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

Advertisements

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.

I Forgot What I Was Going to Say

It always starts with something simple, like a band shirt. The straw that broke the camel’s back might just have been a band shirt.(photo cred phrases.org.uk)

Your day is rolling along and then suddenly someone who shall remain nameless can’t find his band shirt. So the twenty minutes you spend finding said shirt in the laundry basket of a sibling (“I looked everywhere, Mom. Everywhere.) put you twenty minutes behind.

The rest of the day.

I know I’m preaching to the parents out there, and probably especially the Mamas-we are the Keepers of the Where. We Mamas keep a running mental list of where everything our family may ever need is located, and constantly update our database when we see these things moved to new places. My conservative estimate is that I answer the “Do you know where my __________ is?” question seven bijillion times over the course of a twenty-four hour period.

I actually had a phone conversation with a kid in my house that went like this:

Nameless Kid: Do you know where my vitamins are?

Me: Go to the kitchen, open the cabinet where we keep the vitamins, and reach out your hand.

Nameless Kid: I can’t find them. All I see are some kids’ chewable vitamins.

Me: Those are yours! Take one.

Nameless Kid: But I can’t find them.

Me: Click. (dial tone)

It’s always the little things that throw off my Mama schedule: the last minute Stealth Pooper leaving me a present because he still refuses to get on the Potty Train; arriving somewhere as a family without noticing one of us wasn’t wearing pants; a forgotten four dozen cookies for a bake sale in ten minutes. There are too many moving parts in this family to try and turn this ship on a dime. 

Sometimes–and please tell me I’m not the only one–I just want to throw my hands up and say, “Find your own crap!” Followed by stomping off to take a bath where no one disturbs me for more than seven consecutive seconds to solve The Mystery of the Missing Gym Bag.

But I (usually) don’t do this. I get out my Nancy Drew notebook, start questioning the Person of Interest, and usually proceed to solve the case. Being The Keeper of the Where is no easy task. It takes up miles of space in my already over-crowded brain, scootching out important information like calling my kids their own names instead of their siblings’, remembering why I went into a room in the first place or, well, I already forgot what the last thing was because I just found a tv remote in the pantry.(photo cred some e-cards)

I wonder if God is ever like, Just reach out your hand, it’s right there. Whatever it is I think I need or have been searching for, I know I must get so wrapped up in my little schedule and all I think I need to accomplish that I miss what he has for me that is right in front of my face. It saddens me to think how many times I’ve stared blessing or opportunity or love or peace or grace right in the face and just not seen it.

Oh, how grateful I am that he doesn’t hang up on me when I can’t find what I’m looking for. But I’ve looked everywhere, Lord. I just can’t seem to find that peace that passes all understanding. I can’t see that blessing hidden in plain sight in these trials. I don’t know where I’ve put my JOY.(photo cred silhouetteonlinestore.com)

During this season of constant motion and wrapping paper and excess sugar and Christmas crazy, let me find what you would have me see, Jesus. Let me look with your heart to lend a hand or a prayer; to offer hope or a hug. Let me see the needs before me and around me, maybe within my own family. And let me experience this season through your eyes, seeing all the JOY and peace you promised so long ago with the birth of a tiny baby.

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Connect with me at www.meredithshafer.com

The Morning After

(Photo cred gillianleigh on flickr)

Today is Election Day. In the morning who knows what the landscape will look like. My hope is that no matter who wins, those of us who call ourselves lovers of Jesus will help to reconcile our country.

A large group of Americans are not going to be happy at the end of the day; I daresay most of us aren’t too excited right now anyway. But one thing remains if you say you love Jesus:

He is still risen.

He still died for all of us–Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals–and he is still risen.That is a pretty solid foundation on which to place our trust, no matter how your team does today. The President does not rule over heaven and earth; he or she will have fairly limited power as kept in check by the separation of powers (i.e., three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial) that existed since some really wise guys drew up a little document called the Constitution. 

So–Jesus lovers unite. 

Let’s focus on what’s going right, what we can do to actually help on the Morning After. I spent a good six-and-a-half minutes coming up with a few suggestions, please feel free to add to these as you see fit:

1) Pray. Maybe you think I’m crazy but what if we Jesus lovers all prayed for our country? The Bible says the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. Instead of grumping about our lack of choices in this election, I have come to the conclusion that prayer will get me farther down the road than griping, sniping, put-downs or commentary.

2) Invite someone to dinner. Is there a single mama or military family or college student that you can bless? One dinner can take the burden off those who are struggling for just a moment and make them feel human again. 

