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Stories from SnowJam 2014

“We give you thanks, O Lord, for your presence with us in the midst of all dangers, and your grace to help us serve those in need.”

“If the goal here is to share the love of Christ, y’all are nailing it.”

“Sweet Holy Spirit! Stay right here with us, filling us with your love.”

“As I watch a sea of white moving toward me, I cry out ‘Hold me Lord, hold me!'”

The snow event in the Southeast has come and gone, and the stories of ADOTS folks are coming in. We’d like to share just a few with you, representing the many. We’ll update as more stories arrive.

Posted Jan 31 1:40 pm


From Fr. Mark Quay, St Peter’s, Birmingham:
Fr. Mark Quay

Tuesday night I joined a crew of about 8 other folks from the neighborhood to clear out a jam at the bottom of a hill. Hill was covered in ice and packed snow. We would stop cars to allow one to go up then another to go down and so on. Several of us with snow and ice driving experience would instruct drivers on how to handle to hill (I learned to drive in North Dakota). Sadly a lot wouldn’t listen to us so we would have to dig them out or push them. My wife Jani brought coffee and sandwiches for the crew. It took us about four hours. We freed a couple dozen cars. It was fun but boy was I sore the next day.

We had 3 inches of snow here. A lot of parishioners reported they took 7-8 hours to get home from a commute which would normally take 20-30 minutes. Most streets are clear now but there’s still a lot of ice on shaded areas.

 


And a Thanksgiving Story from Pam Hooks, Resurrection, Woodstock whose car slid into a ditch, and then who was helped by the kindness of strangers.

H A L L E L U J A H ! THANK YOU, JESUS! You are Awesome! I am So Thankful to be home tonight!!! My Blizzard 2014 story: I had my post-op visit with my neurosurgeon Tuesday morning in Rome, Ga. As I headed out of town to come home around 11am the snow was making a fine white blanket on the roadways. Traffic was beginning to move slower, then one by one cars began sliding on rapidly forming ice. I was nearing the outskirts of town when I started having questions about whether I really wanted to be where I was. Looking to my right I saw a Steak-n-Shake, with a sign that read: “Open 24 hrs.” Aahh, that sounds like a good place to be. I pulled into the parking lot & went inside. As I sat eating my lunch, I watched the ballet of automobiles doing their dances across the snow and ice in the street . Employees eager to give others a hand, bundled up and went out to help frustrated drivers point their cars in the right direction, and get a little further down the street. I thought to myself ,”what a great place to ride out the storm: good food, restrooms, and even outlets to re-charge my phone.”

Then around two o’clock I heard the Manager say that the evening crew would not be able to make it into work; they would have to close early. “Say what???” Ok, got to come up with a new plan. Do I sleep in my car? Do I try to move on down the road? A road crew had come by and put down gravel on the street; traffic seemed to be moving better. The snow was letting up. This was to be the warmest point of the day. If I was going to move on, this would be the time to do it. Maybe I could make it the 30 miles or so down the road to Cartersville. At least I would be half the way home. Say a few prayers, scrape the 2″ of snow off of my windows, join the caravan. Moving traffic is deceiving, just around the corner everyone is at a stand still. Slowly, we all inch our way ahead. 30 minutes later I’ve gone 1.1 mile. The snow is beautiful as I try to take a few pictures of the trees in the median while I’m waiting my turn to move a few more inches. Finally, the edge of town! Things open up a bit, and we are finally on our way! It’s difficult to tell where the lanes are; just pick a safe looking spot and stick to it. Actually able to move at a steady 15 mph, this is great! Still praying. Cars are everywhere along the sides of the road. Three hours later, I’m coming into Cartersville, yeaaa! Just round this ramp up onto 411.

