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.

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

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)

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 11

I’m grateful for Veteran’s Day so I can say thanks to my favorite vet! Thanks babe for your sacrifices, for your dedication to your country, for volunteering to do things and go places most of us won’t.  (Photo credit Meredith Shafer 2015) ©Copyright Meresith Shafer 2015

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#vet #veteran #gratitude #30DaysofThankfulness #military #army #goarmy #armywife #veteransday

Ce-lebrate Good Times, Come On!

This week.

So far we’ve had a trip to the ER (broken growth plate), occupational therapy appointment, ADHD testing, timeouts (theirs), meltdowns (mine) and my new inability to find sleep as easily as I usually do.

Add to this a busy season at work, continued spats with the VA and I have done near lost my ever-loving mind!

Is it Friday yet?

On my Instagram feed I posted a bible verse about the weary needing rest. I’m incredibly weary right now. Turns out, so are a lot of you. I don’t know when things got so complicated, do you?

It’s so hard in the middle of any mess to find the silver lining. Figure out a reason to celebrate. Rush towards generosity of spirit. But I believe that’s a game changer if we do. Instead of waiting to rejoice in the midst of our circumstances, I think extravagantly celebrating in the midst of the muck brings about changes much more important than things going our way.

Seems like celebrating before our circumstances change changes how we even view those circumstances, allowing us to find nuggets of wisdom, gifts of goodness that were placed along our path just for us.

Times are hard. And life moves too fast. And we are all so swamped with business and busyness. But for one glorious moment I encourage you to put all of that to the side and rock your socks off. Party like its 1999. Celebrate your blessings or silver linings or good moments lavishly like the gifts they are.

See what happens. I’m willing to bet you will celebrate yourself right into something truly amazing.

Blessings friends!

(photo credit livelifehappy.com) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer

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Oh Happy Day!

When working with the Veterans Administation, persistence is the key. We have been fighting for my veteran to be medically retired and have all the benefits that includes for oh, about two years now. Maybe longer. I lose track because I have four kids and I can’t even remember where I parked my car or left my keys or what I ate (or forgot to eat) for breakfast. I do pretty well just to remember which kid goes where each day.

And finally, hallelujah and praise Jesus, we got his paperwork approved! I probably shouldn’t be celebrating that the VA agrees with me that my vet is disabled but I do because that means he gets rewarded for his sacrifice. That bill for America’s freedom that each wounded veteran’s family pays every day will now be recognized and rewarded by the VA, despite the fact that my vet’s wounds are invisible. Of course there are stipulations and regulations (it wouldn’t be a government entity if there weren’t) yada yada yada but thank God almighty we are free at last.

We are freed from having to prove his conditions over and over. Do you know how bad things have to get to prove an invisible condition like PTSD? Let’s just say go past unbearable, turn right at untenable and you’re there. We’re freed from having to worry about choosing his health or a job that won’t help his health at all. There is freedom from explaining our situation to the thirty-seventh person at the VA and sending and resending information and filling out the small file cabinet and three boxes of paperwork that it took to make this happen.

We are beyond grateful that I have a job and we have healthy kids and that we have great friends and family surrounding us. Now Mr. Wonderful is going to have the opportunity to focus on getting better, trying new and different therapies. We’ve already begun working out and eating right and we will continue doing our part to make his health one of our top priorities.

And thanks to some bulldoggedness on our parts, we are finally finished, at least for now, with this part of our battle. It’s a good thing, because we are weary and bone-tired.

But we’re still standing.

(photo credit Meredith Shafer) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

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Broken Places, Broken People

So we had to go to the VA today. This is not a place I take Mr. Wonderful willingly. It’s a trigger for his anxiety just to get ready to go there. Then once we go, it’s usually hurry up and wait. And get care from an organization that still doesn’t know what to do with soldiers that suffer from PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

Bless their hearts. 

I think many of them are trying. The lady we saw today was actually running almost on time and we were shocked! She was kind-hearted and doing her best to do her part.

But it’s always an exercise in frustration. We know this and prepare for it. Today it was in trying to get into the Caregiver Program. That’s not advertised by the VA. That I was probably eligible for two plus years ago but didn’t know about. 

We’ve already sent all of Mr. Wonderful’s medical documentation multiple times to the VA and now the caregiver part of the VA will be asking for it again. Can’t you guys just communicate with each other and save us the trouble while saving some trees??

Also, we found out that to be part of the Caregiver Program I, (said caregiver) will have to attend classes on how best to be a caregiver. Taught by medical professionals who are not caregivers. While they’re asking the already over-worked, over-scheduled caregiver to leave the home where she is caregiving, creating a situation where I will have to find and pay for a sitter for each of the six classes. This will be after I go through the online application (done), two phone interviews, a home visit by a nurse and after a team decides if I’m caregiver material according to the VA.

Riiiiiiggghhhht.

Not to toot my own horn, but I am a pretty good caregiver. According to this article, 53 veterans die every day waiting for their benefits claims to be processed. The number of claims the VA has on backlog currently stands at 900,000. 

This isn’t good caregiving. Mr. Wonderful and I may have walked to the very edge and looked over it but my veteran is still here. The very entity charged with benefits and caregiving for our nation’s heroes is letting 53 vets die every day on their watch. And they’re going to determine if I’m really a caregiver? Or teach me how to be a caregiver?

No thank you. I like my vet and want him around for a long time.

This just isn’t ok. I don’t have the answers. I don’t know how to fix it all. But I do know that making it so difficult that even people like me want to give up is not the answer. When you make it so hard on the veteran and their family, the people that are already broken down and struggling as it is, that they want to just take whatever you’re handing out to make all the hoop jumping go away, there is something not right.

Maybe if I tell our story and then others tell their stories more people will realize that this is happening all over the Unites States to our heroes. Maybe it will make you a little uncomfortable. Maybe it will make you mad.

I hope so. I hope you will stand with my family and say this isn’t ok. Support military families, write your senators or representatives, ask a vet if they need anything. Shake their hands, get to know them. Appreciate them. Make them feel human again.

Because goodness knows the VA won’t.

(Photo credit Life Change Ballroom) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

I would love to connect with you on Instagram @MyPinkChampagneLife and Twitter @MyPinkChampLife.

National PTSD Awareness Day

 I know there’s lots of stuff going on in the world today, and I’m afraid PTSD Awareness Day will be lost in all the news and noise. PTSD is our world 365 days a year, not just today. That’s the case for so many. Just wanted to share, encourage, and say you’re not alone!

If you need help:  

(Photo credit celebrating freedom) ©Copyright Meredith Shafer 2015

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