DUNNING-KRUGER EFFECT

Dunning Kruger Effect.jpgPraise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 106:1

 

According to verywellmind.com, Dunning-Kruger Effect is “a cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are.” Because they don’t know what they don’t know, these people often believe they are smarter than they are. We all know someone like this: the uncle who believes he is extremely knowledgeable about computer technology even though his five-year-old daughter can run circles around him on a Smartphone. The entrepreneur who truly believes she has the inside track with the stock market but continually fails at business ventures. The student who blows off test after test but blames the professor for grading the student’s work incorrectly.

 

A common phrase used in the past to describe such folks is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” When psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger coined the phrase in 1991, their simple premise was that “people are unreliable resources for evaluating their own skills and shortcomings” (blog/hubspot.com). Just about everybody exhibits a few Dunning-Kruger traits; we all want to believe we are savvy about subjects that are familiar to us. But it is when individuals separate themselves from the concept of self-improvement and personal discovery—when life revolves only around one’s ability to prove competence at all costs—dysfunction is not far away!

 

Enter the transforming power of Christ! Our living Lord gives us permission to just be ourselves. Christ tells us over and over in Scripture that He loves us unconditionally; even when we repeatedly demonstrate that we are not perfect, He still loves us just the same. The entire text of Psalm 106 is about God’s redeeming, forgiving, transforming love in any and all circumstances. Verse 6 says, “Both we and our ancestors have sinned; we have committed iniquity, have done wickedly.” And verse 8 answers: “Yet He saved (us) for His name’s sake, so that He might make known His mighty power.” Yes, God gives each person the ability to use our gifts and talents in small and large ways, and He rejoices when we live for Him. But He doesn’t base His opinion of us on whether we know all there is to know about anything. He just loves us!

 

Lord, let me be confident in Your constant loving care! Amen

LEMONADE STANDS

A lemonade stand for 25 cents a cup

A classic summer lemonade stand.

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3

 

During this pandemic, I really miss lemonade stands! Children selling lemonade to passers by is one of the sweetest, purest things in our society. I have been known to slam on my brakes (while looking carefully in all directions) and even turning around and going back to stop at a lemonade stand. I never pass them by, no matter how late I may be for an appointment or how many errands I have to run that day. Plus, I love lemonade, even if it’s watered down and slightly warm.

 

I cherish and honor this tradition, because it says so much about the family behind the project. Kids can’t sell lemonade on their own! There has to be a collaborative effort between them and their parents, or at least some older, responsible (and loving) siblings or even grandparents. Somebody has to buy the lemonade, cups and napkins. Pitchers have to be rounded up, and some sort of a “store” set up. An adult has to go get some cash, and the child has to be shown how to count money and make change. Will there be treats too? Who will bake or buy them? Will the child need to reimburse the parents for supplies? Somebody has to take time to help the child get set up in her new enterprise, provide encouragement for the operation, and be on hand when it’s over. A lemonade stand doesn’t just happen by itself. It’s a family effort, something to cheer about, something to support. It’s an American institution and it’s my civic duty to be involved. Cue the marching band!

 

Proverbs 22:6 says parents should “start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” And the Apostle Paul advises his protégé Timothy, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8). It’s clear that Jesus believed children held the keys to the Kingdom of God: their innocence, their trusting, their simplicity were all traits Christ recognized in His teaching (Matthew 7:11 and 11:25). I believe God would approve of lemonade stands and how they help keep families together.

 

Father in Heaven, we praise You for providing guidance so families make good memories together. Amen

 

Good News! Meg Corrigan’s weekly blogs will soon be in a second daily devotional book, Saints With Slingshots TWO: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian. The book is expected to be completed and on the market by December 2020! Watch for more information when the book is available!

