My friend and pastor, Ryan Strother, posted an article on his blog this week that got me thinking. At this point, atheism is still the largest segment of my life – 20 years more or less. Christ stopped me in my tracks in December 1997, and I fully committed my life to him in January 1999. During that 13 months, He very patiently destroyed every argument I had raised against Him. Twelve years later, I can still clearly recall the whole logical structure that under-girds atheist thought and describe it for my Christian friends who find atheists a bit mystifying. I can still describe exactly how an atheist thinks about deities of any sort and the people who believe in them. But I can no longer believe those things myself. It’s like the old dot-matrix pictures people used to make. Close up, it just looks like a jumble of dots, but once you gain the right perspective and see the pattern, you can never again unsee it no matter where you view the picture from. I can recall a world without God, but I’ve seen Him now, and I can’t unsee Him, even if I wanted to try.
On the other hand, I didn’t lose the skeptical stance when I became a Christian. The reality of Christ and the Truth of what God has said in the Scriptures are as solid as bedrock to me, but beyond that, I have no sacred cows. Sacred cows are meant to be barbequed, not enshrined.
So imagine my surprise last week when reading through the scriptures from that morning’s Sunday School lesson (John 21), I arrived at verse 14 -
This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples after that he was risen from the dead.
We had talked that morning about how Peter and the rest of the disciples had gone back to their former occupations out of what? Disappointment? Maybe things weren’t going the way they expected? In my reading that afternoon, I got to verse 14, and asked a question:
Me: How in the world did they go back to fishing AFTER they saw the risen Christ twice?
God: Ahem. Isn’t that exactly what you’ve been doing?
Me: Scrambling back to chapter 20 to make sure it really was twice. Yup, twice. Crushed.
God has still been leading, and I’ve still been following, but in some respects I’ve been keeping him at arm’s length. Not spending much time in prayer. Not much time in the Scriptures. Kind of anemic really. I can’t go back to atheism, but apparently it’s not too hard to start behaving as if I had.
One of the most helpful things I ever heard in a sermon was a description of the Christian life. It’s not so much like a line that goes from point A to point B to point C. Rather it’s more like an onion, and as you peel back the layers you keep encountering the same old threads of the flesh that you encountered on the surface. And so don’t be surprised or discouraged when you encounter them again. Instead, take it as an invitation to go deeper with Christ.
Questions inevitably follow, but right now I’m just enjoying the conversations again, and I’m enjoying “seeing him who is invisible” because I sure can’t unsee him, and I’m looking forward to peeling back more layers.by beakennedy
A little over a year ago, I made the decision to chuck the advice my doctor at the time was giving me (the standard advice given to all diabetics – 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal) and do what had worked so well for me in the past – a low-carbohydrate diet. It took all of two days for my blood sugar to come down below 200 and stay there. Since then, both my hemoglobin A1c, my blood pressure, and my lipid panel have all normalized nicely. My last A1c was so good (5.3) that my current doctor exclaimed, “It’s like you don’t even have the disease!” Yep! And that’s the way we’re going to keep it. No more thinking I can eat carbohydrates just like anyone else, or even like a diabetes educator would tell me to do. Nope. I’ve found out that throwing drugs at the symptoms (high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high triglycerides) leads to a lot of frustration and worsening of all three problems. Instead, by making one serious lifestyle change – removing as many carbohydrates as possible from my diet – I’ve actually normalized all three problems. It makes me wonder what kind of medical system we have that is so focused on treating symptoms rather than addressing the underlying causes of disease.
There’s a reason I’ve gotten so drastically serious about eliminating the carbs from my life. My parents and I were talking recently. They also have diabetes. I asked them when they were diagnosed, and they both figured sometime in their mid-50′s. That gives me a 15 year head start. Or looking at it another way, I’ll likely start accumulating complications like toe amputations, blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, gastroparesis, and vascular damage leading to stroke and heart disease 15 years earlier than they will – unless I keep the blood sugar under control. So when my doctor says it’s like I don’t even have the disease, that’s one more year that I delay that lovely list of complications.
