Who Is Your Tribe?

Who are your people? Who do you surround yourself with? Are these people lifting you up, encouraging you?

Your tribe is important. Who you spend time with, who you allow into take up space in your life is critical to where you are headed. If you have goals and dreams, you better have light-givers, encouragers, destiny-builders in your circle. There has to be someone in your world who believes in all you are capable of, someone who sees all the potential inside you.You have a choice. The people in your life will either build you up or tear you down. You can’t force them to do either; what you do have control of is who you allow in.

(photo cred Facebook.com)

Let’s choose our tribes carefully. I’m trying to surround myself with people who pray, love, and bring light into my life and into the lives of everyone around them. People who challenge me to be better, who are challenging themselves as well. I love friends who make me think deeply, laugh uncontrollably, strive greatly. I’m also trying to be that for them. 

Who is with you? 

Who is not? 

To reach your God-given destiny, you need your people to be on your team. Look around: if you’re successful are they clapping? If you fail are they offering a hand up? If the answer is no to either, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate who is in your tribe-

­čĺŚÔŁĄ´ŞĆ­čĺŚ

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

#mytribe #mypeople #support #friendship #makeorbreak #success #successbuilders #tribe #friends

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Three Days

From here…  (Photo cred redimidospelagraca.blogspot.com)
It is finished… 

Good Friday: the day scandalous grace gave it all for all of us. The dark day for followers of Jesus who, at that moment, had no idea that the Son’s light would be shining down on all of them so soon.

But then–

 (photo cred hecallsmelovely.tumblr.com)

Could it be? Could the tomb really be empty?

On that third day when all but the tiniest sliver of hope was lost, love came rushing in, death was defeated in the final round and victory–sweet victory–was placed into our hands by the scarred hands of the Savior.

It’s time to celebrate the miracle, the gift and the sacrifice.

A lot can happen in three days–

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

Health Care

I have to be careful that I don’t go on too big of a rant here–no one’s got time for that!

We’re currently at the VA to get an MRI on Mr. Wonderful’s shoulder. Even though I’ve been working since November to get him scheduled with a neurologist for the seizure-like episodes he’s been having. We aren’t doing an MRI on his brain but his shoulder.

This makes no sense to me at all. The shoulder is not the emergency in our house. A 6’6″, 330 pound man falling on the ground while I, the smaller human in this equation, try to break his fall–this feels like more of an emergency in my book. We’re now up to daily episodes, sometimes multiple times per day. But we gotta get that shoulder looked at.

I made multiple calls to the VAChoice program, which is supposed to help if your appointment is more than 45 days out, which ours was back in late December/early January. I’ve made calls to neurologists. I know he is one veteran in the grand scheme but he’s my vet and I can’t break his fall very well. You should see us–we’re hilarious when this happens.

It looks like we are going to end up keeping our appointment with the VA neurologist in a few weeks.

I already want a second opinion. 

I’m getting all wrapped around the axle on something I can’t fix or change or speed up. I want Mr. Wonderful to see a civilian neurologist last month. I want his crazy scary seizure thingys to stop. I want to be at home on a Tuesday night with my family instead of waiting in a lonely hallway by myself for a late-scheduled MRI that ran even later. 

  (Photo cred Meredith Shafer 2016)

But what I really want is for God’s plan, his destiny for my family, to come to fruition. I want him to use us–even in the VA–to spread light and hope. God knows they need it here.

I only want what he wants for us. So I will unwind. I’m relaxing. I’m taking a little me-time right here in the VA. And we’ll go get some fried chicken and have a little Date Night on our way back to our family. And I will trust and believe that God works all things for our good. Even if it’s not my time or my plan or my way.

I have enough faith to trust that he’s got this. 

 (photo credit Meredith Shafer 2016)

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Anchoring

This weekend was a good one, despite the fact that school starts tomorrow and no one is back in our routine. Pretty sure tomorrow’s going to be more interesting than usual… 

 (photo cred Meet the Best You)

But this weekend I have had renewal! I have been writing and more importantly, making time for writing. I put it back in my schedule, on my radar. It feels good to be doing that again.

I got to go to church with my family–which is a huge deal. A year ago my husband couldn’t leave the house some days because of PTSD and one of its most delightful side effects: agoraphobia. Every Sunday that we all get to leave the house together and go to church as a family is special to me. This is part of how I keep my sanity and refill my tank, so to speak.

This is a big deal.

And my boys are back from their dad’s, I got to be artsy fartsy and make some curtains, and I found a new coffee shop to do some writing in.

