Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life Lesson 653...and counting...

   I find few things more challenging than explaining difficult life lessons to my children. Sometimes, there simply aren't any good reasons things happen the way they do. People come into our lives for a quiet while...then leave. And while we know in our heads that the temporary hole that absence leaves within us is for our own good...convincing our hearts is a another story entirely. Still...trying to make sense of the senseless things life can throw our way is hard. Hell...its a nasty enough concept for me to grapple with; much less one's own children. But it must be done.

   Recently, one of my daughters has been trying to come to terms with a relationship she has enjoyed with a certain close girlfriend and its tendency to wax and wane. It leans more towards the wane than anything else. Its been a tedious learning process for my girl. She isn't given to the typical teenage angst...so this development has befuddled her just a bit. However, in trying to help her along with the normal growing pains and pangs that a female friendship can sometimes go through...I have also confronted my own issues with it. Quite frankly...it sucks. Girls...both growing and grown...can be some of the nastiest and vile creatures on this planet. It never fails to amaze me how cruel and cut-throat some of these relationships can turn out to be. Thankfully, my daughter has not seen this flip side...yet. But she is getting a taste of how downright silly and juvenile an overabundance of estrogen can be. Trying to guide her through this maze has been headache inducing...to say the least.

   Even as adults, we can't seem to escape it. Thank GOD I have a best friend with whom I have shared everything with. She knows me just as well as my husband does. And vice verse. But it wasn't always like that. It took a while and some toe-dipping into the friendship waters to test the current, if you will . And its been only recently that we have divulged every secret to one another. But it was oh-so worth it! This one union has made up for all the sophomoric-middle-school-mentality "friendships" we have both lived through. Its real. Its honest. Its dirty. Its rewarding. And unfortunately, I think you have to sift through a whole lot of rubble before you get to that friendship bedrock. I thank the Lord everyday for her.

   So in explaining this theory that my best friend and I share in regards to true companionship...I hope my daughter(s) see the light at the end of the high school tunnel. Sometimes it takes going through the adult trials and tribulations to realize what a best friend should be...what they truly represent. I hope they see that you don't need 12 girls to call your BFF. You just need one you can call on no matter what the situation or time of day or night. And that one is always a God-given-gift...much like our spouses are.

   I hate that cattiness and betrayal seem to be a part of the high school journey. It sucks big fat hairy monkey balls. But there is nothing to be done. Its a lesson that must be learned and heeded...like so many other life lessons.

   Hug your daughters. They are going through so much more than we ever had to endure. There are so many more pit falls and sink holes for them to disappear into. Make it a little easier on them when they walk through the door. Hug their necks, kiss their foreheads and make sure they KNOW you understand. Make sure there is never any doubt that you have created a soft place for them to fall. Because one day...and not too terribly far off in the future...they will be the ones on the other side of that door. Instill in them now what it means to be a true friend so that they can recognize it in others and in themselves. Remember...great friends make GREATER moms.  


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Never forgotten...ever...

      I  WAS sitting at my desk working. I WAS accomplishing something other than creating pools of tears on my keyboard. I was. Until that is, I had the incredibly STUPID idea to turn on the news. This is something I rarely do. Sure...I will go online and read the blurbs and articles I choose to read...pieces that broaden my global knowledge...pieces that add to my life...pieces that teach me something or enlighten me and my family's journey on this jacked-up-chunk-o-rock we call Earth.

   Then I read the story of Etan Patz. Etan IS a little boy...not WAS...but IS...because regardless of what some demented evil scum did to him...he will always and forever remain a six year old boy to his parents. Etan was taken, just steps from his bus stop on a damp Manhattan morning in 1979. His disappearance spear-headed the Kid-On-A-Milk-Carton movement. His precious face lead the charge for millions of  other faces...forever a breakfast companion...forever in the back of, at least, my mind.

   Today in Manhattan...in what I am sure is a building that has seen dozens of rebirths and renewals in an attempt to change with the times and current styles...the FBI and local authorities are searching yet again for the body of Eatn Patz. His body...and memory...was robbed of seeing such change. I am unsure of what new lead they think they have. I am unsure if after all these years they will find even the smallest shred of evidence. But I am sure that the search in and of itself is what matters most. It matters to Etan's parents and siblings that every lead be followed; every whisper be heard.

   I truly feel in my soul that the long suspected and well known pedophile, Jose Antonio Ramos, is the satanic son-of-a-bitch responsible for the vanishing...and likely violent rape and murder...of sweet Etan. There are even theories that he "sold" Etan to other pedophiles. But due to his constant denial of full knowledge, I doubt very seriously that he will ever divulge what he did to Etan and continues to do to the Patz family. What has become a mind numbing reality and horrific nightmare for them is nothing but a sick game to Ramos.