BETTER…NOT NORMAL

Coronavirus Visits

Guest Writer: Donna Mathiowetz

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose. Romans 8:28

 

When Covid – 19 hit it was as if a switch was turned off and almost everything changed overnight. Non-essential businesses were closed and students finished their current school year by way of “distance learning.” Many adults were now working from home. Restaurants were struggling to keep their establishments afloat by way of curbside service. The city playgrounds in many communities were surrounded by bright orange construction fencing. The implications go on and on.

 

For me, I was grieving for all those who are no longer receiving the personal support they need after the death of a loved one. There are no groups meeting as churches and all community gathering venues are closed. If you didn’t know what Zoom was before, almost everyone, including me, became very familiar with the newest way to gather. Some, but not all of the speaking engagements that were on my calendar after March 15 converted to Zoom meetings. Yes, I could see the faces and hear their voices, but it wasn’t the same for any of us. I missed the personal connections and the ability to hold their hand and give them a hug. Outside of our homes, the best we could do was to remain six feet apart, wearing a mask. Funerals were restricted to no more than ten people present, six feet apart. If their loved ones were residents of a care facility, the family wasn’t allowed to visit, except through a pane of glass. Many who had become ill enough to need hospitalization were also alone, with no visitors allowed in. The long-term implications of the collective repressed grief will be with us for years to come.

I am trying to follow my own advice for self-care. Taking long, brisk walks and riding my bike became my way of relieving the stress that I felt. I spent time each morning reading my devotions and Bible. I journaled and stayed in touch by phone with friends who were supportive and loving. This was a world-wide event, and I only sense what it has done to my little corner of this big blue planet. The fear was almost palpable as I encountered others at the grocery store and around town. The masks covered their nose and mouth, but not their eyes. The eyes often display fatigue, worry and anger, along with fear. People seemed hesitant to look at each other, much less speak a word of encouragement or hope. Kindness seems to be waning, replaced by judgment for some who choose not to wear a mask in public. However, through it all I remember my life verse.

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose. Romans 8:28

I’d like to encourage you to think about those you know who have been on their own journey of grief during these challenging times. Isolation is always a factor when you’re suffering from a loss and the pandemic has magnified this even more. Even though we saw the term “services pending”, we know that grief doesn’t. So, please make it a point to reach out that someone you know who may really need a listening ear with the understanding that their grief has been delayed but it didn’t just dissipate.

 

So, like almost everyone else, we grieve what seems to have been lost in

all this and wonder what it will mean in the future.

Let’s not go back to normal, but to better.

 

Donna Mathiowetz is an inspirational speaker and author of “A Journal for Your Journey”. Her passion is to help others as they navigate the losses in life resulting from the death of a loved one, health issues, and loss of independence, broken dreams, and other life events.  She helps others to build their resiliency muscles, giving them the ability to bend but not break in the storms of life.  Donna shares her own story of loss, teaches from what she has learned and seeks to inspire others to do more than survive, but instead thrive and look for ways to help others along the way. Donna is a wife, mom and grandmother. She lives in Hastings MN Email: donna@UnfinishedByDesign.com

Website: www.UnfinishedByDesign.com

FB, IG, LinkedIn @ Unfinished by Design

WHAT GOD WANTS FROM YOU

Baby In ChurchBecause of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

Since I became a Christian as a young adult, I took a long time to understand the purpose of infant baptism. The best answer I have found is that the sacrament is not about the child accepting Jesus Christ as her Savior and Redeemer. It’s not even about her parents, godparents, pastor, relatives and fellow parishioners ushering her into the family of God. Because, truly, neither that tiny child nor the adult people who care for her can do what God does during baptism at any age. Baptism in the Christian church means that into the heart of the baptized person, faith is given as a gift of grace, and not from anything any person can accomplish alone. I had not been a total believer in infant baptism, since my own journey brought me to Christ fully grown, fully awake and aware, and still incapable of saving myself. I did not have parents who brought me to be baptized; I came on my own, as many in the early Christian church did. But however we come to be baptized, at some point we must also make a conscious decision to accept God’s grace, redemption, forgiveness and immense love as a precious gift to us individually. This is the key to eternal life, and life in the “now-kingdom of God.”

