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-


­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

┬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 www.meredithshafer.com.

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 things­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­č匠(Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 8

This guy.  Two years ago today this little sweetheart was born into our chaos. In the midst of our worst times this little guy was sent to bless our mess, to be light in our dark and to begin the great turnaround God had in store for our family.

2013 was the year that we wished never happened. It was the year things all fell apart before we got the PTSD/TBI diagnosis. Before Mr. Wonderful was sent away for two and a half months of treatment so we could begin the beginning of the treatment process, the medical retirement, the the healing it would take to put our family back together.

This baby, I’m convinced, was sent in the middle of Mr. Wonderful’s treatment to show us that there was a great comeback on the horizon for our family. In the middle of the hardest, most awful year we’ve ever had came one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever experienced. This baby renewed our hope, our sense of purpose, our love, and our faith.

That’s a lot for a baby.

But every day that I get to spend with this guy encourages me, brings me joy, makes me laugh and catch my breath in awe at how blessed I am. 

 My ÔŁĄ´ŞĆis so full of gratitude for God’s timing, his love, and his blessings wrapped up in this bundle of energy and joy. Happy Birthday sweet boy! 

 #happybirthday #twoyearold #toddlerlife #Godspromises #blessings #gratitude #30DaysofThankfulness

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

National Adoption Awareness Month

It’s November! That means there are some birthdays at my house, it’s time to be Thankful with Thanksgiving right around the corner, and it’s National Adoption a Awareness Month!

I loooooooove talking about adoption. I have two adopted kiddos and two biological kids and I can honestly say I forget about adoption a lot–these kids were just meant to be mine. I love them all so much and even though I pull my hair out at times, having a houseful of kids is still one of the best things I’ve ever done.

My oldest, who is now twelve (let the eye rolling begin), is from South Korea. This was an international adoption heavy on paperwork, time, finances, scrutiny, and scariness–I was in law school when I found out it wasn’t going to take the two to three years we thought. So I became a first time mom halfway through school and instead of life getting harder it just got better.

Oh, it was still crazy. But becoming a mom before I became a lawyer really helped keep my priorities straight. The little things didn’t matter as much anymore and I just didn’t have time to stress about everything. 

 My almost eight year old (how can this be?!) was adopted domestically. He is African-American, a flirt, and a ball of energy. All the time. This adoption was also special because for the first time I met one of my children’s birth moms. His birth mom actually placed him in my arms for the first time, and as her teary-eyed Mama and Grandma watched (let’s be real, we were all teary-eyed) we all bonded over this gorgeous baby. 

 Adoption is important. It is necessary. You may not think it’s for you and that’s ok. The world is reaching a near crisis level with orphans and even if fostering/adopting isn’t your calling, maybe you could donate time or money or supplies or support to those working in this area across the world. Maybe you could pray for all the babies and kids who still need someone to tell them they are loved and important and special. And for the birth moms who are making difficult choices out of a great love for their children.

This is an everyone issue. 

Every child deserves no less than a safe place, a warm bed, and a grownup who cares about them. Throughout the month of November I would just ask that you consider what you can do to help these children and their futures. 

You won’t regret it.

(Photo credit Adoption Love) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

To All the Waiting Mamas

I hesitated to write anything around Mother’s Day, but after reading some lovely ladies’ blogs at My Perfect Breakdown and Waiting for Baby Bird (y’all should go check out their very poignant posts), I really felt it pressed in my heart to add to the discussion.

There are many roads to motherhood. I’m convinced there’s no one right way. I’m also certain that the path to and through motherhood is often full of pain and waiting.

And it’s the Mamas who are in the midst of the pain and waiting that I wanted to talk to.

You are important.

I know a lot of Mamas who are currently waiting. Waiting to hear from the adoption agency. Waiting to see if their fourth round of IVF has worked. Waiting to see if the vasectomy reversal is an option. Waiting to hear when their son in another country will get to come home.

I know Mamas waiting for test results, waiting for a phase to pass, waiting to hear from their kids’ fathers, waiting to hear from the adoptive parents, waiting to hear from their kids.

We Mamas, in all our forms, have the really tough job of standing in the gap for our children, often before they’re children: when our bodies fail us, when the adoption falls through, when the baby is born sick or isn’t born at all.

When the child isn’t home yet or we can’t be with them. When life happens and we just want to know why but probably never will.

This waiting we do as Mamas isn’t a wait the rest of the world understands because it is a waiting of the heart.

This is the hardest kind of waiting because you have to go all in.

100%.

Which pretty much guarantees that we will get our hearts broken somehow. At some point. In some way, probably unforeseeable to us at the time.

And yet we do it anyway.

This takes bravery on our parts. And faith that something good will eventually come out of the situation somehow. We wait even when we don’t know what else to do.

Mother’s Day has been a source of pain for me at various times throughout my grownup years. Even when I wanted to celebrate my own Mama sometimes it was difficult when I was in a place of waiting. 

Motherhood has not come to me easily.

And I wondered if I even counted as a Mama before I had a baby in my arms. Did it matter that I had a Mama’s heart with no baby yet? Could my waiting and my pain make any difference?

I believe it does.

Many become Mamas in their hearts long before their child is present. And on a day such as Mother’s Day when we’re all celebrating Mamas everywhere, this might cause pain for those Mamas whose hearts are full but arms are empty.

So to all the Mamas who are waiting-waiting for a phonecall or paperwork or their fertile days or a letter or email or hug or travel plans or to see their own Mamas again someday-you’re not alone.

I’m praying for all the Mamas in my life who are waiting for something. I’m praying for strength for you, for courage, expediency, protection and hope, and for all you need at this point in your journey.

Blessings to you, Waiting Mama, and Happy Mother’s Day-

  
(Photo credit brightboldbeautiful.com) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Birthday Girl

To my darling girl,

I could never have known how you would change my life when we met four short years ago. Even though you were my third baby, you were my first girl and my first pregnancy.

I will never forget the first moments of your arrival: scary, wonderful, messy, loud, then quiet as I kissed your tiny red-headed baby face. You are a precious daughter, and I am so glad I got chosen to be your Mama.
I prayed for you, you know. Even though I was terrified of being a mom to a girl. I had adopted your amazing brothers already so I knew what to do with boys. I loved being a mom of boys. Would I do ok as a mom of a little girl?

This meant I would be the role model. The one you would look to to show you how a woman is supposed to be. The one who would demonstrate, in good ways and probably bad, how to love others, be a mom, be a wife. Be strong when life is crashing down around you but tender when the dust settles.

I’m supposed to teach you how to say you’re sorry and how to stand up for yourself. How to put on makeup but feel good about who you are at your core. How to take care of yourself so you can care for others. I’ll be the woman you measure yourself by, and yet I have so much more growing to do myself.

I’m still learning how to do all these things, sweet girl. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t always get it right. I’m doing my best, and if you only learn one thing from me I hope it’s that you have a heart for serving Jesus. The rest of it is great, but everything else takes a backseat to how you live this life with love.

Four years and so many more wonders and heartaches and love and hugs and smiles and surprises and tears and laughter to come, little girl. Hang on, because it’s going to be one heck of a ride.

I love you,

Mama

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015)