Home christian living Beauty for Ashes on April 27…Part 2

Beauty for Ashes on April 27…Part 2

by Kelly Crawford

(Continued from Part 1)

Only a few hours after I returned from the hospital, thankful my Dad survived his near-death heart attack, some friends of ours just a few miles away came over to sit out the impending storm.

Our local meteorologists had gone the extra mile to ensure we knew just how destructive this storm was.  We had already seen it move across part of our state and as frightening as the damage it was doing was the response of the media.  At times, they were speechless on the air, and at one point the weatherman just stopped and said, “Pray for these people” as a tornado that resembled more of a massive beast ripped through their community.

We knew it was bordering a record-breaking tornado so we took the warnings more seriously than usual.

My husband had the children gather flashlights and I had gone down to clear out the interior room and under stairs-closet, not knowing how many would join us should we need to take cover.

Early evening we went downstairs and gathered in the sitting room while the children watched a movie.  We had the laptop with us to watch the weather.

Two more of our friends/families showed up and we were just enjoying a time of fellowship.  There were now 37 of us.

The Lees, whose story I will get to, had brought us supper that afternoon because they knew I had been at the hospital with my Dad. That’s just what they do.  We asked them if they would stay with us but they decided not to.  I think they didn’t want to intrude since so many others were there.

When we saw that the tornado was heading to our town, (you still think it’s just coming in your general direction, not to your house), we gathered everyone into two interior rooms.  I put all the children into a closet under the stairs in the room the adults were in.  Chelsea (18 yrs.), and Mercy, an expecting mother, were in the closet with the children.  I was later so thankful there were adults with them.

We had done this several times before and still felt it was more of a routine precaution than anything.

But only minutes after we got into the rooms, everyone started complaining of their ears stopping up.  I was the first to say something about it.  That pressure meant a tornado was on top of us, something we didn’t realize until seconds later when all the horrendous noise began.

The noise is hard to explain.  I’m not sure I registered it because I was so afraid. The children started screaming (debris was falling on the stairs) and I had a wave of panic that things were falling in on them from the way it sounded.  We were paralyzed.  We huddled closer and closer to each other, to the wall.  Aaron and I hovered over Bria and Jax and I remember grabbing a coat or something to put over Jax.

I remember seeing Jesse, one of the young men with us,bracing his body with all his might against the door that was being fiercely pushed by the pressure.  I remember seeing leaves blow under the door and I wondered why leaves were in the house.

Glass was shattering, things were crashing. It’s really difficult to recall the details of such a frightful and emotionally-charged moment.

There were several audible prayers being spoken.  The women were praying rather quietly, the best I remember, and Aaron and Chris, the husband of one of the other families, prayed out loud, intermittently, that God would keep us safe. I think they prayed very calmly but loudly to be heard over the noise.

The other family was in a different room and I hoped and prayed they were OK.

I feared everything would cave in on us.  I was bracing for that.  Later Aaron said he feared the same thing.

It happened really fast.  I don’t think it actually lasted more than 20 seconds or so.  It was surreal.  We knew there was damage above, but we didn’t know the extent.  Nor did it matter at that moment.  The sheer elation I felt the second it was over is indescribable.  I was so relieved that we were all safe I really didn’t care about anything else.

The men would soon go out to assess the damage. No one was prepared for the scene or the events that followed….

Read Part 3


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brenda May 30, 2011 - 10:09 pm

Oh my goodness Kelly…I’m shaking just reading this! I cannot imagine how scary it must have been. OH that story scared me..and I even know how it ends!

Sandy May 30, 2011 - 10:51 pm

So grateful I know the rest of the story. I can only imagine what y’all were feeling as it all happened. Praising God that He was totally in control of it all.

I miss you, Friend.

Jennifer Griffin May 30, 2011 - 11:05 pm

I cannot imagine being there…facing this terror. I am so thankful that you all are ok. God’s hand was there..protecting you all!