I’ve accumulated quite a collection of low-carb recipes in the last year. Favorite recipe sites include:
There’s more, but those are the ones I always look forward to trying new recipes from. And the almond flour cookies that I posted last year are still my favorite. Here’s the picture again. Click on last year’s post for the recipe.
My doctor’s advice this time? “Keep doing whatever you’ve been doing.”by beakennedy
Last fall, my friends Jean and Bob and I decided to go waterfall hunting. We only made it to two before the sun got too low in the sky, but it was a beautiful fall day, and we had a great time. I’ve been so busy trying to get things in order to officially open up shop that I haven’t had much time to look at the images that were made that day. Just a couple of quick glances at a few that immediately stood out either at the time I clicked the shutter or later in breezing through them in Lightroom.
One image in particular that stood out when I clicked the shutter was made as I walked across a bridge at the top of the first waterfall. As I zig zagged from one side to the other, first capturing little pools of water in the afternoon sun, then the gathering swirls of water preparing to plunge down the hillside, I looked up and saw the perfect combination of afternoon sun skimming across gold and yellow tree tops, and a very ominous looking storm cloud that hadn’t been there the last time I looked that direction. I immediately went over to that side of the bridge and took my shots, then continued on to catch up with Bob and Jean who were pretty far ahead of me at this point. Just when I caught up to them on the other side of the falls, the storm cloud dumped its load, seemingly all at once. Thank goodness for cheap plastic ponchos!! I don’t think an umbrella would have done any good even if I hadn’t left it in the back of the car.
Last night I chose this image to print on some samples of the new Signature Worthy papers from Epson, and got my second memorable look at this scene. The creamy, dreamy colors and smooth gradations of tone that were laid down on that sheet of paper immediately wowed me. Signature Worthy indeed.
[photoshelter-img width='600' height='418' i_id='I0000VuQdD7vkYGY' buy='1']by beakennedy
Birds have eyelashes
I never realized that before we got Spunkmeyer. Sometimes I can see them in pictures of birds, but most times not. Not only do they have eyelashes, but they like them to be very gently rubbed, or at least Spunkmeyer will tilt his head right over upside down and backwards in order to put his eyelashes right by the finger you’ve been stroking his neck with. Don’t know if birds can show emotional expressions or not, but if they can, then Spunkmeyer is in pure ecstasy when he’s having his little eyelids rubbed.
Why do I go to church?
Riding to church this morning, and a really neat song by Keith and Kristen Getty came on the radio – See What a Morning. The last words of each stanza are “For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!” I thought, “That’s why I go to church.” I suppose there are all kinds of reasons that going to church might be a more or less pleasant experience (I tend to like it), but that’s the “why do I do this” answer and the only one that really matters.
However, it is my goal to someday belong to a church where THIS song is sung:
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.
Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.
Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.
Dear Green Giant:
Really? Is it really necessary to DOUBLE the sugar in a simple vegetable in order to sell it to people? Seriously. Just what is the purpose of adding more sugar to an already sweet vegetable like sugar snap peas?
Exhibit B – Box of Green Giant Frozen Sugar Snap Peas: 10 grams carbohydrate less 2 grams fiber equals 8 grams net carbs
Exhibit C – Ingredient List of Green Giant Frozen Sugar Snap Peas
As a type 2 diabetic, the single most effective way for me to control my blood sugar (even more effective than the 3 drugs my doctor had me on at one point) is to limit my intake of carbohydrates and sugars. With that careful management of my carbohydrate/sugar intake, I’ve been completely off all medications for more than 6 months. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing things a little bit lower, I’m well within standard guidelines, and that’s a blessing.
One of the primary ways I limit carbohydrate/sugar intake in a healthy way is to eat lots of non-starchy vegetables. Sugar snap peas on their own aren’t too bad; 3 grams of net carbohydrates per serving is fine and doesn’t raise my blood sugar significantly. On the other hand, after you gentlemen (or gentlewomen) have loaded all that nutritious goodness with another 5 grams of added sugar per serving, I can no longer eat your product. Thanks a lot.
