Thursday, June 21, 2018

I Know.

I’m watching you self-medicate to cope and it breaks me. It breaks my heart to see you filling voids with empty, harmful things. I know the pain beneath the cover up. I know the sorrow behind the smirk. I recognize it because it’s lived inside me too. I know that even in a crowded room you can feel alone.

I know that in the middle of going through the motions of learning how to be okay, you’re also reminded that somebody destroyed you. I know the desperate need to not feel. I know the nights spent alone, on your face, wondering why. I know what that dark hole in the middle of your chest feels like. I’m very familiar with not knowing how you’ll go on, and picking up anything and everything to keep your mind off the fact that you’re lost. I understand your reality. I see you. I have felt the sting of an “I’ll never leave you” on my own skin.  I know what it’s like to pour out loyalty to not get it back.

I also want you to know that darkness is broken by the smallest sliver of light. That as long as there’s a crack in the door, you’re not alone. You will never be left nor forsaken. I know you feel lost - but you are never far from where you need to be. I want you to know you’re loved in ways I can’t even explain for reasons I’m not aware of myself. Know that on the other side of the choice you make to stop self-destructing, is beauty and real love beyond anything you could imagine in this moment. 

I see you, and I know...all of the goodness in you and all of the strength in you. You’re strong enough to rise, you’re strong enough to overcome.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Grace Under Pressure

We’ve put such pressure on ourselves and others to always be the best and to always exceed expectations, that when someone, including ourselves, doesn’t meet or exceed our expectations, we get angry and write them off as unworthy. I’ll be the first to tell you I’m guilty.

I put rules and expectations on people that I never tell them about and then get mad when they can’t meet them. I expect a certain standard of behavior from my friends, relatives, romantic relationships and if I don’t see that behavior, I feel offended. I don’t often stop to think whether I am being the best version of me for others – and if you’re honest – you probably do it too. Here’s some examples…

Example 1: You get irritated when someone doesn’t text you back, but if you look through your phone you’ll find at least one person you didn’t bother responding to.

Example 2: You don’t get an invite to something, but the last three times you were invited somewhere you chose to do other things or had some excuse as to why you couldn’t be there.

Example 3: You’re getting sick of your boyfriend’s lack of spontaneity and random displays of affection, but you can’t honestly name the last time you did something fun, sexy, or spontaneous just for him.

If we get down to it, we’re all guilty of some or all the examples I named – or different versions of them. The truth is, we can’t be the best version of ourselves every single day. If that were possible, we wouldn’t be human, and we wouldn’t require grace. I fail 100 times a day or more. I fail at being the best friend, the best Mom, and I absolutely fail at being the best girlfriend/lover/person. I’m not okay some days.

I know social media is bombarding you with quotes and memes about how you should be a Queen, be a boss, and excel at everything you do – and most of the time you should. But I want to tell you that even on your worst day – when your crown has fallen, when you can’t even boss yourself out of bed, and when you feel like you’ve failed everyone –  you’re still you, and you’re worth everything. If you weren’t Super Mom today, it’s okay. If you weren’t #1 Dad today, it’s okay. If you weren’t the best employee, friend, sister, or brother today – it’s okay.

I’m not the best at apologizing or asking for forgiveness, my pride gets the absolute best of me sometimes and the person I suck at apologizing to the most, is me. If you talk to anyone who knows me they’ll tell you it’s impossible for me to hold a grudge and that’s true, but when it comes to forgiving myself, I’m the worst. There are things in my life over a decade old that I recently forgave myself for. I had to figure out and understand that – I wasn’t okay when I made certain decisions in my life and that doesn’t make me unworthy – it makes me human and it isn’t possible for me to get it all right all the time. 

One day, my pride took a kick to the teeth…because when people are interested in hearing my story, I get to tell them about Jesus, grace, and how it changed my life. How can I tell people they were forgiven by a God who loves them through Christ, when I couldn’t forgive myself for my own damage? If Jesus’s blood was enough sacrifice for the Creator of Heaven and Earth to wipe my slate clean– who the hell did I think I was? He is greater than me and He already forgave. Once it clicked, there was no looking back.

