Who Is Your Tribe?

Who are your people? Who do you surround yourself with? Are these people lifting you up, encouraging you?

Your tribe is important. Who you spend time with, who you allow into take up space in your life is critical to where you are headed. If you have goals and dreams, you better have light-givers, encouragers, destiny-builders in your circle. There has to be someone in your world who believes in all you are capable of, someone who sees all the potential inside you.You have a choice. The people in your life will either build you up or tear you down. You can’t force them to do either; what you do have control of is who you allow in.

(photo cred Facebook.com)

Let’s choose our tribes carefully. I’m trying to surround myself with people who pray, love, and bring light into my life and into the lives of everyone around them. People who challenge me to be better, who are challenging themselves as well. I love friends who make me think deeply, laugh uncontrollably, strive greatly. I’m also trying to be that for them. 

Who is with you? 

Who is not? 

To reach your God-given destiny, you need your people to be on your team. Look around: if you’re successful are they clapping? If you fail are they offering a hand up? If the answer is no to either, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate who is in your tribe-

💗❤️💗

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

#mytribe #mypeople #support #friendship #makeorbreak #success #successbuilders #tribe #friends

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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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!

Finally!

I’m doing my happy dance friends! I finally got my manuscript for my second book, Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story, to the publisher!! I feel so free…and then I remember I still have four kids and I’m supposed to be working on my third book lol😊

I still love this life though, y’all. I feel like I am doing what I was meant to do all along and even though it’s hard and there are many weeks I get run over by my Traveling Circus, I’m so grateful to be in this place.

I have had a busy and awesome week. Date night with my handsome Mr. Wonderful- 

 (Photo cred random stranger who used my phone to take our pic at dinner!)

We took our Bigs to the #TobyMac concert–it was the best show! Capital Kings, Hollyn, Building 429, and more great bands were there. We partied like rock stars! 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

I also got to go to our first ever Writer’s Club lunch–I’m so blessed to have these ladies to hold me accountable! 

 (photo cred another random stranger who generously agreed to take our pic)

Mr. Wonderful continued being wonderful 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016💗)

And finally, I capped off the weekend by speaking at a ladies retreat. I was so blessed to be with the beautiful ladies of Lost Creek! Thank you to all of my new friends for opening your doors and hearts to me!!! 

 (photo cred Diann Rudd)  (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016-don’t ask, what happens at the retreat stays at the retreat!)

I am enjoying a bit of quiet after church while everyone is either playing outside on this gorgeous day or napping. Hope y’all have a blessed, well-spent Sunday as well!💗❤️💗

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So Late!

Happy 💗 Day–late!

We are behind on things around here as usual but make no mistake, we partied like it was 1999 on Valentine’s Day!

My Mr. Wonderful knows me so well– 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

And we think alike– 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

Good times, great memories, I’m happy to say I have gotten to celebrate with my five funny Valentine’s–I’m so grateful for each of them! Even though VDay only comes once a year be sure to celebrate and tell your loved ones how special they are as much as possible!

  (Photo cred richesforrags.tumblr.com)
©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

To the One Who Is Struggling:

Dear Friend,

I’m sorry this is all so hard. What you’re going through seems improbable on the best days and impossible on the worst. It’s hard to keep your chin up when life keeps knocking you down over and over again.

Yes, you’re bruised. Your wounds haven’t healed yet. I see your pain, feel it rolling off of you. 

Just when you think you might make it, another wave crashes over you, threatening to pull you under. You’re in over your head and relief seems as far away as the shore.

But friend, I want to tell you that even though you feel like you’re drowning right now, there are plans in the works. Plans to give you hope and a future. I can’t tell you how or when things will change. I just believe with all my heart that they will.

I believe in a good God that goes before us, stands behind us and walks beside us. You’re not sure if you believe, or you haven’t been in close contact with this God I’m talking about? That’s not a problem for him; you can’t do a thing to earn his scandalous grace.

You can have his peace in the midst of the chaos, the crazy, the pain or the grief. You can experience this peace no matter the circumstance. And it’s free.  

 (Photo cred babynameslog.com)

All you have to do is accept it.

Hang in there friend, better days are ahead, and I’m praying for God to hold you in the very palm of his hand.

Blessings,

Meredith

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

Grace Today

  (Photo cred Annevoskamp.com)

Grace has been on my mind a lot lately. My words for the year are scandalous grace, words that I’m just barely starting to grasp, much less put into practice.

I’m trying this at home with my children. They need scandalous grace from me to cover all the mistakes and missteps and bad decisions that already have been and that are to come. 

I’m also working on scandalous grace towards my soulmate, my love, my Mr. Wonderful. The fault line between lover and caregiver is ever shifting, and I’m trying to rain down wifely-ness more often than caregiver-ness, because that’s what I was first. With a spouse I’m finding that scandalous grace matters almost as much in the little, everyday moments as it does in the big earth-shattering ones.

And to the world at large: I’m going to try my best to offer scandalous grace to you as well. To the friend who has cut me out of her life, to the woman who has cut me off and driven slowly in front of me, to those who have hurt me and those who will: the world says I should get even. Take revenge. Trash your car or at the very least, you’re good name.

But I no longer live by the world’s standards. I live by the scandalous grace of the One who has loved me more in this second than I could love my whole family for my whole life plus a thousand lifetimes.

Scandalous grace is so hard. It means forgiveness, even when they don’t want or ask for it. It means showing kindness when I’d really rather throw a temper tantrum and slash their tires. It means having a strength that the world deems weak, getting past the past, moving on and letting go. 

 (Photo cred Lifehack)

Scandalous grace is also something I have to give myself: when I fail, when I don’t live up to mine or others’ expectations, when I make a bad call. Every day is a chance to practice scandalous grace on myself or someone else. Every day is the opportunity to try again, even if I missed the mark the day or hour or minute before.

