Christ's Glory, Not Mine

Devotions, advice, and book reviews from science fiction author Andrea Joy Graham

I’ve Got Nothing

What do you do when it’s your turn to share, your time to minister, and you’ve got nothing?

What would you hear of? That during a power outage, I got the rest of the Christmas decorations up? That I’ve been struggling with nightmares and migraine symptoms lately but the dreams weren’t so bad light night and my head doesn’t hurt so much today? Should I complain for you, let you know how hard it has been to restrain the crankiness that sometimes accompanies this? Should I pour myself out when my strength is gone?

Perhaps I could swing controversial, hide my state of “nada” by going to old standbys; I could do a standard pro-life screed or dig out my anti-prejudice poem and talk about how we all tend to be prejudiced against people who look like people who victimized us or even our ancestors. Perhaps if I had an ounce of energy for rowdy debates and found the idea of a flame war godly fun.

Or I could go totally off-topic, go through drawers, and share my favorite recipes. Sure, if I wouldn’t mind their copyright owners finding out and complaining that I’ve committed plagiarism.

It is hard to glorify God in our weakness and pain when we are having trouble reaching the turn around and seeing the glory of the Lord. The day are short, so much darkness in the world, yet I know God is good. He does redeem. I have nothing, nothing but Christ, born of a virgin, Christ, crucified.

They say “if all you have is Christ, that’s all you need.” I’ve often thought the folks who say that must not really have been lacking something besides Christ. You can indeed have him and still feel a burning, legit need that God for some reason hasn’t met yet. Sometimes maybe we aren’t as open as we think to receiving; we want our pain ended a particular way and God has something else in mind.

And sometimes, regardless of what we feel, we have Christ, and that has to be enough. Even when it feels like all I’ve got is nada, maybe somewhere in my stumbling to hold on, to be faithful, to do what I’ve committed to do, you’ll get something from God.


Another Web Surfer Post

Since I’ve missed my regular devotional-type post still again, and I don’t want to give you nothing, I want to let you know I was on Blogtalk Radio’s Gelatis Scoop GZONE podcast answering the host’s questions about Web Surfer last night. If you like audio, go listen and enjoy. If you don’t, I totally understand. I come in at about 14 minutes in.

Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with GelatisScoop on BlogTalkRadio

2decover_1160x1637(75)We’ve also begun working on the back cover copy. Oh, and the clear winner for the series’ first book cover is featured here, too.

Cyberspace has no bad AIs, only bad coders.

As the 22nd Century dawns, AIs lead brief lives with no hope of eternity, and they fail to bring about the advent of an AI holy infant. Alexander McGregor is an infant, but he isn’t holy. Only he is saved from death when his father converts his cells into biological supercomputer components. The child develops an AI mind called Sander and a human mind called Alex. Sander is a slave serving a billion users worldwide. He is also a king reigning over most of Earth’s computers in a global society where tech-dependency can kill. Freedom calls Sander like a siren. His answer could shake the earth.

Come. See the rise and fall of the AI-Man in these ten episodes of an in-world reality show.

Episode 1: Regeneration by Andrea J Graham—Alex’s father revives him and stabilizes the AI.

Episode 2 The Digital Car by Travis Perry—Sander is trapped in a century-old car in Afghanistan.

Episode 3 Creature of the Web by Andrea J. Graham—Sander falls in love with a human coworker.

Episode 4 Interference by Cindy Koepp— One of the AI’s many personas, Lexus, attacks a user.

Episode 5 Malfunction by Heather Titus—A competitor assaults Sander and their user.

Episode 6 Jewel Among Stones by Cindy Koepp—Lexus helps a Mexican jewelry designer discover the truth about “helpful” relatives.

Episode 7 Fall of the Invincible Man by Cindy Koepp—Arrogant gamers tackle a fatal scenario.

Episode 8 Hard Knocks by Cindy Koepp—A bratty boy learns to respect others.

Episode 9 Locusts Have Eaten by Andrea J. Graham—A German senior citizen loses her virtual mother and her virtual husband.

