Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Man-Boy (becoming more of a man!)

Seventeen years ago, today, you made your presence into the world. At exactly 9:43 A.M. You arrived. A screaming, chunky, red faced, white haired, ball of love. My life has never been the same!

You have become an amazing young man, and I am proud to be your mom. Tyler your love for those around you is infectious! You are a special young man, and while you are quick to point out you aren't perfect (we are aware of that!), your love for others and your heart amaze me.

God is doing a wonderful work in you! I am blessed to be here to experience all your growing pains- knowing these past seventeen years are drawing you closer to HIM and who HE wants you to be!

Monday, January 31, 2011

If You Only Knew!

There are times when I want to scream at the top of my lungs "IF YOU ONLY KNEW". Those times when people assume your entire life looks like that one glimpse, that one shining moment. The moment when my kids all seem like they are the best of friends. The moment when I was *caught* laying down my selfish desire to give the quick answer, and took the time to teach, or explain. The moment we left the house, to go somewhere, and thankfully left the huge argument we were having at home. The moment we went out to eat and somehow, my children remembered their table manners, even though I hadn't seen them in months! The moment my children remembered to say "Please" or "Thank you", without being reminded and someone assumed I had this entire parenting thing figured out- little did they know!

There are people who have *known* me for years, but haven't *seen* me in years- who think I'm a fraud! They don't know Christ, and don't understand "how or what" happened to me. The pieces to my puzzle don't fit. The funny thing is that they will never fit! It doesn't make sense. Out of all the people in the world God chose to save me- that girl who.....I am right there with you! It DOESN'T make sense! I am SO glad it doesn't have to!!

When I first became a christian, I had this overwhelming feeling like everyone else was perfect, then there was me. I felt like they were going to find out who I was, and ask me what I was doing there. That isn't how God works! God doesn't want those people who have it all figured out. Those poeople who have a perfect life. God wants those who have fallen, who are the weakest. He wants to take someone like you or me, who I am sure many wrote off, and change your (my) life. He wants those of us who are broken, fallen and beyond repair. So that we might bring glory to Him! HE is the only one big enough to help someone like me!

There are times when I share very intimate details of my life with friends who are discouraged, because God can and will use it all! With this bit of information or knowledge they can have hope! If God can redeem, and make good-- ALL I have done. The worst of the worst! They would know just how faithful HE is!

I spent most of my younger years looking for love in all the wrong places! Mainly in boys, yet I swore never get close enough to care about anyone! I was a single mom, who managed to make others think I knew what I was doing. I didn't. I still feel like a kid. Sometimes, I think someone is going to figure out that I'm stumbling my way through this life, and tell me I need adult supervision.

I was, and am, one of the most stubborn, prideful, selfish people I know. I have played the role of the other women, a cheater, liar, thief, gossip and manipulator. I have been an awful friend, wife and mother. I have been a horrible sister and terrible daughter. I have done it all! I have made really bad decisions that I'm not proud of! I know I have been forgiven! BUT, I can tell you I do not look forward to the day I have to look into one of my children's eyes and have *that* conversation. I know they will have a hard time understanding my decisions(even when they're adults). I am the girl who cursed like a sailor, ran away from home on most holidays and was plain lost! At 38, I still struggle with the fact that my biological father never thought I was important enough to truly enter into my life.

I am the girl who thought home school was fine for someone else (meaning those weirdos) , but NOT me!-(God found that really funny!). Now, as I navigate through this home school maze, I am more aware of how big God truly is! Let me make it clear, when we made the decision to home school, I did not have a supernatural moment where God anointed my head with an abundance of grace and patience! Daily, I struggle to respond with grace(sometimes hourly, sometimes by the minute)! There are days when I have no patience. There are days where if you stood at my front door you would have a hard time believing Christ had any influence in my life what-so-ever! Actually, you might call someone to intervene and cast out the demons inside:). I don't think because homeschooling works for us, you should do it. Matter of fact, unless God has called you to it- DON'T! That doesn't mean you won't feel like you're jumping off the side of a cliff if He has called you, but it isn't something that should be entered in to lightly. It calls for some serious prayer and consideration. I believe God has a special plan for you, your family, and your life. Hopefully you aren't as stubborn and rebellious as me, and your transition will be a whole lot easier, than mine was.

