Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Autism is different in every person

Part 2 of an interview with Karla Akins,
Author of A Pair of Miracles

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although a growing number of parents face similar circumstances, many still feel isolated and alone. In A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting (Kregel Publications), author Karla Akins, the mother of twin sons with autism, offers encouragement and reassurance.

Q: Who will benefit from reading your new book, A Pair of Miracles: A Story of Autism, Faith, and Determined Parenting?

I hope families and caregivers will be encouraged by reading about our journey and might gain a few ideas on how to work with their child. I also hope they will feel like they’re not alone in the struggle. I know I like to read books that validate what I’m feeling. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one in the trenches, fighting the good fight of day-to-day survival with autism.

I’ve included a generous section on how to work with your child. These include ideas that worked for us but also some evidence-based interventions proven to work for a lot of children with autism. Since I’m also a special-education teacher, I hope the book will help educators understand what families deal with. I’ve sat on both sides of the IEP table. I know the stress of advocating for what’s in the best interest of my child, but I also know how it feels to be an educator. Educators and parents need to work as a team, and the book gives great tips on how to do so.

Q: What misconceptions do most people have about autism? What would you most like your readers to understand about autism?

I wish more people would understand autism is different in every person. It’s a spectrum disorder, which means there’s a wide spectrum people fall on. I have friends with children who have a severe form. Their children are grown now and still can’t toilet themselves. I have friends with children who have children who are considered high-functioning because they have high IQs, but the child can’t shower independently without guidance. It’s a neurological disorder, not a behavioral or psychological problem, and it manifests in a myriad of ways. When you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child with autism. It will look different in another child.

Q: For parents who are walking the road of raising children with autism, what advice do you offer for becoming the best advocates for them when it comes to medical care?

Trust your God-given instincts, and don’t second-guess yourself. God gave those children to you, and He will equip you to do what is right if you seek Him for answers and wisdom.

Put everything in writing when you have a concern that isn’t being answered. Do your research to make sure any treatments you desire for your child are based on evidence and not trends.

Q: What are some of the other areas you discuss in the book for living life with autistic family members?

I really want parents to take their children out in public and de-sensitize their kids with autism to uncomfortable situations. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but you do your children no favors by hiding them away at home. Society needs to see them, and the child with autism needs to be exposed to the sights and sounds of the world so they can learn to cope.

I talk about how difficult mealtimes were. They were a nightmare when the twins were small. Food was thrown everywhere, and a lot of screaming went on. Looking back, now I can see the screaming was from anxiety, but I didn’t realize it then. We learned the twins ate better if they ate in the dining room while we ate in the kitchen. We all had to learn not to take it personally. It was just what it was. At that time, our kitchen had a cut out in the wall to the dining room. We’d put two vinyl table cloths on the floor under their high chairs and let them go at it. It was the only way we could eat and have a conversation. Every meal ended up with them painting themselves head to toe with food. They couldn’t eat solids because they had poor motor control, so I pureed everything for years.

I also discuss the need for a network of support because of how stressful it is to raise a child with autism. I learned I couldn’t care for the boys without help, and I needed to admit it.

Q: How were your other children impacted by their brothers’ autism? What recommendations do you have for parents to make sure their other children don’t feel overlooked?

If I had my kids to raise all over again, I’d have been more deliberate in scheduling one-on-one time with each of my children. I think we were too busy. I try not to second-guess myself, but it’s hard not to. What parents absolutely must not do is depend on their other children as caregivers. Yes, definitely, they can help out because that’s what families do. However, every child needs to feel they are a child and sibling, not a parent.

Q: Can you share some of the basics teachers at church and ministry volunteers should know when working with a child who is autistic or has disabilities? What tools are offered in your book?

My book has a great appendix that answers questions about working with people with autism. I give a lot of great tips on how to respond to different behaviors and how to motivate kids with autism.

