Freestyle Friday: Why You Need to Find a Small Group

January 28, 2014
It’s 6:55am as I park my car in the parking lot at work. Before I turned the motor off, I hear Rick Burgess ask noted meteorologist James Spann if he’s okay to drive to Chilton County (south of Birmingham) after the show to meet his dad. Yes, you’ll be okay,  came the response. It would be the last weather update that I heard for the morning.

Spring, 2007
At the park behind the library in Trussville, two ladies strike up a conversation as their children play. Y’all should try the Akridge class, Haley told Leah. Leah and I visited the class the next Sunday. Over the following weeks and months, we met new people as a result of being a part of that small group. Jason and Michelle were two of the people that we met. Jason and I discovered that we work at the same (big) place.

January 28, 2014
The first snow flake fell around 8:30am, much earlier than the noon arrival that was forecast. By 9:30 I was thinking, that’s a little bit more than dust. I actually gave a thought to leaving work at that moment, but decided to stay because, surely, the snow was about to stop falling. I missed my window of opportunity.

Around 10:00, schools in the area started announcing early closings. I still had not received a weather update, so I was a bit puzzled by that call.

Around 10:30, our office and every other office downtown announced a noon closing, but the roads were already packed with anxious parents trying to get to schools to get their children.

Leah called me at 11:00. She had our daughter, but her minivan slid along the road as she was trying to make it up the hills in our community. She was afraid that our son’s school bus was going to slide in to a ditch. Turns out that the school administrators made the wise choice to hold bus riders at the school. A friend picked up Jack – and about eight other kids – and took them to his house. Jarrod picked Jack up from that location and took him to his house. Jarrod’s neighbor delivered Jack to our house via 4-wheeler at 5:30 that evening. Leah was a happy momma.

I'm not even sure that I know you, but thank you for delivering my son to his mom!
I’m not even sure that I know you, but thank you for delivering my son to his mom!

At 11:40, I ventured out in to the car-filled streets to attempt the drive home. The roads were snow covered at that time, which was a little better than driving on ice. I made it over the Arrington Boulevard (21st Street) viaduct downtown and proceeded to the north side of town to get on the interstate. Gridlock.

As I talked to Leah, she told me that Jack was safe with his friends and that she and Layne were okay. There were already reports of wrecks and abandoned cars, and Leah had witnessed two cars going off the road earlier. I wasn’t dressed to walk more than a few blocks in the snow. I had no food. No water. No cash (not unusual). I was not prepared for a long day in the snow. “Go back to your office”, she said. Reluctantly, but somewhat relieved, I turned right on to 5th Avenue North and then right again on 22nd Street. I made my way over the 22nd Street viaduct and at 1:10pm, 90 minutes after leaving, I was parked again at the office parking lot.

During my slow 10 block loop, I received a text that read, “I have a room at a hotel. Let me know where you are.” The sender, one half of the Jason & Michelle couple that we were introduced to through our involvement in the Akridge class, Mr. Jason Daniel.

I spent Tuesday night in a king sized hotel bed. The hotel served breakfast in the morning, which was awesome considering most other restaurants downtown were closed. All things considered, my story wasn’t that bad.

Penthouse. That's how Jason rolls.
Penthouse. That’s how Jason rolls.

That’s not to say that the hundreds (possibly thousands) of people stuck downtown didn’t belong to a small group at church. I’m sure that many do and I’m certain that many received assistance in multiple forms during the ordeal.

Our preacher made this statement a few weeks ago, “It’s not going to be the corporate worship that brings you a casserole when things go bad, it’s going to be members of your small group.”

It’s not going to be members of the corporate worship that make sure that you have a warm place to sleep when you’re stuck downtown.

Find a small group at your church and get involved.

January 29, 2014
I left downtown on snowy, icy roads around noon.  I was practically by myself driving the streets, so I had room to slide a little. Slow and steady.  The drive home, 25 minutes on a normal day, was right at an hour. Between the icy roads, abandoned cars, and traffic, people who lived or worked south of town were still stuck for hours Wednesday. A lot of south of towners didn’t make it home until Thursday.

That’s my story. Nothing too horrifying. I know that lots of folks had it worse.

Have a great weekend.