The Tirado 5, hours after Jackson was born.

Then and Now {Praise Him}

Have you ever looked back to the worst moment in your whole entire life and then looked around you at your present life? Can you see an immense difference between the two moments in time? This morning, as I was holding my son, I did just that. As I attempted to count my blessings, I found that I could not, for they are far too numerous. That realization caused me to stop everything I was doing (other than breastfeeding) and just praise God for His mercy and grace. He delivered me from what once felt like the pits of Hell. I cannot even begin to fathom how different the world would be without my kids. You see, the worst moment in my life is the moment I was pronounced dead at age 16 during a suicide attempt. I had totally given up on life because I figured that everyone who mattered had already given up on me. I was wrong. God had not given up.

At age 16, there was no way that I could even begin to fathom that my life would work out to what it is right now. I married my high school sweetheart. We have been together now nearly 20 years. We have two beautiful daughters and a very handsome infant son. I survived military life (which almost killed both of us) and I have spent years teaching Sunday school, working with kids – including special needs children. I’ve traveled to and lived in several different states and I’ve met people from all over the world. I have a great life, despite our struggles. None of this would’ve happened had God given up on me.


Anthony and I in 1997, shortly after we became a couple and not too long before my suicide attempt that nearly took my life.

You see, when we’re at our worst moments and we don’t even have the strength to call on God or to acknowledge His existence, He’s still there anyway, saving us from the Enemy. He knows we have a purpose long before we know we do.

I did not call on God that day until the bitter end. I called on Him to bring me Home – to Heaven. He said “later” and sent me back to the World. Initially, I was outraged by the outcome of a failed suicide attempt. Now, I am praising Him for it. I cannot imagine a better life than the one He has given me.

 To all who mourn in Israel he will give: beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness. For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.

Isaiah 61::3 TLB

The Tirado 5, hours after Jackson was born.

The Tirado 5

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5 NLT

Let’s Pray: Lord, we thank You for the blessings You’ve bestowed upon us. We have experienced such intense moments of weakness that we could not even call out to You, but You in Your infinite Mercy came to our rescue anyway. You have replaced our mourning with joy and songs of Praise. All Honor and Glory rightly belongs to you, O Lord. How we love Your ways! In Jesus’ Name we Praise You. Amen.

How has God come to your rescue in moments of weakness? Has your life turned out better than you ever thought it could? In what ways?


Why I Don’t Use Birth Control And Never Will Again

I, Mandy, boldly declare that I do not currently use birth control and I never will again. I’m about to tell you why, but first…a photo of my amazing family!


Aren’t they cute?

This is a hot topic, isn’t it? Let’s all agree that no matter what our views are, we will discuss this topic in a respectful manner. I’m posting this based on my personal feelings after having researched this and considered for quite some time. I didn’t just get a wild hair and decided to make everyone mad.😉

First of all, I want to say that in past, I have used both “the pill” and Paragard. I recommend neither for reasons that are both secular and faith-based. The pill I used was Seasonale. What this particular pill offers is birth control with regularly scheduled periods every three months. That’s nice if you hate periods, or, like me, you needed a jump-start to your periods because you hadn’t had one in four years. Yep. I started this pill long before I even became sexually active. I have a long, painful history of endometriosis and ovarian cysts that burst every four months or so, causing me a ton of pain.

Back to the pill. I took this pill for just under a year and then stopped. When I got married to Anthony, I decided I didn’t want to take birth control. To me, it felt irresponsible. When you have sex, you have to know that pregnancy is possible. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. I have always had a strong faith in God, and I wanted to let Him decide the size and timing of our family. It never felt right to prolong pregnancy for any reason. I will touch more on this in a moment, in addition to the downside of any birth control pill, even Seasonale.

Flash forward five years to 2011. I was healing from yet another miscarriage (I’ve had more than I can count on both hands) and I wasn’t dealing with it well emotionally. My husband was deployed again and I was raising our two girls alone in a weird town, surrounded by people I didn’t really know all that well. I felt pressured to stop having babies, and I wrongly succumbed to the pressure. I started a conversation with my doctor that lead to me making an appointment to get an IUD installed in my body. I chose Paragard at the advice of another friend. This device remained in me for two and a half years until I just could not take it anymore and I got the thing out of me. Seven months later, I got pregnant with Jackson. He is now about to turn a year old! Cue the cute baby picture…

Baby Saber

Jackson chose an advanced weapon from a more civilized time as his first toy weapon. That’s my boy!

