Miracles Still Happen

I haven’t been writing much lately and I miss it. My time however has been consumed with the arrival of our son, Nicolas. He was born February 24th, healthy and whole.

I wasn’t supposed to be able to have kids. I was told in my early 20’s that it would be a miracle if I ever became pregnant. Well, at age 39, our miracle is currently snoozing in my arms.

I may have shared this before but eight years or so ago I had a dream that I walked into my doctor’s office wearing a green hospital gown and for the life of me, didn’t understand why I was wearing a hospital gown. The next thing I knew I was in one of the exam rooms and I was in labor.

Even in the dream I was confused as to how it was happening. Then, the doctor handed me a little blonde-haired, green-eyed, healthy baby boy. As I looked down at him I heard a voice behind me say, “His name is Nicolas and I sent him.”

I woke up from that dream not knowing what to make of it. I thought maybe my husband and I would adopt one day and that’s what it was about. I held onto that dream in my heart all these years waiting to see exactly what God had in store and this past July when we realized I was pregnant, I knew exactly who I was carrying in my womb. Nicolas.

Dimples photography

He looks just as I remember him. He has blonde hair, and now we’re waiting for his eyes to turn green.

On my 38th birthday I made a promise to myself to be in my best health by the time I was 40. I’ve always tried to live a healthy lifestyle but had some health issues hindering my efforts. Through prayer I found and switched my way of eating to a Ketogenic lifestyle. When I did, all of those health issues dissappeared. Within two weeks my bloodwork was normal again and I felt like a new person. We’ve never looked back and keep moving forward.

I had read that Keto helped many women with infertility issues but it never crossed my mind that it would be the same for me. I had it stuck in my head that I would never have kids and had accepted that a long time ago. However, my daily prayers over my health of being healed and whole…well, I was healed of everything and made completely whole. When God does something, He does it right.

He’s only 13 days old but I don’t know if I will ever not feel overwhelmed holding him…not just holding him but knowing I am holding a promise from God. I get to hold a promise that God showed me over eight years ago after believing for almost 20 years that it was impossible.

If God can do this, He can do anything. There are things I’m believing Him for right now that seem truly impossible but I’m reminded with each feeding, each diaper change, each cry, each smile, each coo, each look, that with God all things are possible.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Jeremiah 1:5 KJV

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 KJV

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GARBAGE DAY

GARBAGE DAY

Tuesday is garbage day at our house.

Every Monday evening the garbage can gets wheeled down to the curb and every Tuesday a big truck with a mechanical arm drives by and uses its scary robot appendage to pick the can up and shake it violently over the open bin above.

It drives away with all the rotten food leftovers, chicken parts from last night’s dinner, un-recyclable plastics and other random disposables so it doesn’t hang around and stink up our garage.

Tuesday evening, one of us (usually my husband) will drag the can back up the driveway and return it to its spot, tucked neatly away in the open  garage. 

Today I woke up feeling like that garbage can. For a little over a year my husband and I have followed a Ketogenic way of eating (low carb, high fat). The first six months we were very strict and did not waiver from the foods we were supposed to eat. During the next six months, we would occasionally have a meal that didn’t quite fit the macros if we were traveling. 

The past couple of weeks we have blown the diet out of the water. Last night, we sunk the battleship with dinner out and ice cream for dessert. 

I woke up at 4 am with stomach pain and just an overall feeling of yuck. 

The Keto diet has been life giving. It has made many health issues I was having before disappear. When I’ve had too many carbs or processed foods, symptoms start reappearing until I’m back on a full Keto diet. 

Being on the Keto diet, I have never felt better. I can tell my body has healed from the inside. When I do have a meal that causes me to feel off, it amazes me that for years I lived feeling that way. 

By tomorrow I’ll be back to normal and feeling good again. 

Early this morning, laying wide awake and having carb regret, I used the time to talk to God. 

He reminded me of what the Word does for us spiritually and what feeding ourselves “garbage” can do to us spiritually. 

There are so many things in this world that bombard us daily in the form of advertising. Everywhere we look – television, social media, other people’s conversations – we are inundated with ungodly thoughts and ideas. We are like a garbage can that needs to be emptied at least once a week or we will stink. 

Why let it even sit there for a week though? We have access to the Word and it instructs us to renew our minds. 

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2 KJV

We spend more time on social media than we do in the Word. We have the opportunity to read the Word daily, but do we? 

Many of us will make sure to get our exercise in every morning or every evening to keep our physical bodies in good shape and working properly but do we give that much attention to our spiritual life?  

What are we renewing our mind with? The Word or the world? 

God reminded me this morning that spiritually we can feel yucky when we are feeding ourselves with the wrong spiritual food. 

