Life We Never Expected eBook

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Authors: Andrew and Rachel Wilson


Hopeful Reflections on the Challenges of Parenting Children with Special Needs

Sometimes life throws you a curveball.

Andrew and Rachel Wilson know what it means to live a life they never expected. As the parents of two children with special needs, their story mingles deep pain with deep joy in unexpected places. With raw honesty, they share about the challenges they face on a daily basis—all the while teaching what it means to weep, worship, wait, and hope in the Lord. Offering encouragement rooted in God's Word, this book will help you cling to Jesus and fight for joy when faced with a life you never expected.


About the authors:

Andrew and Rachel Wilson have two children, Zeke and Anna. Andrew is the teaching pastor at King's Church London and a columnist for Christianity Today.


The Life We Never Expected is an honest, confessional, and hopeful book. It doesn’t flinch from telling the whole truth about the trials of parenting special-needs children, and it reminds us of our need for the gospel every day. This isn’t a book that’s going to tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and try harder. This is a book for those who are on the floor, weeping, because they need to know Jesus is with them.”  ~Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Onward

“What a great book! Andrew and Rachel’s surprise journey with their two autistic children opened the door to knowing God and his ways more deeply. They learned, or should I say experienced, that the gospel isn’t something you just believe; it is something you inhabit when God permits long-term suffering in your life. I’d recommend this book even if your family doesn’t have a child affected by disability—it is soul food.”  ~Paul E. Miller, Executive Director, seeJesus; author, A Praying Life and A Loving Life

“Weeping, worshiping, waiting, witnessing, and breathing. These are the constant rhythms of my life as a parent to a son with autism. These are also the rhythms of Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s life, beautifully and delicately illustrated in The Life We Never Expected. The Wilsons have managed to do what no other authors have—provide me with clear, promising hope as a special-needs parent and allow me the sacred practice of saying, ‘Me, too.’ Profoundly moving and deeply rooted in the love of Jesus, this book is exactly what I needed. It is a tremendous gift.”  ~Nish Weiseth, speaker; author, Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World

“This is a poignant and delightfully forthright book, written by parents who are still clearly raw from their experiences. Here is hard-earned wisdom, biblical realism, and winning sensitivity. Recommended for all in the throes of suffering and for all who would comfort them.”  ~Michael Reeves, President and Professor of Theology, Union School of Theology, Oxford, England; author, Delighting in the TrinityThe Unquenchable Flame, and Rejoicing in Christ

“Andrew and Rachel Wilson help us see how uniquely difficult it is to parent children with special needs. Their candidness is infectious, inviting us to do what the church should do: laugh with those who laugh and mourn with those who mourn. Parents of special-needs children will find compassionate solidarity, honest wrestling, voiced frustrations, and, most importantly, the gospel. Many will read this book and feel understood. Others of us need to read this book to understand, so that we can walk alongside those in the midst of hardship with compassion.”  ~Nate Pyle, Pastor, Christ’s Community Church, Fishers, Indiana; author, Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood

“In a striking display of honesty and depth, Andrew and Rachel Wilson explore the tension of faith and reality in this moving book. What I love most is that it’s written in ‘real time.’ They reflect on the pain and joy not after the fact but while they are experiencing it. The Life We Never Expected is one of those books you have to force yourself to put down. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will celebrate the goodness of God—even in the midst of suffering.”  ~Preston Sprinkle, Vice President of Boise Extension, Eternity Bible College; author,People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue

“I am not a parent of children with special needs. In fact, I’m not a parent at all. Even so, I couldn’t put this book down. The Life We Never Expected is about so much more than parenting. It is about loss, lament, hope, humility, contentment, joy—and about finding God to be more than sufficient through it all.”  ~Karen Swallow Prior, Professor of English, Liberty University; author, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

“This is a sweet and touching book—a testimony of parents’ love for their special, vulnerable children, and an extended meditation on the nature of the suffering that is part of the Christian life. Andrew and Rachel write with frank honesty and a sensitivity to biblical teaching about the expectations for life in a fallen world. I hope this little book will bring wise comfort to other parents facing similar challenges.”  ~Carl R. Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary; author, The Creedal Imperative and Luther on the Christian Life

“This is a helpful book both for those experiencing disability in their families and for those who love such families—not because of how the Wilsons are ‘dealing’ with disability but in how they rightly orient to our great and purposeful God. Having parented a child with multiple disabilities for more than two decades, I smiled regularly at their honest portrayal of life with disability. Anger, disappointment, and confusion along with delight and insight are offered in right measures. As both Andrew and Rachel point out, families like ours frequently do not experience the ‘great resolution’ about the circumstances of our lives, but we can always trust the promises of the One who made and sustains us and who will ultimately make all things new.”  ~John Knight, Director of Donor Partnerships,