This is the day that I die.


Took some time to edit this morning. If you read the post yesterday, It’s better today. :)

Originally posted on Waving a White Flag:



1. fullof conflicting emotionsorimpulses:

I am an American patriot. I am a Christian. I am conflicted.
Five days ago Paris was attacked by radical Muslims. Last night there was a “serious threat” of another attack in Germany. This year alone ISIS has claimed 65 beheadings of Christians and killed countless people in soft-target attacks. The nation of Saudi Arabia has beheaded at least 175 including children and persons with disabilities. ISIS has forced countless Yezidi women and children into sexual slavery. Boko Haram (also called ISWAP or the Islamic State’s West African Province) has killed thousands and is now considered the most deadly terrorists organization in the world.
For decades Syria has allowed itself to become a hotbed for terrorism. While all of the above atrocities were taking place, more than THREE MILLION

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This is the day that I die.



1. full of conflicting emotions or impulses:

a situation that makes one feel very conflicted.
I am an American patriot. I am a Christian. I am conflicted.
Five days ago Paris was attacked by radical Muslims. Last night there was a “serious threat” of another attack in Germany. This year alone ISIS has claimed 65 beheadings of Christians and killed countless people in soft-target attacks. The nation of Saudi Arabia has beheaded at least 175 including children and persons with disabilities. ISIS has forced countless Yezidi women and children into sexual slavery. Boko Haram (also called ISWAP or the Islamic State’s West African Province) has killed thousands and is now considered the most deadly terrorists organization in the world.
For decades Syria has allowed itself to become a hotbed for terrorism. While all of the above atrocities were taking place, more than THREE MILLION refugees have fled the nation of Syria and approximately six million others have been displaced within their nation.
It is estimated that at least 7% of Muslims have been radicalized and seek to inflict terror on all non-Muslims. There is no way to know how many terrorists are mixed in with the refugees.
And now… Syrian refugees have begun arriving in America. A news report yesterday stated that the first of the refugees to be unaccounted for, disappeared in my hometown of Baton Rouge (where my son is going to college) and then was later located in my current home of Washington, DC.________________________________________________
There is only one sentence written above this line that is not fear-inducing. “I am a Christian.”
What does it mean to proclaim that I am a Christian? It means that I am a follower of Christ. It means that my words and actions should emulate those of Jesus. Close to 80% of Americans also claim to be Christians. That means that 4/5 of Americans SHOULD have actions and words that emulate those of Jesus.
But being an American patriot and being a Christian tends to leave one conflicted…
While the refugee was missing yesterday, EVERYTHING IN ME wanted to go get my son. As I wrestled with fear I sat my Bible in front of me and said,”God, I need peace and I need wisdom. Please show me how to see this world and all the people you’ve created, through your eyes.”
This was the first verse I read.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~Any decision based in fear is not of God. Period.
Funny thing about that verse is that I had just read this analogy comparing a bowl of M&Ms to the refugees. The analogy asked if I would eat from the bowl knowing that 7% of them were poison. And then that verse…
God did not give me fear.
He gave me power, love, and self-discipline. I would not eat the M&Ms because I have self-discipline, NOT because I am afraid. Refugees are not candy. They are human beings created in the image of God.
Romans 2:11 God DOES NOT show favoritism! Some days I’m fairly certain that I’m His favorite. Guess what. You’re His favorite too! Guess what else. So is every person born in every corner of the world including the Syrian refugees.
God did not give you fear.
In 2008, for several reasons, I registered to vote as an Independent. First, I could no longer say that all of my political views strongly aligned with any political party. Second, I never want a politician to assume they have my vote because my registration says that I’m aligned with their party. Last (and most important), I was strongly convicted about placing my patriotism and my political stands above my role as a follower of Christ. An idol is anything that we revere or worship or use to define us. Americanism had become an idol in my life. Scripture, after scripture, after scripture, command Christians to have no other Gods before the one true God and to avoid making an idol of anything. The American Constitution is a brilliantly conceived document and I am grateful every day for the freedoms and opportunities it affords me as an American. But it is not the word of God. The American “dream” is noble and worthy, but it is not the great commission. Most of the laws of the land are sensible and comforting and give me a sense of safety. But laws do not equal the greatest commandments. “…Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Am I still conflicted? Absolutely! But in the midst of my confliction I must stand on my convictions. I’ve been called many things in my life, but the one that always stings the most is “hypocrite”. I do not want to live an hypocritical life. I want my beliefs and my behaviors to align.
A few years ago I used Jesus’ story of The Sheep and The Goats to explain to church leaders why their treatment of children with special needs was not okay. If I don’t want to be called a hypocrite, I can’t very well use the words of Jesus to point out the failures of others while ignoring those very same words as they apply to me. This is where the rubber meets the road…