All that having been said, I’m going to tell you now what issues I had with birth control and will always have with any and every form of birth control. They stop God’s blessings from coming. I do not believe that it’s ever okay to limit what God wants to do in my life. By taking birth control, I would be doing just that.

I am pro-life. This includes suicide, doctor assisted suicide the death penalty and abortion for any reason. It also includes birth control. I believe that life begins at conception and I have not seen evidence to support that it doesn’t. I am open to receiving actual scientific proof, but so far, it doesn’t exist. There is, however, scientific evidence that a flash of light occurs at conception. That is incredibly exciting! You can read the article HERE.

My biggest issue with “the pill” (all types of birth control pills”) is that they thin out the uterine lining, making the womb a very hostile place for fertilized eggs, and keeps them from implanting. Instead, they cause your body to eliminate the egg, fertilized or not. This means you can still conceive a child but thanks to the pill, it will not implant, so the fertilized egg – your baby – will be eliminated from your system. It will be aborted within a week of conception. It’s not a natural phenomena because your body hasn’t just randomly selected this life to end. It ended because your body has synthetic hormones inside that are making it a hostile environment for fragile new life. I’m not okay with that. In fact, I feel really sick to my stomach considering that fact. I was on the pill for a couple of months after getting married. I have had to really pray and ask for God’s forgiveness, knowing that I may have gotten pregnant sooner, had I not been on “the pill.” If you’re interested in reading more about birth control pills and what they do, please visit the links at the bottom of this blog posting.

What I’ve discovered about IUDs is not much better. They are inserted into your uterus and are supposed to prevent sperm from ever meeting an egg, however, they can still meet an egg and you can still conceive and abort a baby while having an IUD inserted, just like being on “the pill” and I am 100% not okay with that. One of the ten commandments directs us not to murder and I take that seriously. I don’t believe that passively murdering the unborn is acceptable in the Lord’s eyes.

All that having been said, I also understand that it’s quite the challenge to raise a large family in this day and age and that everything is really expensive, kids are a challenge and that money doesn’t go too far for most families. Yep. I totally get that! I also know that what is impossible for us to accomplish on our own, God makes possible through His people, through faith and through very hard work. I also know from personal experience that we do not need as much stuff or as many activities as we think we need. But that is a blog post and a discussion for another time entirely.😉

What should you do if you’re currently on a form of birth control? That is for you to decide. You will need to talk about it with your doctor and make a decision that is right for you and that is in line with your own beliefs. If you’re a Christian, I encourage you to discuss this issue with your Pastor or another trusted member of your church leadership in order to gain more insight. Weigh this against God’s Word. I encourage you to seek out what the Bible says as well. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you, through God’s Word what you are to know regarding this topic. Prayerfully ask God to make clear what He wants you to do. I am not going to tell you what to do or not do beyond that. It’s your body and this is your choice. I encourage you to educate yourself before making any decision. Whenever I’ve jumped into things without ruminating on them for a while, I’ve always regretted it. Don’t do or not do something because someone told you to.

Sterilization is something I’ve only recently heard discussed in faith communities and I don’t feel that for our family, it’s a good choice. I may change my mind later, but right now, my personal belief is that while it doesn’t even allow for any chance of conception, it still limits what God can do in your life. I don’t want to limit that. I want to do what God asks me to do, no matter what. Parenting is hard, but it sanctifies me. It blesses me. It sanctifies and blesses my husband. And it increases the number of God’s people on the earth. In the end, I believe it blesses God, too.

As I was editing this post before posting, I read it to Anthony in order to gain his insight. After all, he is a big part of our growing family!😉 He said he agrees wholeheartedly. I’m not too surprised since this is a topic he and I have been discussing at length recently because…I have the baby fever again and we are hoping to conceive again, in God’s timing. Our family is not “done” yet.

