My Hero <3

Today is Veterans’ Day. It is the day of the year set aside to honor those who’ve served our nation.

See that cute soldier? He’s mine. While I’m not willing to share him for husbandly duties, for almost two and a half decades I shared him with every single one of you as a defender of freedom.

My Dear Hubby willingly and gladly put his life on the line to defend and protect not only the American people, but the people of the nations he deployed to. He has served with integrity and honor. Even after being falsely accused of conspiracy and fraud and spending almost four years under federal investigation, he stepped into his last active duty position with the same dedication and willingness to serve this nation as every other role he held as a soldier. He is a true American hero.

In case you live under a rock and you missed it, this week America elected a new President. In the days following the election people who did not support the President-elect have protested, rioted, physically attacked those who they “think” voted him in, and burned the American flag.

1 Timothy 2:1-3  The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

1 Peter 2:17 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

Although I think political preferences are private matters and I greatly appreciate the curtain around a voting both, I’d like to make it clear that I did not support either major candidate. Since the primaries I’ve been genuinely sad that Trump and Clinton were the best we could come up with out of the entire American population. However, on January 20th, Donald Trump will become my President. And because he is the man chosen by God, or allowed by God, to fill that position, I will respect him and I will pray for him. Not because of who he is or anything he’s done, but because I am a follower of Christ and because God commands it.

My guy served this nation under FIVE Presidents. If you don’t know any veterans, there is something you need to understand. Those men and women who put on uniforms and risk their lives for freedom are not serving a President. They are serving YOU. When you burn an American flag you are not displaying your disrespect for the President. You are displaying disrespect for my husband and every other American veteran. It’s like spitting in the face of those who are willing to die for you.

So today, on the day we honor those who’ve fought for freedom, I ask you to put aside whatever negative emotions you’re having about this week’s election and thank a veteran for their service. Instead of protesting and rioting, thank a veteran for your freedom to do so. And no matter what side of the political aisle you sit on, pray for our leaders. They need it.

Thank you, Babe, for giving me the freedom to express my beliefs (even when they don’t align with yours). I love you immeasurably and I’m eternally indebted to you for your service. 1530445_10202748513812984_1419901548_n




For the last week we’ve made nightly pilgrimages to the beach to watch the sunset. Every sunset outdoes the one before and every evening I’m reminded how good this place is for my soul. It’s good for my baby girl’s soul too. After needing someone to hold her hands for months, I’m in awe every time I watch her jump out of the car at the beach and run in the water completely independent. The water and sun are quite literally healing her.


Two nights ago I snapped this picture of her free hands and then followed her gaze to two little girls who appeared to be about four and six years old sprinting down the beach. Just as I looked at them, the older girl stopped dead in her tracks and asked, “Where are the adults?” She then clenched her fists and yelled, “WE NEED AN ADULT!” That little girl is my soul sister.

Throughout this election season I keep looking around and asking myself, “Where are the adults?” I’ve watched the candidates talk about each other like the kids my Mom told me to stay away from in elementary and middle school. I’ve watched people on social media sever relationships with friends and family over which candidate they support. Every single time I see someone post, “If you’re voting for ____, please unfriend me now”, all I can think of is the mean little five year old girl that lived behind us when my daughter was in kindergarten. She made my daughter cry repeatedly by telling her things like, “I can’t play with you because I don’t like your dress.” or “I can’t be your friend because your hair isn’t long.”

I’ll make this easy for my friends and family. I don’t care who you’re voting for, or even if you cheered for Alabama last weekend. I still love you. And I always will.

For all of you that are completely impassioned over your chosen candidate, I respect you for being so certain of what you believe in. I’m just not there.

For everyone who’s freaking out over this election (like me), I have some comfort to offer you…

Without googling or phoning a friend, answer these two questions:

1. Who won the Presidential election of 1916?

2. Who won the Presidential election of 1816?

Do you know the answers off the top of your head? If you do, you’re probably smarter than 99.9% of Americans. If you don’t know, it’s okay. I had to do a little research to find the answers myself.