Matthew 25:41-45 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

I have no flippin’ clue what walking this out will look like. But I know that I must love and that I must not fear. I know that I have to put my responsibilities as a representative of Jesus before my desires to protect the way of life created by America’s founding fathers.

Is it a gift to be an American? Absofrickinlutely! Do I enjoy the possibilities and prosperities afforded by the American dream? Every minute of every day. But you know what? In Luke 12:48 Jesus said, “…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Being an American is not an excuse, it’s a reason. I am not excused from caring for anyone who needs food, or clothing, or shelter.

Is any of it fair? Or just? Or palatable? Nope. I want to see anyone that doesn’t share every one of my beliefs as my enemy. But guess what Jesus said about our enemies?  “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Matthew 5:44 I want to put all kinds of labels on people and use those labels as excuses for why I just can’t love them. I’m sure you do too. But Jesus said we have to see and serve as if we are serving Him. We have to see “them” as “Him.”

Luke 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

The cross? It’s the place where our bad choices and heartaches and wounds are cleaned by the blood of Jesus. It’s also the place where our selfish ways go to die. It’s the place where we nail our idols and false gods and leave them behind. It’s where anything that defines us other than God himself must bow down and surrender.

From this day forward I want my morning declaration to be:
This is the day that I pick up my cross. This is the day that I die to self.
Galatians 2:20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

No fear.

Lots of love.

love = freedom


John 15:12-13  This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

I’m sure you’ve seen the quote…

“Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you; Jesus Christ and the American soldier.”

Today we celebrate and honor the American soldier. One of the greatest honors of my life is that I get to call a true American hero, “my husband”. That hottie up there ^ is mine. And for more than twenty-five years he’s been yours too. That man loves you and the principles our nation was founded on enough that he is willing to lay down his life for you.

I don’t usually post about Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day or any of the other days set aside on our calendar for acknowledging the price of freedom. Those days are sacred to me. But this year is different for many reasons. This is likely the last Veteran’s Day that my husband will celebrate on active duty. This is also the first Veteran’s Day since 2011 that he has been able to put on a uniform and do the job he was called to do as a young boy. That job? He’s the MILDEP (military deputy) of Night Vision and Sensors. Oh the irony… Three years, ten months, and ten days after coming under investigation for attempting to shine light in the darkness of Army contracting, he assumed the responsibility of ensuring that the entire Army can see in the dark. Hah! God has the best sense of humor!

Six days before my hero returned to work we received a call from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Nine months ago, a series of “yeses” put us on a path to that phone call. In roughly the same amount of time it takes to grow a bundle of joy, God grew a bundle of hope for our baby girl. KKI was calling to say that they had a bed available for Sofija in their neurobehavioral unit. For now I am holding the details of her stay close and shedding tears at the end of each of our four weekly visits. Her projected discharge date is February 11, 2016. She wants to come home and we want to have her here. But we have been in crisis mode for longer than anyone should ever live in crisis mode. The struggle to keep her (and us) safe was a losing battle and we needed help. That phone call promised help.

While Sofija is at KKI, we have a social worker helping our family set up a plan for aftercare and checking in regularly to ensure that we are using this time as a respite. Feel free to take a second and cheer with me…. WOOHOO!!  YIPPEEE!!  HIP! HIP! HOORAY!!

