Autobiography of Kim Crawford as of 2015
Hold your breath for 11 minutes. It is impossible of course. I did not breathe for 11 minutes when I was born, perhaps it was meant for me to be a deep sea diver or a frog? I do look pretty good in green. Back to my birth…my mother thought I was dead, and the doctors told her I would have severe brain damage, but I never lost oxygen to my brain. Throughout my life, I have always believed God provided that oxygen for me to offer confirmation of a plan for my life. I, Kim Denise Crawford, was meant to be, and I have proof.
In order to know Kim Crawford, I feel it is important to know my family dynamic, those who formed many of my thought processes, and the influences I had to be who I am and stop being who I am not. May I introduce, my people…
My father is Garland Monroe Crawford. He and his brothers slept piled on a mattress, ate out of the same bowl like puppy dogs, and his house was a shack with newspapers on the walls. The state of AL found these 5 boys in terrible conditions and took them to the Mercy Home (an orphanage). The boys were separated and lived in and out of the Mercy Home, with foster families, and with an abusive uncle. As much as my father desired love, he was not capable of receiving or giving it in a healthy manner. He developed a gambling addiction and was quite abusive to us until their divorce when I was 14 years of age. My father went through self-reflection and change, he contributed to salvation, and was a different man the last few years of his life. I knew the father who was quite a monster and the compassionate sorrowful man who was a wonderful grandfather to my children. His abuse has proven challenging to me as I struggled with self-esteem for many years, developed many fears, and lacked the stability of a loving father. To the surprise of several others in my life, I never connected my father and God, the Father, but instead always believed the two completely separate. What I lacked in an earthly father, I accepted from my Heavenly Father and God filled that void.
Glenda Rae Garrett is my mother, and has been my rock and has given me the best unconditional love a human can offer. She was very involved with church and made sure my brother and I were also. Our church was a place of refuge, family, security, and a training ground for leadership skills for my brother (who became a Colonel in the Air Force) and me. The mistakes my mother did make were never with ill intent, and she has since realized her own challenges and has changed in many ways over the past 20 years. She is now married to a man she is happy with and lives on a farm.
Big Papa & Sweet Granny
My mother’s parents shared a driveway with us, and I visited them almost every day. My grandmother, “Sweet Granny”, accepted Christ and went to church against her husband’s will. Her choice served as a turning point for our family to become Christians and for our women to begin a slow process of personal identity. My grandfather, “Big Papa”, became a Baptist minister and was my pastor for many years. In Sweet Granny’s 90s, she lived in my mother’s basement apartment and fell backwards down the stairs. She had brain damage and they told us she would die if we took her home. We insisted on taking her home and she was placed in hospice. Eventually she was released from hospice and lived another 4 years. We tried everything we could think of to entertain her after the accident. I finally realized I should read her the fairy tales we read to one another when I was a child. She loved it and told the other family members no one could read to her like me. We spent many days reading stories and singing hymns in her last 4 years. March 10, 2013 she died at 99 years of age. The last thing we did was read the story of Little Red Riding Hood. I was Red, my cousin was the Wolf, and Granny was…well, Granny of course. Her part was to say “Open the door and come in my dear.” She said it beautifully. At her funeral I told everyone this story, and that I know she is in Heaven saying, “If Jesus is at the door of your heart, open the door and come in my dear.” She was the example of humility and love to all of us and served as a teacher for me in assessing the needs of another, providing support and presence, and taught me coping skills to get through the turmoil of this world.
Loss of People
In a period of about 4 years I lost 9 men in my life to death. During this time, I also experienced the loss of 3 men through broken relationships in various situations including divorce to my Baptist minister husband. Twelve men gone within 4 years. In order to process such loss, I spent time alone with God, went to counseling, and participated in a support group called BE – Beginning Experience. I found that with each loss there is a new beginning. It is not that the slate is wiped clean, but rather that I become a new person with each new experience…pieces of the same with new pieces woven in to continue to write more of my story.
Gain of People
I have a son, Kolby, and a daughter, Makenzi, and a 2 year old granddaughter, Lily. To see myself in each of them is one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. We have a strong bond, and I am their mother and their friend. There are many stories I could tell about each of them but due to length of this paper but I will simply, yet profoundly, state they are each my heart walking outside of my body.
God provided Scripture, tools, safe-havens, leaders, and gifts for me to overcome struggles throughout my journey and create who I am. The church my grandfather built held a week long revival when I was eight years old. At this Missionary Baptist Church, I accepted salvation during a stanza of Just as I Am. My grandfather stayed home sick that night, and when I arrived home I jumped from the car and ran to tell him my good news. When I walked in the door he said “I already know.” God provided a family for me that taught me to love and serve Him, and an opportunity to accept Christ as my Savior at a young age. My relationship with Jesus Christ lifted me from the pit of destruction many times and enabled me to stand on solid ground (Ps. 40). I loved church from the time I was a little girl and cried when I had to miss. I began church leadership through teaching Sunday School at age 14 and have served as Children’s Minister, Youth Minister, Drama Leader, and in camp and activities since. Theater has been an arena for self-expression, creativity, and enjoyment throughout my life. As Jack rolled down the hill and hit his head on the pew, I thought “That’s good theater” (or something like that). I was Jill of the Jack and Jill couple, and the hit of the Bradford Methodist Church Kindergarten Graduation. From that moment on, I was in love with the stage. I was asked to join a travelling mystery dinner theater called Ragamuffins and travelled all over North AL performing almost every Saturday for 2 years. My theatrical claim to fame is Penny. Her name is Henrietta Uma Garrett, and her initials are HUG. She loves hugs and loves love. When she was little everyone called her Henny Penny, but she dropped the Henny and kept the Penny. She is not a chicken but instead a puppet you see. Penny is the main puppet I use in children’s ministry and has served as an incredible creative outlet.
