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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.

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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.

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

Bound to the Triune God – St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I didn’t get around to posting on Trinity Sunday, so here’s a repost of an early contribution. Enjoy!

AJ the Irish Lass' Ramblings

I bind to myself today the strong power of an invocation of the Trinity–
the faith of the Trinity in Unity,
the Creator of the universe.

Saint Patrick

May we all be kept constant in our worship of the one God who creates, redeems and sanctifies!

I arise today through
God’s strength to pilot me, God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to see before me,
God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to secure me –
against snares of devils,
against temptations and vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me
ill, afar and anear,
alone and in a crowd…
Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

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Source: https://myemail.constantcontact.com/A-Note-of-Encouragement—Not-with-a-whimper—by-Chuck-Graham.html?soid=1104154527635&aid=VLkzh96SGPg

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Don’t Make Assumptions If You’re Unsure What the Health Condition Is

If someone isn’t up-to-date on information about their loved one’s health, they might make assumptions based on the limited information available and their personal experiences. A person who’s experienced a brain injury, for example, might assume everyone who falls or otherwise has symptoms similar to theirs has a TBI or a heart attack survivor may assume every cardiac emergency is a heart attack.

Assumptions or speculation without knowing everything that’s going on might help fuel the rumor mill, which nobody needs. When the diagnosis is currently unknown, these speculations and assumptions also add to everyone’s stress level.

In one case I know of, where the diagnosis was congestive heart failure, one person’s misrepresentation of what was really going on lead to spreading rumors that their family member had suffered a heart attack. This unsubstantiated rumor even lead to an ex-spouse and their children & grandchildren showing up at the hospital unannounced (awkward!).

In cases where you don’t know what’s going on, refraining from sharing too much information until you know and you understand how much information they want others to know. Never share info without permission, even in the form of good intentions like requesting prayer for them (i.e. a general prayer for healing is usually okay).

If you’re not up-to-date on what’s going on but don’t want to seem like you’re pestering your loved one for information, casually mention that you may have missed their last update. Respect their right to volunteer as much information as they feel comfortable with, as well as their right to keep certain things to themselves.

Also, a helpful tip coming from one who has a chronic health condition: please bear in mind that chronic illnesses aren’t like acute injuries or short-term sicknesses like the flu or a cold. They are chronic, as in often lifelong and customarily incurable.

Such conditions are treatable, often with much of the emphasis on controlling symptoms and improving quality of life. People with these illnesses may have symptom-free remission periods, but part of understanding what they’re going through means accepting that how they’re feeling or what’s going on at any given time is not necessarily an indicator how “well” their health is.

Asking someone how they feel, how their health is, etc. is not something that has a cut-and-dried answer. Some people living with a chronic condition might prefer your letting them know you’re there for them, that you care or asking what you can do for them might be better.

Avoid making assumptions. Your loved one will appreciate it!

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | May 31, 2019

Do’s and Don’t’s When a Loved One Gets a Difficult Diagnosis

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Being Helpful, Not Hurtful, With a Difficult Diagnosis

Regardless of whether it’s among the ranks of life-threatening conditions (cancer or heart disease) or something that is life-altering but not usually fatal (MS), finding out a family member or other loved one has gotten a difficult diagnosis brings out a sea of emotions. Even when the condition doesn’t result in death, there are a lot of things likely to change for them that require adjustment and being as big a help as possible makes a difference.

However, there are such things as being more of a hindrance than help or offering the wrong type of help. Here are some things that will be discussed in this series:

  • Don’t make assumptions because you don’t know what’s going on
  • Avoid information overload
  • Respect their right to choose
  • Never make assumptions about help needed

These, and possibly other issues, will appear in forthcoming posts, so please stay tuned for more 🙂

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | May 28, 2019

Ascension Day

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Happy Feast of the Ascension!

Ascension Day celebrates Jesus’ ascension into heaven forty days after that first Resurrection Day (Easter). Even though it’s not “a thing” in some non-liturgical denominations, there are Catholic, Orthodox, and Episcopal parishes names for this event, and Ascension or some variation of it appears in many location names (such as Ascension Parish, LA).

The Feast of the Ascension is an important part of the traditional Church year. How did it come into being, and how is it observed?

What the Bible Says

The Ascension account appears in Acts 1:1-11 After 40 days of appearing to and teaching the Apostles, Jesus ascends into heaven with a promise to send the Holy Spirit. Although Ascension Day falls on the Thursday following the Sixth Sunday of Easter, some parishes opt to transfer its celebration to Sunday (Seventh Sunday of Easter).

How the World Celebrates Ascension Day

As an observance popular with Catholic and Protestant alike, there are several traditions associated with this feast:

  • Episcopalians and other Anglicans often observe the three days leading up to Ascension Day as Rogation Days, with prayers for fruitful seasons, commerce and industry, and the stewardship of creation
  • Many Catholics say a special novena in preparation of Pentecost between Ascension Day and Pentecost
  • Orthodox Christians usually observe a special vigil the night before the feast (note that Ascension Day in the Orthodox Church often falls on a different date due to differences in the date of Easter).

