Category Archives: Uncategorized

An Outward Expression of an Inward Decision.

9-11-22 Baptized in the gulf.

In 2019 I started a spiritual journey. I was in Puerto Morelos, a small fishing town in Mexico at a retreat to dream. The REAL reason I was there (I see now) was to be in the company of people who let me ask the hard questions without getting defensive.

  • How do you know that your daughters’ faith isn’t inherited?
  • Who the heck would sacrifice their child for the “free pass” of mankind’s sins? That’s just crazy pants!
  • The “church people” I know are some of the most judging people that exist, how can I be expected to follow hate?

I listened to personal testimonies and felt a yearning in my gut to be “chased” by Jesus, but still wasn’t ready to commit to anything. My entire life I had watched my Mother travel the world in search of truth. I was exposed to many religions, beliefs, & spiritual practices. Even to this day, she encourages me to find my own truth within my own journey.

For the next 3 years, I dug into the Word. I was given people who lived and breathed ministry to ask all of my questions. I questioned EVERYTHING. (Even today, I am STILL asking questions.) I also looked into who Jesus was in many different religions. There became no doubt in my mind that He walked the Earth, the question was “as who”?

I then started listening for the Holy Spirit. And boy oh boy I was led! Led to people, led to opportunities, led into abundance, and led back to the Lord. I was introduced to others in seasons of wanting to dig deeper into the Word and when that season passed, I was led to a new group of people digging in a different direction. God never left me alone with nobody to ask my questions to.

In August 2021, I started thinking about baptism. I have read many conflicting opinions if you needed to be baptized to get into heaven. For me, it was a difficult decision because I never want to commit or be locked into anything without full knowledge of what I am signing up for. I’ve seen many jump into faith because they needed something it offered, only to leave it later on. I am not judging their journey, I just like to be sure and by that time in my life, I realized the depth of what I was thinking of doing.

Up until this point, I had been reading my Bible daily. Completing Bible Study after Bible Study. I Tried a few churches only to feel “unqualified”. I even attended the children’s Bible study classes when I first started because I knew NOTHING. Covid hitting was probably a blessing because so many churches went online. I was able to start my own relationship with the Lord. I was able to watch many different sermons and expand my knowledge via many sources.

I started praying. We’ve always said what we were thankful for at dinner and if I was worried about something I would pray, but this was a serious “Let’s have a cup of coffee & get to know each other” kind of praying. I shared what I loved, what I didn’t understand, and what I was excited about or wrestling with. I thanked the Lord for every single thing and reminisced or reminded myself of all the ways He already showed up in my life. I often remember the bad things people say/do, yet am very forgetful of the good and so I wanted to make sure that good was always in front of my face.

He made me laugh. Yes, our Lord above has a sense of humor.

In September 2022 I was heading back to Mexico for another dream retreat, and looking at how far I had come in 3 years was astonishing. I had been tossing around how being baptized where it all began would be poetic, yet I was still leary. The devil was chasing me and doing everything he could to prevent it from happening.

My doubts:

  • This is a different path from my Mother~ who is the human I most respect. She spent years searching for her truth and found it, why wouldn’t I just start where she ended? She literally traveled the Earth and saw with her own eyes the representation of many spiritual practices.
  • What if I change my mind. What if, like so many before me, I start to doubt and walk away.
  • What about all the “Believers” who hate as much as they believe? How could I ever put myself in a situation to be associated with them? – This one stung badly.
  • I had the guilt for past sins. I wasn’t worthy. (I actually confessed these out loud for the first time in my life to 4 incredible women. They didn’t run, they got closer and shared with me their pasts. This moment I will treasure forever. Thank you, ladies)

My truths:

  • I have researched more than most.
  • I know within the love I crave and it is from HIM.
  • I am whole, alone. He will never forsake me & will use my life for good.
  • I have surrendered myself, the well-being of my children, and where I am placed in this world to Him.

Then I prayed. I shared my desire to get baptized, but I needed it to be okay in my head – away from hate, judgment, and the ignorance that so many claim as their faith.

God showed up.

I was talking to the man at the retreat who was ordained about what I was wrestling with & I find out a woman at the retreat was also ordained.