3) Invite someone to church. Sometimes people just need an invitation–who can you invite?

4) Give something away: time, talents, money, encouragement, a smile, those kids’ clothes clogging up closets. It will help you remember what it feels like to be blessed as you bless others.

5) Serve others in some capacity. Give a ride, give advice, serve a meal, take someone shopping or refill their prescription.

6) Volunteer someplace. When you see a different batch of people than the ones you normally associate with, you often get a glimpse into new or different circumstances.**

**Warning: this might make you grateful for the life you’re living.

7) Reconcile with someone. With all the hate and anger and ugliness spewed forth this year, we could all use a little more reconciliation. Do you need forgiveness? Do you need to forgive? Throw away your bumper stickers and lawn placards (they’re outdated as of tomorrow anyway), and shake hands. Cross your neighbor’s lawn or your coworkers’ cubicle and mend fences.

If we actually want America to be amazing again we’re going to have to start doing a better job of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus lovers, it’s up to us to lead the way.

No matter what tomorrow brings. 

No matter who is in the White House.

Tomorrow isn’t nearly as big of a deal if we actually believe what we say we do. God is still on the throne, which makes the Morning After only a Wednesday in November.💗❤️💗

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Connect with me at www.meredithshafer.com

Grownup Jesus

In the midst of the embarrassingly juvenile political atmosphere America has descended into, I have been looking around my world, trying to sink my teeth into something that makes sense to me.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a piece about politics. I’m just trying to anchor the beauty I have witnessed over the past couple of weeks into the strange and surreal November landscape we are collectively experiencing.

You know how if you love Jesus you’re supposed to be fishers of people? To actually tell others about God’s love? I’ve been on this extraordinary journey with my Jesus ever since the Treehouse three years ago. If you were to see me running around town with any of my four kids you would see smoke trailing behind me, not because I run fast, but because God has lit a fire under my booty to tell everyone I can about our story, how he miraculously saved us, and that he loves them. (Photo cred debsanestingplace.blogspot.com)

This is some kind of Grownup Jesus thing I’ve got going on. Before 2013, before life fell apart, I was super comfortable to let people go on about their days without talking to them about God’s great love. Why?

Honest answer: I was lukewarm.

Lukewarm is no longer comfortable for me. Which brings me to my point about something beautiful. I have had the opportunity to share our story in several ways and places over the last couple of weeks and because God can use you when you’re open and vulnerable and airing your dirty laundry, I got to see a friend of mine that I’ve been praying for for over a year invite Jesus into her life.

I told the eight year old about this Grownup Jesus situation and he just couldn’t wrap his mind around it. How could a grownup not know Jesus? And then, in typical this-kid style, he told me that was the best thing he had heard all week.

I couldn’t agree more, buddy.

I got to teach my Tell Your Story class to a fantastic group of 14 and 15 year olds. If you want to truly be encouraged despite the state of the world right this minute, go hang out with these world changers. I promise, you will feel much better about the way things are going when you see what capable hands we will be leaving our country and world. 

Sharing my story at my ladies bible study–and don’t you know my knees were knocking a little?–made me realize that it’s quite a different thing to share your filthy moldy mildew-ish laundry with complete strangers than it is to air it all in front of family.

And to top it off, today I was in and among my people–other caregivers who are just trying to navigate caring for their loved ones while still trying to do life. Maybe I should say while trying to have a life. Hoping that this caregiving season of life won’t last forever. These brave souls deserve to be saluted during National Caregiver Month-they are sacrificing much now that their loved ones  who sacrificed for our country are back home.

All of this reminds me of the beauty in this Grownup Jesus caregiving blessed life. Vulnerability leads to blessing. Exposing your wounds to the Light means the healing can continue. 

I am humbled that God would use someone like me to do his work, someone so exquisitely human in my mess that I fear he may have made a mistake in calling me to this. That he uses my human flaws and weaknesses to point people back to him just makes me weep with gratitude. Not only did he miraculously save our family, but he is bringing something beautiful out of all the pain, trauma, and drama that our family has been through these last few years.

If you have a story–and I’m pretty sure you do-would you consider letting God use it? Your story might be the absolute difference in someone else’s story. If you are willing to let him take all that junk that you pretend isn’t even yours, he can do something glorious with it.(photo cred theseprices.net)

Make a difference with your story, despite who you’re voting for or what your political affiliation is or who ends up winning this election. Seriously, someone just wake me up when it’s over–I can’t bear to look.

Give hope. 

Be vulnerable.

Tell your story.