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) was elected to his second term as President. It is indisputable that he was a racist and a misogynist. Throughout his first term women suffragists were thrown in prison for protesting over the right to vote. During his second term, he made several public comments in support of women voting, but the 19th amendment didn’t actually pass until after his Presidency. Wilson did some good things. Wilson did some bad things. America survived.

In 1816, James Monroe (a Democratic-Republican- Hah! ) beat out Rufus King (a Federalist). Do you know why Thomas Jefferson formed the Democratic-Republican party? It was formed in opposition to the Federalist party ratifying the Constitution. Guess what? America survived. So did our Constitution.

My point is this… On Wednesday (by God’s grace) we will know who will be the 45th President of these United States. 45 will likely do some good things and some bad things and in 2116 the majority of Americans won’t have a clue who won this specific election. Only God knows if America will still be America in 2116. Speaking of… there is only one ABSOLUTE certainty…

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and FOREVER. 

America is less than 250 years old. God is eternal.

After watching the little girl on the beach clench her fists and scream, “WE NEED AN ADULT!” I looked around and couldn’t see one anywhere in my line of sight. And then I realized, as much as I don’t feel like adulting most days, I am a bonifide grown-up. I have two children in college and two that rely on me to be their constant caretaker. I have buried my mother and grandparents and handled all the adult aftermath of their deaths. And I’ve voted in seven Presidential elections.

I’m pretty sure that if you’re reading this, you’re an adult too. Can you do me a favor? No matter who you’re voting for tomorrow, let’s show each other a little grown-up love and respect. I don’t care how long your hair is. I don’t care if you wear yoga pants and a hoodie every day of the year. Well actually, I respect you for that… even if that hoodie shows support for Alabama. I just know that the only certainty in this whole frickin’ universe is that God is still God and He always will be. And I’m pretty sure that when we stand before Him we will have to answer more for how we love and respect the people we have the privilege of knowing than we will for how we voted in 2016.



Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.


[tran-zishuh n, –sish-]


1.movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another; change:

Everything about our life has transitioned…

October 14, 2016, my dear hubby officially became a civilian.

October 20th, 2016 we watched a moving truck drive away from our house on Fort Belvoir that basically contained everything we own.


October 21st, 2016, after 53 weeks of driving 77 miles each way to visit her every other day, we picked up our baby girl from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and got on a train headed for Florida.


October 22nd, 2016, we woke up on the train to the sights of palm trees and water. The transition to our new state was nearly complete… or so we thought.

Y’all, I mentioned in my last post that change has gotten harder for me to cope with in my old age and that I NEED a plan. I should’ve known that putting that out there for the world and God to read would create a “growth opportunity”.

We HAD a very detailed, perfectly organized plan for the transition to Florida that included closing on our new house either two days before we left Virginia or within the first few days of arriving in Florida. I booked a beach house for twelve days that is located six miles from the house we planned to buy so that we could take turns sitting with Sofija and going to the house to unpack and paint. My plan gave me plenty of time to get all my nesting done before transitioning our baby girl to her new home. Do you see how flexible I was being? I gave God lots of days to work out the specific details of when we would close on the house. But noooo…. once again, my plans and His plans did not align.

October 26, 2016, about the time I was growing completely impatient with the whole house-buying process and on the day I was an emotional wreck preparing to say, “Goodbye” to the team of people that helped us travel to Florida with Sofija, we got a call from our mortgage broker. The appraisal on the house had not been done and he was calling to say that we need an additional $50k+ to close on the house. Ugghhhh yeah… We have two kids in college, one who just spent a year in a hospital more than hour away from our home, and dear hubby JUST started his first post-Army job. We do NOT have an additional $50k sitting around. After we vented about how it would’ve been great if he’d said we needed the extra money a month ago, and freaked out more than just a little bit, and had a beer at the beach, we remembered…

This is our seventeenth move. Out of seventeen moves, we have had uncertainty about where we would live up until the very last minute at least twelve times. Seventeen times, we’ve found a home.

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and THANK HIM for all He has done.

