Vulnerable 

Exposed. Unguarded. Out on a limb.

Naked.

These words don’t conjur the most positive images. But I would pose to you that this is exactly where God does his best work.

(Youversion bible app)
When we are humbled enough to accept all he has to offer, when we let him break down our walls and stop pushing him away because of our self-imposed need to present a perfect self to him, that’s when he can use us.

In our brokenness, in our frailty, in our weakness.

This video is my brave Army guy’s testimony at our church. 

This video took courage. Mr. Wonderful is the guy I’ve been writing about for some time now. My sweet, strong army guy has suffered terribly for years from PTSD, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, even drug abuse.

But. God.

God saved us so he could use our pain for his purposes: to bring light and hope and saving grace and salvation to anyone who is still in that dark and broken place. We still have hard days but we will count them all as joy, becuse we have been snatched back from death’s door.

If you are having trouble with the darkness of mental illness, depression, PTSD, anxiety or anything else that has you feeling like you just can’t go on, please reach out. We will be your people if you don’t have any. I’m also leaving the national suicide hotline numbers in this post so you can reach out. 

YOU DO NOT FIGHT ALONE!

There is still a purpose for you, so please don’t give up. There is still a plan for your life. Even good and beauty can come from pain if you allow them to be used. Let my family stand before you as living proof-

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

If you’re a veteran: 1-800-273-8255 (press 1)

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬

©Meredith Shafer 2017. Connect with us: Facebook (@meredithshaferauthor), Instagram (@mypinkchampagnelife), Twitter (@mypinkchamplife) and meredithshafer.com

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Snow Day

By 5:00 am we knew what lay in store for us-a SNOW DAY!!

When I was a kid these were the two best words in the English language. It meant alternating playing outside til your extremities were frozen with warming up by drinking hot chocolate filled to the top with teeny marshmallows. We would read books, maybe play a little Atari, and pray for more snow days. You might even dare your little brother to lick a metal object outside. (Photo cred A Christmas Story)

Now, as a mama who works from home and has been trapped, uh, enjoying her four children over the Christmas Break, is it wrong that I’m no longer as enamored with the Snow Day?

I’m just being real here, friends. Surely I’m not alone. I know for the rest of the day I’ll be seeing posts about the Pinterest Moms who are making origami dinnerware and weaving their own clothes with their kids, using their time wisely during this snow day but that’s just not me. We will be barely maintaining our grip on sanity and reality as we make our way through the Snow Day.(photo cred someecards)

Oh Snow Day, why today? The day I needed to go into my real office and handle two separate fires? The day after only one day in school so there goes the routine. The day I don’t even have teeny tiny marshmallows for cocoa and haven’t been on Pinterest in far too long.

I hear the sounds of children stirring, my only plan at this point is to let them all drink coffee and milk in their jammies and watch some cartoons til I get a better plan….(photo cred funnyminions.com)

Happy Snow Day friends, pray for me!💗

©Meredith Shafer 2017. If you want to connect with me, catch me at FacebookTwitterInstagram or http://www.meredithshafer.com.

Vacation Mode

Vacation Mode: noun. The inability to manage real life after you get back from vacation, aka, you’re surprised that no one is bringing you copious amounts of delicious food any longer and you’re shocked to be hit square in the face with things like alarm clocks and feeding kids and responsibilities.

(photo cred luvinthesun.com)

This is a real thing, friends. We’ve been back for a week now and I’m struggling to figure out where all these children are supposed to go now that school is out and how I’m supposed to do all of my jobs. Things are so out of whack at the Shafer Casa that I started typing this blog post in my car while waiting for Mr. Wonderful to emerge from the trombone repair shop (with three of the four munchkins having some sort of battle raging behind me) and I finished it a mere eighteen hours later.

What is happening?!

I can’t seem to get it together. For real, I am disorganized, disinterested and since I’ve been under the weather for 48 hours, just done. I’m about twenty minutes from a long soak in the tub followed by some binge-watching followed by absolutely nothing.

Has anyone seen my motivation? I must’ve left it around here somewhere….

Life continues to march on despite knowing full well I can’t get out of Vacation Mode. Little Sister lost her very first tooth today! This is always a big milestone since the Tooth Fairy is the second most discussed visitor right behind Santa. 

And Big Brother lined me up next to him again to see if he’s passed me in height yet. It’s like he wants to know the exact moment that it happens so he can put it on his calendar. Baby Houdini was in rare form with his sweetness on overload. Little Brother made us all laugh until milk came out of some of our noses. Mr. Wonderful took me to the gun range for a date day-these are what we call good times around here!

(Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

So maybe for a little while longer I’ll just have one foot in Vacation Mode and one foot in Real Life. Maybe I won’t get to everything on time (or even at all) but my kids will be fed and happy and I’ll make time for more date days with Mr. W. And we’ll enjoy summer and laughing and fireflies and swimming and I guess all those responsible-type things will get done around it all.

