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V109<br />

1023<br />

As we wait eagerly<br />

Fall Fashion<br />

Sawyer Dykman

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Hometown RANKIN • 5



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6 • OCTOBER 2023

FROM OUR<br />


October in the South is a magical time when nature dons its finest<br />

attire, painting the landscape with hues of amber, scarlet, and gold.<br />

As the sun mellows and we anxiously await the air to take on a<br />

gentle crispness, we all look forward to the embrace of autumn.<br />

October whispers of harvests and gatherings, of pumpkin<br />

patches and corn mazes. Families come together to pick<br />

sunflowers, apples, and carve jack-o’-lanterns, forging bonds<br />

that stand strong against the test of time. In every field, in every<br />

small-town square, there’s a sense of unity and shared purpose<br />

that warms the heart.<br />

This month, we pay tribute to those in our communities<br />

who have overcome and those that are blazing trails. You’ll read<br />

about the “grit” that young Sawyer Dykman exhibits, as well as<br />

the Sibleys who had to learn a new rhythm after great loss.<br />

We also feature the unique culinary heritage of the South<br />

that lends itself to creative fall charcuterie boards that will sure<br />

to be the hit of any tailgate or gathering—and fall fashions from<br />

local boutique owners right here in our area.<br />

As the days grow shorter and the nights become crisper, let<br />

us revel in the beauty that surrounds us. October is a reminder<br />

that change can be breathtaking, and that every season brings<br />

its own gifts. May this month be a tapestry of moments that fill<br />

your heart with joy and your soul with gratitude.<br />

Wishing you an October filled with abundant Southern<br />

warmth and wonder.<br />



Tahya Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />


The Way We Were 10<br />

As We Wait Eagerly 14<br />

Fall Fashion 21<br />

Hometown Family 38<br />

A Day in the Life 52<br />

Kids Who Care 58<br />

The Ongoing Story of Sawyer Dykman 62<br />

The Time Coin 82<br />


Barbie Bassett<br />


Susan Wolgamott<br />



Melissa Kennon<br />



Alisha Floyd<br />

...see you around town.<br />


Daniel Thomas<br />

3dt<br />

STAFF<br />


Othel Anding<br />

STAFF<br />


Debby Francis<br />

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

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

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

Hometown RANKIN • 7

8 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 9

Linda & Earnest Dixon<br />

Camille Anding<br />

“I fell in love with him the first<br />

young to have a serious boyfriend.<br />

Earnest remembers their first<br />

Their first home was a trailer<br />

time I was introduced to him,”<br />

Since she was the baby in the family,<br />

date. When he picked up Linda,<br />

that Linda believes was another<br />

Linda Dixon said, describing the<br />

her daddy was over-protective,<br />

she walked out the door with two<br />

God-miracle. The salesman asked<br />

day she met her future husband,<br />

according to Linda’s thinking.<br />

of her friends. The friends sat in<br />

how much money they had for a<br />

Earnest Dixon. A friend of Earnest’s,<br />

Linda shared how the Lord<br />

the back seat and watched the<br />

down payment. They had none.<br />

James Morris, was taking Earnest<br />

confirmed that Earnest was the<br />

movie with Linda and Earnest<br />

Then he asked if anyone could<br />

for a ride, and as they drove down<br />

husband for her. “I know a lot of<br />

who were seated in the front seat.<br />

co-sign for them. “No,” was their<br />

Shady Lane, there was Linda<br />

people won’t believe this, but I had<br />

That was probably her dad’s idea.<br />

answer. Then the salesman did<br />

Guyton, walking with a friend.<br />

prayed for a husband that would<br />

When marriage was brought up<br />

some juggling on their ages and sold<br />

The riders pulled over for<br />

love me, go to church, and stick<br />

to Linda’s parents, they voiced a<br />

them the trailer that they moved<br />

introductions, and life turned a<br />

with me through the good and bad<br />

loud, “NO!” The young couple put<br />

onto his grandmother’s land.<br />

wonderful new corner for Linda<br />

times. When I met Earnest, I saw<br />

their wedding off until Linda was<br />

Regardless of what some might<br />

and Earnest. There was just one<br />

a halo around his head! It was<br />

sixteen. Judge Justin Owen married<br />

consider a rocky beginning to their<br />

problem. Linda was fifteen, and<br />

NOT my imagination. I knew<br />

the two with the judge’s secretary<br />

marriage, they will celebrate their<br />

Earnest was seventeen. Linda’s<br />

God was telling me my prayers<br />

as the only witness present.<br />

fiftieth anniversary on the fourth<br />

parents told her that she was too<br />

were answered in Earnest.”<br />

10 • OCTOBER 2023

“Go to work,<br />

get there on time<br />

and come home<br />

when work is over.”<br />

of November this year. They are<br />

she assisted families needing<br />

Center, for surviving the disease.<br />

Evangelism Ministry, and Bible<br />

parents to a daughter, Latonya,<br />

round-the-clock care for their<br />

Earnest survived open heart<br />

studies in their congregation. Her<br />

and a son, Christon, that both<br />

loved ones.<br />

surgery successfully, thanks to a<br />

devotion to God and her church<br />

live in the area.<br />

Earnest has worked for Mason<br />

grandchild’s “diagnosis.” When<br />

has also helped build strength into<br />

Even though Linda dropped<br />

& Overstreet Welding & Machine<br />

listening to Earnest’s heart with a<br />

her marriage as she continues to<br />

out of school, she later enrolled at<br />

Works for the last thirty-five years<br />

real stethoscope that she had<br />

stay committed to her husband<br />

Hinds in Utica and earned her high<br />

where he operates the tower cranes.<br />

gotten as a gift, she told her family<br />

and keeping her vows.<br />

school diploma. When Earnest<br />

Both Linda and Earnest have<br />

that Earnest’s heartbeat didn’t<br />

Earnest gave a brief tip of<br />

began working with a trucking<br />

been overcomers in health<br />

sound like the others she had<br />

what he believes would keep more<br />

company that put him on the road<br />

challenges. Linda is in remission<br />

listened to.<br />

marriages happy and together:<br />

weeks at a time, Linda decided she<br />

after being diagnosed with<br />

True Vine Missionary Baptist<br />

Go to work, get there on time and<br />

needed to know how to protect<br />

leukemia five years ago. She gives<br />

Church has been an integral part<br />

come home when work is over.<br />

her young children. She graduated<br />

credit to God and Dr. Carter<br />

of the Dixon’s lives. Linda was<br />

It’s worked for fifty years for<br />

from ATA Academy with her<br />

Milner, along with his team of<br />

instrumental in beginning the<br />

this couple.<br />

taekwondo skills. In later years,<br />

doctors at University Medical<br />

Last Chance Ministry, the<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 11