I’m not gonna lie. I worry about every other minute. But in the minutes between the worrying I’m doing A LOT of praying and A LOT of thanking.

The day after we arrived in Florida the MOST AMAZING BCBA (behavior therapist) started working with Sofija. On that very same day we hired someone to work with her for 30 hours a week in addition to the hours we have our BCBA. We also hired a backup for weekends and evenings (Hooray for date nights!) and our firstborn asked if she can be added to the weekend payroll of Sofija-whisperers. My Mama heart is bursting! On Friday, after nearly five months of needing someone to hold her hands 24/7, Sofija let go and swam in the pool for FIVE straight hours. Every day she’s getting a little braver and a little more independent and after thirteen days she’s gone from asking ten times an hour to about once a day if she’s “Done with KKI”.


Sooo many things to be thankful for.


Our baby girl is home.


Our baby boy is a happy camper.


We get to see sunsets like this ^^^ every single day.


After too many years of hell on earth, dear hubby and I are still married and kinda like each other. 🙂

Our life is not easy. We’re still getting beat up and working hard to keep baby girl from beating herself up on a daily basis. The amount of help we need means that every day has A LOT of moving parts and that we don’t have the luxury of taking a day to “just be”. But we really do have SO much to be thankful for. And when I remember all those things, the hard stuff isn’t quite so hard.

The house situation will work itself out. In the meantime… there’s paradise to enjoy.




Turning the page… Relax. This is NOT a political post.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to scream if I start reading another article or blog post looking for inspiration, laughter, or encouragement; only to find myself lured in to someone’s political agenda. So, I thought I’d put it right there in the title. You can relax. This post will contain NOTHING political.


Amongst other things, I am a writer and I am a reader. Whether I’m reading or writing, I am pained by bad grammar, misspelled words, and blank pages. I love ALL the words. I want to write all the words and I want to read all the words. A page with no words has no value. My last five years have contained way too many blank pages.

In the summer of 2011, our family found ourselves semi-homeless (dear friends let us stay in their house while they were out of the country) for a few weeks. All the words were written on the pages of the chapter leading up to being homeless, but for nearly three weeks I stared at a blank page while begging God to tell me what came next.

In December of 2011 my husband had false allegations made against him that launched a career-destroying investigation that seemed to have no end. For more than three and a half years I stared at a blank page begging God to make it end and allow us to close that chapter.

October 13, 2015, my baby girl Sofija was admitted to the Neurobehavioral Unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Though I could see God’s hand in every step of the path to get her there, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. And for the last twelve months I’ve had no choice but to trust that God would protect her and give us all the strength and courage to get through the days until she is healthy enough to close the KKI chapter and turn the page that brings her home.

Early in 2016 a few things became very clear. There were some words written on the page in front of us, but not enough to tell us what was coming. We knew that my husband would retire from the Army. We knew that once he retired we would no longer be able to live in our house on the military base. We also knew that Sofija’s discharge would likely coincide with retiring and moving.

You know what’s more painful to me than a completely blank page? A page with only a few words on it. I want NEED to know the WHOLE plan. I suck at waiting and not knowing and God is so gracious that He just keeps giving me opportunities to get better at both. He’s good like that.  :/

The majority of this year has felt much like those moments when you have to pee really bad and you go to a public restroom and then realize AFTER you’ve peed that there is no toilet paper in the stall. For the guys reading who don’t get this reference.. the second you realize that there is no toilet paper, you experience a moment of panic. It’s too late to turn back and all the solutions you can think of (like asking the stranger in the stall next to you to pass some under the divider, or worse..dripping dry) are a little unnerving. That’s the story of the first 75% of my 2016. Can’t turn back. Couldn’t see what was coming next. Had no clear plan. Every plan I could possibly conceive was daunting.