In the same way I learned to forgive and liberate myself, I learned to forgive others and liberate myself…from them. I learned to accept apologies I’ll never receive. I know those people weren’t okay when they chose to make decisions which hurt me. It doesn’t make it right, but it sets me free. It frees my mind from thinking about it for one more second. It frees my soul from the burden of carrying hurt, and it frees my heart to let people in and love. 

The alternative is dangerous, and I’ve been there too. It’s dark and it’s lonely and it leads to decisions you sometimes can’t take back. This post comes on the back of some awful news within the last week about people who were under so much pressure to be successful, who seemed okay but weren’t and it led to some awful results.

Extend grace wherever you go-  first to yourself and then to everyone else.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

An Open Letter - To Others Like Me

I am comfortable with confrontation. Too comfortable, probably. I am comfortable with criticism, competition, and skepticism. In fact, if you want to light my fire - tell me I'm incapable of something - and watch me explode. I have been proving myself my entire life. From sports, to academics, to work - nobody has given me anything. 

I was introduced to the grind when I was 13 years old - and I haven't stopped since. Life has handed me some blows and it happens the same way every time; just when I think I've finally recovered from the last round - here comes another. I am like Muhammad Ali in the ring against Frazier - just when the fog out of my eyes begins to clear - here comes another jab and my vision gets blurry. But even that sets my soul on fire. I live for the next round. I live for the moments people come up to me and say, "you're the strongest person I know." 

I'm so used to having to prove myself that I always anticipate a comeback over a W. I don't mind having to work the extra 20%. I don't mind having to compete for things that come very naturally to other people. I don't have a chip on my shoulder because I was born a female. I'm not pissed off at the glass ceiling - it just gives me something to break on the way up.

I am dependent on no one for anything - besides for the next breath Jesus decides to grant me. There aren't many like me but for those of you who are - especially the women - I see you. I salute your ambition, your resolve, and your hustle. I see your "take no shit" attitude and I love it. I also see you breaking. I see the pressure you put on yourself to keep up the armor and trust me, more than anyone, I understand why you do it. 

I just wanted to remind you - or maybe I just needed to remind myself - that beyond the Iron Man suit you've worn your whole life - there is a human, a soul - worthy of love. Worthy of the kind of love that doesn't get bored, that doesn't stop choosing you, that doesn't take you for granted. The kind of love that will force you open, tear down your walls - and make sure you never have to put them up again. I know, right? Part of the reason we're robotic - is because we'e tried to be open - and the people we never thought would break us - did just that. I get it. I could dedicate an entire blog site on the ways in which people have tried to break me. But at some point - you will have to let people in. No man is an island and as I type this - I understand what it's like to want to be one. Nothing sounds better in this second than turning inward and shutting everybody out. 

I cannot preach to you - but I can tell you that staying angry gives other people authority over your life. I can't promise everything will be sunshine and roses but I can tell you that the right people will be like angels in your time of need. Hold on to those people and then pray, exhale, and repeat. 


Monday, January 22, 2018

Endings and Beginnings and Dealing with the Fuzzy Middle


Endings are never easy...unless you're a robot and you don't actually grasp what an "end" is. Unfortunately, in order to connect with people we have to give them pieces of ourselves in one way or another. In turn, they give us pieces of them. No matter how terrible a situation is or how much "better for us" an ending may's still hard. Depending on the length of the relationship, some gave a little and some gave more, and some put everything they had into it. So, what do you do when it ends? How do you pick yourself up and move forward? How do you fill the void? I don't think I can quantify how many articles I've read, how many books I've listened to in the car, and how much time I've spent researching to tell you this: you don' least not right away.

Quick Fixes: The Demise of A Process

We have been conditioned to believe in quick fixes. Need to a lose a few pounds? No problem! Feeling a little bloated? We got you! Need to quickly buy something you can't afford? Right away!
Fast food, fast weight loss, fast financing, fast cars...and the list goes on. We are instant gratification craving, Gotta-Have-It-Now boot stomping society. In fact, when was the last time you walked into a bank and sat down until it was your turn to speak to a live human about your hard earned money? Don't worry, I'll wait...

