Tag Archives: blessings

Both girls yelling in RV doorway

When God Asks YouTo Do Something Incredibly Brave {Part 2}

Hopefully by now, you’ve read part 1 and know that we’re in the process of moving our family of five plus one dog into an RV to live in full-time. I have a little update for you – we’ve purchased the RV and are in the process of fixing it up as we clean out our rental house. This weekend, we’ll be selling just about everything we own and packing the rest into our little tiny house. We will be moving into it full-time in about ten days or less!

Our RV is a late 80’s model with only 53,000 miles on it. “Georgie Boy” has had just one owner in his lifetime. (Yes, I name all our vehicles). He’s been well kept. We paid far less than $10,000 for our new home and are hoping it was a good investment. We’ll see!

Both girls yelling in RV doorway
Welcome to our new home!

We are painting the cabinets white, the walls a light yellow and will recover all of the fabrics. The carpet is pretty new, so we’ll steam clean what little of that there is.

Girls and beds
Chelsea is pointing to what will be her bed – the pull out couch. Theresa is pointing to her bed, a pull down bunk.

We will be putting the curtains back up soon. I pulled them out to wash them. They’re a warm sandy color and we’ll be keeping them for now. I will likely tie dye them this coming spring because I hail from a hippy and it got into my blood. 😉

RV kitchen
This is the sum of my new kitchen. What adventures will we cook up in here?

We do plan to paint the counter tops and make them look like faux granite counter tops. Also, not shown is the refrigerator/freezer. We will be painting the outsides in chalkboard paint to create a fun family message center. Because I need all three kids underfoot when I cook on that tiny three burner stove. I really do. 😉

Tiny bathroom
Five people, one bathroom. Madness. Or as Chelsea put it – “Poopin’ on a plane”

I’m not real keen on the towel racks either and will eventually be replacing those with something more fun and whimsical. Stay tuned for that!

View front to back
View from living room/girls sleeping space to kitchen, bathroom and “master bedroom” area

That kitchen faucet has totally got to go! Anthony has his eye on one, so we’ll save up to replace it.

Chelsea wave
See you soon with more updates! 🙂

Stay tuned for more updates! There’s a lot happening!

Peace Be the Journey,

Mandy ❤

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays, Brothers and Sisters!

Let me preface this by saying that if it were still pre-Christmas, I would have said “Merry Christmas” instead, but we’re less than a week away from New Year’s Eve and a short hop, skip and a jump away from Valentine’s Day. So Happy Holidays!

364 days
A little humor from yesterday’s Facebook postings. 🙂

December was a really fun month for us. We hosted a fundraiser for our church’s youth group. They’re looking to go to Orlando, FL for Y15 a Methodist youth conference in June of 2015. We raised over $100 which is great for our tiny community. We’ll have another fundraiser around February and another in April. I’m so blessed to have been able to help in any capacity. The kids are truly amazing.

Sunday School has had a slow start, but I keep remembering to be faithful in all things, especially the small things. This ministry will grow with time. One of my downfalls is to want to grow things too quickly, but then I become fearful of the changes and chicken out. God has been working on that with me, yet I keep hindering Him. This is not one of my better traits. I’m praying He will work that controlling, comfort-seeking side out of me soon.

15 weeks
15 week scan. Will find out gender on New Year’s Eve!

Baby “Jacksovelt” is 18 weeks along (19 weeks this Wednesday) and growing well. S/he had a heartbeat of 144 a few weeks ago at my last check-up. Could this be our first boy growing inside of me? We’ll find out on New Year’s Eve! My doctor was so gracious as to schedule my 20 week scan on New Year’s Eve and allow my entire family to be in the sonogram room when we find out the gender! What is so significant about this date for our family is that on New Year’s Eve four years ago, I had a devastating D&C to remove a deceased fetus (“Baby Dill”) from my uterus. I will never forget that day. I was incredibly distraught and in complete denial that the baby had actually died, even having seen proof. For a couple of years, I carried a heavy burden of guilt, believing I had actually consented to an abortion and murdered my precious baby because I wasn’t a good enough mother. I believed I was being punished by God for past sins. Our minds can play funny tricks on us, can’t it? God is so merciful and gracious. He has healed that part of me and has given us a joyful reason to celebrate this day henceforth.

18 Weeks
18 week baby bump! Almost half-way there!

Theresa had three very cute, very sweet class concerts this month. Her teacher (“Mr. Awesome”) has been a really great influence on her, channeling all of her extra energy into positive learning activities. These class concerts required Theresa (and her classmates) to memorize several long poems and detailed songs such as Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” and the classic Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Theresa played one of the two turtle doves and blew a kazoo when it was her turn to make bird noises. It was completely adorable and my Mama heart swelled with love and pride. All the children in the classroom worked hard and it showed!