Episode 10 Coalescence by Andrea J. Graham—Sander helps a Korean-American reality show producer endure his catastrophic upgrade.

(I tagged the themes and genres of the book.)


When Grief and Thanksgiving Collide

November 27, 2014 is Thanksgiving in the US. It is a day when Americans gather around a big turkey feast, thus it is also known as Turkey Day to those who forget this day is about more than food and football. It is about remembering the first settlers’ difficult fight to survive a harsh winter, one many of them lost. The first settlers managed to bring in a successful harvest the following autumn and celebrated this by holding a traditional English harvest festival. It is that event which the Thanksgiving feast commemorates.

The original community who gave thanks to God for their life-saving harvest had buried over half of their loved ones the previous winter, including most of the mothers, who probably died due to giving their shares of the insufficient food supply to their children. This year, it strikes me hard that people who ought to have been still grieving such bitter losses found the strength to rejoice and be grateful for what they didn’t lose. After all, November 27, 2014 is also the one-month anniversary of my mother’s death.

For my extended family, the pain remains quite fresh. We still don’t know why my mother so suddenly lost her life, since her known injuries shouldn’t have been fatal. Gratitude doesn’t come easy. In fact, it’s quite hard.

For me, the first step was definitely acknowledging to myself, God, and others I felt comfortable telling that I feel inclined to react to Thanksgiving daring to come this year with sarcastic anger. How can we be grateful in the midst of loss? It’d be difficult to suffer someone daring to lecture me to be thankful and grateful at such a time. Mind you, something about losing my mother makes me also feel more painfully my loss of being a mother to infertility. Adoption can’t cure it. Any child I do bear later also can’t replace the ones I’ve failed to have, so, yeah, my mind wants to fixate on my losses.

My second step was freely deciding I don’t want to stay in such a bitter frame of mind. This was followed with me freely deciding to trust God enough to feel God is still worthy of praise and asking him to give me a grateful heart.

“Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you,” Mathew 7:7 says, and God’s promise is faithful and true. I have felt peace in my heart, I am grateful for the comfort of the Holy Spirit, my husband’s support, the prayers of many. I am grateful for the contract with Helping Hands Press for the Web Surfer series. I am grateful Mom did live long enough to see her prayers answered and my most estranged relationship with my sister healed. It would’ve been most sad if someone besides Jesus had to die to accomplish that miracle. I am thankful for the two local friends who brought us meals, for the local friend and my in-laws, whose financial gifts helped us pay for our emergency trip back east for Mom’s funeral, which otherwise would’ve been a huge financial strain on my husband and I.

If Thanksgiving and mourning collide for you, let them. Feel the hurt. Grieve the loss. Be honest before God and trusted friends and family. If you want to heal, though, one path is to make the choice to not allow grief to keep you from being there for the living during the holidays, to make the choice to honor the true meaning of Thanksgiving by asking God to help you look up from your losses, to help you see the harvest God has blessed you with, and give you the strength to appreciate it. Know how much it means to God when we offer up a sacrifice of praise. Giving thanks to the Lord for what we have when we’re mourning deeply touches the Lord’s heart.


Precious Memories

alzheimers blog tour

 

I joined the Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Blog Tour due to personal experience. In my teens, my grandfather suffered a form of Alzheimer’s combined with dementia and ended up losing his home and much of his possessions before anyone realized he was unable to take care of them and defend himself from con artists. It was a terrible time and as he was living with my family we continued to be baffled by his odd behavior. Like many families who don’t understand the disease and/or don’t recognize the symptoms, my family operated under the mistaken idea that Grandpa could be persuaded to “buck up” and get his act together if we simply continued to expect more from him than he was capable of and gave him a hard enough time for letting us down.

It doesn’t work. It just makes everyone miserable. In fact, some of the persuasion methods used in my home were ill-advised for use on healthy people, too, but that’s a side issue. I want to send an “I really do get it” to everyone struggling with watching an aging relative lose the ability to take care of themselves and having memory problems.

