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.

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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.

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.

Kindergarten

Our baby girl starts kindergarten today.

I’m sure she’s going to be great. It’s me and her dad I’m worried about. Every first that my kids face, every moment and milestone just make this wet stuff squish out of my eyes. 

How can she be old enough for kindergarten?

When I found out I was pregnant with this little one, I was already a mom to the second power. But I had never been pregnant before–my oldest were adopted and I was just as surprised as everyone else that my baby maker was in good working condition. I had just gotten remarried in July of that year and in August I was taking a pregnancy test.

And then another. And another. And another…

The day I found out I bought this teeny pair of baby shoes. For some reason Mr. Wonderful came home for lunch that day and I wish you could have seen the look in his face when I gave him those shoes! In a space of two seconds he went from confused (why am I holding a tiny pair of shoes?!) to surprised (you’ve got to be kidding me!!) to elated (my baby’s having a baby!!).

That was a great two seconds.💗

This baby girl was born into our family of boys and suddenly there was a little person who wanted to be like me. Dress like me. Fix her hair like me. Oh, she’s still her daddy’s daughter–super serious and stubborn and highly suspicious of strangers–but even with all these boys in the house she’s still my girl. My kid who wants to wear my high heels and play with my purses and “borrow” (read: completely bogart as I find it up in her room) my lipstick.All I can see as we’ve been getting her ready for school this week is every first that is to come: her first crush, her first dance, her first broken heart and date and driver’s test and going away to college and meeting the love of her life and walking down the aisle to start married life and babies of her own. I see all of these hopes and dreams within her cautious little mind, and that’s why this first day of kindergarten is about to wring me out.

(photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

Of course I’ll miss having her here with me. So will her littlest brother. And her dad. But more than that I know this is start of the big pulling away, the forming of her own thoughts and opinions and life. This is when I have to start letting go, one piece at a time when all I really want to do is hold her tighter, protect her from all the gross stuff and bad people she will eventually encounter, and put her in my bubble of hugs and kisses and dancing around the kitchen (usually just me while she watches with eyebrows raised) and trying on new lipsticks. 

Mr. Wonderful and I are letting this precious little girl out of our sight all day, five days a week. We are putting our faith in a big God to go with her, take care of her and strengthen us.

I’m not sure I can take this day, but like other mamas and daddies across the globe, I’m going to suck up (most of) my tears, I’m going to send off my baby girl with a smile and a wave, and I’m going to console myself with breakfast at our favorite little joint and the fact that I still have one more kid at home with me.

Don’t even get me started on that one.

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. I would love to connect with you on Instagram and Twitter, swing by and say hi!

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!💗❤️💗

Schooooool’s Out. For. Summer!

Today is it. 

This is all she wrote, the last day, and by 3:40 this afternoon we’ll have another school year in the books. My kids are delirious and frankly, some of us were done with school weeks ago. Mostly me, but whatever.

(How picture taking really goes at our house. Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)
I’m vowing that this summer is going to be spectacular in its ordinariness. I’m not signing my kids up for origami or making your own goat cheese or finding the artist within. They won’t be learning to build robots or going to space camp.

Nah. We decided long ago that our kids were going to have to figure out their own fun, use their imaginations, go outside and stay there for awhile. There won’t be a lot of technology. The kids will continue to do their chores that help our household run and teach responsibility at the same time. Even the two year old has jobs here. He unloads the clean silverware from the dishwasher (after someone has removed the scary, injury-inducing knives, of course). 

Sometimes he is a go-getter and unloads silverware even before we’ve had a chance to run the dishwasher. I often find our silverware bunched in a pile in the drawer because he can’t see what he’s doing but that’s ok. He’s learning how to be part of our community.

We really only have two rules around here: work hard and be kind. Everything falls under those two rules and it keeps things simple in a fairly complicated house. With the Bigs going to their dad’s house every other week for summer visitation and the Littles just trying to figure out how to wear pants, sometimes it’s crazy up in here. Throw in at least three therapies or doctor’s appointments per week, various work obligations, my new baby speaking and writing career that I’m trying to get off the ground and it can get to be just too much.

So.

Work hard.

Be kind.

Simple rules that everyone can figure out.  What we will be doing this summer? Showing Jesus’ love to everyone we meet, spending copious amounts of time outdoors, running amok in the neighborhood, learning to ride bikes and be potty trained, figuring out how to build forts from blankets and eating sno cones and swimming til our fingers are wrinkly raisins. We’ll be going to church and serving our neighbors and redoing furniture. We will probably hang out with family a lot, take little road trips, make memories that involve juicy moments savored and retold, the memories enhanced and cemented with every telling.

(photo cred zsazsabellagio.blogspot.com)

We will be the Pinterest-fail family this summer. We will relax from the frenetic pace of the school year; unplug, rejoice, enjoy. We are going to have a summer fit for the early 1980s and I can’t wait-

(Photo cred smosh.com)

Blessings, friends!💗❤️💗

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

Coffee Quotes

   
   (all photos from sweatpantsandcoffee.com)
Have a blessed and caffeinated day 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!

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

At 6:30 tonight I will mark the 5th anniversary of the birth of my baby girl. I was already a mom to two boys that I had adopted so having a baby was a completely different experience.

After laboring all day and my blood pressure going sky high, we made the tough decision to have an emergency c-section. I’m so happy we did because I finally got to meet my little red-headed baby daughter! 

 (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

Happy birthday my sweet and sassy sidekick! I love you and I know you are going to do great things💗❤️💗 (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

©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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