I’m just passed the guard rail, when my car suddenly decides to do its own little dance. In a split second I know there’s no way out; this is going to happen. As I watch a sea of white moving toward me, I cry out “Hold me Lord, hold me!” … I lean down into the passenger seat to prepare myself for a roll. Hold me Lord!! In only seconds the car comes to a soft stop. I didn’t roll! I didn’t hit the fence or trees in front of me! I look behind me, I’m at the bottom of a 12′ embankment. I’m suddenly overjoyed; “Thank You Jesus!! Thank you!! You are so awesome!” I pull out my phone and try to text my Husband. My hands are shaking so bad, I can hardly hit the keys. I’m ok, the car is ok. Now what?

Suddenly, a knock on my window: “Are you ok?” Someone has stopped to help me, then another. They help me climb back up to the street. Two Sheriff’s Deputies have arrived, and take me to a nearby Walmart to wait for my Husband in warmth and safety. I’m still pretty shaky, so I grab a shopping cart and just walk for a while. My Husband is at work in Kennesaw. He leaves immediately to come to my rescue. Road conditions are really bad by this point, don’t know if he will be able to make it to me. After about 3 hours he makes it home, but highway 20 is shut down; no rescue tonight. I buy a book of puzzles, a pillow, and a box of chocolate muffins. Sounds like everything I might need to get through the night. I inform the Manager that I will be with them for the night, then settle on a quiet bench in the back of the store. Work a few puzzles, take a stroll occasionally, not bad. 4 am, my eyes are crossing, the brain has shut down; the book is no longer helping. Try a muffin, chocolate helps anything. I’m desperate for sleep, been up since 6 the previous morning. By sun rise I’m starting to lose it, I call my husband,upset, but there’s nothing he can do to save me. He feels so helpless. The snow will not be melting anytime soon, and it looks like I will be spending another night.

I go to the bathroom and cry; “Lord Please provide some way for me to get home, Please!” When I get myself together, I go back out on the floor. One of the managers sees that I’m upset, and offers to take me to a nearby hotel that he’s taking some of their employees to. That sounds good, an actual BED to lay in. I agree to go. They take me to their breakroom for coffee and donuts. While I’m enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee, someone else comes in and says he’ll take me HOME! “What? How can you do that?” “4-wheel drive, I can do it!”

I’m desperate; I gather up my puzzle book and pillow, and along with another employee I climb up into a jeep and head for home! My rescuer is Josh Brown, optician for the Cartersville Walmart. He has been getting stranded people home since 11 o’clock Tuesday morning! As we slowly make our way toward Canton, we stop several times to offer others a ride. One accepts, and joins our crew for a few miles. After two hours, he delivers me safely to my driveway! God wasted no time in answering my prayer! Still shaky from my ordeal, my Husband gets me inside and puts me to bed for some very needed sleep. 10 hours later I wake up, thanking God for getting me here. I know that there are many, many others who had to go through a lot worse than I did. I am very thankful for Josh, and for his compassion for others. It showed me that there are still people in this world who are willing to give a helping hand to others in need. I want to thank his wife, Melissa, for her patience and support while he took care of others.

Thank you to ALL of those who reached out to help others in this crisis, and most of all, THANK YOU JESUS!!!!


Posted Jan 31 8:00 am


Some folks ended up in the massive traffic jam.
Fr. Chima Ekeke, of All Saints Atlanta, spent 23 hours trying to get home.

By His grace and mercy, I arrived home safely yesterday evening after spending almost 23 and half hours in my car driving from my downtown office to my home in Douglasville. Nearly after 13 hours of nightmarish driving, I ended up at a gas station on Cascade Road, half way of the trip and back-way to go home. I spent the rest of the night in the car at the gas station, which was packed, nearly fifty people clustered inside the gas station. The gas station had only one-bathroom. You could imagine.

I made it home at about 4 pm on Wednesday, a journey that began about 4 pm on Tuesday 1/28 as well. Words alone cannot capture or describe the scene. Cars every where — that were stuck on ice, cars abandoned all over the road and sideways, people walking on ice seeking for refuge and where to spend the night. It is indescribable. You have to be in the situation to comprehend it.

I pray all of you are safe and doing well. Once again, I give thanks to God for His protection and safety during disastrous times like this.


Fr Bill Humble, Rector at Holy Trinity, Flowery Branch, also had to spend the night in his car, arriving home at 6:30 am on Wednesday. Exhausted, he still had just enough energy to give God thanks:

Home safe. Car and driver in one piece. Thanks be to God.


Christa Prince, member at Resurrection Woodstock, ended up lending a helping hand in the name of Christ, to a family in need:

The roads were already getting icy, and I was just let out of class so I decided to stay at my friends apartment 5 minutes from KSU’s campus. We hung out for the day and decided later to meet up with some friends at the Dunkin Donuts across the street from their apartment. We found our two friends Joel and David with coffee in hand, defrosting inside.

They had just spent 4 hours helping push cars that we’re getting stuck up a hill on Chastain Rd. approaching I-75. They were soaked and exhausted. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a baby car seat and immediately tried to decipher the situation.

Babies are kind of my favorite thing and I’m drawn to them. I noticed the parents; the dad was in shorts and flip flops and the mom looked drained. Then I noticed the tiny baby on her chest, my guess was about a week old. I pointed them out to my friends and said, “They have a baby. We should offer to let them stay with us.”

We saw them start packing everything up and going back to their car. We knew we wouldn’t be able to sleep not knowing if they were safe. So the Ansleys gave David the okay (since we were offering their apartment) and he sprinted out to their car to catch them before they drove off. The family said they had a 1 star hotel booked a mile up the road but would take our info just in case. Turns out the hotel had overbooked so they headed our way. We found out their names were Logan and Lea and their baby was two week old Madison. We gave them one of the rooms with a bathroom and made a pallet on the floor as well. They scarfed down some soup, watched the end of The Notebook with us, then headed to bed. They were so appreciative. They left really early the next morning because “the roads were open.”

It took them several hours to get through Atlanta, but they kept us updated and kept telling us how much of a blessing we were.

They said, “If the goal here is to share the love of Christ, y’all are nailing it.”


Folks at the Village Church, Vinings, were very close to a major trouble spot. Music Minister Mark took in the Williams family. Below is a link to a video of a special moment of worship that night:

Check out a video of a special moment during that night on our facebook page, here.  

Another family at the Village Church represents many who went out to help. Brian helped cars and a school bus navigate the ice, while Katie and Baby Jack supported him. Other families took in strangers as well.
We will continue to update this page as we hear more.

 

Praying in the Chaos

by Fr. Jack King

Life with a New Baby

Last Fall my wife gave birth to our second child, a son. I’ve heard varied experiences from parents about the changes a second child brings. Some don’t notice much change from one child to two while others who feel the house turned upside down as soon as the newborn came home in the car seat. For us, there’s a definite change in daily rhythm. Or more accurately, nightly arrhythmia.

As our son figures out his days and nights, my morning and evening routine has changed a great deal. That means my customary time for daily prayer has been replaced by helping my wife with our children’s needs: soothing a fussy child, changing his diapers, or helping Emily with other immediate needs around the house. Over the next several months, I’ll find my new rhythm, but it will be a while before that comes. But that’s too long to postpone a prayer life.

There are many other times in our lives when we are exhausted, squeezed for time, or just worn out.  In those times, we need inspiration to pray throughout the day. Sentence prayers make that possible.

A Tradition of Short Prayers

The Way of a Pilgrim, written by an anonymous Russian pilgrim in the 19th century, chronicles one man’s spiritual journey to faithfully ‘pray without ceasing.’ The answer to that challenge was the Jesus Prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ Over and over again throughout the day, this pilgrim prays ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me’ in all situations.

The desert fathers of early Christianity derived this prayer from the Gospel story when a man cried out to Jesus for healing.  Since the early centuries of our faith, this seven word prayer has centered believers in the presence of God in any and all situations. These seven words are a gift to parents to shape and order their days with their children, especially when all around them is disorder and chaos.

Praying the Jesus Prayer doesn’t put the dishes away, but it helps me hear the voice of God in the place of exhaustion. aling. Since the early centuries of our faith, this seven word prayer has centered believers in the presence of God in any and all situations. These seven words are a gift to parents to shape and order their days with their children, especially when all around them is disorder and chaos.