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Hometown RANKIN • 13

14 • OCTOBER 2023<br />

For we know that the whole<br />

creation has been groaning<br />

together in the pains of childbirth<br />

until now. And not only<br />

the creation, but we ourselves,<br />

who have the firstfruits of the<br />

Spirit, groan inwardly as we<br />

wait eagerly for adoption as<br />

sons, the redemption of our<br />

bodies. For in this hope we<br />

were saved. Now hope that<br />

is seen is not hope. For who<br />

hopes for what he sees?<br />

But if we hope for what we<br />

do not see, we wait for it<br />

with patience. Romans 8:22-25

The Sibley Family<br />

As we wait eagerly<br />

Sarah Rein<br />

Aaron and Lizzy Sibley make a warm and<br />

inviting couple. They welcome me into their<br />

home easily and settle down on the couch–Lizzy<br />

with her feet up and tucked underneath her<br />

husband. Aaron is tall and broad-shouldered<br />

with a full beard and easy smile. He stands in<br />

stark contrast to his wife who is petitely built,<br />

with long hair and a youthful face. She’s the<br />

kind of person who, although in her thirties,<br />

would look at home in a college dorm room.<br />

The Sibleys moved to Brandon about a year<br />

ago when First Baptist Church asked Aaron to<br />

come and join their staff as youth minister.<br />

If you were to meet them, you’d probably be<br />

impressed by the energy and laughter they bring<br />

to the room. And you’d never imagine the<br />

heartache simmering just below the surface.<br />

In 2019, the Sibleys moved to Vancleave,<br />

Mississippi, where Aaron was eager to start<br />

ministering to another congregation’s youth, and<br />

Libby was commuting to Gulfport for work as<br />

a senior auditor at Whitney Hancock Bank.<br />

They brought with them their four-year-old<br />

daughter Ava Grace, and two-year-old twins,<br />

Aaron, Jr. (whom they call Chip), and Addie.<br />

Their sibling crew got along well despite an<br />

array of personalities.<br />

They describe their eldest as driven and<br />

intentional (typical first-born traits), yet silly.<br />

Chip shared his big sister’s meticulous<br />

tendencies while still being all-boy—fearless<br />

and mischievous. And Addie was, at the time,<br />

quite shy—the calm to her twin’s adventurous<br />

streak—a kind, compassionate little girl.<br />

The family had no idea COVID was just<br />

around the corner and would complicate the<br />

process of getting to know a new church and<br />

hamper Aaron’s ability to host the kind of events<br />

that endear a youth minister to his students.<br />

But, as proved true for many of us, the difficulties<br />

of the pandemic had a silver lining—lots of<br />

family time.<br />

Lizzy was suddenly working from home<br />

and the burden of the daily commute lifted.<br />

“We were only an hour away from Dauphin<br />

Island so we spent tons of family time at the<br />

beach,” Aaron recalls. “And the kids and I spent<br />

every Friday at a park or hiking followed by lunch<br />

at CiCi’s Pizza. It became a kind of tradition.<br />

We made years’ worth of memories with our<br />

family and, uncharacteristically, I took tons of<br />

pictures. I look back at those now with so much<br />

gratitude.”<br />

Lizzy remembers it just as fondly. “2020 was<br />

the best year of my life. It was our last full year<br />

with Chip.” In May of 2021, Lizzy took their<br />

three children to visit her family who lived six<br />

hours away in Tennessee. She made the trip solo,<br />

which wasn’t unusual given Aaron’s occupation.<br />

Full-time church ministry means that weekends<br />

are a difficult time to get away. Aaron had agreed<br />

to preach at a Disciple Now weekend in Canton<br />

on Saturday before returning to Vancleave for<br />

Sunday services. On his way home that afternoon,<br />

he saw that Lizzy was calling and he answered,<br />

oblivious to what had just transpired.<br />

At first, he struggled to understand what<br />

Lizzy was screaming about. But then it became<br />

clear. Frantic and in shock, Lizzy was telling him<br />

the news no wife imagines herself saying to her<br />

husband. Chip was gone. He had drowned<br />

during a family pool party. Life had changed<br />

in an instant.<br />

Aaron made it home and immediately<br />

called his boss to explain what had happened.<br />

“All I could think was, I won’t be at work<br />

tomorrow. Isn’t that silly? I must have sounded<br />

frantic, which was a good thing because he came<br />

over immediately. He and his wife prayed for<br />

me, and he drove me to meet my family.”<br />

Aaron and Lizzy and their girls left that<br />

night to stay with another of Lizzy’s sisters in<br />

Hernando. “I was in shock after it happened,”<br />

Lizzy remembers foggily. “But that night it hit<br />

me. This was my new reality. I no longer had my<br />

sweet little boy who had brought me so much<br />

joy. I was awake the whole night crying. We all<br />

were. It was the worst night of my life.” Aaron<br />

and Lizzy tried to process what had happened<br />

while preparing for the unthinkable—the<br />

funeral of one of their children. “Ever since I<br />

became a mother, my greatest fear was losing a<br />

child,” Lizzy shares, echoing a sentiment many<br />

of us have felt. “I always thought, God, give me<br />

anything but that.”<br />

Lizzy shares a precious memory from a few<br />

weeks before Chip’s accident. She and Aaron<br />

had been tag-teaming bedtime prayers. “I<br />

remember that night Chip said the sweetest<br />

prayer and I put my head on his chest and<br />

listened to his heartbeat and just thanked God<br />

for his life. But I remember having the<br />

premonition that he might not be with us for<br />

long. When it entered my mind, I immediately<br />

pushed it away as any mother would. I think,<br />

in retrospect, God might have given me that<br />

special moment with my son.”<br />

Aaron, too, gratefully recalls special times he<br />

spent with Chip shortly before his death. “I had<br />

gotten into the habit of waking him up before<br />

anyone else and sitting on the couch with him<br />

in the early morning. We wouldn’t even really<br />

talk—I’d just hold him.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

They also see God’s mercy extended to<br />

their families just before Chip’s time on earth<br />

ended. The weekend before his death, Aaron’s<br />

family had come into town and taken Chip on<br />

a solo trip to the beach while Lizzy took the<br />

girls to get haircuts. “That had never happened<br />

before,” Lizzy shares. “They got one-on-one<br />

time with him when they normally would have<br />

been with all three kids.”<br />

Just before Chip stepped into eternity, he<br />

spent the day with Lizzy’s side of the family,<br />

and she recalls his last day on earth as being<br />

one of his best days - spent laughing and<br />

playing with cousins.<br />

But, even through the blessings, there was<br />

so much to process. Aaron, whose father is a<br />

minister, was well aware of how easily his job<br />

could consume his family time and he wrestled<br />

with his absence that weekend. “My guilt was<br />

that if I’d said no to preaching - I could have<br />

been with my family that weekend. Maybe I’d<br />

have been sitting in a different spot and another<br />

pair of eyes would have made a difference.”<br />

Both Lizzy and Aaron struggled with guilt<br />

afterwards - any parent would. But, through<br />

counseling, they came to understand that their<br />

feelings were wrong.<br />

“We’ll probably battle that the rest of our<br />

lives,” Aaron reflects. “Paul talks about a thorn<br />

in his flesh—this is probably ours—always<br />

looking back and saying what could have been<br />

done differently.”<br />

The next week was a blur of grief and<br />

activity as they made arrangements and prepared<br />

for the funeral, at which Aaron would preach.<br />

But Lizzy knew she could not return to Chip’s<br />

bedroom as he’d left it. She asked her niece,<br />

Hannah, to pack up his room so she and Aaron<br />

could go through Chip’s things when they felt<br />

stronger. Their Vancleave church family came<br />

to help with their home also—cleaning, doing<br />

laundry and yard work, and leaving gifts and<br />

notes. “I can’t emphasize enough how good our<br />

church was to us. We had only been there about<br />

a year when Chip passed, and they treated us like<br />

we had grown up in that church our whole lives.”<br />

Lizzy remembers another terrible moment<br />

of the ordeal - walking into their home for the<br />

first time after Chip’s death. He had passed<br />

away on a Sunday evening, and when they<br />

arrived at their house on Thursday, they were<br />

struck by the immense silence. “Chip had such<br />

a big personality that the house seemed<br />

painfully quiet without him. I know people say<br />

things like this and maybe have a tendency to<br />

dramatize it but he truly was the center of the<br />

room. The house seemed so quiet because he<br />

was so loud. And when we walked into his bare<br />

bedroom I just remember bursting into tears<br />

and looking at Aaron and telling him that I<br />

didn’t think I could bear life without my son.<br />

At that moment I just didn’t think I had the<br />

strength to keep going.”<br />

“We had such a desire to minister to the<br />

people who came to see us at the visitation and<br />

funeral. And we had people just viewing us as<br />

these pillars of strength, which was totally untrue.<br />

It was a supernatural power from God that let<br />

us get through those days,” Aaron recalls.<br />

At this point one can sense a shift in the<br />

conversation. In an act of will, Aaron and Lizzy<br />

look up from these painful memories and focus<br />

their sight further ahead. “For a long time,”<br />

Lizzy says, “I looked for reasons this might have<br />

happened. People would share how they’d been<br />

touched or how someone might have been<br />

brought to God through it. I wanted to know<br />

the impact Chip’s death had made and that was<br />

an unhealthy place to be in. I was trying to get<br />

comfort from these other people so I could feel<br />

better.” Aaron continues, “As we’ve matured in<br />

our understanding, the Lord has given us<br />

opportunities to use our story to benefit others<br />

and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful this<br />

article is going to be written. I’ve been told by<br />

people that God has ministered to them<br />

through our story, and I’m grateful for that.<br />

And if I could take all that good that has come<br />

and throw it out and have my son back, I would.<br />

But I can’t. Eventually we came to the truth<br />

that God has numbered our days.” “And if we<br />

believe the Lord gave Chip this number of days<br />

on earth,” Lizzy added, “then there’s nothing<br />

we can do about that. He was in control and<br />

He saw this coming. He had his hand over the<br />

moment Chip passed into heaven. He wasn’t<br />

absent. I had to ground myself in that. Even if<br />