Naturally, when we are accustomed to information at our finger tips, oil changes in 20 minutes or less, and a meal that you can spend $6 on and less than four minutes flat, we want our breakups to stop hurting like, yesterday, and when they don't we internalize, then get pissed off, and then get bitter. We have forgotten about the grind. The grind it took to forge the relationship, the grind it took to maintain it, and the grind it's going to take to move past it. 

I just had my wisdom teeth cut out. More dramatically and in true bad ass fashion, my Dad just went through open heart surgery. Healing - in any way shape or form, is a process. Your soul needs to heal. 

The List: Why it Matters

Chances are if you're still reading this, you need some substance. There's also a good chance you had a great deal invested in your last relationship. For me, it was seven years. In seven years, you do a lot. Activities with this person take up the majority of your free time. So, I made a list. I made a list of everything that I'd like to do if I never had to ask another person if they'd enjoy it too. Your list can be as practical or as adventurous as you want it to be. I'm a busy body, adventurer, wander-luster so some things on my list are out there...but I'll share some of it:  go to more concerts, volunteer more, finally write the book, blog more, go to Turkey, visit New Zealand, start a podcast. As you can tell, I'm all over the place..but it doesn't matter. The list is for you. As you think about your list, keep this thought in the back of your mind: you don't have to ask anyone else for their opinion. Your SO chose to leave your life, and this isn't your best friend's you're doing it for you and you alone!

Maybe you've always wanted to try pink hair, but your SO hated the idea so you didn't....ON. THE. LIST! Maybe you've always wanted to try raw oysters but your knight-turned-joker was allergic to shellfish....WRITE. IT. DOWN! Take up photography, sit in on an art class, whatever you think would make your soul sing, write it down. The act of just attempting to take your life back is both refreshing and empowering, so go ahead with your amazing self and get to daydreaming and making plans!

Crying: Release and Let Go

I couldn't write a break up post without seriously talking to you about crying. Do it. Loudly and often. It ties back into what I was saying about processes. Crying is a body's natural response to emotion whether happy or sad. Don't deny your body that. I can't count how many nights I spent on the floor sobbing. It's ok to have those nights. That's healthy. What's not healthy is refusing to deal. It's letting your circle influence your plans and taking over your healing time for the next undetermined amount of days/weeks, whatever. Everybody means well. They want to console you and they don't want you to be alone. Girlfriend, you'll have to be alone eventually. You will have to face it head on and avoiding dealing with emotions by consuming copious amounts of alcohol, drugs, sex, or a combination of all three is not only dangerous, it just doesn't work.

So spend some time alone, in the quiet and if you feel like it, cry. Just don't stay there. Make a deal with yourself to have those moments but then get up. Even when your body physically doesn't want to. Get up, wash up, get made up, and move. I can't promise it will get easy quickly, but I can promise your alone time will prepare you for your blessing in the future.

Believing Even When it Sucks

I'll leave you with this. As the song says...which I ironically walked down the aisle to (awkward)... Don't Stop Believing! You may not understand what happened, why it ended, or how you will survive it but I need you to believe that you will. If there were never any endings, there wouldn't be any new beginnings. It's hard for me to type this because there's so much left that I need to get over but I have to believe. I believe in love. I believe that somewhere there's an adventurer, wander-luster, non-f*-boy out there for me and that when God is ready and my soul is ready, we'll find each other. Or, if there isn't, I'll know my life was meant for a different purpose. You have got to believe in your purpose and you've got to commit to finding out what that is. You weren't put on this Earth to JUST be someone's wife, or girlfriend, or arm candy. You were put on this Earth to make bold moves and change the course of history. You have to believe it, and you have to seek it.

You're a woman. Capable of fighting in wars and then turning around and kissing boo-boos. You are more beautiful and powerful than you feel right now and I promise, if you'll believe it, and spend the necessary time figuring yourself out...everything else will fall into place.

