BEST HOPES, WORST FEARS

WorryDo not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Look at the birds of the air….your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:25-34

 

I have always said my spiritual gift is worrying. Being raised by an alcoholic mother and co-dependent father, I grew up assuming the worst would always happen in my life because that’s all I ever knew. I’m working to grow and change, and I want to share some things I’ve learned.

 

Matthew 6:25-34 was one of the verses my husband and I used in our marriage ceremony. The passage reminds me that it is human nature to worry some of the time, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. But Jesus is saying that God cares even for the little birds in the sky, so why would we doubt that He cares for each of us? Yes, bad things happen in life, but our faith will and does sustain us, even in the worst of times. A friend said recently that, when a bird lands on the highest branch of a tree, the bird doesn’t trust the branch; he trusts his wings. And another friend, who happens to be a retired biology teacher, added that a bird’s wings are porous so they can be both light and strong. A third friend added that our attitudes and perceptions are “an inside job.” In other words, it’s not the branches in life that we trust; it’s our own wings—the strength we possess inside—that keeps us afloat.

 

Mark Twain once said, “I’ve been through some terrible things in my life, and some of them actually happened.” Worry must be viewed as a tremendous waste of time. If we worry in advance, we tell ourselves, we will somehow be more prepared if something bad does happen. But our best hope is just as likely to occur as our worst fear. We would do well to think, “What is the most productive thing I can do at this moment?” In the words of A.J. Cronin, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its strength.”

 

Lord, when I start to worry, remind me of those birds You care so much for and strengthen my wings of faith. 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 .

TELL YOUR HEART

Open Heart Surgery 2Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring My name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel.” Acts 9:13-15

 

Musicians Phillips, Craig and Dean recorded a song in 2012 called “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again.” The song was inspired by a heart surgeon who was attempting to massage a heart to make it beat again following open heart surgery. The heart wouldn’t start, and more measures did not help. The surgeon finally did the most incredible thing: he knelt next to the patient, removed his mask, and spoke directly into her ear. “Miss Johnson,” he said, “This is your surgeon. The operation went perfectly. Your heart has been repaired. Now tell your heart to beat again.” The heart began to beat immediately.

 

This story reminds me of Saul’s conversion. A zealous Jew who did not believe Jesus was the son of God, Saul was on his way to Damascus, with written authority to arrest and even kill followers of Christ. But Christ met Saul on the road, asking him “Why are you persecuting me?” Then Christ caused Saul to lose his sight (Acts 9:109). He had to be led into Damascus, but Christ had more surprises for him. A righteous man named Ananias saw a vision from the Lord telling him he was to find Saul and teach him about the risen Christ. Ananias objected strenuously because he feared Saul’s wrath against Christ’s followers. But the Lord insisted that Saul (later called Paul) was the one He had chosen to carry Christ’s name and message to the people (Acts 9:13-15). Ananias met with Paul, and “immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored” (Acts 9:18). The Lord could have given back Paul’s sight and shown him all he needed to learn. But like the heart surgeon speaking gently to his patient, the Lord chose a person to bring Paul into the wonderful light of Christ’s love and forgiveness.

 

Lord, thank You for the people in our lives who bring us healing and hope with their words and their faith. 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. Meg has written a Christian devotional blog for several years that has been read in over 40 countries by 9000 people. A compilation of blogs, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, was published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she has hopes of completing by Christmas, 2020. Her first book, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, is a memoir about her childhood with an alcoholic mother and a co-dependent father. The book also chronicles Meg’s astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding rapist, a tragedy turned holy, a powerful message of hope in her darkest hour. Meg is a retired college counselor and former social worker. Meg enjoys 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 and her husband Patrick play and sing in the contemporary worship band at their church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. She also volunteers 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 .

TOLERANCE FOR AMBIGUITY

Tolerance for AmbiguityWho is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to Me. Job 38:2-3

 

In my master’s program for counseling, we studied “tolerance for ambiguity,” or the ability to manage uncertainty in which an outcome is unknown. Life is full of situations when we are not certain what will happen. A 2018 study at Brown University found that people who can handle uncertainty are more likely to trust others and cooperate in seeking solutions to problems. This makes sense because trusting others means we have to take a risk that what they say to us is true and what they say they will do, they will do. This trust allows us to work with others to solve problems, within our families or work or church. Embarking on group projects automatically means we don’t know the exact outcome, But sometimes the outcome can be much more than we expected or hoped for.

