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!

 

Art Therapy

Lately I’ve been procrastinating. I know, you’re like, this again? But yeah. I can’t help it. I have a book deadline I’m racing towards and it seems I avoid writing by fulfilling a deep need to organize.

Everything.

I told my Mr. Wonderful I was nesting. He said, and I quote, “You better not be, we fixed that!” Probably because the last time I was nesting I was expecting a baby and since hubs has retired all the soldiers (ie, got a vasectomy), in his mind, there shouldn’t be a reason to nest.

But there is.

Creativity for me is therapy. Making things beautiful, repurposing them, breathing new life into old spaces or places is soul-strengthening for me. And for too long I have had to be in survival mode just to make sure my family was functioning.

But now we are in more stable territory. Now we are laughing and finding joy in the everyday. Now we seem to have a handle on some things–notice I didn’t say all things–and it feels like I have some room to breathe. To create. To do life in full color.

This last week a new friend of ours was put in the ICU. His wife trains our service dog, he is former military with PTSD as well. We just went to their wedding about three weeks ago so it was shocking that he got so sick so fast.

And to see someone with tubes and plugs and liquids draining in and out is about more than anyone can take. I feel the pain of the family–he’s much, much too young. It’s the holidays. They just want this husband-son-father-friend to be ok. That’s what we’ve all been on our knees about.  

 (Photo credit lifehack.com)

Every time I come home from the hospital I paint something. Or organize something. I can’t seem to sit still very long because my house is calling me to make it a home. Finally. After a year and a half I guess it’s about time.

And every project big or small that I complete brings me such joy. I am amazed that the one who made the most beautiful sunrises and rainbows and red birds and starry nights created me to create. I am in awe when I think about this even just a little bit.

He knew that to combat the hurt and pain and hard days and sleepless night I would need to be an artist. I would need to be a musician and a writer and a photographer so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the ugliness this world has to offer. 

 (photo credit roadtrippers.com)

What a gift.

What beauty are you putting in this world today? Don’t let your inner censor or critic convince you not to do it. The world needs more beautiful, and it’s up to you to do your part. 

 (photo credit leeanngtaylor.com)

Even if you don’t have training. Or think you know what you’re doing. Or don’t think you’re very good. Contribute whatever gorgeousness you feel compelled to create–we will all be better for it.

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

Catch Up

So as usual I’m behind. I haven’t posted in way too long because my life is way too exciting and I’m just trying to hold on!

Big Brother broke his growth plate in his hand (who does that?!), turned twelve, and became first chair trombone in band. I’m in denial about the being twelve part. 

 Little Brother is barely surviving second grade. I told his super awesome teacher yesterday that I managed to get through law school but second grade is about to do me in. So much homework and probably undiagnosed ADHD (which we’ve begun the super fun process of testing for) means this year is a challenge for all of us. Good thing nothing gets this kid down. 

 Little Sister is still into tutus and cowgirl boots, mud and mishaps. I love how she dresses super girly to go outside and wreck the neighborhood boys.  

 Baby Brother has been sick, which with asthma makes things interesting. And then he kindly shared with me so I’ve been down for the count as well. But we’re getting better and he’s still just happy to be here. What a kid! 

 We’ve gotten a few things worked out for Mr. Wonderful–his hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatment is back online, and we got some VA Caregiver issues worked out. It’s official, the VA has certified me as a caregiver, which I find ironic. We’ve seen how the VA gives care firsthand so it’s interesting that they have to certify me. Sometimes you just have to laugh! 

 I have gotten to speak at some great organizations lately and this has been the biggest blessing! I love that I’m meeting ladies from all over and getting refreshed and encouraged as I am encouraging–crazy how that works.

It’s the end of October and I haven’t written a lick. My final draft is due in January and I. Am. Behind. But I’m not panicking yet because I need the pressure of a deadline. I’m about to kick it into high gear y’all. Wish me luck!

Hope everyone in the blogosphere is doing well, I’m not even close to caught up on your blogs but will be soon. Y’all have a blessed day wherever you are and whatever’s coming your way today!

Much love,

Meredith

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I’d love to connect with you on Instagram and Twitter, come say hi!

Building Blocks

In the midst of the crazy at our house, we have a kid who loves Legos. This child doesn’t like to follow instructions; he’s more of a free-lancer when it comes to building. He thinks very creatively and has a big heart and loves him some Jesus. 

I get this kid.

He’s seven so there aren’t a lot of worries or concerns on his end. That is as it should be. He will stop what he’s doing if he hears a great song just to break dance. This is the kid who still runs to give me a hug, who desperately needs snuggles, who longs for everyone to be friends.