I want to be transparent. There are days where my whole life looks like one hot mess! I don't want anyone to ever see a shining moment, or a glimse of my life, and think I have it all figured out. The only things I know, the only areas I have changed are ones God saw fit to change! I want you to know I am flawed, I am corrupt, I am selfish. I am many, many things. It took all those things, the good, the bad, and the ugly to draw me to Christ and for His work to be done in me!

I started by saying there are things I want to scream from the top of my lungs! One thing I want you to know is that I'm probably going to screw up tomorrow! Not mess up! Totally screw up! That isn't what is most important! What is more important than anything I could share about myself, what I would yell from the mountain tops- I am saved by grace. I am forgiven. I am loved! He not only accepts me just like I am, he wants me JUST as I am!

This past year has been one of the busiest yet calmest of my life. I am thankful for every moment- good and bad! I don't know what God has in store for us, the Crotsley Crew. I am praying for HIS will and not mine. I pray I will see the gifts and blessings in it all. I pray I will find joy in the everyday, and that He will continue His work in us (me)no matter how we (I) might fight.

I am still *that* girl! Hopefully, with a lot more stretching and growing I will become a little more comfortable becoming *this* girl! I pray for more growing pains. I pray I would enjoy this year as much, if not more, than last. I pray God would continue to show me his gifts in everyday life. I pray no matter how much it hurts I would grateful for *ALL* of it!

So, now you know, you really know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last Friday as I was driving, I was having a quiet moment with God (in a not so quiet car)! God said something to me, before I knew it I was saying out loud and asking Madison to write it down.
This morning as I was texting a friend who is gracious to pray for me. I told her sometimes it is hard to see through the clouds-God reminded me again of what he said to me on Friday.
Sometimes when God talks I don't know if it is just for me, or for someone else. Usually he repeats himself (a lot) until I listen. So I know I am supposed to post this because while it was for me, it wasn't just for me!

You may not understand My plan.....

The light through the clouds you might not see....

Always remember, there is no greater plan....

Then the plan found in ME.......

Friday, January 22, 2010

"The" table

This is "IT".......

(this post begins below)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

God Cares About the Details!

This morning as I was reading my bible I was reminded of how God cares about the details of our lives. God has answered many of my hearts desires, before they were even prayers, before I even thought to ask.....He provided!

When Madison was born, Jody and I needed to purchase a new table. Thankfully Jody did most of the work and narrowed the selection down to a couple of pieces he thought I would like. He hit the mark! The kitchen table you see above was perfect! I loved it! It was heavy stone, antiqued, and perfect. It was wonderful, beautiful, and worked.....for about 20 months. Then Jarred was born. The table fit four and very quickly there were 5 of us.

The table no longer served our family, but it was a kitchen table and not a must. We used a folding chair to accommodate all of us, but knew eventually it would be nice to replace it. I occasionally looked on Craigslists for a replacement. We had a very big dining room table so it wasn't a "have to".

Back in April, I was surfing Craigslist and there "IT" was! The table! It was perfect! I drooled, then drooled some more. I called Jody and left him a voice mail. I emailed a copy of the table to a friend so she could drool with me! When Jody called I happily told him I found "THE" table. It was on Craigslist waiting to come home! It was "THE" table we wanted! I was doing the happy dance and celebrating. Then came my reality-most days it comes in the form of Jody, he had one question. One simple question, the one question I didn't want him to ask- "How much was the table?" It wasn't the table, it was "THE" table! The truth was the table was more than we currently had in the "table fund". I stopped dancing, wiped the drool from my chin, and asked what he would like me to do. Jody suggested I get more details about the table to make sure it was a good deal.