What We Can Learn from the Ascension

We can learn that Jesus’ words ring true about how he is with us – forever. Jesus’ time ministering to people on earth may have been over, but we have important work to do in continuing to carry out his mission. May we go in peace to love and serve our God!

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | May 20, 2019

At What Point Do You Say “Enough Already”?

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Yet another mass shooting, concerns of nuclear war, finger-pointing and assigning blame for political malcontent without looking inward, brick walls that hinder progress on social concerns, lack of respect for others’ rights to lawfully and peacefully protest injustices, etc. It never seems to end.

What can we all make of this, as people of faith or as non-churchy, yet concerned people? With a seemingly unending stream of awful or frustrating events, we need to find that right balance of spiritual answers and acknowledgment that those answers aren’t and probably shouldn’t be easy.

In my 20 or so years of formal church membership, I’ve come to realize that what falls under the heading of “religion” doesn’t always offer the answers we seek. Is this a bad thing? – far from it!

Without delving into an exhaustive history lesson, the “easy-peasy pat answers” approach to Christianity is relatively new in the philosophical realm. Many Catholic, Anglican, and early Protestant thinkers probably would have been just as disgusted with the “name it and claim it”, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”, “We can’t talk about sin because it’s negative” thinking as many of us are.

As we see in a quote commonly attributed to William Temple, “The problem of evil…Why does God permit it? Or, if God is omnipotent, in which case permission and creation are the same, why did God create it?”

I think these are questions we shouldn’t be afraid to ponder. Our world is always rushing, it seems, and it’s easy to look to quick answers that offer little to no substance.

The Book of Job seems to exemplify how people often look at the various difficulties that come their way.  It’s easy to decide you need to search for answers, but it often seems a lot harder when there are no answers.

As one commentator once put it, the biggest takeaway he gets from the Book of Job and all recorded in it is “[Stuff] happens”. One of the most frustrating things about “stuff” is that there often seems to be no reason for all of it, and it’s easy to accept one of the “easy” answers, rather than struggle not finding answers.

We can and must do better. Maybe the answer to our struggles is that the answer isn’t WHY the difficulties happened, but WHAT we will do because of them.

Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | May 12, 2019

Five Rules of Facebook Etiquette, Part 1: Thread Hijacking

She nailed it…people who want to say negative stuff need to keep it on their own timelines

It's My Life

Something happened on Facebook this week that made me contemplate how people act on social media sites and why. It’s been said that people are likely to say things to you via the Internet that they would never have the guts to say to your face. It’s a syndrome that’s often discussed relative to anonymity and the Web.

I think people are more likely to say things on Facebook that they would never have the guts to say to your face too, so it’s more complicated than hiding behind anonymity. Because hopefully you do actually know these people. Sort of.

So, I clearly have a close relationship with Facebook since, you know, I wrote a story about it. I spend too much time on it, and I do really love it. I love seeing vacation pictures from my cousin, and I love checking out cool blog posts recommended by my friends. If a big news event happens, I usually find out…

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Posted by: AJ the Irish Lass | May 4, 2019

Ducking the Ax to Grind

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I got sidetracked from my series on making the Internet kinder, but have decided to dive back into it. The series won’t stop with the publication of the fourth post. There is still a lot that we can all do to help make the Internet a kinder place.

Public Posts – The Wild West of Facebook

Being able to post a status update publicly on Facebook or any other social networking site is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, what you share might go viral very quickly. On the other hand, your post might attract anyone who has an ax to grind.

I saw this proven when commenting on a public post on a friend’s timeline. The OP stated some legitimate concerns about how some Christians horribly misrepresent what Christianity is about, and another commenter agreed, saying that as an Episcopalian, she feels they aren’t representing the dignity of every human being. I commented on her post, saying something to the effect of how it was cool to meet another Episcopalian.

My FB notifications let me know that someone else had reacted to my comment with an angry emoticon. This struck me as odd because  I had no idea why my comment would have prompted that reaction. Was this a drive-by proselytizer out to (try) to convert me?

Not Letting It Go

The woman in question proceeded to go on a rant against everything she found objectionable with TEC and its polity. Perhaps there was an incident in her past that impacted her in a negative way and she was lashing out. Whatever the cause, how she handled it was a problem.

It’s one thing to honestly speak out about a wrong committed, especially if those in a position to do something about it failed. However, it’s another thing to go on a rant and then post inflammatory comments directed against people whose sole “offense” is identifying with a group. I feel this person took things a step too far by posting negative reactions and comments against others simply because of their denominational background.

Drawing the Line

Sometimes, you’ll come across somebody online who has an ax to grind or otherwise finds a non-confrontational statement objectionable. The main thing to ask yourself: do you want to accept the invitation to an argument or decline? In many cases, avoiding the argument is best.

It might be tempting to jump into the argument headfirst. After all, how many people take negative commentary against their denomination sitting down? However, sometimes being the adult means sitting it out.

Ask yourself:

  • If they’re being so confrontational, what will I gain by returning the favor?
  • Am I giving them what they’re looking for by taking the bait?
  • When actual past trauma is the reason for lashing out, am I helping or hurting by getting drawn into their drama?

As a fellow AOL board host once put it, let the back-and-forth stop with you.

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