When the child psychologist that was a part of the team evaluating my daughter’s developmental delays disclosed that she saw some red flags for autism, I wasn’t shocked. When I started looking into services for her speech delay and her ridiculously picky eating habits, my research steered me towards that possibility. And even then, I wasn’t scared. I just wanted to make sure I did everything in my power to connect her with whatever she needed to succeed.
It was the stark contrast between her development and her twin sister’s development that let me know there could have been an issue. Ironically, it now meant that I’d have to make a conscious effort to not compare their progress, and make sure that they weren’t comparing themselves to each other either. It was a juggling act to find the balance between not displaying favoritism while giving each uniquely developing two-year-old what they needed. It definitely got easier when my typically developing daughter started understanding and accepting their differences.
It was cute to see how my typically developing daughter started helping her sister with speech and fine motor functions. She even got to a place where she would praise her and tell her “I’m so proud of you!” when her sister would learn a new skill. It warmed my heart as their mom, but I believe it also encouraged my daughter. In spite of her limited speech she didn’t through tantrums in frustration. Add to that an encouraging and patient environment, I felt she was bound to thrive!
My greatest concern for her wasn’t her limitations. In most cases it was my limitations. She didn’t have what her therapist called functional speech, but she was clearly learning. She knew her colors, numbers, letters, animals, as well as being able to identify numerous other things despite her not making request for food or even saying “mommy.” I just wanted to make sure I gave her everything she needed to continue progressing. Making sure she got the right therapy, thorough evaluations, and exposure to environments that would foster her growth was so important to me. Her? She was so carefree. She was so mild-mannered and happy. She seemed to not have a care in the world. I never looked at her a saw frustration in not being able to talk or climb the stairs even when her sister seemed to be doing those things effortlessly. Trying to get her to try the foods that her sister was willing to eat was pointless as she cared nothing about having a “peer model” in the house. The mom that wanted her to do that things that the “typically developing” toddlers were doing was anxiety inducing, but I found so much peace in her, what appeared to be, acceptance of who and where she was. Then I found a new fear.
Who told you that you were naked?
What was going to happen with she entered classrooms, after school programs, camps, dance classes, or other types of social setting where kids start making fun of her differences? What happens when people start to tell her that something is “wrong” with her? What happens when people start to point out the things she should be doing that other kids are doing already? But even worse, what happens if their words start effecting her joy?
The scariest thing for me in this journey isn’t my daughter falling on the autism spectrum. It’s knowing that I will be fighting the battle to make sure she never feels inferior to anyone or anything. It’s making sure she never feels afraid to try anything simply from a fear of inadequacy. It’s the same fear that I have for both of my girls, just intensified.
In Genesis 3:11 God asks Adam “who told you that you were naked?” Adam had always been naked. So was Eve. There weren’t even ashamed of it. Genesis 2:25 made that clear to us. But something happened in between those few verses that caused them to become ashamed, ashamed of the very way God made them.
I don’t want my daughter to encounter the serpents of the world that will try to convince her of the lies that will keep her from knowing her worth. I want her to live her life feeling confident and capable of anything God puts on her heart. The truth is we are all naked. God made us that way. I just pray that my daughters’ beauty is never overshadowed by their individual “nakedness.”
Lately, I’ve been getting more intentional about growing my relationship with Christ. I feel my life is testimony after testimony, and it’s time to start truly walking in faith. I decided to start taking advantage of online church services after having no luck with finding a local church I felt comfortable calling home.
Right now, the church whose services I’ve been watching is preaching a series on finances and tithing. Under normal circumstances this would have been a complete turn off for me, but I’m trying to be obedient, and God was telling me I needed to hear this message. I even joined an online group for support and accountability with my spiritual journey, including my reservations with tithing. I was pretty sure God was calling me to start tithing but with my already tight budget I was feeling apprehensive.
I didn’t grow up in church. Even when my family started going to church regularly, it was treated like an obligation. The importance of returning 10% of my time, talents, and income to God just wasn’t impressed upon me. Even now, members of my family who consider themselves to be devout Christians still turn up their noses at the very idea of tithing.
And here I am about to cough up what little money I have and give it to the church.
So far, this church had preached four sermons in this series with the previous three being Secure the Bag, Heart Check, and The Principle of First. As I was listening to the most recent sermon in this series The Bag with the Blessing the pastor commented that this isn’t about the money. Oh really? Then God reminded me of a life experience that clearly demonstrated this principle that had NOTHNG to do with money.
When my boyfriend and I met, we hit if off almost immediately. It was great! Then about four months into the relationship I could see he was bad with money, and even worse he was dishonest about his poor decisions. Initially I refused to tolerate such immaturity, and we broke up. However, I did care for him deeply and could see he was genuinely trying to change for the better. I followed my heart and gave him another chance.
We eventually moved in together and within a few months he was back to his old ways. I felt hurt and betrayed. As I was planning my exit strategy, I was also realizing that I might be pregnant. Once I confirmed the pregnancy, I told my boyfriend. He excitedly assured me he’d be by my side every step of the way and promised things would improve. Still feeling betrayed, I ignored him and almost immediately started googling abortion clinics.
The tension between us grew undeniably toxic and I didn’t care. When we got to the clinic the nurse discovered I was pregnant with twins. My boyfriend broke down crying and finally, so did I. I was crying because I knew how much I was hurting him. I never wanted that. I loved him. I just couldn’t see bringing a baby into our situation. We were sent home and advised to talk about whether this new information changed anything. If it didn’t, come back another day. If it did, best of wishes.
We talked at home and I was still uncomfortable with his ability to step up. I couldn’t in good conscious bring a baby, let alone two, into this mess we’d created. We went back the next day and I terminated the pregnancy.
A little over a year later we were still together, and our relationship was more dysfunctional than ever. We agreed to start couples counseling in a last-ditch effort and a few weeks into counseling I was pregnant with twins, again.
We decided to push through and make it work this time. We faced adversities from health scares to job loss with quite a bit of miscellaneous drama in between. When our twin daughters were finally born, we were filled with about as much fear as we were joy. Our relationship was nowhere near perfect but for the first time in its history, we were headed in the same direction with the same goals.
Then, in the middle of the night not even three months after our daughters were born, my boyfriend died suddenly at home. I was devastated.
What does all this have to do with tithing?
The single stay-at-home parenting journey with twins, one of which has special needs, has turned my eyes to God. Through this unthinkable tragedy, God has still blessed me. I know that my ability to navigate this space I’m in is nothing but God’s grace and mercy. Refining my relationship with God has made me a better person for everyone in my life, including my children. My growing faith in Him brings me peace and I’ve been able to find joy in a life that grows more challenging daily. But what if the first twin pregnancy was “The Bag with The Blessing” on it?
What if the first twin pregnancy was the blessing that was going to grow OUR faith in Christ? What if that new relationship with God was going to be what mended our relationship with each other and blessed our growing family? Regardless of how sinful our lives were, we were given two blessings from God, and we threw them away. We didn’t steward over it as we were called to do. Although we were given another twin blessing, not valuing those first fruits came with a lesson of what happens when you don’t honor the bag with the blessing.
I was struggling with the idea of giving God the first 10% of my income. Now, I’ve opened my heart to the idea that the money should be the least of my worries. I have to make sure I’m honoring all the first fruits that God blesses me with and continue to be obedient to His commands, because indeed it’s not about the money.
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.