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.

Advertisements

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

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.

Grateful

 (Photo cred erincondren.com) 

Gratitude is such an overlooked tool in our survival kit. It doesn’t get enough credit and slides under the radar sometimes. 

Gratitude is a game-changer when life is going fantastically wrong. It’s a heart-mender, a push-giver, a sorrow-ender. Without it, life remains dull and, well, lifeless. 

But throw some gratitude into a day or a season that just isn’t working and see what happens. The season may not change right away but your perspective will- 

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016

#gratitude #grateful #gratefulheart #gamechanger #godisgood #changeyourperspective

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!

Angels Among Us

I’m thinking a lot about sacrifice today. I get to live with my Hero–Mr. Wonderful served his country with no thought to cost.  (Photo cred Flickr.com)
There are heroes among us who have given everything, but you can’t know their sacrifices because they are humbly walking around, angel wings hidden under civilian clothes.   (Photo cred MilitaryAvenue.com)
Being a military wife makes me think about sacrifice sometimes, and I’m grateful for this perspective. I’m especially thankful to live in a free country that my very own husband helped provide for so that I can openly talk about the One who paid the ultimate price in sacrifice. Living in America allows me to talk about my faith openly and I do not take this freedom lightly. I thank God for all who have made this possible, may God bless and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and give you peace-

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

#ptsd #ptsdawareness #ptsdrecovery #military #militarywithptsd #army #navy #airforce #marines #coastguard #nationalguard #service #freedom #freedomisntfree #🇺🇸

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)

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Joy in All Things

Sounds impossible, right? Finding joy no matter where you are, what circumstances life throws at you, or how things appear. 

 (Photo cred Walls Need Love)

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and since I tend to think out loud or in paper, I find myself writing about it too. I want to be so joyful if you were to wring me out there would just be puddles of excess joy drenching everyone around me.  

 (Photo cred etsy.com)

So far, today has been an epic fail.

But despite how things look, how My emotions are tangled, what my morning looked like, I am going to continue to work towards choosing joy.

It’s only 8:29 as I’m typing this and already the chaos has threatened to engulf me. Nothing major, just lots of the same old. 

I’m so tired of the same old!

We had some very important papers that we finally had signed, copied, filled out and had prepared to mail. What did I find torn all to bits this morning? The envelope they were sealed up in. 

Basically the baby ate our homework. 

The eight year old started out rough and Little Sister had a couple of meltdowns over socks and underwear (Really? Socks and underwear?! Whyyyyyyyyyyyy??). Big Brother was his usual steady self, thank goodness. And of course since Wednesday’s are the day the eight year old and I leave the house before the butt crack of dawn for occupational therapy, Mr. Wonderful was having a tough go of it. Which is hard on everyone–I just want to stay home and make sure he starts heading in the right direction but I can’t.

So I’m giving myself a break, because all I can do is all I can do. I’ve already given rest to God and he’s just going to have to deal with the crazy. And in going to count it all as joy.

Because I am deeply loved.

I have healthy kids.

I got a quick walk by myself in the freezing cold that shocked my senses and made me appreciate warm blankets and heaters.

I’m drinking Panera hazelnut coffee now to warm me up while the eight year old is in OT.

I have copious amounts of friends and family that I’m so grateful for.   (Photo cred tobifairly.com)

 Where do you find joy today???
©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Scandalous Grace

I name my years.

In preparation for every new year I spend time alone, praying, seeking. I haven’t always done that and those years are obvious.

I took a bit of time away from this blog over the Christmas holidays–spent wonderful time with family, enjoyed crackling fires and squeals of delight while looking at Christmas lights with my kids and consumed buckets of hot cocoa. I played endless games of Uno and Trivial Pursuit. There was resting, eating, laughing, and breathing. 

 (photo cred Meredith Shafer 2015)

And it was so good.

I have needed the break in preparation for all that is to come this year. I’m finishing my second book, Mad Cow: Where PTSD & Pink Champagne Collide. It’s a hard write as it talks about the last two years. There has been much joy sprinkled throughout, but there have been a lot of real, raw, ugly moments, too.

There will be more therapies for the eight year old and for Mr. Wonderful. This year will also hold some speaking engagements I’m starting to really get excited about if when they come to fruition.

I have no idea what the year will hold for me and mine. I pray that we’re coming into a season of joy after many difficult seasons. But I’m grateful for those seasons because I have learned. And grown. And those are painful but wonderful places. 

 (photo cred loveecstaticsoul)

In my quiet time recently I suddenly knew my words for this year: scandalous grace. 

 (photo cred woodrose4.tumblr.com)

I am going to be looking for opportunities over the next 366 days (don’t forget it’s Leap Year!) to both give and receive scandalous grace. I know this means life will not go as I plan or hope sometimes, but it will be in the detours that I find a certain richness.

I’m looking forward to all that 2016 holds for my family, dear friends, and I can’t wait to see what it holds for you as well! 

 (Photo cred Hub Pages)

Have a blessed and Happy New Year!

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

 

Running Just as Fast as I Can

If you know me, you understand I’m using my title ironically. I don’t run. Unless something scary is chasing me.

 (Photo credit Thug Life shirts)

But it feels like with all the pieces of my world swirling around I am running to catch up. I choose to believe that even though it feels like things are falling apart some days, they are really just falling into place.

I just need to figure out how to stop running.

It’s hard, because when I take a look at my life, I’m not sure what I can drop or remove or take away. I feel as if we’ve already culled all extraneous things, people and events: I can’t cut much more or I’ll be slicing bone.

I’m not built for speed. I’m built for yoga or weight training or walking but never for speed. So where does that leave those of us who are running to catch up, mostly due to life circumstances?

I don’t have the answers, but I do have a handful of ideas that I’ll be trying to implement. For instance, if I’m going to do all the caregiving I do–both for my four munchkins and for my disabled vet hubby–I need to make sure I’m taking care of me. For me this means getting exercise, reading for fun, talking to girlfriends and finding a space in my head and my house for some peace and quiet.

 (photo credit 3amdad.tumblr.com)

And finding time to drink copious amounts of coffee.

 (photo credit mrcoffee.com)

I also need to have a weekly Date Night with the man I caregive for so that we remain connected as lovers and friends. Otherwise it’s more like I’m nurse and he’s patient, which he wouldn’t mind at certain times if you get my drift, but in real every day life that’s hard on a relationship.

Spending quality time with each of my kiddos is also in my priority list. Not just in a hurry-up-get-ready-for-school-eat-your-breakfast sort of way, but really spending time talking with and listening to each kid’s heart. With lots of kids in the house I’m still trying to find my way through this.

 (Photo credit lifelovelauren.com)

Getting organized is also in my master plan to rule the world. Or at least my life. We’ve had some obstacles here between all the kids, a couple of moves, trying to survive 2013, publishing a book, getting creative enough to write another, and all the mountains of paperwork required by the VA for retirement and disability and caregiving. Have I mentioned that each department within the VA can’t see the paperwork we already submitted to another department? Just means an avalanche of papers are threatening to take over my life.

So while I’m theoretically running to catch up with my life and my loves, I’m reminding myself that giving myself a break and counting my blessings are a necessary part of this process. For my survival.

And my sanity.

 (photo credit Instagram)

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!