God has also provided wonderful opportunities for me to gain experience and wisdom about people. I worked in the funeral home just out of high school, and then was asked to return and I did. I have been a child care director, adult day care activities coordinator, event planner for a periodontist and office manager for an orthodontist. These various positions allowed me the opportunity to learn about life from birth through death and everything in between. No matter where I have worked, whether church or secular positions, it has been my heart to create a ministry.
As a divorced person in the Southern Baptist world, you almost have to wear a scarlet D on your chest. Shame, judgment, and not allowing God to pilot my lift caused my plane to land in the miry bog. I joined a group called BE – Beginning Experience, which includes support groups and retreats for those who have lost a spouse due to death or divorce. BE taught me how to experience closure, to forgive myself and others, and that I am not alone in my pain. I found a counselor who helped me stand up for what is right for my life and discard what is wrong. She taught me to reflect on myself and how to grow from that reflection. I spent a year alone and worked on my relationship with God. I did not date or go out with friends. My kids were teens; therefore they were not around too much. It was a time of quiet to hear my own thoughts and feelings and to hear the whispers of God. After that year, I joined a singles group, and in this group we studied the Bible and issues of single adults, and also had so much fun together. Finally, I went to a pain management class for 6 weeks to learn how to manage the pain of Fibromyalgia and had the best success rate the clinic ever had. I also had surgeries to correct sleep apnea. I tried everything I could to grow and become a healthier Kim, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally.
I delightfully feel God designs certain things in nature just for me. Of course, I think His handiwork is for all of us, but when I see a butterfly on a rose or a dolphin in the ocean I assume God allowed me to see that as my specific blessing. Parasailing over the ocean, kayaking in the Prince William sound, nature trails, canyons, rainbows, sunsets, butterflies…all provide a sense of God’s presence and the peace that I find with Him. I am strengthened in these peaceful moments. Many times, I have gone to the beach alone for a time of self-reflection and to feel the presence of God.
After graduating High School, I married, had children, worked, stayed home, worked, etc. Throughout those years I never lost the desire to go to college. I felt God had a purpose for me beyond my family and the places I had served. At 30 years old, I was accepted at Birmingham Southern College.
I thought about majoring in teaching and then later considered nursing. One day in Anatomy class I realized “Little Piggy” was the only name for my toe I need and certainly never wanted to run a catheter. I withdrew from school and spent time in prayer. I felt lead one day to look at the Southeastern Bible College website. I realized the moment I looked at it that God had a plan. All of my undergrad work thus far transferred, and I became a student of Leadership Ministries. I had no idea what this female, Baptist, divorced girl would do with a Bible degree, but knew God had a purpose.
While waiting on Makenzi to go to surgery after her motorcycle accident, a chaplain walked in our room and asked if she could pray. A light went on for me, and I realized at that moment my purpose was to become a chaplain. My manager at the funeral home had told me to work with hospice, and I have always had a heart for the sick and grieving. I called Carol Green, the CPE Supervisor at UAB Hospital and asked what I needed to do to become a chaplain. After graduating from Southeastern Bible College with a Bachelor’s in Leadership Ministries, I enrolled at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. I was the first female to graduate from college in my family. I graduated from Liberty with a Master’s of Divinity in May of 2012, entered CPE Internship at UAB September of 2012, began CPE Residency at UAB in August of 2013, and was on staff as a Chaplain with St. Vincent’s Hospital September 2014.
Tornado number 5 of 10 hit our home at 150 mph, it was 800 yards wide, Monday, January 23, 2012…My friend sent a text asking if we were awake and then apologized for waking me, because she thought only our coworkers who lived in another town needed the warning. Soon after we got under the stairwell, the electricity went out, and we could tell there was a circular wind. The house shook like a giant picked it up and slammed it on the ground, and it crumbled like crackers on top of us. It took only seconds for our house to turn to rubble. My prayer during the tornado was “Lord, I believe you will protect us no matter what”. I realized during the storm that our chances to walk out of this were slim, but felt peace. My own faith worked during my crisis. After we crawled out, I raised my hands and praised God for His protection out in the pouring rain. I said to my daughter “We have lost nothing. We have our family and we have Jesus!” We found an unbroken egg under our rose bushes after the storm. It wasn’t our egg, because our eggs were also unbroken and in the fridge rolled down the hill. This unbroken egg came through the tornado from someone else’s fridge. For me, this was God saying, “I’m with you. I have a plan. I have you in my hands!”
I praise God for my life story. The heartaches and horrors, miracles and magic are all part of who I am. My faith has provided ability to cope, process, express, and continue. As a Chaplain, I am there to honor the faith and beliefs in others in order to support them as they cope and process their own obstacles and blessings. In my belief system, God tells me the greatest commandment is to love. I love others and show them by standing with them in the tension and walking beside them on their journeys. It is my pilgrimage. I was born without breath and I will die when that breath runs out. But until…