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We Rise by

Lifting Others





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Hometown MADISON • 3

4 • MARCH 2022


A few weeks ago, I had

the privilege of visiting with

Alyssa Killebrew and hearing

her story, firsthand.

I interrupted her several times saying, ‘I can’t believe this all

happened so recently, and yet you’re sitting here sharing it with me

with such grace and strength.’ She replied, “God didn’t allow me to

experience this pain for no reason. I need to share with others who

are hurting that He will walk with you through it.” Her story is painful,

but remarkable. Be encouraged as you read about the legacy of

Keath Killebrew and the strength and future of his wife.

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day on March 22, we want

to introduce you to a precious young lady, Lily Lape. Lily’s mom

shared with us, “Lily is so care-free and not concerned with what

people think about her. If we could all be more like that, it would

be a gain.” And I couldn’t agree more! Thank you, Lily, for being an

example that all of us should follow.

Another young lady who is letting her light shine is Perry DeLoach.

This Germantown High School senior is making a mark on all those

around her, just like her mom did. I personally remember following

her mom’s story on social media years ago. April DeLoach touched

the hearts of many as she battled Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

April lost her battle with cancer and left behind a devastated family

and community. But just like so many others whose stories we

have shared, Perry didn’t let a tragedy make her bitter. Instead,

Perry constantly puts her own pain aside, and reaches out to

encourage and help others.

Thank you, readers, for taking time to enjoy the stories our team

has put together for you. We’re thankful for the opportunity to share

positive, encouraging stories and we couldn’t do it without our

amazing advertisers.

ON THE COVER Alyssa Killebrew with her children Vivian and Keath Gwin Killebrew Jr.



Tahya Dobbs


Kevin Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby


The Way We Were 8

Hometown Family 10

A Change of Heart 16

Hometown on the Move 18

Embracing the Unexpected 24

The Mustard Seed 28

Know Ministries 32

We Rise by Lifting Others 42

Daughter of the King 56

Madison Central Q&A 58



Brenda McCall



Caroline Hodges



Alisha Floyd



Kim Cochran

...see you around town.



Tammy Pecoul


Daniel Thomas



Othel Anding



Lexie Ownby

www.facebook.com/hometownmadisonmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 200 Felicity Street / Brandon, MS 39042

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Madison may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Madison is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.

Hometown Madison maintains the unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted material. All advertisements are subject to approval by the publisher. The production of Hometown Madison is funded by advertising.

Hometown MADISON • 5

Holmes Community College

JOIN US! Freshman Friday is an event held at Holmes Community

College campuses each spring semester. This day is designed to

assist high school seniors with registration for summer and/or

fall classes. Come meet other incoming Freshmen, and get some

Holmes CC swag. We’d love to see you on campus!

April 22

Grenada & Ridgeland

April 29


1 (800) Holmes-4 | holmescc.edu

6 • MARCH 2022





Why did you decide to make Madison

your home?

The quick answer is “the schools”. The full answer is

that Madison has so much to offer for our family.

We love the sidewalks, the youth sports programs,

and most importantly the safety we feel in our home

and neighborhood.

Tell us about your family.

My husband, Chris, is the director of Capital

Orthopedic’s Madison Physical Therapy Clinic on

Hwy 51. In addition to a having a Doctor of Physical

Therapy, Chris is certified athletic trainer. He enjoys

helping our area schools and individuals with their

sports related injuries and even prevention. We have

four children who are 12, 9, 9, and 7. Our three boys

enjoy playing baseball at Liberty Park and our

daughter loves her time at Madison County


What is your favorite memory of living

in Madison?

We will never forget when two of our children

decided to pick a fight while our family crossed

Highway 51 on our bikes, but we have also made so

many wonderful memories while playing at Liberty

Park and watching our kids play baseball.

Where are your three favorite places to

eat in Madison?

Our backyard grill definitely smokes some amazing

meat while we have a backyard baseball game in

progress. But outside of our home, we also enjoy

The Briar Patch, Nagoya, and Primos.

What are some fun things to do in

Madison on the weekends?

We love riding our bikes, using the sidewalks and the

Natchez Trace Trail. We have even ridden bikes to

lunch or shopping. The parks are definitely on our

kids’ weekend lists, they love playing and running

into friends at Liberty and Strawberry Patch Parks.

Share some things you enjoy doing in

your spare time.

When we are not on the baseball field or running

back and forth to gymnastics, we love to work in our

yard, ride bikes, eat at area restaurants and entertain

friends and family in our home.

What are three things on your bucket list?

I want to travel more. COVID has helped me to

realize that we just need to do it…just take those trips

and explore our community and our world.

Who is someone you admire and why?

My grandmother. My grandmother raised six

children and became a widow halfway through the

process. Through her stories, she has taught me many

things about “just making it work,” about patience,

about just trusting that it will all work out. She always

acknowledges the hard work that Chris and I, as

working parents, do to make each day possible for

our family. This encouragement is not only very

uplifting, but she always relates it to stories of how

she made it through–and so will we!

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I hope to still be serving our Seedsters at The Mustard

Seed in ten years, but more importantly, I hope to be

living with a stronger faith and a stronger heart that

is giving even more. I want to be a mentor to others,

especially young women in the workforce. I have

learned so many things through my career and

through my family. The days are long but the years

are oh so short so I want to be able to help others

to see through the eyes of my grandmother, that it

will all work out, that you’re doing a great job!

What is your favorite childhood memory?

As a family, we traveled. We traveled to every

Kiwanis convention, to every church leadership

convention, everywhere. We made the best of every

opportunity. My parents were engaged in our lives

and knew every one of our friends. Our friends

wanted to spend time at our house even if that

meant they had to help rake leaves or mow the

grass before we could go play.

If you could give us one encouraging

quote, what would it be?

“It’s fine”. It will all be fine. God’s strength and

power are here to bring us through the hours, the

days and the years.

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

I love how non-profits are a focus for Hometown

Magazine. As an executive director of The Mustard

Seed, I see firsthand how many of our supporters

learned of our ministry through Hometown

Magazine. Hometown Magazine spotlights those in

our community who are working hard to strengthen

and build the love in our community. They really

wrap their arms around us all and let us know we’re

all in this together.

Hometown MADISON • 7

Angie & Bill Hardin

Bethany Cole

In the Office of Admissions

at Mississippi College, the staff

has a running joke: if a prospective

student comes to tour and visit the

campus, and they happen to be

from Mississippi, odds are Angie

Hardin (director of admissions

and enrollment operations) will

know someone from the visitor’s

hometown. How is the staff so

sure? Because Angie Hardin has

lived “all over Mississippi” during

her lifetime.

As the daughter of a pastor,

moving came with the territory.

Later in Angie’s life, she would

go on to become a pastor’s wife,

to Bill Hardin, and they would

continue to embark on the

transitional life that often

accompanies years spent in


Bill Hardin, born in 1963, spent

his early years in Calhoun County

in Bruce, Miss. Angie Gregory,

who arrived the following year in

1964, was born in Georgia, then

later moved to North Carolina

while her father answered a call

to ministry and pastoring. Many

years later, when Angie was 14,

her family moved to Ponotoc,

Mississippi. Bill’s family also

made the same move, and their

worlds converged in the small

Mississippi town.

Reflecting on what initially

drew her to Bill, Angie smilingly

says, “He was the new guy in town

and everyone wanted to date him

–but I got him.” Bill’s family

began attending the church

where Angie’s father pastored,

and Angie’s outgoing personality

and beautiful smile proved

magnetic for Bill. The two began

dating, while also attending the

same high school and church

through their teen years.

Bill and Angie married on

March 9, 1985, at First Baptist

Poplarville, in Poplarville,

Mississippi, where Angie’s father

was pastoring at the time. In the

years following, the pair moved

throughout the state of Mississippi

and took on endeavors across the

southeast. “When we got married,

Bill was finishing up school at the

University of Mississippi while

I worked,” she said. After he

graduated, the couple moved to

south Mississippi, as Bill transitioned

to pastoring at Fords Creek

Baptist Church, in Poplarville,

while also finishing up his graduate

degree at New Orleans Baptist

Theology Seminary.

Following graduation, Bill

began his first full-time pastorate

at First Baptist Slayden in Lamar,

Mississippi. While at Slayden

Baptist, Bill furthered his

education and seminary studies

by obtaining his doctorate from

The Southern Baptist Seminary

in Louisville, Kentucky. The

Hardin’s remained at First

Baptist Slayden for five years,

before fulfilling a position in the

pastorate at First Baptist Ripley

in Ripley, Miss. From the

mid-1990’s to early 2000’s, he

served at First Baptist Picayune

in Picayune, Miss. During this

time, the pair also welcomed

two daughters (their first in

1988, their second in 1990).

After multiple years of a

fulfilling ministry career and

growing a young family, the

8 • MARCH 2022

“There really

is nothing that

can compare

with becoming

a grandparent.”

Hardin’s decided to settle in

central Mississippi. They moved

to Madison and Bill began to

work in education and also

became an interim pastor. While

Bill taught when they first

moved, he then served as the

principal at Clinton Junior High.

Angie began working as a

paralegal for Watkins and Eager

PLLC, then worked for the

Mississippi Baptist Foundation.