What have you been feeding on and what have you thrown away? Is it time to empty the garbage can? 

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods.

1 Corinthians 6:19‭-‬20 KJV

 

And for my next trick…

And for my next trick…

WARNING: This is going to be a lengthy post and I’m making it longer by telling you this. I’m not one for long blog posts but I see no way around it for this one. I’ll try to keep it interesting.

For the past year my husband and I have been on a ketogenic diet. I don’t like calling it a “diet” because it’s more of a way of life now. We changed what we eat and don’t plan on going back to the regular “healthy” way of eating, you know, what that food pyramid says you should eat? Pffft.

I had some health issues that caused weight gain and when diet and exercise were no longer doing what they should have done, I prayed and searched until I found something that worked. This past year I have lost 40 pounds. This works. Keto works. I won’t go into all the details about this journey in this post but you can read all about it here in my post, The Healing Powers of Bacon.

I share this to tell you about what has been going on the past few months. Losing weight means new clothes. Honestly, I still had a closet full of clothes that I had kept because I never gave up on the fact that I could lose weight, regardless of what the doctors said. I was a normal weight before and I could be again, that was my mind-set. Besides, all things are possible with God. I even bought a few pieces of clothing over the last few years that were too small because I refused to believe I would stay where I was at in life.

I’ll just be honest here. I HATE shopping. I am a woman and I HATE shopping. I can’t stand to look and look and go back and forth between the dressing room and the racks and back to the dressing rooms a million times to find a couple of things I’m satisfied with. I have NEVER liked shopping, ask my mom…it was the cause of many arguments between her and I. During the years I was dealing with the health and weight issues, I REALLY hated shopping.

I know this makes me sound like a horrible person, but I’m all for uniforms, in every aspect of life. It would bring me such peace and joy to open my closet and see nothing but the same uniform for each day of the week. I wouldn’t have to spend brain energy on deciding what to wear. I wouldn’t have to give a PFFFFFT about how I looked because we would all look the same. That is beautiful to me. No exerted energy on something I care nothing about. No wasted time in the dressing rooms. No gas spent driving to store after store to make sure I had shoes that complimented my outfit and accessories that popped! It stresses me out just to write about it. Blech. Kudos to you ladies and gents who love it and look fabulous all the time.

Here is something I hate about shopping, especially during the transition period while losing weight and having no idea what size you are going to need. This has happened to me more times than I will admit…

Grab an armful of clothes, head into the dressing room. Look around to make sure you see nothing suspicious like a hidden camera or something or somebody peeking over the top of the partition. Try the first shirt on, yuck. Try the second one on, yuck. Try the third one on and it’s a little snug on the arms. You pull it down further anyways thinking the rest will fit fine.

All of a sudden, there you are, in the dressing room, stuck like Houdini with amnesia…no way out.

That moment of panic as you struggle, holding back a scream for help and praying you don’t tear a giant hole in the armpit of the hell you are in. This is the moment where turning in circles seems to be the only option as if the minute amount of wind you will kick up in your pivot will miraculously free you.

A full 360 and you find yourself in the same position as you were before. Stuck. Helpless.

I’m laughing as I write this thinking back to my teenage years when my best friend and I were shopping (ha, I know) at the drugstore for some makeup. She had one of those handbaskets and tried putting it on like a backpack laughing and saying, “Look Misty, I’m a turtle! I’m a turtle!”

Then that moment of panic set in when she realized she was stuck as she had it halfway off, one arm jutting awkwardly above her head, the other somehow crossed in front of her. Talk about going to hell in a handbasket.

I laughed so hard I hit the floor with my knees. A middle-aged woman a few feet away began chuckling and couldn’t stop. She was trying to but she couldn’t. I can only imagine what she thought of the two sixteen-year-olds laughing hysterically in the middle of the store, one in tears from the laughter the other about to cry out of panic.

That moment of panic. That moment of being stuck. That moment of trying to go back or forward and neither is option. You can’t get out the same way you got in and you can’t get in the same way you got out.

That is where I have been the past few weeks.

Not just in a shirt but with EVERYTHING.

I’ve been in this weird transition where nothing is familiar, nothing fits right, nothing looks good and I just want to spin in a circle so fast that the remnants bust at the seams and fly off.

Here I sit. A full 287-page manuscript staring me in the face screaming, “Edit me already, would ya!?” It is my nemesis during this time. I have a resume to die for but showing nothing that I actually want to pursue. A resume that most people don’t achieve until they are ready to retire and I haven’t even hit 40 yet.

A resume shows what one has accomplished, it does not show hopes and dreams and goals. You know, those things that people think you are crazy for even believing you can do until you actually do it and then they say “Congratulations”…yeah, those things. When I reach the stage of my life where I employ people, I am not going to only request a resume but their first interview, will solely be them sitting in a plain room with a piece of paper and pencil with a question at the top that says, “What are your dreams, hopes and goals?”

