WHAT DOES GOD WANT NOW?

Words We Need NowHe has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

 

Today, we are living in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. My husband and I are retired; the “social distancing” and “sheltering-in-place” have not been as disruptive to our daily lives as they have to the lives of our children and grandchildren and many others. We pray for several family members who are on the front lines of this crisis—medical care providers and others performing essential tasks. But just yesterday, my husband asked me, “What do you think God wants us to think about this pandemic? What does He want us to know now?” Some thoughts we voiced to each other were: “The whole world is in this together.” “Shared suffering requires us to be vulnerable, to let the suffering of others impact us in a personal way.” “God wants us to pay attention to what’s important in life.”

 

As we shared our thoughts and said some prayers for those closest to our hearts, I remembered the simple admonition from the prophet Micah: “What does God require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” These words did seem simple a couple of weeks ago. But as we are being asked not to interact with others in our communities, workplaces, shops, restaurants—how are we supposed to show justice and mercy to others?

 

I’ve heard it said that only two paths lead us to a personal relationship with God: the path of love and the path of suffering. If most of us are honest with ourselves, those paths may have been intertwined throughout our faith journey, because loving something or someone deeply almost always involves some pain. The concepts in Micah’s challenge, “justice” and “mercy,” both arise from some passion to help someone outside of ourselves. That passion cannot be pain-free; but it is love that carries us through the pain to do our best to provide the help needed.

 

Great God, hear our anguished prayers! Bless and sustain those on the front lines of this battle. Stir the rest of us to support them with prayers and words and deeds of encouragement as we are able. 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 SPECIAL CHILD

fingers and toesTrust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

 

The birth of any child is cause for celebration, but my first glimpse of our new baby was also a cause for concern. Her body was limp, her skin blue, and her cry was low and raspy. I looked at my husband, Brian, with apprehension and fear, but he was quick to offer reassurance.

 

Our doctor showed up the next morning. His words were delivered in a terse, offhand manner: “Your baby was born with Down syndrome. Do you want to give her up for adoption?” What?

 

I swear my heart stopped beating. Brian already had two children from a previous marriage, and together we had one, so perhaps that’s why he managed to hold it together, at least for my sake. As for myself, I was stunned. I didn’t even know what questions to ask! The doctor certainly didn’t make it any easier when he merely handed me a brochure on the subject—and walked out of the room.

 

Along with the diagnosis of Down syndrome, Katlyn also had two dime-size holes in her heart. When I heard this news, I instantly foresaw her death. Surely, she would not survive, and I mentally prepared myself for her passing. I had even managed to convince myself that she would be better off with God, safer in heaven than she would be on earth. I went so far to suggest to Brian that we change the beautiful name we had chosen. I’m still not sure why I thought changing her name would make a difference, but I couldn’t stand the thought of our sweet Katlyn Elizabeth leaving us.

 

As I struggled with my disappointment and sadness, Brian was my pillar of strength. Then, out of nowhere, he cracked. On his way to the post office, he ended up dumping mail all over the road. Neighborhood children came to his rescue and helped him reload the truck. Hard as he had resisted, he’d reached his breaking point, too.

 

We faced a long, hard road—not just us, but our other children as well. But we knew God would guide us, and we were prepared to do whatever we could to not only prolong her life but to enrich it as well. Little did we know at the time that it would be Katlyn who would touch us so deeply and profoundly.

Now at twenty-four years old, Katlyn is a vivacious young adult with Down syndrome.  She is the author of My Friends the Penguins children’s book series and My Name is Princess Katlyn. Katlyn is also an actress, model, presenter, author, and all-around inspiration to all who meet her.

 

A mom of any child needs to learn to rest in God’s peace and trust her children to the Lord, but a special needs mom especially needs the strength of the Lord. From one mom’s heart to another, ask God for peace that only comes from Him. Pray that God will give you wisdom for those days you doubt His plan.