Having said all that, I am very curious to know what your beliefs are on birth control. Do you believe it’s okay to use it? Do you believe God calls us to use it? What about sterilization? Do you feel that it’s okay to medically sterilize yourself in order to avoid pregnancy? What have been your experiences? Please share them respectfully in the comments below.







Helpful links:








There’s a Plank In Your Eye, Miss!

“Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:1-3 ESV

Ah…this scripture. I love it and yet…I find that it drives a stake right into my heart every time I read it. Yes, it kills the monster in me that just want to scream “You’re a fool!” to some random person. You see, I can’t do that because I’m a fool, too.

We all are going to make mistakes daily. We’re all struggling in some way to do something right all the time, but we’re never going to reach perfection. We’re not God. We are called to sharpen our brothers and sisters by gently rebuking them, redirecting their attention to the scriptures and by praying for them, but we are never called to monitor their every move in order to harshly judge them or call them a fool. Search your hearts, brothers and sisters. You may not be doing exactly that, but there may be something similar going on in your life right now and you…as well as I, need to stop it right now.

We are not loving our neighbor when we’re people watching only to create websites that display the foolishness of humanity. ( Yes, I’m talking to you, People of Wal-Mart.) We are not loving our neighbor when we call out their insecurities and make fun of them for it. We are not loving our neighbor when we feign friendship only to gain insight for scholarly gain. (Term papers, social studies, etc.) And we are certainly not loving our neighbor when we’re consistently, without love, calling out our neighbor for mistakes they’ve made in life. You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all done some variation of this. We have to check our hearts, folks. If we’re not correcting out of love and concern for their souls, we’re judging harshly and inappropriately. Check your heart and then lead your heart.

Most of us will naturally become annoyed with anyone with whom we’ve spent too much time. We’ll step on each others’ toes and make silly mistakes that don’t feel silly. They’ll hurt feelings. We’ll intimately get to know our neighbor and yes, we’ll discover hot buttons that when pressed, will create deep wounds. We are not to take advantage of this, or even use this to “correct” our neighbor when we finally find out “what’s wrong with them.” Chances are that whatever “issue” you are finding fault with in your neighbor is more your problem than theirs. We will see our own issues and insecurities manifest themselves in others when that is what we’re placing our focus on. Regain focus. Look to Jesus and pray for your own heart, then look back to your neighbor with a heart full of Grace and love. What do you see? If it’s not a person made righteous by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, then you’re going to need to look away again and refocus your eyes and your heart on Jesus before you can safely (without sin) look at your neighbor again.

I am speaking to you, too…self. I am having such a problem with this issue as well. I really struggle with making harsh judgments towards those with whom I am spending too much time. God has placed my family in an interesting and sometimes extremely uncomfortable situation right now. I’m learning that God doesn’t care too much about my own comfort as He sets my heart right.I am very grateful for this and that He checks my motives before giving me the desires of my heart!

Jesus has already died to set you free. You are no longer a sinner, but a saint. (read: 1 Corinthians 1:2) You are made perfect in God’s eyes because Jesus absorbed all of your punishment on the cross. (read: 2 Corinthians 5:21) We are not called to obey the law in order to retain our salvation. (read: Matthew 5:17) We’re called to obey the law out of love. (read: Romans 13:10) We need to live this out every day, to the best of our ability. When we can’t or don’t, there is grace. Please don’t abuse that! (read: Romans 6) We are all in need of grace. None of us are in competition with anyone else for our salvation. We already have it. Just look to Christ to grow you and mature you more each day. You can do this! God has equipped you with everything you need.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, we come to You boldly, in the name of Your son, Jesus. We thank You for the Holy Spirit that loves us and guides us. We ask that You would make us sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Help us to hear it more clearly and know when we’re making harsh judgements and when we’re truly seeking to correct or rebuke a brother or sister out of love. Help us to focus first on You, Lord and correct our behaviors, thoughts and attitudes before we even dare to look to others. Thank You for growing us and for fulfilling Your word that You began a good work in us and You will see it to completion. We confess that sometimes we don’t trust that. Sometimes we also try to do things on our own and that leads to burnout. We get frustrated with ourselves and become critical of others. Our focus is lost and we sin against You by sinning against Your children. We are sorry and we humbly repent, admitting that all sin is against You and Your will for our lives. Thank You for Jesus who has borne our sin and those of our neighbors as well. Fill our hearts with Your love as we reset our focus back onto You and away from idols and sin. In Jesus’ Holy and perfect name we pray. Amen.