This morning, as I struggled in my awkward position in current life, I came across a video a friend posted on social media of a Monarch caterpillar transitioning into the pupa stage. As I stood there, turtle-like, watching this caterpillar turn into a pupa, a soft shell-like covering where it was going to hang out for a while, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “You were a dragonfly. Now you are becoming a butterfly.”

And the tears started.

The peace washed over me.

The calm overtook me.

The smile came.

The joy bubbled up.

I watched this video of the caterpillar wiggle and thrash to get it’s “shirt” off that was too tight. Eventually it did. Once it was shed, it became still again (on the outside), peace settled over it as it waited to become the butterfly where once again it would wiggle and thrash, shedding another layer before opening its wings and taking flight.

EGG

The first stage of a butterfly is an egg. It is small and inside this egg is where a tiny caterpillar grows. They are typically found on the leaves of plants. Most importantly, the mother butterfly that laid the egg, laid it on a plant that it knows it will eat. Each type of caterpillar only eats certain plants so the mother butterfly must know which plant to lay the eggs on.

CATERPILLAR

Once the egg hatches, the caterpillar spends its days eating. That’s all it will do is eat. The plant where the egg was laid, becomes its food. It feeds on this source that protected it from the beginning. The caterpillar grows so fast during this phase that it will molt its skin several times because the skin doesn’t grow but their insides do and need room to keep growing. It wiggles and struggles and removing its exoskeleton each time. It has to reach a certain length and weight during this phase.

PUPA

Once it has fed enough and stored up energy as a caterpillar, reaching its ideal length and weight, it changes into a pupa. This is where it sheds its exoskeleton once last time and becomes this pod looking thing hanging from a plant/branch. During this time, it appears as if nothing is changing. It looks like it’s just hanging out there. This is where it most vulnerable because it has no defense mechanism in this stage. While to the outside world it looks as if nothing is happening, EVERYTHING is happening on the inside. EVERYTHING is changing on the inside. Once all the changes have taken place, it begins to break out of the chrysalis (the casing it was hanging out in).

BUTTERFLY

Once the butterfly breaks free from the chrysalis it rests for a bit. Their wings are close to their body, they don’t immediately fly…they adjust to their new form and surroundings. Eventually, their bodies begin pumping blood into their wings, strengthening them, getting ready for flight. Once they take off, they are experts at flying and their only mission is to product “fruit” (reproduce) and lay eggs on another plant so the cycle can begin all over again and new butterflies will emerge.

 

 

I know what God whispered to me this morning. I know His voice. I understand. I’ve understood all along but I’ve had my moments of panic and thrashing and trying to bust my way out of the things that He is having me shed. His grace and mercy are plentiful  and He’s good.

I’ve spent much of my time in prayer and in the Word, feeding on everything I can. Last night, I said to my husband, “I have been so hungry today, like I just can’t get enough food!”

It manifested in the physical. Today I woke up with peace. Today I transitioned into the pupa stage, the chrysalis. Everything I’ve munched on the past few weeks is changing all that is on the inside.

I find it interesting that butterflies go through a COMPLETE metamorphosis whereas dragonflies, another one of my favorite beings, undergo an INcomplete metamorphosis. They don’t have a pupal stage. They don’t have the stage where everything on the inside changes and is made new, different, preparing them for flight.

A dragonfly serves its purpose as does a butterfly but the butterfly completely changes from the inside out. There is an extra phase it goes through to perfect it. Let the process happen. Enjoy the journey and trust God knows what He is doing. He’s the mother butterfly, the plant, the source, the food, the blood that will pump through your wings, the leaf from which you will take flight.

 

Romans 12:2 (KJV)

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHOCOLATE CAKE and SIN

CHOCOLATE CAKE and SIN

Mmm…chocolate cake. There are few people I have encountered in my life that do not like chocolate cake. They are marked “weirdos” in my book. Just kidding…not really.

Don’t get all defensive, I eat mayo with my fries. Now I’m a “weirdo” in your book. We’re even.

The thing is, I don’t eat fries any more. No potatoes. No chocolate cake either. No sugar.

Almost a year ago (5/30/16) my husband and I changed our diet to a Ketogenic lifestyle. This was mainly for me but he is a weight lifter and a Heavy Athletics game competitor (Scottish Highland Games) so he was all for it to help with his muscle and strength building.

I was doing it for health reasons which is a blog for another day.

Eating the Keto way (keto is what it is called for short) means cutting out all refined sugars and eating a high fat, low-carb, medium protein diet. These are called your “macros” and the amount of each is based on your current height/weight/goals.