 

A case study in tolerance for ambiguity is the Bible story of Job. Psychology Today Magazine columnist Dr. Mark Banschick has an interesting commentary on how Job, a man with faith, health, wealth, wisdom, and a large and close family experiences numerous undeserved traumas. The book opens with God telling Satan what a good man Job is. Satan challenges God that surely Job will not maintain his faith if he loses everything. God says, “You’re on,” and the tragedy begins. Job loses livestock, possessions, family, his own health and much more…but he never once denounces God. Then Job’s “friends” arrive. They argue, “You must have sinned (really bad),” “There’s a grand plan (and you don’t know it),” “You’re really mad at God (so admit it).” But still Job persists in his faith. He asks God what’s going on, and God answers him loud and clear. In fact, in Chapter 38, God wallops Job: “Who do you think you are? YOU didn’t create the universe and set the world in motion!” Job might have been terrified of God’s judgment, but what this faithful, good man saw was that God cared enough to come down and be with Job in his sorrow and pain. And that’s what He does for all of us when we experience trauma.

 

Almighty God, we thank You that you comfort us when we are afflicted and traumatized. 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 .

COUNTING TO TEN WHILE PRAYING

counting to ten while prayingAbove all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

 

I have a great marriage. This does not mean things go smoothly all the time, as anyone who has been or still is married can tell you. Some days, it takes all I’ve got to remember the wonderful reasons I fell in love with him. He is good looking, smart, sensible, trustworthy, kind, practical, and he loves dogs. He could probably come up with a similar list for why he chose me too, and on a good day, our good lists are all we see. But throw in a sleepless night, a bunch of things in life going wrong when they were expected to go right, and dinner getting burned, and we become less compatible. That’s the nature of a long-term relationship, the nature of life. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trials, but I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

 

Counting to ten while praying saves me. I have learned that doing both together can get me out of an awful mood and make me more willing to forgive. The results are even better if I also list the reasons I chose my husband while I am praying and counting to ten. It’s a package deal. The more you work it, the better the outcome.

 

So does love cover (or excuse) a multitude of sins? I believe it does. But obviously no one deserves to be physically or emotionally battered to the point where people are in danger of getting seriously hurt. Ephesians 5:21-33 describes an ideal marriage. But the passage is often misinterpreted to mean that a woman must obey her husband no matter what. The 21st verse clearly says, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The remaining verses provide a standard to live up to: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church” (v. 25) and  “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord” (v. 22). Both of these statements compare marriage to our individual relationships with God. We are to strive to have the same relationship with life partners—and everyone else—that we have with our Lord. And counting to ten while praying helps all of us!

 

Jesus, help us model all our relationships after our relationship with You. Amen

KEY WORDS

Key WordsLet My teaching fall like rain and My words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2

 

In this day and age, most of us are familiar with the concept of “key words.” Searching Google is possible because, for almost any topic known to humans, key words have been linked on the Internet to that subject in a logical way. If you want to learn about climate change, for example, you can enter a few words you already know about that topic—such as global warming, ice melt, rising sea level and greenhouse gases—and you will find a long list of resources about the subject. Enter words like tropical paradise, warm weather destinations and winter getaway to begin planning your next cold weather vacation. As an author, I use key words to interest people in reading my weekly Christian blog. Courage, daily living, faith, grace, gratitude and humility are just a few of the words people might search to land on my blog site. Key words are a marketing tool, but they are also an easy way to help us navigate the vast information highway and find answers that used to take us many hours perusing the Encyclopedia Britannica or the card catalog at our local library.

 

One might say that every single word in the Bible is one of God’s key words. In the Deuteronomy passage I used today, I love the visual of God’s teaching falling “like rain” and His words “descending like dew, like showers on new grass” or “rain on tender plants.” I just searched through Google for Isaiah 55:11 by entering the words, “My word will not return to me.” I didn’t know the entire verse, but a Bible commentary showed this: “My word will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” In this passage, God clearly says that His word will find its mark, in many unpredictable ways and for many divine purposes. Those who study Scripture find that there is a message for everyone, in every circumstance, and not one of God’s words is wasted. The Bible is more than just a “marketing tool” for God; the Good Book has just the right “key words” for each of us.

