Tom Cruise Running

Friday was a rough day at our house.

Let me be clear: it wasn’t the kind of rough day we’ve had before. We’ve had the kind of days that shifted our very foundation before and this wasn’t it. It’s easier to maintain a certain perspective when you have had those kind of days where you weren’t sure if everyone was still going to be on this side of the dirt when the day was over.

This was your average rough day and it was all mine. Lately I haven’t been writing much of anything because that would mean I’d have to write true things. And my truth these days is that I’ve discovered that I don’t know how to rest

I have been running at such a hot operational tempo (being married to a military guy tends to rub off on a person’s vernacular) for so long now, my gears have gotten stuck in overdrive. I only know two speeds at which to plow through my life: fast and the even faster Tom Cruise run.(photo cred The 10- Minute Ramble)

I’m just going to be frank right here and say that this discovery about myself sucks. The meltdown of epic proportions at our house Friday was similar in scope to what you might see a tired, cranky, overwhelmed hangry three year old have in the middle of the Target aisle that’s suddenly populated with other parents whose children are actually behaving. And it was all mine as well. 

I was the one who was having worry-related stomach aches for the third day in a row. I was the one losing sleep and not stopping anywhere on my journey. I was the one who had the full plate and the fuller burden for all the people who are relying on me. And without pausing, without rest, I was running on empty.

My husband, Mr. Wonderful, is like a giant St. Bernard in these situations. He’s born to rescue people. Before he dove into the situation though, he prayed for us. For me. For all the crazy glue that was slowly coming undone in all those places I had so quickly run by the past few years.

As we talked I began to realize that because so many of our family’s burdens have been on my shoulders the last few years, I’ve gotten really bad at asking for help. And along the way I have forgotten how to slow down, how to really give myself permission to let things go for a little while and rest.

I used to be the Nap Queen. This was my actual nickname in college. My roommates were amazed at the chaos and crazy I could manage to sleep through and that I would just crash whenever I needed to.

Fast forward a few years (ok, obviously more than a few but don’t tell my kids-they think I’m 28. I’m rolling with it.)–

I. Can’t. Rest. 

I’m talking physically, but more importantly, mentally. I can’t stop Tom Cruise running through my mind or my To Do List. My caffeine consumption is enough to single-handedly keep Columbia in business. In fact, what we spend on caffeine is probably nearing the gross domestic product of several small countries.

I have managed my juggling act for quite some time. But then I dropped a ball. And another and another until now our floor is littered with them.

Friday felt like I was in the middle of one of those giant ball pits that are in kids’ play places. You know, the ones you thought were the best time ever as a kid but now that you think of it as a grownup it kind of makes you throw up just a little bit in your mouth?(photo cred weheartit.com)

Mr. Wonderful did something that allowed me to stop drowning in the ball pit of my own making. He wrote down each worry I have been juggling–including the ones on the floor. Then he told me just for the weekend, he was going to take them and work on whichever of them he could help with. And I was not to do anything about them. In fact, he took that notebook so I couldn’t even look at them.

The act of putting everything on paper and then physically giving them to someone else for awhile sounds really simple. But don’t mistake simple for easy. Many times this weekend I have wanted to look at that book, cross things off the list, take them all back and start worrying about them but since Mr. Wonderful is way to big for me to wrestle the notebook away from, I couldn’t.

I have rested and relaxed. I got sleep. I finally did with those worries what I should have done long ago–I gave them away to my Savior. Though Mr. Wonderful was my earthly guard over that notebook full of my anxieties and what ifs, Jesus was the one I really entrusted it all with. I know better, but sometimes it takes a Mr. Wonderful-sized reminder to actually do better before we give it away.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So if you see me Tom Cruise running, you have permission to tell me I need to slow down-

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2017. Click here for my new book, Mad Cow: A PTSD Love Story or connect with me on Instagram or Twitter.

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

Second Chances

Three years ago this very day life as I knew it ended.

All of the hopes and dreams I had for my family came crashing down in our kids’ treehouse, of all places. It was in that treehouse, lovingly constructed from scraps of both lumber and time by Mr. Wonderful, that I found my soul mate right before he was about to take his own life.

You see, life had gotten so bad for him that suicide seemed like the only way to make his pain go away. 

The drinking hadn’t done it. 

The prescriptions and doctors on base hadn’t done it. 

His family hadn’t done it.