Remember all children are unique, no matter what their ability or diagnosis. Also remember a diagnosis is not who they are. They are children and people first. They just happen to have a label.

Churches can embrace families living with disabilities by providing one-on-one aides in the child’s classes so the parent can attend their own classes. This also allows the child with disabilities to attend church with children their own age too.

I offer training to the teachers and those working in the children’s department. I love giving training seminars. People can contact me through my website. I also do one-on-one online consultations as well. Folks can sign up on my scheduling page.

Q: You include sections with scripture to meditate on. What verses have meant the most to you throughout the years?

Psalm 139 is my favorite scripture passage because it talks so much about how God knew us before we were born and how He is always with us.

I’ve also leaned a lot on the book of Job for inspiration, especially Job’s attitude in Job 13:15 (KJV):

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”

Job is saying, “I trust God no matter what,but I’m still going to be bold in going to Him.”

There are many things that happen I don’t understand, but this verse keeps me praising instead of complaining. It also gives me permission, in a way, to wrestle with God about the hard stuff that goes on in my life. It also helps me realize I can trust God, even when things don’t make sense. He’s in control.

Learn more about A Pair of Miracles at Akins is also on Facebook (KarlaKAkins) and Twitter (@KarlaAkins). 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Vine's Expository Bible NKJV

Thomas Nelson
Bibles / New King James Version / Reference
ISBN 9760-718-09851-3
1965 pages
$44.99 (Hardback with dustjacket)

Book Description

Pastor Jerry Vines leads you on a journey through the Bible, with observations and understanding straight from a pastor's heart. Based on sermons and lessons from Jerry’s lifetime of teaching ministry, this Bible provides a unique, passage-by-passage guide through every book of Scripture and explains how each part applies to your life.
Features Include:
NKJV paragraph-style text with in-text subject headings
200 "Presenting the Message" detailed outlines from Jerry Vines' sermon archive
100 "Living the Message" articles with illustrations for living the Christian life
200 "Applying the Message" notes that help you see the relevance of Scriptures for your walk with Christ
300 "Discerning the Meaning" word studies that illuminate the meaning of key words in Scripture
66 Book Introductions
Topical Index
NKJV Concordance
10.5 point print size

I read a story one time, about a minister who was engaged in conversation with a good friend.  His friend was asking him about his sermons, and the minister replied,
          “Well, I study all week for my sermon.  And when I get into the pulpit, the sermon I prepared is a good sermon.  Then I start preaching, and it doesn’t sound anything like what I prepared . . . but it’s a better sermon.  Now, if you want to hear a really good sermon, walk home with me of a Sunday evening, and I’ll tell you what I should have said.”

That . . . in a nutshell . . . is what you have in your hands when you open THE VINE’S EXPOSITORY BIBLE.  You have over 60 years of blood, sweat and tears in the service of the Lord, distilled and distributed throughout the text of the Old and New Testaments.  The New King James Version enables the reader to engage the Biblical text without the sometimes confusing language of the KJV, while still remaining faithful to the Authorized Version. 

To this text Pastor Dr. Jerry Vines brings his magnum opus;  24 years worth of expository messages, from every book of the Bible, delivered from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida.  Pastor Vines introduces each book, providing an explanation of the authorship, date, outline, and major themes of the book.  Then as the reader progresses through the Bible, Paster Vines provides numerous helps (I consider them “gems,” personally!):  Expository Messages (“PRESENTING THE MESSAGE”), word studies (“DISCERNING THE MEANING,”) application (“APPLYING THE MESSAGE”), and personal application and growth (“LIVING THE MESSAGE.”) 

This may seem “complicated” in this review, but in actuality it is practically seamless.  These “gems” are strategically placed throughout the text, so that God’s Word remains central.  The helps are actually in the right place; no flipping back and forth, no myriad cross references to distract you.  It’s the closest thing to “total immersion” in Scripture reading that I’ve come across in a study Bible. 