When one is offered an immensely valuable gift with no strings attached, one should simply take that gift and say, “Thank you.” But we humans are a suspicious lot, so we say, “What’s the catch? Why would I believe someone would want to give me a nice gift such as, say, daily peace that passes all understanding or eternal life?” But the gift is there, and it’s free and it will change our lives completely, radically, like nothing else could ever change us. All we have to do is accept the gift because—and this is the best part—it’s already ours anyway. God loved us from the moment we were born—from the moment we were conceived—and the only thing He wants from us is our cooperation.

Lord, take me as Your beloved, imperfect child, no strings attached. 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 .

FROM SEA TO SHINING PARKING LOT

Citizenship drivethroughMay the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. Psalm 67:4

 

The Corona virus pandemic has changed just about everything in the United States, including how people are sworn in as citizens of our nation. Steve Hartman reported on CBS this weekend that “Immigrants who’ve completed all the requirements of citizenship are pulling into parking lots from San Diego, to Des Moines, to Detroit for socially distant naturalization ceremonies.” Drive-thru citizenship ceremonies? Well, in this time of social distancing and health experts’ recommendations not to hold large gatherings to keep from spreading the virus, being sworn in as a new citizen while sitting in your car has been the next best option. One such immigrant, Kwame Asante is from Ghana and came to the U.S. forty years ago. “Just to be an American is like close to paradise,” he told Hartman. “It’s given me so many opportunities.” Asante is a respiratory therapist, one of the “essential workers” smack in the middle of the pandemic. “He says he’s not scared,” Hartman reported, “now that he’s a proud American. ‘Even if I die today,’ Asante says, ‘I’m OK.’”

 

As a counselor in Minnesota’s state college system for three decades, I was honored to assist students from several dozen nations. They came on student visas, as war refugees, or directly through the immigration process, but most had one common goal: to start a new life in a nation filled with opportunity. I have heard their stories of coming from countries rife with hardship, loss, tragedy, and complete disregard for their human rights. Many endured years in refugee camps with deplorable conditions. What must it have been like to step off an airplane or a ship and take their first look at this proud land which has practiced “the great experiment” called Democracy for nearly two and a half centuries? I was humbled to be at their service during their time at the colleges where I worked.

 

This Fourth of July, I am reminded that, unless we are one hundred percent Native American, we are all immigrants. Remember Jesus said “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), calling this “the second greatest commandment” after loving our Lord.

 

Healing Lord, let us continue to be a nation welcoming immigrants and making them part of “us”. 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 .

SADNESS

SadnessBe gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye wastes away from grief, my soul and body also. Psalm 31:9

 

I am incredibly sad. As I write this, the Covid-19 cases and deaths are on the rise again, after many states in the US opened up many public venues against the advice of the Centers for Disease Control. As I embraced my sadness, I began to think how much worse the situation is for others in our nation—and in the world—than it is for my husband and me. We are retired, and although we are at higher risk to contract the Coronavirus because of our age and some underlying health conditions, we do not have to leave our home to do much of anything. We can order groceries from home and stay away from public gatherings, plus we have sufficient retirement income so we do not need to work at this point in our lives. We are truly blessed. Others are not so fortunate: they may be forced to work as an “essential employee” and they have many more worries and responsibilities than we do. So…if I’m sad, I cannot imagine the anguish some others are experiencing now. Add to that the current racial unrest following the murders of a number of innocent Black citizens at the hands of police, and we have a powder keg of sorrow, fear and anxiety on top of the pandemic.

 

As I thought about all these people and what they are going through, I was reminded of a favorite Christian song of mine, “Held” written by Christa Wells and first recorded by Natalie Grant. The lyrics relate unspeakable tragedy in the lives of those who have suffered greatly. The chorus reminds us that God is always there and that His promise is to hold us in our darkest hour. The moving words of the song continue: “This is what it means to be held/How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life/And you survive.” For those of us enduring the triple catastrophe of the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the deep-seated racist issues facing our nation, we can know that our God cares and is holding us up when we don’t believe we have the energy to stand.

