WORLD PEACE

World Peace FlagsI urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

World Peace? How is it possible to imagine that in today’s world? According to worldpopulationsreview.com, “As of 2018, there are…a total of fifty nations that have a dictator or authoritarian regime ruling the nation to this day. Europe is home to one.., while three…can be found in Latin America and South America…,eight…in Asia, seven in the Eurasian region of the world, and twelve…from the northern parts of Africa to the Middle East.” And worldatlas.com reports Syria is the most war-torn country in the world, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan; other countries experiencing “war” (including threats from other nations, civil unrest, gang and drug conflicts, etc.) today include Ukraine, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, and Central African Republic. Many other nations are dealing with ongoing political partisanship, the rise of hate groups, and religious and human rights battles among their populace. The concept of world peace seems further away than it did even a decade ago.

 

1 Timothy above among our daily readings for today. I remembered that Jesus came into this world during a time of political and civil unrest. At the time of Christ’s birth, Israel was an occupied nation, under the strong arm of the Roman government. The Romans, in concert with the Jewish religious leaders of the day, executed Jesus on false charges. The Romans were still in power when Paul’s protégé Timothy was a leader in the Christian church at Ephesus (now modern Turkey). Paul urged Timothy to pray “for kings and all those in authority” in the hope that these prayers would bring “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It’s hard to think of strong-arm governments like the Roman Empire allowing the people to live “peaceful and quiet lives!” Indeed, the Romans sought to keep the people in line!

 

Paul’s admonitions apply today as well. We must continue to pray that world leaders will take their responsibilities seriously. We can pray fervently that leaders who see themselves above their people will have a change of heart and move towards compassion for others.

 

Lord, heal this broken world, we pray! Bring all nations into “peaceful and quiet lives.” Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

TATOO

Jenn Tattoo photoBe Strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward in your work. 2 Chronicles 15:7

 

A never-ending soliloquy scrolled through my brain asking to be heard so that it could be corrected by the editor of life. It was a constant reminder of my feelings of worthlessness. My mind was void of self-love and fraught with emotional turmoil that lugged me into a space of believing my life’s work was not good enough for God.

 

I contemplated my struggles and lack of inner peace. Once a month, at Sunday morning service, I would sit pouring my heart out onto the blue prayer request card gently coaxing the prayer team to pray for me. Each ended with a request that they receive prayer and blessing as well.

 

Weeks after a particularly hard request, I forgot about it and moved on. I sat at my desk opening my mail. To my surprise there was a handwritten envelope from the prayer team. I opened it and a card with an image of mountains surrounded by fluffy clouds and a pinkish-orange sky jumped out. A patch of velum glued to the inside of the card carried a bible verse that spoke of strength, courage and reward. I left the card on my desk for about a week but when my clutter became unbearable, the card found a new home in my recycle bin.

 

Two months later, I decided I was going to adorn myself with a tattoo. I wanted something that would speak clear meaning into my daily life. I looked at images online. I flooded my brain with hearts and overused quotes until finally I gave up on looking.

 

My body slunk down comfortably into my office chair and my eyes landed on a small piece of paper on my desk. I picked it up and saw a familiar phrase staring me in the face, “Be strong and do not lose courage for there is reward in your work”. The velum paper, my tiny piece of prayer, had found its way back to me months after being cast aside. It was fully detached from the card, but the words were about to find a far more permanent home: One that would serve as my daily reminder of the rewards in my life.

 

Lord, show me how to be strong and courageous so that I may experience the impact and rewards of my work here on this earth. Amen.

 

Jennifer Bierma is a certified massage therapist, business owner, psychic medium and the author of the memoir, A Life Lived Medium: A Psychic’s Journey from Fearful to Almost Fearless. Her connection to spirit gives her a unique call to action in life that she believes motivates people to live out their goals in an authentic way and create a ripple that empowers others to live their lives to the fullest. For a full bio, blog posts or to purchase her book go towww.JenniferBierma.com.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Ocean LinerPeace I leave with You, My peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

 

On the brink of another year, what does it mean to have peace in your life? In John 14, Jesus’ words are difficult for the disciples to understand. Jesus says He is going away, not what these men want to hear. But He also says He will return, and even more puzzling, that God will send the Holy Spirit—the Comforter—to help them. The disciples are not comforted; they want Jesus to stay. His words leave them uneasy and restless.

