Where Have I Been?

A Daddy Lion looks on tenderly at his cub
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One of my images of Father God, a gift from a discipleship class facilitator at church, photographer unknown

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, honestly, for a long time, the adoption process and keeping my home clean enough to please our agency was so stressful, I didn’t have enough creative energy left for any writing at all. Now I’ve improved on that front, only to take a class at church that required as much energy as college and took up a lot of free time and frankly after my chores and my course work I just wanted to play games, read, or Facebook on my Kindle. That got boring, so I got a job.

That story begins last September, when my friend Niccole asked me to host a Lilla Rose party for her, as an adoption fundraiser for me–in addition to my hostess rewards, she threw in her own

commission from that party–that floored me. Not many people like her in business these days. If you’re wondering “what’s Lilla Rose?” So was I.

The company sells unique hair accessories that work better than store-bought, last longer than store-bought, have a 1-year product warranty , and they’re gentler on hair and work for nearly any hair type. Including mine, and that says something.

I was born with a thick set of curls that my family had no idea how to care for on a girl and they were too proud to ask for help. At age twelve, my hair was frizzy and so brushed out, we’d thought my baby curls had gone away rather than having matured into long, wavy hair very stressed from neglect and so unmanageable, I was daily asking my mom to comb out my rat’s nests.  After she reached her frustration limit there, I ended up in a salon, getting an impulsive, bad hair cut fixed. I wanted my pretty curls back, which led to a perm and advice from the beautician that I needed to use conditioner and hair picks (or wide tooth combs) and never again let any sort of hairbrush anywhere near my head.

So over the next few years, the perm grew out into the long, naturally wavy hair I have today. And I could now manage my hair myself–but it remained unruly and stubborn. My styling was limited to the half-up, a ponytail, and a basic bun at the nape of my neck. I was surprised at first at how much it made the professionals’ day to get to put my hair up for my prom and my wedding. For the most part, I’d all but lived 24/7 in the boring buns and ponytails before the Lilla Rose Fundraiser. My best styling trick was making my hair look shorter with a Scrunci upzing–which you can get for under $10 easily but they’re not big enough to hold my buns and they caused scalp pain the whole time I had them in. They also tangle on themselves and break easily. Lilla Rose costs more but you get better quality and you can exchange any items that do develop defects in the first year.

Jesus saved my life; Lilla Rose reduced my hair problems. I still have migraines but otherwise I can now put up my hair as fancy as I can learn to do it with little pain, when only the boring bun wasn’t painful before. On top of that, these things are unique hair jewelry that jazz up even my standby simple bun, simple pony tail, and the half-up.  There’s also something to suit all tastes, ranging from a metallic Celtic knot, a skull and cross bones, to flowers and bling suitable for the prom queen or even a bride getting married on a tight budget. I was used to buying cheap, so their prices seemed high to me at first, but their prices are low-end from the jewelry standpoint. Their main product, the Flexi, was too unique to sell in stores, so Lilla Rose restored to selling their products online and via network marketing consultants like my friend Niccole and now me.

Yes, I got that excited but gave myself until this late spring to think about it before getting bored enough to go for it. In the end, I figured consultants get a 30% minimum discount and the $125 kit contains $300 worth of their best-selling products.  To keep this independent contractor position, we only have to sell like $29 a year and sales to ourselves count. You only have to actually work it if you want to actually make any money–and if you do work it, you may eventually build a passive revenue stream. If you want to test things out, host an online party for me either on my public Ashira Clips page or in my private  group.

Note this is a one-time announcement that will not repeat, and I do plan to get back on topic here soon. If you’re interested in becoming a consultant or hosting a party, PM Ashira Clips on Facebook. If you’d like to see more, check out the product demo videos on my Facebook page or browse my online catalog at: lillarose.biz/ashira

For the rest of my life update, my last class ended only for me to need to start a Bible Study that reads like an MLM/network marketing approach to Christian evangelism/missions. It’s talk about reproducing and “be fruitful and multiply” may be triggering for infertile women, and I’m concerned it talks too much like the goal is for us to multiply ourselves rather than for Christ to multiply himself through our efforts, but otherwise it looks good. We need more discipleship in the church, and the other evangelism methods known to me are obnoxious and boundaries-violating so I’ll be interested to see if this approach is instead respectful and effective. I’ll let you know when I finish the course and get back from Romania. (The Romania trip story is one I’ll save for another time.)

One thing I will say, in all this whirlwind, I’ve had a few thoughts. 1) Christians are too busy to be asked to spend more than three hours a week with Jesus, which is why so many wait until their only alternative is therapy to take my previous, more intense discipleship class. 2) What is more exciting to us? Hair jewelry that considerably reduce our hair headaches? Or Christ who saved our souls from Hell and supplies all of our spiritual needs according to his riches in glory? What do we show more appreciation for? A friend who gives us an unexpected gift worth in excess of $200? Or God the Father, who ransomed us with the precious blood of his only begotten son, whose worth is beyond measure?