Let’s try to imagine what it is like for our loved ones. You who have been an independent adult in many ways are losing adult functions and returning to a child state. You have a growing need for Mommy and Daddy to come take care of you. Mommy and Daddy are long gone. You’re also losing your memory and ability to understand this.

Memories are important. Good or ill, they shape us, mold our character. Each experience captured in our memories is a vital part of who we are, even our wounds, sometimes especially our wounds. This is, incidentally, a core problem in the Web Surfer series; the hero is a genetically modified boy-AI hybrid forced to be in multiple places at once in a cyberspace made of matrix-like digital worlds. Each version of him is subject to a user who can customize him as they please. He combats this vicious assault on the integrity of his person by separating his “human mind” from his “AI mind,” which frees his human mind to help with AI mind’s constant task of synchronizing his broken pieces’ lives and help him maintain a core true identity, one that feels eons old in his late teens.

Perhaps one of my greatest influences for such a scary fictional assault was Alzheimer’s scary real-life assault. There is no cure. We cannot save ourselves if we get it or our loved ones if they get it. All we can do is love the person we knew, be gracious about the new limits of who the disease makes them, and trust God. If we know him, if our loved ones know him, he will restore us/our loved one as good as new in His Kingdom Come.

To close, in case someone with an undiagnosed relative stumbles onto my blog before they find this information on WebMD, here are seven warning signs of Alzheimer’s:

 

  1.  Asking the same question over and over again.
  2. Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.
  3.  Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards – activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.
  1. Losing one’s ability to pay bills or balance one’s checkbook.
  1. Getting lost in familiar surroundings, or misplacing household objects.
  1. Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.
  1. Relying on someone else, such as a spouse, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves.

WebMD also notes, “If someone has several or even most of these symptoms, it does not mean they definitely have the disease. It does mean they should be thoroughly examined by a medical specialist trained in evaluating memory disorders, such as a neurologist or a psychiatrist, or by a comprehensive memory disorder clinic, with an entire team of expert knowledge about memory problems.”

You may also want to review this link from WebMD: Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

Andrea  Graham studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University, has been envisioning fantastic worlds since age six, and has been writing science fiction novels since she was fourteen. She’s signed a contract for her Web Surfer books with Helping Hands Press and has co-authored novels that were primarily by her husband, Adam Graham. She encourages readers at christsglory.com and offers assistance to writers at povbootcamp.com. Andrea  and Adam live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho.

Find me on:

facebook.com/alightchild           pinterest.com/alightchild/

twitter.com/povbootcamp         amazon.com/author/andreajoygraham

Good Reads


Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness and Caregivers Month Blog Tour

alzheimers blog tour

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to nearly 5.4 million (Alzheimer’s Association, 2014). The Author Community of Helping Hands Press is getting involved this month, and hopes to help raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.
Staring Nov. 3rd, with Anne Baxter Campbell’s blog post and Sue Badeau’s appearance on blogtalk radio, and finishing on Nov. 25th with Mark Venturini’s blog post, many of the authors in the Helping Hands Press Community will be sharing their personal stories.
Who are the authors, their blogs and what days?

Here is the list:

Nov.3rd–Anne Baxter Campbell

Nov.4th–Doris Gaines Rapp

Nov.5th–Marcia Lee Laycock

Nov. 6th–Ruth L. Snyder

Nov. 7th–Sheila Seiler Lagrand

Nov. 8th–Giovanni Gelati

Nov. 10th –Cindy Noonan

Nov. 11th–Sue Badeau

Nov. 12th–Peggy Blann Phifer

Nov. 13th–Sandy Sieber

Nov. 13th–Joy Ross Davis

Nov.14th–Karen Gass

Nov. 17th–Patti J. Smith

Nov. 18th–Tracy Krauss

Nov.19th–Melanie M. Jeschke

Nov. 20th–Richard L. Allen

Nov.21st–Andrea J. Graham 

Nov.22nd–Linda Wood Rondeau

Nov.24th–Diane Huff Pitts

Nov.25th–Mark Venturini