Starting in 2003, Angie began

to work towards her degrees at

Mississippi College. Over the

course of her time there, she

earned both a bachelor’s degree

in marketing and then a master’s

degree in higher education


In 2007, Angie began working

at MC. Occupying a variety of

roles, including office manager,

campus visit coordinator, and

director of transfer recruitment,

has allowed Angie to spend the

past 15 years investing in the lives

of students. Angie says that

investing in students was the

initial reason she came to work

at MC. “I love MC—what it

stands for, and the incredible

education students receive. But

mostly I love the way we get to

pour into the students’ lives.”

For his part, Bill feels similarly

about the opportunities he’s

been provided while working in

education. Bill says, “As we

transitioned from full time

ministry, I felt the Lord was

leading me to continue serving

churches, even in a part-time

capacity. Education has proven

to be a complementary vocation

and I feel very fulfilled working

with teachers and students.”

As March of this year

approaches, the couple looks

towards celebrating 37 years

of marriage.

When asked what advice they

would give to younger couples,

both Bill and Angie have parallel

thoughts on what makes a

marriage last. As Bill says, “The

most important thing anyone

married can do is to accept their

spouse for who they are and for

whom God has created them to be.

Individuals change over time.

Embrace the change and stay

true to your commitment to the

marriage relationship.”

Angie says that in counseling

younger women, she often prompts

them to look for stability in a

potential mate. “That is what

will last.”

Naturally, 37 years have

provided a few challenges along

the way. Angie notes the transition

both she and her children

experienced when their family

transitioned from one of full-time

ministry to differing roles and

vocations. However, the years

have also provided innumerable

highlights and accomplishments

—including the birth of two

grandchildren, a grandson and a

granddaughter. “Seeing our

daughters start families of their

own has been very rewarding,”

says Bill. And Angie echoes,

“There really is nothing that can

compare with becoming a

grandparent. It is the best.”

Hometown MADISON • 9

10 • MARCH 2022

The Kinsleys

Tell us about your family.

Josh (34) - Enjoys hunting, fishing, and watching

sports especially Mississippi State and the Atlanta


Dana (33) - Enjoys baking, shopping at Target,

and spending time with family and friends.

Lyla (6) - 1st grader at Mannsdale Elementary

School. Enjoys doing anything crafty, dancing,

and playing softball and basketball.

Faith (3) - In preschool at First Ridgeland. Enjoys

snuggling, snacking, dancing, and playing with her

baby dolls.

How did you meet and how long have you been married?

We met at Mississippi College through mutual friends. Our

relationship began as a date to Dana’s informal with the social tribe

she was in followed by going together to Josh’s formal with the social

club he was part of. This led to the “two function assumption,” so

we ended up officially dating in 2007 (sophomore year). We dated

throughout college and attended numerous date parties and events

together. After graduating, we got engaged in September of 2010,

and were married on April 16, 2011, at First Baptist Brandon. Our

11-year anniversary is this year!

Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?

For us, it’s all about balance, which isn’t always easy. Both of our

jobs require a lot of our time along with our girls and their activities.

It’s sometimes hard to find time for date nights, but we do make it a

priority to MAKE time for each other.

Hometown MADISON • 11

How long has Madison been your home?

Josh has lived in Madison his entire life, while I grew up

in Brandon. After we got married in 2011, I moved to

Madison. While we have moved houses, we continue to

call Madison home.

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?

Seeing our girls love others brings us so much joy. Lyla is so

thoughtful and constantly searches for ways to love others

whether it is through making a card for someone or helping

out around the house. Faith doesn’t meet a stranger and

will make you feel so loved by running up with the biggest

hugs every single time she sees you. We pray they continue

to love others and make everyone feel important.

Who is the financial manager in your home?

We work together to manage our finances and always

discuss big purchases together before buying them. While

Josh pays the monthly bills, I keep an eye on our finances

and help keep everything organized.

What is your discipline philosophy for your children?

We were both raised in households with similar philosophies,

so when it comes to discipline, we are usually on the

same page. We correct our children when in the wrong and

follow through with consequences. I’m sure our daughters

think we are strict because they get frustrated when we

don’t let them do certain things. However, we hope that if

we discipline at a young age, it will pay off in the long run.

What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit

to your family?

While we want our daughters to have lots of positive

memories from their childhood, our greatest role as parents

is to teach our children about the love of Christ. We make

it a priority to read a Bible story every night together as a

family, and pray. We ask our girls to each pray for someone

(friend, family member, teacher, etc.). While this time can

sometimes be rushed or be something we don’t feel like

doing after a long day, lots of homework, or a late night, we

want our girls to know that a relationship with Jesus is the

most important thing in our lives.

What’s a quick go-to meal that isn’t fast food?

And who does the cooking?

Dana does all the cooking. It’s easier to eat at home these

days than to go to restaurants because of the stage of life we

are in with little children. Breakfast for dinner is a quick meal

that we love! Everyone enjoys it, and no one complains.

What are some of your favorite things about

Madison County?

We love the small town feel of Madison County. No matter where

we go, we usually know someone. Our community and church are

always planning fun events for families. You can usually find us at

a high school football game on Friday nights in the fall or the

baseball field in the spring. We also love the variety of restaurants.

Of course, Chick-fil-A is a favorite, but our family also loves Trace

Grill in Ridgeland and The Blue Rooster in Flora.

12 • MARCH 2022

What drives you to have the job that you have?

And what do you do for a living?

Josh I am the high school pastor at Broadmoor Baptist

Church. I have served there for three years. I have a passion

for building relationships with high school students and

their families and seeing them grow in their relationship

with Jesus Christ through discipleship. It also brings me

joy to see high school students disciple each other. Being a

pastor is the greatest honor of my life. Loving what I do

makes it easy to get up and go to “work” each day.

Dana I am a teacher at Germantown High School where

I teach English III, journalism, and am the yearbook

sponsor. I am also the social media coordinator for

Germantown athletics. My first year teaching was in 2011

when the doors of GHS opened. It’s been fun to see the

school grow from the ground up. I enjoy building relationships

with my students, lending a listening ear, and

watching them mature and grow throughout high school.

How do you spend your summer breaks?

Summers are fun and also busy for us! While Dana has

more free time in the summer, it is Josh’s busiest season.

Every summer, we go to the beach. Our girls LOVE the

beach, and we truly value this time with family and

relaxation. We also fill our summers with WOW Week

(our church’s vacation Bible school), various youth church

camps, kids camps, and spending time with family and



What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?

Lyla Going to the deer camp and riding the 4-wheeler.

Faith Eating popcorn and watching a movie together.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Lyla Trace Grill

Faith Chick-fil-A

What accomplishments make you proud during your time

living in Madison?

For me (Josh), being a product of Madison and being able to live

and raise my family here is my greatest accomplishment. When I

moved here in 1993 at six-years old, there was literally one stop light

in town at the intersection of Hwy 51 and Main St. Being able

to see this city grow to what it is today and knowing that our

daughters have the opportunity to be a part of the next generation

of loving for and caring for the residents of Madison makes us the

most proud.

What’s your favorite TV show?

Lyla Sophia the First, Duck Dynasty, Jack’s Big Music Show

Faith Micky Mouse Clubhouse

Hometown MADISON • 13


Women of IMPACT

The American Heart Association, Metro Jackson is proud to celebrate

the inaugural class of Woman of Impact, a complement to the

Metro Jackson Go Red for Women movement. Over the past few

months, AHA received nominations for a select group of local

women to be recognized for their passion and drive in building

stronger communities. The areas of impact were limitless –

from healthcare to philanthropy, from business to faith.

If they “lead with heart,” they were eligible for nomination.

Women of Impact are changemakers, dedicated to making a

lasting impact on the health of the Metro Jackson community;

women who lead by example, improving the well-being of those

around them. By joining the Go Red for Women movement as a

Woman of Impact, each honoree has assembled their own team

of volunteers, set a fundraising goal, and made a meaningful impact

on the health and wellbeing of the Metro Jackson community.

The 2022 Class has set a goal to raise a minimum of $50,000

for the Metro Jackson Go Red for Women movement! Their

fundraising campaigns kick off on “National Wear Red Day”

Friday, February 4th and will conclude on “World Heart Day”

Thursday, April 7th. The 2022 Woman of Impact nominees

will be featured at the Go Red for Women Luncheon, and all

ten women will be honored for their work to raise awareness

for women’s heart disease and fund scientific research and

educational programs right here in Mississippi.

Special thanks to our

Women of Impact sponsor,

Mississippi Baptist Medical Center.

For more information on how you can get involved with the Metro Jackson American Heart Association,

please visit www.heart.org/en/affiliates/mississippi/Jackson.

For more information about the Go Red for Women Movement, email Katherine.Byrd@heart.org.

14 • MARCH 2022

Dr. Erica Bass

Mississippi Premier Plastic Surgery

Dr. Natasha Hardeman

Lakeland Premier Women’s Clinic

Dr. Terica Jackson

Baptist Premier

Jamie Kerr

Shippers Express, Inc.

Liza Looser

The Cirlot Agency

Maggie Wade


Natalie Latham

Community Bank

Rashida Walker

W Real Estate, LLC

Sandra Dabit Strain

Madison the City Aldermanat-Large

and The Orchard

Tina Lakey

Retired and AHA Board Member

Hometown MADISON • 15

A Change

of Heart



16 • MARCH 2022

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Natalie Latham was a mother, wife, and a career-minded professional

whose life changed forever a year ago after a close call.

For Natalie Latham, the day that changed

her life began as any other.

“I had a completely normal day – worked

a full day, picked up my kids’ dinner on the way

home from baseball practice, went home and

went to bed. Nothing seemed out of the

ordinary… until it was.”

