Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | September 16, 2019

The Ups and Downs of Prayer Partners

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

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Many prayer requests deal with very serious and often heartbreaking issues – cancer, serious injuries with a life and death struggle, divorce and other family issues. Sometimes, some of the difficulties you encounter come off the keyboards or touchscreens of your fellow prayer partners. However, there is a light side – you just have to find a reason to smile or laugh when you wonder why you even bothered embarking on being a prayer partner.

Here are a few of the “difficult” fellow prayer partners you may encounter and how to deal:

The Culture Warrior

You send them an email showing support when they request prayer – and so it begins. A simple email saying you’re praying without a single remark about your religious background or politics turns into a succession of forwards from religiously-oriented PACs, televangelists, and local religious leaders. The problem: It’s just…

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Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | September 3, 2019

Finding the Holy or “the Good”, If You Prefer

Writer June Maffin recently shared a post to her blog about finding the holy. I think it qualifies as “required reading” for anyone struggling with a difficult time, especially in the light of what many in the US have been facing in recent weeks.

June’s post has resonated with me in a very real way in the light of the mass shooting that occurred in my current city of residence, Odessa, on Saturday. No matter where you live, I don’t think any of us expect this to happen in our cities or in our towns.

I think many of us have kind of trained ourselves to think of “holy” things as belonging  only inside the walls of a church or other house of worship. However, we sell ourselves short when we do this.

We can see the holy (or perhaps the good if you prefer to phrase it that way) even when the worst happens in many places:

  • In the outpouring of support from around the world
  • In people here stepping up to see what they can do to help
  • In the speed at which people decided to check in with each other out of concern
  • In the speed at which people raised funds to help with medical and funeral expenses
  • In the touching tributes, such as a piper’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” in front of one of the fire stations

In the midst of all the trauma and chaos of this world, we can strive to find the things that are holy or good. Maybe it’s an amusing pet, an encouraging word from a loved one, a beautiful spot in our daily commute that we take for granted.

Did you see the little dog dressed up as Paddington recently? The Facebook post where I originally found the picture included a caption about how the world seems to be a slightly better place than it was yesterday after seeing this.

Perhaps we need to keep these little things in mind. These things that can make the world seem better and good matter.

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | August 19, 2019

Special Guest Devotionals from Marie-Helene and Dominic Bradshaw

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These devotionals were provided by two of my prayer partners and they hope to encourage everyone by sharing them.


Devotional.only Jesus is the one who purifies 8th June 2013 latest

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Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | August 10, 2019

Sending Cleaner Emails

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

A lot of us receive e-mails that we like to forward on to others. There’s certainly nothing wrong with sending nice forwards on to friends, but HOW you forward it has a lot to do with whether you or they run into problems.
What kind of problems? When an e-mail is forwarded without the headers (the headers are the part of the e-mail showing who it’s from, what time it was sent, etc) being removed, everyone who receives a copy of the e-mail sees a list of who it was sent to previously. Not only does this violate others’ privacy, you also don’t know who’s going to receive the e-mail eventually and see your e-mail address. A lot of people collect lists of e-mail addresses from forwarded e-mails and use them to spam people or for other unethical purposes. Another reason is that e-mails forwarded too many times are often…

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Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | August 5, 2019

Duct Tape or a Nail

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

Duct Tape or a Nail:
A man dies and goes to heaven.
Of course, St. Peter meets him at the Pearly Gates.
St. Peter says, “Here’s how it works.
You need 100 points to make it into heaven.
You tell me all the good things you’ve done,
and I give you a certain number of points for each item, depending on
how good it was.
When you reach 100 points, you get in.”
“Okay,” the man says, “I was married to the same
woman for 50 years and never cheated on her,
even in my heart.”
“That’s wonderful,” says St. Peter,
“that’s worth three points!”
“Three points?” he says. “Well, I attended church
all my life and supported its ministry
with my tithe and service.”
“Terrific!” says St. Peter.
“That’s certainly worth a point.”
“One point!?!!
“I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a
shelter for…

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Respect Their Right to Choose

A person with a difficult diagnosis or their family needs to have their ability to choose how to handle things respected. One of the choices that people often don’t respect, and do so without even thinking about it, is their right to choose how much they want others involved in any arrangements needed.