I never know the reason - I have to trust Him.”<br />

The Sibleys left Vancleave about a year<br />

after their loss, a move, they emphasize, was a<br />

surprise to even to them. They had planned to<br />

be in Vancleave for a long time. But after their<br />

loss, they both felt a pull to be closer to their<br />

families. And despite asking God to remove<br />

that desire so they could continue serving their<br />

beloved church family, it persisted. They received<br />

the wise counsel that if they had this persistent<br />

desire, and God provided the means to fulfill it,<br />

perhaps they should be willing to listen.<br />

They began considering the move to Brandon<br />

not long afterwards. “First Baptist Brandon has<br />

already been so good to us. They didn’t live<br />

through this loss with us but they have loved us<br />

in it. We had a family who asked us to come<br />

over and share about Chip with them so they<br />

could know him a little. There were quite a few<br />

people from the church who came over and we<br />

showed videos of him and talked about him. And<br />

the church has been good to give us time off to<br />

mourn when we’ve needed to,” Aaron said.<br />

Two years later, their girls, Ava Grace and<br />

Addie, are continuing to process their own loss.<br />

Aaron and Lizzy are so obviously proud of<br />

them. “They have been gracious to us during<br />

all this. At first, we were grieving so much we<br />

probably weren’t the best parents. And they still<br />

have days when we need to pick them up from<br />

school because something has triggered them<br />

and they are upset. But I feel like they handled<br />

this way better than we did - they’ve grieved<br />

well,” Aaron added.<br />

Now the Sibleys are simply focused on doing<br />

their best to live daily life as believers - as husband<br />

and wife and parents and members of their<br />

church. But their loss is never far from their<br />

thoughts. Aaron preached Chip’s funeral from<br />

Romans chapter 8, and he refers to it throughout<br />

our conversation. There are a lot of verses in<br />

that chapter that would seem hard to process<br />

after what they lived through. So, I ask them<br />

- what would they say to people who can’t look<br />

at a tragedy like theirs and still believe in a<br />

good God?<br />

“Romans 8 says God causes all things to<br />

work together for good for those who love<br />

Him. Well that seems weird here. We wrestled<br />

with the idea of God being good after Chip’s<br />

16 • OCTOBER 2023

death. It wasn’t good that I lost my<br />

son, but that doesn’t define who<br />

God is. One of the key things<br />

we did in counseling was<br />

learn to lament biblically.<br />

We honestly tell God<br />

how we feel. Maybe we<br />

are angry or sad or<br />

confused about Him.<br />

We had to be able to say<br />

- God I don’t feel like You<br />

are good right now but I’m<br />

going to believe that You are<br />

good. In the end, our faith is<br />

not built on us. I’m not a believer<br />

because of me. We really elevate<br />

ourselves too highly. What is right? What is just?<br />

What is fair? God, in His grace, has allowed us<br />

to live. He was gracious to give us four years<br />

with our son. Gracious to give us each other<br />

and our girls and our church. If you look at one<br />

moment, one situation - sure you could think<br />

God is not good. But you can’t define God by<br />

one moment and, even if you did, you’d still be<br />

making it about you. And it’s not. It’s about<br />

Him,” Aaron concluded.<br />

A couple of months after Chip died, the<br />

Sibleys’ church in Vancleave planted a<br />

magnolia tree on the playground in his<br />

memory. In the coming years, that tree will<br />

shade and bloom over children who never<br />

knew Chip - never met the Sibleys, and don’t<br />

know their story. It will stand in tribute to a<br />

vibrant, dimpled four-year-old boy who loved<br />

dinosaurs and once played and laughed there.<br />

How God chooses to use his story and why his<br />

earthly life was short will remain a mystery.<br />

But the Sibleys will leave that in God’s hands.<br />

And they will laugh, love their girls, enjoy each<br />

other, and teach the next generation about a<br />

God who can be trusted in all things—even<br />

with what matters to us most.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 17

18 • OCTOBER 2023<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 19

20 • OCTOBER 2022<br />


fashion<br />

Do you ever stand in front of your jam-packed closet, staring at more than enough<br />

clothing options, and think: I have nothing to wear? We all do, and it’s ok. Sweater<br />

weather is finally here, and we can finally say goodbye to the hot summer days<br />

above 90 degrees, tank tops, and denim shorts–or at least almost!<br />

With chillier temperatures and lower humidity comes the ability to take more<br />

risks with our fashion statements, via strategic layering, non-traditional colors,<br />

and mismatched textures. When you no longer have to take the Mississippi<br />

humidity into account, a lot of sartorial doors are unlocked.<br />

Check out the local businesses that put together<br />

the perfect fall fashion inspirations,<br />

just for you! > > ><br />

Hometown RANKIN • 21

2119 HIGHWAY 471, BRANDON, MS<br />


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26 • OCTOBER 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 27


Clay<br />

Shoot<br />

September 22<br />

Turcotte Shooting Range<br />

28 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 29

30 • OCTOBER 2023

READER<br />


Molly<br />

BOMAR<br />

Why did you decide to make Rankin<br />

County your home?<br />

I enjoyed the small town feel of my hometown<br />

of Florence.<br />

How long have you lived in Rankin County?<br />

I was raised here in Rankin County. So, I have<br />

lived in Florence for 26 years.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My mom and dad had three girls and I am the<br />

youngest. My older sisters are both married<br />

with kids and also live in Rankin County. Most<br />

of our family time these days is spent watching<br />

my niece and nephews play soccer! The older<br />

two play for the Rankin Soccer Club, so we are<br />

always going from tournament to tournament!<br />

What is your favorite memory of living in<br />

Rankin County?<br />

My favorite memory of living in Rankin County<br />

is definitely attending the different homecoming<br />

and Christmas parades when I was little. I also<br />

think fondly back on when I used to sing with<br />

my show choir at our town’s Florence Day<br />

events.<br />

Where are your three favorite places to eat<br />

in Rankin County?<br />

Mama’s Kitchen in Richland, Jerry’s Catfish in<br />

Florence, and El Cabrito in Florence.<br />

What are some fun things to do in Rankin<br />

County on the weekends?<br />

The movie theater was always my favorite place<br />

on the weekends! I also enjoy going shopping<br />

in Dogwood!<br />

What do you enjoy doing in your spare<br />

time?<br />

I like to hang out with my dog Bentley and<br />

take him for pup cups or cuddle with him on<br />

the couch while watching a show on Netflix or<br />

reading a good book! I also like to travel with<br />

my friends.<br />

What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

Visit all 50 states. (I have been to 15/50 so far!),<br />

finish my master’s degree and clinical fellowship<br />

so I can be Molly Bomar, M.S., CCC-SLP, and<br />

own a Dalmatian!<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

I truly admire my Gramma Jewel. She has<br />

always been such a strong woman of faith and a<br />

great example of a loving/caring friend. I am so<br />

very grateful to have had her in my life these<br />

past 26 years to watch and learn from. To know<br />

her is to love her. She truly lives up to her name<br />

and has been a very cherished jewel in our family.<br />

Where do you see yourself in ten years?<br />

Ten years from now I want to be working as an<br />

SLP in a rehabilitation facility. I would also like<br />

to travel the world a little more by then.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

There are too many to choose from, honestly.<br />

But one of my favorite childhood memories was<br />

getting to go and audition for XFactor in New<br />

Orleans with my best friend. It was such a fun<br />

weekend of chasing dreams with people I loved.<br />

I also got to meet so many talented people from<br />

all over!<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

“How we walk with the broken speaks louder<br />

than how we sit with the great.” - Bill Bennot<br />

What is your favorite thing about<br />

Hometown Magazines?<br />

I love getting to see and learn about different<br />

people and local businesses in the community.<br />

It’s always fun to pick up a copy and see what<br />

has been going on in the local schools and<br />

different events that have gone on in the area.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 31

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Hometown RANKIN • 33

34 • OCTOBER 2023<br />

September 30

Hometown RANKIN • 35

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36 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 37

38 • OCTOBER 2023

TheStrouds<br />

Terry, 47 – I enjoy spending time with my family and going on<br />

family vacations. I volunteer in the community coaching youth<br />

baseball and basketball. I also serve as president of the Hartfield<br />

booster club, the Hawk Club. We are a big sports family so we like<br />

going to all kinds of sporting events especially for the LSU Tigers.<br />

Ashley, 45 – I enjoy playing tennis and exercising. Spending time<br />

with family is important to me. I also enjoy traveling, reading, and<br />

watching my kids play sports.<br />

Cooper, 19 – I am a sophomore at Mississippi College where I play<br />

football. Growing up, I have enjoyed playing football, basketball, and<br />

baseball. Hobbies include football, watching sports and UFC, playing<br />

PlayStation, golf, and following LSU sports.<br />

Jack, 16 – I am a junior at Hartfield Academy. In my younger years,<br />

I played flag football, baseball, soccer, basketball, and tennis. I enjoy<br />

playing tennis and pickleball. I like to play the PlayStation and spend<br />

time hanging out with my friends. I also enjoy traveling and watching<br />

sports, especially LSU.<br />

How did you meet and how long have you been married?<br />

Ashley Terry and I met when I was 15 and he was 17 in the youth<br />

group at FBC McComb. We became friends and started dating two<br />

years later. We both went to Mississippi College in 1996. We married<br />

in June 2000 and have been married for 23 years.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 39

When your children were younger, what was your<br />

discipline philosophy?<br />

We found that our boys are completely different and respond to<br />

different forms of discipline. Our main goal was to teach respect:<br />

respect for authority, respect for one another, and respect for themselves.<br />