I seriously started looking at labels this summer after I realized that even products labeled “sugar free,” varied widely in the amount of sugar and carbohydrates they contain from one brand to the next. I did finally find one brand of sugar-free preserves that really doesn’t have any added sugars, but it was a job. My solution to that? After I ran out of that jar of preserves, in the last week, I crushed some fresh berries that I had on hand for my “preserves” and even to top my low-carb almond pancakes. Mmmmm….. Hmmmmm……
Since then, I’ve found added sugar in some places where I would least suspect, and other added ingredients in things I expect to just have one thing in them, like cream, or VEGETABLES. I’m not exactly sure what the purpose is of stuffing everything we eat with all this sugar and starch, but it certainly isn’t making us healthier.
I suppose it’s one thing to pack a “convenience food” with a bunch of stuff that isn’t needed, but I’m starting to get positively offended by all the extra stuff in what is supposed to be whole, nutritious food – especially when I can document the detrimental effect on my blood sugar control.
Are you listening manufacturers? I’m already changing the way I shop in response to some of my recent discoveries. Based on tonight’s discovery, I expect more changes to come.
And big brother governmental officials . . . this is NOT a call for tighter regulation of the food industry or, heaven forbid, another 2,000 page bill. I’m a big girl and can read labels for myself and make the choices that are right for me. We’ve got enough regulation to keep everybody drowning in it for the next few centuries. Just make sure products are labeled accurately, and then let us make our own choices. Thanks.by beakennedy
Aunt Mimi is home now. I’m glad she didn’t have to struggle through a long rehabilitation or linger unresponsive for a long time. I’m glad I got to spend time with her twice this year. I’m glad she told me when I was a rotten teenager that God had a plan for my life. I’m glad I know where she is right now.
The song that was playing on the radio when my mom called to let me know about her stroke was:
‘Til we meet, ’til we meet, ’til we meet at Jesus’ feet . . . . See you there Aunt Mimi.by beakennedy
The first title of the Partakers.Net blog was, “Killing Time: Pity the person who has not yet begun to live for eternity.” With that mindset, it’s been somewhat difficult to deal with the fact that, as a photographer, my product is pieces of paper. How long does paper last? Most of it doesn’t last very long at all before it gets consigned to the landfill. Not much substance to stick my eternal fork into. My current printer’s ink combined with archival paper and proper care is rated to last more than 100 years – a good long time, but still not eternal.
Recently I was reminded, however, that photographs often outlast the person depicted in them for at least a generation or two, maybe longer if properly cared for. And it’s often the photographs left behind that define a life for later generations. I have several pictures of my maternal grandmother who died before I was old enough to remember her. Those pictures and a few stories ARE my grandma, not in the sense of her soul being captured by the photograph as some believe, but in the sense that they are the only representations I have of her life. Add a few memories of my own for my other grandparents, who have all died long ago, and all of the sudden, those photographs take on a significance that I haven’t thought about nearly enough.
So, it was with quite a bit of surprise that I got home from a portrait session recently, and as I was looking through the images for the first time, I kept sensing this little whisper in the back of my mind . . . . “Look . . . . look.”
“Look at what?”
And then I saw it. In a glance between husband and wife, I saw that ephemeral aspect of their lives that truly does represent something eternal.
I got to capture THAT moment? Yes – that moment of joy is now captured for a lifetime and more. What a privilege!
Now that I know it’s there and that it can be captured, I’ll be on the lookout for those eternal moments.by beakennedy
What does a carbohydrate addict do when all her favorite foods are off limits? I now literally walk down the bread aisle telling myself, “Poison, poison, poison . . . ” because that’s the effect all those wonderful goodies have on my body. So here’s how I’ve been managing the desire for certain foods that used to be the biggest part of my diet:
Potatoes – Oh boy, do I love potatoes, but at 60 grams of carbs for 1 that’s way beyond what my body can handle without a bunch of medication. Enter Blaine’s Low-Carb Kitchen from FitTV with a vegetable I had never heard of before – a Daikon Raddish – and something remarkably similar to boardwalk fries (cooked in olive oil of course which is also good for diabetics) – 3 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fiber for 2 net carbs. I’ll have to see if there’s anything else I can do with these things to satisfy the potato tooth.