Date night, after date night, after date night… with my real American hero. By the way, is anyone else bursting with excitement over the return of The Greatest American Hero? “Believe it or not, I’m walking on air. I never thought I could feel so free-ee-ee…”

One thing our social worker encouraged us to do was to get away for a couple of days. We haven’t “gotten away for a couple of days” or even overnight for that matter, in the last five years. Don’t get me wrong. I love my baby girl more than life and I miss her life crazy. But I was in desperate need of some time away with my man! This past weekend we remedied the situation with a weekend in The Big Apple.

I could write for days about all of the experiences we squeezed into 48 hours, but there was one experience in particular that wrecked me. I’ve been to NYC a few times and never made it to ground zero or the 9/11 museum. Before traveling I looked up Veteran’s Day activities in the city and found that the museum was offering free entry for veterans this week and half price entry for family members. I’m a cheapskate thrifty. $12 is easier on our budget than $42 so I pitched the museum in our trip planning. It made the cut.

Oh. My. Word. Every single American (and anyone who underestimates the power of hatred) should go there. I have to be honest. I thought it would be educational and expected to feel a little sadness. What I did not expect is to be wrecked. As I walked around the bottom of the museum and witnessed the excavated areas of the north and south towers, I was completely overwhelmed. Tears began to pour and they did not stop for quite some time after we left. IMG_4279This picture was taken inside the foundation of the south tower. See that little man standing in the right corner? That little man was well over six feet tall. This simple two-word phrase kept running through my mind as I tried to take in what I was seeing…

Hate destroys.

Hate = destruction. Towers built on the strongest of foundations were destroyed by a single act of hatred.

The opposite of hate is love. Both require passion and dedication and sacrifice. One leads to freedom, the other to destruction.

In the aforementioned quote, those two people who’ve offered to die for you? In both cases, the willingness to lay down their lives has been rooted in immeasurable love.

Today, thank Jesus for eternal life granted by the cross and resurrection. And then, thank a veteran for your daily freedom.

Love = Freedom

BTW: we spent time with Sofija on our way to NY and again on our way home. She damaged a wall with her head last week so she’s making a fashion statement with a helmet while her head heals. She still captivates me… IMG_0223-2

stepping forward…


Isaiah 43:19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

After almost four years of more togetherness than any married couple has ever wished for, as expected, my Dear Hubby got official orders yesterday. He begins work as a MILDEP at the closest Army base to our house (Hooray for short commutes!) on October 15th. That’s right. After 196 weeks of looking at each other from opposite couches, we only have ONE MORE WEEK to turn all this together-time into quality-time.

This opportunity to finish well is a BIG, HUGE, MIND-BOGGLING MIRACLE. It is absolute, indisputable evidence that God answers prayer and delivers the desires of our hearts. Walking into this new season is not simply a victory for our family. It is a victory for each and every one of you that has stood by us in prayer and held on to the faith and hope that God is who He says He is. We are humbled by each person who has faithfully walked this road with us. Compassion-weariness is a real thing. I know. There have been times when I’ve stepped away from relationships with people who’ve walked through extended painful seasons. Thank you for not growing compassion-weary!!

Now we need new prayers. This new season is going to be a HUGE change for us. I stopped working in September of 2011 and the investigation began that December. Our family has lived in a little bubble where we see and communicate with each other ALL FLIPPIN’ DAY. Everything about the way we get through our day is about to drastically change. Please pray that the transition is peace-filled and grace-filled. And if you hear me one of us complaining, remind me us that this season, this opportunity to finish well, is an answer to prayer.

Please and thanks.

Forgiveness is better than karma.


In the weeks since I wrote the letter to General Becker, I’ve received countless messages saying things like, “I don’t know that I could forgive him for what he did.” and “How can you forgive the people who destroyed your husband’s career?”

With the questions have come miracles. Miracles we never dreamed or imagined…

As we’ve digested the impact of the miracles, I have struggled with how to answer questions regarding forgiveness, but here’s the gist of it…

I have no choice.