Research only confirmed what I knew, that Jody just didn't seem to understand! The table and chairs were not only beautiful, they were also an AMAZING deal! Now I was really sold! It truly was "THE" table! I called Jody at work, to tell him (sell him) on the table. He had a suggestion (that I didn't like). He suggested I email the owner and let her know the amount I could pay. I thought he had lost his mind! What was he talking about?? My plan was for him to pay the difference. It was a VERY reasonable price, a great deal! I would love to say I said "Yes dear" hung up the phone and did as my husband asked, but I can't.....because I didn't.

I researched a little more and sent Jody and email. He is so wise, he just didn't have enough information. I just needed to send him more details in order for him to know this was "THE" table!! I sent an email with all the extra information to help him see what I already knew! It was a great deal, and we didn't want to pass it up!

A few minutes later God entered the picture (as He so faithfully does). I realized it was easy for me to submit when I agree. What about when I don't? What about when I REALLY, REALLY, want something. What about when I know what a great deal something is? I was really convicted about what I had done. I was not trusting or submitting to Jody. I was not showing I trusted his wisdom, or his care for me. Let alone God's!! I sent Jody another email and asked him to please disregard the previous email. I let him know I would do exactly what he had asked me to do in the first place.

I emailed the seller as Jody suggested. She responded, she already had someone coming to look at the chairs. She offered the table for the amount I offered but I knew I had not found "The" table. It was not meant to be. I was surprised that I was not more disappointed, but I was fine. God was gracious, he gave me an opportunity to submit knowing that HIS plan is ALWAYS better than mine! I sent one last email and thanked the seller. I let her know that was great deal, but I couldn't use the table without the chairs. It wasn't something we "had" to have, just something I would like to have. I let her know if for some reason the deal fell through we would give her table a good home and closed the computer. That afternoon as I was walking out the door I said out loud to God "It is important to you that we sit together. You know we use our kitchen table more than any other. I am going to trust you that when the timing is right you will provide". That was the end of that (or so I thought)!

A couple of months later the kids and I are were headed out of town. As I was packing up my lap top up I received an email. It was the seller. Her deal had fallen through. She had kept my email and asked if I was still interested. "What"? She was willing to accept the amount I offered- "What"?. I wrote down her info and proceeded to drive to St. Pete. Jody asked me to call and get the specifics, he and a friend could go by that night. The seller and I played phone tag but we finally talked. She wasn't able to coordinate with the previous person and had kept my email. I let her know that Jody would call and look at/pick up the table.

That evening when Jody called he informed me had a couple of strange conversations with the owner. He knew what she was having for dinner. The activities her kids were involved in, but couldn't get a time to look at the table. Jody continued to try to make arrangements with no success. When I arrived back in town she called out of the blue and gave us a very small window to come and see the table, and pick it up. At this point my realistic husband is questioning the safety of going and probably the sanity of his wife:)!

We went. It was love at first site! It was "The" perfect table. Jody and Tyler loaded it in our trailer, and brought "The" table to it's new home.

I placed our kitchen table on Craigslist. I had one inquiry. I had one offer. She came to look at it, fell in love. "IT" was now her perfect table.

Every time we sit down to eat or I walk by the kitchen I am soooo reminded of how God cares about the details of my life. He cares about my hearts desires. I am in awe of a God who would provide something so small, yet so great! I am amazed at his grace for my family, for the way he has knitted us together. I am amazed at his care for me.

When I began this walk I had no idea of the great adventures God had in store for me. I am amazed at the treasures he has shown and the future he has in store for us. I know God is real and living! He can, and will make himself known in ways that we will never understand! In ways that affect our hearts and speak directly to us. My walk isn't going to look like any one's, but my own. I know that I am loved, that I am forgiven. I have been promised a treasure that is far better than any I could have ever planned for myself.