St. Francis de Sales is a strong advocate of several sentence prayers in his book, Treatise on the Love of God. ‘Lord, I am yours and You are mine.’ ‘Come Lord Jesus, draw me to yourself.’ And the Psalms are a great source of brief prayers, too. To conform every activity in worship, we may simply pray this verse over and over: ‘Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.’ These simple prayers protect us from forgetting the Lord when the demands are great upon us.

I believe designated time for personal, uninterrupted worship is one of the greatest priorities for individuals within a family. But drawing near to Christ with brief sentence prayers in a time of crisis or chaos is abiding in his love all the same.

Pray Where You Are

St. Jane de Chantal said, ‘The essence of prayer is not always in being on one’s knees, but in keeping our will united to God’s no matter what happens.’ And we know what God’s will is in all things: to love Him supremely and love our neighbor as ourselves. To love one’s closest little neighbors—one’s children—and one’s most beloved neighbor—one’s spouse—we need prayers that will sustain us throughout the day. These sentence prayers keep us tethered to the love of God. Even when the dishes pile high and the toys clutter a room that was just cleaned an hour ago.

(The Rev’d) Jack King is Rector of Church of the Apostles, Knoxville. This article was adapted for use here from his blog at sacramentalsightings.blogspot.com.

Knowing the Mystery of the Gospel

By Josh Hall

It’s one thing to know what the gospel is and understand it intellectually, but it’s a profound mystery how it gets down deep inside of our hearts, the inner man. This is the mystery of the gospel.

I believe the Holy Spirit is doing this work, and He’s using gospel proclaiming churches to do it.  I feel this sanctification every Sunday morning. Somehow, after the service is over, I know the gospel better; that is, I know Jesus better.

I came into church Sunday (in a state all too common lately) feeling burdened. I think I understand myself well enough to know largely why, stemming mainly from worldly idolatries common to many of us.  These flared up because of life circumstances not going my way. Depression tends to exhume itself during these times and all too easily squashes the Truth that I know in my mind and heart. I end up forgetting about all of it and function in a state of self-willed dependence.

I know what the gospel is on Wednesday the same as I did on Sunday afternoon — but for some reason I don’t know it like I do on Sunday. This mystery of knowing is what I experience at the Village Church every week.

What got to me first this past week was the Old Testament reading. It was Lamentations 3:19-26:

Remember my affliction and my wanderings,

the wormwood and the gall!

My soul continually remembers it

and is bowed down within me.

But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul who seeks him.

There simply could not have been a more poignant 6 sentences in all of language itself that more appropriately spoke to me personally in that moment, and continues to do as I write this.

Next, we sang “In Christ alone, my hope is found.” For someone who has lost hope, these are life giving words.

And then Rev. Curt Benham preached on 1 Timothy 3:14-16, “great indeed is the mystery of godliness.” He spoke about the reality of our forgiveness, and how our godliness is not wrapped up in ourselves, but in Jesus, and knowing this deep in our hearts, changes us. He talked about addiction, and how it’s a perfect picture of what it means to be a sinner. Maybe I’m not an alcoholic, but I’m certainly addicted to finding my identity in having a particular status in the work-world, whatever I define that to be. Unless I feel like I’m succeeding in the work I want to succeed in, I believe I’m worthless. I walked in Sunday morning hopeless — but I walked out mysteriously changed.

As the Apostle Peter wrote, my sinful heart week after week “returns to its own vomit” (2 Peter 2:22). But thanks be to God for a church that offers me the Feast (the bread and wine), is honest about my condition, and tells me the Good News.

God has simply ordained this church as a delivery system of his love in grace to my soul.

The Village Church, Vinings, Georgia, is a partner church of ADOTS. www.villagechurchvinings.org

From the Bishop’s Heart: Christmas Joy

Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto us a child is born (Lk.3:10).

bishop_foley_preaching_smallGreat joy for all people??

