I'm writing this note from our motel in Jackson, Tennessee, about an hour and 15 minutes east of Memphis and two hours north of Tupelo. We arrived here late in the afternoon for an overnight couples retreat sponsored by South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis. Phil Newton, the pastor of the church, and I grew up together in Russellville, Alabama. The weather has added an element of unpredictability to the retreat. Last weekend tornadoes swept across western and central Tennessee, leaving behind a trail death and destruction. A very similar weather pattern is in place this weekend. When we left Tupelo, the skies were gray and heavy with low-hanging clouds, but there was no rain. By the time we got to Jackson, the radar showed bright red and orange over Tupelo and most of north Mississippi. Both Memphis and Tupelo dismissed school early today in anticipation of the bad weather. At the moment it appears that the worst weather is south and east of us, but we're under a tornado watch for the next several hours.

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