I’m writing this post because I want to share with you just how flippin’ AMAZING God’s ways are. I know that somebody is reading this and staring at your own blank page or a page with only a few words on it and you have no clue what comes next. Maybe every scenario you can think of is overwhelming or scary. But God knows what comes next. He really is good. And thankfully, His thoughts are NOTHING like yours or mine…

We held my husband’s retirement ceremony on September 1st and his official retirement date was October 14th. He spent the summer applying for jobs and after spending nearly four years under investigation where he didn’t use any of his leave, he had a TON of leave to burn before retirement. Our plan was for him to start a new job around the time of his retirement ceremony, find a house, move and unpack, and then bring Sofija home. We had no clue where the job or home would be, but we hoped it would be in Florida.


But God’s ways are FAR beyond anything we can imagine…

Things did NOT go as we had planned. The week of his retirement ceremony, Dear Hubby still had no job. For nearly two months there was talk that one was being created for him, but it never came to fruition. One week after his retirement ceremony, he STILL had no job. He posted a Facebook status thanking our friends and family and God for celebrating retirement with us. I noticed one extremely kind comment on his post from a name I wasn’t familiar with. A guy named John said that there were few people he’d met in life that made a lasting impact on him, but Chad was one of them. While DH told me about how they met on his last tour in Iraq, John contacted him through LinkedIn and asked what his plans were after the Army. The next day they had an hour-long phone interview and the following day he interviewed with the board of directors. A few days later he was offered a position (without ever submitting his resume) as the Vice President of DOD and Federal Business. He is opening an office for the company in the Tampa area.

The week after he accepted the job, we flew to Tampa to look at houses. There was one house that checked all of our boxes in an area that (until that point) I was certain I wanted to live. We spent over an hour looking at it and went back the following day and spent two more hours. Chad was in love. I was not. I could not explain why, but I had ZERO peace. I kept looking in drawers and closets and riding the elevator (yes, it had one), and going out to the pool, and walking out on the dock, and looking at the theater room, and wondering what the heck was wrong with me. The house was everything we thought we wanted and I had a big burning softball in my belly. As we drove to the airport in silence I could feel Chad’s frustration with me. He wanted the house and I just could not say, “Let’s make an offer.” I had a prompting to look up the Florida sex offender registry. Guess what? The man RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from the house got out of prison in 2011 after doing time for molesting children. I’m sharing this because people, we have the Holy Spirit for a reason. LISTEN!! We could have ended up living across the street from a predator if we had moved forward based on reason and logic and not trusted my discernment.

Long story short.. oh wait, it’s too late for that. 😉 We have a house under contract in Bradenton and we close at the end of the month. It’s amazing and peaceful and I can’t wait to share more about it.

The same week that we ratified the contract on our house, the behavior team at Kennedy Krieger connected me with a behavior therapist that only lives about ten minutes from our new house. And.. she used to work at Kennedy Krieger. And.. she has experience with children who have behaviors like Sofija. And.. she accepts our insurance. My autism Mama friends know what a HUGE deal this is. It is nearly impossible to find a behavior therapist (BCBA) period. So to find one with availability that is so amazingly perfect for my baby girl within ten minutes of where we live, is an absolute miracle.

Yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel Chad Calvaresi became private citizen Calvaresi complete with a handsome blue retiree ID card.

We have movers packing us up and taking everything away Tuesday-Thursday of next week.

On Friday we pick Sofija up from KKI and board a train bound for Florida. We will stay in a beach house for a couple of weeks while we are closing and getting things settled at the new house.

The blank page is turning…

Every detail of life is changing very quickly. It is indeed a brand new chapter. I like to say that I embrace change, but on this side of the hill… not so much. Feel free to pray for me.



Happy Birthday, Drew

imagesForty-eight years ago today, one of my favorites was born. He’s not on Facebook so I’m sending him a birthday shoutout on the blog.

On a few occasions he’s talked my hubby out of killing me or himself. On countless occasions, his encouragement and truth-speaking has kept our marriage intact.

Thanks for being Chad’s battle buddy, loving our family well, and always letting God speak through you.

The Calvaresis love you and we’re mighty happy you were born. 🙂

Luvin’ Louisiana


What you see in this video is what you see when you drive down street after street after street in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Everything that people have worked for their entire lives has been reduced to a pile of wet, moldy trash at the curb.