As you and I gather with friends and family to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I truly hope you have a joy-filled and meaningful Christmas.
This is one of my favorite times of the year – remembering Jesus’ birth, worship and praise of God on Christmas Eve, being with family, giving gifts, singing carols, and enjoying the creative decorations. And yet, for many people this Christmas will be a very painful time of year.

This Christmas I want to ask you to look around you for those to whom this time of year is a difficult time of year.

Since last Christmas, some people have lost loved-ones – a spouse, a parent, a child, a good friend. Since last Christmas some people have gone through divorce, or have lost a job, or now have an estranged relationship. Since last Christmas some people are undergoing serious treatment for cancer or other disease which threatens their very life. For many of these people, Christmas will be very painful and lonely.

Christmas for many people is a time of gathering with relatives who they don’t really like to be around, or it is a time of not being able to gather with family because of broken relationships and family history. For many of these people, Christmas will be very painful and lonely.

Pray for them asking God to bless them with the awareness of His Presence.

Ask the Lord if you should do something for them or say something to them. It might be as simple as just giving them a hug. It might be inviting them over for a meal. It might be some means of conveying how much you value them. It might be filling up their car with gas as a Christmas gift. It might be watching the kids so they can have a night off. It might be taking them to a movie. Ask the Lord and He will show you.

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. For unto us a child is born” (Lk.3:10). Yes, it is a time of great joy for all people.

Let’s do our part in bringing this reality to others.

May you have a wonderful and Christ-filled Christmas Season, and may your new year be filled with the goodness of God!

Merry Christmas!

Bishop Foley

O Come Let Us Adore Him

By Fr. Doug Floyd, Knoxville, Tennessee

The grace of God appears like an unexpected star on an uneventful night. Suddenly, light streams shower from the black sky, and you step forward into the dawn of a coming day.

The story of the nativity is the story of nighttime surprise. Gabriel greets an unsuspecting Mary with the Word that brings new birth. Joseph’s dream awakens him to father the son of his Father above. The lonely shepherds behold a company of angels inviting them to come and see the Glory of God bursting out of heavens and into the earth. The heavenly drama beckons a few stargazers to leave behind an ancient world and behold the future made present.

These stories illumine the ground upon which we tread. Each year we revisit Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men, and one day we might just realize we’re in the middle of the same story.

Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds and the Wise Men are not waiting for an invitation to Bethlehem. They do not anticipate God’s Word of favor to call them forth. Each of them are simply living their lives in the midst of countless

other lives and countless other stories. They are not engaged in some heroic work; they are not calling down fire from heaven; they have no particular traits that will cause them to rise above the tapestry of history. Like their mothers and fathers before them, they were born, would live and eventually die with no particular lasting glory.

Suddenly, their common life is interrupted with a glory that exceeds the grasp of earthly minds. Suddenly God’s Word appears like favor, like new birth, like a sword of love that pierces the heart. Suddenly the light of morning grace awakens them, calls them to Bethlehem, and invites them to behold a new Day.

O come let us adore Him.

His glorious Word that sustains every living thing sounds in the cry of that baby in the manger. Halted in their journeys by this tiny vision of divine glory, the travelers can do nothing but worship. No words, no actions, no human ingenuity can add to the moment.

O come let us adore Him.

Adore Him.

Jesus comes to dwell among us. Jesus comes to reveal the Father. Jesus comes to save His people from their sins. He enters history at a particular point in time through the womb of Mary. Yet, by His Spirit, He remains in history and continues to bring the Word of life to each of us.

Adore Him.

And all I can do is worship him.

The wondrous invitation to Bethlehem comes without warning and without expectation. In the middle of my dark night, His love surprised me like a sunrise casting its gentle glow over the surface of a black lake. In just a moment, the dark rippling water glowed with yellows and oranges and reds and blues and greens. The dawn overtook the night, and I stepped into the first light of a new day.

O come let us adore Him. Adore Him. Adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Doug is Associate Rector at Apostles, Knoxville.  He writes at www.douglasfloyd.com.
Painting: ‘Adoration of the Shepherds’ by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622