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-


┬ęCopyright 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

Intentional Neglect

I heard this phrase today and I think that’s what I’ve been doing the last few days. I’ve been so crazed with kids and ER visits and speaking engagements that I had to let something go. And social media was it.

I didn’t Tweet, I didn’t blog, I barely looked at Facebook. It made me remember with a little fondness what it was like before we had all these entanglements. And as much as I love writing in this blog, I kind of miss those days.

I did non-technology things. I spent time with my kids. On purpose. Like, really observed and participated instead of just trying to get from one moment to the next because my To Do List was so long.

I spent time writing and speaking. I had the privilege of speaking at a single mom’s conference hosted by an awesome organization in my area called the Bethel Foundation. I was so honored and blessed to be there and it was a truly incredible conference to be part of.

And finally, I spent time doing a little something for myself. In the heat of summer I love wearing cute dresses. Not only did I find some, I bought them. For myself! And I don’t feel anything but great about it.

Finally I got the “playhouse” (this is what my daughter calls my closet) painted. My space is looking so good, can’t wait to finish putting it together!

And by intentionally neglecting some areas, I was able to focus on other areas that nourished me. Refreshed me. Made me remember how grateful I should be for all of my blessings.

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Artsy Fartsy

My mom would hate the title of this post-she thinks fart is the F word. As I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog (in her defense she read my book and is also one busy lady who doesn’t do technology-she’s currently teaching French at the college level and taking German and taking Russian. All in the same semester.) I’m probably safe with the title.

I have always been Arsty Fartsy. Interested in any genre that involved creativity or making something from nothing or disciplines involving glitter, I am at home in the arts. This is where I live. It’s where I feel alive.

The arts bring me joy. And when Mama’s happy, everyone’s happy. My Mr. Wonderful has realized this and being the smart man he is, he has decided to give me (drumroll please) MY OWN SPACE! 

Now with four kids and a dog this is a fairly tall order. So he is carving out a spot that will be all my own under the stairs-yes, I’m going to have a Harry Potter closet!!!


I’m so excited to have a tiny space that I can decorate with girly things and then shut the door to all the noise and children and write or dream or think or just be.

We’ve started cleaning it out (you were scared by the picture above, weren’t you?) and Mr. Wonderful already built me a platform for laying about. He’s also building me a drop down desk for writing. I’m going to cover the mini-platform bed with frilly pillows and lovely trinkets and then ban my children from ever entering. Not because I don’t love them. But because I do.

I am a better Mama when I have a tiny bit of time to myself. And if I’m going to continue the writing part of being Artsy Fartsy, I need a space at home to do that in. A place untouched by the chaos and clutter of the rest of my house. 


Oh, this is happening! Since this is one of my Mother’s Day gifts (I sure hope Mr. Wonderful is reading this so he knows I’m expecting something to open and brunch on Mother’s Day. If you talk to him, let him know for me, would ya?) it’ll be finished very soon.

Can’t wait to show you my little grownup playhouse under the stairs. I’m thinking I should name it. Any suggestions?

(1st Photo credit

Other photo credits Meredith Shafer, ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015