When Natalie went to bed on February 10,

2021, she had no idea of the danger she was in.

Unbeknownst to this otherwise healthy mother

of two, her life was about to take a dramatic turn.

“I woke up out of a dead sleep at 3am and

knew immediately, something was not right.

My initial reaction was acid reflux, but my gut

told me it was something more. I had the

symptoms you hear heart patients so often

describe – what felt like an elephant on my chest

and a sharp pain between my shoulder blades,

like someone had kicked me.”

Natalie searched the internet to justify

ignoring her gut feeling – that she was experiencing

something more serious than acid reflux.

She found no such reassurance. In fact, she knew

she needed to go to the hospital. Before heading

to the ER, her husband suggested she take a baby

aspirin, which her doctors later confirmed may

have saved her life.

Natalie quickly went to the ER at Mississippi

Baptist Medical Center, where she underwent a

battery of tests. Her EKG showed no signs of

abnormalities, but high levels of troponin landed

her in the heart catherization lab. There, the

source of Natalie’s discomfort was discovered:

a 99% blockage of the LAD artery, otherwise

known as the Widow Maker.

Natalie was treated with a balloon and

stent, and for the moment, the crisis was averted.

However, that procedure was merely the first

of many steps on her path back to good health.

“After that, the real journey began – the journey

to see my kids grow up and live a healthy lifestyle

while experiencing all that my life still had to offer.”

Natalie said that her initial response to

learning of her cardiovascular disease and its

severity was one of disbelief. “My initial reaction,

was shock – a true, ‘this cannot be my reality

feeling.’ Prior to my heart attack, I would have

said I was in good health – I went to my primary

physician for yearly checkups and never had

anything indicate otherwise. As I began to

process that this was, in fact, reality, my emotions

were what you would expect. I was scared,

confused, and determined to figure out how to

overcome this obstacle.”

At the advice of her cardiologist, Dr. W.

Hampton Jones III, Natalie entered a cardiac

rehab program at Baptist Heart that helped her

to heal physically from her cardiovascular episode

and learn how to make the lifestyle changes

needed to support her continued good health.

She said this step was difficult but necessary.

“Initially, it was very hard. Cardiac rehab

was a huge aspect of that fight back for me. After

the initial consultation, I was able to put a plan

in place that worked for my life in order to move


As for how her life has changed since her

experience with cardiovascular disease, Natalie

said she not only has a new lifestyle, but a new

perspective as well. “It has changed my perspective

– I truly look at things through a different

lens. My health had to become a priority. As a

career driven mom with young, active kids, often

my health fell to the wayside. I had to find the

balance between living a healthy lifestyle –

making time to eat well and exercise – and my

already hectic schedule with two active kids

playing multiple sports, a career, church,

community and just life in general.”

Natalie’s story isn’t necessarily unique when it

comes to women’s heart health. Cardiovascular

disease continues to be the leading cause of

death for women, claiming the lives of more

women than all cancers combined. Women,

especially Black and Hispanic women, are

disproportionally impacted by heart disease

and stroke and research shows heart attacks are

on the rise in younger women. Yet younger

generations of women, Gen Z and Millennials,

are less likely to be aware of their greatest health

threat, including knowing the warning signs of

heart attacks and strokes.

“I hope my experience has opened the eyes

of the people around me to the importance of

being heart healthy, no matter what stage of life

you are in. I think the greatest impact for my

family and friends has been the awareness that

cardiovascular disease doesn’t just affect a

certain demographic – it can affect you at 40

and in seemingly perfect health.”

To help raise awareness, Natalie has joined

the American Heart Association for the

inaugural Women of Impact campaign in the

Metro Jackson area. What began on National

Wear Red Day ® , February 4, 2022, ten women

will lead the nine-week initiative to help women

in the Metro Jackson area live a healthier

lifestyle. During each week of the initiative,

nominees participate in a variety of activities

designed to remove barriers and improve health

for all. This year, nominees will help raise

awareness of the number one killer of women,

cardiovascular disease, by engaging women in

research, training community members in

CPR, organizing local events, and more.

“It’s important to know the signs of

cardiovascular disease – especially for women.

Women experience cardiovascular disease very

differently from men and it’s important to be

aware of what the symptoms are and be aware of

your body to know when something isn’t right.

It’s crucial to not only go to your annual wellness

visit, but to have routine heart screenings.”

For more information about Women of Impact,

Go Red for Women ® or how you can get involved

with the Metro Jackson American Heart Association,

please visit www.heart.org/en/affiliates/mississippi/


Hometown MADISON • 17

New Albany,


The “road-trip” has been around as

long as roads have–and the passion

for exploring began well before that.

But what if we committed ourselves

to traveling within our own state

as much as anywhere else?

It’s not just a great way to spend

an afternoon or a weekend, it also

serves as an educational tool–as our

state is rich in history and beauty.

We hope you’ll find time to get out

and explore the many treasured towns

that make up this wonderful state we

call home. And when you do, let us

know what you find! Because we like

staying on the move, too.

18 • MARCH 2022

A town of culture, community and beauty in Northeast Mississippi.

A place that is unquestionably unique but also strangely familiar.

It is a place filled with culture and a strong sense of community;

a place overflowing with artistic and natural beauty; a thriving

downtown. This place is New Albany, a southern town like no other.

Voted one of America’s Best Southern Small Towns by USA Today and the

Most Beautiful Town in Mississippi, New Albany is nestled in the heart of the

Mississippi hills and located on the banks of the scenic Tallahatchie River,

New Albany offers the ideal setting for family and community living.

Hometown MADISON • 19

The vibrant downtown area, listed on the National Register

of Historic Places, features galleries, antique shops, boutiques,

restaurants, and is the gateway to the Hall of Fame trail,

The Tanglefoot , voted best bike trail in Mississippi in 2021.

While you are visiting this hidden gem please stop in and tour

the award winning Union County Historical Museum. Steeped

in its rich Chickasaw heritage, New Albany residents and visitors

enjoy educational programs at the museum and can tour the

local Indian mounds. Proudly the birthplace of William Faulkner,

New Albany annually hosts the Faulkner Fest which attracts

national literary attention; and, the Faulkner Garden located at

the museum is a national and international attraction.

Home to approximately 8500 residents, New Albany is a hub

to larger cities and major universities. New Albany is historic,

yet progressive and active, yet sedate; thus, New Albany is the

optimal setting for family, friends, tourists, and businesses…

and enjoyed by all.

In the fast-paced world of global business, this town offers the

vibe of a simple life of days past with modern amenities found

in most urban centers. New Albany is in the heart of the

Mississippi hills and is a charming place to spend a day or two.

We welcome you.

20 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 21

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Hometown MADISON • 23

Kristin Lape was in the recovery room

with her husband and family after giving

birth to their first child, a daughter, via

C-section, when the doctor entered

the room and asked the family to step out.

He had something he needed to tell Kristin

and Brent in private. And, in that moment,

the trajectory of their lives shifted forever.

Their baby girl, who they named Lily, had

several markers for Down Syndrome, and the

hospital was doing a blood test to confirm. As

she remembers those early moments, Kristin

tears up. “I’ll be honest - there was a grieving

process. You have these expectations of what

your life will look like. Expectations for your

child. I’ve talked with families who found out

prior to the birth and those, like us, who didn’t

find out until after. And, regardless, it’s just…

a process of grieving and adjusting your


Kristin’s pregnancy was considered high-risk

because of her health history (she had epilepsy

and underwent brain surgery in college) so

there were plenty of scans and tests. Brent

thinks he remembers their doctor mentioning

the possibility of some sort of syndrome, but

Kristin can’t recall that. Regardless, the doctor

was careful to keep Kristin’s stress level low

especially since he knew that nothing would

affect their decision to continue the pregnancy.

In a scenario that would become common

for the Lapes, things had already fallen into

place to prepare them for their next step.

Kristin had grown up with a large extended

family that included a cousin who has Down

Syndrome. Because of that, she knew about

some of the common issues her child might

face, and her family immediately reached out

to her aunt and uncle to begin preparing for

life with Lily. In the meantime, Kristin was

visited in the hospital by a college friend who

happened to be there working as a nurse in

the NICU. She came in armed with information

and encouragement…because she also has a

son with Down Syndrome. It was not lost on

Kristin that when he was born, Kristin had

reached out to connect her friend to the

same aunt and uncle Kristin had just called.


24 • MARCH 2022



Hometown MADISON • 25

And now here that friend was to support her

as she went through the same thing.

As Kristin and Brent began to process their

new reality, Brent took up running as a way to

de-stress. He noticed that, of the various causes

supported by the local races he entered, there

weren’t any raising awareness for Down

Syndrome. So, with their newborn daughter in

tow, they decided to create one. The proceeds

from their race, Run Up for Downs, were

divided between the Central MS Down

Syndrome Society and The Little Lighthouse,

two organizations that provided support to the

Lapes. But as Lily grew, the proactive couple

began talking with others in their community

who had older children with Downs. What did

their children do after they were done with

school? What were their lives like? Dissatisfied

with the answers they heard, they began to

wonder how they could use their event and

its name recognition to begin creating better

options for Lily and so many others with

intellectual and developmental disabilities.

They partnered with their good friends the

Elliotts, whose son Hayden also has Down

syndrome and is close to Lily. Together, they

started researching workforce development

and zeroed in on the idea of a restaurant run

by people like their children. During their

investigation they found Hugs Cafe, a

restaurant in Texas that was like the one they

envisioned, with everyone from the kitchen

manager to the busboys having some sort of

intellectual disability.