Theresa's Christmas Concert 2014

Chelsea also had a Christmas concert in her classroom. She played the role of the partridge in the pear tree during the “Twelve Days of Christmas” carol. Her tweet tweet had the same effect on my Mama heart as Theresa’s kazoo playing. It was a beautiful sentiment to the season – time spent celebrating with friends and neighbors. Her teacher, “Mrs. Awesome” did a great job of organizing a group of wiggly, squirmy kindergarteners into a beautiful chorus of carolers. I was touched by the effort put into the concert by such young children. Their hard work was evident to all.

Chelsea's Christmas Concert 2014

On the last day of school for both girls, we sent homemade teacher gifts – a hand painted ornament from each girl and a handwritten card from me, expressing deep gratitude for the love and attention that the teachers have poured out onto not only my children, but their entire classroom of students. Both teachers bring out the best in their students and encourage them to strive for more than just the bare minimum. Theresa’s teacher reminds the students to value their education, be kind to others and to be peace makers within their community. Our community is going through a very rough time and tensions are high as crime rate rises and law enforcement coverage significantly decreases due to a lack of funds from taxpayers. Mr. Awesome is consistently reminding the kids to look on the bright side and strive for the best. We couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful teacher for Theresa.

As for Chelsea’s teacher, Mrs. Awesome has really brought our little Chelsea out of her shell. She’s making friends and joining play groups on the playground. I’d been concerned all summer long about her shyness, wondering how and if she’d fit in anywhere. I was afraid she’d hate school and want to come home since she has been so deeply attached to me since her birth. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. She’s loving school and has made quite a few friends. Mrs. Awesome has a similar dedication to excellence as Mr. Awesome and is routinely encouraging the kids to strive for just a little higher achievement. I love that she doesn’t just let the kids sit in their comfort zone. That is so important, especially at their young age. Pushing past just a little at a time will benefit them in the long run. She’s been such a blessing to her classroom. It’s amazing to see how the kids have grown leaps and bounds in only a few short months.

Opening gifts
Christmas Eve Celebration with family.

And now, onto Christmas! Due to Anthony’s work schedule, we ended up celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve this year so he could get some rest. Most of our family was able to celebrate with us. My mom, brother, mother-in-law, and father-in-law gathered together with us in our little apartment and we had a wonderful few hours together opening gifts, talking and eating a delicious roast beef dinner. Santa came sometime during the night, leaving the girls a 2-1/2 foot tall stuffed singing Rudolph and a gift for each girl. We had a quiet Christmas day with a small outing to the dog park for our beloved pug-mix, Rosie Grace. Titus Aaron, our cantankerous kitty stayed away from the festivities. He’s the Grinch in feline form. We love him anyway.

Theresa, Chelsea and Rudolph

We weren’t able to attend the Christmas Eve service at our church due to its timing. It’s near impossible for me to stay up past 6:00 pm unless someone pokes and prods me repeatedly. There was no way I was going to make it to 9:00 pm for the service, so we had our own version at home. I’ll admit that this hasn’t been the most spiritual Christmas we’ve ever had and I’m a bit disappointed in myself that I didn’t take more time with the girls to explain the magic and mystery behind Jesus’ birth. This is part of me loving comfort, remember? I’ve been incredibly uncomfortable with this pregnancy and I made too many excuses for myself. One of the great joys of God’s grace is that each new day is a chance to change past mistakes. We don’t have to wait until we get it perfect or until the timing is right. We can just pick up where we left off and make different choices as soon as we realized we’ve messed up. I’m doing just that and I encourage you to do this as well. Don’t linger in feelings of inadequacy. Kick it to the curb and move on. You can do better/differently. Life isn’t over. You’re still breathing, right?

So to conclude this little update, I do have some projects and blog post subjects I’ve been working on, but have been busy creating Sunday School content and prepping for the holidays. Also, I’ve been feeling inadequate to write about certain subject matters, assuming I have to know everything about a subject before I write about it. Again, wow. My controlling and comfort-loving side is rearing its ugly head! I’ve been a bit paralyzed by fear as well. What if I’m just not good enough to write about certain subjects? A big part of me remembers who I was a few years ago, and she was definitely not a great person. I wouldn’t listen to a word she said. But now…I’m not her anymore. Praise the Lord! He has done many good and wonderful works within me. I’ve been humbled, deeply and I love who He has created me to be. I learn to love myself a bit more every day, and by loving myself, I’m able to accept His love more as well.