I will post a picture of our new table tomorrow. We have had it for months, so it isn't so new. But, how God could use a kitchen table to confirm his care and love for me- will never get old!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

12 Days of Christmas- The Best Present Ever!!

I declare we have discovered the best Christmas present ever! It doesn't take batteries, and doesn't need to be wound up! If you give it a try I am positive it is something you and your family may never forget!

Two years ago a friend mentioned she picks a family and does the 12 days of Christmas for them. I had never heard of it before, but loved the idea. She and her family would sneak around and drop off little gifts with a note that represented the 12 days of Christmas! We did it last year , and it was by far the best part of our Christmas!

Step 1- Pick a family or person who lives CLOSE! We picked a neighbor we didn't know. She was a widow and after praying about it we felt she was who we should bless. It is important the person lives close, especially if the kids are going to help. We did ours all hours of the night to make sure we didn't get caught.

Step 2- Plan out and purchase for your 12 days. Purchase and gather everything ahead of time! This will eliminate any last minute shopping. This really saved us last year because on day 3 I came down with the flu. I was bed ridden and could not participate, but since everything was ready Jody and the kids had no problems completing it. It also helped our delivery- if we were headed out we would just bring that nights "gifts" with us and do the drop off on our way back home. We called it "Ring and Run" minus the ringing:)!

Step 3- On December 13th the fun begins and continues until Christmas Eve. You have to dress up in all black, sneak through the neighborhood and drop off your little treats without getting caught....think military mission- Tyler, Madison and Jarred loved this part! It is important not to get caught.
(Disclaimer-The actual 12 days of Christmas begins on Christmas day, we do it leading up to Christmas day, it helped us remember the true meaning of Christmas during all the holiday madness)

We really had no idea how our neighbor felt about what we were doing. We didn't know her, our relationship consisted of saying hello and waving as she walked her dog. In October Tyler received a phone call from "her", she was having trouble walking her dog and wanted to know if he could help. Tyler began walking her dog 3 times a day, and has been ever since (a relationship only God could have ordained). About a month ago she asked Tyler if he was responsible for the "Secret Santa" gifts. We don't advocate lying in our house, but Tyler knew he couldn't tell our secret. He denied being involved, she went into detail about what happened and how much it blessed her "It may not have meant a lot to other people, but to an old person like me it meant the world."

So there it is....The best holiday gift our family has ever given or received! We included the christian meaning behind the song in ours:). The cost is pretty low but I truly think it will be one of those things our kids will remember and I hope to continue for many years to come.

Note- The person thinks they are going to find out who we are in the end, but we keep it a secret. We hope (if possible) they will try it themselves on a fellow neighbor, but our desire it to bless them and part of that is that they don't know who we are- it always makes it a lot of fun!
(The Initial Poem)

This Christmas season is so full of fun.
We’re happy to share with your family, then run.
How grateful we are that you’re playing our game.
You’ll now find that Christmas won’t be the same.

The song that we sing twelve days in a row
Won’t get tiresome with treats from friends you know.
But to keep up the mystery and the fun,
You won’t know who we are until we’re all done!

Each night we’ll bring something
Please don’t watch for us coming.
If you catch us too soon,
It will spoil the fun that’s coming!

Tonight calls for a partridge for your pear tree,
But partridges are tough catches, you see.
Now, how about some pears, instead of the bird.
They taste very good, or so we have heard.
[Basket of Pears or Canned Pears]

On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

A Partridge in a Pear Tree
The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose birthday we celebrate on December 25. In the song, Christ is symbolically presented as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings, recalling the expression of Christ's sadness over the fate of Jerusalem: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered you under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but you would not have it so . . . ." (Luke 13:34)

On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Two Turtle Doves
The Old and New Testaments, which together bear witness to God's self-revelation in history and the creation of a people to tell the Story of God to the world.