Even though we’re all out of sorts about getting back to the grind tomorrow and I about lost my mind when I saw someone had decorated my wall with marker in multiple areas, this was a good weekend. Even when I ate too much candy in anticipation of the twenty-one day fast from sugar I started today. Even despite looking around my disaster of a house and deciding that instead of cleaning it I was going to binge-watch some Netflix in the Oasis with Mr. Wonderful.

 It’s not a perfect life I’m living. It’s messy and crazed and about the only thing that’s consistent is chaos. But when I stop and look around at the scandalous grace I am afforded every day, I can’t help but offer some to those around me. Which makes life feel a lot better than I’m sure we look on paper.  (photo cred instapray.com)

This weekend anchored me. Grounded me and got me thinking about how I want 2016 to go for us. And though it might go completely differently than I hope or plan for, I am anchoring myself to my faith and my family. I’m being grateful for what’s going right. I’m breathing and hoping and being ridiculously optimistic. 

I’m savoring this season of joy, for however long I get it. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2015)

Sweet (20)16 here we go!

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Resum├ę

I was talking to a sweet friend of mine from work today. She and her family have been through some trials lately and are still firmly ensconced in The Middle. 

The Middle is the worst.

Seems The Middle isn’t just a tv show.  

(Photo credit Buzzfeed Community)
It’s the place where you can’t seem to get your bearings. The Middle is where you tend to get boxed in by your circumstances. And it seems like it takes forever to get through.
I am very familiar with The Middle.

This is usually where I lose things: joy, hope, perspective. It’s the space where I can get awfully wrapped up in what I’m seeing. What I’m feeling. 

During our conversation I began thinking about the choices we have when we’re in the dreaded Middle. How, when I have been in The Middle, I have sometimes felt like there were no choices, that I was just stuck. But it dawned on me: one choice is always present, even in The Middle.

Choosing joy. 

 (photo credit lostbumblebee.blogspot.ca)

The middle is a difficult place to do this though. Let’s be real, many of us start looking at our circumstances and feel as if this place has overstayed its welcome–that’s frustrating. When you’re ready to move on from The Middle but The Middle’s not finished with you yet.

You know, on paper my family is not only a little weird, if I look at the facts objectively, we’re not that impressive. At first glance, our family resum├ę is a one-pager with large font. There is a cute toddler, a strongly-opinionated four year old girl, an eight year old with some focus and behavior stuff going on, a twelve year old with an eye rolling issue, a former military guy as the husband/daddy of the house with medical records out the wazoo and an under-employed lawyer/piano teacher/mildly regionally successful author.

On paper, we’re not so hot. 

 (photo credit Mashable)

Despite this resum├ę, I am trying to lead the way in some of our choices. I am trying to show my kids–even in the early morning before I’m fully caffeinated–how to choose joy.

Extravagant, relentless joy.

I fail a lot. For instance, yesterday. All. Stinkin’. Day. 

 (Photo credit Pinterest)

But I remain persistent in my quest for choosing to live a joyful life no matter what the medical records say. Despite the school testing and the ADHD psychology testing. Even through upcoming potty-training and temper tantrums and slammed doors and eye rolls and financial difficulty and bad news and VA appeals and doctor appointments and parent teacher conferences.

I’m trying to put one grateful foot in front of the other and shine some hope and light into other peoples’ lives when they’re in The Middle too. 

Or in The Beginning, where their grief is so raw and fresh from loss it seems as if there is no relief. 

Or The End, where relationships have come undone and the bags are packed and the boxes are labeled.

There are always reasons to get stuck looking around at your circumstances. Believe me, I know. Stuck is a place I know well. Grief is a hole I have crawled into. Circumstance has convinced me I was finished.

But joy.

That flashy, glittery Vegas-like sensory overload of joy that I have felt in my darkest place. It was a choice. And I could choose it because I have faith in a God who just won’t quit. Working on me, loving me, taking me under his wing. 

 So no matter where you are in your chapter–The Beginning, The End or that pesky Middle, your story isn’t over yet. And if your family resum├ę is a one-dimensional, unimpressive one-pager at first glance like mine, take heart.

Choosing joy turns those medical records into a medical retirement, the ADHD testing into opportunities to help our son learn better, that under-employment into a way to help with finances while having the flexibility to be there for my family.   

 (Photo credit The Odyssey)

Keep working on your story. And if you choose joy along the way, well, there’s no limits to what your everyday can look like, beginning, ending, and The Middle.

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Breathe, Trust, Let Go

  (Photo credit Hub Pages)

How much do you trust our Creator? With your relationships? Your finances? Your children, your health, your job? 

Are you trying to control it all? Maybe today is the day you let go of some things and place them in the hands of the One who made them all.

Breathe. Trust. Let go.

