CALL ME ISRAEL

JacobJacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak….Then he said, “Let me go….” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24, 26-28

 

Jacob wrestled with “a man” on the banks of a river on his way back to Canaan. Various interpretations of this story portray the “man” as an angel, a prophetic vision, the Christ, or even God the Father. Jacob prevailed in this wrestling match, which seems unlikely to happen if the “man” were God. But prevail he does, and then this “man” asks Jacob his name. When Jacob tells him, the “man” tells Jacob his name is now to be “Israel” (which literally means “contends with God). Jacob then believes that he has “seen God face to face, and yet (his) life is preserved.”

 

This story reminds me about all the times, mostly in the middle of the night, when I have “contended with God.” When sleep evades me, my thoughts often turn to the things in my life that do not seem fair or right. I discuss these things with God, often with tears and silent rage. “Why did a twelve-year old girl at our church have to die?” “What can I do to help my four-year old great-granddaughter with her delayed speech when I live so far away?” “How can I stop using swear words when I get angry?” “How can I stop getting angry?” “When will I be able to balance my checkbook and clean out my closets?” Usually, I end up making peace with God for the moment, and then I sing myself to sleep. I almost never feel that I have “prevailed” in my struggles with God, not because He is stronger than I am, but because He is more patient and forgiving than I am. His grace has always allowed me to commune with Him through prayer. I eventually come to a place where I accept that seeking His will is a better choice than my continuing to complain.

 

Lord, You showed us through Jacob that it’s okay to “wrestle” with You. Thank You for loving us even then. 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 .

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 .

GLOTTAL STOP

Hawaiian LanguageWe do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

 

When I was in my twenties, I played percussion for several years in a Polynesian show band. I fell in love with the Hawaiian culture, their gentle “aloha” spirit, their customs, and even their language. Although I never learned to speak Hawaiian, I memorized the words of many of the songs we performed and learned some basic vocabulary and phrases. Many years later, I wrote a novel based on my experiences during the time I was with the show. Since I wanted to portray the Polynesian culture as accurately as I could, I contacted a Hawaiian friend here in my home state of Minnesota to advise me on All Things Hawaiian. She delivered in spades. She not only proofread my book for accuracy, but she insisted that I use the thirteenth “letter” of the Hawaiian alphabet, the “glottal stop,” which looks like this: ‘. You may think that I just typed an apostrophe, but the glottal stop is straight, not slanted. The best example of the usage of this “hiatus” is in the name of the Island State, Hawai’i. In between the two “i’s” at the end of the word is something like the English oh-oh. In Hawaiian, the glottal stop is similar to a consonant, the second most common in the language which appears frequently and is often left out by non-natives trying to speak the language.

 

My Hawaiian friend’s conscientious editing of my novel reminds me of how the Holy Spirit steps in when we struggle in prayer. We cannot think of the words to say to God; we stumble and stutter and find ourselves at a loss to know what to say to our wonderful, loving Creator. When this happens, we have a special “Editor” who comes to our aid and “groans” with just the right intonation and all the special meaning we are trying to convey. Just like the Hawaiian language would not be complete without the glottal stop accenting many of its lovely words, the Holy Spirit makes sure that we can tell our Lord what’s on our mind in the most meaningful way possible.

 

Holy Spirit, come to us when we are at a loss for words. Help us express to the Triune God what is on our hearts. 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 .

BIG LIES

Tara_WestoverThe righteous hate what is false, but the wicked make themselves a stench and bring shame on themselves. Proverbs 13:5

 

Of all the lies in the world—individual, corporate, political and all the rest—some of the most disturbing lies I’ve ever heard were told by Tara Westover’s father, recounted in her gripping memoir, Educated. Westover was raised in a family of fundamentalist Mormon survivalists on a remote mountain farm in Idaho. Tara describes her father as one of the most dysfunctional individuals ever to walk the face of the earth. He believed the US government could not be trusted and often told of other Mormon families who had been murdered at the hands of law enforcement agents. No one could be trusted outside the family, but the father himself could be trusted least of all. He regarded his numerous children as free labor, engaging them in work that put their lives at risk daily. Numerous injuries occurred under his watch, but he did not believe in taking his family members to a hospital. All injuries and illnesses were treated at home by Tara’s mother, who studied folk medicine. An older brother who had suffered several closed head injuries preyed on Tara and filled her life with terror. Because the family did not believe in public education, Tara was seventeen the first time she set foot in a traditional classroom. But a spark in her spirit and the example of another brother seeking schooling set Tara on a journey to obtain a formal education. She completed advanced degrees at both Harvard and Cambridge, finding that education was her way out of her former way of life.

 

Tara’s father believed himself to be more righteous than anyone else alive. He perpetrated horrendous lies and egregious treatment on his children, creating a profoundly dysfunctional family. Tara and one brother were the only ones who were able to escape and make lives for themselves. But their freedom was hard won, and their healing will need to be ongoing.

 

Proverbs 13:5 provides a picture into what God thinks about wicked people, especially those who mislead children and the downtrodden. Matthew 12:37 says, “On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified…(or)…condemned.”