Spaghetti – I had spaghetti and meatballs tonight, but not with pasta. That stuff has over 40 grams of carbs for just a little bit. Enter Shirataki noodles made from tofu. I don’t normally care much for tofu, but the shirataki noodles soak up the low-carb tomato sauce (read labels – some brands don’t load it up with sugar) the same way a pasta noodle does for next to nothing in the way of carbs.
Bread – I’m a bread freak. I love bread of any kind, the fresher and hotter, the better, but when 1 slice, even the whole grain stuff I favor, has an entire day’s carbs, well, it’s just not worth it. Enter all kinds of homemade quick breads made with flax meal, almond meal and/or soy flour. Very low carb, very high in fiber, but satisfies that need for something to throw a slab of lunchmeat on. I’ve also made muffins, cookies, pancakes, and the like with these three flours or various combinations. I noticed that both wheat germ and wheat bran are pretty low in carbs, so may be adding some of those to the mix. Still looking for a good yeast bread recipe, but the quick breads do fill the bill nicely in the meantime.
Tortilla chips. I probably have diabetes (besides the genetics on both sides of the family) because I raised myself on Doritos and Coke and never kicked the habit until after I was diagnosed. Enter low-carb tortillas. Again, very high in fiber. Not only do these make great sandwich wraps, but they can also be cut into triangles and baked or fried (in olive oil) for my chip fix, although I really don’t have too many chip cravings anymore (a side benefit of eating a low-carb diet).
Ice cream – Homemade freezer ice cream with real heavy whipping cream, splenda, and vanilla. Sometimes I shave a little Lindt 85% cocoa bar over the top (low carb, high fiber). I discovered way in the beginning of the diabetes journey that ice cream (even the sugared kind in the stores) was not nearly as bad on my blood sugar as a single bagel.
People who don’t understand what low-carb eating is all about are put off by all the “fat” that people say they eat, but that’s totally not what low-carb eating is all about. No, all the things I’ve mentioned above increase the dietary fiber while reducing the carbs. Yes, I use real butter and cream. Yes, I eat bacon, meat, eggs, and cheese. But if you look at my diet, it’s actually much healthier than what I was doing before. I’m eating LOTS more vegetables, but no corn, potatoes, rice, wheat, or oats. I cook exclusively with olive oil. I get lots more fiber. Blood sugar and triglycerides are right where they need to be WITHOUT medication, and for me that’s the point. When this most recent doctor had me on the 3 medications, my blood sugar was going up and down like a yo-yo from hypoglycemic to the 300′s. Too crazy. If I learned anything working with Dr. Schaefer all those years, it’s that metabolic diseases are best managed by avoiding the foods that the body can’t process properly. And if there’s any disease that falls into that category, it’s diabetes. When I follow that approach, I maintain a nice even level that’s near normal and doesn’t vary much throughout the day. I start overloading myself with stuff my body can no longer handle, and I’m back on the blood sugar roller coaster and heading for insulin.by beakennedy
Sometimes there’s just no other perspective than the one that has you flat on your belly, face in the grass making friends and strangers alike wonder what in the world is so compelling that you’d make a fool of yourself in public like that. Nothing wrong with the end of the fence shots. Nothing wrong with the through the fence shots. But then I noticed this little piece of fence that was lifted up off the ground just enough for me to poke a lens through . . . .
All this must have reminded my husband of the first time he witnessed me lay down by the side of the road in the Appalachians in order to get the shot I wanted.by beakennedy
I had the great pleasure of photographing Baby M, not just once, but twice. First a spur of the moment shoot with grandma, who was babysitting when I stopped by on an errand, and again the following week with Mom and Dad.by beakennedy