I love you,



Saturday, January 13, 2018

Chase Your Sunset: New Year, New Doubts

I never know how to properly start introductions after not writing for so long. Sorry? It's been a while? You already know that. I also always have a tendency to promise I'll do this more often and life has a tendency to get in the way. I want to inspire you but the truth is, I don't feel inspiring every day - or every week - or sometimes for months. I wish my life was epic enough to have something constructive to write about on a daily basis but alas, I put my pants on one leg at a time too.

2017 took its toll on me in many ways which I won't get into - but there were some real struggles. The more I've talked to people over the last few months, I've realized 2017 was that kind of year for a lot of us. So, if you're reading this and you're glad you made it to this side of that awful year - Cheers! and Congratulations!

At the front end of 2018, I am a proud owner of a now four-year-old. I'm not sure where the time went but here we are! It is precisely the topic which led me to write today. I continue to be amazed by my kid. It's corny when people say that - because, well, it's your kid, you're supposed to be amazed. 

I mean just think about it. If toddlers/pre-schoolers were any less cute or stopped amazing us and making us laugh with what they learn every day - we'd probably eat our young like in nature. Before you "Perfect Moms" out there go getting all sanctimonious on me, if you haven't had to clean up piles of toddler poop when your daughter refused to stay on the pot long enough to get it all out- because running from Mommy was infinitely more hilarious - I don't want to hear about it. I digress...

So, Mila's right of passage for turning four was to hit up the ever epic Chuck E. Cheese. Her and her friends played like maniacs and towards almost the end of the night they all decided to go into the climbing gym- play area thing. I don't know the technical name for it: but you basically climb up three rungs of platforms to get to the top set of tunnels which they crawl through and chase each other in and eventually get to the slide. Mila's besties, AJ and Kinzley, were thrilled to go along on this climbing expedition but, Kinzley couldn't quite make it up the rung levels to get to the top of the play gym. Wasting no time whatsoever, AJ and Mila devised a plan to help her. 

I stood there watching them, admittedly consumed with my own thoughts, some of which were negative, spiteful, worrisome and stress-filled, while others were logistics - what bills needed to be paid, what the rest of the weekend was going to look like, how much laundry I had to finish, and reminding myself to buy dog food.  I was watching but I wasn't engaged until something caught my eye. My kid.

My 24 weeker, barely viable, 1 lb 7 oz, odds stacked against her, couldn't breathe on her own for three months, 112 days in the hospital kid was quite literally picking her friend up and lifting her onto each rung so all three of them could get to the top. What?? Naturally, I proceeded to do what any good mother would in this situation. I found the closest chair and started an idiot. Through my tears I watched the same thing happen over and over. Each time, Mila wasn't phased. She kept lifting Kinzley, who is a bit bigger in stature and certainly weighs more, and never grew tired. 

As I kept watching, I was instantly convicted. I felt a physical sting in my chest. It just hit me. If you had asked me five minutes before this took place whether it was possible, I would have told you, "No." How ignorant am I? To instinctively pick doubt over possibility and to immediately write a situation off as impossible when I had no statistical input that it couldn't work. I doubted my own child! I was transported back to every diagnosis she was given, to every milestone I was told she'd never meet and I felt so foolish.

Life has a way of breaking us. We get dealt a hand that seems impossible to overcome and we buckle. We allow ourselves to be convinced of our worth by people who are miserable within themselves. We take the easy way out by losing hope and not trying when the rubber meets the road. If you want me to inspire you, you're going to have to become inspire-able. Take my mistake and make a commitment to not repeat it. Never doubt yourself or anyone else and certainly do not allow a single person to tell you what you're capable of. Among the Biljanas, be a Mila. Continue to smash through obstacles and chase new records to break. Continue giving a figurative middle finger to whatever someone has said about you and chase your sunset. 

