when the earth shakes…

gulfport

This week marks ten years since Hurricane Katrina forever changed the landscape of the gulf coast of America. Time for the gulf coast is now marked by “before Katrina” and “after Katrina”. The gulf coast has rebuilt, but the after is markedly different from the before.

August 12, 2015 was our family’s Katrina. We are forever changed. We will rebuild, but our after will look markedly different from our before.

Friends and family keep asking how we’re doing. We’re shaken. After Katrina it took months for power to be restored in many places. During those months, people whose homes were in the places without power were displaced, unsettled, and forced to wait on moving forward with life. That’s where we are right now. The Army hasn’t made any final decisions on when Chad will retire, or if he will do a short-term job before retirement, or whether they will let him finish the medical retirement board he began a few years ago, or if they will force us to move for his remaining time on active duty. The storm has passed. Nothing looks the same. We are without power.

But… Matthew 7:24-25 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock…” ~ Jesus

Our family has weathered other storms. I’ve battled cancer. We’ve survived war. We’ve walked through a torrential adoption and the aftermath. We’ve been homeless. Each storm changed us. Each marked time. Each left us with a markedly different “before” and “after”.

But NO storm has the power to change our foundation. We stand on solid rock.

Four years ago we were preparing to purchase a cute little house on a great street in our neighborhood. The closing was scheduled for the morning of August 30th. One week before closing, on August 23rd, the earth literally shook. Our area was shaken by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. If you’ve never experienced an earthquake, it is unsettling. When the windows stopped shaking and the light fixtures stopped swinging, my thoughts went to the house we were planning to purchase. The earthquake revealed cracks in the cute little house’s walls and foundation. Four days later Hurricane Irene blasted through our area. On the morning of August 28th, two days before we were scheduled to sign the closing papers, we walked through floodwaters in the cute little house and on the morning of the 30th, while removing water-damaged sheetrock, a structural engineer discovered that the entire support structure of the main floor was infested with termites. Everything we owned was sitting in a moving truck and we had no clue where we would sleep that night. But we knew we were not going to purchase the cute little house.

Our plan for the cute little house was to completely remodel it and double the square footage while we were living in it. The project would’ve taken 8-12 months to complete. We had the plans and the contractors lined up.

But God knew.

Jeremiah 29:11GWT I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope.

He knew that three months later we would enter the fire. He knew that the investigation my husband was about to walk through would leave us with zero reserve energy or patience or grace for a whole-house renovation. 

After two weeks of quasi-homelessness (friends who were traveling graciously let us stay in their home), we landed in a great rental that has been home to our family for the last four years. The house we live in was built on the foundation of a chapel that was part of a girls’ camp. The camp was built on land once owned by George Washington. This place has been our sanctuary as we’ve weathered the latest storm. And it just so happens, this house is built on solid rock.

Do you know what you stand on? Do you know what your foundation is made of? If not, I encourage you to plant your feet firmly on The Rock. Storms in life are guaranteed.

Psalm 62:5-6NLT

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
    for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Dear MG Becker,

Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you…

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I woke up this morning feeling helpless. If only I could talk to General Becker. And then I remembered… I’m a writer.

MG Becker,

I am the wife of LTC Chad Calvaresi and I should have written this letter several weeks ago.

Yesterday you destroyed my husband’s career.

Chad left the meeting with you on Tuesday at peace. He thought that you had seen the truth and that you would act accordingly. Today, as he drives our son to college in Louisiana, we are separately trying to catch our breath from the punch to the gut your initials on the GOMOR delivered.

The accusations made against my husband, conspiracy and bribery, are criminal offenses. If there had been ANY evidence to substantiate wrongdoing on his part, he would have either been prosecuted by the ARMY under the UCMJ or by the DOJ. Both the ARMY and the DOJ declined prosecution not once, but TWICE. Yet, your predecessor made the decision to issue a letter carrying the potential to destroy both his military career and his post-military career. And then yesterday, based on a FORTY-FOUR MONTH fruitless investigation, you made the decision to initial that third box guaranteeing that his career is destroyed and that he will never get a job in any industry that wants or has access to his military record.

The biggest reason I wish I’d written this letter before you met with my husband is because I know him and you do not. Nearly twenty-two years ago I married the most honest and honorable man I’d ever met. I have always described him as “obnoxiously good”.  He has the strongest moral compass of anyone you could ever have the privilege of knowing and he ALWAYS stands up for what is right and condemns what is wrong. And… until December of 2011, he gave the Army and this nation all that he had without ever being disciplined or having his character called into question.