We wanted to teach our children that everything they do<br />

should represent Jesus, and that we always want to be a good<br />

example.<br />

What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit<br />

to your family?<br />

We emphasize the importance of family. We want them to understand<br />

that we are a unit, and we will always have one another’s backs.<br />

It is important that our boys know they are always loved by God and<br />

by their parents, no matter what. Our job is to provide a safe and<br />

secure place where they can find comfort and restoration. Most of<br />

all our desire is for our boys to grow in their relationship with Jesus<br />

because He is where we find hope, strength, and comfort.<br />

Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?<br />

We enjoy going on date nights together but don’t have a specific<br />

night set aside. With Cooper in college and Jack now having his<br />

license and spending his time with his friends, we have more alone<br />

time these days. We also like to take time to get away for a couple’s<br />

trip from time to time.<br />

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?<br />

Children are a blessing from God. Being a parent is one of the hardest<br />

jobs, but watching our boys grow and mature into the men that God<br />

has made them to be brings us joy. Both Cooper and Jack have good<br />

heads on their shoulders and stand for what they believe in. They are<br />

both kind and compassionate and loyal. Watching them shine for<br />

Jesus brings us the most joy.<br />

Who is the financial manager in your home?<br />

Terry is a numbers guy, gifted with a math mind, and is good with<br />

technology so he is the financial manager. Of course, we consult on<br />

our finances and big purchases, and he lets me know if I am spending<br />

too much!<br />

What’s a quick go-to meal that isn’t fast food?<br />

And who does the cooking?<br />

We stay on the go, but I try to cook at home as much as possible.<br />

I do most of the cooking, but Terry likes to grill when it is not 100<br />

degrees outside. Our quick go-to meals would probably be jambalaya,<br />

spaghetti, dirty rice, or sausage pasta. Jack prefers home-cooked<br />

meals, so whatever he wants is usually what I cook. His favorite is<br />

fried chicken strips, rice and gravy, and butterbeans. A true southerner<br />

at heart!<br />

How long has Flowood been your home?<br />

We have lived in Flowood for two years but have lived in Rankin<br />

County for 23 years - from Reservoir Brandon to Brandon “Proper”<br />

to Flowood.<br />

What are some of your favorite things about Rankin<br />

County?<br />

Terry and I grew up in a small community and wanted our children<br />

to make some of the same memories growing up in a “small-town<br />

atmosphere.” Even though Rankin has grown over the years, you still<br />

get that small-town vibe. The people make all the difference.<br />

Neighbors take care of one another, children have opportunities to<br />

play in their neighborhoods and parks, the quality schools with<br />

community support, and the safe environment are just a few of the<br />

positive qualities of Rankin County. We have made wonderful<br />

friends who have become more like family and that has made<br />

Rankin County feel like home to us.<br />

40 • OCTOBER 2023

How do you spend your summer breaks?<br />

We usually try to plan a beach trip during the early summer before it<br />

gets too hot and too busy. In early July, we try to find somewhere<br />

cooler to escape. We have been out west to Yellowstone, Yosemite,<br />

Glacier National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado,<br />

and Banff National Park, Canada. Who knew that you could<br />

experience snow and jacket-weather in July? God is an amazing<br />

Creator, and we have been blessed to see some breathtaking scenery.<br />

What accomplishments make you proud during your<br />

time living in Rankin County?<br />

We have experienced lots of life while living in Rankin County.<br />

From buying our first home, to starting our first “adult” jobs, to<br />

having children and raising them, finding a church family, serving<br />

in volunteer capacities, our children playing on sports teams, and<br />

meeting people and forming friendships for a lifetime, I would say<br />

we have accomplished living and making memories to cherish.<br />

What drives you to have the job that you have?<br />

And what do you do for a living?<br />

Terry I’ve been the regional VP of sales at NWN Carousel for the<br />

past 16 years. NWN Carousel is a national information technology<br />

solutions provider. The ability to positively impact our clients’<br />

businesses motivates me each and every day to work hard. My team’s<br />

commitment to their jobs drives me to be a leader they can depend on.<br />

Ashley I am an RN and work PRN for a company called Healthy<br />

Lives employed by St. Dominics Hospital. I enjoy serving others and<br />

helping others live healthier lifestyles. After having children, I was<br />

blessed to be able to stay at home with them. I have been a homemaker,<br />

tutor, cheerleader, referee (BOY MOM!), PTO volunteer,<br />

home room mom, and chauffeur. I wouldn’t trade those crazy days<br />

for anything!<br />


What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?<br />

Cooper Going to watch our favorite teams play in sporting events.<br />

We’ve gone to the Super Bowl, LSU National Championship in<br />

football and baseball, and I’ve watched UFC with my dad and brother.<br />

Jack I enjoy eating together as a family and watching our favorite<br />

sports teams. My most favorite memory so far is watching the<br />

Dodgers play in the World Series, and being at the National<br />

Championship when LSU won.<br />

What’s your favorite restaurant?<br />

Cooper Ichiban Hibachi is my favorite!<br />

Jack Mom’s home cooking.<br />

What’s your favorite TV show?<br />

Cooper I watch mostly sports, but I like Impractical Jokers.<br />

Jack I like to watch movies and sports. Break Point was a good tennis<br />

documentary on Netflix.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 41

Traditional Irish & Scottish<br />

music.dance.athletics & more!<br />

Meet our newest physician<br />

Dr. Elliott Browning.<br />

32nd Annual<br />

Oct 13 & 14, 2023<br />

Bobby Cleveland Park at Lakeshore<br />

Brandon, MS<br />

Volunteers Get in Free!<br />

Dr. Browning’s primary<br />

focuses will be:<br />





Jackson Eye Associates is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Elliott Browning to our<br />

Jackson office. Dr. Browning is returning to his hometown, Jackson, Mississippi, after<br />

completing residency at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and fellowship<br />

training in Jacksonville, Florida. His college career was at Auburn University followed<br />

by medical school at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. Dr. Browning is<br />

available for new patients and glaucoma referrals.<br />

www.celticfestms.org<br />

funding provided in part by grants from<br />


601.353.2020<br />


601.853.2020<br />


601.924.9750<br />


©2023 Jackson Eye Associates<br />

42 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 43

Rankin<br />

Career<br />

Women<br />

September 26<br />


44 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 45

46 • OCTOBER 2023

MAIS 6A FOOTBALL CHAMPIONS 2022 - 2023<br />

Winning will always be our goal, but<br />

it is not our purpose. Our purpose at<br />

Jackson Prep is to help our student<br />

athletes FIND THEIR WAY<br />

academically, athletically,<br />

artistically, and spiritually.<br />

Will Crosby, Athletic Director<br />

j a c k s o n p r e p . n e t<br />

PreK-3 through Grade 12<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 47

S’Mores Charcuterie Board<br />

• Marshmallows (any and all sizes)<br />

• Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups<br />

• Hershey Chocolate Snack Bars<br />

• Graham crackers<br />

• Sliced strawberries<br />

• Peanut butter caramel sauce<br />

• Teddy Grahams<br />

• Fudge Striped cookies<br />

(regular or mini size)<br />

• Nutter Butter Bites<br />

• Chocolate icing<br />

(to spread on graham crackers)<br />

• Marshmallow fluff<br />

(to spread on graham crackers)<br />

• Chocolate chips<br />

• Pretzels<br />

Place bowls or small containers<br />

spaced apart of the board and<br />

build around the containers<br />

with items. Bowls are helpful<br />

for dips and spreads but can<br />

hold any item you wish.<br />

Add items to the board in<br />

groupings. Keep in mind<br />

color to spread the color<br />

around. You can make<br />

the board any way you<br />

like. Just have fun!<br />

Chili Charcuterie Board<br />

• Chili<br />

• Sour cream<br />

• Shredded cheese<br />

• Diced red onion<br />

• Diced jalapenos<br />

• Chopped cilantro<br />

• Sliced avocado<br />

• Pasta/Rice<br />

• Fritos<br />

• Cornbread<br />

• Oyster crackers<br />

Start by placing the chili in the<br />

center of the board. Use a small cast<br />

iron crock or any kind of bowl or<br />

pot. Next surround the chili with<br />

cornbread (cut into bite-sized<br />

pieces). After that, arrange the bowls<br />

around the chili and cornbread.<br />

Place all ingredients minus the chips<br />

and crackers in their own individual<br />

bowls. Try to evenly disperse to<br />

balance out color where you can.<br />

Fill the remaining space between<br />

the bowls and edges of the tray with<br />

chips and crackers.<br />

Easy Breakfast<br />

Charcuterie Board<br />

• Fruit (blueberries, strawberries,<br />

raspberries, bananas)<br />

• Meat (sausage, bacon,<br />

boiled eggs)<br />

• Granola<br />

• Yogurt<br />

• Breads (mini muffins, French<br />

toast sticks, mini pancakes,<br />

mini waffles)<br />

Assemble your breakfast board<br />

by starting with your anchors.<br />

Your anchors are any bowls or large<br />

decorative items you are using.<br />

Space them evenly. Start placing<br />

groups of elements around the<br />

edges and anchors. Remember<br />

nothing is permanent, and if you<br />

place it and it looks funny, just<br />

move it. Fill in all the gaps. That’s<br />

what makes a charcuterie board<br />

so stunning–is how full it is. Place<br />

elements of different colors and<br />

textures next to each other to give<br />

variety and make it more beautiful.<br />

48 • OCTOBER 2023

Fall Charcuterie Board<br />

• Goat cheese, cheddar, brie,<br />

smoked gouda, pepper jack,<br />

colby jack<br />

• Prosciutto, salami, pepperoni,<br />

smoked sausage<br />

• Graham crackers<br />

• Lightly flavored crackers<br />

• Sweet potato chips<br />

• Salted pumpkin seeds<br />

• Caramel corn<br />

• Crisp toast<br />

• Pecans<br />

• Apples (cored and sliced)<br />

• Seedless grapes<br />

• Jam or honey<br />

• Candy corn<br />

• Mustard<br />

• Dried fruit<br />

• Caramel dip<br />

If desired, cover your board with wax<br />

paper. Begin by placing bowls (used<br />

for caramel dip, mustard, honey or<br />

jam) around the board. Next place<br />

the meats on the board. Fold larger<br />

salami and pepperoni in half and<br />

spiral the prosciutto into rosettes. Add<br />

the cheeses to the board. Slice the<br />

Colby and pepper jack, then use the<br />

fall cookie cutters to cut the cheese<br />

slices into fun shapes. Next, add the<br />

apple slices and grapes. Add the<br />

crackers to the board, then fill in the<br />

gaps with sweet potato chips, caramel<br />

corn, candy corn, dried fruit,<br />

pumpkin seeds, and nuts.<br />

Pumpkin Charcuterie Board<br />

• 3 triangle shaped cookie cutters<br />

• 2 bunches black concord grapes<br />

• 1½ cups blackberries<br />

• ¼ medium cucumber thinly sliced<br />

• 30 orange cheddar cheese crackers<br />

• 1½ cups cheese crackers<br />

• 2 cups sweet potato crisp<br />

• 1 bag baby carrots<br />

• 2 orange bell peppers<br />

• 2 cups cheddar popcorn<br />

• 1 bag mini cheese balls<br />

• 2 cups pretzels<br />

• 1 cup seeded sweet potato crackers<br />

• 1 cup dried apricots<br />

• 3 clementines, peeled and<br />

segmented<br />

• Ranch dressing<br />

• Hummus<br />

Place cookie cutters on the board for<br />

the pumpkin’s eyes and nose. Shape<br />

black grapes into a grin. Fill cookie<br />

cutters with blackberries. Place the<br />

cucumber slices at the top of the<br />

board for the stem. Fan the cheese<br />

slices down the middle. Line the<br />

cheese crackers, sweet potato crisp,<br />

carrots, bell pepper slices, popcorn,<br />

cheese balls, pretzels, sweet potato<br />

crackers, apricots, and clementine<br />

segments out on both sides of the<br />

cheese slices and around the black<br />

foods until board is completely<br />

covered. Carefully lift the cookie<br />

cutters from the board, shaping the<br />

blackberries back into triangle shapes,<br />

if necessary. Serve bowls of ranch<br />

dressing and hummus on the side<br />

for dipping.<br />

Pizza Lovers<br />

Charcuterie Board<br />

• 10 frozen mozzarella sticks<br />

• 10 frozen pizza rolls<br />

• 4 frozen garlic bread knots<br />

• 20 frozen mini meatballs<br />

• ½ cup pasta sauce, for dipping<br />

• ½ cup pizza sauce, for dipping<br />

• ½ cup ranch dressing, for dipping<br />

• 2 Tbsp. shredded parmesan<br />

• 2 Tbsp. red pepper flakes<br />

• 1 recipe Margherita Pizza Dip<br />

• 10 gourmet pepperoni slices<br />

• ¾ cup pineapple chunks<br />

• 8 baguette slices, cut and toasted<br />

• 8 whole pepperoncinis<br />

• ½ cup whole black olives<br />

• 6 fresh basil leaves, for garnishing<br />

Bake mozzarella sticks, pizza rolls, and<br />

garlic knots according to directions.<br />

Heat mini meatballs and toss with<br />

pasta sauce. Keep these items in a low<br />

oven until ready to serve. When ready<br />

to assemble, put the pizza sauce and<br />

ranch dressing in small serving bowls<br />

and set next to each other. Put the<br />

parmesan cheese and red pepper<br />

flakes in mini serving bowls and set<br />

next to each other. Transfer the mini<br />

meatballs in the pasta sauce to a<br />

serving bowl. Place margherita pizza<br />

dip on the board. Fan pepperoni<br />

along the edge and fill in with<br />

pineapple chunks. Place baguette<br />

slices near pizza dip and garlic knots<br />

Place pizza rolls and mozzarella sticks<br />

on the board. Fill in open spaces with<br />

pepperoncinis and olives. Garnish<br />

with basil leaves.<br />

Margherita Pizza Dip<br />

(for preceding pizza lovers board)<br />

• 14 cherry tomatoes<br />

• 1½ cups of shredded<br />

mozzarella cheese<br />

• ½ tsp. kosher salt<br />

• ¼ cup chopped fresh basil<br />

Preheat oven to 400. Spray an 8 oz.<br />

casserole dish with nonstick cooking<br />

spray. In a small bowl, toss the cherry<br />

tomato halves with 1 cup of shredded<br />

cheese, salt, and basil. In the prepared<br />

casserole dish, layer ¼ cup mozzarella<br />

cheese in the bottom, followed by the<br />

tomato and cheese mixture. Top with<br />

the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella<br />

cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until<br />

cheese is bubbly and starting to<br />

brown on top. Keep warm until<br />

ready to serve.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 49

50 • OCTOBER 2023

Dr. Jason Cox<br />

Dr. Daniel Atkins<br />

Join us in welcoming Dr. Daniel Atkins<br />

to Belle Meade Family Dental! Working<br />

alongside Dr. Jason Cox, Dr. Atkins will<br />

also provide the following treatments:<br />

Root Canals<br />

Same-Day Crowns<br />

Cleanings and Exams<br />

Cosmetic and Restorative Procedures<br />


PHONE: (601) 919-8575 ONLINE: www.bellemeadefamilydental.com ADDRESS: 105 Belle Meade Point, Flowood, MS 39232<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 51