 

Lord, we marvel at Your book of key words! 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 .

LET’S EAT!

Jesus Cooking BreakfastJesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. John 21:12

 

I do almost all the cooking for my husband and me. I love to cook, and I try to make special meals when I have the ingredients and the time. When I tell my husband it’s time to eat, he is often reading, watching television, or tinkering in the garage. “I’ll be there in a minute,” he’ll say, and I know he’s in the middle of a chapter or a show or a project. I don’t mind holding the meal a bit. I’ve learned to expect him to come as soon as he is able. Mealtimes are special for us as a couple, and we always thank God for the food that nourishes us.

 

Following His miraculous resurrection, Jesus was full of surprises. He appeared to the women outside the empty tomb on Easter morning (John 20:16). Later He walked right through the wall into the Upper Room. And He came again to see Thomas who was not among those He had seen before (John 20:19-29). Then, when the disciples finally thought they’d seen the last of Him, they all went fishing. And there was Jesus again, on the shore, telling them where to cast their nets to catch fish. Then, He call to them to come join Him on shore for a breakfast of fresh fish (John 21). The passage in John says the disciples knew right away it was Jesus, but it still must have been a surprise to witness Him doing something so ordinary and mundane as making breakfast for His friends. Although John’s Gospel is silent on the transfiguration of Christ, Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9 all record Jesus ascending up to heaven in the presence of Peter, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John the Apostle.

 

What a whirlwind those days must have been! The Creator of the Universe was brutally executed, buried in a tomb, conquered death and rose again. How precious were those hours when He spent ordinary, “quality” time with the men He loved before being raised to sit at His Father’s right hand for eternity.

 

Jesus, we thank You that You became a mortal being just like us so we could remember You when we say “Let’s eat!” 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, to the delight of all who read her work and hear her speak. 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

A HARD JOB

 

Basque SheepherderThe Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

 

The Elko, Nevada area is home to Basque immigrants from Spain who came here in the 19th century to work as sheep herders. When I played drums in a Hawaiian band, we spent time in Elko. Many of these herdsmen would come in to hear our band play. We learned from a Basque named Mercedes Hoyos that their life herding sheep was not easy. From my book, Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist:

 

“You don’t have to know anything about sheepherding to recognize one of the northern Basques who (had) spent about three months out on the range, all alone with his sheep, until somebody finally came and relieved him of his duties so he could go into town for a few days. He would usually stay at a Basque boarding house…where he would have a long bath while his clothes were being laundered. Then, he’d be ready for a home-cooked meal of marmitako (Basque tuna stew) and Chacoli wine, maybe a Catholic mass or two, and certainly a quick confession with one of the local priests, to relieve himself of the burden of his sins…He’d had a bath and put on clean clothes, (but) there was still a strange odor about this man. He wore a long-sleeved red wool shirt, even though it was warm outside. His brown pants, also wool, were tucked into work boots and held up by suspenders. A San Francisco Giants baseball cap graced his full head of grayish brown hair.

 

“’Those mountains are called mata hombres. “Man killers is what they are! I was pretty much ready for a visit to town,’ Mercedes said….(‘I tend) ‘bout nine hundred sheep, mostly ewes. A few rams…and the ewes have dropped their lambs, since it’s summertime ….I have to stay right by the sheep, especially at night. There are lots of coyotes….I really care about each one of ‘em. If I find a dead lamb, well, I just start to cry.’”

 

Images of a fluffy lamb in the arms of Jesus disappeared as I listened to Mercedes Hoyos describe his hard life. The image we carry of our Lord as our shepherd must include the hard work, deep caring and responsibility a sheep tender brings to the job.

 

Lord, we are Your lambs and You care for us as a Good Shepherd. Amen

STRONG WILL, STRONG WON’T

Walking God's PathYour will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

 

“We often think of God’s will as a thin, barely visible line drawn with chalk that blurs in bad weather,” writes Alicia Britt Chole, Christian speaker and author of many works including Pure Joy. This quote speaks to my heart, because I often feel I am playing a game of Hide and Seek when I try to imagine God’s will for my life or even my moments. Such an illusive thing, to be following the will of a God I can’t see with my very naked eye, One Who does not converse with me audibly on a daily basis, and all of this with my humanness and my ego blocking the way much of the time anyway. I read the Bible every day and pray with some regularity, but still I feel I don’t have a grasp on that mysterious thing called “God’s will.”

 

I know that God’s will is strong, but many times my won’t seems to be stronger! Frequently, I come back to my theory that the only way to stay really close to God and follow Him all the time is to move to a cloistered monastery where the only thing to do is worship God. But even that’s ridiculous because people who live in monasteries have to do stuff every day too. They have to cook and wash dishes and do laundry and fix the place up and take care of the animals if they have them. Even in a silent monastery, there has to be some kind of communication. Otherwise, how would they call the paramedics if one of them gets hurt? (But I digress….)

 

So when the apostle Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), he is really talking about learning to multitask: develop that “attitude of prayer” so well that you can do it while you are answering the phone or walking to the bus or getting gum out of your child’s hair. If we can “do” God all the time, while we “do” life, His “will” becomes ever more apparent to us.

 

Lord, I want to do Your will, but I am weak. Help me with my “won’ts.” 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 .

WHAT BACK DOOR?

what back doorI pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-18

 

Recently, I was asked to participate in a group about groups. A number of folks apparently stood out as potential leaders for small groups at our church, and the pastor invited us to spend six Wednesday evenings together discussing what small group leadership looked like to us. During one of the initial meetings, the topic of shrinking attendance at all mainstream Christian churches in the United States came up. Someone said, “We need to close the back door so people won’t leave.” I wasn’t sure if that was meant as a joke or not. Perhaps I’m not the person to ask about closing the back door.

 

You see, I’m a “new” Christian. I only accepted Christ as my personal Savior forty-four years ago, when I was twenty-eight, so I don’t consider myself a “life-long” Christian. I didn’t grow up in the church. I never had parents or grandparents or pastors or Sunday school teachers who tried to “raise me right.” I didn’t go through confirmation until I was almost twenty-nine, long after my teenaged-self thought I knew more about life than church could teach me, for heaven’s sake! You see, I’m still excited about church, and I have no intention of leaving, by the back door or the front door or the window. I’m here for the long haul. They are stuck with me, warts and all.

 

So I can’t get into a discussion of “closing the back door” to retain current members or ensure new members stay. All we have to do is get them so excited about Christ that they won’t leave. Ever. If there is anything I will have to say about it, I plan to share my faith in a way that gets other people excited too. God doesn’t want us perfect. He just wants us excited to know Him.

 

Lord, I pray that each member of our church…“may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” 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

GUARD MY TONGUE, LORD!

Watch Your TongueI said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” Psalm 39:1

 

Okay, I will admit, by mouth gets the better of me sometimes. I’m improving as I age, but once in a while, I say things that I really shouldn’t have or didn’t mean to. Then they are just out there and I have to live with the consequences. Sometimes it’s just embarrassing, but occasionally, it’s downright painful. I am usually my own worst critic, and most of the time amends are made and things are fine. But we can’t take back the words we say very easily, and in spite of the old saying, words do hurt. Ask David. He talks about the tongue and his lips and his words on numerous occasions in the Psalms. Sometimes he says he’s watching himself around those who are “wicked,” as in Psalm 39:1. But other times, he takes full responsibility for his actions: “While I mused, the fire burned;  then I spoke with my tongue” (Psalm 39:3).

 

James has pointed words to say about the tongue too, describing it as “a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” (James 3:5). He continues: “And the tongue is a fire…placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell” (v. 6). And James says, “no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (v. 7). Who among us can win with such a wicked thing in our mouths?

 

I heard a wonderful saying recently about when to speak: “Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said now? Does it need to be said by me?” Surely these are words to abide by! In fact, I can just imagine Jesus whispering them in my ear. If, when my little fiery tongue is ready to lash out and make a fool of me, I could slow my mind long enough to repeat these three questions to myself, things would go much better.

 

Patient Lord, help me ask myself these important questions before I open my mouth! 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 .