Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Social Networking and the Death of Socialization (pun intended)

I have never been good at making friends. Well, maybe that's not true...I have been less good at keeping them. Even into my adult life I have been labeled "not a people person" and had it noted on performance reviews (otherwise known as "what you're doing wrong at work) that I need improvement in my "interpersonal interactions" (what does that really mean? I mean, could you be more vague?).

This week, my husband had neck surgery. I spent 5 hours in a hospital waiting room. Alone.

I have over 160 friends on Facebook and at least a couple dozen followers on Instagram. And then there are the 4 of you out there who have actually read this blog. Despite these legions of fans and followers and friends....I was alone. Don't get me wrong, I am not here to complain or chastise anyone reading this. I have made my proverbial bed and I must lie in it. There is some amount of truth to that "does not play well with others" stigma that has been assigned to me all my life. But if you take the time to dig a little deeper, my difficulties in making and keeping lasting relationships (outside of my family) may not be for the reasons you think. See, I am painfully shy and self-concious. I know, hard to believe (insert sarcasm here). I suffer from depression and anxiety (and no, this is not a post related to those illnesses due to the recent, tragic loss of Robin Williams). I am terribly uncomfortable in crowds and almost paralyzed by fear when it comes to trying new things or going to unfamiliar places, especially alone. On a side note-my husband has been my savior in this regard over the past few years, practically forcing me out of the house on occasion; otherwise I would stay in these 4 walls 24/7/365 if I could get away with it.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I have learned a valuable lesson this week. People need people. Not social media "people", not posts on Facebook, not "flipagrams" chronicling their awesome (if not somewhat manufactured) lives. People need real live people to sit with them and pray with them. To just be there to talk to them and keep their minds from constantly going to the worst case scenario while sitting in a hospital waiting room while the love of their life is undergoing major surgery.

I want to end this on a positive note, though. While I didn't have anyone with me at the hospital, and that was difficult (more difficult than I thought it would be), several of our real live friends stepped up and helped us with childcare so that I could be free to sit and wait and fret (that's Southern for "worry") and pray at the hospital during this time. Sometimes, we need to put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and get out the door and go see people...the flesh and blood kind (just not right now, because reading this is soooo much more important!).

Faithfully yours (all 4 of you),
Meri

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Even on the Hard Days (?)

I love a good love story. And I love Downton Abbey.  So naturally I was completely devastated by the death of Matthew Crawley at the end of season 3.  Devastated to the point that I hid in bed and ate copious amounts of ice cream for at least a week and vowed to NEVER watch Downton again.

Okay, that may or may not be and exaggeration and OF COURSE I watched season 4.


I love this quote from the series "I would never be happy with anyone else as long as you walked the earth" (Lady Mary of Matthew).  I feel the same way about my husband and I was thinking about the kind of love we have today-20 years into our relationship (and, no, I was not a child-bride, we have been married 13 years, but together 20).

So often we hear, and I have even said myself, "I love you always, even on the bad days" or "through the tough times".  But the more I think about it, I wouldn't want to go through the "bad days" or "tough times" with anyone else.  I love my husband MORE in these times.  I couldn't make it through these times without him and I wouldn't want to try.

Marriage is not about tolerating our spouse during tough times and enjoying them during the good times.  True love and marriage is about clinging to one another and supporting each other during the struggles.

He is my rock and my life and I love him not in spite of our bad days but because of them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reality Check

I was mad.  Angry.  For days.  I haven't slept well because I was so angry.  And I didn't tell him about it.  I said "nothing" every time he asked what was wrong.  I don't even know that I know what I was angry about, it was just a "feeling" I had that things weren't right between us and it ticked me off.  I was angry because I thought he was angry....maybe.

I was about to let loose all of this anger.  Tell him how I really felt and lay out all of the "perceived injustice" of the past few days.  I was going to let him have it.

Then I got the news.  My friend's husband had passed away after battling cancer for 5 years.  My friend from church youth group who is not so much older than me and has a little boy about the age of my youngest who is 6.  My friend who not so long ago said "in sickness and in health" and "until death do us part" probably thinking (like I did, and still do for the most part) that they had years, decades even, to spend together.  But reality was not so kind.

All of a sudden all of my "perceived injustice" showed it's face for what it really is....selfishness.  All of my anger evaporated in an instant and I found myself praying for peace for my friend and her young son as well as forgiveness and healing for my angry spirit.

The thought of losing my husband, the man I was recently so angry with that I could not sleep, takes my breath away.  I cannot imagine the pain of this type of loss.

So I will not be letting the angry words fly today.  I will not be "telling him how it is" or "laying him out".  I will be loving him.  I will be thanking God for every moment with him...even the ones that make me angry.

And I will be praying for my friend.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Family First

This weekend my family and I spent time reconnecting with my cousins (okay....they are more like 4th or 5th cousins, but who's counting?!) at our family farm in South Hill, VA.  Among the green pastures, Virginia pines, and country lanes floated the laughter of a new generation of cousins getting to know each other and playing together as if they had known each other all their lives.

A long table was set for 15 and covered with a good down-home meal of grilled BBQ chicken, macaroni & cheese, grilled veggies, and calico beans.  We celebrated a birthday (Happy 12th Birthday, Cody!) and talked about the past and the wonderful memories we have of this place.

My grandfather (Papa Bishop), and then my mother spent many happy summers at Flat Rock Farm.  Now, this magical place will be where my children-the 4th generation of "Bishops"-will hopefully spend many happy weekends and summers making wonderful life-long memories and friendships.

Family is the most important thing we have on this earth (outside of a personal relationship with Christ) and I am blessed to be a part of this loving, amazing group of people.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Her Name Was Sophie

In early October 2010, my husband and I were overjoyed to find we were pregnant with our 4th child.  We knew that each of our children was a blessing from God and a life entrusted to our care by Him.

2 days before Thanksgiving, I lost our baby, 12 weeks into the pregnancy.  

It was a traumatic miscarriage involving multiple hospital visits and severe physical and emotional pain.

Ever since that time, I have struggled with grief and loss.  Losing a child by miscarriage is a terrible limbo to exist in.  

"Well, it's not like losing a child, right?  I mean it's not as if you actually gave birth."-WRONG!  The pain and trauma of the miscarriage was EXACTLY like giving birth (I know...done it 3 times before).  

The moment I saw that sweet baby on the ultrasound, she was mine (yes, I am aware it was too early to determine gender, but just humor me here).  She had a future...a nursery that was going to be beautiful and peaceful with a rocking chair to rock her to sleep, a brother and sisters who would play with her and teach her all kinds of wonderful things, a first step, first tooth, first day of school, graduation, marriage and children of her own.  For 12 wonderful weeks, this child lived and grew inside my womb and inside my heart.

And then she was gone.

We didn't talk about it much.  I was pregnant, then I was not.  As if I had a cold, and then I did not.  I went back to being a "mother of 3", not a "mother of 4".

Even now-almost 4 years later, I struggle with grief that at times makes it hard to breathe.  My heart aches so bad it feels as if it will break in two sometimes.  There will always be a hole in my heart and my life that this child would have filled.

So I have stopped calling her "the child", "the baby", "baby #4".  Her name was Sophie.  She was real.  She was alive and for a very brief time, she was ours.