This sounds like a plan, friends-

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!💗❤️💗

So Over It

I’m done adulting today, thanks. It’s crazy when you’re looking around for an adult to handle things and you realize, you are the adult. So now I’m looking for an adultier adult–anyone out there? Hellooooooo! 

 (photo cred Ann’s Entitled Life)

In the last twelve hours we’ve had more mechanical malfeasance than I usually like to tackle in a year: the air conditioner is apparently leaking the freon stuff that makes the air cold. Cha-CHING!

Then someone–the culprit is thus far unaprrehended but I’m hot on the trail–flushed something down our upstairs toilet causing it to be broken. Since it’s the kids’ bathroom it had to be fixed or they would be all up in my business.

And my trusty 2003 Suburban started leaking green stuff. So one water pump and radiator later I’m done. Peace out suckas. This whole adult-pants-wearing thing is for the birds. Or a real adult. 

 (photo cred etsy)

Honestly I thought we were done but then we got home to batten down the hatches for the possible tornadoes to come–I have our boogie bag all ready–and our garage door won’t close. 

WHAT IS GOING ON IN MY UNIVERSE???

Do you ever have those days? Tell me you do because right now I’m ready to find a blankie and just curl up and let someone else handle all this. 

But then I remember I have some things going for me: a husband who loves and adores me, healthy kids, a roof over my head (unless it blows away later–a distinct possibility according to the weather I’ve been watching) and I remember I’m blessed. I’m not where I was a couple of years ago. I have friends and family. 

Friends, I’m rich. I don’t need anything else besides healthy kids and a man who would anything for me.

God is good, all the time and I know He has plans for me that nothing–even a few unexpected invonveniences–can stop from coming to fruition.

Blessings, and to all my Okie friends, please stay safe today y’all!💗❤️💗

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Celebrations

I’m procrasrinating my editing deadline (finalized manuscript due one week from today people!) and it feels so right. I’m just not in an editing sort of place right now, I have no focus after the craziness of this week and I think I just need a mental break.

So I’m giving myself permission to do just that.

In the meantime I’m celebrating. This week has been full of some really great family moments at our house, and when we have those, we hold on with both hands because we know how elusive things going well can be at times. I’m always a silver lining kid of gal so I’m usually celebrating anything I can get my hands on. This week, however, has held some really special moments.

My kids enjoyed one other’s company. Sure, they fight like cats and dogs but at their cores, they are all best friends. It’s hard to see in the picture but Baby Houdini is riding Big Brother like a horse and Little Brother and Little Sis are making sure he doesn’t fall off. Charlie the Service Dog is also keeping a watchful eye-

(Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

Little Sister did amazing at the dentist, which isn’t news to you but to our family, when we have another kid who has such bad sensory issues the dentist is torture, this was a good day. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

This week was also Big Brother’s Gotcha Day-the day he was born into our family through adoption twelve years ago. This pic is the moment he was placed into my arms for the first time. It still makes me teary-eyed!😭

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

And finally, the kid who has the most struggles in school got a scholastic award for reading! He won the Thunder Reading Challenge for reading the most minutes at his school-well over 700. He told me he was going to win and he did! He read to anyone who would listen, the dog, his siblings. I even saw him reading to one of the neighbor kids… 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

This has been a week where living in the Shafer household has felt more like thriving instead of surviving. That’s a goooooood feeling, one we don’t take lightly around here. Thanks for celebrating with us, it brings me great joy to look around and see that we do indeed have so much to celebrate!

Blessings, friends!💗❤️💗

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The Pause

I’m finding that, besides my prayers for my children, The Pause is one of the best tools in my parenting arsenal. That moment before I speak is critical–will praise or criticism escape my lips? Will it undermine everything I’ve done that day? Will I speak scolding words or good ideas of how we can all do better?

When life is chaotic (aka, every minute of the day) The Pause makes all the difference for me.   

(If you can’t tell Baby Houdini is swinging from the handle in the car while we wait at the bus stop😮.) It’s so much better when I don’t I go off half-cocked before I’ve had a chance to accurately assess the situation. Often I tend to make up this parenting thing as I go. This can make me fun and spontaneous, like when we ruin our dinner with ice cream and skip cleaning to run away to the park. This can also be tricky in the crazy of four kids, each clamoring for the thing they need right this minute.  This is an accurate representation of how our picture-taking usually goes. Easter 2016 pic–pretty much the best we could do that day. 

Sometimes I forget The Pause and words come out sharper than I intend or my frustrations with another situation, a different kid or even just a rough PTSD day spill out. No one is a winner when that happens.  A decade plus into this parenting gig and I’m just now figuring out how valuable The Pause is, so I speak life into my children. So I encourage and grow these little humans into big humans that love Jesus, each other and try their best to leave this world better off than they found it. 

I don’t care what my kids end up doing for a living. I think it goes without saying that I prefer them to do a job that’s legal and doesn’t involve poles or dancing or something that requires a death wish. Other than that, I just want them to be productive citizens who know how to be kind and work hard. I want them to learn from my mistakes in parenting. 