The maps are full-color, and the one on Jesus’ Ministry is especially interesting, with “text ballons” showing where various incidents in Jesus’ ministry took place, geographically.  Also included is a very nice (not exhaustive, but nice) concordance, and the Expository Bible Index, which will help the reader find all of the “gems” that are scattered throughout the VINE’S EXPOSITORY BIBLE.

If I don’t meet Pastor Dr. Jerry Vines in this life, I’ll certainly be looking him up in the next.  I mean, after over 60 years in the ministry, the man is working on his PhD at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  For fun.  I want to meet this man!

5 golden stars for a true expository Bible

Monday, April 23, 2018

Limited time offer from New Growth Press

  • Twelve-week curriculum and music CD by Sovereign Music for children ages 4-11
  • Companion family devotional that can be also be used as a stand-alone resource at home
  • Gives teachers and parents a unique opportunity to help children “listen up” to the good news of the Kingdom of God
Facebook Twitter

Offer ends 5pm ET Monday, April 23 and is applicable to new, domestic online purchases only. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion. Recipient is responsible for sales tax and handling as applicable. Free shipping is available for domestic online purchases shipped to the contiguous US. Customer is responsible for shipping on all orders shipped outside the contiguous US. Sale prices are valid only while supplies last. Not available to resellers.
© 2018 New Growth Press   |   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

CTC Math classes

CTC Math review 

CTC Math is a brilliant approach to math.  We were using ABeka curriculum for Algebra and Geometry and my daughter just wasn’t getting it. I even tried hiring a tutor and he didn’t like the program and whatever he used didn't work either. So when the opportunity opened to Beta Test CTC Math I jumped at it and was so excited to get accepted.

First of all, the math teacher has this lovely British accent even though it is based from Australia.  My younger daughter had a melt down when someone else took the teacher’s place, somehow she could tell it wasn’t the same person based on voice even though the other man had a lovely British accent, too. The lessons are short, easily explained, and very clear, plus you can set it up so that the student can answer 20 questions, 30 questions, or 40, and schedule tests when you finish a section.

I really like that I could go ahead and use the 7th grade materials I was using and that I could go back and make sure my 7th grader understood different concepts she struggled with. I could set topics from each grade, I could define my search and pick one topic or grade only, and I could schedule homework for an entire month (maybe more, I didn’t try) and the child can work them on a tablet, smart phone, desk top or laptop (whatever you have). 

Not only that but the teacher can keep up with what they did and how they did because it shows the grade, it shows what lessons they did, and when they did them and how many times they tried.
Right now my daughter has a 90% in Geometry and she understands the lessons. This is a win. My younger daughter is becoming more confident in her ability to understand the basics when before it was hesitant, and a lot of drama. She’s excited about CTC Math.  Both of my daughters are.

I highly recommend CTC Math.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

An Amish Heirloom

A Legacy of Love, The Cedar Chest, The Treasured Book, A Midwife's Dream 

ebook, paperback, digital, audio cd

by Amy Clipston  (Author),‎ Beth Wiseman (Author),‎ Kathleen Fuller (Author),‎ Kelly Irvin (Author)

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Combined edition 
  • (April 10, 2018)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310351887

A Legacy of Love by Amy Clipston
Local volunteer fire fighter Leon King agrees to repair his ex-girlfriend Susie Bontrager’s grandparents’ antique rocking chairs for her future home with her fiance and is forced to acknowledge that his feelings for her have not quite gone away. As Susie spends time with Leon, she begins to recognize she is marrying the wrong man for all the wrong reasons.

My thoughts: This was a sweet romance by popular Amy Clipston. I liked Leon and Susie though both were playing with fire. I could understand Susie's fiance's distrust of Leon and his motives even though Susie was the one who sought him out, not vice-versa. I greatly enjoyed this story. 
The Cedar Chest by Beth Wiseman
Decades after inheriting her great grandmother’s cedar chest, Emma Fisher decides to pry it open only to discover a beautiful love story in the form of letters between her great grandparents. But as Emma immerses herself in their story, family secrets are revealed, and she must decide whether to share them to preserve family history or honor her great grandparents’ decision to leave them hidden.