Another of my images of Father God*, a gift from a discipleship class facilitator at church, photographer unknown. (*The Son is the image of the Father See Col. 1:15)

Not to say we shouldn’t be grateful to our friends or happy to have solutions to every day problems. God cares about those, too, and he wants us to be grateful for each other when we do good for one another. I’m simply contemplating our priorities and wondering if we’re taking Christ for granted or if we’re letting the good gifts of this world remind us of the excellency and matchless worth of God’s gifts.

Let us remember the good people and good gifts we’ve received from them with gladness. Let’s also remember Christ’s glory and be spurred on to stir up what we’ve received from Christ and be mindful of Christ with us as we go about our day.

For anyone who walked in off the street because of Lilla Rose and now has no idea what I’m talking about, sorry. Please pretend I’m from a foreign country and speaking broken English from the strange cultural viewpoint of my strange foreign country. If you’re curious to understand it–not necessarily accept it–feel free to ask questions. Otherwise, please feel welcome to take in the data of interest to you, ignore the rest, and go on about your hopefully peaceful day.

 

Everyday Miracles: Your Turn

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photo credit: Ajithpoison Northern lights via photopin (license)

Last week, I told you about a time when I was questioning and doubting God, over a petty quibble, in retrospect, and all worked up in a tizzy, praying for answers. When before I prayed, God had already answered with a miracle. Not a big flashy display. God didn’t snap his fingers and straighten out my scoliosis-twisted spine or anything like that. Simply, one moment, a frying pan was right-side-up in my sink and disgusting. The next I looked, it had been turned upside down and was spotless.

Such a small “huh,” inducing moment, a change in an everyday situation that I might not have realized was a God thing if my husband hadn’t confirmed he’d ever left me the mess that I thought I’d imagined after everything suddenly changed.

God has a frequent habit of turning things upside down and cleaning them up. Usually he works on hearts, not dishes.

But now it’s your turn. I am looking for your stories, not the big flashy, exciting testimonies. The common ones, the ordinary, every day moves of God, the ones we are tempted to explain away. Whether it is a dish or your heart, doesn’t matter. A few more examples:

  • A very slow “runner” participated in a 10 kilometers (six miles) long race held at four, that took her two hours to finish when sunset was at five-thirty. She happens to also be afraid of the dark, and the race venue was in a system of public parks that close after sunset. So it was also illegal and she is also afraid of breaking the law. Scared and alone in the dark, adrenaline drove her faster than she normally can go, for longer than normal. It happened to be a supermoon that night. She was grateful to God for his having planned all these things ages past and blessed her along with who knows many other via natural phenomena of his design.
  • A bullied high school freshman got shoved down nearly an entire case of stairs to a hard concrete landing. The girl’s experience was one millisecond she was falling face forward, the next she was flat on her back. Her first instinct was to immediately get up and continue on to class like nothing had happened. To her slight confusion, an adult witness rushed over in a near panic and held her down, not allowing her to move. The girl gathered, eventually, to the adult, it looked like the fall should have resulted in serious head and/or neck injuries. But her head and neck were perfectly fine. The school still insisted on sending her home, but she limped away with only a mild sprain in her knee that healed fast. As an adult, she remembered this and realized God had protected her from a more serious injury that day for whatever reason. The incident brings to mind Ps 91:11-12, the verses the enemy twisted.
  • A young married couple, headed out on a snowy highway one hard winter, and hit a patch of black ice at around 60 miles an hour. The husband, driving, lost control of the vehicle and it spun a full 180 degrees until it came to a stop, facing the wrong way on the highway. This was in an area where people don’t know how to drive on snow and it is common place for in storms for people to not leave enough following distance to stop safely and avoid an accident in such emergencies. They could have easily been killed. Instead, God had timed things so the traffic behind them was far enough away for them to get turned around and going in the right direction again before anyone hit them.
  • A college student was focused on dressing to fit in and to please the world, who had argued in favor of women wearing pants against a boyfriend taught against it. She won the argument, the boyfriend had always been leaving the matter in God’s hands, she had been the one pressing it. God reached down and touched this tomboy who hated skirts and suddenly she found herself loving the pretty garments and how she felt in them to the point where she wanted to wear them all the time, a personal preference from early childhood that had been snuffed out. As an adult, when she is struggling in her faith, feeling insecure in her relationship with God, etc. God often points to this personal sign of her covenant with him and reminds her of how God changed her heart.

Note I also would welcome testimonies about grief, any painful thing God has for whatever reason not protected you from, and how the Lord has worked to bring you through it and change you rather than the painful circumstance. You can share in the comments or email your guest post to me. You do not have to be a professional writer; I’ll help you clean up your post, if needed. If you are a pro, though, please include a photo and a short bio with only one link to your works, please. Regular readers may share anonymously if desired.