He’s also my kid that struggles. With nearly everything. From shoe tying to handwriting to cutting food to controlling his body and his mouth from out-bursting. 

He gets frustrated, we get frustrated. 

This sweet boy who is smart and funny and creative is just starting to get a glimpse at the fact that he is different from his peers. With some sensory issues and auditory processing things going on, sitting in a classroom for hours on end–even with the best teachers–is so excruciating. He is so special, and he is going to do great things. He doesn’t even know yet that he’s a real-life superhero.

We just have to survive school. 

I’ve already had a call this morning from his teacher about his day yesterday. Can I tell you how much of a failure I feel like? She was very kind, and I think she is starting to see that we are all working very hard to make his school experience a positive one. And I am trying my hardest to make sure we are at every therapy available every week, to get him on an IEP, to do all the extra homework and exercises and diet changes. But so far it’s just not enough. It’s hard to feel like doing your best isn’t enough.

I guess I need more patience with the process. Change doesn’t come swiftly enough for this Mama who sees her baby struggling despite his hard work. The struggle is only magnified by the older brother and younger sister to whom things come very easily.

And then I remind myself that because this boy is such a gift to our family, the kid who patiently and creatively puts his Legos together in wonderful and unusual ways, we are using the building blocks of therapies and patience and hugs and stickers for good jobs and excercises and communication and lots and lots of love to help ease his path. 

It may never be as straight and simple as his siblings’ paths, but it has already given him a compassionate heart for helping others.

I guess if you build it, they really will come.

(Photo credit Meredith Shafer 2015) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I would love to connect with you on Instagram and Twitter, swing by and say hello! 

Therapy

There are lots of non-therapeutic things that I consider therapy: dancing, my Oasis time with Mr. Wonderful (which sounds fancy but it’s really just our room sans children), baths, shopping, the inhalation of copious amounts of powdered sugar doughnuts. Maybe some of them in a combo situation.

As the Mama of my house, I occasionally feel the need for some of these specialized types of therapy. Today is such a day. We started out this week kind of rough and ragged and I just looked at the calendar and realized it’s only Tuesday. How is that possible?! At least four and a half days have passed since yesterday, I’m certain.

I woke up in the throes of overwhelmingness to the point of paralysis this morning. Have you ever been there? Where the To Do List is so long but the day is so short and tightly packed that you just. Can’t. Move.

I’m still swimming through mud.

And now I’m actually at a therapy appointment…of the speech variety. Once a week one of my sons goes to speech therapy to help with all kinds of physical swallowing and speaking issues and also for an auditory processing issue.

Can I tell you how happy I am to be here?

You may not believe me, but I’m so grateful. We’ve been struggling in our family to both understand this beautiful boy and to get him to be able to focus. Or listen. Or follow directions.

There are a lot of kids in our house so I’m going to need you to follow directions!

We went through all of the frustration and testing and pulling our hair out and hoping for answers. And then, like a miracle, here we are. 

So I’m pretty excited.

And I’m trying to tell myself that this day, through the mud swimming and To Do Lists and my work junk piled on Mr. Wonderful’s desk (because it’s overrun my own), is still a day I won’t get back.

I’m starting a little late with this pep talk as it’s almost 4:00 pm, but as I’m a late bloomer in various other aspects of my life, this isn’t surprising.

Mr. Wonderful calls me the Good Idea Fairy. And she usually runs late. Which means I have a great idea a split second after it should’ve been implemented. Thank goodness Mr. Wonderful’s pretty patient.

I feel like I’m even writing in mud. My thoughts are stringing themselves together without supervision. Every letter of every sentence is t.a.k.i.n.g. f.o.r.e.v.e.r………..

There’s a good chance I may not even finish this post.

Sigh.

If I do, here’s what I want you to know: it’s ok to be where you are. Right now. Today. All you can do is all you can do is one of our family mottos. And it’s ok to make progress by degrees instead of leaps and bounds.

And sometimes progress involves sitting down in one place for five minutes to catch your breath.

Embrace this place. 

Surrender to the moment so you can live in each one. Learn what you can even in the ratty places and the stinky places and the boring places. It will make even those places ones of grace, despite being hard and a place you’d rather not be.

I don’t know when I’ll get my rhythm back. I’m hoping in about 15 minutes but if its not til tomorrow or next week or even next month it’ll be ok.

Because I’m going to learn from here. I’m going to take care of myself by indulging in any and probably all of my therapies. And I’m going to remember to breathe.

And sit still for a moment.

And pray.

Probably while eating a powdered sugar doughnut.

And that will be good enough. 

Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015