Scandalous grace is very simple, but it is so hard.

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

Resumé

I was talking to a sweet friend of mine from work today. She and her family have been through some trials lately and are still firmly ensconced in The Middle. 

The Middle is the worst.

Seems The Middle isn’t just a tv show.  

(Photo credit Buzzfeed Community)
It’s the place where you can’t seem to get your bearings. The Middle is where you tend to get boxed in by your circumstances. And it seems like it takes forever to get through.
I am very familiar with The Middle.

This is usually where I lose things: joy, hope, perspective. It’s the space where I can get awfully wrapped up in what I’m seeing. What I’m feeling. 

During our conversation I began thinking about the choices we have when we’re in the dreaded Middle. How, when I have been in The Middle, I have sometimes felt like there were no choices, that I was just stuck. But it dawned on me: one choice is always present, even in The Middle.

Choosing joy. 

 (photo credit lostbumblebee.blogspot.ca)

The middle is a difficult place to do this though. Let’s be real, many of us start looking at our circumstances and feel as if this place has overstayed its welcome–that’s frustrating. When you’re ready to move on from The Middle but The Middle’s not finished with you yet.

You know, on paper my family is not only a little weird, if I look at the facts objectively, we’re not that impressive. At first glance, our family resumé is a one-pager with large font. There is a cute toddler, a strongly-opinionated four year old girl, an eight year old with some focus and behavior stuff going on, a twelve year old with an eye rolling issue, a former military guy as the husband/daddy of the house with medical records out the wazoo and an under-employed lawyer/piano teacher/mildly regionally successful author.

On paper, we’re not so hot. 

 (photo credit Mashable)

Despite this resumé, I am trying to lead the way in some of our choices. I am trying to show my kids–even in the early morning before I’m fully caffeinated–how to choose joy.

Extravagant, relentless joy.

I fail a lot. For instance, yesterday. All. Stinkin’. Day. 

 (Photo credit Pinterest)

But I remain persistent in my quest for choosing to live a joyful life no matter what the medical records say. Despite the school testing and the ADHD psychology testing. Even through upcoming potty-training and temper tantrums and slammed doors and eye rolls and financial difficulty and bad news and VA appeals and doctor appointments and parent teacher conferences.

I’m trying to put one grateful foot in front of the other and shine some hope and light into other peoples’ lives when they’re in The Middle too. 

Or in The Beginning, where their grief is so raw and fresh from loss it seems as if there is no relief. 

Or The End, where relationships have come undone and the bags are packed and the boxes are labeled.

There are always reasons to get stuck looking around at your circumstances. Believe me, I know. Stuck is a place I know well. Grief is a hole I have crawled into. Circumstance has convinced me I was finished.

But joy.

That flashy, glittery Vegas-like sensory overload of joy that I have felt in my darkest place. It was a choice. And I could choose it because I have faith in a God who just won’t quit. Working on me, loving me, taking me under his wing. 

 So no matter where you are in your chapter–The Beginning, The End or that pesky Middle, your story isn’t over yet. And if your family resumé is a one-dimensional, unimpressive one-pager at first glance like mine, take heart.

Choosing joy turns those medical records into a medical retirement, the ADHD testing into opportunities to help our son learn better, that under-employment into a way to help with finances while having the flexibility to be there for my family.   

 (Photo credit The Odyssey)

Keep working on your story. And if you choose joy along the way, well, there’s no limits to what your everyday can look like, beginning, ending, and The Middle.

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Take Care 

After being down for the count this weekend after a little surgery I had the humbling realization that I might not be Wonder Woman. 

 (photo credit etsy.com)

I might not be able to do everything for everybody all of the time. I may not be someone who can pour herself into all those around her constantly and consistently. All the time. Day after day. 

No one can.

I realized that I needed that reminder to slow down and take care of myself because I haven’t been doing very much of that lately. And it shows in my patience. And in my kindness. And in my attitude. 

 Because when all I’m doing is taking care of everyone around me at the expense of myself, everyone pays. 

So I’m going to remember to do some things for myself, even in the midst of the crazy around here. This is sort of a Bill of Rights of Self Care, if you will. 

1. I will take time for myself. Even if I don’t know how to fit it in, I will squeeze out that precious commodity of time for me. I’m worth the time, and it’s the only way I won’t crush my kids like bugs some days. 

 (photo credit skinny mom)

2. I will remember and embrace the things that made me…me. Taking time to do the things I love–like walking and being artsy and playing music and meeting girlfriends for coffee–these things bring me joy and make me feel like I am more than Mama. I love being Mama and I throw myself into it so much that I lose myself in that role sometimes. I need to do the things that remind me of who I am. 

 (photo credit craftingzuzzy.blogspot.com)

3. I will enjoy each moment as it comes. Each minute that passes is one I’ll never get back. With myself. With my kids. With my husband. Choosing to embrace all that is right now is a way of not getting too wrapped up in what’s going wrong but focusing on what’s going right. 

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer)

 
4. I will breathe. Deeply. Before I jump into things, when I get too overwhelmed, when I need a minute to gather my thoughts, I will take a deep breath. Pause. Relax. 
 (photo credit squidoo.com)

5. I will give myself a break. When it’s all falling apart, I will let myself off the hook. I will remind myself that I am a woman of faith and things are coming together and I’m doing the best I can. And when it seems to be going wrong, I’ll rely on that faith to get me through the day or hour or situation. 

 (photo credit Refinery 29)

Be sure to put yourself on the To Do List–you are important, friends, and you can’t care for your loved ones unless you first take care of yourself. 

 (photo credit someecards.com)

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!