Brenda May 30, 2011 - 11:12 pm

I have followed your blog for a while now. I just read about your house being hit by the tornado there. I can’t even imagine. My sister and I attended the benefit concert that Brandon Heath did here in Nashville for the Lee family. It was awesome! We are continuing to pray for all of you. If there is anything I can do for you from here, please let me know.

Katy May 31, 2011 - 5:28 am

I can’t even imagine. I am near speechless. I still get teary-eyed as I think back a bit over a week ago as we all piled into an interior room, into the tub, crowded and covered in pillows to protect us from debris. I held my 3 year old in my arms and just prayed to God to spare him, to not let harm come to him. It was the first time in my entire life I was afraid for the life of my child and had such a “take me, not him” feeling, near begging.

OK, back, I just broke down again. That’s a place I hope I am never in again. That feeling of total helplessness while knowing there is one in control is hard. We were very blessed and protected from the devastation. But I look around at all those who were affected and it just makes me near speechless. I have no reason why one would be spared and another wouldn’t. God knows the number of our days. He ist there as our strength through the journey, our perfect strength so we can make it through these types of things. He never promised to keep us from these storms in life, just to be there with us as we went through them.

Word Warrior May 31, 2011 - 2:45 pm

So glad you were safe and I pray you never have to experience that!

Susan McCurdy May 31, 2011 - 7:42 am

Your picture of before and after brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad you are sharing your story. It reminds me that so many are still picking up pieces as the rest of us go on with life. You are giving voice to so many who are walking the same journey. The Lord bless you as you keep “keepin’ on.”

Leslie from Virginia May 31, 2011 - 7:44 am

Thank you LORD for protecting Kelly and her family.

Jamie May 31, 2011 - 8:04 am

I’m so thankful you all are ok. I’m crying reading this. Just this morning I watched a video of a father who lost 2 sons ages 3 and 15 months in the OK tornadoes. He lost his house and his 5 year old daughter was critically injured as well as his pregnant wife. Thankfully they seem to be doing better. You have probably heard of the Hamlin family. The father said, as he was crying, that he lost his little buddies. I can’t even imagine the heartbreak they and you are feeling. I am so thankfull you are safe! I’m praying for you.

Word Warrior May 31, 2011 - 2:49 pm

This breaks my heart. Actually, I feel “out of the loop” with the news, which I told my husband is probably good in a way, and yet bad in another way. We never watched the news anyway (no tv) so now I don’t know if it’s good or bad that I don’t see/hear every story–there’s so much to take in.

My neighbor here commented that the more time passes, the more depressed he gets (he wasn’t affected by the tornadoes). I assume a lot of it has to do with just watching and seeing all the tragedies in so many places.

Part of me thinks it might be better if we don’t see so much of that right now, and another part of me feels guilty for wanting to avoid the knowledge of so many hurting families. It’s a struggle between trying to salvage my fragile emotional state and wanting to pour myself into the thoughts and prayers for so many others hurting much worse. We do hear stories and see pictures, but not as much as if we had a television. Anyway, just talking out loud now.

I Live in an Antbed May 31, 2011 - 9:20 am

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, You are with me! What a powerful testimony in your family’s heritage of faith. Your children’s children will be blessed to hear how the Lord hid you all under the shadow of His wing.

Joy H May 31, 2011 - 10:09 am

Tears while reading this, especially the part where the husbands were praying out loud. Ohhhhhhh, that just struck my heart! I am so thankful that you were all spared!!

I think of the Lee family very often and pray for them.

Lori E. May 31, 2011 - 12:53 pm

Still so thankful to God for the safety of your family and all who were with you! Cannot even begin to imagine what it was/is like for you all. But I do know this, that you’ve all been brought closer to your LORD because of this, and for that I know you’re very grateful. What a wonderful “real life” lesson for your children on God’s love, grace, mercy, provision & faithfulness!

6 arrows May 31, 2011 - 4:55 pm

How scary that must have been listening to the children’s screams. I just shiver at the thought. Yet what a blessing when strong, Godly men offer up calm prayers in times of crisis. Praise God, He is faithful to bestow His mercy and strength on us when we need it most!