   My tears flow not only in honor of Etan but also out of painful respect for his family. And...for my own children as well. I cannot fathom what soul crushing pain is like. But I do know that for me, that pain would be instantaneous and never ending if anything even remotely similar were to befall my child . I imagine I would become very fixated on revenge. I imagine that I would have a very difficult time acting in a fashion that would make Jesus proud. Most especially if I ever got my hands on the demon responsible.

   I don't consider myself a vengeful or dangerous person. But I can see me...and only if my husband didn't beat me to it...taking the law into my own hands. And doing so with a smile on my face. What our justice system does not TO...but FOR...these douche bags is very rarely acceptable. I say FOR because so often it seems they are slapped on the hand as if they have stolen a cookie rather than stolen the innocence of a child. When it comes to children, mercy and leniency should be taken off the table. I am very aware of the horrific historical connotations hangings have...and rightfully so. But for those who choose to hurt a child, a public hanging is in order. Wasting our already cash strapped resources on rehabilitation is pointless for the sickos who force themselves on our children....who torture them...who make them do things that will haunt them for the rest of their days. IF that is, they even survive the trauma.

   I pray that some resolution comes of today's events. I pray that Etan Patz will not only be the face on a milk carton...but that he will  also be the face of all of our children. Rest peacefully sweet Etan.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Floors and plays...plays and floors...

      I gotta give it up to the blue collar workers more often. These fellas...and gals...have a fairly thankless job. I am speaking mainly of your plumbers, flooring specialists, painters or roofers. They walk into peoples' homes...usually in the midst a hot mess...and restore said abode to its previous splendor. And they do it in whatever weather...cold or hot...the good Lord decides to provide.

   The gentlemen that saved our house from itself...this time around...have far and away out-shined the ones we had previously. The ones from two years ago were C.R.E.E.P.Y. This latest batch of callused contractors were...for the most part...very  nice folk. They smelled bad. But that isn't due to a break up with hygiene. Its because they quite literally work in conditions that the average prissy pants...like MOI...would only do if it stood between her children and a meal or if a gun was held squarely against my sassy little head. Mud-caked boots and dirty fingernails isn't something...thank GOD...I have ever had to endure. And I have been immeasurably humbled over the last month for that fine blue-collar worker who sees those boots and fingernails as a blessing rather than a burden. Shame on me. Just shame on me.

   However now...my second floor has bathroom flooring. Again. And the carpet has been replaced by a delightfully mocha hued high-pile that is nothing short of heaven under foot. Not gonna lie...me and all three kids laid in the floor for a good half hour. So fabulous!

   So a big huge Laver THANK YOU to all those men who were a part of our home's decor over the last month. You have lessened the stress level within these walls and have restored a tradition long since abandoned...playing in the floor with my kids. Thank for that. Seriously...

   Now...to brag over my sweet multi-talented Kate!!! She just completed...to RAVE reviews I might add...her very first high school theater production! She was "Velma" in West Side Story! She was beyond amazing! I think I was perhaps the only parent who attended all four nights it showed. Watching her up there...in her newest element...was surreal. Three months of DAILY rehearsals. Three months of lost sleep. Three months of coming home to a warmed up dinner because she was at school until 7pm...my girl is dedicated:) And she did all of this while living in a house whose floors were pulled up...she did all this while having to share a bathroom with 4 other people...she did all this while living with a mom who whose house-related-stress-levels were SKY FREAKIN HIGH! Come to think of it...this play was likely just the distraction she needed;)Regardless...she was phenomenal. I am so proud of her!

   Thank you Lord for all the little...and in-my-face...ways you show your love, support and devotion to this family. You quite simply...ROCK.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best Weekend Ever!

   What an incredibly blessed weekend The Lavers had! Saturday was spent at Sixflags seeing my best friend's daughter at her cheer competition. She was awesome! And lets face it...any time Nikki and I get to spend time together, its all gravy:)Then Sunday was witness to God's never ending and all encompassing provision. Jesse and I were reminded yet again of how utterly loving and in control our Savior truly is.

   I always enjoy singing. Its what I do. Its a huge part of who I am. But to do it for a second time at the wedding of a woman I love so very much...was a miracle and a testament to the power of God's love and favor.

   Jamie Janus was beloved by my family from day one. But when she became Jamie Lilly...her place at our family table was forever set. See...she married a man I always considered my God-brother. Loren was the best friend of my uncle Robert. Robert may be my father's brother, but due to our closeness in age and in spirit, "brother" is the title he will always hold with me. Robert and Loren were inseparable; which meant that Loren was a constant at every family gathering. I loved Loren so very much. And though he is gone, I still talk to him and count him as a very real and present part of our family...and of my life.