She loves Jesus. She loved hearing what each person at the retreat had to say as if they were the only other person in the room. She validated and empowered. She reminded me so much of my Momma. She was love. She is love, and she LOVES the Lord. She also is a lesbian. Although that is an irrelevant fact to me, it is important because it brings my spiritual journey full circle. It was the final gift from the Lord above to say:

“It’s okay Tiffany, you can do this now. Here is the last piece of my “all-acceptance” you needed to bring it all together and I welcome you into my family.”

It had nothing at all to do with her, but with me… being so wrapped up in the hate I see out there. I’m not writing for a debate of what is right or wrong, just testifying that in order for me to β€œsign up” I didn’t want to have to hate. Non-negotiable.

I walk into my newfound relationship with the Lord with pure LOVE. He is LOVE. We are Love. We are all his children and I chose love.

I’ve been internally struggling with sharing this because I know so many of you will disagree. But I am not here to fight. I am here to love. I am here to share. I give my battles to the Lord. He fights for me now. I just pray. (Watch the movie “War room“) and you will see what I mean).

This is my story. My Spiritual Journey.

Bubbles under the water are from me πŸŒŠπŸ’›

September 7th, 1946 ~ Love was in the Air

June 1956, Neenah, Wisconsin.

Marriage: a legally and socially sanctioned union.

I’ve been married twice. The first time, I was young and it was alright until I realized it wasn’t. I did get my two older kids though and that made it all worthwhile. After that, I never wanted to get married again. It was like a checklist.

Marriage βœ…

Boxed checked, no need to revisit that. I dated a bit and always stumbled when we got the part about my 2 autistic kids. Honestly, I blame nobody for that. That is a serious amount of baggage. I may have steered clear myself if roles were reversed.

When I started seeing my current husband, it was more about sharing life together, kids included. He traveled a lot for work and we would hop in the van during the summer and drive to wherever he was. He took us to Dino cafes & dig sites, Build-a-Bear, Mini Golf, alligator feedings, and whatever fun attractions were nearby. He played with them and valued who they are. We talked about marriage and it was never really a priority for me. A couple years later, I found myself pregnant. I was happy. He was a good man and would be an amazing Father, but I still didn’t need to get married. In fact, now I didn’t want to because I didn’t want him to think he HAD to because of the baby. Yes, he wanted to marry me before I was pregnant, I just didn’t want to risk divorce again.

The summer before Xander turned one, I finally agreed. It was important to him. He wanted a full family. He even wanted to adopt my older children. Since then we’ve had some serious highs and lows. He has never faltered. His unwavering love reminds me of my Grandparents.

My Grandfather loved my Grandmother unconditionally through all of her trials. He supported her creativity and they spent so much time together bird watching all over the country, gardening, and attending concerts. They spent many summers in Michigan at the very cottage that revives my soul each year.

He loved her deeply. My husband loves me deeply. That kind of deeply. Through all my brokenness. He is here encouraging me to write, paint, read, & evolve into the person that the Lord needs me to be. I share this today because today is my Grandparents’ wedding anniversary. A true example of love. I hope they are slow dancing in Heaven.

September 7th, 1946 – The wedding anniversary of an incredible couple.

What Are You Reading This Week?

This week I have been painting more & reading less, but I still made time for a couple of books!

The Woman in the Library ~ I loved how this was cleverly written! Halfway through the book, I was distracted by a BIG event, and I wasn’t able to figure out who did it until the last second. I enjoyed it.

That Holiday Feeling / Under the Christmas Tree (Nate & Annie) Christmas, Snow and Puppies!! A cute short story by Robynn Carr – Book 7.5/8 of the series.

Forbidden Falls – (Noah & Ellie) A Reverand buys a church off of eBay!?!? Then hires an ex-exotic dancer to help! This story (and Ellie’s Grandmothers sayings) was a breath of fresh air. Book #9 of the Virgin River Series.

What’s up next?!

What are YOU Reading!?

My Magnificent ‘Paint By Numbers’ Painting of Rainy London at Night! ~ Just because I need someone to tell me where the colors go doesn’t make it less fun or Artsy LOL!

My Autism Story, Part 7 – And Then There Were Two.

My whole world.