Me
Proud Mama of two girls born into my arms, one on the way and many more born into Heaven.

I wish you all the very best blessings and hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season. Look for new blog posts up within the week. I’ll be sure to update everyone on Wednesday evening or Thursday morning in regards to the gender reveal. I can’t wait!

In Christ,

Mandy ❤

Victim and Survivor Shaming Must Stop

Victim and survivor shaming must stop. It’s imperative to the health and welfare of all victims past and current of any type of abuse, domestic, emotional, spiritual and sexual, for the shaming to stop immediately. We must be allowed to tell our stories. We must be allowed to tell them accurately and as honestly as possible. We must be allowed to tell them as often as we feel called to. We must be allowed to tell them in public, online, in books, in stories, in private and to friends and family. We must be allowed to be heard, whether our abuser is a celebrity, family member, friend or stranger. We must not be continually questioned as to the validity of our statements. Even when something is remembered only partway, there is a valid reason for that – the event was traumatic and as a result, the formations in our brains were changed dramatically. Our brains may not want to retain the information, so it attempts to lock it away in a deep dark corner, like stuffing something revolting into the bottom of the trash in order to dispose of it entirely. There is no way to completely dispose of trauma, except to heal from it and move forward. Otherwise, we are stuck in a never-ending cycle of running from it only to find we’re actually running in circles, gaining no actual ground. There is no road behind us except that which is well worn by our own souls – the same sights, smells, tastes, memories on repeat.

When we’re allowed to tell our stories, we take the power away from the event little by little. We effectively state that we are no longer stuck in the past but are actively moving towards a brighter future. We build in our community, hope. For each survivor that speaks out, another victim is listening, gaining strength to someday break free from their own hell and begin to tell their own story. The path to healing is paved by the bravery of the freed survivors – those who were not silenced by hatred and shaming but spoke up anyway. I will be one of those that help pave the road for the next generation. I will be one of the brave and you who hate what I have to say will not stop me. My God gives me strength and in Christ, all things are possible. I will speak up for those who are too weak to speak for themselves. I will inspire the next generation to stand up and tell their story. I will no longer sit in shame, but will look you in the eyes and tell you my story. I am no longer a victim, but a survivor. You cannot take that from me.

Over the years, I have been told that I should not give pearls to swine and that by telling my story openly, I am giving pearls to swine. I respectfully disagree. By keeping my story secret and protecting the identity of my abuser, I am giving pearls to swine. I choose to take my pearls back. My abuser was not only my step-father, but several of his friends as well. Most of the abuse occurred while my mother was out of the home, tending to work or to my severely handicapped sister, Melissa. My step-father was very manipulative and found many avenues for gaining control over me. It seems that one of his favorites was to nurture me. Often times he’d turn children’s shows on the television – shows like Disney on Ice that were meant to fascinate me and hold my attention. He’d then call me onto his lap and proceed to molest me, his hands between my legs and my hands often between his, at his insistence. If I rejected him, I’d often be punished severely. I remember being cornered in a narrow hallway on a few occasions, his leather belt in hand. I’d refused him. He didn’t care for that too much. I learned my lesson. The next time I focused on the television show and did not resist him. I pretended I was somewhere else and that it was not me who has touching him, but someone else. This is how I coped. This is also how the abuse was allowed to go on for so long. My memories were deeply repressed and this abusive behavior became a way of life for me, like waking up and eating breakfast before going off to school. It was habit and I was overpowered, my choices removed from me before I even realized I had a choice to make. I’d also refer to this as brain washing.

It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:2 (NIV)

I fully believe my step-father will answer to God for all of his sins against me. The Bible makes it clear that my step-father not only sinned against me, but against God Himself as well. That is a strong statement with lasting repercussions, and it’s one I believe whole-heartedly. If he doesn’t repent fully, I believe my step-father will burn in hell. I see him suffering now in his personal life with work, health, his continued marriage to my Mother, and his fractured relationships with family (his only son, my younger brother) and with friendships. There is a large part of me that finds satisfaction in his suffering, though I am aware that Christ is not pleased with my satisfaction. I pray daily for His Light to overcome the darkness in my heart. If Christ can forgive those who crucified Him, I too can forgive my abuser. I’m finding it’s a daily, if not hourly process. Each time I think I’ve fully forgiven him, my heart finds more bitterness and I lash out. It’s my intent to forgive but never forget.