Feed The Pig {Small Savings, Big Reward}

Hey y’all! Do you want to go on vacation next summer? Us too! We can’t afford to make a line item in our budget for a vacation, so we’ve had to get tricky and think outside the box in order to fund our first ever family vacation. Yes, I said first ever. We’ve never been on a real family vacation before, so we’re planning to take one in 2017 no matter what. 

But how will you fund this thing, you ask? We’re feeding our pig! No, we don’t own a real pig. We have a big, chubby piggy bank we’re feeding every time we find a coin or cash in our bottles and cans for money. All of that goes straight into the pig.


Seriously the saddest photo of a pig I’ve ever seen. This pig needs to go on vacation!

How did you ever get such an odd idea, you ask? I got this idea on my birthday when I was thinking up ways to give a gift to my family because they have given me the gift of love everyday. I shared my idea with them and they love it!

Originally, we’d started saving coins in a clear two and a half-gallon jug, but we could see the coins and after years of emptying it every time we had an “emergency” we decided that just wouldn’t work, so now we’re feeding the pig! So far, we have it about half full already! We estimate there is about $50 in there, but to be fair…it was already about 1/4 full when I first got the idea.  I’m excited to crack that piggy open next summer and see what’s inside!

You might be asking “well, what happens when you fill the pig? Will you empty it out and refill it?” Well, yes and no. We’re going to leave all the money in there until next summer. When this pig is full, we’re going to fill another pig. Ideally, we’ll make our own pig out of fun recycled materials. If we do, I’ll be sure to share the tutorial of how we did it. If not, you know me…I’ll fess up and humble myself enough to tell you we broke down and purchased one at the Dollar Tree or a yard sale.😉 I estimate we’ll fill this pig by the end of summer, but we’ll see!

We have some ideas about what we want to do. The kids obviously want to go to Disney Land, but I am vehemently opposed. I do not fit that into my list of values. There are much more frugal things to do with that money, y’all! Personally, I’d prefer my kids experience a national park or a cool new beach. I want to experience the outdoors and reset our natural clocks…maybe get Anthony to wake up before 8 am for once? (Yes, I am one of those annoying morning people. I wake up happy, want the house cleaned and children fed before 9 am. I swear, I was meant to be an Army drill sergeant. I missed my calling.)

Anyway, this is going to be a really interesting experiment. If we can all keep up with it, we’re going to have an amazing time. If not, well, I hope the kids like beans and wieners cooked over a campfire at a local campground because I am absolutely serious when I say we’re going on a vacation next year and it’s absolutely not going to be funded by our line item budget – this is all to be funded by coins and bottle returns.

What is the oddest way you’ve ever funded a vacation? Have you ever tried to fund one from bottle returns and coins? How did that work out for you? Share in the comments below. And remember – feed your pig!



A random photo of my adorable son enjoying his first BBQ rib last night. Because my sense of humor is nuts and I love showing off my super amazing kids. Enjoy! 

Ten Years?!

Anthony and I are almost there! We’ve almost made it to our ten year wedding anniversary! I am so excited! We are planning a day trip to the town we went to for our honeymoon. Our kids will be joining us for the adventure and they’re pretty excited, too.

We were just discussing all we’ve been through over the last ten years. Many of you probably don’t know this but…we’re currently homeless. We’ve been homeless for seven very long months. We’re hopeful a home will open up soon and in the mean time, we’re trusting God to provide for our needs. So far, He’s provided temporary shelter and unemployment benefits. Yes. He’s looking for work, too. He lost his job three months ago. It’s been a very, very tough ten years, but they’ve also been beautiful.

Anthony and I have grown so much, maturing in our faith and settling into  our stubborn personalities. We’ve learned to work together for the greater good of our family and we’ve fought sin together by staying up late, praying for help, on our knees.