A Day in<br />

the Life<br />

of an<br />

Air Traffic<br />

Controller<br />


52 • OCTOBER 2023

“Ladies ad gentlemen, we have<br />

begun our descent. In preparation<br />

for landing be certain your seat back<br />

is straight up and your seat belt is<br />

fastened.”<br />

These are familiar words to airline<br />

passengers, but most aren’t aware of the<br />

technical work going on behind the scenes.<br />

That specialty work is being done by the air<br />

traffic controller who is constantly manning<br />

the sky traffic via electronic equipment in the<br />

radar room and the tower.<br />

Just what is the job description for a<br />

federal aviation air traffic controller like J. B.<br />

Bowering from Brandon Mississippi who<br />

mans his shifts each week? J.B. explains in<br />

brief, “We keep planes from colliding.”<br />

That’s a very concise explanation for an<br />

extremely complicated and highly technical<br />

skill in the world of aviation. It’s a thankless job,<br />

but if there were no air traffic controllers, you<br />

wouldn’t want to ever fly, according to J.B.<br />

Long lists of steps requiring necessary<br />

skills make the plane lift-offs, the in-flight<br />

time, and the landings safe for passengers,<br />

but involve intense concentration on the<br />

part of the air traffic controllers. However,<br />

J.B. seems to be at home in his hi-rise, tightly<br />

secured workspace.<br />

After graduating from Brandon High in<br />

2001, he enrolled at Hinds Junior College but<br />

quickly realized that college was not for him.<br />

In 2002 he chose the Army for his next<br />

chapter in life. A series of entry tests identified<br />

his suggested areas of training, and ATC was<br />

one of those areas.<br />

After a year of basic training, J. B. was<br />

schooled for four years in air traffic control,<br />

spending his last year in Korea. His first civilian<br />

position in his field was in Fort Myers, Florida,<br />

for three and a half years. In 2010 he was<br />

offered the opportunity to move back home<br />

and work at the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers<br />

International Airport.<br />

On a typical day, J.B. works hours on one<br />

of the five shifts that the controllers follow.<br />

After signing in, he gets a briefing on<br />

pertinent items affecting his work-time and<br />

the weather report. From there it’s manning<br />

one of a line of radar monitors that identifies<br />

air traffic within forty miles, surface to 10,000<br />

feet from the airport. Part of his shift will be in<br />

the tower where the runways are in full view.<br />

No pilot will take off or land without<br />

clearance from the air traffic controller. For<br />

planes leaving Jackson, J.B. will give the<br />

pilots their routes to their destination, their<br />

altitude, and speed. Mississippi is the air<br />

“highway” to Atlanta, the busiest airport in<br />

the world, and the Jackson team of air traffic<br />

controllers monitor and direct those flights<br />

through Mississippi.<br />

There are days that traffic is light at the<br />

airport, and then there are busy, high-traffic<br />

days. All require 100% attention to the skies<br />

and runways. “Our job is to maintain a sense<br />

of safety and control in our flight and landing<br />

communications with pilots,” J.B. reports,<br />

“and people who have panic in their voices<br />

don’t make it in this job.”<br />

Only required breaks in a nearby room<br />

give the team of controllers talk and visiting<br />

time. Phones can’t go into the radar room or<br />

tower, and each controller (up to four) must<br />

stay concentrated on their monitor and<br />

screens.<br />

The continual shift rotations are a way<br />

of life for J.B. and his family. His wife, Nicole,<br />

navigates their daughter and two sons’<br />

school and sports’ schedules when he is on<br />

duty, and he works around Nicole’s work<br />

schedule as a labor and delivery nurse at<br />

River Oaks hospital.<br />

The next time you step into an aircraft<br />

or ride past any airport, give some thought<br />

to those trained and dedicated air traffic<br />

controllers who, though unnoticed, are<br />

essential for our flight safety from lift off<br />

to landing.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

54 • OCTOBER 2023

Make a commitment to<br />

yourself and schedule<br />

your mammogram today.<br />

Those 15 minutes may<br />

save your life.<br />






Life at The Blake<br />

Embrace the changing of the seasons, visit us<br />

today and learn why you’ll love living at The Blake<br />

at Flowood. We can’t wait to welcome you home!<br />

Call (601) 401-4906 to schedule a tour!<br />



Hometown RANKIN • 55

56 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 57

58 • OCTOBER 2023


Kynnedi Walker<br />

Mistie Desper<br />








East Rankin Academy senior, Kynnedi<br />

Walker, is unapologetically blazing a trail<br />

that is empowering her peers to do the same.<br />

“She is truly a light in what seems like a dark<br />

world at times,” admitted mom, Lynn West-<br />

Walker. “I am most proud of her always<br />

staying true to who she is and not worrying<br />

what others think of her. She does not fall<br />

prey to the normal or to follow the crowd.”<br />

As the youngest of five children, and the only<br />

girl, her family describes her as having the<br />

“heart of a warrior.”<br />

Kynnedi enjoys serving her community<br />

in many ways. Being involved in the Crown<br />

Club since 8th grade is something she holds<br />

dear to heart. It gave her the opportunity to<br />

come out of her shell and helped her grow<br />

into the young woman she is today.<br />

Admitting that she was scared to pursue<br />

leadership in the Crown Club, she leaned on<br />

a like-minded friend who helped her take<br />

that leap of faith. “Pushing myself into that<br />

is something I will never regret. I want to<br />

show people that it’s okay to care and express<br />

yourself. ‘Being yourself ’ is my number one<br />

slogan. I want to show girls that it is okay to<br />

be funny and laugh loud while being out there<br />

and supporting everyone else. I not only want<br />

to show them to be themselves but to be<br />

confident in their faith.”<br />

One of the projects that the Crown Club<br />

participates in is the clothes closet. As<br />

president and a four year Volunteer Of The<br />

Year award recipient, she leads the project<br />

which gathers clothing for families in need<br />

and Kynnedi often donates clothes of her very<br />

own to the cause. She said, “Being able to be<br />

there when a family comes and helping them<br />

pick out clothes and assist them is one of the<br />

greatest feelings. I will never forget the time<br />

I helped a family of four girls and picked out<br />

outfits with them and tried to help them<br />

make the best out of their situation.”<br />

Lynn added, “With those girls, I will never<br />

forget how she cried as we left that family<br />

because she wished she could have done more.<br />

Kynnedi is the true definition of having a<br />

servant’s heart. She freely gives her time to<br />

help those in need without judgement or the<br />

expectation of something in return.”<br />

Kynnedi’s parents, Lynn West-Walker<br />

and Christopher Dickerhoof, are faithful<br />

servants in their own right at Oakdale Baptist<br />

Church. There, Kynnedi helps in her parents’<br />

4- and 5-year-old class, chaperones the<br />

children’s group at the annual Lake Forest<br />

Ranch Camp, and helps with the church’s<br />

summer vacation Bible school program.<br />

“She has never been afraid to share her faith<br />

or what our family believes in. She has never<br />

been ashamed of serving God and making<br />

decisions that are morally right. Over the<br />

years, I have watched her have to make hard<br />

choices or decisions that cost her friendships<br />

because she believed in doing what was right.<br />

She is a leader and always tries to build others<br />

up around her,” said Lynn.<br />

After switching schools to ERA,<br />

Kynnedi said that their faith-based learning<br />

has been a major influence in her life, along<br />

with the opportunity to meet amazing<br />

friends. “I am now stronger than ever in my<br />

faith which helps me do better in my lifestyle.<br />

When doing community service projects,<br />

I pray before the start each time, that we are<br />

all there for the right reasons and we do it on<br />

God’s terms. Surrounding myself with the<br />

right people has shone greatly in my personality.<br />

Knowing God’s healing hand is around<br />

me allows me to work diligently and be able<br />

to know right from wrong. I want to be able<br />

to spread the word wherever I go and allow<br />

people to see God’s many blessings.”<br />

Along with other community service<br />

projects such as lending her time at Rosie’s<br />

Garden, the Mustard Seed, and The Blake,<br />

she also serves on the student council, is a<br />

member of the National Honors Society,<br />

A/B Honor Roll, and is a member of the<br />

show choir. Kynnedi plans to attend<br />

Mississippi College to pursue a career in<br />

nursing. “I have a love for kids and helping<br />

them, so moving into the future, I would love<br />

to be a pediatric nurse and then a doctor.”<br />

Lynn concluded, “As her mother, I could<br />

not be more proud of the person she has<br />

become or the future she has in front of her.<br />

Proverbs 31:20 says ‘She opens her hand to<br />

the poor and reaches out her hand to the<br />

needy’…to me, this is Kynnedi.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 59



615 Stonewall Street | Jackson, MS<br />

Tuesday - Saturday | 9:30AM - 5:00PM<br />

769.209.5100 | www.habitatmca.org/restore<br />

60 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • OCTOBER 2023

Grit<br />

The Ongoing Story of<br />

Sawyer<br />

Dykman<br />

“Sawyer Dykman loves sports - like really<br />

loves them.” It’s the first thing I mention to<br />

my husband after interviewing Sawyer and<br />

his family in early September. “Apparently<br />

he and his dad watch baseball together and<br />

he never misses a game if his favorite team<br />

is playing.” “Let me guess,” my husband says<br />

with a grin, “the Braves?” He grew up with<br />

Sawyer’s dad, Matt, and felt confident this<br />

was a love that had been passed from father<br />

to son. He was right.<br />

It seemed ironic to me that this energetic,<br />

grinning boy loved sports so much but was<br />

physically unable to participate. Not ironic<br />

in the smirky, humorous way we typically use<br />

it…but in a way that leaves you feeling<br />

frustrated.<br />

I recently read an article on the word grit,<br />

and the author quoted the book Grit: The<br />

Power of Passion and Perseverance by psychologist<br />

Angela Duckworth. In it, she defines grit as<br />

“the ability to persevere in pursuing a future<br />

goal over a long period of time and not giving<br />

up… It is having stamina. It’s sticking with<br />

your future, day-in, day-out, not just for the<br />

week, not just for the month, but for years<br />

and working really hard to make that future<br />

a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon,<br />

not a sprint.” It’s a word we generally<br />

associate with athletes. We think of someone<br />

sweating in their football gear in<br />

August - grinding away with the play-offs in<br />

mind. We picture a gymnast, sore and<br />

bruised, but still putting in hours at the gym<br />

each week while they prepare for an upcoming<br />

meet. And while you might not hear the word<br />

grit and picture Sawyer—you’d be wrong.<br />

In December of 2022, Sawyer began to<br />

feel ill. His face was swollen and he became<br />

easily winded. His father, Matt, rushed him<br />

to the emergency room where Sawyer was<br />

eventually diagnosed with TMA (thrombotic<br />

microangiopathy) - an unusual but<br />

serious complication that can affect kidney<br />

transplant patients. Sawyer’s one functioning<br />

kidney - donated by Matt twelve years<br />

ago - was failing.<br />

Sawyer was born with a condition called<br />

Prune Belly Syndrome. This rare disease,<br />

affecting 1 in 30,000-40,000 births, gets its<br />

name from the wrinkled look of the infant’s<br />

stomach resulting from weak or absent<br />

abdominal wall muscles. There is a wide<br />

range of complications that may arise from<br />

the disease, and kidney failure is one of them.<br />

Sawyer had required a transplant as an<br />

infant. And, for twelve years, his kidney<br />

worked well and his health was, for the most<br />

part, great for someone with his condition.<br />

Until this new storm brewed in December<br />

of last year. From December through March,<br />

Sawyer was in the hospital much of the time.<br />

And, when he was home, he would sleep all<br />

day. Tests revealed that Sawyer was in renal<br />

failure and his medical team attacked the<br />

TMA with a strong drug therapy. The hope<br />

was to reverse the damage to the organ, keep<br />

the kidney, and not have to resort to dialysis.<br />

And the medicine did help, but not to the<br />

extent doctors had hoped.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 63