In 2010, just before we traveled to Serbia to adopt our youngest daughter, Chad was requested by name to fill the role of acquisition adviser to the G2. He had no idea what a minefield he was stepping into, but he was honored to accept the position. The stress of working around the corruption in the G2 nearly killed him. Four months before the false accusations were made against him, he became deathly ill and spent two weeks in the hospital. Doctor after doctor saw him and ran every test imaginable trying to find the root of what was making him so ill. They could find no explanation.

Several days into his hospital stay, with my Mother-in-law and I sitting in the room, P.O. (President of i3 ICS) walked into my husband’s hospital room and said, “Well, I guess I have to get you in the hospital in order to get a meeting with you.” I had never met the man before, but I knew exactly who he was.

If the federal investigators that came to our home and questioned me last fall had taken five minutes (it took me less than 5) to look into the relationship between CPT G.T. and P.O. they would have found that the two have been close friends for at least a decade. Their families socialize. G.T. is the one who made the initial accusations against Chad. G.T. also happened to have a desk right outside of the G2 General’s office the entire time my husband worked in the G2. For years G.T. had influenced the G2 in pushing money to i3 ICS on non-performing contracts. G.T. and P.O. did everything in their power to win Chad’s influence in pushing money to those contracts. When he refused to participate, he became mysteriously ill. When he returned to work after his hospitalization and still refused to participate in their game of corruption, they did what they knew was the quickest way to get him out of the G2.  They accused him of conspiracy and bribery. The timing was brilliant. The most honest SES in the G2 was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins fighting cancer and with he and Chad both out of the office they were able to quickly make A LOT of money.

I’ve shared the story of the last several years with Congressmen, the AP intelligence reporter, publishers, a movie producer, and the thousands of people who read my blog. The truth will be exposed. 2 Corinthians 4:6 “Let there be light in the darkness.”

God promised, “All things will work together for the good of those who love Him…” My husband and I love Him dearly and we believe that even if we can’t see it at this moment, He is working it all together for our good. Good WILL come from this mess.

Despite the career-destroying decision you made yesterday, we have to somehow look at our four children and tell them standing up for what is right and good will be rewarded. So we HAVE TO find the good in this and we have to believe that God has far better plans for our family than any future the Army could have provided.  I have to pray and believe that the honest, honorable man I married in 1994 will not forget who he is. I have to hope that he will not allow the words you signed your name to this week to define him.

General Becker, I forgive you and I pray that you and your family NEVER experience the hell that ours has endured for the last four years.

Be Blessed.

Kaci Calvaresi

Doors

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Revelation 3:8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.

This morning the Army prosecutor told our attorney that we would receive a letter in the mail telling us the final decision made after yesterday’s meeting. We were frustrated and disappointed that the waiting would continue. But we resolved to wait expectantly.

This morning we also busied ourselves preparing to send our oldest son off to college. He is attending LSU and this Mama’s heart is still coming to terms with the fact that he has chosen a school (my school) that is more than 1200 miles away from home. But God opened the door and I honestly could not be prouder. As we packed, and hugged, and cried, it was easy to push the thoughts of waiting on the General’s decision to the back of my mind. I had much more important things to think about. Like hugging and crying. FullSizeRender-2

In the middle of yesterday’s events, my husband signed out on leave so that he could take our son to college. The plan was for all three of my boys to be on the road just after lunch so that they could make it to Charlotte, NC in time for dinner at Nana’s house. As with everything else in our lives, the day did not go as planned. To start with, our dear Sofija hasn’t slept through the night since Saturday. That means her Tata and I haven’t slept through the night either. We’re walking zombies at this point. Adding to our slow motion delays, our precious man-child had a few things he wanted to do before leaving. Since one of those things was a date with his Mama, we obliged him.

By the time all of the packing and hugging and crying were as done as we could handle, it was after 3pm. I picked up Sofija from school and hurried back for one last hug and a few more tears. As I walked in the door I could hear my dear husband’s not-so-happy voice from the back of the house. His battalion commander (they’re the same rank) had someone in the office call and ask him to come in at 4:30pm to formally receive the final decision. After a little moaning and groaning over the inconvenience of having to put on a uniform and drive to Ft. Myer, while on leave, when he was planning to be on the road going the opposite direction several hours earlier, we stopped and prayed. As requested, he changed into his uniform and reported to his office.

It did not go as we’d hoped, but it’s over. With ZERO evidence to substantiate the claims, he has a letter stating that he was accused of conspiracy and bribery in his permanent military record. When he returns from getting our son off to college, he will request a meeting the General and ask him why, after all that transpired in yesterday’s meeting, he decided to initial the box this morning placing the letter in his permanent military record.

