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.

1997

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?

Jackson Henry Aaron is HERE! {Delayed Posting}

Hey all! Jackson Henry Aaron is here! He’s actually been here for the last six weeks, but I’m a bit slow on the uploading and I’ve been wrestling with whether or not to continue blogging at all, realizing that it’s going to require a whole lot more commitment on my part. I’ve gotten over that initial freak out and decided to try a 30 hour work week from home, especially since my husband’s work schedule has changed and he’s home more during the day now.

Anyway…back to the big, exciting news. Yes, I had a baby!

Baby Jackson

Jackson Henry Aaron – born May 20th at 08:39, weighing in at 8 lbs 2 oz and measuring 20.5 inches in length.

I had my third, medically necessary cesarean section. My husband, Anthony was there to document it for me.

I'm ready!

Here I am, ready to meet my little boy. This was taken just moments before the doctor began operating on me. I was fully awake for the entire ordeal.

Jackson and I both came out of the surgery a little messed up. He had some initial breathing difficulties which were quickly remedied, while I had some challenges with pain medication prior to the surgery and some endometriosis and old scar tissues removed during the surgery. I didn’t recover as quickly this time as I did in the past, but six weeks out – I’m finally feeling like a champ. Jackson is extremely healthy as well.

Little Sheriff

Our little guy just two days after birth. He’s a healthy, growing boy!

And of course, our girls are absolutely in love with their little brother.

Theresa, holding Jackson hours after he was born.

Theresa, holding Jackson hours after he was born.

Chelsea, burping Jackson just a couple of days ago. Jackson has grown like a weed in the past six weeks since his birth!

Chelsea, burping Jackson just a couple of days ago. Jackson has grown like a weed in the past six weeks since his birth!

While the birth experience wasn’t ideal, my son is so much more beautiful and amazing than I ever could’ve expected him to be. He is such a little gift from Heaven and I’m so blessed to be his mother.

How about you? Was your last birth experience what you expected? Did you experience a quick recovery or did you face some challenges? Share with us in the comments below (without getting too graphic, please).

Let’s pray: Lord, we thank You for the gift of children and of childbirth. Even when things do not go as we expected, we still receive the beautiful gifts that You have offered to us. Everything You give us is good. Thank You Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 

An Open Letter to My Unborn Son {Jackson Henry Aaron}

15 weeks

Jackson Henry Aaron due May 27, 2015

Dear Jackson,

For you son, we have prayed fervently. God has blessed us with your conception. I’m looking forward to the day when I can hold you in my arms and kiss your head as I praise God for bringing you into my life. Your father will do the same thing, as will your sisters, grandparents and all who meet you. You are a blessing son. I pray that you never forget how important, loved and blessed you are. May God bless you and keep you safe all the days of your life.

Your sisters, Theresa and Chelsea are so excited to meet you. They’ve been singing songs about you since the day we told them we’re expecting you (September 21st, 2014). They don’t really understand that May 27th is a ways off, but they’re eagerly awaiting your arrival. They’ve been praying for you, too.

There has never been a moment when we haven’t wanted you, or wondered if you should be a part of our family. You were always wanted. You have always been loved.

Before you were conceived, several of your brothers and sisters were born into Heaven. You and your sisters currently have more siblings born into Heaven than you do here on earth to embrace. I often wonder if you kids played with them before coming here to earth. That is one of life’s great mysteries. Someday, when I meet God in Heaven, I’d like to ask Him. I know your brothers and sisters were beautiful because they were a gift from God – a blessing. I know I will meet them someday and embrace them. I thank God for their lives, short as they were. I thank God for your life, and for your sister’s lives as well.

Little one, you are strong! I have felt your kicks and barrel rolls since week twelve of pregnancy. At first, they felt like tiny flutters and now, they tend to feel more like a mighty warrior, looking for the exit. Sometimes I wonder if you haven’t mistaken my bladder for a bouncy house. I have a feeling you’re really going to enjoy those someday. 😉

I wonder what you’re going to look like and what your interests will be. Your dad and I keep going back and forth about whether you’ll be a football player, a soccer player or a baseball player. I wonder if you’ll be a mighty preacher, a lawyer who stands up for civil rights, or something else. We have big dreams for you, but we also know you’re going to have to make up your own mind about a career, based on your relationship with Christ. We trust Him to direct your steps and ours as well as we raise you in the Church and in relation with Him.

Jackson, you’ll never be able to meet your aunt Melissa, great-grandpa Tom, or great grandmothers Verla and Mary Jane (among many, many other deceased family members) but I want you to know that they’ve already influenced your future in so many way, just as we will, who are still here among your earthly relatives. You see, you’re part of a beautiful legacy of God’s people. We’re a little broken, a little silly, and a lot hopeful for full restoration among God’s creation. We’re all part of the foundation for yours and your sister’s future. Our stories, woven together create a beautiful tapestry that can help lead back to God if you allow it. There are stories of triumph, wisdom, love, death, sadness, sin, and foolishness. There are stories of victory and joy. There are stories that will help you understand the importance of hard work, loyalty and friendship to your fellow-man. Some stories will inspire, some will make you cringe, but all are part of the beautiful tapestry. All are important for you know.

