Sending Smiles

“His mercies are new every morning…”

The Lord continues to be our stronghold and comfort in the midst of this tangled mess.  There are certainly moments of sadness, moments of utter frustration and being overwhelmed at even the trivial stuff of sorting, culling and storing, but all that pales in the big picture of God’s amazing mercy and love.

Every day I get a new big hug–sometimes physically, but more often through an email, a comment, a phone call or a gift.  I’ve never felt so *hugged* 😉 and it’s a wonderful, humbling experience.


Our van (the white one)

The thing that I am most grieved about, that you are able to catch a glimpse of in this picture (though a picture still can’t paint the reality of the scene), is the beauty that is gone, much harder to replace than the houses and possessions.  We moved to this piece of land when I was 12, and it had become such a beautiful, peaceful haven.  I know, though, that “He gives beauty for ashes”, and we will rest in that.

We are very comfortable in our host’s home, though we are looking now to relocate to a more permanent place, establishing some semblance of a routine, while we get ready to rebuild.  I joked with Janet (our hostess), who has supplied me with even the smallest of “womanly goodies”,

“Well, I may be homeless but I smell nice!”

I’ve come to see hospitality in a whole new way as the Vest family ministers to us with utter selflessness and grace, giving up bedrooms, doing all they can to supply our daily needs, and as so many in our church and community around us take on our burdens as their own.

Words I’ll never forget, spoken Sunday morning by our elder who drove us out of the wreckage the morning after the tornado…“When I pulled into Shoal Creek and saw the devastation all I could think was I’m not leaving here without my family.” ~Ted Phillips

I am able to sit down some and begin to read through your comments and emails.  I can only do it in snippets of time, because of time restraints but also because of the emotions it evokes as I read your outpouring of love.  Please know I am reading every note and I long to answer each email and comment but I simply am not able.

Having such a huge community of friends–even if I’ve never met most of you–makes this journey so much easier!

Some of you have actually sent family members out to help, one reader sent a big RV for us to have on the work site (!!), some have sent art supplies to my son, gift cards, monetary donations…I just can’t get over it.  And your prayers…the most coveted of all your gifts.


“You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”  Psalm 23:5,6






My childhood home where my parents lived–located behind our home, before and after.

(More about their ministry…)

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus…”  Ephesians 3:21

God is doing mighty things.  Our church family, our community, all denominations–we are growing in love and unity in a way that only happens when you are called to walk through the fire together.

Opportunities abound on every side for us to minister to those who are lost and hurting, who do not have the same Hope that we have. Pray that we would, in the midst of being consumed with tasks and decisions, embrace the opportunities all around us to extend the love of Christ to the lost that they, too, might come to know the Savior that bears us up and binds us together.

55 Responses to “Sending Smiles”

  1. Kelly,
    Really, I have no words. Only prayers that I whisper every time you and others, whose lives have been turned upside down, cross my mind. (and that is a whole lot)


  2. That baby is darling – look at those wide open eyes!

    I’m so glad to know your spirit is strong. It would be easy, and easy to understand, if you were writing “why me?” right now, from the other perspective. Many prayers for you and your family.

  3. Sarah says:

    Your little boy is absolutely adorable! Your family is in my prayers each day as you go through this overwhelming experience.

  4. Kristi says:

    Thinking of you often and praying His love pours all over your family, your community and your church. Praying you find Him sufficient on the mountaintop and more so in the valley. Love you and will continue to pray for all that is taking place each day as you grieve and let go.

  5. Kim B. says:

    My heart & prayers go out to you. I really don’t have any words either, you have so gracefully so it all! God is faithful & sooo good! We’re sending love from Tulsa!

  6. I praise God for your faithful testimony and the Light you all are shining into such darkness. May He continue to lavish His Grace and Peace upon you. May you feel His arms about you every moment as His Love casts out all fear.

  7. Sarah L. says:

    I saw the tribute to Mr. Lee on Robins blog and I noticed in one of the pictures of the Lee home that your area was pretty wooded. In your first pictures of the damage you posted there are no trees and it broke my heart to see that too. I found a video on youtube of the tornado when it went through tuscaloosa and it was huge and I praised God that he kept your family and neighbors safe. I am still so very sorry to hear about Mr. Lee and I could tell by the tribute on Robins blog that he was a great man who loved the Lord.
    Many Blessings!
    Sarah L.

  8. Deborah says:

    That little boy is so precious. Your family has been in our family’s thoughts and prayers.

  9. Jane says:


    I am a frequent reader but an infrequent poster, but please know that I am praying for you and your loved ones loss and devastation. I just looked at Alpha Ranch website and just saw the before and after pictures and there are no words to describe that.