During their visit to Hugs Cafe, they saw the

future of their own establishment but with one

caveat—the Elliotts and the Lapes did not want

their restaurant to be a place where individuals

with disabilities came and stayed. They

imagined it as a training ground where they

could learn skills in the food service industry

and where the public could get comfortable

interacting with them.

So, that is the dream for The Lily Pad—

a launching place for people like Lily and

Hayden to gain skills, confidence, and work

experience and an invitation for Madison

County (and the surrounding areas) to support

disability awareness while they enjoy lunch.

The team of friends has been raising funds

to make their dream a reality for six years and,

through the generosity of donors and the

proceeds from their race (now renamed

Leap 4 the Lily Pad,) they have been able to

purchase and begin renovating the space that

is the former home of M7 Coffee House in

Ridgeland. The Lily Pad has become Kristin’s

very full-time job as she oversees construction,

recruits donors and volunteers, and learns

the ins and outs of the food service industry.

She is filled with gratitude for the partners who

have reached out to them—owners of other

local restaurants who are advising her,

businesses donating materials, volunteers

who show up to do things like paint. And she

is thankful for the daughter whose birth

ushered her into this unexpected life.

Having Lily has shown Kristin the joy there

is in letting go of her expectations. Kristin

describes herself as a planner, and so much of

this experience has forced her to let go of her

plans. In embracing that, she has become a

little bit more like her daughter. “Lily is so

care-free and not concerned with what

people think about her. If we could all be

more like that, it would be a gain.” When they

decided to continue growing their family, the

Lapes did not let the increased risk of having

another child with Down Syndrome worry

them. “If we were lucky enough to have two

kids with Downs, I’d know those are the

children we were meant to have.” They

welcomed a son four years after Lily who

does not have Downs. As she watches him

begin to move beyond Lily in what he is able

to understand and do, she reminds herself

again to adjust her expectations—to let go of

what she thought things would be so she can

embrace all the good in what there actually is.

When she was first processing the news

that Lily had Down Syndrome, Kristin remembers

the parents of other children with Downs

excitedly congratulating her—almost as though

they were welcoming her into a club. At the

time, she couldn’t quite process why they

seemed so delighted for her. Now, when

Kristin finds out about a family who has just

learned that their baby has Downs, she finds

herself behaving the same way. And if she

could tell those parents one thing? “It is

unexpected of course. But it’s not something

you should fear. I wish I’d known not to be

afraid about it. I mean, we are always afraid

of the unknown, but this has been more of a

joy than anything else.”

Get involved! To learn more, or to sign up to

volunteer or donate, visit www.thelilypadms.

com. You can also register to run at the

upcoming Leap 4 the Lily Pad on April 9th.

26 • MARCH 2022

“...we are always afraid of the unknown but this

has been more of a joy than anything else.”

Hometown MADISON • 27

28 • MARCH 2022

The Mustard Seed

Providing Purpose for God’s People


A sense of purpose. It is one of those elusive things

we chase as adults and, for most people, there is no

shortage of places to look for it. College students

imagine finding it in their careers, and young adults

are certain it will come with parenthood. Often, by

middle-age, we become disillusioned—too consumed

with financial concerns, the next work project, or a

kid’s ball tournament to even think about it.

And for adults with developmental disabilities,

that outlook is often no different. Life may provide

fewer options and finding a sense of purpose may be

just as difficult. But for 42 of these men and women, an organization

called The Mustard Seed is on mission to change that. Recently voted

“Best Non-Profit” in Rankin County, their stated purpose is “to meet the

[needs] of adults with developmental disabilities by providing a loving

and protected Christian community with meaningful activities that allow

the participants to fulfill the potential that God has created within them.”

It is one of those mission statements that sounds so ambitious, you

assume it’s mostly wording to fill up a website. And yet, a brief stroll

through the campus, and you’re surprised to see it has translated

almost verbatim into their everyday life.

Founded in the 1980’s, the Mustard Seed is located off Luckney

Road in Brandon and its 13 acres include two group homes, a walking

track, swimming pool, ceramics studio and workshop, multi-purpose

activity center, two classrooms that double as safe rooms, a clay

classroom, and a gift shop with attached office space. The “Seedsters,”

some of whom live on-campus and others who attend the day program,

spend a majority of their time creating the treasures that fill the popular

gift shop. They specialize in painting and creating ceramics, though

the work is constantly evolving based on their abilities.

The artists seem to gravitate towards particular color palettes and

styles - regular customers recognize the work of their favorites and

enjoy collecting it. And the activity is certainly meaningful as the

proceeds from gift shop sales have grown to generate 23% of The

Mustard Seed’s income. The Seedsters have the satisfaction of knowing

their work is desirable and contributes to the running of their community.

The heart of the campus is a large multi-purpose space where each

Seedster has their own cubby and an individually labeled workspace to

promote their sense of independence. While work is going on, there

are people coming and going to exercise or attend a smaller focus

group (such as a recent history class that was offered). Perhaps they

are headed to the adjacent workshop to select their next ceramic to

paint. Volunteers move through the room having conversations and

providing assistance. Staff members counsel a Seedster through a

problem or help them work on life skills like laundry and cooking.

Maybe it is Fun Friday and the group is having devotion

time in which they share Scripture and pray before

heading to a movie together. The image of a beehive

comes to mind as you observe the constant buzz of

purposeful activity - a vibrant society that is its own

special world.

But this special world was intentionally and lovingly

crafted by people living the purpose they were called

to. Beginning with families who envisioned more for

the adults with disabilites in their homes, they poured

themselves into the foundation of The Mustard Seed.

Decades of work and the contributions of many individuals led to the

success and expansion of the program.

And today, The Mustard Seed and its energized staff are poised to

move into a new era - changing with the times, expanding their vision,

reaching out to help more families.

Mandy Sisson is a resident of Madison and employee at the

Mustard Seed. She says, “I am excited to come to work each morning

and use my gifts to serve this wonderful ministry. I believe the

Seedsters are living testimonies of what it means to be “fearfully and

wonderfully made.”

The Seedsters possess many of the qualities we all wish to portray.

Someone who comes in 3rd place in the “Seedsterlympics” receives

just as many cheers and high fives as the 1st place winner. Is this not

God’s design for all of us? To love unconditionally. I am truly blessed

to be surrounded by such kind hearts who could never know the

degree to which they minister to others, especially me.

God has created each of us with certain personalities and passions

and I believe He is ready to give us the desires of our hearts when we

seek Him. There is no doubt that God led me to The Mustard Seed for

a purpose. I feel undeserving and humbled to be a part of such a

wonderful place.

The Seedsters are my coworkers, my dance partners, my hype

men, my prayer warriors and most importantly my friends.

The Mustard Seed serves as a reminder that all God’s people thrive

on a sense of purpose. Tim Keller wrote in his book, Every Good

Endeavor, “Work of all kinds, whether with the hands or the mind,

evidences our dignity as human beings - because it reflects the image

of God the Creator in us.” But it also reminds us of something even

more important. The Seedsters, like each one of us, have ultimate

value not because of their productivity. If we are Christ’s, “He is the

only boss who does not need your best performance to be satisfied

with you because His work for you is finished.”

So, find your sense of purpose in that good news - and go. Volunteer,

give, and be blessed by seeing The Mustard Seed for yourself.

Hometown MADISON • 29

30 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 31







Poppy Williams

32 • MARCH 2022

“What am I

going to do

with my life?”

More often than not, many of us have asked this

question of ourselves before. As a high schooler, we first

ask ourselves this question to point us to a field of study,

career pathway, or degree. At the beginning, we may

think that this will be a one-time question with a black

and white answer. However, as we get older, we know the

truth – this question will never really go away.

For Bishop Barlow, founder and CEO of Know Ministries,

this question was what started it all.

“In the summer of 2016, I was preparing to enter my

senior year of high school and I was trying to figure out

what I’d do with my life,” said Bishop. “Everyone was

talking about degrees and colleges, and I really wondered

what my life would look like.”

Though he initially thought he would pursue politics,

Bishop found that God had another plan for him and that

was to enter the ministry field. In December of 2016, just

a few months later, Know Ministries began.

Know Ministries is a registered 501c3 nonprofit

organization serving the Jackson Metro area, statewide,

and across the nation with a mission to provide Bibles to

children in inner cities.

“We partner with churches and organizations in the

inner cities to reach children and disciple them and it’s

been both incredible and humbling at the same time,”

said Bishop. “In March of 2017, we handed out our first

set of Bibles and we have continued to work with ministry

partners and organizations since.”

Hometown MADISON • 33

“This whole ministry exists

because we believe it is important

for a child to have their own Bible.”

34 • MARCH 2022

In the just over five years that Know Ministries began, the impact

has already been felt. The team at Know Ministries has put over

3,500 Bibles in the hands of children in over 20 cities and two

countries. Though Know Ministries has worked, and still works, to

make Jesus known through making sure that kids in inner cities have

access to Bibles at their distribution events, the children haven’t

been the only ones impacted since the beginning.

“Through this ministry, I have been challenged and grown in

my own walk with Christ. These children don’t have the best living

conditions but they’re so full of joy, happiness and contentment,”

said Bishop. “It’s humbling to see. At first, I thought that we were

the ones who were helping them, but they’ve been helping me.

These kids have grown who I am as a person.”