He soldiered on so well that I didn’t realize how badly he was hurting until it was almost too late. Minutes were the difference in our case-the difference between our story being about second chances and it being about what life is like as a military widow raising four kids all by myself. The difference between my kids knowing their dad and wondering what he was like.(photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

When I found Mr. Wonderful with a half drunk bottle of vodka writing his goodbye notes, all I knew to do was beg God to save him. To save us. 

I hadn’t even seen the loaded shotgun yet.

I just knew from climbing my very pregnant belly up to that second-story treehouse and feeling the sadness and pain radiate off of him that we were fighting for time.

That treehouse was meant to be our end. Instead, somehow God used it to start something brand new for us, to give us a chance at a second chance. Miraculously our ending was re-written at the last possible minute. We got a second act by the grace of God. 

It’s surely a miracle that the very pregnant girl was able to get the drunk, suicidal 6’6″ 330 pound soldier who was more than twice her size out of the treehouse, onto solid ground and into treatment.

It’s surely a miracle that Mr. Wonderful was sent to a treatment for a few months that would help save his life, restore his mind, begin his sobriety.

It’s surely a miracle that we have had 1,095 bonus days, second chances, extra time.

And though it hasn’t been an easy road over the last three years, I am grateful for every one of those 1,095 days. I count myself blessed despite the PTSD diagnoses, the caregiving, the crushing blows, the doctor’s appointments, the setbacks, the fights with the VA, and the new normal we find ourselves in. Even the worst days in the last three years have been a blessing, because they have been the second chance I couldn’t imagine from my viewpoint in that treehouse.

September is National Suicide Prevention month. Twenty-two military a day take their lives. If more if us speak up, tell the story with no shame, maybe we can break this stigma against mental illness and invisible wounds. Maybe we can convince hurting people to ask for help. Maybe we can reach out to those around us.


Ask someone if they’re ok. Care about people. Walk through this world with more kindness and less judgment. 

You could be the difference in someone’s story-


💗❤️💗

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016.

For more info about our story, to check about speaking engagements or to find me on social media, connect with me at www.meredithshafer.com.

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!

Grateful

 (Photo cred erincondren.com) 

Gratitude is such an overlooked tool in our survival kit. It doesn’t get enough credit and slides under the radar sometimes. 

Gratitude is a game-changer when life is going fantastically wrong. It’s a heart-mender, a push-giver, a sorrow-ender. Without it, life remains dull and, well, lifeless. 

But throw some gratitude into a day or a season that just isn’t working and see what happens. The season may not change right away but your perspective will- 

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016

#gratitude #grateful #gratefulheart #gamechanger #godisgood #changeyourperspective

Generations

Over spring break we took our Traveling Circus to see my grandma. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer)

This lady is so special. She gets me. She’s the one in my family who understands my artsy fartsy nature and how that means sometimes we color outside the lines because she’s one of us. 

She’s an artist as well. She was a writer and creator of newsletters, newspapers and hand-written letters from back in the day when you used typewriters and correction white out. She didn’t have fancy computer programs to whip up her small town paper–she and a friend produced it themselves and copied it on a thing called a mimeograph. She showed me copies and it was purple ink, people!

She discovered she was also an artist when she was about the age you start drawing social security, and since she had to make up for lost time, she painted probably close to a thousand paintings since then. Several hang proudly in my home, and there are a couple scattered in fairly prestigious places.

Grandma Ginger is funny, smart, witty, and understands that an artist needs a little mess around her to function. She’s not afraid of making mistakes–when I would go paint with her and her girlfriends occasionally at her Tuesday morning Pal-ettes club she would tell me, “Don’t worry, if you don’t like it we’ll just paint over it and start again.”

She taught me about relationships, about telling the truth kindly. She showed me that holding your hands with your spouse after sixty years of marriage was still cool, that it’s never too late to do what you love. She taught me that being artsy and passionate and different was ok. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

I love this lady to pieces and I am so grateful that even my kids–two generations down the line–will know her and recieve the benefits of her knowledge. She has seen large parts of two centuries and the changes within, from horse and buggy to the Great Depression to a world war. 

I so want to be like Grandma Ginger when I grow up–

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

Becoming

It’s ok to be a work in progress.  (photo cred bravegirlsclub.com)
You don’t have to have it all together or know exactly what you’re supposed to do with each situation life presents you. If you can go about this life with a grateful heart, all the while allowing our good Father to do his work deep in your soul, you’re headed somewhere, friend.

Be still. And be still becoming who God made you to be– ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016
#becoming #cocooning #workinprogress #gratefulheart

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)

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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 #🇺🇸

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!💗❤️💗

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!