During that same time, Ashley, who was<br />

expecting their surprise fourth baby, developed<br />

HELLP Syndrome and had to be<br />

delivered early to preserve her own health.<br />

That meant baby Vivi arrived a bit prematurely<br />

and had a short NICU stay. “At one<br />

point, Sawyer, Vivi, and I were all in the<br />

hospital,” Ashely recounts. Their families<br />

and their church family of First Baptist<br />

Florence proved indispensable during that<br />

time. “It honestly took us three months to<br />

eat all the food,” Sawyer giggles.<br />

Just after Vivi arrived, Sawyer and his<br />

parents agreed with doctors that dialysis was<br />

the best option, and he would need to be on<br />

dialysis for six months before being listed for<br />

a second kidney transplant. Last month, his<br />

six-month waiting period ended and the<br />

family is now gearing up for the process of<br />

being relisted. But, for now, Matt drops<br />

Sawyer off at 7am for dialysis three days a<br />

week. Sawyer is finished before noon and, if<br />

he feels like it, his mother, Ashley, drops him<br />

off for a few hours of school at Florence<br />

Middle where Sawyer is in seventh grade.<br />

“My favorite part is socializing,” Sawyer is<br />

quick to respond when asked what he enjoys<br />

about school. He is all smiles, wiggling on his<br />

couch while he answers questions and listens<br />

to his parents talk about him. He elbows<br />

Matt whenever he mentions sports - which<br />

is a lot. “We bond over our love of them,”<br />

Matt shares. “He’s a good kid - a normal one<br />

- he still fights with his sisters sometimes.<br />

And he’s the life of the party.” Ashley chimes<br />

in. “Everywhere we go in town, people will<br />

yell his name and wave. Some of the time<br />

we’ll ask who it was and Sawyer has no idea.<br />

He’s everyone’s best friend and is always<br />

finding the positive.” She pauses. “Yes, there<br />

are times when he’ll say I wish I could be<br />

out there on the field, too. But he doesn’t<br />

wallow in it. We’ve tried to teach him not to<br />

complain and to think of others.” That<br />

teaching seems to have been effective.<br />

When asked how he is feeling about all<br />

this precariousness with his health, Sawyer<br />

tells me that he is okay with it but has been<br />

praying for his future donor’s family and<br />

health - that they would be all right after the<br />

procedure.”<br />

In the article I referenced regarding grit,<br />

the author points out that the word itself<br />

doesn’t show up in the Bible. However,<br />

scripture is replete with examples of it.<br />

Think of Noah building an enormous boat<br />

nowhere near water while he was jeered at.<br />

Or Abraham imperfectly waiting on God<br />

to give him a child as he turned eighty, then<br />

ninety, without the promised son having<br />

arrived. Paul, in writing to the church at<br />

Corinth, instructs them to “run in such a way<br />

as to get the prize. Everyone who competes<br />

in the games goes into strict training. They<br />

do it to get a crown that will not last; but we<br />

do it to get a crown that will last forever.”<br />

64 • OCTOBER 2023

Sawyer Dykman is in training - as are all<br />

Christians. Paul writes to Timothy to “train<br />

yourself for godliness, for while bodily<br />

training is of some value, godliness is of<br />

value in every way, as it holds promise for the<br />

present life and also for the life to come.”<br />

Bodily fitness comes and goes. It is worth<br />

pursuing, but it won’t last. At least, not in<br />

these warped vessels we are walking around<br />

in. Sawyer can’t play sports with his physical<br />

body…the risk of injury would be too great.<br />

So he goes to Florence Middle School ball<br />

games to cheer on his friends, and he<br />

watches football and baseball. He goes to<br />

school and to church and enjoys his family.<br />

And, all the while, he is growing in and<br />

demonstrating the kind of gritty faith that<br />

says, “I trust that God has me during this<br />

difficult time. I believe He is in control.”<br />

Join Hometown in praying for the Dykmans as they<br />

begin the transplant process again. You can follow<br />

Sawyer’s journey on Facebook (Sawyer Dykman<br />

updates).<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 65

66 • OCTOBER 2023

save the date<br />

Presented by the Junior League of Jackson<br />

For more information, please visit<br />

MistletoeMarketplace.com or call 601.948.2357.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 67

Ryan Wade<br />



Sunday, October 1, 6pm<br />

Pearl Pirate Auditorium<br />


Sunday, October 15 through<br />

Wednesday, October 18<br />

7pm nightly<br />

Brandon Amphitheater<br />


Wednesday, October 18, 7pm<br />

Brandon Amphitheater<br />

Free Pizza & Car Giveaway<br />

68 • OCTOBER 2023

An excitement is welling<br />

up among people in the<br />

metro area about the soon-coming<br />

Metro Mississippi GO TELL AMERICA<br />

Crusade with Rick Gage which will take<br />

place at 7pm nightly on October 15-18<br />

at the Brandon Amphitheater. Gage is<br />

sometimes called “The Billy Graham of<br />

Small Towns” as he preaches the same<br />

message of Christian hope in smaller<br />

venues across the nation and the world.<br />

“Our purpose is to bring together all<br />

Bible-believing churches to present the<br />

Gospel message in a powerful way,”<br />

says Gage of the metro event.<br />

An evangelist from Georgia, Gage has<br />

been conducting evangelistic events since<br />

1986. At that time, Gage surrendered his<br />

life to full-time evangelistic ministry after<br />

coaching college football at Texas Tech<br />

and Liberty University. Gage followed in<br />

the footsteps of his late father Freddie<br />

Gage, an evangelist who was credited<br />

with leading over a million people to<br />

Christ during his 50 years of ministry.<br />

This October will not be the first time<br />

Gage has led an evangelistic effort in<br />

this area. In 2019, Gage led the Central<br />

Mississippi GO TELL AMERICA Crusade<br />

at Forest High School in Scott County.<br />

Over 600 decisions for Christ were<br />

recorded during that four-day campaign.<br />

The spiritual impact is still being felt from<br />

that effort. Since that time, work began to<br />

bring a GO TELL AMERICA Crusade to<br />

the metro area.<br />

A recent survey revealed that eighty<br />

percent of the metro-area is not connected<br />

to a church. With churches on every corner<br />

in our area, a large-scale event at a<br />

neutral site is often an effective way to<br />

share the life-changing message of Christ<br />

with those who are more apt to come to<br />

a place like the Brandon Amphitheater<br />

than an unfamiliar church building.<br />

A successful evangelistic outreach<br />

involves hundreds of Christ followers from<br />

local churches, businesses, and communities<br />

working together to reach their area.<br />

Conducted in cooperation with GO TELL<br />

AMERICA Crusades, each crusade begins<br />

with and is carried to completion by the<br />

local church, Gage noted. “These churches<br />

receive not only joyful benefits from<br />

the crusade but also spiritual renewal for<br />

many of their members,” Gage said.<br />

Leadership is the key to a large-scale<br />

effort like this. Chip Miskelly, a well-known<br />

local businessman, is leading this campaign<br />

along with hundreds of other volunteers.<br />

Miskelly noted, “I was at Billy Graham’s<br />

crusade in Jackson over forty years ago<br />

and it changed my life. My heart is for the<br />

youth and I’m excited to help bring this<br />

experience to our area to impact thousands<br />

with the life-changing message of<br />

salvation in Jesus Christ.” According to<br />

the North American Mission Board, more<br />

than 57 million students in America are<br />

lost and going to a Christless eternity. In<br />

the past two decades, there has been a<br />

42% decline in youth baptisms.<br />

While the crusade will be an inter-generational<br />

event each night, there is a large<br />

youth focus. On the final night of the<br />

crusade, October 18, students are invited<br />

to come early at 6 p.m. for a special<br />

emphasis called The Awakening. Free<br />

pizza will be served along with entertainment<br />

and giveaways. Noel Daniels of<br />

Noel Daniels Motor Company has donated<br />

a car to be given away to a student at the<br />

end of the evening.<br />

In addition to the crusade week at<br />

the Brandon Amphitheater, the effort will<br />

impact many in the metro region through<br />

outreach efforts such as neighborhood<br />

block parties. The crusade will also bring<br />

a condensed version into the prison<br />

system to share with thousands of<br />

incarcerated men and women. A byproduct<br />

of this effort is the unity of over one<br />

hundred churches working side-by-side<br />

for the common goal of sharing the good<br />

news of Jesus with people in need of<br />

hope.<br />

The crusade will happen every night<br />

at 7pm at the Brandon Amphitheater.<br />

The event is free, and all are welcome to<br />

attend. Believers are strongly encouraged<br />

to invite their family, friends, and neighbors<br />

who need to hear the message of change<br />

that Jesus can bring in a person’s life.<br />

Local churches provide personnel for the<br />

months of preparation, the crusade days,<br />

and the extensive follow-up with those<br />

who make decisions. Area churches are<br />

invited to participate in this crusade and<br />

can volunteer at the event website:<br />

www.metromsgotell.com. You can contact<br />

the local team by email at GoTellMetro@<br />

gmail.com. As the crusade nears, updates<br />

will be posted on the Facebook page at<br />

“Metro MS Go Tell Crusade.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 69




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70 • OCTOBER 2023

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There’s a new kid<br />

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TrustCare Kids is coming to Brandon.<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 71

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

Why did you decide to be a fireman?<br />

I grew up really involved in my church, doing community service and<br />

mission trips. About two years after high school, a friend of mine joined<br />

a volunteer fire department and I saw that as being a good way to<br />

continue helping people. I developed a passion for the job and<br />

eventually made a career out of it.<br />

How long have you been with the Brandon Fire Department?<br />

I started out as a volunteer firefighter for about seven years and made<br />

the switch to full time a little over four years ago. I’ve been with the<br />

Brandon Fire Department for two of those years.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I have a large family, although most of my cousins, aunts, and uncles<br />

live in other states. I’m very close with the ones that are here. I have an<br />

older sister who is married and has four very active and talented sons.<br />

What is the toughest thing you have experienced in your job?<br />

I generally don’t give specifics on this topic. However, any time a child<br />

is involved in an emergency is harder to deal with.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.<br />