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Connect with me at 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.

Hot Mess Monday💗

So…

Today I had the most expensive cup of coffee I’ve ever had to the tune of $5,463.81. You read that right, friends.

Let me explain.

I went to one of my fave coffee places to work. Then I ran to the grocery store to get a few important things, like diapers (no, Baby Houdini isn’t potty-trained yet) and bread and milk. You know, enough staples to last us til payday. Then my debit card was rejected.

Wha?!?

I quickly looked at our account and EVERYTHING WAS GONE!!! Son of a biscuit, we were negative and overdrawn and even our savings account was wiped smooth out.

After all of the blood drained from my face and my legs started working again I left the store and called Mr. Wonderful, who raced off to the bank to tell them we had been robbed. Robbed!!

When I gathered myself, I looked closer at my account. That’s when I realized $5,463.81 was taken out of our account for the cup of coffee I had ordered earlier. Now, this coffee is Snickerdelicious and it’s truly my fave cup of coffee in the world. But I wouldn’t pay that much for it. Even if I had that kind of cash burning a hole in my pocket.

So, long story short (I know, too late!), I spent a large portion of my Hot Mess Monday doing things like calling my bank and going to the cafe again and talking to many, so many people about how in the world we can get this resolved sooner than 3-5 days it typically takes. Because I still needed diapers and staples and gas and did I mention they took all my money? And then some?

I’m happy to report the kind people at the cafe went above and beyond, apologizing profusely and offering help and a gift certificate for my troubles. And I was pretty impressed with my bank as well-that fraud department is efficient! By the time I figured out it wasn’t fraud but a (giant) mistake, they had already blocked our account and cancelled my debit card😳

Nothing has gone as planned but we are rolling with it. Only by the grace of God is all our money already back in our account and diapers purchased. I’m no longer driving around on fumes, either. We didn’t have to wait 3-5 days, hallelujah!!

For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram (please do, I’d love to see you over there where I actually post on a daily basis lol), I’ve been doing some YouTube videos on Hot Mess Mondays. Mondays are hard for this hot mess mama, so I’m just trying to put a little encouragement out there each Monday to be sunshine for someone who may also need it. I hope you’ll stop by soon!

This has been an especially Hot Mess Monday but life is good, friends. I have a roof, healthy kids, a husband I really like, and a job. Today I have running water and enough food to last til payday. And most importantly, I have Jesus’ love.

Truthfully, if I only have Jesus, I have all I need.

Blessings, y’all!💗❤️💗​


©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi! Or visit http://www.meredithshafer.com

💗❤️💗

Purpose

I don’t believe in coincidence.

What I know, what I have seen played out in my own life time and time again, is that there is a purpose for pain. So even if you don’t like the place you find yourself right now, take heart. Take hope. Look around and know that this place, too, will be used for good. For God. Somehow, some way.  

Just because you can’t imagine how doesn’t mean God’s plan for you isn’t already set in motion. Embrace the now, watch and see what he can do- 
 (photo credit Project Inspired)

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!
#godspromises #goodfather #godsloveneverfails #seasonschange #holdon #ptsd #ptsdrecovery #ptsdawareness #neverlate #nevergiveup

I Have a Website, Friends!

I’m pretty much a cassette girl in a digital world but I somehow I still managed to get a new website! I’m so happy, there’s finally one place that links to all my other places–and you only have to remember how to spell my name! 

 (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

Ok, you could just click on this link:

www.meredithshafer.com

In preparation for the release of my second book, Mad Cow: A PTSD Story, I now have a website. 

Yeah, I’m one of the cool kids now!

😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

I don’t have a date for release yet but I’m guessing late summer/early fall. This book was hard to write and gets pretty real about our story. Most of our friends don’t even know the whole story yet, it’s just been too hard to tell.

Now that we’re in a more grounded place and lots of healing has taken place (with plenty more to come), I am telling our PTSD story and airing our dirty laundry so to speak, because I know it will do one thing: point people to Jesus.

Our pain will have a purpose. Our journey to and through PTSD will be worth it if I can tell as many people as will listen about how God miraculously saved our family. HE LITERALLY SAVED US!!! We are a miracle, and He has lit a fire under me to tell everyone I meet.

I’ve been so focused on writing and websighting that I forgot to wear actual shoes when I left the house… 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

So I have a website www.meredithshafer.com and the Mad Cow book to come and I am incredibly blessed. I am preparing for wherever God takes me. I’m excited to tell y’all just exactly how good He has been to us–

Blessings friends!

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)

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!