[tweetthis]God turns things upside down and cleans them up, but usually he does our hearts.[/tweetthis]

[tweetthis]Everyday Miracles: Your Turn #callforsubmissions #guestpostswanted #faithbloggers[/tweetthis]

Greetings, Gentle Readers!

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Jude 1:21
Looking for reviews for Avatars of Web Surfer, I have only e-review copies at this time, the kindle file and PDF. Book info at the link below, please share. Interested folks should contact “andrea” AT my site’s domain name.

I also received some kind feedback from Alan Brown: “Just a compliment on an essay you wrote a year and a half ago – “The Dangers of Righteous Anger“. I am afraid this is exactly the pit the country is falling into … that there are so many groups “righteously angry” at each other, that are getting progressively more angry and progressively less righteous …”

I agree with Alan, “The Dangers of Righteous Anger” is still a timely piece, one the fracas surrounding the election, etc. this year has repeatedly brought to my mind, too.

Here’s a short excerpt:

The most dangerous anger I’ve witnessed lately is righteous indignation. The reason it is dangerous is humans aren’t righteous. We are most prone to do ugly things to each other when we’re angry and either it is justified or we believe we are justified.

It saddens me that so many grown adults behave as if they honestly believe “I am angry, and you were wrong, therefore you are no longer worthy of my respect, kindness, or being treated fairly, and I have every right to lash out and hurt you.”

This may be one of the greatest social ills plaguing my country today, perhaps the world. I see it all over the news, cropping up in many different ways, but the underlying spirit of “righteous” rage is the same, and it can drive good, reasonable people to do the cruelest of things to the people they love, sometimes perfect strangers.

Go check out the rest of “Righteous Anger” at the original post.

Please be in prayer for my family (my husband and I) as we face major decisions on how to grow our family and go through an emotionally difficult season. And please let me know how I can pray for you!

A final, favorite Bible verse I thought I’d share:

Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song. (Isaiah 12:2)

In Christ,
Andrea J. Graham

photo by:

It’s back!

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A couple years ago, I spoke off the cuff at my local writer’s group about how God helped me recover from an injury that had set me back professionally with the Web Surfer series. I later wrote that testimony down, along with a three part follow up, and my original publisher for Web Surfer had published the testimonies as blog posts, but those got removed when I had to change publishers. Bear Publications has re-released the serial as Avatars of Web Surfer but doesn’t yet have a blog. However, New Authors Fellowship took interest in my testimonies about what God had done in my life and taught me through my work while I recovered from a head injury. So my testimony is back online over there under the title, “How God Rescued Web Surfer.” (God has needed to do so repeatedly now, actually. This project has come under more enemy fire than any other I’ve tackled.) Go check it out and comment, please. Oh, and the three-part follow up will also be posted at New Authors’ blog each Tuesday for the next three Tuesdays.

Remember also we’re having a party next week to celebrate Avatars of Web Surfer’s re-release, and the party’s raffle is open to entries now. Activities that earn you entries include things like signing up for my newsletter (It reprints articles from my blog and notices like this one,) owning the book and leaving a review, and the latter requires reading it first, so please do take advantage of the opportunity to get started early.

One final housekeeping note–my husband, Adam Graham, is running in four half-marathons to support AIDs orphans in India at Heaven’s Gate. He ran his first race last weekend, finished in just over four hours, but you can still sponsor Adam to help the children.

Run 4 Heaven’s Gate

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This year, on my thirty-fifth birthday, I gave up receiving presents and instead asked my friends and family to give a donation to SendHopeNow.org, to help AIDs Orphans in India. In addition to losing their parents to AIDS, many of the children are themselves infected with HIV. If you have only $1-5 to spare, my birthday campaign continues until 9/20/2016.

I’m also taking a journey with my husband, Adam Graham, who has been training for the past few months to do four half marathons in four weeks between October 9th and November 5th. A half marathon is 13.1 miles, doing four in such quick succession is a very daunting undertaking. I’ll be his support crew, waiting at the finish line, and training with him some.

We’re also doing this to raise money to support AIDS orphans in India at the Heaven’s Gate orphanages. In that country, so many children are cast out to die in the streets alone and abandoned. The Heaven’s Gate orphanages care for them and provide food, shelter, medicine, and a loving home and family environment.

Run 4 Heaven’s Gate is a great opportunity to join hands and send God’s love across to the world to children who will never experience it any other way. We can help give them hope for future.

Your prayers are appreciated. This is Adam’s second time running it and it is a big physical challenge for all involved. Please keep us and Adam’s fellow runners in your prayers as we make this endeavor. If you would like to sponsor Adam, you can make a pledge at the Run 4 Heaven’s Gate website.

Image belongs to Calvary Chapel Boise.

Image belongs to Calvary Chapel Boise.

[tweetthis]Let’s take care of the least of these and support AIDS orphans in India through #SendHopeNow ![/tweetthis]