December 23, 2012

My Christmas List

Dozens of journals pepper my bookshelves. Before the iPhone Notes app entered my life just two Christmases ago, I wrote lists in notebooks. Last week I discovered my Christmas planning checklists from 2005. 

According to the '05 list, we bought tennis rackets and Disney Prince and Princess dolls for the girls. Julia received Aladdin and Jasmine Barbies in their wedding outfits. Charlotte scored Cinderella and Prince Charming Barbies in wedding attire. We were so thrilled to find them at the Disney Character Outlet at a significant discount. Oy,their 2012 lists are quite different. 

I wonder how often my nephew (now age 23) wore his checked skater belt from PacSun. In 2005, my mother in law apparently received her final teapot from us. That was the year that she gently hinted that her teapot collection was complete. We tend to latch onto a gift idea and continue on with it for years. Call it a tradition or call it a rut, but I feel compelled to bring Starbucks to Crawford Christmas gatherings. The discovery of the list revealed what a time capsule the annual Christmas shopping list really is. One win was my mom's 4 slice toaster that has been used everyday since Christmas 2005.

Last year, Christmas 2011, was a frantic blur for Dan and me. In November 2011, we moved, sold a car, bought a car, and were both navigating new jobs (my first full time job in 13 years). It may not surprise you to learn that our 2011 Christmas tree lights did not work on the top half of the tree, and we did absolutely nothing about it. We simply asked the kids to sit on the floor and cropped the photos accordingly. Sigh! I feel tired remembering that season. Ack! It was so stressful, Y'all!

Fast forward to . . . today!

Christmas 2012 has been slow paced, easy breezy and just plain fun. We are reading the Advent Story that we started last year. Bartholomew's Passage: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide is the second part of a trilogy of stories to be read year after year. These books were introduced to us by our friends, the Clement family, several years ago and tell the Nativity story from three perspectives. We are eating lots of popcorn and enjoying hours of Christmas music. Charlotte delights us with daily piano concerts. We are baking and laughing and taking lots of pictures. We are experiencing big kid (ages 5, 10, and 14) comments and interesting perspectives on our family's traditions.  William has coined the phrase "Christmas Paradise" for neighbors with excellent lighting displays. 

Since we live hundreds of miles away from the closest family members, we are often on the road for major holidays. This year, we visited North Alabama for a week at Thanksgiving, but we are so blessed to be home for all of the Christmas season. I have not been this relaxed in years. My sweet family visited us last weekend for a 3 day Christmas vacation here in Orlando. We are hosting Dan's mom and sister this week, and I am enjoying sharing this time with family in our house with our decorations and in my own bed. 

If you are having a frantic Christmas, I know exactly how to pray for you. To take deep breaths and capture sweet stolen moments. My prayer for your family is peace on your small square of the earth.

If you are having a wonderful Christmas, I share this moment in time with you. This year, we shall enJOY it all. My prayer for us is for a special visit from the Prince of Peace. To go deeper and give more than we ever have.

With just 2 days remaining, this has been the best Christmas season to date. All of the lights on the Christmas tree are aglow. I am rested and joyful and thankful. If we can find all of the kids' gifts that we have hidden, then we can officially declare this year a success.

November 23, 2012


Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let Him hear. Matthew 13:43

For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 
2 Corinthians 4:6

In past years, I have studied and prayed and shared about the power of faith to fight fear. These polar opposite ideas are at war within every believer. Will we stand strong, remembering the goodness of God or will we buckle and fret and stress, thinking of every disastrous scenario? Faith in our Rescuer or fear of the future?

Recent weeks have discouraged politically conservative Americans. Some desires and ideologies seem to be folding into the pages of history books. Discouragement can morph into fear if left unchecked. But the prayers of concern in my heart always wrap with voices and verses of reassurance. These apply in life's moments that I absolutely cannot control. Am I a believer or a reactionary?

My uncertain future has always been thus. My shaky circumstances are probably not changing anytime soon. My Rescuer has not changed. Ever. His consistency and reliability and strength is a safe place to anchor my faith.

As we enter the Christmas season, I notice people and movies asking me to Believe in Santa or Believe in myself. My faith and beliefs are not vague ideas but are linked to one specific port.

I invite believers to be shiny for Jesus, because our future is bright.

November 12, 2012

BeDevoted is back!

Hello, All!

Good news! has been restored. I have missed writing and sharing with you.

Thank you for your patience,
Leigh Ann

October 9, 2012

Technically Difficult

Hello, All.

If you can read this, I am so happy to connect with you in spite of letting my domain name expire this summer. Apparently I renewed the wrong site. Ack!
I will be back soon. Google Apps apparently has a department to help me. I will find that helpful person in Google Land, and I shall return with all new blogging goodness. 