My thoughts: I've come to expect women's fiction from Ms. Wiseman and that is what this is. Two married women, one young one middle aged. And a cedar chest  full of memories of a great-great grandma barely known. When a stack of ribboned letters is discovered the women start reading about a past love facing hardship and might change the  course of the future. This is Beth Wiseman at her finest. Fans of Amish women's fiction will devour this novella.
The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller
For the past two years, Shane Broyles has felt God leading him to join the Amish. He’s staying with his friends Noah and Ivy Schlabach in Birch Creek, OH, where he is reunited with Lucy Fisher, an old friend of Noah’s family. Shane and Lucy have never revealed their feelings for each other, but when they stumble upon an antique Bible at a flea market, they feel drawn to each other and to the mystery of the contents found within.

My thoughts: The Treasured Book by Kathleen Fuller is another sweet romance. I enjoyed getting to know Shane and Lucy and their meddling relative. It is a bit of reality suspended for the sake of story, but it all wrapped up in a sweet way that was perfect for a  HEA moment. I rather wondered if Shane would become an Amish lawyer and hang his shingle out in Ohio.  Since he joined that Amish with a law degree and experience, it is plausible. A good read. 

The Midwife’s Dream by Kelly Irvin
Iris Beachy serves as a midwife in her district where she longs for a family of her own. When her friend’s brother Mahon Kurtz seeks her help in delivering the baby of two young teenagers who have sought refuge in their town, they begin to see each other in a different light. Unprepared for parenthood, the young couple leave their baby girl behind in an antique crib quilt resembling the one destined for Iris when she becomes a mother. Mahon and Iris come together to take care of the baby as they try to find her parents, and they begin to see new possibilities for their future.

My thoughts:  The Midwife's Dream is a totally sweet romance. Heartbreaking with the teenagers' decisions, and heart-rending for Iris, exhausted, trying to care for a newborn, and take care of other new mothers. It was nice that Mahon was so willing to help Iris and it was nice watching love grow. It was also great revisiting Jamesport, Missouri again, home of real Amish and fictional Amish stories penned by Kelly Irving, Charlotte Hubbard, Mary Ellis, and Laura V. Hilton and maybe others. It was like going home in a story. 

My overall thoughts: A sweet collection, probably the best collection yet containing these four authors.  

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Second Chance

Paperback, ebook 

January 28, 2017

by Alexis A. Goring 

  • Paperback: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Winged Publications 
  • ISBN-13: 978-1944203931

Newly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life. Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness are of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death. Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

My thoughts: A SECOND CHANCE is, I believe, Ms. Goring's debut novella. I enjoyed reading it but it seemed a bit contrived. She has to marry to get inheritance, so hero and heroine meet, fall madly in love (based on looks) and it is destiny.Traci is a self-proclaimed God-avoider and she does go to church one time, but faith is really not an issue and even though he knows and he's a "good Christian man" (said by someone who didn't know him) he didn't care.

The black moment you could see coming from a mile away and I seriously don't even see what the big deal is because she didn't lie unless you consider it because she didn't blab it out the moment they met,  but it was not something that should be broadcasted around anyway. 

The story is clean. It didn't grab me, but it was sort-of well-written but in a style that held the reader distant. 

I received a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Flood Watch

(Lantern Beach Mysteries #2) 

Paperback, ebook

February 12, 2018

by Christy Barritt 

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: River Heights
  • ISBN-13: 978-0999834510

The tide is high, and so is the danger on Lantern Beach. Still in hiding after infiltrating a dangerous gang, Cassidy Livingston just has to make it a few more months before she can testify at trial and resume her old life. But trouble keeps finding her, and Cassidy is pulled into a local investigation after a man mysteriously disappears from the island she now calls home. A recurring nightmare from her time undercover only muddies things, as does a visit from the parents of her handsome ex-Navy SEAL neighbor. When a friend's life is threatened, Cassidy must make choices that put her on the verge of blowing her cover. With a flood watch on her emotions and her life in a tangle, will Cassidy find the truth? Or will her past finally drown her?