The Know Ministries approach is simple: Pray – Converge

– Continue. They begin by praying about what and where they

should go next and specific ministry partners. Next is converge,

which is where they work closely with new or existing ministry

partners to create an action plan to distribute Bibles to children

in the next chosen area. Finally, they chose the word of continue

to signal that they will continue to work with ministry partners

to help the children understand who Jesus is even long after the

distribution event is over.

“This whole ministry exists because we believe it is important

for a child to have their own Bible,” said Bishop. “I used to say to

tell people that ‘We need you,’ but now I say, ‘We need each other,’

because the truth is we all need each other to reach these kids.

Everyone has a gift and there’s a place for anyone to get involved

here if you’d like to join us in our mission.”

Bishop spoke about how there are several ways to volunteer at

Know Ministries, but that he loves when volunteers bring their own

creativity and spiritual gifts to the table to serve however they like

best. For some that may mean working behind the scenes to bake

cookies to be distributed to kids at one of their Bible distribution

events, and for others that may look like working directly with the

kids to lead a game or play music. However you’d like to serve,

Know Ministries has a place for you.

Today, if you’d ask Bishop what he plans to do with his life next,

he’d tell you that he hopes to one day become a pastor and continue

spreading the love of God and His word to anyone he meets.

“God is good, and He knows our ways better than we do,” said

Bishop. “If you’re wondering what to do with your life, I’ve been

there. I’ve been in your shoes, and sometimes I’m still there. But

instead of trying to answer the question yourselves, I’d challenge

you to ask God to answer it for you.”

To learn more about Know Ministries or how you can get involved,

visit www. knowministries.org.

Hometown MADISON • 35


Susan Marquez

36 • MARCH 2022

Shoppers at the Renaissance in Ridgeland

have become fast fans of Magnolia Soap and

Bath. The products are house-made using all

plant-based ingredients. “From the moment you

walk in the door, we want you to be invited into

an immersive experience,” says Magen Bynum,

the founder of the company and owner of the

store. A native of Pontotoc, Magen runs her

growing company from New Albany, where she

lives with her husband and two daughters.

After graduating from Pontotoc High School,

Magen attended Itawamba Community College

but quickly realized that’s not what she was meant

to do. “Instead of college, I spent ten years working

in the car industry, where I was the finance

director of eight car dealerships.” She knew that

industry well. “My family has always been in the

car industry.”

While living in Memphis, Magen met the man

who would become her husband. “Randall was

practicing law in Memphis,” she says. After getting

pregnant with her first child, Magen stayed at

home long enough to know she couldn’t stay home

all day. “I had a cosmetology license I kept on

the back burner, just in case I wanted to use it.”

Magen bought a hair salon and learned she

didn’t like the salon side of that kind of business,

so she opened a nail shop in Tupelo. Magen wasn’t

happy with the lotions and scrubs that were

available for that industry. “I wanted something

more natural, something that is good for your

skin. I started making our own products and

people loved them. Before we knew it, that part

of the business really took off.”

Magnolia Soap and Bath Company opened

in 2016 in downtown New Albany. “We were

still living in Memphis at the time, but we got so

busy I was able to convince my husband to move

to New Albany,” says Magen. The store featured

soaps and candles hand-poured in-house, as well

as bath bombs and other products for the body.

“I use all plant-based ingredients which are

healthier for your skin.”

Realizing she had a great concept, Magen

opened additional storefronts in Oxford, Tupelo,

and Jackson. She crossed the state line to open a

store in Cullman, Alabama. The next step was

to franchise the concept. “I didn’t know anything

about franchising, and had to learn daily, which

I still do. I got some great guidance and I have

some wonderful business advisors.” Today there

are ten company-owned stores and seventeen

franchised stores with plans for more. “I want

to go as far with this as I can,” says Magen. “If

I am going to do something, I want to do it big!”

In the beginning, Magen was a one-person

operation. “I designed all the packaging and

collaborated with a local woodworker to create

store displays. I drew them all out by hand. Now

my husband helps with making tables for the

store. I couldn’t have accomplished all I have

without his help.” She still manages the company’s

social media and marketing. “I don’t think

anyone else is as qualified to tell our story as I am.”

Now the mother of two girls, Elizabeth Ann (7)

and Covington Mae (3), Magen says balancing

work and home has been fairly easy so far. “To

be honest, they are on my hip all the time,” she

laughs. “I remember having a three-week-old

strapped on me while I was pouring soap!”

Magnolia Soap and Bath company is open

daily in the Renaissance, and products are also

available online. “We also sell our products at

over 700 spas, boutiques, salons, and more

nationwide.” She ships product from a 10,000-

square-foot warehouse in New Albany. Besides

soaps, candles and bath bombs, the company

sells laundry soap, body butter, wax melts, room

sprays, lotion bars, beard balm and oil and shave

soap in a variety of scents.

Hometown MADISON • 37

38 • MARCH 2022


Perry DeLoach

Mistie Desper


“Perry is a great example of placing God

first and letting everything else fall into place

from there,” said Trey DeLoach, proud father

of 17-year-old Perry DeLoach.

Perry’s short life has been met with

unimaginable challenges that she has faced

with bravery. This bravery has shaped her life

into one filled with a love for serving others in

her community.

Losing her beautiful mother, April, from

cancer at a young age, Perry has faced a heartbreak

that a child should never endure. Her

mother left such an impact on those around her.

Through this tragedy, family and friends had a

profound impact on her in a time when she

needed it most.

Perry said, “Throughout my mom’s cancer

journey, she documented it on social media.

Because of her, so many people stepped up to

help me and my brother. She left such a legacy

and it showed me how much of a difference just

one person can make.”

Making their home in Madison, Perry,

her father, Trey, and brother, Heath, found

restoration and healing again after their loss

when Trey remarried. Perry gained a stepmother,

Lori, and two additional siblings,

Peyton and William.

“My family has been the absolute best and

has supported me so much. So many times, the

word blended can be a negative—but not in my

family. My stepmother actually lost her husband,

and my stepsiblings also lost a father. It really was

a God thing for our families to come together

like we did. The Lord’s plan is so much greater

than we can imagine,” Perry added.

Stepmother Lori said, “Perry is a strong, full

of faith, loving, smart and beautiful young lady.

I love being her bonus mom because she is

definitely a bonus to my life.”

Perry is involved with so many activities

during her senior year at Germantown High

School. Dana Kinsley has had the pleasure of

teaching Perry all through high school and been

involved with many activities at their church.

Dana said, “I have had a front row seat as

she has grown into an amazing leader and role

model for students in her church, community,

and school. She has a contagious spirit. While

she doesn’t look for attention or even like it,

people of all ages look up to her and enjoy being

around her.”

The impressive list of her achievements

includes being named homecoming queen,

part of the Student Government Association,

yearbook staff, the Civinettes service organization,

along with recently being named Miss

Germantown High School. Perry said, “Being

named Miss Germantown High is so dear to me

because it’s based more on character—and for

them to pick me out of everyone else is really

special.” Dana added, “When her named was

announced, the audience cheered so loud, which

proves how much everyone wanted her to win

this title.”

As fun as all this may be, Perry has a true

servant’s heart and loves helping her community

and church youth group grow in Christ. She said,

“I have been a student leader since 8th grade at

church. I make sure we welcome someone new.

I always want to make sure everyone is known

and seen. I try to always think in the moment of

what I can do to share the love of Jesus with

someone else.”

She admitted she has a love of missions and

desires to do more in the future. “So far I have

only done local missions where we have raised

money and helped people in our community.

My favorite one was last year when we raised

money during DNow for someone in need. It

was such a humbling experience,” added Perry.

Being influential in growing the Fellowship

of Christian Athletes in her area in addition to

her influence in her local youth group at Grace

Crossing Baptist Church, Perry is touching so

many lives. Dana added, “I have seen students

come to know Christ because of Perry’s influence

in their lives. In a world that can sometimes

seem hopeless, she is one that helps remind us

that there are still wonderful people that will

truly change the world for the better.”

Trey beams with pride when he speaks of his

gifted daughter. “She’s always been determined,

strong, a born leader, and to see her use these

talents is a joy. Life is never fair and yes, Perry

lost her mother early in life. But we know God is

in control and we are going to let Him define us,

not this broken world.”

As Perry is nearing the end of her senior year

and time at Germantown, she is looking toward

a bright future. Dana added, “While Germantown

will lose a huge piece of what helped build it when

Perry graduates, I will be losing an amazing

student and friend who stole a piece of my heart

way back in middle school.”

Perry concluded, “In the fall, I plan to attend

MSU, and right now I plan on pursuing an

elementary education major. But I feel called

into the ministry in some way.”

She looks forward to continuing serving,

giving back, and being a light in a world that so

desperately needs it.

Hometown MADISON • 39

40 • MARCH 2022


Hometown MADISON • 41

We Rise

by Lifting



Keath Killebrew first saw Alyssa Ellis in the lunch line at

Central Holmes Academy when he was 16 and she was 14.

Keath was the new kid in school, his family having relocated

to Lexington after a fire destroyed their home in Tchula.

42 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 43

“I was really drawn to Keath,” Alyssa recalls. “There was just something

special about him and we connected right away.” The two became inseparable,

the best of friends and high school sweethearts in spite of her father’s

initial objections.