 

Great God of Compassion, hold us when we are too weak to go on. Amen

 

To listen to the song, “Held” performed by Natalie Grant, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJhsexd8Qqg

PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS

St. Teresa of AvilaBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

 

Am I a priestess? It’s hard to imagine that of myself, but that is what the Bible tells us in 1 Peter. We are to be “like living stones, let (ourselves) be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (v. 5). Hebrews 4:16 says we are to “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help (others and ourselves) in time of need.” The people of ancient Israel were God’s special “chosen people” (Deuteronomy 7:6). But through Christ, all believers are now “God’s own people.” He has given us the authority to appeal directly to Him with all the privileges of a priest. We no longer need a human religious leader to intervene for us; because of Christ’s saving work, we can ask God for what we need openly.

 

“Sainthood” might be the closest thing to “royal priesthood” that we have in our modern world. Although I am not a member of the Catholic church, I am often comforted by learning about women who have been named saints. The Catholic church’s process to determine sainthood requires extensive documentation that the person has performed at least two miracles in her lifetime. I believe in miracles, and I believe that those who live exemplary earthly lives dedicated to service to God are miracles within themselves. Reading about their lives gives me hope in both humankind and God. I am encouraged that certain human beings have found favor with God and humankind. Perhaps there is hope for me in the small things I try to do and say (“spiritual sacrifices”) to encourage others. I do this not just to “be polite,” but to fulfill God’s purpose for me. While I may never be anointed with sainthood, I can recall the words of 1 Peter 2:9 and know that I am valued in God’s sight as one of His “priesthood of believers.”

 

Father of Light, we proclaim Your mighty acts because You created us to do so. We belong to You forever. 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 .

EZEKIEL AND THE DRY BONES

Valley of the Dry BonesHe brought me out by the spirit of the Lord…in the middle of a valley…full of bones. There were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3

 

“Not quite two weeks after the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a now-former Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, it (was) already clear that what happened to him—and the protests that followed—will be in history books someday,” reported Time Magazine. “The moment is not only a striking turning point in an ongoing Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality, but also set apart by a global pandemic that is disproportionately affecting African Americans.” The questions remained: how long would the protests continue, and would there be real, sustainable, systemic change in the way police interact with the black and brown populations in the United States? I am standing on God’s promise that love will overcome hate and peace will replace outrage.

 

The story of Ezekiel and his vision of the dry bones has some parallels with the George Floyd killing and the world’s reaction. The ruthless Babylonians destroyed the temple in Ezekiel’s hometown of Jerusalem in about 587BC. The Israelites were discouraged and thought God was not powerful enough to protect his chosen people. But God gave Ezekiel a vision of a valley of skeletons and instructed Ezekiel to prophesy hope to the bones. Flesh and sinews appeared on the bones and God breathed physical and spiritual life into them. The vision meant that the Israelites would survive the oppression they were experiencing. More importantly, the people would survive because of God’s power and love for them throughout their dismal circumstances.

 

Ezekiel’s story became popular among black preachers after the Civil War. James Weldon Johnson even wrote a song, “Dem Bones,” which became an anthem for early black social movements. And today, we see the Black Lives Matter movement engaging the entire world in support of humane treatment for people of color. God can put new life in those who have been oppressed far too long. Let us all work towards a world of zero oppression.

 

Lord, speak to the weary bones and hearts and souls of the oppressed. Let them feel Your resurrecting power. Amen

DIVINE INTERVENTION

Divine InterventionJesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” John 13:7

 

I am not one to get sick, but about three years ago that changed. I knew something was wrong. I felt irritable (more than normal), jittery, and hungry, but I was losing weight. I had a ton of energy, but it was pent up and it wasn’t the good kind. It wasn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t me.