I remember taking Preston to the pediatrician and voicing concerns about Preston also showing signs of Autism. Maybe I had a heightened sense of awareness, maybe I was looking for it since I felt I had failed my first child when I didn’t know something was wrong.

At the appointment, the doctor walked in and said “Hello, I hear we have concerns that Preston has delays as well. I have NEVER heard of any family having more than one autistic child in their family, but let’s see what we’ve got here”

8 months later we had a second diagnosis.

I would also like to share that about a year later that same pediatrician said to me “It’s not surprising at all, I read about many families with multiple children on the spectrum” This is when I knew, I was paving the way in more ways than one.

The beautiful and terrible thing about Autism is that each person is different. What works for one, might not for another. Where one struggles, the next may excel. I know many parents hate when there are “Rain Man” references, but that is what was said a LOT to describe his personality. Especially in my eyes, he was BRILLIANT – compared to everything I had experienced with my daughter.

But with the good came the bad. My son wasn’t happy. At least with Trinity, there was laughter and smiles within “Trinity World”. She had joy. Preston seemed uncomfortable within his own skin. He had a constant state of anxiety or rage bubbling. He was quick to anger – not just to others, but to himself.

He also was frickin’ Houdini! He would run faster than Speedy Gonzales. After my first marriage ended, I was living in an apartment. I had a deadbolt lock, chain lock, AND a keyed lock from the inside (I wore the key around my neck). I remember one winter day I had just brought stuff home from the store and had to use the bathroom right away. I locked the deadbolt and chain, but couldn’t wait to do the key. I ran to the bathroom and less than a minute later I hear the door slam. I RAN! That little stinker pulled a dining room chair to the door, unlocked the locks, and ran away in less than 60 seconds – HE WAS 4 years old!! And he was gone! In a diaper, in the winter cold. I looked for 3 minutes and called the police right away! He was found 15 minutes after the police came and that was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.

I have a lot to share about my experiences with Preston, but I think it’s best to spread them out. Behavioral health is tricky and resources were nonexistent. He has had a hard journey and it wasn’t because he was bad. It was just how he was made. **Spoiler ** He turns out just fine. I just like to focus on the positives. We all have our ish right?!

These two were my only priority. I lived and breathed FOR them. If not me, then who?

#ThursdayAutismAwareness
I will be sharing Autism testimony every Thursday.
I have 21 years of experience.

What We’ve Been Reading Wednesday!

These are a few of my favorite things.

I have been reading a LOT! My husband has been out of the country for work, my depression days have been floating over my head, and I found a REALLY good series to get lost in & escape!

Here’s What I’ve got!

A Virgin River Christmas A Novel A Virgin River Novel 4 – (Marcie & Ian)
The minimalist in me loved this story. A cabin in the redwoods with a bathroom outside. Serious roughing it.

Second Chance Pass, Virgin River Book 5 Spoilers – (Paul & Vannie) Ugh the Netflix β€œCharmaine” story showed up but with a different couple. I hated that story then and I didn’t like it now. There were a half dozen more stories within this book and Muriel made an appearance. β˜€οΈ I love seeing Jack and Mel, Preacher & Paige, Ricky, Brie & Mike in them all.

Temptation Ridge: A Virgin River Novel Book 6 – (Shelby & Luke, Walt & Muriel, Cameron & Abby) So so sooo good. One of my favorites of them all! So many good stories and relationships! One VERY sad death (a person in the Netflix show 😭) I’m just in love with all of the humanityβ˜€οΈπŸ’›

Paradise Valley: A Virgin River Novel Book 7 – ( Rick & Liz, Dan & Cheryl ), 😭😭😭 This book was amazing, but be warned of triggers for post-war themes. I LOVED this – maybe because I have been invested in all of these characters.

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay – I scooped up this book while waiting to get my next Virgin River book. It had a good review and the story was good … BUT I have issues with betrayal, liars, abuse, and cheaters and it’s not something I like to read about on purpose. I enjoyed the character transformations within the story. I however felt that one of the main characters dragged her feet – it reminded me of Bella from Twilight trying to decide between Jacob and Edward! JUST MAKE A DECISION ALREADY!

The Berenstain Bears Pirate Adventure – Xander and I cannot seem to return this book. It makes us laugh hard and has some of the best pirate phrases on this side of the equator.