The most beautiful part about this is, Mila doesn't know what her outcome could have been. She doesn't know what was said about her. She instinctively fought and as her personality continues to develop, I catch glimpses of that rebellious, "try me" sparkle in her eye and I'm so thankful for it. Her battles in life are only beginning, but one thing is for sure,  I'll never doubt her again.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Lucky Number Seven - How this Immigrant Girl Found Her Way and Discovered What Being An American Means

It's been a while Blog World! Since I wrote my last post I have: celebrated Easter, got baptized *whoop!*, found out what the word "three-nager" really means, ate a lot on the Fourth of July, welcomed my Grandparents from Serbia, oh, and switched jobs! Also, our lovely Cherokee Trailhawk was totaled-- but that's a story for another day! Nobody was hurt which is a blessing from God, and that's really all that matters.

I started my new job Wednesday, and it has been scary and awesome at the same time. I realized yesterday was 7/7/17 and made a joke to a coworker about why we weren't in Vegas but I was so busy with the week and diving into my new role that it didn't dawn on me that on 7/7/98 we set foot on American soil. 19 years ago yesterday, my preteen self touched down in Houston, TX followed by Tulsa, OK. I'm in shock (still) as I write this...

Coming to America - What I Wish I Knew

When my parents announced to me that we were going to "go" to America, I was thrilled. 

We lived in the United Arab Emirates at the time, and what I knew of America involved Disney World, Universal Studios, Beverly Hills, and MOST importantly the Backstreet Boys! Movie stars were from America and there was sand, beaches, and water sports - just like I was used to. It also never crossed my little mind that we were never coming back. Ever. You can imagine my shock when the plane touched down in Tulsa and we began the subsequent 20 minute drive to Owasso, OK (which at the time was mostly grass, a Warehouse Market, and a Walmart - no, not the Super Center. There was neither sand, nor beach, nor movie stars. My heart dropped into my stomach as I wondered what the hell my parents were thinking. 

How desperately I had wished my parents would have given me the lay of the land before hauling us here, how desperately I had wished I knew what we were going to, and how badly I wanted there to be SOMETHING good about this place. My Father had been to Owasso before we moved and I wished he would have brought back pictures of what it looked like, then maybe I would have a say in going or staying. Except as we all know, I never had a choice.

Starting School in America - Middle School 

I remember the rest of the summer dragging on because we only had one car, a banana yellow 80-something Cadillac - we called it "Granny." 

My Father bought it with cash because naturally - we had no credit. My Dad drove that car to work so during the day my mother, sister, and me were left cooped up in a house because it was way too hot to do anything - and my Mom was too scared to leave the house; this was America after all. The beginning of August finally hit and it was enrollment time. All you American kids know what that means so I won't go into detail. We drove up in front of the Owasso Seventh Grade Center and as I looked at the building I wished the ground would open up and swallow me whole. THIS was the school? "Mom, are you SURE we're in the right place?" 

A little context... In the U.A.E, I went to a huge school - an international institution for higher learning. There's an admissions process, the curriculum is rigorous, and the campus spans over 370,000 feet. So, when I looked at the grey/tan building with no windows and my parents told me it was a school - I wanted to faint. We walked into the building and I could instantly feel eyes on me. Looking back on it as an adult its understandable. It was a small town and most of the kids knew each other so when someone new walked in, they stuck out like a sore thumb. As a 7th grader though, I was mortified. The children were different. They looked different, they spoke differently, their mannerisms were different. Everything from the way they wore their hair, to the brand names on their clothes was different. It really was a whole new world for me.

I begged my parents to send me back and one night my Father had enough. I will never forget the sentence or the sternness in his voice when I said, "I want to go home. Please let me go home." "THIS is home now. We are never going back, and I don't want to hear one more word about it." He emphatically answered me, and that was the end of it.

The first day - hell the first year - was really rough on me. Middle-schoolers are not nice. I won't go into details about being bullied my first year, because that isn't the point of my post, but I want to emphasize that Seventh and Eight grade were't easy for anyone - but especially not for an immigrant child who grew up in a completely different culture.

Growing up "American" - The Flag and the Feelings

Years passed and I got more acclimated to my new surroundings. 

