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.

SMILEY FACES PAIN CHART

smiley faces pain chartHe will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

 

Chronic pain is so…chronic. It is present, to some degree, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, year after year after year. And many types of chronic pain are invisible, so people—doctors, physical therapists, health care workers, counselors, and even close family and friends—tend to view those of us who suffer from chronic pain as malingerers. A friend of mine says she believes people with invisible chronic pain are not faking being sick; they are faking being well. I have severe, persistent, progressive osteoarthritis and I’ve tried for most of my adult life to act like I am not hurting. I have pushed myself every day to get as much done as I can so that I don’t feel like I am “less than” someone with no pain. But after ten orthopedic joint surgeries, it is getting harder and harder to “play well.”

 

Anyone who has persistent pain—including emotional pain—has been presented with the annoyingly clear Wong Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale of the increasingly distressed-looking smiley faces and asked, “How would you rate your pain/mood today?” And we all probably want to ask, “Which pain? What body part? If three parts hurt and three parts are pretty good today, does that cancel out the score I would give myself?” I’ve literally never been a “zero,” and I’ve been told that a “ten” means “call me an ambulance.” I can function with a score of “three” to “five,” but above that, things can go downhill (or uphill, depending on one’s perspective) rather quickly. A “nine” finds me curled in the fetal position in bed with the electric blanket turned up to nine (to match the pain rating). Given half a chance, I’d call that ambulance, if I thought it would help my pain.

 

Psalm 73:23 tells me that God “takes hold of (my) right hand and says to (me), Do not fear; I will help you.” When my pain is at its worst, I always have God. And His all-surpassing love is enough.

 

Healing Lord, hold me in my worst hours. Keep me in Your loving care until the storm has passed. 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

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

UNFORGIVING SOIL

UNFORGIVING SOILOther seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold. Mark 4:8

 

It is nearly impossible to get anything to grow where we live. I have actually broken hand tools in the clay soil in our yard. My passion for gardening is fueled by the short growing season here in Minnesota, and my soul is fed and healed by the warmth of the sun and by getting plants to cooperate and grow! But the soil in our area must be reckoned with if it’s going to produce. It is mandatory that compost and other organic matter be mixed into this unforgiving, pasty, mucky clay before any sort of evolution occurs. And when left alone, it seems the clay continually wins out. More good stuff must be added to bring that dirt back into compliance. God does allow beautiful plants to flourish in our terrible soil, but only if I tend it carefully and patiently.

 

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught the people about a farmer who went out and scattered some seed. As He explained later to the disciples, He wasn’t really talking about planting seed, but about spreading God’s Word. “Some people are like the seed along the path,” Jesus said, “…Satan comes and takes the Word away” because it never takes root (Mark 4:13). People whose hearts are like “rocky ground” don’t develop a deep enough faith to develop deep roots and they fall away (vs. 16-17). Thorns are like “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things (that) come in and choke the Word” (v. 19). But “seed sown on good soil” will be heard, accepted, and produce an abundant crop (v. 20).

 

I can look to my gardening experiences and note that not all soil is “good” without some diligent, patient, and appropriate work. In my spiritual life, as in gardening, I cannot just sit by and expect my faith to flourish. Through the years, I have continually studied God’s Word, soaking up each phrase and verse and doing my best to apply it to the way I live. In good times and bad, I must keep “feeding” the soil of my faith to make it grow.

 

Great God, thank You for tending the soil of my heart through Your mighty Word. 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 .

POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH

Light in the DarknessBut for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. Malachi 4:2

 

Army Surgeon Rhonda Cornum’s helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. Her injuries were many but not life-threatening. She was captured by Iraqi soldiers, a situation which checked all the boxes for post-traumatic stress: a mock-execution, near death experience, sexual assault, helplessness in the face of the enemy. But Cornum refused to succumb to the terror by immediately beginning to focus on how she could improve her life when she survived. Cornum says resilience is like a muscle: it strengthens when exercised and atrophies when neglected. She was released by her captors within a week and eventually directed the U.S. Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. Today, every Army soldier goes through resilience training; psychologists believe the training can help individuals in all walks of life to survive and thrive following any type of trauma.

 

Two researchers, Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun, coined the phrase “post-traumatic growth.” After working with survivors of cancer, severe injury, war, and other traumas, the men identified growth in five main areas: personal strength, relationships, life perspective, appreciation of circumstances (thankfulness), and spirituality. As a survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint with a clear threat that I might not live, I concur with Tedeschi and Calhoun: I became a stronger person because I had seen myself at my most vulnerable. For me, God’s gracious love and healing meant a brand new start for me. I did not “deserve” to be assaulted nor to be threatened with imminent death; the perpetrator was a monster by all accounts. But when I survived, I had a clear choice: to succumb to the fear and panic rising in my mind, or to move forward with my life and heal. I chose God’s healing.

 

I have talked to many whose trauma has left them in a precarious place, but I believe there is much hope in studies like the one on “post-traumatic growth.” Skilled therapists using these sensible techniques can guide trauma survivors into optimism, hope, and resilience to help them live productive and meaningful lives.

 

God of Grace and Healing, touch the broken places in survivors of trauma and lead them to trust in Your loving goodness. 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 .

JUSTICE

JusticeHe will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick until he brings justice to victory. Matthew 12:20

 

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. This week the billionaire American financier, indicted on numerous charges for running an international child sex trafficking ring, was found dead in his jail cell by apparent suicide. His victims thought this was their last best hope of obtaining justice for his kidnapping, rape, and “sale” of possibly hundreds of underaged girls.  Now, his co-conspirators (some female) and other men named in the court proceedings are shouting for joy, believing Epstein’s death will give them a pass from a similar fate to his. His victims may try to bring civil charges, but it won’t be quite the same without the monster in the courtroom, facing his victims.

 

What is to be said of justice that never comes? Of peace of mind that is ripped from the survivors’ hands and hearts? Of a real sense of closure lost to the winds of fate? Our indwelling sense of right and wrong says offenders should be punished and victims protected. Deuteronomy 3:4 says The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He. His justice is compared to a plumb line, ever straight, never faltering (Isaiah 28:17).

 

There is no perversion of justice with the Lord our God (2 Chronicles 19:7). But human actions are never as “straight” and pure as God’s plumb line. Somewhere, in this broken world, survivors of trauma induced at the hands of others must come to grips with the fact that justice is not always assured, peace is not always promised. We are left to figure out what justice might look like, in the absence of perfect law, perfect courts, perfect circumstances. As a survivor of sexual violence never brought to justice, I have learned a hard lesson, but a good one: sometimes justice is just knowing that God believes us, feels our pain, collects our tears in a bottle, and tells us, “Keep going, My child, you are precious in My sight and for that reason alone, you must keep going.”

 

God of Justice, hold close to You those who never see justice in this world. Help them know Your justice prevails in the end. Amen