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.

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

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!

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 #🇺🇸

Crazy Town

My Traveling Circus has been a little crazier than usual so far this year. Mr. Wonderful has been having these weird seizure-ish episodes and we’re still learning how to combat the ADHD and I missed my second book’s deadline by a mile–let’s just say I’m turning it in this week no matter what! (Fingers crossed😁) 

 (Photo cred quoteistan.com)

Despite the crazy and weird, I have to look at my life and be pretty grateful. 

 
  (Photo cred lifelistlust.tumblr.com) 
I am so happy to have Mr. Wonderful at home, my kids are thriving and growing and eating me out of house and home. I won’t even have a teenager til later this year and it’s already happening…I may need another job….

I am getting some wonderful opportunities to speak to ladies groups and tell our story. Can I just tell you how much this blesses my socks off? I spoke to a gorgeous ladies group last week and I am leading a ladies’ retreat in two weekends and though it takes up my time, somehow I get so much more out of these events than I have to put towards them. God’s math and time and blessings are crazy that way. 

All this to say it’s been nuts, I’ve missed y’all and hopefully after I turn in this manuscript (this week dangit!) I will be spending more time with my blog friends doing some catching up.
No promises though, my job as Mayor Crazy Town is very demanding….

Peace, love and blessings to y’all today!💗❤️💗❤️💗

©Copyright 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)

Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

To the One Who Is Struggling:

Dear Friend,

I’m sorry this is all so hard. What you’re going through seems improbable on the best days and impossible on the worst. It’s hard to keep your chin up when life keeps knocking you down over and over again.

Yes, you’re bruised. Your wounds haven’t healed yet. I see your pain, feel it rolling off of you. 

Just when you think you might make it, another wave crashes over you, threatening to pull you under. You’re in over your head and relief seems as far away as the shore.

But friend, I want to tell you that even though you feel like you’re drowning right now, there are plans in the works. Plans to give you hope and a future. I can’t tell you how or when things will change. I just believe with all my heart that they will.

I believe in a good God that goes before us, stands behind us and walks beside us. You’re not sure if you believe, or you haven’t been in close contact with this God I’m talking about? That’s not a problem for him; you can’t do a thing to earn his scandalous grace.

You can have his peace in the midst of the chaos, the crazy, the pain or the grief. You can experience this peace no matter the circumstance. And it’s free.  

 (Photo cred babynameslog.com)

All you have to do is accept it.

Hang in there friend, better days are ahead, and I’m praying for God to hold you in the very palm of his hand.

Blessings,

Meredith

©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2016. Swing by Instagram and Twitter to say hi!

Monday Madness

By 8:03 a.m. today I lost my mind and frankly, my will to do anything. Everyone at my house was off their game. 

Everyone.

The twelve year old left everything everywhere as if the magic cleaning fairy would be arriving soon to clean up after him. 

 (Photo cred thefunnybeaver.com)

The eight year old woke up late, moved slow, worked my last nerve with talk back and outbursts. I also found out why I keep getting a bill from the school cafeteria: despite making and taking his lunch every day, he was getting a tray instead of eating his lunch. So I do indeed owe the school $16.47.

The Little Sister of the bunch spilled her milk, threw a fit, spilled more milk. I still hadn’t lost it yet though. I was still slogging through getting the oldest two out on the bus at two different times and then getting the two littles ready while the baby was spilling yet more milk and the dog was drinking out of the toilet and I had so much work to get done today and it was time to cautiously wake up Mr. Wonderful (cautiously because he has the PTSD, we have a process) when I realized: 

This is my life. For realsies. 

 (Photo cred curiano)

Confession: I’ve been a fraud. Faking it with optimism and gratitude til I make it but never really making it up that hill. Working three jobs to make ends meet. Raising four kids, sometimes by myself. Caregiving for Mr. Wonderful. Waiting for someone else to come and claim the life they lost because this can’t be mine.

A few short years ago I had a working husband who was able to help a lot with our busy household. I only had three kids and two jobs. There was no VA battle, no PTSD, no ADHD, no running around constantly like a crazy woman. I only had to run around like a crazy woman sometimes back then.

I’m so tired of pushing and straining and striving to try to make changes and have nothing budge. I’m exhausted from not seeing more progress to spur me on. I’m tired of being tired and worried and unable to sleep or find time for working out or finding joy in time spent with my kids instead of hauling them from point A to point B just hoping I get them there on time.

I’m sick of fighting the VA to get my soldier the care and benefits he deserves. I’m afraid I don’t have any fight left and the battle’s not done yet. 

I’m weary today. And overwhelmed. And claustrophobic by the walls of responsibility closing in. I’m ready for the spring of my life and it feels like the winter winds have just begun.

The one thing I have going for me right now is that in my hardest moments of realness and raw honesty God meets me where I am. He comes to me with comfort, hope and peace, somehow knowing that this Monday, when I’m on the edge of losing my mind and my hope I need his steadying hand more than ever. He changes me from the inside out, even while He upholds me. 

I find great comfort in knowing that the orchestrator of the chaos of the universe cares about each hair on my head, on each worry and heartbreak and tear and breath of little ol’ me.

I remind myself that things can’t be too bad if I am loved, both by God and by my tribe. That I have a life that some others would trade me for in an instant. That as hard as things are today, today is only temporary. 

 (photo cred Instapray.com)

And the God of my today is the God of my yesterday and tomorrow. He will see me through. He has gone before me, walks beside me and is behind me.

I just have to get out of the way of myself, surrender to his scandalous grace, and remember it’s not over yet.

He’s not finished with me. 

©Copyright 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!