My thoughts:  FLOOD WATCH is the second book in this series, but it does stand alone. I liked the beginning romance between Ty and Cassidy, and his mother was a nice touch. 

I was a little confused by some things - Ryan hates liars, but he's apparently cheating on Cassidy and Ty hates liars and yet he does to his own family. A bit inconsistent there. It does add some funny and heart stopping moments. 

Still, Ms. Barritt writes quirky, funny, spell-binding cozy mysteries and romantic suspense and I greatly enjoyed it. I couldn't put it down, avoiding my own work to read this from cover-to-cover. 

If you like romantic suspense, you have to read Christy Barritt. She is an author not to be missed. I've read most of her books. 

I was given a copy free. All opinions are my own. 

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series: Dangerous Waters.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Plain Truth

(Military Investigations) 

ebook, Paperbook

by Debby Giusti

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense; Large Print edition 
  • (September 6, 2016)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0373677757


When widowed doctor Ella Jacobsen is attacked and left for dead in her children's clinic, the peace she's found in Georgia's Amish country is shattered. Someone is after something in her clinic and wants her out of the way…but what are they looking for? Ella knows only that her life is in the hands of army special agent Zach Swain. Zach can't resist the vulnerable but headstrong Ella, who stares down danger to care for the people she loves. With one look, the loner soldier goes from investigator to protector. To save Ella, he must uncover the secrets that swirl around the idyllic community. And he needs to do it fast, because Ella is running out of time.

My thoughts:  PLAIN TRUTH is a suspense set in Amish country and involved a medical doctor specializing in diseases of the Amish.  The suspense was high and the victim was uncertain. Were they after the mother, the twins, or the doctor?  I had my suspicious who-dun-it, but I was wrong and the real "bad guy" surprised me. 

The Amish talk rather stilted in this book (not at all like the Amish I know!) and there are some untrue facts or generalizations about the Amish, but this is suspense first and foremost, set in an Amish community and the main characters are not Amish so I suppose it could be the characters' point of view about the Amish.

I enjoyed reading this book and trying to figure out who-dun-it.  

I was given a copy free from a friend (not by the publisher or author) and all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mother of sons with autism offers encouragement and reassurance

Part 1 of an interview with Karla Akins,
Author of A Pair of Miracles

It was not long after Karla Akins and her husband brought their adopted sons home from the hospital they realized the boys were not behaving and developing as they should. A few months later they learned the boys were on the fetal alcohol disorders spectrum, and by the time they were four, they were diagnosed with autism. Twenty years ago, autism was not as prevalent as it is today, and Akins admits she knew nothing about it. When she voiced her hopes her autistic sons could learn to read and function independently, doctors warned her those expectations would never be met. Despite those warnings, she set out to prove all things are possible through God.

Laced with humor and compassion, A Pair of Miracles is the heartwarming story of the Akins family’s journey of raising Isaac and Isaiah. However, the book is more than a moving biography from a mom on the front lines. It is a powerful tool, full of practical help for parents, educators and church members working with children who have intellectual disabilities, speech impairments and other limitations on the autism spectrum. It is also a challenge to the church to welcome and celebrate all of its members, no matter their abilities.

Q: A few months after you brought your adopted your twin sons home from the hospital, you learned they were born with Fetal Alcohol Disorder. How did they behave differently from other children, and what clued you into the fact something else might be wrong?

The twins screamed constantly and were very, very difficult to calm. They had an amazing stamina when it came to screaming and could scream for hours. They would start screaming even before they opened their eyes to wake up.