Out of the pain of the past, it’s become difficult to trust others. In my own personal life, there are precious few who are allowed intimate glances into my daily life, and fewer still who are allowed to remain in my life for long periods of time. The time of abuse from my step-father and his friends has taught me to trust no one, and to keep no one around for long periods of time. Habits form when people are allowed to be near you. It gives people time to manipulate and brain wash you, therefore, relationships must be considered disposable in order to remain safe. This has been the most difficult thought process to overcome. I understand intellectually that it’s flawed and needs to be revised in order to live a full life, but it is one of the hardest for me to address on a consistent, daily basis. It is simply too painful. I will continue praying for Christ’s Light to overcome this darkness in my heart. Could you, reader, pray for me as well? This is a hard battle, and I’m not the only survivor walking it. This battle has threatened my marriage multiple times. I will not allow it to overtake me or my marriage, but I can’t do it alone. Neither can you. I continue seeking help.

Seeking help is another area I want to address in regards to victim and survivor shaming. Over the years, I’ve sought help from many different avenues. Some of them have been entirely appropriate – talk therapy, behavior modification counseling, psychiatry, Christian Bible-based counseling, support groups and prayer. Other avenues haven’t been nearly as successful, especially within friend groups, but they did often lead to other, more helpful solutions. I also gained a better understanding of who my true friends are, and who I am in Christ. The most painful avenues I took were speaking to close and personal friends, entrusting them with information, and then being told that I was too broken to formulate a lasting relationship with. I understand their point of view to an extent; however, the delivery was painful. We are all a broken people in one way or another. This is why we must live in community. We complete the beautiful picture that Christ has painted.

I’ve written many times on the struggles that I’ve overcome – homosexual tendencies, adultery, depression, suicide, addiction…these are nothing new within the sexual abuse survivor community. These are prevalent themes. They’re sins and they need to be addressed as such, but they’re also causes for deep concern. Why are these things happening to our youth? Why are so many survivors turning to harmful avenues as a way of healing from the pain of the past? I have a theory, but you probably won’t like it.
We’re being silenced, shamed, told to keep it quiet and move on, but we can’t. Our stories are banging on the walls, begging to be let out. We can’t move on until we can heal. We can’t do that until we can talk about it, explore the depths of what happened to us and be allowed to move on in our own time. I’ve been told by several professionals that for every year of trauma a survivor has endured, it takes an equal amount of years to heal from that. We can’t even begin to heal until we’ve been effectively heard.

In the news, we’re reading about celebrities abusing youth and we turn our heads and scoff at the victims and the abusers. We make jokes about it and quote famous lines from movies, TV and commercials. It becomes funny to us, but it’s deeply harmful to the victims. I’ve been on both sides of this, and it’s disgusting no matter where you stand.

Satan has twisted scripture for so long and has whispered lies into so many ears. He’s using sexual sins, among others, to rampantly overtake the world. He’s started with the innocent children, molding them into confused, scared little people who grow up to pray on the children they’re entrusted to protect. It’s a rabid hamster running around in the same wheel, in the same putrid cage, breeding and killing it’s own off-spring. We have to treat that rabid hamster, no matter how disgusting he really is on the inside. We have to do it without killing the off-spring and without silencing their cries for help. Each person needs their own space to heal, their own space to tell their stories and their own space to carve out a life for themselves. We cannot continue to group survivors in with the abusers, nor can we continue to ignore either’s cry for help. I know, this is a controversial statement, but it’s one that needs to be made. Perhaps if my step-father had received the help he desperately needed, he would not have abused me, my handicapped sister and my younger brother. Perhaps if we have been removed from the home, we could’ve healed sooner and more effectively. Perhaps if more victims and survivors’ voices were heard, there would be less abuse and more action towards ending it.

I do not propose that simply hearing our stories will end all abuses, but I do propose that it will end for us, the cycle of abuse and begin the path to effective healing. We need more success stories and more survivors to find their voices and call out for action. We need more bravery and less cowardice. Join me now in sharing your stories. Stop protecting your abuser. Speak out and speak up!

My simple prayer for you: May God bless you in your endeavors to tell your story and heal from the horrors of your past. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Today Is A Gift!

Today is a gift

Brothers and Sisters, today I just wanted to remind you that today is a gift from the Lord! Whatever your worries, whatever your struggles, the Lord is aware of them. He has given you this day as a gift and wants you to deeply rest in Him, trusting in His providence and sovereignty. Take some time today to remember all the Lord has done for you and know that there is still so much yet to come.

Let’s Pray:

Heavenly Father, today I lift up to You all who feel burdened by heavy worries. I ask You to surround these brave souls with Your loving care. Place a hedge of protection around them. Surround them with Your people who will remind them to slow down and enjoy the preordained blessings of this beautiful day that You have created. In Christ’s Precious Name I pray. Amen.

