Small Joys: Christmas Snow

snow-15.jpg

We had a dump of snow on Wednesday night — almost 10 inches. It was the first true snow, leaving branches with little white hats and threatening to fall into the tops of boots.

We just had to go out and trudge into it yesterday evening. We couldn't stop ourselves. There's magic in being the first to walk across a freshly laid blanket of snow. I highly recommend it. 

snow-10.jpg
snow-5.jpg
snow-26.jpg
snow-33.jpg
snow-24.jpg
snow-38.jpg
Anne came dancing home in the purple winter twilight across the snowy places.
— L.M. Montgomery

The Loneliest Line

Russells_12November17_-35.jpeg

Let me tell you a story about a little girl. When she was one, her mother gave her a homemade doll and she named it Amy. When she was four she had the first dream she could remember and in it she was a mom. When she was five, she claimed the closet under the stairs as a nursery and took care of a dozen dolls in some sort of super octo-mom game. In middle school, she aspired to grow up and have 10 (!) kids. As she got older, this dream obviously tempered and became a bit more realistic, but it remained constant. Someday she would be a mom, of that she was sure.

I'm sure you've figured out that that girl is me.

And this is my story to motherhood. It’s one that has felt isolating, lonely and at times hopeless. I’ve gone back and forth about whether to open up about this, but I know that if someone out there is going through the same thing we have, I would want them to know they aren’t alone. (and if I'm being honest, I wouldn't mind hearing that I'm not alone either)

This story doesn’t start with a sudden surprise or casual romantic "let's have a baby" moment. We've always been open to life, but when two people become one and then consider adding new little person, there is alot to consider. It wasn't until this year, with the business stable enough to support us and having moved closer to our families, that we felt that things were as close to “ready” as they’d ever be. We were a little scared and a little excited to see what might be in store for us. 

What was in store for us? Well, mostly countless negative pregnancy tests, long nights filled with tears and lots of doubt.

The first half of the year was fine, I mean, we were disappointed, but we also comforted ourselves with stats like “only 20% conceive in the first month, 75% in the first 6 months...” etc.

As summer turned to fall, every day someone else announced they were expecting. How lonely it is to watch others seem to effortlessly get what you pray for every night. What sort of despicable person cries in private instead of rejoicing about someone else’s happy news?

I do.

I feel guilty for overreacting when we've only tried for “x” months while other people try for years and have "real diagnosed infertility." After all, it’s not infertility until you’ve been trying for a year. We’re just two people who can’t seem to make a baby. Something that for many people happens accidentally.

As sisters, girlfriends, acquaintances, strangers announce their happy news, I tick off month after month of failure.

Failure. Failure. Failure.

It’s hard to stay hopeful every month as we wait for yet another single pink line.

That lonely line. 

People advise us “enjoy this time,” “ it’ll never be the same,” and "you're still so young." While I understand they want to help and that there really isn’t anything better that they could say, those are only small consolations.

We realize that instead of filling the coming months with a little life, we have unexpected time to plan trips and try really hard not to think about how we’d hoped to spend it instead. So here we are. We look forward to exciting adventures, enjoy our home, and love our life together, and yet still remember that last Christmas we thought we'd be in a different place by now. 

Then again, Mary probably thought she'd be in a different place when she gave birth to her child. Josef most likely didn't expect his family to get started the way it did. We make plans and imagine how things will be, only to learn that's not God's plan. 

God didn't come to fulfill our Pinterest dreams. He came to save our lives. Especially at this time of the year, we remember that. He never said He'd fulfill our expectations. He said He'd save us. And that, friends, He has done. All of my selfishness, failure, ingratitude, impatience, envy, and sin is gone. 

It is finished, done, amen. 

But even after that there is still a deep desire for a family. My heart longs for motherhood and to see Dave become a father. I remind myself that there is nothing wrong with that dream. It is good.

I am sure that God has created me with this dream and He hasn't given me this desire to torment me for He is a good God. I know this has and will teach and help me grow, but there will come a day when we will have children. We've learned that it won't happen the way we expected, but somehow, somewhere this story will contain little Russells and a set of very happy parents. 

And when we finally get to hold that little baby bear that we’ve prayed, hoped and cried for, it will be all the sweeter for the waiting.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 
— Romans 5:3-5

p.s. I feel the need to say that I only share my story and pain, and none of this is meant to judge, devalue, or critique anyone else's path or experience. I would be happy to listen to your struggle, preferably over a mug of something hot. We all have hurts, this is mine.

The Best Kind of Day

This past weekend we celebrated Dave's birthday with some classic fall fun. October birthdays have to be the best. There are just so many fun and special activities to do: orchards, bonfires, pumpkins, corn mazes, apples, etc. Any of those make such good birthday celebrations. 

Dave is a guy who prefers low-key celebrations and doesn't like a big fuss made about him. Knowing this I planned to surprise him with a few of his best friends, good food, and simple activities. We started Saturday off with a brunch and apple donut cake. There are few things as good as lingering at a table with good conversation.

One of our favorite things to do this summer has been heading out to the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. So we included our guests in this ritual. It's been so fun to see the market produce change with the seasons. This time of year, there was an abundance of late season veggies and many pumpkins.

We left with a good load of pumpkins and gourds. The sun and crisp air had us all in cheery moods. Everything became a joke and it was hard to stop smiling.

We weren't ready to go home yet after the market and made a quick decision to stop by our local orchard. It was their annual Apple Butter Day. We didn't quite know what to expect and ended up extremely happy we'd stopped by.

They had a huge cauldron of apples on a fire. We were there long enough to see the apples become mush and even helped stir the pot a bit. Someone had to constantly be stirring to keep the apples from sticking to the copper.

We finished the day with some cornhole at home and our favorite skillet pizza. It was the sort of day that had just enough activity to stay interesting and refreshing. By the end we were feeling filled up and satisfied, not exhausted. I don't think I could have planned a better time if I had tried to micromanage everything. It ended up being just right the way it was.

Happy Birthday, Dave. So glad we got to celebrate you for a whole weekend.