This way of eating, once you get through the first week where your body basically detoxes, is amazing. Clearer thinking, overall well-being, no sugar crashes or spikes…I could go on. We will never go back to a carb filled diet, I can tell you that much.

However, the mind is a tricky thing. There will be times when you think you want something like a donut, a sugar filled juice, or…ahem…chocolate cake. The reality is, when you bite into something like this after being on keto for a while, it tastes gross.

For the most part.

You don’t realize how addicted you are to sugar until you detox your body of it. There are some great documentaries out there on this topic that do a fantastic job of explaining it in-depth. I recommend watching them and then take a look at all those “healthy” foods you eat (granola, yogurt, fruit…yes, fruit).

Back to chocolate cake. It’s comfort food. It reminds me of birthdays – good times. Every now and then, my mind will crave a piece of chocolate cake. Thankfully, some resourceful ketoers took it upon themselves to create various keto chocolate cakes using ingredients like almond flour or coconut flour. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE, whoever you are.

I’ve made a few various keto chocolate cake recipes and they taste pretty good. Just as easy, if not easier, to make than regular cake.

One day I was craving real chocolate cake though. I suggested it to my husband.

Every now and then he will do a carb-load to replenish his muscles. He does heavy workouts and burns it right off. I on the other hand really have to commit to a carb load and know that I am going to work it off. This is not typically recommended on keto by the way, this is how we choose to handle our diet. I must also point out, a typical carb load is not eating chocolate cake…it should be healthier carbs than cake.

So there I was in the kitchen suggesting decadent chocolate cake from a local bakery to my husband. We discussed the ramifications of eating it. Having that kind of sugar after not eating sugar for so long makes your head feel “cloudy” and your thinking isn’t as clear. I knew eating the cake would make me feel like this and I HATE that feeling.

I also knew that I would have to work extra hard over the next couple of days to get back into ketosis and work off the brain fog. I would stall my weight loss. I wouldn’t just take the chance of spiking my sugar, I would basically be stabbing the needle right into my veins and feeding the sugar straight in. The headache would be monstrous from the overkill of sugar that is in chocolate cake.

We debated. We discussed.

Then we got in the car and drove to the bakery.

We were basically a modern-day version of Adam and Eve in the garden if it were a sin to eat chocolate cake. 

We talked about this on the way to the bakery. How sin works. How easy it was for me to suggest something my brain was craving which then made his brain crave it. We justified it with how we were going to work off the carbs and sugar after we stuffed our faces and even knew how horrible (guilty) we would feel after eating it. But we knew we would enjoy the few moments it took to let those moist morsels of sugary, fluffy cake melt in our mouths.

This is what sin looks like. 

Sin is something the mind thinks it craves. We know how horrible it is for us. We know the after effects once we partake. We can get others to skip down that sinful lane with us. We can justify it any way we choose. We can make it sound fun and harmless.

In the end, sin is sin and the outcome doesn’t change.

I had my cake, but I had my headache and lethargy and stomach bloat and regret after I ate it, too.

When we have to justify our actions we should really stop and examine ourselves. When we find ourselves having to convince ourselves, we may be stepping into an area of sin.

Eating chocolate cake is not a sin but lets pretend for a moment it is. Parallel this to sin as you read.

For the record, reading in the Word and having a relationship with God will reveal to each individual what sin is. I’m not going to list what I believe to be sin in this post.

The thing is, eating chocolate cake before I knew about keto never made me feel better either. It always came with the knowledge that I would have to work a little harder at the gym after eating some. This was a way to continue in the habit/action/sin of eating the cake. I justified it. I found a way to live with it and be okay with it. I didn’t really think it was that bad for me other than having to work off the calories and fat.

Then I learned about keto and I studied the effects of refined sugar on the body. I had medical issues from the years of eating refined sugar. I was losing hope until I read about keto.

Parallel this to salvation and becoming accountable to the Word of God and what sin is.

Now when I eat cake, I am accountable for it because I absolutely know what it does to my body and the effects it will have. I have a choice to make, eat it or don’t eat it.

If eating chocolate cake were an actual sin, it was a sin before I knew the effects of sugar just as much as after I knew because the effects never changed, I just became aware of them.

Sin does not change but our understanding of what sin is, does change. The effects of sin have never changed.

This is what makes the fact that God sent His son to save me so amazing to me. There are no words to describe it. He knew I wouldn’t always make the right choices but if I chose His Son, if I took one moment and let Him in to my heart, He would be my justification. He would be my saving grace. He would be my mediator.

This doesn’t mean I can sin when I want, however I want. This means that when I miss the mark, I have Jesus.

I can’t imagine a life without Him…or some form of chocolate cake.

Get blessed.