What’s on deck?

What are YOU reading?!?

Oye! ST00Pid Weight

Weight journey documentation.

I feel like a broken record coming here AGAIN with my tail between my legs because I am uncomfortable within my skin. Why should any of my variables be the exception for grace? (Grace to myself, Grace from others ~ and I know, I know – The opinion of others doesn’t matter.) I have a MILLION excuses as to why I am no longer the 6-pack-ab wearing hottie I once was. Maybe for you, you never were. OR maybe you are exactly the same since high school? (I have compassion for WHATEVER your story is)

I haven’t seen that body since I was 33. (12 years ago)

It went something like this:

  • I am 5’9 and in 2010 I was 160 pounds. Perfect BMI range.
  • Then I moved from Arizona to Michigan. Less physical activity in the cold and more drinking and eating brought me to 185-ish.
  • In 2013 I had my 3rd child. Then I was 215 – Slowly it would rise and fall to 210-230.
  • Finally, menopause stuff starts up, and all of a sudden I am 240! 80 pounds in 10 years!
  • I go on weight watchers and lose 30 pounds! woo hoo~
  • Then I miss periods and start hormone therapy to help balance out depression stuff and boom! I see 250 pounds for the first time in my life.

I find myself discouraged. All my hard work is gone. I have no energy for anything more than my responsibilities. I have wished time and time again that reading, writing, painting, or anything having to do with one’s mind… somehow burned the same amount of calories as a cardio session.

I am now at a point in my life where I have so many factors swirling around me, that I don’t have the control of my weight as I may have had at one point. So “Way to go, Tiffany! You blew your shot while you were in your youth”. My family is a plethora of beautiful creatures. For real, they could be their own modeling company. They are also intelligent and successful. I have had this conversation with my Mom hundreds of times. “Their path is not my path. None of them have been dealt my hand or I theirs. Who knows how they would be now if they were parents of disabled children & single & broke.” – Oh look, more excuses. The evil voice in my head assures me, they would still be beautiful and a CEO of a major company.

The next thoughts this provokes in me are ~ I just left a job of 7 years and in hindsight wished I would have done it years earlier. I felt like I wasted so much time staying put instead of living my best life. So maybe I am here UNsilently suffering when I should be getting off my butt and doing something. I have so many friends who have tried bypass surgery, who work at health clubs, and who find how to be active and not feel miserable. I just cannot find anything that feels right. I walked on my treadmill yesterday and the whole thing was just stupid.

I should probably mention I am afraid. My hips and joints are now hurting, undoubtedly because of the extra weight. I am afraid I will die before I can get my older two set up for when I am gone. I am afraid that my organs are being smushed and I am slowly killing myself. You’d think with all this fear I could muster up the gumption to just stop eating as much & just start walking/running/swimming – ANYTHING.

But I’m sad. Maybe just feeling sorry for myself and feeling the “Failure” within. I have NO excuse. I am just tired. I am trying to hold it all together to do what needs to be done.

I share this with you because I know I’m not alone in this.

  • I see you too, exhausted from giving your all day after day.
  • I see you having an extra 30 minutes to do anything and you choose to sit.
  • I see you teaching, cooking, driving, working, paying bills, cleaning, and just trying to fit it all in.
  • I see you supporting all of those people around you and slowly sinking at the end of the day with not enough energy for yourself.

I see you.

I feel all of that.

You are not alone.

My Autism Story, Part Six.

Talking, No Talking, Talking.

When Trin was young, she said “Mum Mum”, “baa baa” and “Up”. Around 15 months of age, she stopped. No more words. She didn’t speak again until she was 4 & a half. We started using sign language. Simple things like “more” “all done” “yes” and “no”.

One of the therapies she took was Oral Motor. Definition: Oral-motor exercises are specialized exercises that aim to improve the strength, control, and coordination of the oral muscles (tongue, lips, vocal folds, and the jaw).  She would chew & bite on devices and there were sensory things like tiny sponges on a stick that we would dip in juice and rub on the side of her mouth. Honestly, the staff was amazing and the lady developing this 20 years ago was groundbreaking and determined to help.