    Praises that your church family is there for you and it is amazing to see the Body of Christ come together like that! I wish I could do more or lived close enough to physically help with cleanup efforts!

    Special prayers sent out to the Lee family for their loss.

    Jax is beautiful. Praise God for His blessing of children, it is such a bright light amidst all the tragedy.

    Love and prayers,

  10. Molly says:

    Dear Kelly,
    Our hearts go out to you and your family, friends, and your very land.
    My mind has the image of the scene in Gone with the Wind where Scarlett bends down and clutches the dirt with her hands, Tara, Tara – in a movie, it was melodramatic, but truly, the land has a piece of our hearts. Even the dirt, if that’s all that is left. May you be continually filled with hope for rebuilding in the natural and gratitude in possessing a home not built with hands.
    Molly Underwood

  11. Kim M says:

    Beautiful smile and a beautiful baby! We are still praying for you up here. I’m so sorry about your parents’ home too… Thanks for continuing to update!

  12. Christie says:

    As we have no tv, internet ( other than my phone ), a dear friend notified me of your family’s loss. I have been grieving with you and the Lee family ever since. As a wife and homeschooling mother of ten, I can only imagine the heartache you are experiencing. We live in Mobile and know all too well the reality of these storms. Yet, we also know God is Sovereign.( Romans 8:28 ) I want to help in any way possible. Prayers are being lifted continually, but I want to do more. I will be in touch with my friend, hoping to find ways our family can help. I was thinking about you yesterday as I rocked my youngest. Thanking God for your faith and testimony. To the glory of God .
    Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,

  13. jonna marsh says:

    Your posts so touch my heart every time I read one. Can’t wait to share them with someone else. The Lord has spoken to me about my discontent with my earthly possessions…my 25 yr. old mobile home that needs some attention, etc. Each time I’m tempted to complain, the Lord reminds me that I have a roof over my head and that he spared 3 mobile homes on our hill for a reason! Will continue to pray for you and our other friends in the valley!

  14. Lady Rose says:


    I love the picture of you and baby Jax. It’s so precious.

    This post you have “written” has left me utterly speechless! I have never meet you, but you and your family and community have constantly been on my mind and in my prayers. I am thankful that the Lord continues to provide for you and those around you in this difficult time. Your expressions of love and gratitude fill my heart with joy, and bring tears of gladness to my eyes!


    -L. Rose

  15. K Brooks says:

    Hello Kelly!
    What a precious picture! (Our seven-year-old said “Ooooh, how sweet!” when she saw the page.)
    I am so glad to hear that you and your family are doing well. (I love your response to the FEMA rep). Our family and parishoners are still about the business of digging out as well (about a third of our members are from Tuscaloosa, Pratt City, and Pleasant Grove). God is so good. Sunday service was full of tears, but at the same time full of glorious thanskgiving. It is so good the Lord is healing hearts already.
    We CONTINUE to pray for your family. I hope and pray this experience will continue to turn people’s hearts toward our loving Father and Creator.

  16. First.. oh FIRST.. I have to say that those chubby, chubby cheeks on Sir Jax are absolutely slaying me! Goodness gracious sakes alive how do you keep from gnawing on those all day long?!

    And finally, I just can’t express how often I think of all of you and pray. It makes me so happy to see all that is being done for you in the name of our Lord. His name is overwhelmingly glorified as He makes provisions for his beloved children through his beloved children. It is a beautiful, beautiful sight to behold.

    All of you are loved here in Meridian. <3 <3

  17. Lori E. says:

    Oh, Kelly! I’m just now finding out that your family was hit by the storms! I haven’t been to the blog in weeks, what a shock! I had no idea! I’m loving reading about all that God’s people are doing to help & bless your family! Our family will be praying for yours now that I know… I have a baby just a few days younger than Jax… I can’t even imagine! Praise God for His faithfulness!!!

  18. Linda Murphy says:

    I am looking for an address for the Tom Lee family so I can send a donation directly to them. Would you be able to give that to me, please?

  19. 6 arrows says:

    Thanks for sending smiles our way! Just beautiful! And Jax is adorable…anytime my 7-year-old son knows I’m on your website, he tells me he wants to see a picture of Baby Jax. Puts a smile on his face every time (and mine too)!

    Kelly, you all continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve thought of you in the last week while doing ordinary daily things around the house. Just HAVING a home is something I don’t take for granted anymore after reading of your experiences through the storm.