 

I finally listened to my body and went to the doctor. After a bunch of tests she indicated that I had Graves Disease, which is very treatable. However, the ultrasound images proved conclusively that I had thyroid cancer, and had several small nodules that needed to be surgically removed.

 

I had the surgery, and it appeared to be successful. The doctor said with rest I would be able to use my voice again in a day or two. After a week I still had no voice. It hurt to whisper, and it was impossible to do my job as a co-owner of a publishing company. My voice is my business: I talk to clients all day long, I speak at conferences, and I lead workshops, but I couldn’t do any of this in my current condition.

 

I went back to the surgeon for my weekly check-up. He was visibly concerned that my voice wasn’t back yet. He started out by saying that this rarely happens, but that he thinks that they may have permanently damaged my vocal cords when they removed the nodules.

 

I was devastated. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I was going to do if I couldn’t use my voice. I tried to find things that relaxed me. Although I went to school for art and design, I had stayed out of that side of our publishing business. But the very next day I started designing on the computer again. I practiced, I took online classes, and worked on my skills. After a couple of weeks I was designing for clients again, and I was happier and more fulfilled than I had been in years.

 

After six weeks, I went to bed one night not being able to utter more than a harsh whisper and woke up with my full voice back. I truly believe that it was divine intervention from God. The doctor was even stunned and called it a miracle.

 

This was not an experience I would ever care to repeat, but I learned a lot about myself during this time. I thought business had to be just business, but by using my God-given talents and adding creativity into the mix I am a much happier person.

 

O Blessed St. Blaise, you received from God the power to protect men from throat diseases and other maladies. Take away the illness that afflicts me, keep my throat healthy and perfect, so that I can talk correctly and be able to proclaim and sing praises to God. Amen

 

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.

TONGUES OF FIRE

George Floyd ProtestsThey saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of (the disciples). All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them….”How is it that each of us hears them in our native language?” Acts 2:3-4, 8

 

It was a perfectly awful storm: a deadly pandemic, an economy in freefall, and suddenly a racial crises…again. The year 2020 had devastated the very soul of America with fear, pain and anguish culminating in the death of yet another black man at the hands of police in my neighbor town of Minneapolis, Minnesota. George Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill at a small inner-city grocery store, and the police were called. Three officers pinned Floyd to the ground, one—Derek Chauvin—pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck. A fourth officer looked on. As passers-by begged the police to let him loose, Floyd cried, “I can’t breathe!” until he lost consciousness and died. He had not been charged with a crime and most likely would not have seen a jail cell for his alleged infraction. His death sparked peaceful protests throughout our nation, once again, about racial injustice and police brutality. Other protesters with a very different agenda launched attempts to disrupt, divide, and burn Minneapolis and other cities to the ground. Hatred grew where grief and sadness had been. Hatred tasted good to some, as they rolled it around on their tongues, spewing lies and inciting violence.

 

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, when Christian churches celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the fledgling church that Christ began. Acts 2 recounts how “tongues of fire…separated and came to rest on each one of” the disciples (v. 2). These new leaders were all Galileans, but diverse visitors in Jerusalem heard the message of Christ’s love and grace in their native language, drawing them to a new level of faith.

 

Could this be the turning point in our nation, when blacks and browns will be heard as if we are all speaking the same language? Can we finally say to people of color, “We hear you, we understand what you have been through, and we want change as much as you do?”

 

Let it be, Lord. Let it be. Make a covenant today between all races to end prejudice and hatred. Amen

 

To help out in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder, see the following organizations:

  • Black Visions Collective — “A political home for black people across Minnesota.” This nonprofit is dedicated to creating safe, autonomous black communities. Donate here.
  • Reclaim the Block — A coalition that demands that Minneapolis divest from policing and invest in long-term alternatives that promote healthier, safer, and more diverse communities. Donate Here
  • Minnesota Freedom Fund — This nonprofit “pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to” as they “seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.” Donate here.