After high school, Alyssa went to Ole Miss and Keath stayed close to

home, but a transfer to Belmont University took Alyssa to Nashville, and

Keath moved there to be near her. When Keath’s identical twin brother

Heath bought property in Tchula, it didn’t take long for him to convince

Keath to join him in farming the land. “When Keath left Nashville,”

Killebrew says, “he took my heart with him.”

The two married in Jamaica in 2003 and settled in Tchula, where

Keath farmed and Alyssa worked for a mental health center in Greenwood.

She went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling from Delta State and a

Ph.D. from Jackson State. “Keath was always so supportive of me,” she

remembers. The support was mutual, and when Keath called Alyssa one

day to tell her he had found the “most beautiful property in Flora,” she knew

they would buy it. The couple moved to Flora, and Keath commuted to

Tchula, farming both properties.

Upon earning her Ph.D., Killebrew was offered the opportunity of a

residency out of state. As he always had, Keath supported her in the new

venture, and Alyssa moved to Utah for one year. The couple planned on

expanding their family once she returned to Mississippi, but those hopes

seemed out of reach following several miscarriages. Their infertility journey

took them to Colorado where they underwent in vitro fertilization, and they

were thrilled to welcome daughter Vivian in 2018.

In September of 2020, Alyssa lost her best friend Sara Roberts following

a long battle with cancer. The two had been friends since the 4th grade, and

it was a very difficult loss. In spite of the grief that gripped Dr. Killebrew

after the death of her dear friend, there was a bright spot. She and Keath

were expecting their second child, another daughter, and excitedly looked

forward to her arrival.

On Thanksgiving Day, 2020, while on a trip to Memphis, Alyssa, who

was 26 weeks pregnant, realized she hadn’t felt the baby move. A trip to the

emergency room revealed that Alyssa had COVID and that a blood clot had

developed on the placenta. The couple was devastated to learn their precious

baby girl had not survived. “My daughter literally gave her life for mine,”

Alyssa says. “A blood clot somewhere else in my body could have killed me.”

They named their daughter Sara Elizabeth: Sara in honor and memory of

the best friend Alyssa had lost, and Elizabeth after her grandmother.

The pain of losing their daughter was understandably overwhelming,

and in February 2021, the Killebrews attended the Golden Willow Grief

Retreat in Taos, New Mexico. The founder of the retreat, Ted Wiard, lost

44 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 45

his wife to cancer, and a few short years later, his daughters and mother-in-law

were involved in a horrific car accident, which killed all three of them. Ted

remarried and he and his wife Marcella started Golden Willow as a place of

support and healing for those who are grieving.

During that retreat, Keath and Alyssa were able to work through their

grief and talk about the future. “We talked about all the difficulties and

triumphs we had faced in our marriage. We went to the chapel and prayed,

asked for forgiveness for things we had done in our lives, and even wrote our

own eulogies.” Dr. Killebrew says. “We were forced to think about living

intentionally and what our goals were. Keath knew he wanted to teach

others, particularly children, the importance of hard work and how to work

with their hands. I wanted to teach people how to deal with their emotions,

how to process and work through grief. We realized we shared the same

vision for the future.”

The “beautiful property” Keath so excitedly told Alyssa about years

before is where the Killebrews’ vision became reality in June of 2021 with

the very first SEK Christian Therapeutic Intensives camp. Pronounced

“seek,” the camp’s name is a tribute to their daughter, Sara Elizabeth

Killebrew, and also incorporates Matthew 7:7, “Seek and you shall find.”

The property and camp perfectly embody the couple’s love of people and


The mission of SEK is, “To help each individual create balance (spiritual/

emotional/physical/mental) and a life that has purpose and meaning using

Christian principles, while incorporating nature and experiential therapies

with licensed mental health professionals.” A friend once wrote about Keath

and Alyssa that “one tills the fields and one tends the souls.” SEK is the perfect

merging of the two, and a natural outgrowth of the couple’s individual and

shared passions.

Besides seeing their dream become reality, the Killebrews had another

reason to celebrate in 2021. They were expecting a son, due in January of

2022, and they excitedly prepared for his arrival. The Killebrew Cotton

Company Keath and Heath created in 2003 had seen great success and now

encompassed over 17,000 acres across Mississippi. The Killebrews, however,

had an even greater vision, using their farming skills to positively impact

people far beyond the confines of Mississippi. “There is a region in Paraguay

called the Chaco which had never been farmed before. It’s much like the

Delta in terms of the climate and soil,” says Dr. Killebrew.

Keath and Heath partnered with the Mississippi Development Authority

and the Paraguayan government to work with the people there, teaching

them how to cultivate cotton. In November of 2021, Keath traveled to

Paraguay, where he had scheduled meetings with government officials, as

well as site visits throughout the region.

46 • MARCH 2022

“He was my

best friend

and soulmate,

and I couldn’t

believe he

was gone.”

On December 3rd, Alyssa learned that Keath had been killed in a plane

crash, along with the pilot, his friend Paul Rust. The grief was overwhelming.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” she says. “He was my best friend and soulmate,

and I couldn’t believe he was gone.” Losing Keath took a physical toll on

Alyssa, and although he wasn’t due until the end of January, their son Keath

Gwin Killebrew, Jr. made his appearance on Christmas Eve.

Not even three months out from the tragic plane crash that took her

husband’s life, Dr. Killebrew’s strength is amazing, but she is quick to share

that she knows it’s due to the presence of God’s spirit, and to those in her life

who have stepped in to walk this road with her. “My sister moved in with me

the day we got the call, and she is still here. And Keath’s Aunt Linda moved

in also and hasn’t left my side,” she says. “Counselors in my practice have

stepped in and helped with my caseload and testing. Everyone has been so

wonderful to help me in any way they can.”

Even in the midst of her grief and pain, Dr. Killebrew is looking to the

future and the growth of the SEK program, which no doubt would make

Keath proud. “‘We rise by helping others’ has become my theme,” Killebrew

says. “That’s the reason I’m going to continue the work that Keath and I

started. God is using me for his glory and I’m going to let Him. I can’t just

pull the covers up over my head. I feel His supernatural spirit and because of

that, most days, I feel strong enough to be a parent to my children, be a boss

to my employees, and a mentor to my students. I have to honor my husband’s

memory by carrying out the vision that we shared.”

Hometown MADISON • 47

Peanut Butter Cookies

• 1 cup granulated sweetener

of choice

• 2 Tbsp. coconut flour

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• 1 cup peanut butter

• 1 large egg

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a large

baking tray with parchment paper

and set aside. In a large mixing bowl,

add your dry ingredients and mix

well. Add your peanut butter and

egg and mix until combined.

Using your hands, form 12 balls

of dough and place them on

the lined baking tray. Press

down on each cookie and

cross the sides with a fork.

Bake the cookies for

10-12 minutes, or until

they just begin to go brown

around the sides. Remove

the cookies from the oven and

let cool on the tray completely.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake

• ½ cup butter, softened

• ¼ cup peanut butter

• 1½ cups sugar

• 2 large eggs, room temperature

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 3 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 cup two-percent milk

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and

flour two 9” round baking pans.

In a large bowl, cream the butter,

peanut butter and sugar until light

and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add the

eggs, one at a time, beating well after

each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Combine flour, baking powder and

salt; gradually add to peanut butter

mixture alternately with milk,

beating well after each addition.

Pour into prepared pans. Bake until

a toothpick inserted in the center

comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.

Cool for five minutes before

removing from pans to wire racks

to cool completely.


• ¼ cup butter, softened

• ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. peanut butter

• 1¾ Tbsp. vanilla extract

• 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

• 4 to 6 Tbsp. two-percent milk

• ¾ cup grape jelly

• Dry-roasted peanuts, optional

In a small bowl, beat butter and

peanut butter until smooth. Add

vanilla, confectioners’ sugar and

enough milk to achieve spreading

consistency. Place one cake layer

on a serving plate; spread with jelly.

Top with the remaining cake layer;

frost top and sides of cake with

frosting. Garnish with additional

jelly and peanuts, if desired.

Peanut Butter

& Pork Sandwich

• 1 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter

• 1 slice crusty white bread

• 2 Tbsp. shredded cooked pork

• 1 tsp. sriracha chili sauce

• Curry powder

• Thinly sliced jalapeno pepper

March is National Peanut Butter Month

Spread peanut butter over bread.

Layer with pork and chili sauce.

Sprinkle with curry powder and

top with jalapeno.

48 • MARCH 2022

Peanut Butter Pancakes

• ½ cup all-purpose flour

• ½ cup whole wheat flour

• ¼ tsp. cinnamon

• 1 Tbsp. baking powder

• 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

• ½ tsp. kosher salt

• 1 large egg

• ¼ cup creamy peanut butter

• 1 cup milk

In a medium bowl, whisk together

all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour,

cinnamon, baking powder sugar,

and kosher salt. In another bowl,

whisk together the egg, peanut butter

and milk. Add to the dry ingredients,

then immediately add the milk.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry

ingredients until a smooth, thick

batter forms. Lightly grease a skillet

with butter and wipe off extra grease

with a paper towel. Heat the skillet

over low heat. Pour the batter into

small circles (a little less than ¼ cup

each). Cook pancakes until bubbles

pop on the top and the bottoms are

golden: low and slow is the key!

