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Our second fruitful year!

On 21st January 2023, The Fruitful Hollow turned 2, and this piece today is our 100th blog post! If you’d like to read about how this ministry came about, click here for last year’s anniversary blog post. Once again, we have asked our team to reflect on the past year and where life has taken them. We are an international team of women with different backgrounds, careers, homes, hobbies and interests but we have one thing in common: we have all experienced infertility and have a desire to foster fruitfulness in our lives as we carry this cross, while inspiring you to do the same. We hope these reflections will help you get to know us a little better and give you an insight into who these ladies are who have been brought together by the Holy Spirit to serve you. Grab yourself something lovely to eat or drink as you read through this celebratory blog post!

Lauren Allen (Director)

These past 365 days have been filled with wonder, hope, growth and bliss. I am still teaching choir to 6th-8th grade students at a public junior high and enjoying life with my wonderful spouse, Sean. We became parents in May 2022 when we met and brought home our 5 year-old son, Peyton. Life as we knew it drastically changed as we navigated the unique challenges that come with older adoption. Parenthood has formed us both into new versions of ourselves. It was not easy and was vastly different to what I had expected it would be. Through the midst of the childless portion of our marriage, several people told me that God would redeem it all. He certainly has but not in the way I had initially envisioned. I tell people that those years “weathered” me for the hard. They changed me into a person who can parent my son the way he needs to be parented (a very different vision to what I had always dreamed of). We are entering 2023 as “active” hopeful-adoptive parents once again. I never dreamed we would be on an adoption journey this soon after our first, but we are following the call we both feel in our hearts. 2022 will be a year I look back on and ponder for many many years to come. There’s so much to unpack in the story that He has written.

My 2022 Fruitful Hollow highlights

Wow. It’s hard to believe that we have had the honor of serving through The Fruitful Hollow for two years. These 730 days of fruitfulness have been filled with prayer, wonder, peace, excitement and endurance. It has been an absolute privilege and honor to be able to walk along with you as you carry the cross of infertility. 2022 was an exciting one, with the launching of our reflections on the Hallow App and incredible blog submissions from new and returning writers. We have now published 100 blog posts, created 10 resources, and have continued meeting and mentoring women through the incredible Sisters of Hannah Mentorship program. We started 2022 with the intention to “dive deeper” into the community that The Fruitful Hollow has gathered, and we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know more about you through our interactions on social media. The top 10 countries that viewed our website in 2022 were USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Singapore, India, Philippines, Ireland, Switzerland and Mexico! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being an integral part of this community. We know that infertility can be particularly lonely, but this community has become such a light in the darkness. Thank you for sharing your lives with us. We look forward to journeying onward with you in our third trip around the sun!

Katie S. (Managing Editor and Social Media Coordinator)

I won’t beat about the bush: 2022 was hard. It left me feeling weary and was without a doubt the hardest year of my life and not one I’ll look back on with unbridled fondness. Infertility took center stage more than ever before, as I went through more intensive treatments, had 3 back-to-back surgeries and had to make some big sacrifices. In becoming the weakest and most needy that I’ve ever been, I learnt a lot about myself, what my body and mind are capable of and who my support network is. My husband and I faced big obstacles in all areas of our life but made sure that our marriage remained strong and united in the face of each struggle - not something I ever take for granted. Throughout 2022, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, we sang this song, which we had heard our favorite band perform live at the end of 2021. We sang it on our nervous arrival at the hospital for each surgery and as we left the hospital parking lot triumphantly for the final time; we played it in the background during hormone injections at home; and we danced around energetically to it when clinging to any piece of hopeful news. Returning to these lyrics in the hardest of times and imagining singing them again one brighter day in the future has given us hope and momentum on our journey:

Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears, while we all sup sorrow with the poor.

There's a song that will linger forever in our ears; oh, hard times come again no more.

'Tis the song, the sigh of the weary: hard times, hard times, come again no more.

Many days you have lingered around my cabin door; oh, hard times come again no more.

This year saw the births and baptisms of our ninth and tenth godchildren (one gorgeous girlie and one handsome little man!) and subsequently lots of precious, perfect cuddles! After a stressful season of house-hunting and selling our apartment, we are excited to be buying a little house we love and moving closer to family in 2023, and we look forward to finding a new community in the town where I grew up. We trust that this next chapter will be a fruitful one for our family.

