who am i?
Whilst in the background I have always wanted to be a stay at home mother and wife, there was another part of me that longed for something else. I am a product of the world and felt that it wasn't enough to just be that. I felt I needed to be more. In order to be accepted/right by the world I needed to contribute to society by earning money and having a career. That was the way to be someone... Looking after our home and children just didn't seem to be enough - as a new career option, I'm afraid to say at this point it just seemed dull.
I'm a planner so therefore always looked to the future and what I'd be doing next. I found it hard to live and be peaceful in the present. I had planned to have children and planned to be a career woman and I believed I could have it all - why not? that is what I was brought up to believe - that's why I studied further, I was a strong independent woman. I had planned to have children but hadn't given that much thought to the raising of them, the importance of being there for them - in the normal everyday, I hadn't realised the value in that - it had previously been all about me - and I thought the children would just fall into line. Obviously, I had thought about raising a family and had made assumptions about groups, schools, holidays, bike rides, hobbies activities etc but all these assumptions were about to be halted...
My children did not fall into line or follow the normal paths. I can remember being a new christian and being excited about what Gods calling or mission would be on my life. I remember thinking about church planting and growing community, moving - possibly even a new country? However, I couldn't understand why the doors would never open - I figured it was because the children were young and I was still in training. I prayed and asked God about my mission, the next steps, to send me where He wanted, I still had ideas of what this could be but God had other plans.
God did not have plans to send me out in the way I had imagined. My eldest children were very hard work - I thought this was due to being very bright/forward or that I was just rubbish at parenting. I bought and read, researched so many parenting books (christian and secular) but nothing worked. I was scared to send my son to school because I was hiding how bad his behaviour could really be and I was convinced he would be excluded and that everyone would find out how bad a job I was doing, even though I was working so hard. I went on the parenting courses and tried everything. Our GP and Health visitor hadn't listened to our concerns, perhaps I hadn't communicated it very well but starting school was a good thing us. Finally someone else saw what we were living with and eventually after lots of appointments and tests, my son was given a diagnosis of autism. To read more of our journey, please read here.
Once we had the diagnosis, to be honest, life became harder. The diagnosis certainly helped but it doesn't stop the autism and help/understanding does not magically appear. Being a parent of a child with autism is a full time job, everything else goes on hold and trying to do the normal things I had thought we would be doing, was not possible. I had to re-look at everything. It was a major time of grief, grief for the life I could no longer live and accepting the new life, the new mission before me. This was not the mission I had in mind. Its lonely at times, its really hard, there is so much judgement from others, its heartbreaking, its a never ending fight just for the basics that other parents take for granted. It affects every area of our lives including marriage and mental health. Lots of marriages break down because of the pressures faced. Mental health suffers as you are constantly caring and fighting for your child.
Well, I wanted a mission and God gave us one. It is certainly not glamorous or comes with the status of being a missionary in the traditional sense! But God loves all his people, those with disabilities, those with autism and the parents/carers behind them. There needs to be light in this dark part of the world, there needs to be hope, kindness and love to a people who are feeling the world is against them and their precious children. Awareness has increased over the last few years and understanding will follow, but the road is still not easy to travel. I have wrestled with God over Why? so many times but I am thankful I have God to help us through this. God has provided for us, been there for us and I want to share the hope I have with others.
I am happy to talk about my faith but I try not to push it on others as a I understand when dealing with such stress that believing in God, who has put them in these circumstances is difficult to accept. I write this blog and hope to show/encourage others with my stories of how God helps and is with us. I'm not Ned Flanders (The Simpsons christian character where no matter what, everything is fantastic) I feel pain and I have wrestled with God over suffering but God has helped me and I know that He is good, always.
This is my mission. I am a wife and a mother to 4 sons, 2 of whom have autism. One child goes to a specialist school, one I home educate and the younger are both at a mainstream junior school. I do not have a job where I earn money and am thankful I can be at home for my husband and my children. I'm thankful we do not have the added pressure of me working on top of our lives. I help others and have outside interests. I enjoy making our house a home.
I have grown in love - to love the ones on the edge, the different. I'm still working on this - but I know I have grown through my experiences. I found putting myself last easy - I believed that is where I should be (mental illness) but I have had to learn to love and look after myself and accept that my mission is just that, a mission and not a punishment. I wanted to serve God and be used by Him, I am. Sometimes its in the little things, the everyday or the constant perseverance and sometimes its in the fighting/advocating. I'm raising my children in faith, hoping and showing them Gods love, hoping they'll choose this for themselves. I carry Jesus with me in the dark places I go, He is the reason for my hope, my smile and I hope to show Him to others by living the life He has blessed us with.
Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.