By the first of April 1942, the nurses who were ill with malaria and other tropical diseases (which was practically everyone) were ordered off the Peninsula and into the Malinta Tunnel on the nearby island of Corregidor. Not one of the nurses asked to go, and several of them told their superior officers they wanted to stay with their patients. The nurses, even the sickest among them, were distressed about what kind of care the patients would receive if they all left. The doctors (all male, some also ill with dengue fever and malaria) were not being evacuated…yet…but the nurses argued in vain that without the nurses to maintain the bonds they had developed with so many patients.

Henry David Thoreau said, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look in each other’s eyes for just an instant?” The circumstances the American and Filipino health care teams found themselves in at Jungle Hospitals 1 and 2 seem impossible to imagine. But the Bataan nurses regarded each of their patients with empathy, humility, and honor. They “looked into their eyes” and saw each one as a distinct human being with a life before Bataan, and hopefully a life after. Some of these men were gravely injured, many to the point where their lives would never be the same.

Everyone on Bataan realized the Japanese were closing in on the US and Philippine troops who still held the front line. They all waited and prayed for General MacArthur to announce that help really was on the way. But after three and a half months in the steaming jungle with dwindling food, medicine, and other supplies, it was the nurses that kept the patients on track to recovery by validating their fear, anxiety, pain (both physical and emotional), and worry. A patient was more than his chart, his diagnosis, his treatment plan, or even his military experience. Much of the nurses’ time was spent “connecting” to each patient, understanding, “seeing” the whole person and building trust. The nurses were determined to “get it right the first time” with each patient.

But the nurses were “soldiers” too, and the day came when they were to be evacuated to Corregidor. And what a nightmare that evacuation was!

Meg Blaine Corrigan is the author of four books: Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, a memoir about growing up in an alcoholic home; Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions For The Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, Books One and Two; and Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, a novel depicting Meg’s time playing drums in a Hawaiian Road Show. Her latest project is to tell the story of her Aunt Ethel “Sally” Blaine Millett, who was an American Army nurse in the Philippines when WWII began. “Sally” joined about a hundred other nurses and 50-some doctors in transporting about two thousand patients from Statsenburg Hospital north of Manila (with more arriving every day) to the jungle on the Bataan Peninsula. They hid the patients from the Japanese for about four months until they were all captured and placed in POW camps for over three years before being liberated by American forces. This blog contains excerpts from the book in real time as Meg is writing and posting a blog once weekly. The book’s title is MERCY MORE THAN LIFE: Sally Blaine Millett, WWII Army Nurse. The anticipated date of publication is spring 2023.Meg’s website is . She lives in a tiny apartment in Little Canada, Minnesota with her species-confused tropical plants and her rescue Carousel Horse, Mr. Ed.


Christmas Presents

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Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the Word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown. Mark 4:20


Oh, it’s so easy to love Christmas, isn’t it? We wait all year and then the magic begins to weave its way into our minds and hearts. We shop for just the right gift for all the people on our list, and we rejoice when we find that perfect item. And we gleefully anticipate what others will choose for us. Maybe we still even make a list so we won’t get stuck with something we don’t care for or won’t use. And the food at Christmas is like no other time of the year. We make special dishes and baked goods and candies, nibbling as we go. The music carries us to a vision of happy families and joyous reunions. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season captivate our senses and leave us almost speechless.


Do they really? Or have we become so accustomed to Christmas being a “big deal” that we just accept what the world says and go along with it? Sometimes all the world can offer us is a false idea of what will make us happy. We say we love to give and get gifts, but are we ready to accept the best Gift of all into our hearts and our lives? The gift of Christ’s love, grace and redemption is not like a fancy sweater that will eventually wear out or go out of style. It’s not a food gift that we eat and then it’s gone. And it’s not a monetary gift that we spend on some frivolous item. Christ’s gift to us is alive and it lives within us for the rest of this life and throughout eternity. He gives us living water so that we will never thirst again (John 7:38). Through Him we receive bread unlike any we can bake, the bread of His own body given freely so that we might live forgiven (John 6:35). He asks us to be “good soil” that His Word might take root in us and grow and produce more love and grace and forgiveness (Mark 4:20). Let’s rejoice this Christmas over the most wonderful gift of all-time: Christ Himself.