Then flip and cook until done. Add

a tiny splash of milk to the batter so

that it is pourable. Repeat with the

remaining batter, adjusting the heat as

necessary (the skillet can get very hot

on the second batch). Place the

cooked pancakes under an inverted

bowl to keep them warm. Serve

immediately with maple syrup and

if desired, a slather of peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Pie

• 1 nine inch pie crust

(homemade or store-bought)

• 1 cup creamy peanut butter

• 4 oz. cream cheese

• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 1½ cups heavy cream

• 1 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)

• 2 Tbsp. chopped peanuts

• ¼ tsp. flakey sea salt


Prepare dough according to

directions, rolling to a ⅛” thickness

and place in a 9” pie plate. Preheat

your oven to 375°. Place parchment

paper onto the center of the unbaked

pie crust and fill with pie weights.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from

oven and carefully lift out the paper

and weights. Prick the bottom using

a fork to prevent bubbles, return to

the oven for an additional 15 to 20

minutes or until the crust is golden all

over. Remove and let cool completely.


In a medium sized mixing bowl,

beat heavy whipping cream with

cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.

Place in the fridge to keep cold.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream

cheese, peanut butter and powdered

sugar until smooth. Use a large spatula

to gently fold half of the whipped

cream into the peanut butter mixture.

Fold in the remaining whipped cream

and pour the filling into the prepared

pie crust. Smooth the top of the filling

and sprinkle with chopped peanuts

and flaked sea salt. Chill for at least

three hours to set the center.

Peanut Chicken Wings

• 32 chicken wings

• ¼ cup vegetable oil

• ½ tsp. kosher salt

• ¼ tsp. coarse ground black pepper

• ¼ tsp. ground ginger

• ¼ tsp. garlic powder

• ½ cup creamy peanut butter

• 2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

• 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

• 1 tsp. light brown sugar

• ½ tsp. sriracha

• Chopped peanuts for garnish,


Preheat oven to 375° and line baking

sheet with parchment paper. In a large

bowl toss wings with vegetable oil,

salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet

in a single layer. Bake until crispy and

browned for 40-45 minutes. Add

ginger, garlic powder, peanut butter,

soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar,

sriracha, and ¼ cup water to blender.

Blend until smooth, adding more

water by tablespoonfuls if needed.

Add cooked wings to a large bowl

and toss with half of the sauce. Bake

an additional 15 minutes. Remove

from oven, toss with remaining sauce

and garnish with chopped peanuts.

Haystack Cookies

with Peanut Butter

• 12 oz. peanuts, salted

• 5 oz. chow mein

• 2 cups butterscotch chips

• 3 Tbsp. peanut butter

Combine peanuts and chow mein in

a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls

• 5 cups popped popcorn

• 1 cup dry roasted peanuts

• ½ cup corn syrup

• ½ cup sugar

• ½ cup creamy peanut butter

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make sure to remove any unpopped

popcorn kernels from the bowl, then

mix together popcorn and peanuts.

In a large saucepan or dutch oven,

bring sugar and corn syrup just to a

boil. When all the sugar is dissolved

and the mixtures is bubbly, remove

from heat. Stir in peanut butter and

vanilla. Add popcorn and peanuts,

stirring to coat everything evenly with

the peanut butter mixture. Allow to

cool until safe to handle. Grease your

hands and grab a handful of the

popcorn mixture. Form into a ball,

pressing slightly to help it hold

together. Place on a sheet of wax

paper to cool completely, then wrap

in plastic wrap until ready to serve.

Combine butterscotch chips and

peanut butter in microwave safe bowl.

In a microwave, melt peanut butter and

butterscotch chips for 1-2 minutes,

pausing every 30 seconds to stir. Add

melted butterscotch and peanut butter

to peanuts and chow mein. Stir and

coat evenly. Drop by rounded

tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper.

Refrigerate to set (about 5 minutes).

Hometown MADISON • 49

50 • MARCH 2022

Mississippi Department of Archives & History

Introduces the Mississippi Makers Festival

On Saturday, May 7, the Mississippi Department

of Archives and History will host its first annual

Mississippi Makers Festival on the lawn of the

Museum of Mississippi History and the

Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

Mississippi Makers Festival celebrates the rich history

and artistic talent the state of Mississippi has offered and

continues to offer to the world. Mississippi is the “Birthplace

of America’s Music” and has produced musicians

such as Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll; B.B. King,

the King of the Blues; opera diva Leontyne Price; and

Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music. It is also

the home of world-renowned visual artists such as

George Ohr, Theora Hamblett, Richmond Barthé,

Walter Anderson, and William Dunlap.

Headlining artists for this year’s festival are Chapel

Hart, Framing the Red, Mr. Sipp and the North Mississippi


Chapel Hart, a country music vocal group from

Poplarville, consists of three women with big voices.

The group’s colorful and contagious energy has flourished

into a full live band experience that fills venues at

home and around the country. Chapel Hart has an

amazing ability to tug on your heartstrings with a tender

yet powerful ballad, then have you pumping your fist in

unison to the pulse of hard-hitting rock and roll. The band

accentuates the three vocalists, who embody the sweet

and southern sound of country with the soulful undertones

noting their gospel roots.

Framing the Red, is southern rock and roll band that is

taking the national music scene by storm. The band has

been together and touring for a little over seven years

and has the talent that would make any onlooker think

this was a seasoned band that has been touring for much

longer. The band delivers a show like none other,

grabbing its audiences and bringing everyone to their

feet with catchy riffs, great lyrics, and high impact live

stage shows that people will continue to talk about.

Mr. Sipp, a blues musician born in McComb, began

playing the guitar at the age of six and through hard work

and perseverance, has become a Delta blues force to be

reckoned with. Mr. Sipp is known for his amazing vocals,

songwriting ability, musicianship, and ability to produce

records and entertain fans with an upbeat, outlandish

show. He has over 125 recording credits and over fifty

national recordings with several Grammy-nominated


Hometown MADISON • 51

The North Mississippi Allstars, a blues and southern

rock band from Hernando, was founded in 1996. The

band has been together for twenty-five years, produced

twelve albums, received four Grammy Award nominations,

and sold out shows everywhere. They draw a huge and

dedicated crowd that loves to jam!

Doors to the festival will open at 10am, and live music

will begin at 11am. The headliners will take the stage

starting at 5pm, and the North Mississippi Allstars will

close the festival at 10pm.

Along with the musical entertainment, some Mississippi

artisans who will also be represented in this year’s festival

are Karl Compton, Lee Washington, Jaime Ross, and

Tony Davenport.

Karl Compton is the owner of Dragonflight Pottery,

which is based out of Collinsville. He is a member of the

Craftmen’s Guild of Mississippi and prides himself on his

beautiful vases, bowls, mugs, and lanterns.

Lee Washington is also a member of the Craftmen’s

Guild of Mississippi and has been awarded three national

Veterans Creative Arts Awards. His craft is creating art

out of various types of nuts and bolts.

Jamie Ross, an artist based out of Ocean Springs,

plans to wow festival-goers with his live art demonstration.

Ross creates his art with a chainsaw. At Mississippi Makers

Festival he will be carving sculptures out of wood.

Also, in the category of artisans, we have Mississippi

native Tony Davenport. Davenport is from Vicksburg and

received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Jackson State

University. He has won numerous awards for his paintings

and designs based on Mississippi landmarks and music.

Davenport has been named Best Living Artist by the

Jackson Free Press and won many best of show awards

from various contests.

If musical entertainment and art aren’t enough to

pique your interest in the Mississippi Makers Festival,

maybe history will. The Two Mississippi Museums will be

open with free admission the day of the festival and will

be launching a new exhibit about Mississippi native,

Marty Stuart. The World of Marty Stuart will feature

hundreds of Marty’s collected musical artifacts and tell

the story of his life as a star musician.

We invite you to join us for live music, art, and food

made by the best makers in the nation. Mississippi Makers

Festival is a Mississippi made festival showcasing

Mississippi entertainers, artisans, and makers of

merchandise, food, and everything in between.

See you there!

52 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 53

54 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 55

56 • MARCH 2022

Rachael Pooley Lynch


Susan Marquez

For as long as she can remember, Rachael

Pooley Lynch has wanted to write a book. She has

always been creative and after graduating high

school at Madison Central, Rachael earned an

associate of arts degree from Holmes

Community College.

Now married with two young daughters,

Kinsley (9) and Khloe (6), Rachael began seeing

a disturbing trend. It was that trend, and wanting

what is best for her daughters, which inspired

her to write her first book, Daughter of the King.

“I noticed my oldest daughter was becoming very

materialistic,” says Rachael. “I substitute teach

at their school, Madison Crossing, and I began

noticing other girls who were materialistic. At

such an early age, they were already very aware of

what they had, and what others had or didn’t have.”

Rachael sought out books that might inspire

her children. “During quarantine, I began writing

the book I wanted for my own girls. After writing

the book, I designed the graphics for it on my

computer. I thought it would be something for

my children and friends, but my mother-in-law

convinced me it needed to be published.” After

learning all she could about self-publishing, she

had the book printed at a local printer. She has

been selling the book directly to people either

face-to-face or through her Facebook page:

TheBookDaughterOfTheKing. It is now

available on Amazon and can be purchased

locally at Kinder Boutique in Gluckstadt.

Rachael says that children are bombarded

with messages every day, from YouTube videos,

and from just observing the world around them.

“If something is glitzy or glamorous, they want it.

I wanted to point them away from that and point

them towards Jesus. The message in my book is

that material things can’t satisfy them the way

Jesus can satisfy their heart.”