I hope they will learn earlier in parenting than I did that taking a deep breath before answering the one million questions allotted per child per day is helpful. That counting to three before disciplining a child is imperative. That stopping to figure out what really went on before the he said/she said will help accurately diagnose both the problem and the solution. 

I am no expert at The Pause. I am still learning how to embrace it and use it in each situation with each kid. But I am a mama who doesn’t give up. My children are going to do great things in their lives and it is up to me to nourish those seeds of greatness with my prayers. And before I speak into them all the good and blessing and love and instruction that I am supposed to, I will give them–and myself–the benefit of The Pause. 

I’m happy to say I’m a work in progress-  (photo cred Good Morning Quote)

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hey! 

Slacker

Ack! My goal is to write on here several times a week but alas, life keeps getting in the way. I’m actually doing tons of writing…just not here.

I have my Mad Cow book at the publisher’s and I’m just waiting to hear what needs to be edited next. And I have my next two projects that I’m writing, which I’m super excited about. And I’ve even started doing little writings on social media.

But I haven’t written here.

My poor neglected blog, you’re run by a slacker blogger.

I’m not really a slacker anywhere else in my life: 4 kids does not a slacker mama make. We have had so many extra thigs going on I just haven’t figured out how to squeeze in this writing.

How do y’all do it? Let me in on any hints or tips–I’m dying over here!!

And have a blessed day while you’re at it!  

 (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

891

We went to the VA today.  

 (Photo cred beachbrights.blogspot.com)

That’s when we found out our doc moved. Across town.

Then the doctor said a cardio referral for Mr. Wonderful will take up to two months unless we run here and call there and double back, turn around, sit down.

All this to say I can’t stop worrying about Mr. Wonderful just yet. He keeps having the seizure-like episodes and then had some actual heart pains and the neuro guy said he needs to see a cardiologist immediately.

Which will be two months from now if we play within the system. Frustration and honestly, straight up fear washed over me. 

And then. 

 (photo cred allieseidel.com)

I remembered the grace God has offered me. For free. How my good Father has already provided the answer I seek, the resting place I crave. The timing we need. I recall the scandalous grace and the way He has already saved my family.

You see, I have had an extra 891 days with my husband because of God’s scandalous grace. I have had 891 extra days of smiles and hugs and good mornings and prayers and dinner times and memories since that day in 2013 when I found Mr. Wonderful in the kids’ treehouse writing goodbye notes. 

Every day since has been a gift.

Even the hard days.

Even the days where we fight or fuss or learn something new about PTSD or slug it out with the VA. Even when we have more month than money or more kids than time or more pantry than food.

Every day–all 891 of them–have been a blessing from my Father in heaven, a record of his unfailing, unrelenting, scandalous grace.

And I am grateful. 

 (photo cred the WoW Style)

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Gifts and Blessings

I’m always amazed when people take time out of their days to bless me. Whether it’s a friend sending a text at exactly the right time or an email checking on me, lunch or meeting for coffee, it always seems to come at the right time. 

 (photo cred the WoW style)

Giving these gifts–big or small–requires a sacrifice of some sort. Maybe time or effort or just looking beyond one’s self to see who needs to be blessed. In a world of selfish behavior and looking out for #1, I find this gift-giving so refreshing. To be on either the giving or recieving end is a blessing.

Every time someone reaches out and does something spectacularly selfless, I not only fill up with squishy gooeyness on the inside, but it spurs me on to do the same. To pass it on and pay it forward. This week I recieved a very personal gift, and it required a sacrifice of time and lots of talent. My friend Linda gave me a portrait of my family that she drew. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

This wasn’t just something she whipped up. It took time away from her busy schedule as a teacher, mama and grandma. She had to study the original, outline us, color us in. Every detail was tended to, from eye color to the cover of my book– 

 (original-photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

So I ask: who can you bless today? Who needs your time or talents or kind words or smile? Who needs some encouragement? I dare say there are several people in your world that could use some of that stuff. Encouragement and hope are powerful seeds to plant inside someone–take a moment today to look around and see who you can bless. 

And if your are in need yourself, see what happens when you encourage someone else. It’s amazing how it will come back to you–

 (photo cred brown-eyed-whimsy.tumblr.com)

Now go, be blessed and be a blessing!

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Angels Among Us

I’m thinking a lot about sacrifice today. I get to live with my Hero–Mr. Wonderful served his country with no thought to cost.  (Photo cred Flickr.com)
There are heroes among us who have given everything, but you can’t know their sacrifices because they are humbly walking around, angel wings hidden under civilian clothes.   (Photo cred MilitaryAvenue.com)
Being a military wife makes me think about sacrifice sometimes, and I’m grateful for this perspective. I’m especially thankful to live in a free country that my very own husband helped provide for so that I can openly talk about the One who paid the ultimate price in sacrifice. Living in America allows me to talk about my faith openly and I do not take this freedom lightly. I thank God for all who have made this possible, may God bless and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace-

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

#ptsd #ptsdawareness #ptsdrecovery #military #militarywithptsd #army #navy #airforce #marines #coastguard #nationalguard #service #freedom #freedomisntfree #🇺🇸