Kelly, I hope your dad is making a good recovery after his heart attack. Although I am so sorry he experienced that, I’m just very thankful that if it had to happen, it occurred that morning rather than during or after the tornado, when I’m sure travel out of your valley to get him to the hospital in a timely manner would have been virtually impossible.

God is in the details, and is working all things to His glory and our eternal good. Hugs and prayers from our family to yours.

Mandy Mom May 31, 2011 - 10:38 pm

I am glad you’ve divided this up into pieces- I am sure it is hard to write, and it’s hard for me to read. The part about everyone praying…. really hit me. I wonder how often so many prayers fill such a little closet.

Corri May 31, 2011 - 10:50 pm

I actually found your blog through another blog who mentioned you and the tornadoes. This has been fascinating and heartbreaking to read so far. Looking forward to the rest of it.

Romona June 1, 2011 - 2:02 am

Your story touched my heart deeply. Reading about your dad and then the tornado shows that no matter what happens, God is in control.

Blessings to you.

Renata June 1, 2011 - 6:05 pm

Thank you for sharing Kelly. I’ve been praying for you guys & the Lees often. My daughter always asks at sunday school that we can pray for the people effected by the tornado. Please know you are being uplifted to the Lord all over the world

Anna June 1, 2011 - 8:32 pm

So glad you and your family are OK. What’s scary is having so little warning. We have hurricanes in Florida but you know a couple days ahead at least.

LuAnne June 1, 2011 - 10:20 pm


I’m a long-time reader of your blog, and you’ve inspired me in so many ways. My heart – my prayers – have gone out to you when reading your account of this most difficult time. Your response to the “storm”, though, has inspired me – and in a way I could never have forseen.

Today our area of the country was hit with tornados – several have touched down in a state where this type of weather is rare. I was out of town, driving home, but stranded and unable to drive while my hometown (where my family was) was in the midst of a tornado warning.

Though I was fearful, I soon thought of you, and your faith inspired me to put my faith in Him, and I wanted to thank you for the example that you have been to me.

So thank you again and again for the example you’ve been to me – and probably to very many more! I am still praying for you and yours – and for all those affected by tornados.


Word Warrior June 1, 2011 - 10:53 pm


I actually heard about this tornado on the radio while driving home today. I was just telling my husband about it. (Didn’t it go through a main street?) I’m really ready to not hear about any more natural disasters 😉 So glad you were safe.

Beauty for Ashes on April 27…Part 3 | June 1, 2011 - 11:58 pm

[…] Continued from part 1 and part 2. […]

Sarah June 2, 2011 - 8:18 am

Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I found your blog a mere week before the tornadoes, while in the midst of a spiritual struggle in part due to the trials of being married and having 3 babies in rapid succession, all within the last 3.5 years. Your blog has been both inspiring and a means of conviction for me, and I feel so blessed to be on the receiving end when you yourself are in the midst of a much bigger and tasking trial. It is evident that the Spirit of the Lord is living in you, and you are an example to us all of what kind of emotional, physical and spiritual strength is possible when we abide in the Lord. It is a reminder I need daily, okay hourly, and sometimes every minute, these days. Reading this story has reminded me to spend more time longing for heaven where God will wipe away our tears and we will mourn no longer. But until then, to stand strong on the ROCK that is Christ, and we shall not be moved. Thank you for planting your feet firmly on the Rock, Kelly.

BlessedMom June 3, 2011 - 11:28 pm

My heart breaks for you all! These storms that have ruined so much of our nation are just unbelievable. Our family has been trying to help so many of the Alabama victims. It really hits home when you see your neighbors struggling through such devastation.

Kelly Crawford finds ‘Beauty for Ashes’ in AL tornado devastation | Homeschool News Network July 10, 2011 - 3:15 am

[…] for Ashes” series as of today, and it looks like more is coming.   Part One   Part Two   Part Three Savannah No comments Share stLight.options({ publisher:'', title: […]

All-in-One “How the Tornado Affected the Crawfords” | July 22, 2011 - 3:33 pm

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Atull??, I forgot about the cash he used to send to india, violating federal laws. Now amit can by some street kids for…

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