By no means are we the “ideal couple” and obviously we’ve made our fair share of mistakes, but we have been redeemed by a Holy, powerful God. We’ve turned to Him, accepted Him as the Savior of our souls and our marriage. In turn, He’s worked incredible miracles in us and through us. It’s exciting to look back and see God’s hand in our marriage. There were so many times we (foolishly) wanted to throw away our marriage, but God said NO! And here we are…about to celebrate ten hard fought years. Praise God!

Whatever you’re going through in your marriage, you’re going to make it. Even if you don’t feel you can commit to your spouse, commit to the marriage and what it represents. You’re two who have become one. You’re a physical representation to your spouse that they’re never alone and they are the same to you. Cherish that. Protect that. You don’t want to fall alone.

A Navy chaplain once told me that even when I don’t love Anthony, I can still care for him. I can cook him dinner or wash his underwear. I can care for his physical needs and through that act, the love will return. When my hormones are raging or I’m exhausted or angry with him, I remember that. I remind myself to care for him and sure enough – the love does come back.

How about y’all? How long have you been married? What has God done in your marriage? Tell us! We love to hear about His mercies and miracles. And remember – no matter what you’re going through, God is there. Trust Him!

❤ Mandy 


Prayer: Let Love Shine

Lord, we lift up to You all who are hurting and desperate for relief. Clear their minds of all their sins and fill their hearts with Your love. You promise to keep in perfect peace all whose minds are focused on You. We ask that You would fill our minds with good, pure and pleasing thoughts of You. You have done so much for us and You never give up on us, never leave us. Let Your light shine and your love transform us. In Jesus Holy Name we pray. Amen.

Christians and Alcohol

This is one of those “hot topic” moments where I’m going to address something that you might not like or agree with. You may have very strong feelings regarding alcohol and your feelings are totally valid! (Seriously!) I am, however, going to ask that you read this with an open mind and use respectful language when replying in the comments – or emailing me privately. Thanks! 

From time to time, I’ll see a friend or Christian news site post something negative on the topic of Christianity and alcohol consumption. While I completely understand why so many claim that to be a “good” Christian you must remain sober all the time, I just don’t agree. Alcohol and Christianity can and do mix, in my opinion. In fact, I believe you can be a very lousy Christian and still be sober. Alcohol has little to do with it. I believe that what so many are focused on are heart issues.

There are many people who use alcohol as a means to control behaviors or situations, whether it be their own or someone else’s. Alcohol can be used as an escape from reality or as a celebratory beverage. It can be consumed in moderation or excess and it can be consumed in a Holy way or a sinful manner. Many would concur that a sip of wine during communion is perfectly acceptable for most folks. Is that sinful? I don’t believe it is. What about a hardworking Christian coming home  from work and having a beer while preparing dinner for their family? Is that sinful? It could be, but it depends on the intent.

There are people – like my husband and I – that enjoy a beer every few months. We usually will crack open a Corona while making tacos. I’ll take a few sips, crack a silly joke and then hand off the beer to my husband to finish because I’m a light weight. We’ll crack open another beer in about a month in a similar fashion, usually while making tacos or chili. Our kids may or may not be paying attention to what we’re drinking. If they ask, we’ll tell them honestly that it’s beer. Beer is an adult drink and we enjoy it occasionally because to us, it tastes good. We’ll go on to explain that it’s not good to drink too much because it’s not God honoring to get drunk, but it is okay to drink a little beer sometimes. If our kids question further, we’ll answer honestly, but they usually don’t. Someday we’ll have a full, open and honest discussion about the effects of alcohol, however, right now they’re not even ten years old yet and show such little interest in it. If they had shown interest, we’d have had the full talk.