   Ya see...Loren died just three months after marrying Jamie. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that those three months were the best of his life. She paved the road for him toward salvation and to fundamentally grow in his spirituality. She was quite literally a God-send to him. His death shocked us, shook us and changed us in ways we are still realizing and dealing with. Though we were left with tears and questions, what we weren't left with was doubt. We all knew where he was. We all knew that Loren was sitting at the feet of Jesus.

   I cannot fathom the pain and the empty hole Jamie experienced. I pray fervently that I never become familiar with that. But what I have witnessed over the past five years is nothing short of a mighty and miraculous work in her life.

      One day, Jamie met Mike. Mike is a Christian man. Mike loves Jamie. Jamie loves Mike. Mike allows Jamie to keep Loren's memory close. Loren would have been great friends with Mike...of that I am sure. And just like I sang at the wedding of Jamie and Loren, then later at the going-home of Loren...Sunday I was able to sing at the wedding of Jamie and Mike.

   Seeing God do His thing is often something we overlook. Life is hard, fast and busy. But on days like this...its so very humbling to have the opportunity to take it all in. God always provides if we allow Him. God always holds our hand, carries our load, whispers His wisdom in a weary ear. I. Am. In. Awe. And I am guilty of failing to give Him all praise and glory in the minutia of my own life.

   Thank you Lord for allowing me to stand back and be reminded of how insignificant I really am. You healed a heart that at one point was sure it would be forever broken. You showered love and acceptance on a soul that on many a night was positive it was lost and undeserving. You did this for Jamie. And this lesson is not lost on me either. Thank you is insufficient. But its all I have. That...and my love and devotion.

   Here's to many years of Christ centered love and happiness to Mike and Jamie Mullis. And for me and Jesse as well. And...for all of you too.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Worry is an insult to God. And I have been insulting the mess out of Him!

   Blessed. That's all I can say...I am blessed. I woke up this morning with a weariness. But as my morning progressed...getting my kids ready for school, looking at the as-yet-to-be-repaired flooring, rushing them out the door, listening to their silly cute-as-heck conversations...God thwopped me again. YOU ARE BLESSED! YOU ARE MY CHILD! WORRY IS A SLAP IN MY FACE! DO NOT PRAY AND JOURNAL YOUR PRAYER CONCERNS TO ME AND THEN TAKE THEM BACK! I DIED FOR YOU. LIVE FOR ME! Its true. I am so guilty of this. Asking God to handle my worries, my concerns, then failing to trust Him enough to toss them away...to the depths of the ocean. I consistently feel the need to dive back into that water to retrieve them. Because they are my cares. They belong to me; with me. Right? Such a difficult lesson. But I'm trying very hard to see in myself what God sees. A beloved, worthy, beautiful child of...well...HIM.

   I mean lets face it: I mess up enough in life with things that I have no control over.(don't we all?) Do I really need to add to my mess by holding onto worry too? No. No I do not.

   So today marks yet another start of me trying...prayerfully not in vain this time...to let it go and let God. Because at the beginning and end of every day...I am blessed. Blessed beyond all measure.

   I am blessed to be married to Jesse. After nearly 16 years of marriage...you come to realize that while it hasn't always been blissful, it has indeed always been blessed. What an honor to be his wife. I don't say that enough...out loud anyway. I need to do a better job of being worthy of him.

   Kate...my sweet kooky and quirky Kate. My first baby...my first blessing. What a joy this young woman is! I need to do a better job of relating to her as the teenager she is. Sometimes I forget that she isn't 30:) Thank you God for this amazing daughter who is turning into an equally amazing friend.

   Emmy Jean...my Broadway bound beauty! There is quite honestly never a dull...or quiet...moment with her. Whether having an intelligent conversation, doing homework, reading a book, watching tv, or drying her hair...this kid is constantly singing or humming! Its hilarious! I need to do a better job of busting her out of this "middle child" pigeon-hold. She is a force to be reckoned with! And I thank God for every single music filled moment with her.

  Jax. Just Jax. Those who know him...love him. Those who don't...have heard wild tale of him! He is my miracle baby. He is quite literally a gift from God...his life marks a huge spiritual awakening for me. I couldn't love this kid more if I had to...at least until tomorrow:)

   And these are just the blessings inside the walls of my home! I have so many more God-given gifts in the form of friends and family. I am convicted today of neglecting to tell each of them more often how very much I love them.

   God has directed me to neither worry nor fear. So that is precisely what I will try my very best to do. Because the blessings that He has seen fit to give me...show me I am a favored child. His child.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lessons on Life...from birds. Yes...birds.

   I gotta tell ya...I've had better days. Hell...I've had migraines whose company I've enjoyed more than this whole week thus far. I have never been one to mope or worry too terribly much...at least not about the big things. Shamefully, its the little, everyday annoyances that seem to get the best of me. I should have anticipated a biggie when my daily verse this morning centered around 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed."

