Christ's Glory, Not Mine

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

Chili Rellenos (Contains Dairy and Gluten)

Note from Andrea: while I’m swamped with adoption stuff, my friend and sometime co-author Cindy Koepp offered to share some recipes with you. Enjoy!

Quico Piedra, the star of “Hard Knocks” and Joya’s bratty cousin in “Jewel Among the Stones,”* loves chili rellenos. Here’s a recipe for them…

*episodes from Avatars of Web Surfer

You’ll need…

Big, fat peppers (Anaheim, for example)

Cheese (queso asadero or cheddar or monterrey Jack or … whichever you like)

¾ cup flour … plus a bit more

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Sour cream or salsa, if desired

Big toothpicks

Oil for frying

 

  1. Roast the peppers in a broiler, turning a couple times until they’re blackened all around.
  2. Put them in a covered container to cool off
  3. Meanwhile, mix eggs, flour, and baking powder to make dough. (some recipes have you add spices to the dough like cumin, cilantro, etc)
  4. Once the peppers are cool, rub off the charred skin
  5. Slit the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes
  6. Stuff the peppers with the cheese
  7. Pin them closed with toothpicks
  8. Dunk them in the batter then dredge them through the extra flour
  9. Fry them in the oil until they’re brown all around
  10. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream if you want.

 

If, however, you are like my folks who can’t do deep fried anything, you can also do this much simpler version, much more like jalapeño poppers.

You’ll need…

 

Jalapeños (or other peppers)

Cheese (any kind you like)

Sour cream or salsa

 

  1. Slice the jalapeños in half and remove the seeds and membranes
  2. Load with cheese
  3. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350
  4. Serve with sour cream or salsa

Break In

photo credit: country_boy_shane The Citadel – National City Building via photopin (license)

The street lamp lured the two young vagrants towards their only hope of warmth in the dark night. The store was closed, but a lock pick fixed that in short order.

Inside, the young man cursed. “It’s as dark in here as it is out there. Find a light.”

“How?” the shabbily dressed girl asked. “I can hardly see my hand in front of my face.”

Maybe they couldn’t. I could see just fine. Not that there was much to see, besides me, anyway. I was the main thing for sale around here. This place was generic Corporate America. No different from any other corporate headquarters, other than everyone but upper management having all gone home for the night. Even the janitor had taken off.

The young man sighed. “At least it’s warm. Let’s find what we came for already.”

Blind eyes glanced around as they turned in a slow circle, struggling to see through what to them was a dark gloomy night that the lights should have kept safely outside. The girl’s eyes landed on me, peering hard. “I think I might see something.”

No, don’t. Not this way; you’ll set off the security system.

The girl’s companion shivered. “Let’s get out of here. Something doesn’t feel right.”

The fools ran forward, towards me.

Blue sparks flew from the ceiling and zapped the youths. They didn’t even have time to scream before the ionizer had dusted them both. Gone, just like that.

That was it. No more of this.

A swift kick, and my display case shattered. I rolled out and hit the ground running. No time to mess with the hassle of going upstairs the normal way, and they’d be expecting something like that. But I knew a better way to get into upper management.

Dashing around the corner, I found the grate covering the old service elevator’s shaft. A screwdriver had the bolts off in two minutes flat. I climbed inside and shimmied up the service elevator shaft’s stainless steel rails. On the second floor, at my easy tug, the rusty service elevator doors creaked apart with a groan.

The light from the office glowed golden yellow from the open door. It was a perfect square. Three feet square.

I scrunched down and limboed through the door. Easy for me, but no one should have to jump through hoops like this, and I bypassed the normal steps to management.

At my entrance, the resident Woman in Charge, in a perfectly pressed power suit, came flying at me, red faced and flustered that some miscreant got past security. “You can’t come in here!”

I regarded the manager calmly. “Sure I can.” I pointed at the door to the owner’s office. “That’s my office.”

At the sound of my voice, my manager and her associates assumed a posture that was far more appropriate for employees in the presence of their boss. Finally, upper management had figured out I was the guy that gave them the keys in the first place—the same keys they used to lock me out and treat me like a product to market and sell.


Everyday Miracles: Faith

photo credit: Hugo Nidáguila viendo el mar via photopin (license)

 

After last week’s call for the everyday, ordinary miracles you have experienced in your life, I got a nice letter from Lance Price who blogs at: Lance-Price.com He reminds us of one of the greatest, most overlooked miracles we can experience: faith itself.

He writes:

While my testimony didn’t take place in one day, it certainly has been quite the picture of a transformed life. I was raised Catholic, but I never believed in anything I was taught. My parents divorced when I was 11, and that brought my agnostic doubts to downright declared atheism by the time I was 13. When I reached the very bottom-most area
of existence and begged for death and tried committing suicide, I finally surrendered to the questions, “Why am I alive? What’s the purpose of existing?” Over a long journey which took me from my original birth state of Michigan to Florida, and then from Florida to California, God met me where I was and opened my eyes to the purpose He has for me. Now, I write on Lance Price Blog 2017, sharing not only
my testimony, but also writing about purpose, pain, how we can find our most fulfilling, gratifying life by asking Jesus to meet us where it matters most.

To give you a more extensive view of this story, anyone can look at my article, “Finding Miracle At Our Breaking Point”.

I believe testimonies are empirical evidence of not only God’s existence, but of His love and the way He transforms us in ways only He could do. We all need a miracle of God, and many times that comes in the form of testimony. I’m grateful that God opened my eyes, and I do believe there’s no turning back once we’ve seen the love of Christ in action. Truly, there’s no one like our God!