Anthony and I drink very responsibly, don’t drive afterwards and don’t rely on alcohol to “make us feel better” or to fix anything in our lives. It’s more of a festive, celebratory deal for us. We have maybe five or six beers total a year. And maybe one or two bottles of wine. Part of this is due to cost, but mostly it’s because we don’t crave it, don’t feel it’s an important part of everyday life and understand that it can be over consumed, leading to a serious breakdown of self and family. We know we’re responsible for taking care of our greatest blessings – our kids, and we don’t want to do anything or drink anything that will inhibit us from fulfilling our roles as parents. Consequently, I don’t drink during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, so in the last year, we’ve had maybe one beer total and no wine or other forms of alcohol. (If you are breastfeeding, please know that alcohol remains in your system for up to four hours after consuming it, so you’ll need to pump and dump your milk and use alcohol-free pre-pumped milk to feed your baby during that time.)

Children are susceptible to outside influences, of course. They can be tempted to try alcohol at a friends’ house or even by media such as television, movies, books, magazines and even social media. This is why Anthony and I feel it’s important to have an open dialogue with our kids, on their level. Since we rarely have alcohol in the house, we use other outlets to introduce the topic to our children, such as passing a bar or restaurant that is known to serve alcohol. One day our eldest daughter wanted to go into a bar because she saw that they were having a pool tournament and it looked like fun to her. We explained that she could not go in and that we weren’t likely to either. This prompted the usual “why” response from her and we launched into a mutual, informative discussion on why not. This particular bar didn’t serve food and Anthony and I don’t see a point in entering an establishment that only serves alcohol, especially since we never finish even one drink ourselves. We don’t enjoy the physical effects of drinking too much alcohol and we certainly have no desire to hang out in a place where everyone else is enjoying an activity that we don’t. We’d prefer to spend our time doing things with people we love – like our kids. This satisfied her curiosity for now. I’m sure she or one of her siblings will ask again and we’ll answer truthfully, in much the same way.


I’m curious to hear what God’s said to you all regarding alcohol. And if you’re not “religious” what do you feel is acceptable for Christians? There are no wrong or stupid answers!


Christmas {Lessons in Greed?}


Image Credit:


This Christmas I have learned some very valuable lessons that I don’t believe I would’ve learned had I not been homeless for three months with my family of five. I’m grateful for this season of homelessness. It’s taught us to cling to Jesus, to need (and want) less stuff and to focus on the truth The Gospel becomes a whole lot more important when it’s all you’ve got. You start to realize:  it’s all you need. 

Children need to hear, see and experience the Gospel. They need to act out the Nativity even if they don’t seem to “get it” right away. You’re planting seeds in childhood and they’ll bloom the more you tend to them.

We each have our own family gardens to plant, tend and reap from. We can enjoy each other’s gardens, we can tend them for short periods of time, but we have to be careful of planting foreign seeds in them. A dangerous statement for sure. Christ is the ultimate gardener. He and His ways should always be found in every garden, but the ways of the world should be cut, cultivated out.

I mistakenly allowed the ways of the world to enter into our Christmas celebrations and I saw greed, discord, discontent and willful disobedience…to name a few. I understand that no harm was meant by those who gave gifts, yet…more joy was had by those receiving none.

The Spirit of Christmas is not giving. It’s receiving the Christ child into our hearts and growing in faith. It’s understanding that from His very birth, Jesus was destined to serve us and then die. As harsh as that may sound, that is the true spirit of Christmas. Satan does such a great job of convincing us otherwise, doesn’t he? We all got caught up in one way or another and we have, over the years done so much harm to our little ones in teaching about Christmas. We must retrain them. We have to stop right now with Samaritans Purse, Toys for Tots, giving trees and all other like-minded programs. These are great for other times of the year, but at Christmas, we need to celebrate the season of receiving. No gift placed underneath a tree can ever do that for us no matter how deep in poverty we may be. Only Jesus can truly lift us up and give us hope. Only Jesus can save us from ourselves, from our circumstances, from our sin. Only Jesus can redeem us. Toys are just clutter that are soon broken and forgotten. We can mess with those throughout the rest of the year. December 25th is for Christ and Christ alone.

Join me in taking back Christmas. Resolve to give freely throughout the year. Shower our family, friends and neighbors with gifts and fulfill their needs as Christ calls us to do. Then, during Advent next year, slow down. Stay away from the stores, resolve not to give (commercially) but to receive. Receive Christ. Celebrate His birth, life, death and resurrection. Await His coming. Tell it on the mountains and everywhere! JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!