I have to rant for a minute. If there had been evidence to substantiate the claims he would be in prison. Conspiracy and bribery are both not only court-martial offenses under the UCMJ, but they are criminal offenses. They are NOT the kind of offenses that are handled with a letter of reprimand. But today’s Army is NOT the Army my husband pledged to serve in as a teenager. In less than two years they have to reduce the size of the Army by 40,000 soldiers. In order to cut all those soldiers, the Department of Defense has declared a War on Warriors. My husband’s career is now a casualty of that war.

The door is closed.

One specific thing that we pray repeatedly in our home is, “God, make clear the doors YOU’VE opened and keep us away from the doors you’ve closed.” God has clearly closed the door on my husband’s military career.

Ten days ago I sat around a friend’s kitchen table with a group of girlfriends. As I told them the background and caught them up on this story one of them asked, “So what are the possible outcomes?” I told her that what happened today was the worst case scenario. She then asked what my husband’s dreams are beyond the military. After I shared one of them she said, “Soooo, worst case scenario…. He has to chase his dreams.”

Life after the Army will come quickly. Chasing dreams and seeking out the doors that God has opened will replace the waiting. But the expecting will never end. Everything is being worked together for our good. God’s goodness… in the land of the living.

My heart aches for the amazing man-child I will not hug for the next few months as he launches out into this world. My heart aches for the amazingly good man I love who has put on a uniform every day since he was fourteen years old. My heart also leaps with anticipation for all that God has planned for both of them and gratitude for the fact that I’ve been entrusted to love them.

Psalm 30:5 … Weeping may remain for a night. But joy comes in the morning.

 

In the land of the living…

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Psalm 27:13 Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living.

In just a few hours my husband will meet with the commanding General of the Military District of Washington, his attorney, and his military commander. At the end of that meeting he will know how his twenty-five-year career as an Army officer will end. I feel that it’s very important I write this post BEFORE that decision has been made.

Two weeks ago I was struggling to find anything “good” about my God. All around me I saw people hurting and struggling with disappointment. Where was the goodness?

On July 25th, a precious family in our Church community, while vacationing in South Carolina, dealt with every parent’s biggest fear. That Saturday morning their two-year-old daughter was pulled lifeless from the bottom of a pool. Harper went fifteen minutes without oxygen. She was placed in a medically induced coma and they were warned that when she was taken out of the coma, she would likely be brain-dead. Our community and people all around the globe fell to our knees.

We WILL see the Lord’s goodness… in the land of the living.

After three days, Harper awoke. Her first word after waking was, “Mama”. A few hours later, a whole phrase… “I want Dada.”

I have a confession to make. For those first three days after Harper drowned, I wasn’t crying out to God with hope or expectation. I was crying with anger and frustration. Why?

Harper’s sweet Mama posted a video on Instagram of her asking for her Dada. I watched that video at least fifty times and each time I shed tears of gratitude and repentance.

In the land of the living…

What if, the first sentence we spoke upon waking was, “I want Dada”? What if our first complete thought was of how desperately we need our Heavenly Father?

In Deuteronomy 1 we’re told that the journey the Israelites had set out on, should have taken them eleven days. FORTY YEARS later, God told their leader Moses, “You have been on this road long enough…”

Eleven days after drowning and going fifteen minutes without oxygen, Harper Wilder was discharged from the hospital COMPLETELY healed and restored.

Fifteen days after drowning she took a break from running around our Church and said, “Cheeeeese” while posing for this picture. 11855794_10207351776931685_3125147552368494453_n

The Father’s goodness…. in the land of the living.

I do not want for a second to discount the pain of those who pray for someone’s healing and see that perfect healing come in the form of physical death. Nor do I want to discount the disappointment of long-waiting for answered prayers or prayers answered in different ways than we have hoped.

But I know this….

Romans 8:2And we know that God causes EVERYTHING to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

EVERYTHING works together for our good.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

His thoughts are NOTHING like ours.

Ephesians 3:20 God can do ANYTHING, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

What if, we looked for NOTHING but His goodness? What if we expected it? What if we looked at every circumstance in our lives without trying to figure it out with our limited ways of thinking? What if we just looked at everything with the expectation, the knowledge, that it is ALL working together for our good.

Psalm 23:6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life,…

His goodness… in the land of the living.

No matter what the outcome is of today’s meeting, it is for our good.

Amen.

It is well.

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When Horatio Spafford wrote the classic hymn It Is Well With My Soul, his life was anything but well. He had lost his wealth, his only son, and his four daughters. As he looked out over the place in the Atlantic Ocean that had taken the lives of his daughters, he penned the words…

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

In the last week, as our family has continued with the waiting and expecting of God’s goodness in the situation with my husband’s career, countless people around us have walked through their own storms. A young neighbor had a heart attack. A friend with special needs children of her own lost her husband after a VERY short battle with cancer. A precious two-year-old girl in our Church family drowned Saturday and went fifteen minutes without oxygen. A cousin who is living here temporarily as a travel nurse spent the day in the hospital with heart issues. Another friend was forced to leave behind her one-year-old daughter to honor her military orders.

