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My Story: Compassion = Awareness

My Story-Pic

Women of Hope Christian Infertility Support Group
Bent Tree Bible Fellowship
Carrollton, Texas, 2007

Most of us in and around the infertility world know this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Prayerfully we are making a difference to those around us lending our voices to this disease of the reproductive system called infertility. And, creating awareness of its impact on our relationships, our bodies, our faith and ultimately the deep, longing places in our hearts.

Resolve, the National Infertility Association asked the question, “How are you raising awareness?”

I thought about that question and pondered what I could share. What kept stirring in me was the word  compassion. As I sat in my office clacking away at the keys on the computer I stopped for a moment and looked out the window. My gaze fell upon the picture on my credenza. It’s a teeny-tiny two-inch by two-inch photo taped to a frame.

I smiled.

It’s a small memento of where awareness began for me. It all started with a compassion, a desire to reach out to others suffering through the pain of infertility like myself. That same compassion continues today.

So, here’s a little bit of my story.

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Seeds of Giving

I love to garden. There is something about putting a seed into the ground, and returning in a few days to spot a tender green shoot. Yet before you see the beauty of the garden or taste its bountiful harvest, you must first deliberately plant a seed in the soil. A seed is a tangible thing you plant or can give away. Sometimes I msut give away what I desire most in order to reach out to others. Through my infertility, God has given me an opportunity to know Him in an unexpected way.  Now I help others understand His love, even in the disappointment and grief of infertility.

As I dealt with my own pain, I had the desire to reach out to a local Christian infertility support group. I live in a large metropolitan area of four million plus people, so I assumed there would be at least one local group within the city of Houston, but none was listed. As I continued to search, I discovered the nearest Christian-based infertility support group was more than a five-hour drive away in Carrollton, Texas, near Dallas.

When I was a young girl, my wonderful mom taught me how to sew; and when I married, my precicous mother-in-law taught me how to crochet trim around a blanket (which she learned from her ninety-year old neighbor). The two skills combined helped me create a beautiful blanket.

I remember reading about the history of women in Colonial America crafting, “piecework”. Women knitted and sewed garments for pay as a home business. So I had an idea. I composed and invitation to “Peacework” party in my home. I asked my girlfriends to gather to learn a new skill with the goal of giving to the infertility support group.

I contacted the group leader in Carrollton; she was surprised by the thought and generosity, and eagerly welcomed my coming with the blanket gifts. She even asked if I would share my infertility story.

The gathering of of women—mothers, daughter, aunts, friends — young and old alike, all fellowshipping and laughing, purposed with a common goal to make baby blankets was a desire accomplished. We had so much fun togethre. Out tow-month project stretched into six months. Finally we finished and wrapped the baby blankets in ribbon, tagged with the sentiment “Stitched with Love, Hemmed by Prayer.”

A hot August day arrived. The delivery day of the baby blankets. After church, my friend Jenn and I started out on our five-hour stretch along the Texas highway. I’m so glad she went with me. That day I was so sick. When we arrived I had no voice, yet miraculously when it was time to share my story my voice returned just to lose my voice once again on the way home. (that’s why I look so pitiful in the picture). 🙂

As I listened to the women’s stories at the meeting, I was touched beyond tears. No words truly describe how much my heart moves with compassion. As I shared my journey, I told how I wanted to reach out to them in their pain. I handed each one a blanket. The women cried as they caressed the soft flannel and read the tag. It was a priceless moment for me.

As soon as we got in the car to return home, Jenn turned to me and said, “You need to start something like this.”

I said, “Yeah, right. How would I do this, and where in the world would I do it?” But God was already at work. Within months, the wife of my pastor asked me to begin a Christian infertility support group through the women’s ministry at the church. This was something I did not seek out on my own to do. I say this humbly, I storngly feel God used the seed I planted to bring a harvest to help others with infertility with the largest church in America, Lakewood Church, pastored by Joel Osteen.

HOPE – Hearts Of Promise & Expectation for Women Christian Infertility Support group is going strong after many years. We’ve had over 6o babies born or adopted into families where women were told they were unable to conceive or there wasn’t financial provision for their adoption. It all started with HOPE, the support group, and has reached internationally through this online ministry Dancing Upon Barren Land – Spiritual Nourishment for the Infertility Road. To God be all the glory!

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.”
Pslam 126:5-6

It’s one thing to create awareness revealing statistics of infertility, the governmental polices regarding such, the option of treatments available in growing our families and the like, but it’s another to share your story. It’s another thing to turn the inward awareness of your own pain of infertility and turn it outward, with a seed of compassion. It’s the coming alongside another like yourself who’s hurting, wrapping your arm around her and saying  “I’m aware of your pain and  I feel it too.”

My friends, this is awareness.

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The content of this blog post was taken from the chapter Living Life While You Wait from the Dancing Upon Barren Land – Prayer, Scripture Reflection & Hope for Infertility book. 

Leave a comment

I love that last paragraph…it’s not about spouting out statistics – it’s about touching peoples’ lives. You have a beautiful heart, my friend.

Lesli Westfall

Thank you, Hannah!