Ann Aubitz is the author of Katlyn Conquers the World and The Many Faces of Down Syndrome. Her writing buddy is her daughter with Down syndrome, Katlyn Aubitz. Ann owns FuzionPress/FuzionPrint in Burnsville, Minnesota, with her husband of twenty-six years.

World Down Syndrome Day (WDSD), March 21st, is a global awareness day which has been officially observed by the United Nations since 2012. The date for WDSD is the 21st day of the 3rd month, selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome. For more information about Down Syndrome and the day we celebrate these special world citizens, please see www.worlddownsyndromeday2.org .

A NEW LENTEN FAST

Fasting-black-and-white-1Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

 

In the Christian church, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends about six weeks, or forty days later, on Maundy Thursday, when Christ shared a last meal with His disciples before going to the cross. Lent is often associated with fasting, particularly Christ’s forty-day period of fasting and temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). Many Christians still observe some type of food fasting during Lent, perhaps giving up some special treat for the six-week period. Fewer folks will actually skip meals. I have given up chocolate many times, but I’ve eaten my share of sweets during Lent to make up for the loss of sugar in my diet. But Pope Francis has come up with some ideas for a different type of “fast” during the forty days following Ash Wednesday. Here is his list for this year:

 

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and have trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

Fast from bitterness and fill you hearts with joy.

Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

 

I think Pope Francis is on to something, and his ideas might be harder to implement than giving up food items! Imagine if we each could stick to even half of his list of things from which to abstain! Wouldn’t this world be a better place for at least six weeks? And what if the items on the list became a habit rather than a short-term project? This is certainly something to think about! As Isaiah says in Chapter 58 of the book by his name, the fast God wants is for us “to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.”  Let’s try Pope Francis’ idea of a meaningful fast this year!

 

Lord, we thank You for suffering through many trials on this earth, all for us! Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Hear the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. Corrigan lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

COME TO HIM AND REST

 

Jesus with Kneeling Womanby Guest Blogger Nikki Abramson

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

 

When health strikes against you, it is easy to want to fight back, to do it yourself. This is at least the case for me. This past year I struggled with the diagnosis of a rare form of intestine cancer. At the young age of 33, having cancer is not easy; at any age cancer is not easy. It took me a long time to surrender to God, to know that He could and is able to help me. I was so exhausted from going to doctor after doctor trying to figure out what I had and how to get help. The only option was an extensive surgery and with my pre-existing conditions, it would present more complications than I would ever know, or we could ever plan for. I had more hospitalizations than we ever thought. I was in the hospital every other month, once for 25 days. It broke me. As I laid there, I heard Him say to me as I was so weary ‘come to me and I will give you rest.’ It was then I realized I had tried to do it all on my own. I didn’t fully trust that He could help me in the midst of my pain and anguish.

 

God can and will help you in your greatest need. Reach out and call to Him. When I was so desperate and I had nothing left, that is when He spoke. When have you needed to rest? It is easy to go, go, and go. Matthew 11:28-30 is a great reminder to us that if we come to Him, He will give us the rest that we need in whatever form that looks like.

 

Dear God, help us to remember to come to You, to trust You, that when we come to You, You will give us rest. We often are so weary and burdened with our daily lives, our struggles, our to-do lists. Help us to say no when we need to. Help us to rest when we need to. Help us to come to You and to rest as our lives are so burdened by the struggles of our daily needs. Help us to lay them at the cross. In Your Name, Amen

 

Nikki Abramson is an author, actor, educator, director, teaching artist, and speaker. She has written two books: I Choose Hope-Overcoming Challenges through Faith and Positivity and Hope for Today as well as contributed to five anthologies. She co-wrote a play ‘No Limits’ and ‘Beyond Limits’ based upon being a woman of color and the challenges of having a chronic illness. She teaches and directs acting. For more information go to www.nikkiabramson.com

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 .

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

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 .

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.