One example that comes to mind is a case of a man with cancer who had limited resources as far as insurance went. A friend of his, trying to be helpful, delegated inquiring about possible resources to several other friends, thinking this would help ease the burden.

It’s often said that “too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth”, and this saying rang true in his case. Some didn’t follow through on their delegated tasks, others didn’t have sufficient decision-making authority for their tasks, and others got their information mixed up. In the end, the patient and his immediate family were still responsible for setting things up, anyway.

In most cases, a person’s best “helper” is a patient navigator, discharge planner, or some other person with a medical/social services background who has the necessary information on the patient’s case. There’s a good reason these tasks are delegated to others.

Friends can and should look up things that might be helpful. However, the ultimate decision-making authority should rest with the person living with the illness or condition. A chronic and/or life-changing diagnosis likely comes with a feeling of losing control.

Helping your loved one keep a sense of control over their circumstances is one of the most helpful things you can do.

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

Christ Carrying the Cross 1580

Originally published September 12, 2007, updated July 27, 2019.

This may seem like an absurd question to many, but I believe it’s well worth answering.  In discussions with two different people from unhealthy religious backgrounds, I’ve learned this is a commonly-held misinterpretation of Scripture, and a dangerous one.

It’s dangerous because it leads people to believe that, unless, they give up everything they own, forsake their families (or forsake starting one), and live as itinerant Gospel preachers, there’s no point in following Christ. (This is why both men mentioned earlier no longer identify as Christians).

What are the verses commonly misused to support this belief?

Matthew 16:24-25 WEB Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for…

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Avoid Information Overload

It’s tempting to start “Googling” to find out everything you can about your loved one’s diagnosis, especially if it’s one you’re not familiar with. Everyone wants to help, and you might feel helpless if you aren’t close enough to where they live to offer more material help. Looking up information online is the best tool many helpers have at their disposal.

However, speaking from personal experience, information overload might overwhelm someone who’s just gotten a difficult diagnosis. Being in the hospital yourself or making a lot of trips back and forth for someone else can be a difficult time to process a lot of information from various sources on top of everything else.

A quick Internet search will yield a lot of results where many health issues are concerned. However, keep in mind the fact that not all types of info that you find are necessarily helpful. Flooding someone coping with the onset of a major health issue with non-beneficial information, however well-intentioned, can be a major source of stress.

A few helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Grant funding for many health conditions might only be able to be dispensed through a local or regional non-profit, which will likely have its own criteria
  • Many resources can only be requested or applied for by the patient, their medical proxy or a caseworker
  • Each state has differing laws about eligibility for health and other services that may differ from your state’s

Everyone who gets a difficult diagnosis reacts differently and has distinct thoughts and emotions they need to process. As such, they need to sort out whatever information they receive on their own time, in their own way. Yours or my way of coping might not match their preferred schedule.

Know that your efforts are most likely appreciated, but they’ll need time to go through the info,  especially if they have a lot of new stuff to learn about. Don’t take it personally if some of the info isn’t immediately useful, if at all.

By reaching out and attempting to help, instead of offering platitudes, you’re making a difference.

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | June 30, 2019

Being Free in Christ – For Real

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As with so much in the Bible, it’s easy to read Galatians 5:1,13-25 and conclude that Paul was talking about something far removed from our modern experiences. We might read this passage and think “Oh, well, he was talking about converts from Judaism not going back to their older beliefs” or something in a similar vein.

It’s true that the law, as summarized in the Hebrew Scriptures, was not intended to be mandatory for non-Jews. However, Paul goes on to talk about a list of behaviors that have nothing to do with observing the 613 laws, and, in fact, run counter to those commandments.

Another common take, too, is that Paul was speaking of tension between “spirit” and “flesh” as seen in Greek philosophy. However, this explanation, too, also only tells part of the story, as Bible commentators point out there are different ways of interpreting both these terms.

Looking at this passage in a modern light, I wonder if what’s really at the heart of the “slavery” Paul’s talking about here is humanity taking a cue from the worst of its desires than doing what shows a love of God and neighbor. Our world today certainly has plenty of examples as proof!

Faith, lived out and exemplified, should not be about a list of things to do. It’s about being guided into doing what’s right by the life-giving Spirit’s influence in our lives.

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