Doctors chalked this all up to the twins being premature. Because they were premature and born to a “low-functioning” mother, they didn’t really give us any other explanation. It was a given in their mind that due to their prematurity they would have unusual behaviors. At three months they were diagnosed with microcephaly (their skulls too small for their brains), and it was assumed, because of their facial features and small head circumference, it was due to fetal alcohol disorder. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD)is difficult to diagnose(at least it was back then) because you need to have the mother’s admission that she drank while pregnant.We didn’t have that admission,but the twins are textbook cases of the syndrome.

When they were diagnosed with microcephaly, I was determined they wouldn’t keep that diagnosis. I laid my hands on their heads every single time I touched them and prayed their heads would grow. God answered that prayer. They have regular-sized head circumference! Truly a miracle. If they didn’t, their cognitive functioning would be much worse. 

Q: How old were the boys when they were diagnosed with autism? How much did you know about autism before their diagnosis?

The twins were fouryearsold when they were diagnosed, but I knew something was wrong years before the official diagnosis. Not only were they a textbook case of FASD, but they are of autism as well. It’s important to remember that autism can have co-morbid diagnoses. In other words, having autism doesn’t mean you can’t have other diagnoses as well. Did the FASD cause the autism? We have no way of knowing.

When the boys received their autism diagnosis, the only thing I knew about autism was from the movie Rain Man, which means I knew nothing! Plus,autism is different in every individual.

In 1997-98, the only thing I had was a rickety old IBM computer someone had given me. It barely worked and was one of those with the green screen,but I used it to hook up to AOL. (I can still hear that dial-up sound in my ears!) Once online, I connected with an amazing crew of mamas and grandmas who also had children with autism. It was those women who led me to resources. I have to tell you, we were on the cutting edge of research in those days,butas far as early intervention was concerned, it was very difficult to get anyone to listen to us regarding what our children needed to have to succeed. It was very, very hard to get people’s attention. If it weren’t for those women, I don’t know how I’d have survived those early years. They were a lifeline.

Q: What was the doctors’ prognosis of how the boys would be able to function as they grew and matured? How did you work through the grief that followed the news?

The working title of this book was Pie in the Sky. I was told by a psychologist my hopes and dreams for them to function independently was “pie in the sky thinking” and I “better get over that right now.” I never went back to her. The boys have done much, much more than anyone thought possible.

For instance, that particular doctor told me they’d never read, be able to live independently or speak. Other doctors simply didn’t know and told me I would have to wait and see. Only one doctor I worked with was sympathetic to me, and it wasn’t anything he said, but it was how he treated me with such kindness and respect when we’d see him. I wish there were more pediatricians like that today. He never gave an opinion about the future. He just helped me get through each medical crisis and was very encouraging to me. He made me feel like I was competent.

Today the twins walk. They talk and understand everything that’s said to them. Their speech and language is a little difficult to understand at times, but they function well enough to send text messages and talk on the phone.

I worked through my grief about their diagnosis in stages. In some ways, I already knew something was wrong. Developmental pediatricians were tracking their physical development, and we could already see some things about their development weren’t right, such as the size of their heads. I also knew the way they reacted to sensory input was way off, and they weren’t meeting their developmental milestones on time, such as sitting up, walking and talking. Still, even though I knew something was wrong, I went through all the normal stages of grief — from anger to acceptance. I still do go through some of the stages. All parents with special needs kids deal with grief on a day-to-day basis. It cycles through us at various times depending on what we’re dealing with. Mostly, though, I’m so proud of my guys. They’ve worked hard to get where they are today.

Q: When the boys were young, in a meeting with your pastor, he asked, “Do you think you missed the will of God when you adopted them?” Even doctors made hurtful comments to you about your boys. How did you respond?

Well, I’d like to say the conversation doesn’t still bother me, but it does. I do realize some people just don’t “get” adoption and disability issues. I’ve forgiven the pastor and those doctors,but just thinking about those conversations makes me shake my head with incredulity. Some people don’t have filters. They just say whatever they’re thinking.

