first place?!?”

 

Jesus may appear to have given the Samaritan woman a hard time. “If you knew the gift of God and Who it is that asks you for a drink,” Jesus says, “you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). He says He knows she has “had five husbands, and the man (she) now (has) is not your husband” (v. 18). The woman could have believed that Jesus was a self-righteous Jew, criticizing her, a lowly Samaritan with whom Jews did not associate. But there must have been something in His voice, or the way He looked lovingly at her that she did not become angry. Instead, she pressed Him to acknowledge the coming Messiah and how the truth would be revealed in Him (v. 25). He replied, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He” (v. 26). Jesus had told her things that no stranger would know, and yet He did it in a manner causing her to believe He was indeed the Messiah, but also that He loved and cared for her in a divine way.

 

Jesus, speak to us in grace, kindness and truth through the Holy Spirit. 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 .

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