My 2022 Fruitful Hollow highlights

Two years on from the birth of this ministry, I continue to be incredibly grateful for The Fruitful Hollow, the community that it brings together and the exciting direction the Holy Spirit is taking us in. Pouring my time and energy into this ministry is so rewarding and fulfilling. Connecting with some of you personally on Instagram has been a delight, so please don’t hesitate to drop us a message if you ever need a listening ear. I especially enjoyed working on the following projects this year:

Chelsea Voboril (Theological Editor)

This past year was quite dizzying! From a sudden move to career shifts (for both my husband and myself in just a few short months!) to another endometriosis surgery, the Lord was always ready to meet me in the hard. Nothing was ever easier per se, but the Lord was always eager to accompany me and be with me in my mess. I was also given more opportunities to spiritually nurture others through being a godmother for the fourth time, teaching in our parish confirmation classes and getting involved at a local Catholic high school as a student mentor. Life threw some major curveballs our way in 2022, and I’m hoping we can turn them all into home runs this year!

My 2022 Fruitful Hollow highlights

Once more I was humbled to be involved in The Fruitful Hollow and watch hearts unfold through such touching posts and reflections. Several favorites have already been mentioned by others, a few more for me included:

Ellen H. (Resource Coordinator)

For me, 2022 was a year of tying up loose ends, restarting old rhythms and realizing where there was room to grow in the year to come. In the midst of all that happened personally in 2022, I was so pleased to be able to continue contributing to the Fruitful Hollow ministry and grow with this amazing group of women. I can’t believe we just finished our second year! The Lord never ceases to amaze me, as I often discovered that blog posts I had scribbled in my journal the previous year suddenly became the exact message I needed to hear from God when it came time to publish them many months later. Looking ahead, 2023 has a lot of unanswered questions but my husband and I are focusing on doing the next right thing and making steady progress as we ask God to illuminate the next steps for us, one at a time.

My 2022 Fruitful Hollow highlights

2022 was an exciting year to work on some collaborative projects. My favorites have been contributing to the Fruitful Hollow’s Infertility Stations of the Cross and getting to write the spiritual warfare meditations used in our collaboration with the Hallow app. Wow, never would have I imagined getting to participate in such an amazing opportunity! My highlights from this past year include:

Kristin Dievendorf (Sisters of Hannah Coordinator)

I continue to be amazed by the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit in this ministry. I continue to learn things about myself as a person and my need for grace, perseverance and compassion in my life. I have been stretched and blessed by taking on a new full-time job while coordinating the growing need for mentorship through our ministry. My Sisters of Hannah team continues to drive and inspire me to give all that I am to this important ministry, to my family and my work. While the balance is difficult, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Each meeting, each rosary, each opportunity to connect with our mentors and mentees is a true grace. I am so grateful for The Sisters of Hannah and The Fruitful Hollow and cannot wait to see what incredible things God has in store for 2023. Remember, God sees you, He believes in you, He is working within you at this very moment.

My 2022 Fruitful Hollow highlights

This year has been absolutely amazing. Our team has added four more members since 2021 and we are in the process of training our latest mentors. Some highlights from the past year include:

  • Reaching mentees across 5 continents

  • Accompanying mentees toward healing, peace, affirmation, miracle births and adoptions

  • Monthly rosaries with mentees and members of this community

  • Visio divina sessions with members of this community

  • Collaborating with the Hallow app

Serenity Quesnelle (Outreach Coordinator)

[Sensitive topic: this testimony talks about pregnancy and birth.]

Recently I was interviewed for the “I am here” campaign, a eucharistic revival project, and I remember saying something along the lines of: “infertility - the pain of it - wrote the best story I’ll ever have the privilege of sharing”. For me, 2022 was a year of so much grace, change and surrender. In March my husband and I welcomed our son Zachariah into the world. Motherhood can be so hard but is so grace-filled. After crossing the threshold into motherhood it’s been so important to me to also hold on to the time we spent waiting. I don’t ever want it to be lost on me: the pain, heartache and pure agony that was felt. I truly believe our waiting has forced us to be that much more thankful and in awe of the little life God has loaned us to care for and raise in the faith.

I love that I’m able to share The Fruitful Hollow with people on a regular basis, from parishioners at my parish to the nurse at my dermatologist office. Witnessing the fruitfulness of this ministry and seeing our resources meeting people right where they are is just another testament to the way the Holy Spirit has carried The Fruitful Hollow. Sister, I hope 2023 is a year of simple joy. I pray the Holy Spirit is able to fill in those cracks of heartache and that you’re able to bear fruitfulness into your life, now, wherever you are!

My 2022 Fruitful Hollow highlights

While I wasn’t as active as I would have liked in The Fruitful Hollow this year, I was able to share in its fruitfulness. I was asked to speak at a local infertility retreat (you can read my talk here) where I spoke to women carrying the cross of infertility and shared Fruitful Hollow resources with them. It was so beautiful to see them being used by you and witness the impact they have on women around the globe. In the summer, my husband Andrew and I had the privilege of recording the Fruitful Hollow meditations for the Hallow app. What a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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