(As we get ready for the joy and excitement of Christmas, I just want to share these thoughts. The holidays are hard for so many people.)
I'm a member of a club, one that I didn't join, didn't fill out the forms, didn't pay the membership dues and honestly, didn't want to be a member.
I'm a part of the "infertiles", those that have and still suffer from the pain and struggle of the inability to either conceive or carry a child to term.
As a Christian and a lifelong church attender, infertility kicked my faith to the curb for a long time. It was challenged, tested and confused. Holidays were hard for obvious reasons, as children are the focus of so many activities. Church services were no exception.
As I sat in the pew at Christmas, it hit me: A VIRGIN had a child, but not me. I prayed, I tried, I had the best medical help around. I had given up, taken holidays, cool baths and room temperature drinks, no carrots, taken temperatures at the crack of dawn (apologies to my sister, she hates that phrase!) and so many odd little tricks you learn over the years. And yet there I sat, year after year, childless, broken, in pain.
And I listened to the miracle of a Virgin birth.
It should have been calming, knowing that God can do anything, he can perform miracles, that I should trust without question and He would take care of me, just one person in a huge world that He loves as much as every flower in the field.
I knew that in my head.
But my heart hurt.
A virgin...birth...child...miracle. It is the Christmas story we celebrate as Christians. It is a thing of beauty, hope and grace.
But not for me, not those years.
I was just mad. It was like a punch in the face; haha, she carried a child, you didn't. You lose. You are a failure, empty, barren and in pain.
I don't share this as my story for any other reason than this:
As you sit in your pews this holiday season, look around you. Someone in your pew may be me: a person that is in pain, lost empty and feeling alone. Feeling like everyone around them is happy and celebrating, and they are the only one in this club. They want their membership revoked, and now.
They are counting they days in 14 day increments, just hoping for their miracle, only to be turned down, their membership renewed on a rotating 28 day cycle.
And it hurts to be reminded of it in the one place that should be comforting. The reality is that church isn't always that comforting place when you are in pain.
So, look down your pew this Sunday. Who is there? Really look: has someone suffered a loss this year? Is someone sitting alone? Is there a couple that just seems....off, detached, sad?
Say hi. "I'm sorry for your loss" is the best comment you can give (and then be quiet and listen). To the childless couple, just ask what their plans are for the holiday...is family coming in? Are they travelling? Just start the conversation and then really listen to the conversation. If they are fine, you'll know. If they aren't, you might open the door to something deeper. That has happened to me a lot over the past years: a simple hi, how are you, paying attention, and I know. I've met friends this way, friends going through infertile times that hasn't talked to anyone, but by opening the door, we've both been blessed by the relationship.
So this holiday season, Celebrate! Be amazed by the miracle of birth and renewal and the grace that is offered. I know I am.
But also slow down. Pay attention. Look. Listen. Be aware that not all are feeling the joy of the season.
Some have been given membership in a group of which they never wanted to be a part of.
Today I made huge strides towards making the "living room" into the "dining room-library". Yes, I'm still not really sure what to call it. I do know that we have all used this space so much more since moving the table in there, so it has been a great change.
It was this......
...and is now this:
And today, in between working my day job and taking care of a sick child (and doing the things you do when you are home), I also could not take a single straight picture!
I needed to get this part of the rooms done now since this is where the Christmas tree goes! Let the decorating being!
I'm using today as the literal "resting on the 7th day" version and keeping my feet up since we got home from church. Whew, I'm tired! Yesterday I did my first ever craft show. I wanted to see what it was like and just have the experience.
There were definite pros and definite cons.
Cons? I'm grateful that this is not a main source of income for me. It really is a hobby that I enjoy and if I can offset some of the costs, it's good. These craft shows are hard work! We have gone to many as a purchaser, and I never really thought about what goes into them. The obvious is the time and cost invested into making the items for sale. What is not as obvious is the time and energy that it takes to actually set up your booth and BE at the craft show. People...this is hard work! Of course this is the week that my husband's back goes out and he is fairly incapacitated, so he wasn't able to help with the heavy lifting. I carried in three tables and four bags of items (including a hammer and steel block which are very heavy) and six hours later carried them all back out, home, and put it all away. This is exhausting and pure physical labor. Pros:
My son helped me and hung out with me almost the entire time (including some setup time the night before. We had a number of hours of really good quality bonding time. He has asked if we can do this again next year. My 10 year old son wants to hang out with me at a craft fair? Win.
The entrance fee for the show helps the band from the local high school with their trip to the Big Apple next year. The kids were there to help yesterday, and are fired up for this chance.
Did I mention quality time with the boy? I also snuck in a few teaching moments about running a business (on a small side), sales, sales tax, order taking, pricing and customer service.
I met a bunch of nice people, including the other vendors and people wandering by.
So there you have it: the pro's outweigh the con's.
The next time you wander through an arts or crafts fair, think of the time and energy (and back strain!) that went into getting to that point. I'm not advocating buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff you don't need, whatever the source. I just know I will appreciate the effort and compliment the vendor on their hard work and effort just to show up!
I know I'll look at it differently from now on. Back to being an accountant....
Thank you all so much for helping me reach my 30,000 page view goal! I am there and over, and I thank you all for helping me get there!
We had 11 commenters, and I used random.org to pick a number between 1 and 11.
And the winner is....
The first commenter was Laura McGowan....a fellow Laura! Congrats Laura, and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you'd like to receive. I can't wait to make it for you!