In 1993, I planned to go into television and weather.
My first college major was Broadcasting. I took classes and worked on a locally-aired segment, Birmingham’s Best Kept Secrets, (or something like that) through Jeff State.
The show itself was like a secret because it had maybe 80 viewers, but it was fun to run the camera, teleprompter and all things 1990’s technology.
My tv shadowing experience was actually with Jerry Tracey at Channel 13.
(Don’t tell James Spann.)
My one moment on the air was just my voice (in the background) when a severe storm popped up at the end of a 10pm newscast and I had to read the counties to him from the magic weather wire.
However, no college in Alabama offered a degree in meteorology and my time there was brief. I was too ignorant of the college process to know what my options were.
Places like Penn State (where Jerry Tracey graduated) seemed like foreign countries to someone from Bibb County who had never traveled beyond Six Flags Over Georgia or Dollywood.
I had a two-year scholarship to Jefferson State Community College, and when that ended, I spent four more years (off and on) paying for college with…a credit card. 😳
(Don’t tell Dave Ramsey.)
My major briefly shifted to Education when I realized I couldn’t study weather, and then I settled in with Business, after starting my job at AmSouth Bank (who offered tuition reimbursement for Business majors).
Then, a marriage, two babies, and an unexpected divorce in 2002 changed my focus to survival, jobs and learning to surrender my life – and my plans – to the Lord.
Let’s rewind to 1998 for a moment.
In April 1998, I was frantically trying to get to my brother, Jeremy, who lived near Oak Grove, Alabama.
The National Guard was blocking my route.
Devastation was everywhere.
It’s a very accurate description when people say of tornado damage: “It looked like a bomb went off.”
Jeremy was in McDonald’s Chapel, one of the worst hit areas of that April tornado outbreak. He had to walk several miles just to get to where The National Guard and I were waiting.
A tree was on his truck.
I remember his lanky, tall frame coming from the distance when I finally caught sight of him.
Mawmaw, me (with baby Morgan) and Jeremy (with pager), in 1998.
That moment triggered my specific interest in tornados. Through AOL dial-up, I began to research and learn everything I could.
After that event, I have always taken watches and warnings seriously.
I will always text or call, warning friends and family when severe weather arises. (Thank you to those who endure messages at all hours.)
Jeremy was spared that day, but 32 other people were not.
I would never want to drive into another devastating weather scene where there WAS NOT a family member or friend walking toward me in the distance…
Now that you have some backstory on my fascination and love of weather, I need to mention my role as president of the James Spann fan club.
This is not an official title and I’m pretty sure he isn’t aware of it.
Although I am certain that I told him I was his biggest fan when I attended his book signing earlier this month.
I don’t remember when I first started following James Spann.
Listening to the Rick and Bubba Show and podcasts over the years definitely gave more depth to his character.
I heard more personal interaction vs. just a weather report.
- He grew up mostly in Tuscaloosa, which is not far from my hometown in Bibb County.
- Raised by a single mom, he can relate to the sting of having a father walk away from a family, which is what I experienced with my own dad and my first husband.
- He devotes hundreds of hours to students, schools and educators all across Alabama.
- He seems to know every street in the state, showing extensive knowledge for anyone’s hometown. #onspann
- He is visibly passionate and concerned about the safety of everyone during severe storm coverage.
- He is hilarious. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to documenting Stuff Spann Says.
- He openly shares his Christian faith.
I had the privilege of hearing his testimony a few years ago at American Village. His concern and dedication for family and community is undeniable.
That makes him my favorite television personality. Only boneheads will disagree. 😂
I even have a rare version of his book, Weathering Life. I showed it to them at the book signing, asking how many versions were printed with a section upside down.
He tried to replace it, but I refused. There are only a handful like mine! It’s like a coin or stamp with the image printed upside down…worth more (to me) than the usual.
When you read the book, you will discover that he definitely has weathered hardships in life, but without a doubt, he came through it all to make a difference in my part of the world.
And to so many others.
I have also experienced a lot of storms, and not just ones in the atmosphere.
Sometimes, I was sheltered in place and prepared with my helmet and flashlight.
Other times, I was limping down the road, walking away from debris and destruction, muttering, “It sounded like a train.”
God has provided a lot of watches and warnings through His word to help us avoid the unfortunate train wreck scenario.
But, like today’s society during severe weather, we don’t want His wall-to-wall coverage of where to walk, how to talk or what to wear.
- It interrupts our shows…our life and our plans.
- We think it doesn’t impact our street…our home and family.
- People think, “It can’t happen to me. This Jesus-coming-back warning is all hype and overly exaggerated.”
- Some are numb to the warnings because it’s been 2,000 years.
- It doesn’t seem real or relevant. Or, it seems like a lifetime away…plenty of chances to get things settled with the Lord.
That is what I call not respecting the spiritual polygon.
One day, we will be so focused on the clouds that not one eye will be able to look away.
No one will be able to deny the forecast.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send out the angels and gather His elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
Are we currently in a watch polygon or a warning?
I think maybe the warning has sounded, but we are instructed to be on watch regardless.
Are you wearing the helmet of salvation?
The hard-soled shoes of peace?
Do you have enough oil for your lamp?
We should make sure we are protected and covered by the blood of Christ.
Please don’t be caught off guard and unprepared.
Before my blog broadcast is over, I hope my perseverance in weathering life, and the stories I write about it, will make a difference in your part of the world, too.
I am not affiliated with James Spann or ABC 33/40 (unfortunately). I do not own the rights to his image, likeness, or videos and I am not a stalker.
I’m a weather weenie.
I AM affiliated with the body of Christ.
I do believe in the Jesus-is-coming-soon polygon.
However, no one is promised tomorrow.
In February 2017, my brother, Jeremy, did not escape death a second time.
After suffering a stroke at the age of 39, my sister and I sat at his bedside when he met Jesus.
Never, ever – in any scenario – did I think the first person to die in my family would be my little brother. I’m sure he didn’t think that either.
Losing my brother changed me like the tornado of 1998. We didn’t talk a lot about the Lord. I wish I had said more before he was gone.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6)
When our time on earth is done, it’s not something that should make us afraid. Not if you know there’s eternal life in Christ.
Desiring God Devotions: