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.

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 .

TELL ME A STORY

Jesus Telling a StoryHe replied, “God has granted you to know the meaning of these parables, for they tell a great deal about the Kingdom of God.” Luke 8:10

 

In November 1969, a minor miracle occurred on the American Public Broadcasting Service when Sesame Street debuted. Creators Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett teamed up with puppeteer Jim Henson and a host of producers and writers to create a new type of children’s television show with educational goals and a curriculum.  Henson’s “Muppets,” as they are called, interact with each other and with human actors to convey learning concepts that prepare very young children for school—particularly children from low-income families. Techniques such as song, repetition, and humor were used, and almost immediately, educators and social scientists began weighing in on what methods would improve the children’s educational experience. Social competence, tolerance of diversity, and nonaggressive ways of resolving conflict were introduced. And later, some real-life crises like the September 11th terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina were addressed. It was clear to the creators, researchers, critics, and the children themselves that the story lines on Sesame Street gained kids’ attention and taught them not just how to learn, but how to cope with and solve life issues.

 

Jesus knew the telling of stories was an effective way to teach people about the kingdom of God. A “parable” is described as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” In Matthew 13:11-15, Jesus explained to the disciples that they had been given special understanding of the Word of the Lord. But, as was prophesied in the 6th chapter of Isaiah, the average people of the time had closed their ears and no longer listened to the Lord’s warnings. So when Jesus went to explain the kingdom of God to the people, He used stories as examples of how God’s kingdom worked. A lamp as the Light of the World; a kind Samaritan showing caring for another; weeds in the wheat crop; the pearl of great price were all illustrations of God’s work on earth.

 

When I speak in public about God’s miraculous work in my own life, I always start with a story and I use stories throughout my talks. Like the producers of Sesame Street—and Jesus—have shown, the stories are what get a point across best.

 

Story-Teller God, shine through us in the stories we tell. 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 .

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/

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

 

NO MORE SNATCHING

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net