Lance

Thank you for sharing, Lance. I agree, testimonies can be powerful forces and we can make more of a difference in sharing our stories than we realize sometimes.

Anyone who wants to can read the long verison of his testimony in his article “Finding Miracle At Our Breaking Point”.

So what about the rest of you? What’s your story?


Everyday Miracles: Your Turn

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.


Everyday Miracles: the Rooster and the Frying Pan

stock photo of fried eggs in pan

photo credit: Japanexperterna.se Fried eggs via photopin (license)

Several years ago, my favorite frying pan, a wedding present, sat sunny side up in the dirty side of my stainless steel kitchen sink. I grimaced at the thick layer of caked-on, burnt scrambled eggs.

Make that disgusting side up.

Rather than wake me at an ungodly hour, my husband, Adam, had fixed his own breakfast. Only most of it had stayed behind in the supposedly nonstick skillet. It would take a really good scrubbing to get it clean.

I groaned. Why couldn’t you have just poached them in the microwave, honey?

Sighing, I turned away from the sink. I had to make my own breakfast. To prove I could not burn the eggs, I prepared another skillet to join the one already waiting for me.

Soon, I had scrambled eggs to eat off a paper plate and a second frying pan to clean, one victoriously in better condition than my husband had left his in. I turned to the sink for the first time since breakfast had absorbed my attention.

Odd. My wedding set frying pan still lay in the dirty side of the sink, but now it was sunny side down. Frowning, I picked it up.

A spotlessly clean skillet smiled back at me.

What’s this? I could have sworn this thing was filthy. Must’ve just imagined it.

Shrugging, I set the skillet face down in the clean dishes’ side of the sink.

rooster stock photo

photo credit: keepps DSCN5230 via photopin (license)

After a busy morning, I pulled myself away from my home office to read my Bible and pray. I’d been going through the Gospel of Mark, and had gotten up into the rather lengthy chapter fourteen. I stopped cold at Christ’s words in verse thirty. “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”

What was sending chills down my spine? That Peter would deny the Lord? That if such a saint could be tempted, what of us?

Nope. One word sent me into a tizzy: Twice.

Soon, I was flipping back and forth between Mathew and Mark, getting my heart rate and blood pressure up sky high. As if the eternal fate of all humankind rested upon me determining how many times one Judean rooster crowed on one fateful night nearly two millennia ago.

Had Jesus said the rooster would crow once, as he did in Matthew, or twice as he did in Mark? Had it crowed once like he said, or twice like he said? How could I reconcile Matthew’s account to Mark’s account?

I had to solve this earth-shattering dilemma! The inerrancy of the scriptures was at stake!

Of course, it’s a fallacy to hold a millennia-old book to modern standards. And, even in modern police investigations, honest accounts from honest witnesses can differ on minor details and may even seem to out right contradict each other. We only get four totally identical accounts of events from four witnesses when they’ve collaborated and agreed to a fake story.

That morning, though, “logical, rational Andrea,” proceeded to send hysterical, “urgent” messages to my husband and church friends fretting over how many times the cock had crowed on the morning of the crucifixion. None of them provided answers satisfactory to my “logical, rational” thinking. Neither did the apologists I found on Google. At that moment, God didn’t seem much inclined to answer my question, either.

If I did something productive that afternoon, it was on automatic as my mind was focused on how many times a rooster had crowed on the most important night in history.

This lasted until Adam came home that evening. After spending half an hour attempting to reassure me about the rooster, he said, “Oh! Sorry about leaving the frying pan such a mess. I didn’t have time to deal with it.”
My jaw fell open, and I asked him to again verify he had left a frying pan with burnt scrambled eggs stuck to it for me to clean up this morning. When I answered his natural question of why he needed to repeat that, Adam started laughing.

I frowned and put my hands on my hips. “What’s so funny?”

“Only that you’re so worked up over a rooster after God washed a frying pan for you.”

At that, I ran into the kitchen. Said frying pan lay in the sink where I’d left it, still spotlessly clean without any human effort—and I rarely get dishes that dirty that clean so fast.

A thorough examination of the dirty sink’s drain revealed tiny bits of scrambled egg. I picked the frying pan up gingerly, like it might electrocute me.

Once the dumbfounded reverent awe wore off a little, I attacked the skillet left from my breakfast, still waiting on the stove to be washed. A goofy grin spread my lips. “If God can scrub a skillet, so can I!”

Heaven sat quietly as I petitioned the Lord. He’d already answered well before I thought to ask. If God was laughing at me, I had earned it.

Christians can be as skeptical as atheists of everyday miracles. Some prefer to believe I’d forgotten scrubbing the first pan and had deviated from my habits by scrubbing it promptly and leaving it in the sink that I wash dishes in rather than in the sink I left washed pans to dry in. But I am a creature of habit. No way had the woman I was then scrubbed it before I had breakfast.

God is capable of having answered a question about a chicken by scrubbing a skillet with burned scrambled eggs stuck to it before I had asked. And God would answer a question about a trivial matter with a illustration of what was truly important. Christ’s grace cleanses ours souls much the way God took the time to cleanse in a moment the filthiest skillet I’d ever seen.

Also, we can fall into thinking such everyday tasks are unimportant and that God doesn’t see or care. Let’s be reminded today that the Lord does see. The Lord does care.