My baby girl often says, “I need some luvin’.” just before piling her 5′ 4.5″ self into my lap. Right now Louisiana needs some luvin’. It’s time to hold my people.


Many of you have contacted me asking how you can help my family. I’ve asked several who’ve lost everything what they need most. They still need hands to help with gutting homes. If you are able to go there, go. I can connect you with housing while you’re able to be there. The immediate need for cleaning supplies and food is being met.

The immediate needs are just the tip of the iceberg. The needs are HUGE and hard to wrap my head around. The majority of homes that were flooded were not covered by flood insurance because they were not located in a FEMA designated floodplain. Federal aid is miniscule. Many people that I know and love are still trying to figure out where they will live and how they will rebuild and replace EVERYTHING.

Please look back over the list of my family that has been impacted. If you are interested in adopting one of them, let me know. I will send you the address of where they are staying and you can send help directly to them. I recommend gift cards (Amazon is great because they sell everything from groceries to furniture and clothing) and personal notes. Or, just send a personal note of encouragement. People are tired and short on hope, send some words of hope.

My uncle started a GoFundMe for my cousin Cori. She is a single Mom that worked her tail off to buy a home for her and her son. She has lost everything, including her car.

If you have a spare car to donate, we will find a way to get it to someone who has lost theirs.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation has a flood relief fund that is a trustworthy place to make donations.

Every time my son Seth prays he says, “God thank you for giving us so much love so that we have love to give others. Please give us more and more love so we have more and more to give.” For the record: I didn’t teach him that. It’s not a parenting win. He just gets it. He knows that He is dearly loved by the Father and that the love he receives is to be given to others.

1 John 3:16-17  This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

In this last week I have witnessed The Church acting like Jesus in bigger ways than I can ever recall. People have shown up in Louisiana, worked, cooked, fed, encouraged, and loved like Jesus. People are pouring out the love of God on my tribe and it makes my heart smile. But there is still SO MUCH to do.

Galatians 6:9 So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good…

I’m a Louisiana Girl and this is my tribe…


I’m a Louisiana girl. I was born and raised in and around Baton Rouge. I have a huge extended family that is still there. They are my tribe. And they are hurting.

Between Thursday and Sunday FOUR TRILLION GALLONS of water fell on South Louisiana. That’s enough water to fill SIX MILLION olympic-sized swimming pools. The chances of that much rain falling in an entire year is 0.1%. Yet, that much fell in less than four days. The national media sucks. They’ve given very little coverage and the coverage they’ve given doesn’t come close to the devastating impact the flood has had on my home state. As of a few hours ago, TWENTY parishes (counties in Louisiana) have been declared federal disasters. For perspective, the damage covers an area equal to the entire DC Metro area from Prince William County in Virginia all the way to Baltimore County in Maryland. In Denham Springs, Louisiana, more than 90% of homes were flooded. Hundreds of thousands of homes and vehicles flooded. As of noon today, at least 30,000 people have been rescued and at least 10,000 are displaced in shelters. As of a few minutes ago, ten flood-related deaths have been reported.


My people… my tribe… These are the people who cheered us on as we journeyed to adopt our daughter from Serbia and embraced her as their own when we brought her home. These are the people who fell to their knees when I was diagnosed with cancer and for the nearly four years we waited for my husband to be exonerated. These are the people who jumped for joy and gave GOD the glory in every situation where we’ve seen God move. They are the people who knew me when I still wet the bed and invited to sleep-over anyway. These are MY people and they NEED prayer. pray for la

This is an update on everyone (to the best of my knowledge). If there is someone left off the list or if you see information that is not correct, please let me know and I will update the post. I’m not listing people that do not live in or around Baton Rouge. People all over the world read this blog and many have reached out to me asking how they can help (other than prayer). Family, please let me know what your top three needs are and we will start working on meeting those needs.

McAdams Family

Aunt Lorraine and Ron’s house in Central – Flooded – Last update they were staying with neighbors.13912696_10209611048927098_302717200772024004_n

Treynor – House dry, but business flooded.