I made friends and I would purposely seek out the new kids because - they had no bias towards me and because I knew what it felt like to be the odd one out. I joined some teams and clubs and I had a crush. Typical teenage stuff. Our third Independence Day holiday was the most special one to me because a few pieces of the puzzle started coming together. I thought about my experiences in Owasso thus far. I observed adults and teens because I've always loved people watching and I observed a sense of freedom. Where I was from you couldn't just say anything. I spent my childhood as an immigrant. I was an immigrant in the U.A.E and I was an immigrant in the U.S but I didn't have to be too mature to notice the difference. 

In the U.A.E there were different "types" of immigrants and it was largely dependent on where people came from and what type of work they did. Some immigrants were treated very well, others were treated very poorly - and even as a kid you knew "who's who". As children on the playground, we knew to ask each other, "where does your Dad/Mom work?" because that held weight in the U.A.E, that mattered. In the States, I was in class with white kids, black kids, Hispanic kids, and Asian kids and nobody cared where anyone's parents worked. Kids were more concerned about what brand t-shirt you had on, but parental occupation had little to do with anything. 

People were free to say what they wanted, where they wanted, whenever they wanted. They bashed the President, the Government, and cursed everything under the sun and nobody flinched. In the U.A.E, we (the adults mostly) had to be careful with what was said and around whom. You wouldn't dare bash the Sheikh, and you wouldn't speak out about the Emirates, and you certainly wouldn't say anything about the Government or the reining religion. Now, we didn't live in fear for our lives and we were not persecuted - but people knew where they fit in on the food chain, and by in large their mouths were kept shut. Disagreements with bosses in the U.A.E led to people getting kicked out of the country, so people minded their Ps and Qs.

I began to relax and buy in to that freedom and that Fourth of July made me emotional. I slowly started to realize why my parents made the choice they made. Why my Father risked and sacrificed everything. It wasn't for the tangibles - because we had abundance in the U.A.E but it was for the intangibles, which are absolutely worth sacrificing for. A certain set of known freedoms which did not exist where we were. 

The Aftermath and the Cost of Freedom

That "American" feeling was infectious and my fourth summer in the States was a turning point. 

10th grade started, I was a Sophomore in high school and the looming fears of being that old were before me. Pre-ACTs, pre- SATs, and people were beginning to slowly think about what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives. The schools were separated according to grade due to the rapid growth of our city. The 9th and 10th graders were in the "Mid-High School" and 11th and 12th graders went to the "High School" which was just across the street. I was in advanced French and had to cross the Street a few times a week because those classes were in the High School. I was just getting in the swing of things in early September and I didn't know this was the year everything I was beginning to feel about this country would be solidified. 

I walked into French class on September 11th 2001 and sat in my desk. Our teacher had the T.V. on which was very unusual because she was somewhat of a battleaxe. As the bell rang, I looked up at the T.V to see an airplane crash into a very tall building. I would learn that was the second plane in the attacks of 911 to hit the World Trade Center. The entire class was in shock and our teacher was silent. We were all frozen as live footage streamed with people on the T.V. telling us that this was a terrorist attack on out country. I was so confused. This is AMERICA. What is going on? My mother was at home watching, as many other parents were, and nobody knew what would happen next. Should our parents come for us? Were we at war? What the hell?

I don't even remember the rest of the day - its a blur, but I do remember my Mom being terrified. I remember her telling my Father that she thought this couldn't happen in a country this strong. I vividly remember President G.W. Bush on screen. His emotion, his vigor, and him making a promise that we were going to get whoever it was that was behind this attack on Our Nation. I also remember vehemently agreeing and then being confused as to why I was agreeing. We? Our? Biljana, you're not from here. But in that moment, I felt like I was. Our house was here, my parents were here, and THIS was home. I began to realize why people loved America. In four years we had made a new life. My father started a business and it was working, I was making friends, my mother was volunteering, and we were accepted. I realized then that this felt more like home than I gave it credit for.

I realize now when I travel abroad what makes America so special. There are obvious exceptions to this rule, as the media so vehemently likes to point out, but by in large you are FREE here. You can speak out against your leaders, your President, your country. You can burn the flag, shit on the flag, and protest in the streets. You can have Pride parades and any other kind of parade. You can hold up a pipeline project, you can take a photo with a depiction of a decapitated President. You can pose in the nude if that is your choice, or you can wear a hijab if that is your choice. You can pray in the streets and you can praise Jesus or denounce Him publicly. All of these things without arrest or execution. You are free. 