   I am struggling just a touch with a dear friend's perception of me. And by struggling I mean vacillating between the "how dare she" mentality and crying in the bathroom over what is looking like a broken friendship. And by broken I mean into shards...teeny tiny shards of friendship glass that have inevitably scattered under the fridge or stove...making a total healing virtually impossible because you can never ever find every little piece. There are always some pieces that stay lost.

   As I spoke to my best friend about this...who is a gift from Jesus akin to my husband and my children... she helped me see roughly the very same lesson that my aforementioned dear husband has always been wont to cling to: "What people think of me is none of my business" Easy for him...he's a man who is perfectly content to have exactly two friends in this world...me and my best friend's husband. And he is so super cool with that, ya just don't even know. My husband has never been one to subscribe to the notion that one should have scads of friends-pals-confidants. His mantra has always been "the fewer people in your trusted inner circle, the better". And I gotta tell ya...The Spy's logic has come to fruition it would seem.

   Could it really be true that women who "collect" BFF's are ultimately doomed to collect heart break as well? I don't know. I just don't know. But what I do know is this: apparently I need to face one of my biggest fears...BIRDS.

   The last few days I have been re-reading Joyce Meyer's "Battlefield Of The Mind". In her chapter "An Anxious and Worried Mind" she explains that we should look to the birds for a good ole' fashioned slap in the face about worry. Matthew 6:2 shouts "Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father keeps feeding them. Are you not worth more than they?" Joyce goes on to teach..."If not everyday, then at least every now and then we need to take to observe and remind ourselves how well our feathered friends are cared for. They literally do not know where their next meal is coming from. Yet I have never personally seen a bird sitting on a tree branch having a nervous breakdown due to worry."

  Wow. Just wow. God is forever thwopping me upside the head about something. Sometimes He holds my hand so tightly that I am unaware of how strong His grip on my tongue is...I LOVE it when He does that! Sometimes He gives me a verse or a single word that lights my path for the entire day and I have a clarity like I have never known. Or like today...when He shows me...through Joyce Meyer...that while I may hate birds (because they kinda freak me out) He can still give me a powerful lesson on the destructive power and futility of worry...through birds:)

   My "Daddy" is so awesome. He never fails to be my armour and my shield against not only Satan but of Earthly trials as well. So my answer to THE enemy or any enemy is quite simple...when faced with the question of "What now?" I will say "I don't know yet what I am going to do in my situation, but God does know and that is good enough for me. He will give me direction at the right time."

   As for my friend and what she thinks...there isn't a thing I can do or say. If my head hits the pillow and I know in the deepest parts of me that I am in line with God, my husband and my children...nothing else matters. Perhaps this is just another way that Jesus is helping me align my life with a more simple and authentic path. I certainly know one thing: God knows more and better than me. I am thankful for journeys taken and journeys to come...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Two Weeks...of Fresh Hell.

   Two weeks. A lot can happen in two weeks. You can give notice at your place of employment. You can flit about Europe with your family. You can take a crash course in gardening...only to find that you wasted every penny because you suck big-fat-hairy-ones at anything even remotely related to soil. You can come to terms with the gut wrenching heart break over the ending of a friendship that was sadly very one-sided anyway. But what absolutely CANNOT happen in two weeks is...CONSTRUCTION!!!

   If a contractor strides into your home, looks at your home's issues and declares with an authority akin to John Wayne..."Well I can have this hitched up in less than two weeks Mam."...HE IS LYING!!!!!! I so wish people would just give me a straight up honest assessment of things like this. "Mam, your house is pretty fubared. You need to expect us to be in your house and all up in your business for at least four weeks. Maybe five if El Nino rears his ugly head. Six if my gout flares." THAT is a time table I would believe. But two weeks? Um...not so much.

   I guess if any good is coming out of my home's latest Bi-Polar episode...it would be that now we don't have to hire anyone to paint the kitchen and the upstairs. We also won't be forking out $2000 for new carpet. Viva la Home Owner's Insurance! The downside being of course that we will have who knows how many smelly, anal-cleft-showin', scraggly handy men clomping all through our home. Ya know what...that's not fair. I'm sure they aren't all like that. I have several friends who ended up with some mighty delightful looking young gentlemen tending their home's various woes. It just seems that MY house prefers em' big, stupid and smelly.

   And while we are on the subject of stinky...can I just offer this teensy nugget of advice to contractors? Invest in a Port-O-Potty!!! No one enjoys hearing your breakfast burrito and value meal roaring out of your butt in our bathrooms. Its disgusting actually. Please go poop in your own private closet in the drive way. Or stop eating things that burn a hole through our toilets...and our souls. Seriously.

   So as our newest remodel baby prepares for her painful birth...I ask that you keep all us Lavers in your prayers. Cause' we are gonna need them. Especially since Home Depot just called and informed me that the bathroom flooring and carpet we want will be here soon...in two weeks. Awesome. Just fricken awesome.