Praise You, Lord! You are our Christmas gift. Amen


Pope Thumbs Up

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They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the King of Israel!” John 12:13


Pope Francis visited the United States in September, 2015. His humble manner was apparent from the moment he stepped off “Shepherd One” to be met by President and Mrs. Obama. The Obamas’ unprecedented personal greeting of the pontiff was a sign of the high respect afforded him during his visit to this powerful and well-to-do nation during a time of economic, social, and political turmoil. The New York Times described the visit as a “security circus,” but Francis seemed oblivious to all the fuss. He exited the plane carrying his own valise, reported to contain a razor, a breviary (prayer book), an appointment book and a book to read. When he wasn’t riding in his open-air, Fiat-Chrysler-made Jeep Wrangler “Popemobile,” he was ferried around in an ordinary Italian-built Fiat featuring the custom license plate “SCV 1,” the initials for Status Civitatis Vaticanae, Latin for Vatican City State. The Pope insisted on foregoing the bullet-proof glass bubble atop the Jeep, so that he could be closer to the people. No small task for the security guards entrusted with his safety.


While Pope Francis wanted his visit to be about the people, other players were busy putting the trip together. ABC News reported that the pontiff brought about thirty people with him, including Vatican clergy and press. Although the pope speaks relatively good English, Monsignor Mark Miles served as interpreter for him when the message got tricky. Also accompanying him were seventy-six accredited journalists from all over the world. Pope Francis stayed at the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See, better known as the “Vatican Embassy,” nice accommodations but not as opulent as one might imagine.


Pope Francis is perhaps the best-loved leader of the Catholic Church in modern times. To his credit, he sincerely tries to keep things simple, honest and straightforward. The accompanying show of magnificence is in stark contrast to the way the Christ lived and moved and conducted Himself while in this world. I am quite sure this humble pope has considered how different his life style is than the Man Whom he represents.


Lord Jesus, thank You for wise and humble religious leaders. Amen


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All the believers were together and had everything in common. Acts 2:44


There is a story about a grumpy old man whose wife died. After the funeral, he sat on his porch all day long alone. Many neighbors went to visit, bringing food and saying all the “right” things. The man just sat there and never even acknowledged the people who came. Everyone said he was impossible to get to know. Then one day, a little boy who lived next door went over and sat down on the porch floor next to the man. The boy was there for hours. Everyone could see that they were talking but no one wanted to go see what they spoke about. When the little boy came home, his mother asked him, “What did you say to him?” The little boy said, “Not much. I just helped him cry.”


My friend and mentor Bob Albers speaks of “the ministry of presence,” the important task of just being there for someone who needs us. Being available for those in need is a year-round ministry, and the Christmas season is a heightened time to practice this. The hustle and bustle of shopping, entertaining, traveling, and trying to stay on top of “normal” activities can be overwhelming for some. Finding time for our own “down time” is hard enough without having to think about what everyone else needs. But it is in the example of the little boy in today’s story that we find the key: simply being there for others. We don’t necessarily have to do anything. We just have to demonstrate that we are with the person who needs our companionship and caring. And we don’t even need to be with the person physically, if that’s not possible. Any member of the armed forces serving away from home at Christmastime will tell you how much it means to receive “care packages,” cards, letters, and emails. Communicating is even more lively with all the electronic methods of communication we are blessed with today. We can hear and see our loved ones in real time, if not in person.


Christmas is about the gift God gave us, the “present” of Jesus Christ His only Son. It’s also about Christ’s “ministry of presence” among us.


Gracious Lord, thank You for coming to live on earth and show us the way to salvation. Amen


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Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem…to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. Luke 2:4-5

God’s timing is immaculate. Many years ago, I studied the Bethel Series, a 1961 Bible study developed by the Adult Christian Education Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin. In that study, we reviewed all of the events that came together just prior to the birth of Jesus. Each occurrence had specific meaning, the combination of which meant Christ came into the world at the perfect time.

Alexander the Great studied under Aristotle in their native country of Greece. As King of the Macedonian Empire in the fourth century B.C., Alexander brought the Greek language and culture to all of the nations he conquered, unifying the people in a new way. He believed Greek enlightenment was for all peoples and he wanted every nation to be as advanced as his own. Within the next two centuries, the Roman Empire had expanded throughout Europe and beyond, which led to a long period of peace under Roman rule. The Romans had also built many roads to far off places, making trade possible among a wide variety of nations and peoples. The Romans had so efficiently organized their world that there were no wars between rival tribes, nations, or factions. Meanwhile, every Hebrew man, woman and child knew about the old time prophets’ predictions of a coming Messiah. Though many Jews were living beyond their native land of Israel, the dream of the Savior was still alive.

This period in history is referred to in Galatians 4:4-5: “…when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” The stage was set, the players were in place, and a star broke forth from its moorings in space and sped across the night sky. A man and his very pregnant wife found a stable when no room was left at the inn, and a Child was born. He came in the fullness of the world’s time and yours and mine.

Thank You, Jesus, for being our “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Amen