Did you know two turtle doves are
Extremely hard to find?
So here are Turtles ‘n Dove—
The chocolate candy kind!
[Turtle and Dove Candy]

On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Three French Hens
The Three Theological Virtues: 1) Faith, 2) Hope, and 3) Love (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Hens are chickens
If they are French or not!
Here is chicken soup
To heat in a pot.
(Can of Chicken Soup)

On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Four Calling Birds
The Four Gospels: 1) Matthew, 2) Mark, 3) Luke, and 4) John, which proclaim the Good News of God's reconciliation of the world to Himself in Jesus Christ.

Four calling birds, we can’t pay the fare,
For all we have is a purse full of air.
As Christmas approaches, and calls you must make,
Don’t use these gold coins or the phone you may break.
[Gold chocolate coins]

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Five Gold Rings
The first Five Books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch: 1) Genesis, 2) Exodus, 3) Leviticus, 4) Numbers, and 5) Deuteronomy, which gives the history of humanity's sinful failure and God's response of grace in the creation of a people to be a light to the world.

Only five golden rings?
There really are more
Of gold pineapple rings
I got from the store.

On the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Six Geese A-laying
The six days of creation that confesses God as Creator and Sustainer of the world (Genesis 1).

Six geese-a-laying– an interesting sight.
One of them squawked and they all took flight.
What they left in their nest, you’ll just have to look,
But with these you won’t want to cook.
[eggs, plastic swan cups with chocolate inside, chocolate eggs]

On the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Seven Swans A-swimming
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: 1) prophecy, 2) ministry, 3) teaching, 4) exhortation, 5) giving, 6) leading, and 7) compassion (Romans 12:6-8; cf. 1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

The 7th day of Christmas and we are half way done,
Remember no peeking or you’ll spoil the fun.
On this day of Christmas, how nice it would be,
If seven swans a swimming your family could see.
The pond was quite empty since the swans have gone further south,
We only found goldfish to put in your mouth.
[Goldfish crackers]

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Eight Maids A-milking
The eight Beatitudes: 1) Blessed are the poor in spirit, 2) those who mourn, 3) the meek, 4) those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 5) the merciful, 6) the pure in heart, 7) the peacemakers, 8) those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. (Matthew 5:3-10)

The maids were all milking,
Milk foaming like suds.
Quickly they all vanished
Leaving just "Milk Duds".
(box of Milk Duds)

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Nine Ladies Dancing
The nine Fruit of the Holy Spirit: 1) love, 2) joy, 3) peace, 4) patience, 5) kindness,
6) generosity, 7) faithfulness, 8) gentleness, and 9) self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

Nine ladies dancing would be too big a crowd,
Besides their music is way too loud.
We have for you Christmas songs,
That you can listen to all season long.
(A Christmas CD)

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Ten Lords A-leaping
The ten commandments: 1) You shall have no other gods before me; 2) Do not make an idol; 3) Do not take God's name in vain; 4) Remember the Sabbath Day; 5) Honor your father and mother; 6) Do not murder; 7) Do not commit adultery; 8) Do not steal; 9) Do not bear false witness; 10) Do not covet. (Exodus 20:1-17)

Ten lords a leaping would be an awesome gift,
But they got stuck while jumping through a white snowdrift.
We had to be content, you see, to watch the popcorn fly.
So we’ve added a sweet topping to it for you to try.
[Caramel popcorn, popcorn toppings]

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Eleven Pipers Piping
The eleven Faithful Apostles: 1) Simon Peter, 2) Andrew, 3) James, 4) John, 5) Philip, 6) Bartholomew, 7) Matthew, 8) Thomas, 9) James bar Alphaeus, 10) Simon the Zealot, 11) Judas bar James. (Luke 6:14-16). The list does not include the twelfth disciple, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus to the religious leaders and the Romans.