I realized after 911 the cost of that freedom every time a soldier's death came on the news. When we had a processional in our town for a hometown fallen soldier and I saw the grief that fell upon the town and his family. I understood how important it was to protect freedom when I traveled to my home country of Serbia and my parents were stopped by a cop and everyone in the car was afraid of what would happen next. I realized it when I went back to the Emirates to visit and I was propositioned in front of a mosque and told I'd be taken somewhere I couldn't leave because I was a white female. I realized it when I went to Portugal and saw the struggle to make enough money to make ends meet by hardworking, smart individuals due to corruption in politics. 

The Oath - The Finale

I became an American citizen June 15th, 2011, 10 years after the attacks on 911 and almost exactly 13 years after I came to this country. 

I swore an oath then and I still swear it today, 19 years after moving to this country, my feelings have not changed.

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

I figured out where I belong and why I belong here, in a fly over state with no beach. I know where the beach is, I can move there tomorrow if I wanted to - because I'm free to do so. I am free to sing, write, agree or disagree. I am free to preach and free to request audience. I can read the Bible while reading the Torah and the Quran and nobody will come knocking down my door. I'm free.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Failure. Last night was a complete failure. 

It’s the only word I can come up with that doesn’t involve four letters and a mouth washing. My three-going on thirty year old was not having bedtime. She wasn’t having it at 8:00, she wasn’t having it at 9:00 and she wasn’t having it at 9:15. By 9:15 this mama wasn’t having it anymore either. I could not live through one more, “I’m thirsty,” or “I want to watch TV.” After a battle, I’m talking— screaming, crying, stomping on the floor, door slamming, battle…I made her Dad deal with her.
Somehow, he managed to calm her down. Whilst he was calming her down, (thanks for that, Babe!) I thought to myself: How can I lead grown adults if I can’t even handle a three year old? How will a grown adult be inspired by my actions or my service if I can’t even convince my toddler that 8:00 p.m. is the right time to go to sleep? Worse, how will I talk to someone about composure and forgiveness when none of those words had been in my vocabulary for the last hour and a half? I had failed. Miserably. Both as a parent and as a person.
At around 10:30, after things settled down, I went back in to check on the little blue eyed monster. She peeked from the covers, still awake, and said, “I not crying anymore, Mama,” in the sweetest whisper. My heart broke into a million pieces. She wanted to me to know that she was calm now. All I could say was, “thank you, Mila.” I asked her if she wanted me to lie down beside her until she fell asleep, and she said, “Yea.” So I did. I told her I was sorry for yelling, and she just patted my cheek and told me she loved me.

I realized in that moment that maybe, just maybe, what equips me to lead is just the audacity to say I’m just as messed up as any of you. 

Maybe what equips me is the boldness to let my child see that I am human, and I make mistakes. Maybe what might inspire you is that I will always extend an apology to my children, because that’s the human thing to do.
I grew up in a household where nobody apologized…my parents didn’t apologize to each other—they may have, somewhere private, but we never heard apologies and they also most certainly never apologized to us. Although they’d like to think differently, we children were owed an apology a time or two—or twenty.  Don’t get me wrong, my parents were the best parents a girl could ask for, still yet, they weren’t always right. No parent is. Maybe my willingness to shout that will encourage you to do the same.

First, convince yourself you’re not perfect and your kids don’t need you to be perfect.

Children do not need an idol, they need a role model. There’s a difference.

Let me say that again, cos' I just took somebody to church. Your children DO NOT need an idol, they NEED a role model. They need to see your vulnerability, to see you fail, to see you apologize, and they HAVE to see you forgive yourself. Through those experiences, they will learn to recognize their own mistakes and to ask for forgiveness when they’ve hurt someone. Most importantly, they will learn that one failure doesn’t make them A failure. I don’t know about you, but there are adults in my life who haven’t learned that lesson.