    You bless me with your words of gratitude to those ministering to you and to God for sustaining and growing you as He does mighty things. He is worthy of our most jubilant praise, and I thank you for the JOY with which you proclaim His Holy Name!

  20. Renata says:

    What a cutie Baby Jax is – such a lovely picture of you both there! We continue to pray for you & your family throughout this difficult time. That the Lord will give you His strength throughout it. Please know we are thinking of you all

  21. Amy B. says:

    Kelly, you are beautiful! And Jax, well, he’s about the most gorgeous baby I’ve ever laid eyes on! What amazing stories you’ll be able to tell him about his early days.

    Last night, as we were doing bedtime prayers with our children, our 3yod wanted to start us, as she often does (I LOVE her prayers!!!), and she started praying for ‘de Crawford famlee’ and ‘about dat tornado dat took way der house.’ Then she opened her eyes and looked at me and said, ‘Momma, can dey live wif us?’ Hubby said, ‘If they needed to, they sure could.’ Satisfied, she continued praying for the rest of our Alabama family affected by the tornado. Our hearts and prayers are with you all continually, you precious, precious people! We’re making plans to come soon and help where needed.

    Gentle hugs and BIG love,
    Amy B.

  22. Please know that we are praying for you every single day. A couple days ago one of our boys got his gum all over our new couch, I didn’t even think about getting upset because I was so mindful of how my silly little couch pales with what others have recently lost.

    My husband and sons were blessed to spend several days down there sorting through belongings, moving things into shelter and doing what they could. I say blessed because they came home encouraged to see the body of Christ at work. We’re daily being regaled with stories of the outpouring of Christ’s love that was amazingly evident. Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into the lovely Christian community of which you are a part. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you.


  23. Jen C says:

    Praying for all of you.

  24. Anne Belley says:

    Thank you for sharing. Our family has been praying for yours, and for others since we heard about the losses incurred. It helps to hear personal tesitmonies, to “know” the people for whom we are praying. It increases our compassion and makes everything so much more real. Your acknowledgement of God’s goodness is a wonderful witness. May He use this experience in your life for your strengthening and for His glory.

  25. Tami Lewis says:

    seeing your smile is proof of God’s goodness. i am still lifting you and the Lee family up ( and many others) ~hugs

  26. Stephanie Russell says:


    You & Aaron are TWO of the greatest people I have ever met. Even though our paths crossed for only a short period… I truly feel it was in God’s plan to walk our family down your family’s path.

    Reading your blog & reading about your business makes me want to strive to be a better Christian, wife, mother, sister, etc… I hope you know that you are touching other lives deeply while you are coping with your own tragedy.

    I am saddened that all 3 of the homes were destroyed/damaged. I don’t know how it will ever look the same- but HOME is where your family is; although I DO KNOW that you know that. I was so excited to be living near such a fantastic & large family.

    We are a simple phone call away if you need any help with anything. I know my husband will be of use in the rebuilding during the electrical phases (He is an Electrician- Aaron knows) (Adam is also handy in many other trades)- so please make sure Aaron contacts Adam when that time comes =)) We’d love to help.

    I know you will continue being an inspiration for others… it shines in your eyes!


  27. Diane says:

    Okay, here’s what I wanna know…. how in heaven do you manage to still look so pretty in the midst of all you’re going through?? And I agree with everyone else- Jax is just sweetness itself!

    Praying for you dear, and for all the others who are going through this terribly difficult time♥

  28. ladyscott says:

    Thank you for embracing our prayers for your family and friends. So many Christians find praying to be “cop out” so to speak. Or “just praying” as if it is somehow inadequate. You reach out and embrace our prayers to our Loving Savior has something worthwhile, valuable, needful. That in itself is a testimony! Look, just look at what the Lord is doing through this, through you, through your family, through the Body of Christ! AMEN and AMEN!

    I am in utter disbelief at how altered the landscape is. It boggles my mind! To see the before and after, not just of the missing house, but the missing everything! I think that before and after picture really drove it home for me, having never seen or experienced a tornado myself.

  29. Kathy C. says:

    You are an inspiration, and your strength fills my heart with joy. It is so beautiful to see and feel the trust and faith you have in our great God, even through such adversity. My heart goes out to you all.

  30. Joy H says:

    Oh, my, Kelly! Jax is absolutely gorgeous! (as are you!)

    That picture of the beautiful tea cups amidst the rubble is SO profound! Wow!

    I am so glad that there are so many attending to your needs. I pray that God would continue the outpouring from His Body. Praying for you all . . .

  31. Margaret D says:

    I am glad you are all OK and seeing God’s grace even in the middle of this.

