Well Done

Before I was ever an author or a lawyer or a wife or a mama, I was a musician. Being a musician is pretty rad most of the time. Unlike algebra or organization or finance charges, music is one of the few things in this world that I get. It’s a language I speak. It’s so much a part of me that I don’t remember not being able to speak it.

There are times where being a musician is difficult though. Times when only music will do to soothe someone’s pain. As a sensitive musician-type, I already feel the feelings but playing music in this grief scenario is heart-wrenching. Not only do you feel the music but you feel all of the emotion wrapped up in the music, the emotions felt by others, those felt by yourself.

I played at a funeral today for a man taken too soon. He was by all accounts a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, uncle. I’ve known this family for several years and was always impressed with the open love he had for his family, especially for his wife. Truly it’s been a beautiful thing to behold-even after 19 years together they still had that spark.

They are a military family and part of my former church family and this is the week that marks a special birthday of sorts for my own family-both Mr. Wonderful’s sobriety birthday and anniversary of when the bottom fell out of our world. So there was a lot going on in my head and my heart during this service.

From my vantage point at the front, all I could see was the family that was left behind. Trying to celebrate his life well-lived while really just barely hanging on. They were alternating between bewilderment and just raw heartbreak. That is a painful thing to stand in the sidelines of, not being able to do anything to help them or ease their pain.

Two years ago this was almost me. I was moments away from having to plan the funeral with military honors for my Mr. Wonderful, from having to raise four kids on my own, from feeling the absolute devastation that one must feel when their partner is just all of the sudden gone.

That terrible day when I nearly lost my partner and best friend was a rebirth of sorts. It gave me two extra years of memories and time that I am so grateful for. Since tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, I suggest we all go and tell our loved ones how much we love them. Squeeze them tight and store away as many good times as we can. Take a note from a man who’s family is feeling a tremendous loss but who will be able to lean on memories of his life well lived: live full of love, laughter and celebration. Have faith. Take each sweet moment as it comes, work through the hard times, and love your family with everything you’ve got.

In memory of Casey Joe Bussett (1975-2015).

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

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Public Speaking

Last Saturday I got to do something that scared the pants off me but that I knew would be awesome if I just felt the fear and did it anyway.

I got to speak to and encourage a gorgeous group of about 200 ladies at a place called Destiny Christian Center-appropriate name as I was speaking about Destiny.

Or Density as I have typed over and over.

With this book thing going on, I’m getting a lot of interesting and humbling opportunities. I could not be more grateful. Or more terrified.

People are asking me to speak. In front of other people. Often lots of people. In big rooms. On a stage 

Now, in one of my former before kids gigs I actually did a lot of musician-y, performance things. My undergrad degree is, after all, in music. And that’s a totally comfortable sensation for me. Want me to sing and/or play the piano in front of people? No problem, love to, sign me up.

Want me to speak to people imparting these supposed nuggets of wisdom while keeping everyone entertained and engaged and making them feel this was totally worth their time? 

Eek!!  

Maybe this is a bit of self-imposed pressure, but I do feel a certain amount of responsibility once someone has entrusted me with a microphone (and we know I like to rock the mic like a vandal!). With that act they’re saying they believe that I’m not some loose cannon they’ll have to have security tackle before dragging me off the stage. 

This is an act of trust that I don’t take lightly.

Honestly in preparation I do a lot of praying and soul searching. What am I supposed to be saying? Is there someone out there you need me to say specific words to? Oh sweet Jesus, please don’t let me mess this up for you!

Not to brag, but encouragement has always been one of my gifts. I love making people feel better about themselves or their situations. I’m ok with labeling myself a middle-aged cheerleader. No, I take that back. The ladies in my family live to ripe old ages so I’m actually not even close to middle aged.

I also tend to pray a lot as I’m walking onto the stage. Please don’t let me trip, don’t let me accidentally use one of my driving words, and for the love of Saint Peter please don’t let me say anything you don’t want me to!

I feel like I’ve been called to talk to women as a very imperfect, flawed and broken human. And maybe it’s because if others who are hurting and broken can see a hot mess like myself on a stage, they’ll believe it’s ok to take off whatever mask they’ve been hiding behind and be real. Raw. A hot mess just like me.

And I believe with my whole heart that when we are all broken together, exposing our wounds and warts, we start helping each other get put back together. We show our kids it’s ok to be flawed. We show our friends they can tell us dark things because we’ve been to dark places too.

And out of that darkness the seeds of hope come. And bloom. And spread.

So. I’m still going to be nervous each time I speak at an event or lead a women’s retreat or talk about hard things. But I’m going to keep doing it. And I’m going to trust that God is doing his thing, shining light through all my brokenness.

And hopefully I won’t trip.