More than anything dear Jackson, I just want you to trust God and love Him with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is my greatest prayer for you, my son. I also want you to know that there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God or from the love of your father and I. You are our son and you are first and foremost, God’s beautiful, beloved creation. We’ll see you soon, Son.

With love,

Mommy

We’re Expecting A…

JHAT ultrasound

We are expecting a boy! Jackson Henry Aaron is due around May 27, 2015.

We are expecting our very first little boy! Jackson Henry Aaron is due around May 27, 2015. When we saw the little penis on the ultrasound screen, we all celebrated with a “whoop! whoop!” and Anthony had the largest smile on his face. He’s been telling everyone who will listen that we’re having a boy. How fun!

My mom, our girls and Anthony were all able to be in the room when we found out. It was such a holy, blessed moment to welcome some of the first images of our little Jackson together. For this child we have prayed, and this child we will all embrace and love, with God’s help.

I’m so blessed to share this with all of you. My heart is full. May God bless each of you as He has blessed me.

In Christ’s love,

Mandy ❤

Baby, Baby, Baby!

Since finding out for sure on Sunday that I’m expecting another baby, I’ve been utterly consumed with pregnancy. Anthony and I got right to work and settled on two names – one girl, one boy name.

Girl: Roosevelt Madeline Elizabeth

The Roosevelt family had a lot of obstacles to overcome, but they achieved success with much style and grace. Eleanor, Teddy and Franklin all affected our country in big and amazing ways. Why not honor that?

Madeline was the deacon at the church I grew up in. In my formative years, she had a massive (positive) influence on me.

Elizabeth is the name of a wonderful friend from my years as a Navy wife. She helped me through a dark time in my life and ultimately, reminded me why marriage was worth enjoying, and parenthood worth savoring. Though we’re no longer friends, (through my own stupidity), I still want to honor that massive transformation in my life, and the lovely lady that helped me through it.

I also love that the Elizabeth from the Bible was faithful to God and gave birth at a late age to a special son, John the Baptist. Great things come from great faith! 

 

Boy: Jackson Henry Aaron  

To be entirely honest here, I’ve always loved the name Jack. The first time I heard the name Jackson used as a first name, I fell in love with it. It’s both presidential and masculine in nature. My husband and I both are invested into politics, and he with American history. President Jackson stood for a lot of the things we stood for (though not all! We are republicans, after all.)

And yes, the two middle names are a nod to the late great Henry Louis Aaron aka “Hank Aaron”. Not only are we baseball fans, but we’re also for integration and basic human rights. We felt that Hank Aaron’s story was a great example and expression of that.

Also, Aaron is a wonderful character from the Bible. His story is significant as well. He helped Moses free his people from the tyranny of Pharaoh. We’d love for our son to be helpful and selfless as well.

After 8-1/2 years of naming babies, these names came to us fairly easily. We hope you enjoy them. Choosing names has made it easier for our daughters to talk to my belly as well. They’re already bonding with their new brother or sister, and it’s a sweet sight to behold.

And….baby makes 5 (or 6?)!

 

 

 

I’m PREGNANT! I’ve “known” for a couple of weeks, but I had several chemical pregnancies this summer and I’m dealing with endometriosis, so I waited past the point when I felt I should probably test. This afternoon I stopped at the Dollar Tree after church to purchase a couple tests to verify and it’s a BFP (Big Fat Positive)!

I’ve been having dreams that it’s twins, so we’ll see in a few weeks. I have to call an OB/GYN tomorrow to make an appointment for next month. I’m a person who cannot hold a secret, so you’ll be getting to see ultrasound pictures, too.

Positive pregnancy test

double lines!

I’ve had several miscarriages and my blood type is Rh negative, so I’ll need a rhogam shot or else my body will become allergic to baby and spit him/her out. Please be praying for a healthy and safe pregnancy for me. Our girls are really, really excited and I think I made my husband deaf when I read the results and started screaming.

Praise be to God from whom all blessings flow! 

If you’re not familiar with some of the terms used above, I’ve provided some helpful links below. Additionally, I’m including a few of my favorite pregnancy sites.

Chemical Pregnancy:  http://miscarriage.about.com/od/onetimemiscarriages/p/chemicalpreg.htm

Endometriosis:  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/endometriosis/basics/definition/con-20013968

Miscarriage: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/guide/pregnancy-miscarriage

Rh Negative Blood Type: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/rh-factor/

Rhogam Shot: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/ask-heidi/rhogam-and-rh-negative.aspx

Baby Center: http://www.babycenter.com/

The Bump.Com: http://www.thebump.com/

 

Do you have any favorite pregnancy websites or Facebook pages you want to share? Let me know in the comments. Also, what’s your most memorable pregnancy moment? Share that in the comments, too!