Hi everyone - just so you know, this isn't Crystal blogging today, it's her husband Eric, guest blogging on this Mother's Day, 2011. Crystal has graciously allowed me to take the microphone for a day, so to speak, so that I can talk about ... her. :) Well, this is Mother's Day, after all, and I wanted those of you in reader-land to know what kind of person Crystal is and how dearly I love her.
If you had taken a snapshot of Crystal's life and another of mine before we met each other, you probably would never have thought we would wind up where we are today ... living in a small Texas town, parenting three wonderful kids, with Crystal giving up her career to be a stay at home mom. So many preconceived notions about the life we expected to have have been altered, or even turned upside down, but here we are, by the grace of God, and with His blessing, no less. Ryan's autism has been one of, if not THE biggest fruit basket turnover of our life together, but Crystal has met this challenge head-on with dogged determination to ensure that our son has everything we can possibly provide for him.
"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." Proverbs 31:26
From the time that first knew Crystal - we met teaching band together in the same school district - it was clear that she had a gift for teaching and for connecting with her students. It was also clear that this came naturally to her and it did not come naturally to me. Over the course of time, Crystal was promoted over me, watched me be treated horribly in my next job, chose to sacrifice her career and dreams of being the best band director she could be so she could be the most devoted stay-at-home mom she could ... and after several years, she took the biggest leap of faith of our married life. Crystal had the love for me and faith in me to confront me with what I was doing wrong in the classroom, show me how I could be a better teacher, and encourage me to aspire to be the terrific teacher she knew I wanted to be and she knew I could be. It was not a quick process and it was definitely not all pleasant ... but my wife cared enough about me to do the hard things to help me be successful in my career.
She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. Proverbs 31:20
When Ryan was two going on three, and we were beginning to understand that something we couldn't put our finger on was wrong with him, we first heard this strange word, "autism". What was that about? Our son didn't have anything wrong with him, he was just slow building his vocabulary. Crystal's sister flapped her hands as a toddler when she got excited; it wasn't any big deal that Ryan did it constantly. Everyone told us encouragingly, and often sincerely, "Oh, he's just a late bloomer and he'll be caught up before you know it." Even when we first heard the diagnosis for Ryan was autism, many told us that "with intervention he'll be normal/cured/just fine by the time he's five". But as time went on ... especially as Ryan is now approaching the end of his three years in PPCD (preschool program for children with disabilities), and we are looking at turning his fragile world on its ear in this strange new world called "kindergarten" ... this autism thing has gripped us ever harder until we've had to stare it in the eye, and learn to stare it back down unflinchingly just to cope with it day by day. We've learned the hard way that having an autistic child can make you feel very lonely and detached from the rest of the world in some very painful ways. So what's one of the first things Crystal decides to do about it? Share her experiences through this blog, all of the best joys and rawest frustrations, everything. Not just to help her cope, but to help others cope, to give hope to those who desperately need it, to help people understand a little bit better what it's like to live the life of a parent with an autistic child. I deeply admire Crystal's heart for others, and especially for those in the same dark, lonely place that ours can often be, for the people who so badly need just the encouragement of knowing that there actually are other people out there who are as scared and discouraged as they are. Not to mention ... she's a darn good blogger too.
... A woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30
Through all of our years together, Crystal has helped (and sometimes challenged) me to grow in my faith in Christ. Living a married life takes hard work! Realizing that hard, dedicated spiritual work produces the best possible married life - not the easiest or the most comfortable life, but the best one possible - is probably the lesson I'm most grateful for having Crystal show me. We wouldn't be where we are without it, and there's no way on earth (literally) that we would be able to cope with Ryan's autism and face our family's future together without knowing and living this. Our faith compels us to do the hard things that many couples neglect - communicate with each other, plan for our future, tackle the hardest problems that life throws at us, like Ryan's autism - and the fact that she is far more consistent at these things than I am only shows her devotion to me and to honoring her relationship with the Lord as well. Being at the crossroads that we're at with all of the aspects of parenting an autistic child about to enter kindergarten, we would completely flounder if we didn't believe and know, together, that Christ will hold us together in our worst moments, and pick us back up and put us together again when we fall apart during the even worse moments. It's not a way of life, it's a reality that we can't live without ... and I am so grateful that Crystal's devotion to the Lord reflects this truth.
An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her. Proverbs 31: 10-11
Happy Mother's Day to the most wonderful woman in my life, whom I love with all of my heart. And now, dear readers, we return you to your regularly scheduled blogger. :)