 

What the men don’t grasp is that Jesus is always with them, even when they cannot see or touch or hear Him. He has already inhabited their beings, and though they are fearful, they will soon be emboldened to carry His message far and wide. They will start a movement still with us today: the church that our Lord Jesus asked them to inaugurate. Before their own earthly deaths, they will know the promise of eternal life is theirs. It is well with their souls.

 

Composer Horatio Spafford wrote one of the church’s most beloved songs, “It Is Well With My Soul” (often called “When Peace Like a River”) in 1876. One would think he penned these beautiful words when he was praising God for his many blessings. But nothing could be further from the truth. After losing a two-year-old son in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Spafford sent his wife and four daughters ahead on the Ville de Havre steamship for a European vacation. He delayed joining them until some business could be attended to. The ship sank, with only his wife surviving. Aboard a second ship, on his way to meet his grieving wife, Stafford wrote the words to the song as he passed by the place where the ill-fated vessel had sunk. At the lowest point in his life, he proclaimed that, with God, “It Is Well With My Soul.”

 

Jesus, You know our human situation can be dire and dismal. We praise You for dwelling in our hearts and providing peace and comfort all year long. 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 .

JOSEPH, STEP-PARENT

JOSEPHBut while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

 

Our Gospel lesson last Sunday morning was from Matthew 1, specifically about Joseph and his reaction to the news that his fiancé was suddenly, questionably with child. Joseph is conflicted: he is a kind man, not wishing to bring shame and even abuse on the young woman he thought he loved. But he believes he should—must—“dismiss her quietly” and move on with his own life. He knows this child that Mary carries is not his. He wants to believe her, but her story is just too preposterous! How would things go if another man suddenly came forth and claims the child as his? Imagine Joseph’s surprise when an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and says, “No, Joseph, you must not let Mary go! Her Child was conceived by God’s Holy Spirit, and He is coming to save the world.”

 

Some refer to Joseph as Jesus’ “foster father.” Being a step-parent myself, I must take issue with that designation. A foster parent only takes a child for a short time, presumably until a “forever family” is found for the youngster. But Joseph did, in fact, take Mary as his lawfully wedded wife, which in my book clearly makes him a step-father. I’ve never born any children, but instead, I collect other people’s kids. I married two different men who had daughters, so I became all three of their step-mothers. And I can tell you that the love and devotion I have for these three step-children, and my one adopted daughter could not be any more real if I had carried them each for nine months and brought them into this world. Joseph was signing up for the long haul, and so was I. Step-parenting is a unique relationship, but every bit as poignant as bearing natural children.

 

Jesus, You know the blessing of having Joseph choose to marry and support Your mother. Bless all non-traditional families this special season! Amen

 

Merry Christmas Mary Joseph Jesus

A LITTLE LOVE

charliebrownchristmasjpgBut the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

 

Even the producers were sure it would be a flop. They went through with it only because they had already publicized it. On December 9, 1965, CBS aired “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” in spite of just about everyone’s belief that the show could not succeed. Everyone, that is, except the American public, forty-five percent of whom watched the show that night. The program eventually won an Emmy and a Peabody, and it has been broadcast every Christmas season since. Why was the show so successful, when pitiful Charlie Brown started out depressed about Christmas? He blamed himself, telling Linus “there must be something wrong with me,” and he laments the behavior of the entire Peanuts gang. Snoopy has entered his doghouse in a Christmas decoration contest with a cash prize. Lucy wants more than “stupid toys or clothes or a bicycle” for gifts; she wants “real estate.” Sally writes to ask Santa to “make it easy on yourself, just send money.” “Christmas is a big commercial racket,” Lucy declares.

 

Peanuts creator, Charles Schultz, insisted that the film include the next scene, Linus reciting the Gospel of Luke’s Nativity Story. The producers thought the move was risky because “religion” didn’t seem to mix with cartoons. But Schultz won out. “If we don’t do it, who else can?” he said. Charlie Brown loses his melancholy but fails again trying to decorate his miserable little tree. The entire Peanuts gang has a change of heart when they see Charlie so discouraged. Linus says, “Maybe (the tree) just needs a little love.” They come together to adorn the little tree with all the ornaments they can find. Charlie’s heart is changed too, and the cartoon’s creator, Schultz, again shows that his little characters, while flawed, really aren’t so bad. They all just need a little love.

 

Precious Jesus, You came to us as an innocent Child, to see us in our flawed and sinful situations. Thank You for changing our hearts and understanding that we too just need a little love. 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 .

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