The main character of the book is Ella, a

young girl who led a simple life, but longed for

fancy dresses and all the newest toys that her

friends had. When she asks her mom why she can’t

have those things, her mom explains that Ella is

“the daughter of the amazing King, and that’s more

awesome than any necklace or ring.” Knowing

that made Ella feel better about herself, and not so

concerned about what others had that she didn’t.

The book has been so well received that

Rachael has authored another book for boys

called Son of the King. “While boys may not be

as materialistic as girls, I have noticed that pride

can be a struggle. Young boys get so obsessed

about something, so I wrote about a boy named

Joe who was obsessed with baseball. In it, his

pride was squashed, but his humility was raised

up, and with that, his love for Jesus was raised up.

The main message in the book is about being

humble.” Rachael is working now to get the book


Balancing being an author and a working

mother isn’t always easy. Rachael says she gets

great satisfaction from writing, and hopes to write

more children’s books in the future. “Our family

dog passed away last year, and I couldn’t find a

book that would help my girls process that. So,

my next book will be about dogs going to heaven.”

The process of writing the book was made

easy with the help of her girls. “They probably

heard me read it to them a hundred times, and

they had input on what Ella looked like and

other graphics in the book.” Rachael says she can

tell a difference in her daughter’s priorities since

the book has been published. “I’ve heard them

talk to their friends about it. I think they have

gotten the message. My girls are certainly an

influence on my work.”

PHOTO Molly Jerome Photography

Hometown MADISON • 57





















58 • MARCH 2022

Madison Central Q&A

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom

would you want as a dinner guest, and why?

Adya Praveen 12th

1 11










It would be with Elon Musk. I think he has some very innovative

ideas, and I honestly would love a chance to just see what goes

on in his mind. Maybe I can get a good idea off of him, too.

Ann Travis Hutchinson 12th

I would want to go to dinner with Bethany Hamilton. After

surviving a shark attack, she courageously overcame all odds to

become a champion again, inspiring millions of people through

the love of her family, her determination, and her unwavering

faith in Jesus.

Anna Edgar 10th

If I could have dinner with anyone, it would definitely be

Princess Diana. I really admire her kind, gentle, and humble

disposition and character. I feel like she would have such a good

outlook on life and would give great advice. I also think that she

would be easy to talk to and that we would be fast friends.

Avery Holland 10th

I would love to have dinner with Lili Reinhart because she is

someone I really look up to. She supports mental health and

body image. She helps young men and women become

comfortable with themselves.

Camille Boles 12th

It would be Dolly Parton. I love the way she has given back to

her community. I am inspired by her hard work and success in

life. I also think that it would be cool to learn about how she

became a successful musician.

Cole Flesher 10th

I would eat dinner with Harrison Ford because he is in all of my

favorite movies.

Ethan Perkins 11th

I would choose Kanye West. I would want to eat with him

because he is someone I look up to and he is very successful.

I would want him to share his advice for getting a successful life

and making money.

Fancier Shi 10th

I would have dinner with the Dance Moms cast. I would love to

know all the behind-the-scenes of the show. This show will

always have a special place in my heart.

Grayson Franks 12th

I would love to have dinner with Emma Watson because she

plays in so many of my favorite movies and I like her accent.

Landry Gates 10th

I would choose to have dinner with my grandfather because I

miss him and would love to get to talk to him one more time.










Kaeddis Cole 10th

I would invite India Arie because her music has inspired me so

much. She taught me how to love myself even when I don’t think

I should, and she taught me that you don’t find yourself, you create

yourself through your actions. I would love to ask her who

inspired her songs and what shapes her perception of the world.

Lauralee Hetzel 10th

I would love to have dinner with the Dolan twins, because I have

been a big fan of them since I was eight.

Taurasi Jackson 12th

I would want Big Time Rush as a dinner guest. I always loved

watching them as a kid and I’ve recently rewatched every

episode. Every day as a kid in elementary, I would get off the

bus, go to my room, and watch them on TV. My grandma was

worried about me because that was the only TV show I would

watch constantly. And I love their quote, ‘You only got one life

so you gotta live it bigtime!’

Lillie Stringer 12th

I would choose Ken Hackman, because I am constantly learning

from him. He’s had such an interesting life. I feel like I would

never be bored during a conversation with him.

Olivia Davidson 11th

I would choose Zendaya. I have looked up to her since I was a

kid and have always thought she was so cool. I would love to

have dinner and get to know her.

Rachael Carpenter 10th

I would like to have dinner with Lady Gaga. I look up to her a lot

and would love to discuss movies, songs, and everything else I

love about her with her. I would also love to thank her for her hard

work towards minority groups and equality. She is my role model.

Rebecca Warren 10th

I would love to have dinner with Khloe Kardashian because she

is really funny and seems really nice and easy to talk to.

Rhyin Singleton 10th

It would be Thelma Mothershed-Wair. She was a part of the

‘Little Rock Nine’ which consisted of a group of nine African

Americans who were denied admission to a racially segregated

school. I would love to have a conversation with her just to

sympathize and understand how she felt and all she went


Reed Cascio 10th

I would like to have dinner with Tom Holland because he’s

Spiderman and he’s British.

Tyler Strong 12th

I would probably choose Denzel Washington because he is a

good leader and great actor. I would love to learn from him.

Hometown MADISON • 59


5th grade





campus tours begin January 2022.

Contact Tracie Mallard, Director of Admission, at 601.939.8611 or

tmallard@jacksonprep.net, for details on the application process.

60 • MARCH 2022


10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Two Mississippi Museums

Free admission to The World of Marty Stuart

exhibit during the festival


North Mississippi Allstars• Mr. Sipp•Framing the Red

Chapel Hart •Chad Wesley Band •5th Child •Lil’ DJ

Jimbo Mathus• Cary Hudson•and more!

Hometown MADISON • 61


to First Responders

Why did you decide to be a fireman?

I decided to be a firefighter after getting out of the Marine Corps.

I wanted to continue serving and be a part of a brotherhood again.

The fire department enables me to do both of those things.

How long have you been with the Madison Fire


I have been at Madison Fire for 10 years.

Tell us about your family.

I have been married to my beautiful wife, Haley, for almost eight years.

I also have three children: Nolan (7 years old), Annie (2 years old), and

our new daughter, Georgia (who was born in October).

What is the toughest thing you have experienced

in your job?

Definitely being away from my family for 24 hours at a time. Leaving the

family to go to work that long is never easy.

What is the most rewarding part of your job

as a firefighter?

Firefighting is a very demanding and stressful job but yields high

satisfaction. But as a firefighter, I get to see an impact first-hand when

helping someone.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.

I enjoy cooking, kayaking, biking, and lots of traveling with the family.

What are three things on your bucket list?

I think traveling to as many places as I can would be on my bucket list.

I want to visit all the national parks in the U.S.





Who is someone you admire and why?

My grandfather was always someone I admired. He taught me to work

hard and taught me to be respectful of others.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young person,

what would it be?

Hard work and persistence pay off. Find something you love to do and

you will never work a day in your life.

What is your favorite thing about Madison County?

Madison County is a great place to live, work and raise a family.

The people are nice, the schools are great, and everyone is very

appreciative of us at Madison Fire.

62 • MARCH 2022

Hometown MADISON • 63





Accomplish your banking on

the go with our CB2GO mobile app.

64 • MARCH 2022

CALL NOW: 601-401-3299

March 3-5 9am - 2pm

Hometown MADISON • 65

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

“Sticks and stones may break my bones,

but names will never hurt me.”

I don’t know who to credit for that “sage” observation, but that individual didn’t know what

he or she was thinking! Words definitely can hurt and leave scars that are engraved on hearts

and minds.

I’m to that laughable stage of forgetfulness. I’m grateful to still have breath, but it is a bit

frustrating to walk toward a room with intent to retrieve a particular item and forget what

that item is by the time I get to that spot. However, as poor as my memory may serve me now,

I can still recall those caustic words I heard years and years ago – words aimed at me in

sarcasm, jest or anger. I’m blessed that there aren’t many to recall, but the fact is undeniable.

Even though I’ve forgiven the perpetrators, I somehow still remember the pain those unkind,

thoughtless words inflicted.

So, I know from experience the power of words and continue to be fascinated with the power

of the spoken and written word. I have favorite authors who take me from my reading chair

in my neutral-colored den to an island paradise with its pristine water, gently swaying palm

trees and the smell of Panama Jack sunscreen. The author’s wordsmith talents take me where

he is – all with no mode of transportation other than words.

Recently I was caught up in a word concept I had never considered – a fast of words!

The idea sounded much easier than giving up gooey desserts and freshly baked breads.

Certainly I could handle this with much greater ease and, it would be less demanding than

giving up food. Yes, I would sign up for this challenge.

The terms weren’t complicated. In fact, they seemed elementary. I would refrain from using

any negative words and any grumbling or murmuring about anything including the weather

which would fall under that heading. Judgmental words were also off limits. If I couldn’t say

something positive, I would remain silent. If I knew information, but if it were unkind or

unnecessary (putting it under the judging category) I would keep lips closed. I was naïve of

the depth of the word fast challenge. It took being aware of EVERY word I spoke before

I realized how many careless, judgmental words flowed much too freely from my lips.

Be warned! A word fast isn’t for the weak of heart or tongue! We live in a society of verbal

slaughter with little thought for the injured or permanently damaged. I know – there are

plenty out there that don’t deserve praise but indictment for ungodly lifestyles and words.

However, God said He would deal with the ungodly. My occupation should be with what

comes out of my mouth. I confess – that’s a full-time job!

66 • MARCH 2022





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