When my second child was around three months old, we traveled to Melbourne for his Godparents Wedding. We were staying in a house that belonged to a lady from the church. It was an older home that had been added onto, obviously to fit their large family. We loved the house with the big back room and added bedrooms, large enough for the essentials and that’s it. I remember looking at their family photo on the wall and counted seven children. I thought to myself, wow! I want that!
But even though I wanted it, I never in a million years thought it would happen! I don’t think it ever occurred to me that it was possible for me to have that many children. We were never closed to the idea but we didn’t know if it would or could truly be possible!
Looking back, right down to my child hood, I can see how with out even realising it, I have always had a desire to have a large family. Through my favourite movie, The sound of music, to games I would play. Babysitting as a teen and having the desire to work with children and than to also have the desire to work with special needs children, which lead me to do work experience and volunteer work at a special school. I also was tutoring and babysitting a girl with Down syndrome once a week and any other time the parents needed me and one of my child hood best friends had an older sister who was mentally retarded. Being around others with special needs taught me and showed me the value of life in all circumstances. It showed me the blessings and the lessons these people bring to us.
When my Chronic Fatigue syndrome started taking its toll, my parents took me to different doctors looking for answers. A sleep doctor suggest these pills that were yet legalised in Australia but he was able to get from over seas and believed they would help me.
They would affect my fertility, most likely taking away the chance of me having any children.
I was 16 years old.
My life was being robbed by this terrible illness. I was struggling in school, becoming isolated as I was too sick to attend school or social events. Losing friends and dealing with the fact that I would be lucky if I got through my high school certificate in year 12. Dreams about my future where falling apart pretty quickly and the whole situation was beginning to feel more than just hopeless but something that I may have to face and come to terms with.
So can you imagine a doctor offering a possible solution?
At 16 God was already steering me in a certain direction, even though I wasn’t going to church at the time. God very much still had his hand on me. I didn’t hesitate, not even for a second.
I told the doctor no.
At the end of year ten, I left school and enrolled to do my higher school certificate and a diploma of child studies. But soon enough it become clear that a career in child studies was not meant to be as I continued to struggle with my health and had many unsettled feeling about the childcare system. Though at the time volunteering at the special school for children with disabilities was an eye opener and allowed me to see the disabilities at different levels of severity. It also opened my eyes about some of the systems put in place inside the classroom for these children and how I once again disagreed with it.
So obviously I was not being called to have a career or work in these areas but yet I still had that strong yearning to work with children and be around them. So understandably I was very frustrated and disappointed in my self at not being able to complete my education. But before I knew it , I was married just three weeks after turning 20 and gave birth to our first born three days before our first wedding anniversary. Fast forward to today and I am surrounded by seven children, four who are on the autism spectrum and have challenges and struggles at different levels of severity. We have another child who also like the others have speech problems but may have some sort of sensory processing disorder ( I also suspect ADHD and/or autism but we shall find out ). They also have other health problems such as anxiety, speech dyspraxia, asthma and severe allergies.
What I realise, when I look back is that God has been preparing me from day one. That unspoken desire in my heart that showed itself through child-play and the desire to follow a certain career path.
Psalms 139:16 “You saw me before I was born.The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book,before any of them ever began.”
God knew exactly what I needed. He knows what will eventually get me to heaven. Even giving me a husband who was an only child and had no desire to really want children, until he laid eyes on our first born and hasn’t looked back! It was all part of it. He was preparing for now, for today.
It’s not a coincidence that I desired to work with special needs children, babysat a Down syndrome little girl only to end up having not one or even two but four and now possibly a fifth with special needs. I think how amazing it is when God ignites the tiniest flame in your heart and soul, as He patiently, bit by bit adds to this flame, caring for it, so as to not blow that flame out. He adds to it till one day it is no longer a flame but a roaring fire and your heart it soaring and you know you have been blessed by the Holy Spirit. I am so thankful that God allowed my disability to happen. That He allowed me to be as sick as I am because I know deep down in my heart that if I didn’t have my own chronic health problems I would have blown that flame out easily and would have become a very selfish, self centered person, following her dreams to NIDA and a self satisfying career.
I know I would have waited till much older to have married and even longer to have children. Once again I thank God I didn’t wait, as a doctor told me if I had waited to have children it would have been very hard for me to fall pregnant and carry through the entire nine months of pregnancy. I have absolute faith that God has his hand on all of this as with my genetic disorder I should not have been able to carry to term as many pregnancies as I have. In fact I have been told my genetic disorder makes it near impossible for a women to have successful pregnancies. God formed me and knew me, everything about me before I was even born.
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”
How glorious is it that He has a plan for us? How even more glorious is it when we endeavour to follow that plan? How different would my life had been if I refused God’s plan? If I had put my foot down and proceed to follow my own plans, put off marriage and children? Chased the desire to be loved and adorn in the spotlight on stage or television?
Instead I stand in a very different spotlight and I am loved and adorn by the almighty king of all kings, God, Himself. How pale in comparison does my plans seem now compared to God’s? Pretty pale, I must admit. I am lucky that God is patient with me. I am lucky that time and time again He has waited for me to find my feet and get back up again. I am blessed that He decided I was worthy enough for His awesome plan for salvation, for eternal life. I pray that as each day goes by in my life that I continue to unravel and follow God’s glorious plan for me.
As I look back and see how far I have come, I cannot help but feel stronger knowing that God has been by my side the whole time, even through the times I refused to acknowledge Him. People who have special needs, especially children, pull at my heart strings. I don’t bat an eyelid in regards to their disability when I am face to face with them. For me I don’t believe disabilities define people. I believe they bring out the uniqueness in these individuals and offer us the chance to see the world in a totally different perspective than from what we see it. Possibly a world that is full of much love and kindness. One that is pure and a reflection of God’s unconditional love, because quiet frankly these kids don’t know how to love any other way. When I look into the faces of these children, I see God. When I look into their eyes, the windows to their soul, I receive a very small glimpse of heaven. When these children love someone they love this person with everything they have inside them. Quiet often these children have this kind of love for everyone around them. They don’t understand ” social norms” like social groups or groups of friends. By their understanding, they love everyone and everyone loves them. It’s all or nothing and I can promise you most of the time ( unless their struggling in a situation) it’s all. These children teach us to love with no holds back. They teach us to love the way we should love.
As the months and years go by quiet fast these days, I am grateful that God allowed me to be able to have these children. I can look back and know that my life has been quiet full. Yes, I have my hands full but my heart is even more full. Yes, I am so exhausted and tired but anything worth doing isn’t easy or light. Each day I give it my all, knowing God has entrusted me with these children and it is my responsibility to make sure they are prepared and returned to their father in heaven. I literally put my life on the line with each pregnancy, each child I bring into this world. But I have complete faith that God has His hand on all of this. Each of my children are worth that much, that I would give up my life to give them theirs, in death or by not choosing to take medication that would have caused me to become sterile, despite the fact it could have helped my chronic health problems.