    I thought it was soooo cool to see that your church really is walking the walk when it comes to aiding members and others, and that you were able to turn away FEMA because of that.

  32. Donna Hebert says:

    Kelly and family, we are thinking of you and are encouraged as we witness your strong faith in His sovereignty in all circumstances.
    In all things, may our gracious Father be glorified and praying that you all will be strengthened in His tender mercies which are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. Much love to you from our family here in Maine.

  33. Jessica says:

    My family and I have been praying for ya’ll and all of the many others that have also been through this devastation.
    Your parents had a beautiful home my heart aches to see the after. I know “He does give beauty for ashes” but it still aches.
    May His tender love comfort you.

  34. Natalie says:

    Gorgeous baby…
    Kelly, my heart is heavy for you. All I can think about it how hard and sometimes overwhelming the first few weeks are being post partum…and here you have, really, a mind boggling circumstance on top of that. Only the grace of God…
    I have been SO wanting to send a gift, but can’t figure out how other people are getting things to you. I see an address above…and I’m hoping if I send something there, you will get it.
    I’m praying this life experience will launch your children into deeper relationship with Christ and greater effectiveness for His Kingdom. I know that is your highest desire! It will all be amazingly worth it one day. Be encouraged and know you are so loved!

  35. carmen says:

    Sherry Lee has a P.O. now. It is P.O. Box 1246, Ashville, AL. 35953

  36. Joyce says:

    Sending lots of prayer, love and hugs your way today. You are such a wonderful testimony of God’s grace. A sis in Christ,

  37. LucyT says:

    Kelly,I am looking at your new land scape and praying God will save some of those trees.I know they look dead but maybe some will pull through either way this land is and will be a beautiful place it couldn’t be anything less with such a truelly beautiful family living on it and loving it.My prayers are for you and your family especially your dad.I hope he is growing stronger each day.

    Jax is so precious.I can’t help but be a little jealous my last baby is now two and a half.He is just gorgeous as are all your children.

  38. Charity says:

    Kely, We continue to pray for you and your family. Sending love…

  39. Jo says:

    Time does heal, both you and your family + the landscape. Sadly it takes time, I’ve been there with a bush fire so I understand the sadness of see your once beautiful surroundings no longer there. God, in all His glory will mend things, perhaps a little different. Trust in the Lord, you will get through this.

    In His Grace

  40. Kelly, your boy is darling. You’re beautiful – inside and out.

    I’m sorry, again, for your loss. Your spirit seems strong; church family and friends are such a blessing.

    Psalm 46:10


  41. Kristen says:

    I read this blog and new I needed to go to Gods word and pray for you! He gave me this scripture for you. I hope you find comfort in his words.
    1 Samuel 2:8-10

    8 He lifts the poor from the dust
    and the needy from the garbage dump.
    He sets them among princes,
    placing them in seats of honor.
    For all the earth is the Lord’s,
    and he has set the world in order.

    9 “He will protect his faithful ones,
    but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
    No one will succeed by strength alone.
    10 Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
    He thunders against them from heaven;
    the Lord judges throughout the earth.
    He gives power to his king;
    he increases the strength[a] of his anointed one.”

  42. Joy says:

    Dear Kelly~

    We are still praying for you and your family! We cried when we watched a video of your husband talking about what your needs were right now…how hard this must be to go through, especially after just giving birth so recently. Our prayers are with you and the Lee family.


  43. Amber says:

    I’ve been looking in for awhile now, and just didn’t know what to say! I’m so glad people are taking care of your family and I’m so sorry for all that you’ve lost. It’s so refreshing to see the sweet spirit of your family! My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  44. […] as Kelly Crawford wrote words of encouragement after the tornado destroyed their home, Sherry Lee has written a lovely post on her blog about how […]

  45. Lindsay says:


    Is there a particular kind of gift card that would be best (e.g., Walmart, Kroger)? Please let us know when you have room to store books & what you particularly need. I have some Piper works (for example) I could send.

    Praying for God’s comfort upon you, and thanking Him for the glory you’re bringing to His all-sufficient name,

    • Word Warrior says:


      Thank you for asking. A Wal-mart gift card is a great way to help for people wondering. We have an abundance of certain things (clothes, toiletries, etc.) but will have quite a few purchasing needs later when we have to replenish our home. We do have places to store things now. I have several people managing an effort to help us replace books and curriculum. There is a “helping tornado families” on facebook specifically working to provide curriculum/books needs if anyone is interested in funneling things through there.

      God is good.

  46. the track officals could do little. They weren’t wearing fireproofs, they had no gloves. They weren’t properly equipped. At that point the only people that could have helped, were the other drivers.

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