I have had a difficult time lately trying to update the blog. I think what happens is that so much is going on, I can't keep up. Then I promise myself I will keep up and when I get a chance to catch up, I feel that I need to continue on with something that I am finding extremely difficult to put down on "paper." So I have decided that I will get back to posts about the mission trip when I am able to, and in the meantime, keep posting about what is going on. It will be less stressful that way.
I have struggled with what to say in this post; I'd love to update about family life, but I also would love to just share what is on my heart. Which is something I never really, completely do here, but just feel a desire to put it out there.
As I am approaching my 36th birthday, I have been thinking more and more about what is important. I am at a place that I always wanted to be at growing up. I always wanted to be married and have six children - and when I would think about that growing up, it always included five boys and one girl. I had never admitted that, but now, I often think that it is awesome how God prepared my heart and my desires for the ways in which he would later bless me. I know that He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and it is amazing to see how His plan is perfect, even when I may question things and even when I have veered off of His plan for me. I am sometimes amazed at what I had "planned" (rather, desired) for myself - marriage; being a stay at home mom; having a lot of children - and what I didn't - not living in my hometown or close to family; living in a rural area; homeschooling. I also see how I used to think that I had a deep faith in God, but I really had only a faith of convenience. Now, I am continually seeking to grow deeper in relationship with Christ. Again, not at all what I expected out of my life looking back.
When life gets crazy or bad things happen, it can lead to feelings of helplessness or hopelessness and I forget about God's plan over my life. Looking back, though, I can always see how during each challenge, God has still been there and in actuality, each thing has made me stronger and more sure of who I am in Christ, because it causes me to lean on Him more. Do I think He purposely gives us difficult challenges? No. That would be the same as do we purposely make things difficult for our children. But I do believe God uses difficult situations and our own mis-steps to bring us closer to Him. In the same way that, as a parent, I am heartbroken when one child does something or has something awful happen to them but I will be there for them to lean on and I will help them through it and I will try to teach them through it.
This year has been a year of many stressful challenges in our family. Life with a teen is difficult enough, but add in Asperger's with that teen and it complicates things even further. I have really learned to lean on God during times this year when I completely came to the end of what I could possibly do. When you have a child, you never imagine the hard times that may happen later. And when they happen, it can lead to feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy as a parent ("if only I was a better parent, this never would have happened"). We all have these perfect little visions of how our life is going to be and when that doesn't happen, we tend to - or at least I want to have a little pity party.
Having a larger family with many children, and having some of those children have special needs, can at times be very isolating. I think that is the single most difficult thing that I have learned to cope with, especially in the last year. Not many people understand the demands of a larger family and then compounding that with special needs children. It can be very lonely at times. I also adore spending time with my husband, so sometimes I don't even want to go out with friends when I could be spending that precious time with him. I'm finally at a place now where I am perfectly OK with a lack of a "social life." I will have time for that later and for now, I am cherishing this small window of time when all of our children are here in our home. But I could not have honestly said that until very recently.
I am also learning where my gifts lie in serving God. I have been blessed with being a part of a ministry to help in our community and I am finding that I am extremely passionate about things I never imagined I would be. It has been such a blessing to be able to do what I do and to be able to serve God in this way. I have met some amazing people and am learning more and more what God's desire is and where His heart is. God moved in amazing ways during the mission trip and completely changed what I thought was important...or what I wanted to do for God instead of how He might have me serve Him.
So I never really share my heart, and especially not to the degree I have here today. I am praying that it is well received, but even if it is not, it is what it is. It is my heart and it is what has been on my mind lately. I am finally coming to a place where I am comfortable to just be me and not be concerned (as much) with what others may think about that. I am still working on that and will continue to, but at least I can finally start to feel OK with who I am....and who I am not.