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

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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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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!

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!

©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!

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 6

My heart is full of gratitude for our Service Dog, Charlie. She is my reinforcement so I’m not alone in helping Mr. Wonderful with the PTSD. I’m pretty sure she’s a guardian angel as well, already saving Mr. Wonderful from a severe asthma attack.

She not a pet–she’s a member of the family! I’m so happy she found us❤️ 

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

Mornings around our house are more circus-y than any other part of the day in our Traveling Circus. 

The kids apparently take after Mama-none of us are morning people. But we’re trying. 

We get up every morning in various states of cranky and happy, go through our morning-get-ready-for-school lists, and get out the door. One thing I’m really liking about our schedule this year is how our rolling start times–the thing I thought would make life more chaotic–have actually given me a space in my day where I have just enough time for a walk through my neighborhood.

I have to get up super early to have alone time and writing time and devotional time before the kids wake up super early to get on buses. But after I walk the seven year old to the bus stop, I push the baby in the stroller around our hood for about twenty minutes. This, and coffee, is what is helping to keep me sane right now.

Even though fall decided to wait a couple more weeks to show up, I’m enjoying this little stroll through my gorgeous area. There are trees and birds and dogs and peace and quiet and room for some thinking and head clearing. 

I can breathe again.

Today I’m grateful for how my mornings are shaping up. I’m grateful for rolling start times, caffeine, a baby that will just come along for the ride, kids that seem to be excited about school, a hubby whose morning times (the hardest time of day for his PTSD) seem to be improving, and a little breathing room. 

I hope you find some space in your day to breathe too. Have a blessed Thursday y’all!

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

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#PTSD #mypinkchampagnelife #mornings #veteran #workout #militarywife 

PTSD Info You Need to Know

PTSD is real. It isn’t in their heads. They can’t just shake it off. Just because you can’t see their invisible wounds doesn’t mean they aren’t wounded. If you know or think you know someone suffering from PTSD, take time to ask, “Are you ok?”

Then listen.  

We are victorious in our PTSD fight every day that we keep going! Every day that we wake up and start the fight again. Every time we get back up after falling flat on our faces.

You will not beat us PTSD!

(Photo credit from heartsmovingmountains.com) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I would love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram at My Pink Champagne Life or Twitter @MyPinkChampLife. Swing by and say hello!