Those eleven pipers piping reminds us of our plumber,
To leave him on the doorstep would be a real bummer.
Now make your water piping hot, and fill your cups with care.
We’re giving you some hot chocolate we know you’ll love to share

We simply can’t believe this game is almost through.
We’ve had a jolly time bringing these gifts to you.
With only one more night, don’t you wish you knew,
Just exactly who we are and why we’re doing this for you?

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...

Twelve Drummers Drumming
The twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles' Creed: 1) I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. 2) I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. 3) He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. 4) He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried. 5) On the third day he rose again from the dead. 6) He ascended into Heaven. 7)and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. 8) from thence He shall come to judge th living and the dead. 9) I believe in the Holy Spirit, 10) the one holy Christian Church, the fellowship of saints, 11) the forgiveness of sins, 12) the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

(Final Poem)
Christmas Eve has arrived, and on this our last night,
One dozen drummers would be a grand sight.
But the noise of their drums would hurt your head,
So eat all these cookies we bring you instead.
(Homemade Cookies)

The thing to now remember, if you’ve had lots of fun
When next December rolls around it's your turn to make the nightly runs.
Make sure you pick your family with tender, loving care
‘Cause its fun to get to spoil them at this special time of year.

And so we wish you a joyous Noel,
We know that you’re hoping our name we will tell.
But our name stays a secret, we just cannot share.
It wouldn’t be right, no it wouldn’t, so there!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Things Never Change!

Tyler reading his science on top of the tree house this morning. Our kids enjoy the flexibility of reading where they like, I am pretty sure that will never change!

We have had a very busy summer! We went camping, Jody and I had a wonderful anniversary trip, and the kids and I traveled quite a bit for Classical Conversations. We've had to be very purposeful to make time for others and not get caught up in our lives (which I will confess happened(happens) anyway!). It hasn't left much time for blogging:)!

We are back into the full swing of school. Tyler is in 10th grade, I have to admit this year has been a little frightening for me! I really understand why some people don't home-school during the High School years!! There is a lot of pressure to serve our children and make sure we are providing the best education we can for them. It can be very intimidating to know we, Jody and I, are responsible for not only teaching Tyler but preparing him for the rest of his life -but- that is the whole reason we home-school!

Madison and Jarred are trudging along in 4th grade, and both doing well. We still only test Jarred for the grade he is supposed to be in (3rd), but at some point that might change. Homeschooling is hard work! There are days I don't feel like doing it. There are days my kids wish they had another teacher! I get asked how I do it all and the real answer is- I DON'T! I am not capable of doing it all! Only by the grace of God does any of it get done. To be honest, if you walk into my house it is probably clean, it isn't spotless, but yes- it's clean. I cook dinner almost every night. My kids are getting a better education than I did. But, it is a lot of hard work! I constantly fight the temptation to give into selfishness or laziness. There are days I would rather cook all day. There are days I don't want to do anything but paint or decorate. Those aren't bad desires in themselves, but could quickly become my priority with out some boundaries. I enjoy cleaning (I know for some that isn't normal)! If you remember I am an instant results kind of girl! Cleaning gives me instant results. If left to myself I would rather clean than play with my kids. Thankfully God made me aware of this years ago, but it still creeps up.

Thankfully I serve a God who is bigger than me! He makes me aware of the many idols in my life and gave me friends to hold me accountable! I am not sold out on home-school. I don't believe it is the only way! There are great kids who love the lord who graduate from public school. We aren't better or superior because we home school! We aren't sure how much longer, Tyler, will even be home schooled. Things like the Crotsley kids finding their own little spots to read doesn't seem like it will ever change. They way we home-school, what the kids are into, the activities they are involved in, seem to change weekly:)!

For now, we feel this is where we are supposed to be. This is what God has for us. I fall asleep at night exhausted and sometimes question what in the world I'm doing! Most of the time I am aware of how special it is to have this time with my kids. I am aware of the work God is doing in all of us, even when it hurts! I really enjoy my children and I am blessed to have the opportunity to stay home with them, even if it is exhausting!