 

Gentle Healer, make a way where there is no way for abused children to find peace. 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

DANCING WITH RATTLESNAKES

rattlesnake

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Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

 

When I was young, I had a “bomb proof” horse named Lito. Nothing bothered that little horse; she never fussed or bucked or reared up or even tried to nip me. She was as trustworthy as the day is long, but I didn’t really appreciate her until one day my friend and I were riding on a trail in the Colorado mountains near where we lived. I was enjoying the smooth gate Lito always delivered, until suddenly, she did a “Boot Skootin’ Boogie” sideways for about ten yards, into the grass and brush off the trail. I started to scold her when my friend said, “Look! There is a rattler crossing the path where she was!” Sure enough, Lito had dodged a true disaster without dumping me off her back in the process. A Western Diamondback Rattlesnake was slithering across the gravel into the grass. Since rattlers always travel in pairs, my friend and I reigned our horses in a different direction to avoid both the snakes. And I gave Lito an extra measure of grain that evening in appreciation for her quick and safe reaction.

 

How many times in my life has God intervened when I didn’t even realize I was in danger, or that I was about to make a foolish choice with dire consequences? I can think of dozens, beginning with God’s mighty rescue when I narrowly escaped with my life from the hands of a gun-wielding rapist. Throughout my days, God has steered me away from opportunities that might have looked good from the outside but would likely have been disastrous if I had chosen the wrong path. Potential job opportunities that fell apart, boyfriends that were obviously not a good fit for me, purchases that I didn’t make, and on and on. Time after time, God has been there to divert me from metaphorical rattlesnakes in my path (often traveling in pairs!).

 

Psalm 25 is a testimony to the wisdom of following God’s path. The psalmist asks God to make known the truest ways to follow, and the wisdom that only God can impart.

 

Sweet Lord, save us from rattlesnakes and wayward ways. 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 .

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 .

GONE!

Etch A SketchHe will again have compassion upon us: He will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

An Etch A Sketch is a mechanical drawing toy that has a thick, flat gray screen in a red plastic frame. According to Wikipedia.com, “There are two white knobs on the front of the frame in the lower corners. Twisting the knobs moves a stylus that displaces aluminum powder on the back of the screen, leaving a solid line. The knobs create lineographic images. The left control moves the stylus horizontally, and the right one moves it vertically. The Etch A Sketch was introduced near the peak of the (post-World War II) Baby Boom on 12 July 1960 for $2.99 (equivalent to $26 in 2019). It went on to sell 600,000 units that year and is one of the best-known toys of that era. In 1998, it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Etch A Sketch to its Century of Toys List, a roll call commemorating the 100 most memorable and most creative toys of the 20th century. The Etch A Sketch has since sold over 100 million units world-wide.” I think the most fun thing about the Etch A Sketch is that, when you make a mistake or you are tired of looking at one creation, you can invert the entire toy and all the aluminum powder disappears from the screen. You can then start a new design as if the old one never existed.

I like to think about the forgiveness we have with God as an eternal Etch A Sketch toy. When we repent of our sin, when we come to God to say we are sorry and we are ready to begin again, He always tips us upside down and allows our sin to fall out. Like with the Etch A Sketch, we can remember the designs—or the sins—we create after they have been forgiven by God. But Micah says God will “cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). Some theologians refer to God’s complete absolution of our sins as a “sea of forgetfulness.” God forgets and our sins are just…gone!

 

Lord of Life, thank You that You grant us new mercies every morning! 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

WISDOM AND JUSTICE

Wisdom and JusticeMy child, if you accept My words and treasure up My commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding….then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1-2,5

 

King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs, with insight from God, advising how people should live among each other. Verses 6 through 8 remind us that “the Lord gives wisdom…knowledge and understanding…. guarding the paths of justice and preserving the ways of his faithful ones.” We obtain the wisdom of God by seeking, reading, and studying His holy Word.

 

God’s wisdom, when applied to our lives, leads to integrity, which has been defined as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Integrity requires us to care about other people, sometimes more than we care about ourselves. Christ called this “laying down one’s life” for others (John 13:38). He didn’t mean so much that we must actually die for others (which we could only do once), but that we must be willing to consider the needs of others whom we routinely encounter. Justice is what occurs when we act out the principle of performing the right action at the right time. And that seems to bring us back full circle, to having knowledge about what is happening to our fellow human beings, using that knowledge to make wise decisions with integrity about how we can serve God in our lives.

 

It is hard for most people, as it is for me, to watch the nightly news and be bombarded with the “shock and awe” in those broadcasts. The broken world is on full display, in very real and lightning fast time, relentlessly streaming into our homes and our lives every minute of every day, if we choose to watch and listen. How can we sort it all out and determine what each of us should do—each small, single human being with brokenness of our own to resolve? What are we to do about the sad state of affairs in our world? The answer is not necessarily to go out and “save” the whole world. The answer lies in listening carefully to God and using our knowledge, wisdom, faith, and ability to do the next right thing where we are now.

 

Jesus, Redeemer, show us how to help where 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. 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

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 .