Your sister in Christ,

Mandy 🙂

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!

 

 

 

Plans For Good and Not For Ruin

We have had a rough week here in the Tirado household. First, our youngest daughter tripped over a toy train at the public library on Saturday and fell directly on her elbow, breaking her left arm. Four days later, Theresa, our eldest daughter fell on her right arm while at school on the playground and broke that in two places. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow to reset the bones.

We’d planned out Theresa’s seventh birthday party a few weeks ago and sent out invitations to 30+ people, only to find out that the community park we’d planned to host it at will be closed during that time. We’re on a massive time and money constriction, so the party’s up in the air right now.

Today, I came down with something akin to the flu and it’s only gotten worse. My husband was scheduled to work tonight, but needed to call in a favor so he could stay home with me and our girls. I can’t stand or sit without the room spinning. (Which makes typing this up all the more interesting!)

The cherry on the cake is that our car won’t start because the alternator went out about an hour ago. My husband can’t get to work at all until it’s fixed. Thank God I restocked our refrigerator this morning before the car went out! We live within walking distance of our kids’ school, so that’s helpful.

Despite all of this that’s happening, I’m no longer panicking. Partly because I’m so sick there’s absolutely nothing I can do except fetch tools and tell bedtime stories, but also because I know we’ve been through worse and lived to tell about it. I know God is in control and He has plans for good and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope. I know our help comes from God, not from anything else. He has this all in His hands.

So while we’re having a rough week, I want to take this time to encourage all of you. Whatever you’re going through, God is right there with you, holding you, carrying you, or walking beside you. He most certainly has not forgotten you, Brothers and Sisters.

2 girls, 2 broken arms
I prayed for their physical healing, but God saw it fit to heal their characters. Chelsea is becoming more independent and Theresa is becoming more resilient.

Taste Your Words Before You Speak Them

There is a very wise man at my Mother’s church who is constantly inspiring me to consider my surroundings and do better each day. Some of the pearls of wisdom that he’s imparted on me has saved me from making some pretty big mistakes in my life. I’ll never forget the words this man told me on my wedding day.

K.P.: “You want to know how to avoid an ugly fight in your marriage?”
Me: “How, K.P.?”
K.P. “Never go to bed angry.”
Me: “Ok.” (slight trepidation here, as that doesn’t seem to be enough to me.) “Anything else?”
K.P.: “Yes, when you get mad at your spouse, talk to him. If one of you tries to start a fight and then just shuts off, it doesn’t help. So you know what you do?”
Me: “Nope. What do I do?” (I’m an intrigued 22 year old bride now! I think he’s about to make a joke of some sort, as he’s smiling a big, cat-like grin.)
K.P.: “You look right at your spouse and you say ‘OK. Let’s you and me fight.’ and then you go at it until you’re done. But you can’t go to sleep until you’ve made up.”
Me: (open mouthed. What?)

But it’s been some of the best advice for marriage that I’ve ever received! It’s also led to some pretty sleepless nights over the course of our eight years of marriage, but Anthony and I have (mostly) stuck to that pearl of wisdom and every time we’ve stayed up to fight, we’ve resolved it within hours. Not days, hours. And we’ve had some pretty silly, knock down, drag out fights. But here we are. We’ve made it through a lot and I think that really says something, especially considering I’m an Aries and he’s a Taurus and we’re both extremely passionate and stubborn.

Something else K.P. (the wise man) has taught me is to “always taste my words before I speak them.” I just recently picked that one up, and I’m using it to my (and others’) advantage. I used to have a big, big problem with cursing. I know that I still curse from time to time, especially when passionate (or tired) about something, but it’s miles better than it used to be. I’m a work in progress and I’m happy about that.

Not too long ago, I was blessed with the privilege of being a part of my Mom’s church’s book club. We read R.C. Sproul’s the Holiness of God. I was the youngest one in that group by about 30 years. There were six people who regularly attended the group, including me. In all, there was a collective 370 years (give or take 5-10) of life experience and wisdom in the room, not including my 30 years. I remember sitting in the room, thinking “Wow. How did I get so lucky to be here?” It is a blessing to gain wisdom from your elders. Do not neglect this blessing when it comes your way.

The following wisdom from Titus, chapter 2 has surfaced to mind each time I consider the blessing of gleaning wisdom from my elders.

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Titus 2:2-5 NIV

 

I’m so grateful for people in my life who have mentored and disciple me thus far. I hope someday I can return the favor and pass it on to someone else.

Do you have anyone in your life that is consistently encouraging you to do good? Leave a note about them in the comments.