So, be on the lookout for the return of the Devoted Living blog. 
With a new look! 
Fresh encouragement! 
And hopefully the old name. . . 

If not, then something NEW and wonderful.
Love and prayers,
Leigh Ann

August 14, 2012


It is such a delicious luxury to blog today. Summer offers a new freedom to me because I was in the classroom for the past year. While teaching high school at my children's beloved Christian school, I was all in: 24/7 it seemed. What an amazing experience that was. Our youngest was in preschool, one daughter in elementary, the first born in middle school, and I was in the high school all day. We will always hold a love for those people and hallways. It was our second home for the past three years.

OK! Those high school students and their sarcasm and their honesty and their emotions and their excuses and their creativity and their wounds and their problem solving skills and their leadership theories and their political confusion completely won my heart. But I did not stop moving for 9 months. The job was not at fault for that. The way that I parent (all in) and the way that our family invested in our small school (attend everything) was (of course) a recipe for fatigue.

But I am strangely energized now that I am home again. I tackled summer vacation with all of its hazards: too much togetherness, needing a vacation after your vacation, the workload when you return to reality, and the letdown when it is over.

But we Crawfords were in need of Sabbath. That rest that only God could design and provide.  We booked some wonderful vacation places this summer. In July, we played in mountain streams in the Smoky Mountain National Park and swam in the Gulf of Mexico in the same week. We enjoyed great views and great conversation with my husband's clan and mine. We celebrated my Granddaddy's 90th birthday. We stayed at a Disney resort for the first time as a family of 5. None of our Orlando native kids remember ever having that opportunity, even though we play in the theme parks on a monthly basis.

Miles in the car and piles of laundry: Worth it!
The sighs when I request one more picture: Typical!
The superfluous souvenirs : Oh yeah, Baby!
The way gas prices skyrocket when we plan to drive: Oh joy!

We have waited on the Lord, and He has renewed our strength.

Have a blessed end of summer. 

June 3, 2012

12 weeks

Wow! My last post said that I would have notes from the March retreat within a week of the event. Oops. . .That was closer to 12 weeks ago.

With one week of school remaining, I am going to finish writing high school English exams even though I really crave a good soak in the Word, reviewing not classic literature, but the insights the Holy Spirit offered us that weekend in March in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Praying for a word of encouragement to splash into your path this week.

May He who began this good work in me be faithful to complete it. - Phil. 1:6

March 4, 2012

New Series

Hello, Friends,

Shampoo bottles and cleansing analogies are on my mind tonight. I have spent the day Bible- studying and PowerPoint- editing for my next speaking engagement. Lather, Rinse, Repent: Make a Clean Break will be introduced at the Dayspring Baptist Church Ladies' Retreat next weekend. We will explore the freedom that results from breaking up with our sin and embracing a life of obedience. I am so excited to spend time with these ladies from my hometown.

Please pray for our every detail of our gathering to please our audience of One.

Notes from the retreat will be posted within a week of my return.

Leigh Ann

February 19, 2012

Clearance? Who is Clearance?

A precious friend changed my new mom life one day when she showed me where to find the Clearance sections at Target. I was -and still am- a loyal customer of that mega one-stop shop. I like to think that I would have eventually figured out the system, but it was a memorable moment when Shelley Sneed pointed out that Target had end caps in each department that collected and displayed the Clearance items. She also explained how the seasonal items would be marked down following holidays. If I could be patient, I would save money on things that I bought anyway. Eureka!

OK, let me admit that I have a marketing degree, but business school does not teach you how to be a smart consumer. In college, we studied strategies on the pricing and presentation of goods and services in order to make a profit. But my friend taught me how to patiently wait for the sale items and where to find the deals in my favorite store. The latter was the more important lesson for this stay at home mom.

Sometimes we do the same things over and over never realizing that there is a better way. Sometimes we shop the same aisles over and over, never seeing the Clearance aisle. Sometimes we say the same hurtful things over and over, never hearing our family asking us to stop. 

Today I am praying for God to give me the right words and the right heart with my children. I need to talk to them about some needed changes in our routine. They need to take on more responsibility, and we need to limit the time on media devices that has been slowly increasing since Christmas break. (This is a seasonal procedure. It is once again time to tighten the reins.) In my head, I sound frustrated and angry. When God speaks to my heart, I hear Him say that I can address the situation and pray for them to have the power to obey. He also reminds me that I have allowed the media time because it was convenient for me at the time. Ouch! 

His voice of correction filled with love. That's the voice He wants me to offer the Crawford kids. 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1