#trust #faith #breathe

┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer

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Going Under

***Update: I didn’t get this posted before I went in yesterday. Everything worked out well, just enjoying some rest at home today. Blessings!***

I’m about to check into the surgery center for a minor procedure to help with some pain I’ve been having. If you don’t know what endometriosis is, it can cause a lot of pain for your innards.

I still wish I was doing something else today. For some reason I’m a little trepidatious. I’ve done this before so I don’t know what the problem is. I think maybe it’s because if Mama is out of commission for a bit things may be rough on everyone around here.

Would appreciate prayers, good thoughts, positivity, anything else you want to send my way. Hope y’all have a Fab Friday and I’ll see you on the flip side! 

 (photo credit George Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

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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

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Dry Seasons

We’ve been in a dry season for awhile around here. It’s been hard to keep going, to keep believing that the rains will come.

But we have held on, trusting that the dry season was only temporary. Because nothing lasts forever except God’s promises.
Are you in a dry season right now too? Hold on, I think it’s beginning to rain–
#bible #Godspromises #seasons #blessings #thistooshallpass

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer2015

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5 Things I Wish You Knew About Life with PTSD

Going through a staggering amount of paperwork and learning curves and medical interventions has kept us pretty busy over the last two years. At one crucial point, I was just trying to keep my soldier alive. And since I was pretty new to this game, I didn’t know how to talk about it for awhile.

But now that we’re a little farther down the road, there are some truths I’d like to share with you about what our life actually looks like on a day to day basis. Since we are no longer in survival mode, I feel that now is a good time to pass on a few things I have learned in this journey. It’s by no means an exhaustive list and since I can only speak about this experience through the lens of a caregiver, know there’s much, much more to this story. 

 But for now, here are a few things I wish that everyone knew about us:

1. We are a family dealing with mental illness so we probably don’t always fit into your idea of what a family looks like. Or sounds like. Or behaves like. So please don’t judge us by our bad days or our good days. Neither is entirely accurate.

On our best days we appear relatively normal, albeit a little louder and more colorful than most. We have some introverts, extroverts, flamboyant ones, shy kids and some ADHD and panic attacks sprinkled throughout. 

On our worst days we have tears, meltdowns and struggles that you probably can’t understand. Please know that we are truly doing our best but if we react to a situation in a bizarre or inappropriate (to you) way, your judgment is going to be less than helpful. Stares or comments other than “Is there anything I can do to help?” aren’t encouraged.

Sometimes we are struggling so hard to keep it together as a family that we can’t be bothered with your idea of decorum. We are simply trying to survive. 

 2. One of the worst things you can do is negate our journey by saying something insensitive and demeaning. For instance, someone actually said the words, “He looks ok to me.” He might. In that moment. But what that person didn’t realize was that Mr. Wonderful hadn’t been out of our house for two weeks. And had fought through three panic attacks to get out the door. 

Sometimes he might forget that he already had this conversation because his short term memory is shot. Or he might fly into a rage at those insensitive words because. You. Just. Don’t. Know.

Don’t judge our struggle based on what you can observe in a moment. 

3. Our idea of a good day and a bad day is radically different than yours. A good day for us is no meltdowns, few panic attacks, and a decent wake up where Mr. Wonderful is able to get his bearings relatively early in the day. Maybe he feels good enough to get a workout, a shower and a hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment in. This is a good, good day.

A bad day is, well, it’s not something I can put into words yet. I’m still working on it and I may have to get back to you on this one.

4. You might perceive us as flaky if we’ve had to bail out on you. Last minute. Again. We have the best of intentions. We want to be at your birthday party or graduation or celebration. Sometimes we just can’t. 

Sometimes we’re actually on our way out the door but then Mr. Wonderful can’t leave the house. Or we start the day well but it progresses in the wrong direction. Or I know Mr. Wonderful will be ok without me but I’m just not up to getting the whole traveling circus out the door by myself. To friends and family, please understand our absence doesn’t mean we don’t love and honor you–we just may not be able to love and honor you in person.

5. We are doing the best we can. From the outside that may not look good enough. And sometimes it’s not. We try super hard. Every day. But even hard work can’t always get us where we need to be. That’s why one of the things we tell ourselves over and over is to give ourselves a break. And share some grace. And we try to be grateful for every good moment, every silver lining. 

Because we’ve walked the edge between life and death, we now want to celebrate every good thing we can. Life  isn’t a guarantee, and we aren’t promised tomorrow. These are now things we know for sure. 

We no longer take life for granted. Or good days. Or breathing or remembering or functioning. Crazy may be our new normal but we embrace our crazy. We embrace our new normal. And we embrace each other. 

The most important thing I can tell you about life with PTSD is that without our faith and each other we would have nothing. But with it, we still have everything we need. 

 (Photo credits Meredith Shafer) ┬ęCopyright Meredith Shafer 2015

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