So much waiting. So much expecting. So much sorrow.

When sorrows like sea billows roll…

It is well, it is well with my soul.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18NLT  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Please do me a favor.

tjIf you or anyone you care about has ever been granted the Constitutional right to a speedy trial, afforded the opportunity to face the accusers, allowed a defense, and had the outcome decided by a jury of peers and issued by a judge, AND received no judicial punishment until after that outcome was decided; please take a moment and thank God for the wisdom of America’s founding fathers. And then take a moment to wonder why the soldiers who protect and defend the Constitution are not protected by it.

My husband was accused of conspiracy and bribery in December of 2011. He was never told what he was accused of or who made the accusations for three and half years. In fact, he wasn’t told those things until AFTER he had been punished. No defense. No jury. No trial. No facing his accusers. Yesterday his fate was decided behind closed doors by an Army prosecutor and a General that have never had any contact with my husband. The people who know that fate have chosen to keep it to themselves.

So for at least three more days…

We continue to wait.

waiting…

waitingroom

My husband’s precious Italian Grandma passed away in January of 2007. She had the biggest personality of any person I’ve ever met and she had boobs to match that personality. Seriously. I once went with her to the shop where she had her J CUP bras made. Biggest boobs ever! In the space around those big boobs she filled her bra like a purse. If you needed a tissue, she’d reach down her shirt and whip one out. She’d often reach in and pull out money to pay for her purchases. One time we went to eat at a buffet and when we got back to her house she reached in and pulled out a chocolate chip cookie. Following in her Great-Grandma’s footsteps, our precious baby girl got into the baking drawer yesterday and, instead of eating all of the chocolate chips, she filled her bra and saved them for a late night snack. She was NOT happy when she found them melted. I was torn between laughing and thinking that the situation was kind of sad. While waiting to enjoy her treasure, she missed out on it altogether.

Our family motto used to be “Aut Tace Aut Face”. The phrase is Latin for “Act or be silent”. It’s a noble motto and I still fully appreciate the efforts of anyone around me to either step up or shut up. Just don’t sit around and complain about something unless you’re planning to do something about it.

In our current season of life, we are taking action in every area that we have the ability to take action. It is in this limited action season that a valuable lesson has been learned. There are things in life that we walk through that simply require waiting. This season has given us a new Latin phrase to live by…”Preastolatio Prestolatio”. Translation: “The waiting for, expectation”.  This season of life is not just about waiting. It’s about expecting.

I know that everyone who reads this blog is waiting with us; expecting with us. Three weeks ago we submitted the rebuttal to my husband’s GOMAR. We were told that the Army prosecutors (SJA) would review the rebuttal and meet with the new General last Thursday to make their recommendation and that he would make his final decision about whether or not to dismiss it. That meeting did not happen. SJA has a meeting with the General every Thursday and we were told that the rebuttal was on the agenda for this week’s meeting. It’s been a looooooong day with no word from our civilian attorney or the Army attorney. So we wait… And we expect.

Here’s the thing about waiting: Sometimes your chocolate melts. We’ve been waiting for almost thirty-two months. For more than thirteen hundred days, we’ve waited. When we remember that we’re expecting victory and redemption and mind-blowing, beautiful ending to this story, we are able to take the time to enjoy the moments we’re living in. When we forget what we’re expecting, we miss out on the good stuff. I have to be perfectly honest here. We’ve missed out on more good stuff in the last 1300+ days than we could ever recall. A LOT of chocolate has melted.

But… we’re still standing. Our marriage has survived. Our children have not only survived, they’re all flippin’ AMAZING. Yes, even Sofija. Although we’ve come up with at least a hundred plans, We haven’t sought vengeance. We’re definitely not as healthy or fit as we were thirty-two months ago, but we’re still alive and we haven’t let ourselves go to the point of no return (I hope).

Please know that we are eternally grateful for all of the prayer and encouragement and phone calls and messages. If I haven’t replied to you, I promise it’s not personal. It’s just painful to repeatedly type, “We don’t know anything.” We don’t know anything.

Tonight my chocolate was to turn off my phone and messages for a while, snuggle on the couch with Sofija, sip a gin and tonic, and binge-watch Orphan Black. Don’t judge.

I don’t often read the King James translation of the Bible and I certainly didn’t memorize the KJ version of Jeremiah 29:11. But today I was searching the Bible on expectations and found this…

Jeremiah 29:11KJV  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an EXPECTED END.

It’s almost over.