For many years, the people who know me well have heard me say, “I LOVE forgiveness!” Sometimes people respond with an emphatic, “Me too!” and sometimes they look at me like I have a third eye. There’s this thing I’ve noticed about the third-eye-people; they always say something about karma and how it’s a bitch or how they can’t wait to see karma come full circle at the mention of the word forgiveness.

Matthew 6:12-13 “…and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

That verse up there. ^^ It’s not just any verse. The first sermon Jesus ever preached was the Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon, Jesus said, “Pray like this…” and then he gave what became known as The Lord’s Prayer. Every Catholic and Protestant on the planet will learn that prayer. Yet, many still believe in karma.

Jesus was pretty clear. “Pray like this…” Ask God to forgive your sins to the same degree you’ve forgiven others. It’s the simplest of prayers and the clearest path to freedom…

Forgive so that you can be forgiven.


I’m sure you’re wondering, “What the heck do beer goggles have to do with forgiveness?”

Here ya go… Beer goggles make things look prettier than they may actually be. I know this to be a fact. Do you know the antonym for beer goggles? What accomplishes the opposite of making things look prettier than they actually are?

Unforgiveness is the answer.

Unforgiveness makes things look uglier than they actually are. The longer you hold on to unforgiveness, the uglier a person becomes. When you refuse to forgive, eventually, you can no longer see any good in a person.

You wanna know the difference between karma and forgiveness? It’s pretty simple. Do you choose to give a person a pardon or do you choose to put them on probation. When a person has committed a crime and they are given a pardon, all is forgiven. That person is free to live their life and they no longer face any consequences for their crime. When a person is on probation, they are living with conditional freedom. They have to report to a probation officer and they have to meet constant expectations and work to prove that they have changed.

I have witnessed it repeatedly. People that rely on karma don’t forgive and they put people who’ve hurt them on probation. They just keep waiting for those who’ve hurt them to reap what they’ve sown. They believe that “revenge is sweet”. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I will most certainly fall into the karma trap again…

One thing about karma is that it is indeed a bitch. It creates a circle of waiting to get what you deserve and waiting for others to get what they deserve. It holds everyone in that circle prisoner. I’ve seen people I love waste their lives looking back and waiting for karma to get even with someone who’s hurt them. All they see is ugly. All they do is wait.

But oh forgiveness… it sets people free.

That’s what I choose. I choose to forgive. I choose freedom.

In an attempt to teach my children the power of grace, I’ve made a repentance/forgiveness box for the last few Lenten seasons. The boxes are wrapped in paper with a slot cut in the top for inserting notes. I write scriptures, love notes really, about grace and forgiveness all over the box and attach a nail to the top that represents the ones used to hold Jesus on the cross. next to the box are notepads and a jar of pens. Between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday everyone who enters our home is invited to leave their sins and their unforgiveness in the box and on Easter night, we burn the entire thing.

Except this year… Dear Hubby and I have been stuck. I made the box on Mardi Gras and for six months, everyone who entered our home, was encouraged to leave something behind. We just kept delaying the burning. We kept delaying the letting go. Week after week, some days hour after hour, we would scribble names and details on pieces of paper, fold them neatly, and drop them in the box.

If you read the Sermon on the Mount, skip forward to Matthew 18 and read the parable of the unforgiving debtor. It’s a perfect picture of the difference between forgiveness and karma. In the beginning of the parable Peter asks Jesus,“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!…”

For most of my life I was overwhelmed by this concept. Are we really required to forgive someone four hundred and ninety times? What does that even look like? Can you imagine telling your six month old baby, “I forgive you for puking on my favorite sweater.” FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY times?!

Then again, that baby’s first words might be, “I forgive you…” Hmmmm….

Despite the fact that the abundance of forgiving might produce a ridiculously graceful child, I really don’t think that’s what Jesus was saying at all. I believe that Jesus was saying that you keep forgiving until your heart stops hurting. If you’re still seeing ugly in a person, you probably need to keep forgiving them. If you’re still expectantly waiting for someone to get what they deserve, you’re not done forgiving.