During these therapies, we realized that Trin was unable to “blow”. She wasn’t able to control the breath escaping her mouth which was probably why she wasn’t talking. (Or we prayed it was that “easy”)

She must have been able to before if she spoke before, right? So much is unknown as to WHY this skill was lost.

We did 20-minute sessions twice a day. Our house was filled with bubbles, horns, and party blowers. We had milk with straws at every meal and would encourage her to try blowing bubbles in her milk. We would play “Happy UnBirthday” weekly to see if she would blow out the candles. This went on for almost 2 years.

Then one day I was in the living room and I hear a squeaking noise. I get up and start looking around the house and I remember stopping in the hallway and thinking “Oh My Goodness… Could it be?!!?” Sure enough, Trinity was sitting in her closet blowing a toy horn!!!

A week later, she called me “Mum Mum”. I never knew if I’d ever hear those words again. πŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ’š

#ThursdayAutismAwareness
I will be sharing Autism testimony every Thursday.
I have 21 years of experience.

19 Years Young

Preston James Sanders

This past weekend, my middle little turned 19 years old. Preston is my most polite child. All of my children have good manners but he is EXTREMELY polite. Every Single Time we are in a social setting since he was 5 years old, I have been told how polite he is.

Preston is also my child who struggled the most to be inside his own body. He has had a very difficult journey and has come so far! He is witty and creative and so so kind. He puts everyone else’s needs before his own. He has a gift for music. He has been asked to sing the National Anthem multiple times since he was 10 years old. Sporting Events, School Events, City Events ~ He is in demand. He is also my piano player and often gifts me music on my birthday and Christmas that he performs.

Preston was a twin and I lost his sibling early in the pregnancy. I remember praying for him to hold on, and stay strong. After he was born, I always had a lingering feeling that Preston’s twin was still meant to be. Maybe in my future. After he too was diagnosed as Autistic, I still held onto that feeling. My family thought I was nuts! “Tiffany! You have 2 Autistic kids, you do NOT need more on your plate!”

Growing up I always wanted 10 kids. I gave up that dream after Trinity was Diagnosed, but I was already pregnant again with Preston. I just knew with my entire being that there was one more. I was a foster parent for a few years and made a difference, but that wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

10 years later I was married to someone new & that’s when the baby came. The baby I KNEW I was supposed to have. Now I was done.

I share this story because I want you to know – Preston is BEST FRIENDS with this delayed sibling. You wouldn’t even know there are 10 years between them. His Autism makes him the same “age”. They enjoy the same things, play the same video games and watch the same movies. When Preston goes to a store while in transition academy (A daily skills school for disabled adults) he ALWAYS gets something for his little brother.

God makes no mistakes. It also confirms to me to trust my gut.

A Summer Breeze

Sketch by Faith L. Sanders, August 18th, 1973

A poem by Faith L. Sanders ~ Thursday, September 8, 1983

A southern breeze

through wide-open window

is ruffling the curtains tonight

It blows in my bedroom

fresh – fanning my face ~

a whispered caress of delight.

This summery breeze

on its fanciful fling

is fickle as fall evenings near.

And so I resolve

I will not think ahead

but bask in its warmth while it’s here.

NEW!

Question of the day!

What We’re Reading Wednesday

2022 Books read. ~ Not including digital and audio.

We are BIG readers in our home. Here is what we are reading now~

Virgin River – Whispering Rock ~ The 3rd book in the Virgin River Series. A love story with Brie and Mike. **SPOILER** (Different from the Netflix series that has Brie with Brady.) Tiffanys’ book!

Magnus Chase – and the Gods of Asgard ~ The 4th book in the series. Prestons’ Book!

Watership Down ~ Trinity is rereading this. One of her favorite characters “Big Wig” has been in “Trinity World” for years. Read about “Trinity World” HERE!

Skippyjon Jones – Lost in Spice ~ Preston gave his old books to Xander and he is loving the adventures of this cat that thinks he is a Chihuahua!

The Illusion of Money ~ James and I are reading this together a chapter at a time. I know I shared this before, but we are still working our way through it. He has been out of town and we only read when together. It isn’t about money really, but about false truths from your past preventing you from living in abundance. SO GOOD!

I’d love to know what you are reading.

Also, something new πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡

❓❔QUESTION OF THE DAY❔❓