Lynee – House dry.

Madelon’s house in Bellingrath got about five feet of water. – Angie is there helping her with demo and she’s staying with Staci. They need extra hands! 13920628_10209494466454706_2410493208656593255_n

Margaret had water almost to her roof and lost her car. – Not sure where she is staying.

Bobbye Lee and Staci – both dry and helping Madelon with demo.

Kali and Thomas both lost their cars. Haven’t gotten back to their house in Watson, but were told that it’s dry.

Boo’s house (Aunt Abbie’s old house) – flooded.

Mac – Dry, but I think I saw that his daughter Angela’s house is flooded and they are staying with extended family.

Paul – Dry, but his business flooded

Shannon – Dry (it took us all a while to find them and thank GOD they are safe!). Shannon has offered space and hot meals to anyone in need. They live in Arbor Walk off S. Walker Rd.

Sarah – Dry in Lafayette

Uncle Marshall – Dry – He was even able to go to church on Sunday. 🙂

Peggy and her kids are all dry

Janell – Flooded – Peggy’s family helped her start demo today.

Rebekah – Flooded

Matt – Flooded

Jared – Dry

Marsha – Dry – After two nights in a shelter separated from Max, Virginia was able to get home last night – Thank God!

Dennis – Dry – Pray for his heart. He’s been activated to search door to door for flood victims.

Rusty – Flooded – His family is at Terrie’s house and they’ve lost everything including their vehicles.

Carolyn – Dry – She has a house FULL of people and Brian’s work flooded.

Cynde – Dry

Michelle – Lost everything including their vehicles – They’re also staying at Terrie’s house.

Kathy (Aunt Betty Faye’s old house) – Dry

Daniel – Flooded – His family is staying with Kathy.

Estelle – Dry

Jay – Dry

Amy – Flooded – Staying with Jay. 14021507_10206744923483239_4386978252576373951_n 14040015_10206867246464281_8360502372614721889_n

Uncle Emmitt – They’ve lost everything. House, business, vehicles… all flooded. I believe they’re staying with Gabe and Telly’s families at Telly’s in-laws.13902627_10208932352580148_2723598726709376672_n

Freeman – Dry

Wes – House is dry. Kelsey and Justin’s houses both flooded.

Todd – Dry

Telly – Flooded13962753_10208932350740102_7468121132381175424_n

Gabe – Flooded13903249_10208932350980108_1530153448561176323_n

Crenshaw Family

Daddy- Dry

Margie’s house in Denham – Flooded – She is in Leesville.

Uncle Harvey’s house flooded. Harvey is helping them with demo, but they can use more hands.

Harvey – Dry

Richey – Dry – Rescued Uncle Harvey and Aunt Gwen and got them to a friend’s house where they are staying.

Aunt Cindy – Dry

Chip – Dry

Clint – Dry


Cori’s Neighborhood

Cori – Flooded – She lost her house and car and still needs help with demo.

Beth – Dry

Rusty -Dry

Stacy – Dry

Kayla – Dry

Todd – Dry

Little Todd – Flooded – They lost everything and they’re staying with Todd.

Nicole -Dry

Bagot Family

James Gay – Dry

Courtney – Dry

Marshall – Dry

I will update as I receive new information and I will write another post on ways to help.

Baton Rouge has been through HELL in the last month. But there is a dichotomy in that hell. After the shootings of Alton Sterling, Brad Garafola, Matt Gerald, Montrell Jackson, and Nick Tullier; we witnessed division that seemed irreparable. What I am witnessing now is the polar opposite. People of every race, class, and religion are working together to save themselves and their community. I see thousands of people sleeping on cots and floors right next to people who look nothing like them. I see people launching their boats off the side of a highway and spending every waking hour rescuing anyone they can find. I see people acting like Jesus. And for that… I am grateful.13987998_10210275206984752_6878420232567535697_o 13958043_10157221523755648_1617682888949978459_o13907188_10154432803572272_4799961203605231147_n