For four months my husband and I dropped notes in the box that said abstract things like, “I forgive the Army.”, “I forgive the people who made the false accusations against my husband.”, “I forgive the people or person that is trying to destroy my husband’s career.”

And then… in June, we got the investigation notes and we had actual names attached to actual faces. We had actual actions and words spoken. Our notes changed. Our forgiveness changed.

If I had to guess, between the day we got the investigation notes and the night we burned the box, we each wrote several thousand notes. It may have actually taken 490 scraps of paper covered with two names for our hearts to feel free…

Forgiveness does not only release the forgiver and the forgiven. It also releases the power of God to move in miraculous ways.

Thirty-six hours after we burned that box, my dear hubby got a phone call from one of his old bosses. Someone that has not contacted him in four years and whose name was dropped in the box a few times, called to apologize. That’s worth repeating… He apologized. Profusely. And… he promised to get dear hubby’s security clearance immediately reinstated. And he did. He also did much, much more to restore what we thought was forever gone. And now my dear hubby is getting ready to start a REALLY SWEET job that will allow him to finish well. For four years we’ve prayed… “God, please allow him the opportunity to finish well. Amen.” The career-killer letter? It’s gone.

I want to make something clear. Forgiveness CANNOT be tied to an apology. There’s not a single place in scripture that says so. I had to forgive my Mother for some big, huge, ugly things after she was dead. I’ll never get an apology from her. She is forgiven. I’ve been hurt by complete strangers (and close friends) who’ve said ugly things about my stimmers (my kiddos with autism). I’ll never get an apology. They are still forgiven. The men who made the accusations against my husband will likely never apologize. They are forgiven.

Sometimes you get an apology. Most of the time you don’t. Forgive anyway.

The apology my man got. It’s a gift. It’s our lagniappe. It’s one of our many miracles.

One more thing… That little note at the top.. the one about Karma not having a menu? That makes me sad. I like menus. I like choices. Some days I want the calamari and some days I want the stuffed mushrooms. And let’s be honest… Do any of us actually want what we deserve? If I got what I deserve I’d be feasting nightly on dirty dishwater. But God… He loves me enough to have given His son so that I get to feast daily on His forgiveness.

When given the choice between forgiveness and karma; I choose forgiveness.




I somehow forgot that yesterday was “Awakening Day”. Six years ago our world was placed on a new trajectory. Happy Awakening Day, Sofija Bea Brave!

Originally posted on Waving a White Flag:

Ana's eyes

One year ago today I opened an email that contained a link that changed my world.  I woke up on September17th without any plans to adopt and with a to-do list that was a mile long.  Halfway through my day I became aware that Ana Sofija Calvaresi existed.  My to-do list became unimportant.

Isaiah 43:5 “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.  I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.”

I didn’t understand the how or why or what, but I could not escape the call.  My child was on the other side of the world and it was urgent for me to go get her.  I had no fear.  God was with me.  He provided everything we needed.  He “gathered” us.  And He brought her home from the east.

Lots of adoptive families celebrate “gotcha” days.  The day that their child…

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the treadmill



Woke up today struggling with comparison and quickly losing my joy in the process. Then I remembered this oldie but goodie post that I wrote in 2011. Stay focused on YOUR steps…

Originally posted on Waving a White Flag:

originally published May 19, 2011 at

I’m a huge fan of the couch potato to 5k running plan.  Such a huge fan that I’ve started it no less than a dozen times in the past three years.  I do enjoy the way that it allows you to slowly build up speed and endurance.  I’ve always been one of those people who steps on the treadmill before I hit the power button.  My pace increases with the speed of the belt which allows my body to slowly warm up to the idea that I am about to torture it for a few minutes.  (emphasis on few)  Can you see why me and the C25K program became quick friends?  The methodology I apply to running spills over into most things in my life.  I love to witness the beginning a new thing and watch its momentum build.

While in Serbia…

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