I was furious, of course, when those conversations took place. I never responded negatively or rudely to them at the time, but I did stew on what they said. I’m the type of person who when you tell me I can’t do something or can’t make something better, it fuels me to prove you wrong. I used those conversations to motivate me rather than discourage me.

Q: You talk about bargaining with God and even encourage readers to “wrestle with God” in difficult times. What were some of the questions you had for God in the early years of raising Isaac and Isaiah?

I would actually pray for forgiveness from God for wanting to adopt because I sometimes worried about what it was doing to our family. It definitely took away the tranquility in the house. I am a huge peace-lover and maker. I crave quiet spaces. I also asked my husband to forgive me for pushing for adoption, but he never once wavered or questioned our decision. That helped me a lot in the twins’ younger years when they were so, so hard to care for.

I still have a lot of questions for God where disabilities and pain in the world are concerned. However, I do know the devil hates humans and wants them to suffer because we are created in God’s image. Still, God’s ways are not our ways, and I truly believe He will use our struggles for His purpose and glory if we let Him.

Q: What have your boys taught you about God, and how has your faith grown by being their mom?

The boys have taught me more about everything in life and especially about God. I’ve never seen greater faith than theirs. I’ve never seen joy such as theirs. The twins have amazing faith. To me, they’re spiritual giants. Their faith in God inspires me every single day. Their spirits aren’t at all disabled. Their spirits are as healthy as yours and mine and probably even more so because of their childlike faith.

They are very tender-hearted toward the Lord, and they know to turn to Him for help. Just a few days ago we had a situation that made Isaac anxious. He asked if we could all pray,so we stood in a circle and prayed. He sobbed like a baby, crying out to the Lord for help. That is faith. Without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11). Their faith amazes me. I am eager to interact with them in heaven when they are completely healed and to talk to Jesus about them and how their prayers affected heaven. They are true prayer warriors. When I need prayer, I ask them to pray because of their great faith.

They’ve taught me what’s important in life. I’m not as materialistic as I might have been otherwise because autism doesn’t allow you to have breakables. Doors get kicked in. Walls get holes in them. Furniture gets mauled. They’ve taught me not to sweat the small stuff. My tolerance for imperfection is extremely broad because of them. Societal constraints don’t worry me. Our yard might not be the prettiest in the neighborhood because we’re so busy supervising the twins, but the love in our house is immeasurable. It’s far from perfect, trust me, but when I focus on the blessing these boys are to others (they love serving people), I’m deeply humbled. I wish I could be as sweet as they are.

My faith has grown as theirmom because what the world said could never happen, God made happen. When doctors told me they were microcephalic, I refused to accept it. As I mentioned earlier, I constantly laid my hands on their heads and told them to grow. They have normal-sized heads now. Doctors said they’d not walk, butthey walk. Doctors said they wouldn’t read or do much independently,and with God’s grace we’ve proved them wrong.

Q: Tell us about Isaac and Isaiah today. In what ways are they able to function independently in ways the doctors never expected? In what areas do they still need help?

They do so many things on their own! They have a golf cart they use for transportation to their part-time jobs and other places in town. Fortunately, we live in a community that allows it. They use their smartphones and iPads to communicate and read things. They attend church and help with various duties there. Isaac helps with the sound system, and Isaiah loves helping in children’s church. They are amazing helpers. They love helping people.

The twins will probably always need to live with someone who can protect them from being taken advantage of. They have a difficult time counting money, so it’s easy to cheat them. They can also be talked into doing things, as they are quite na├»ve and gullible. They have dual-diagnoses of fetal alcohol disorder and intellectual disabilities, so that makes dealing with them a bit more involved. They still need to have reminders for daily self-care and function at about the level of an 8-to11-year-old. They still need to be prompted to do their daily chores (don’t we all?) and so forth.