I spend a lot of time with my family. I also enjoy learning new skills,<br />

tinkering with gadgets, bowling, and of course binge-watching new<br />

seasons of my favorite TV shows.<br />

What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

I don’t have a lot of specific things on my bucket list. One day, I would<br />

like to visit at least one place on each continent.<br />

Fireman<br />

Jeffrey<br />

ALLEN<br />


Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

Someone I admire is my older sister. She’s the kindest, most patient,<br />

and compassionate person I know. She’s always been there for me<br />

when I needed her and will go out of her way to help others.<br />

72 • OCTOBER 2023

What advice would you give to a young person?<br />

Take chances. If you want something, go for it. Don’t keep making<br />

excuses for why you can’t and put it off until later. Life goes by faster<br />

than you think. Before you know it, years will go by, and you’ll still be<br />

wondering “what if.”<br />

What is your favorite thing about Brandon?<br />

One of the best things about Brandon is the community. There seems<br />

to always be something going on in the city and the people always<br />

show up and make it a success. And of course, all the support they<br />

show for their fire and police departments.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?<br />

My family moved to Rankin County when I was a child and it’s been<br />

home ever since. All the cities have grown significantly over the years.<br />

It’s a safe place to live and has great schools.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 73

74 • OCTOBER 2023<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 75

Would you rather...?<br />

Izzy Cutrer<br />

...enjoy a pumpkin spice or apple cider?<br />

Apple Cider<br />

Jeanette Elliott<br />

...go to a farmer’s market or a fall festival?<br />

Fall Festival<br />

Lucy Quintero<br />

...jump in a pile of leaves or go on a hayride?<br />

Hayride<br />

Suzan<br />

...eat caramel apples or candy corn?<br />

Caramel Apple<br />

Ainsley Bethea<br />

...get lost in a corn maze or spooked<br />

in a haunted house?<br />

Spooked in a Haunted House<br />

Eli Dearman<br />

... jump in a pile of leaves or go on a hayride?<br />

Jump in a Big Pile of Leaves<br />

(if I don’t have to pick them up again.)<br />

Dondrika Malone<br />

...go to a farmer’s market or a fall festival?<br />

Fall Festival<br />

Allison Carr<br />

...eat caramel apples or candy corn?<br />

Candy corn<br />

76 • OCTOBER 2023

Lachristie Hathorn<br />

...eat caramel apples or candy corn?<br />

Caramel Apples<br />

Jacob Cowart<br />

...jump in a pile of leaves or go on a hayride?<br />

Hayride<br />

Katie McCormick<br />

...go on a fall picnic or family bike ride?<br />

Fall Picnic<br />

Hannah Byrd<br />

...go on a fall picnic or a family bike ride?<br />

Family Bike Ride<br />

Draven Thompson<br />

...get lost in a corn maze or spooked<br />

in a haunted house?<br />

Get lost in a Corn Maze<br />

Kate Bass<br />

...go to a farmer’s market or fall festival?<br />

Farmer’s Market<br />

Jamie Elmo<br />

...go on a fall picnic or a family bike ride?<br />

Fall Picnic<br />

Jennifer Green<br />

...eat caramel apples or candy corn?<br />

Candy Corn<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 77


Pearl Public School District<br />

Students at the Early Childhood Education Center are enjoying hands-on<br />

learning experiences through engaging centers, such as the art center.<br />

In celebration of National Teddy Bear Day, kindergarteners from Pearl<br />

Lower Elementary had a fantastic time picnicking with their cuddly friends.<br />

Some very talented Northside Elementary third graders<br />

hit the right notes and sang their hearts out during music class<br />

with Mrs. Lauren Hennes at the keyboard.<br />

Fifth graders from Pearl Upper Elementary completed hands-on<br />

experiments on solubility and density, carefully documenting their results.<br />

Pearl Junior High School students in science class recently studied a unit<br />

on the cell cycle. The students completed an activity using cookies<br />

to represent the different stages of the cycle.<br />

Mrs. Tiffany Givens recently shared her photography expertise with the yearbook<br />

team at Pearl High School, imparting valuable tips and tricks to the students.<br />

78 • OCTOBER 2023

East Rankin<br />

Coaches and administrators of the Midsouth Association of Independent Schools selected fifteen top ranked athletes<br />

to feature as the 2023 Preseason All-MAIS Cross Country Team. The Lady Patriots were honored with four of the fifteen<br />

athletes selected including: Leah Collipp, Audrey Mayatte, Emma Raines, and Emily Williams. Collipp, Mayatte and<br />

Williams were also a part of the 2022 All MAIS team, this year joined by eighth grade honoree, Emma Raines.<br />

Leah Collipp is a freshman (Class of 2027). She is the daughter of Dr. David and Susan Collipp of Brandon.<br />

Leah’s current cross country personal records include a 19:30.90 5K and a 12:50.00 two mile.<br />

Audrey Mayatte is a junior (Class of 2025). She is the daughter of Drs. Shaun and Claire Mayatte of Brandon.<br />

Audrey’s current cross country personal records include a 20:06.10 5K and a 12:13.30 two mile.<br />

Emma Raines is an eighth grader (Class of 2028). She is the daughter of Kelli and Michael Raines of Pelahatchie.<br />

Emma’s current cross country personal records include a 20:08.20 5K and a 12:49.80 two mile.<br />

Emily Williams is a sophomore (Class of 2026). She is the daughter of Johnathon and April Williams of Brandon.<br />

Emily’s current cross country personal records include a 20:07.70 5K and a 12:36.00 two mile.<br />

The quad of girls is an integral part of the number-one ranked varsity girls’ team in the state of Mississippi among<br />

both public and private schools. The defending MAIS 5A state champions, the team is coached by Coach David Hopper.<br />

PHOTO: Bruckner’s<br />

Collipp • Mayatte • Williams • Raines<br />

McLaurin With summer heat and grass stains, football season is upon us! Star Youth Association is off to a great start. On July 8th, Star Youth hosted a<br />

community-wide cheer camp. Donations made by Magnolia Federal Credit Union put a smile on everyone’s face. Cheerleading requires several physical skills and strengths needed<br />

to stunt, jump, or tumble. But there’s also great personal development that allows athletes to gain practical life skills. These skills include discipline, teamwork, and goal setting,<br />

all while instilling confidence. Following camp, cheerleaders cooled off with a slip and slide. With incredible parent volunteers and coach/daughter duos, the Tigers are unstoppable.<br />

“It takes a village,” speaks louder than words. Special thanks to the McLaurin Jr. High cheerleaders who graciously volunteered their time.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 79


Oakdale<br />

We’re so excited for the 2023-2024 school year at Oakdale Elementary! It’s been a great start full of fun and new learning opportunities. We can’t wait to see what<br />

the year brings! Our theme this year is “‘Seas’ the day.” “Seas (Seize) the Day” means doing the things one wants to do when there is the chance instead of waiting for<br />

a later time. We want to make sure we are taking every opportunity possible to foster learning. Every moment we have with students is valuable and our teachers<br />

recognize that. We are so thankful for all the hard work our teachers invest in their students to ensure every one of them reaches their full potential.<br />

A huge thank you to our community and the Oakdale PTO for their fundraising and dedication to our school! Because of them we are able to celebrate our staff and<br />

students through various events. This year we were able to welcome students with updates to our campus, such as wrapping in our rotunda and safety wrapping for our<br />

doors, as well as fun ocean themed decorations. We are so appreciative for our PTO and community support! “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in<br />

the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop” - Mother Teresa<br />

80 • OCTOBER 2023

Jackson Prep<br />

Jackson Prep annually celebrates National<br />

Reading Day with its “One School, Many<br />

Books” event. During the event, faculty<br />

and students gather in small groups to<br />

discuss a book they have all read over the<br />

summer. Coordinated by Middle School<br />

English Teacher Nancy Flowers, this year’s<br />

seventh grade class took their summer<br />

reading books and turned them into<br />

children’s books to be read to students<br />

in the Jackson Prep Lower School<br />

L-R: 7th graders - Visual Arts Department Chair<br />

Lisa Shive, Tag Smith, Jackson Graves, Sam<br />

Henson, Brody Stewart, Hastings Boyd, Beau<br />

Bufkin, Cooper Robichaux, and Baylor Berry.<br />

Jackson Prep recently celebrated Homecoming<br />

at Patriot Field against Evangelical Christian<br />

School. Back L-R: Raney Hogan (Freshman),<br />

Ann Magee Stradinger (Junior) , Ella Catherine<br />

Kincaid (Junior), Meredith Hawkins (Junior),<br />

Lela Beth Waterloo (Freshman)<br />

Front L-R: Bea Birdsall (Sophomore),<br />

Cameron Jacob (Senior), Avery Williams<br />

(Senior), Tayla Wilson (Senior),<br />

Delta Davidson (Senior), Knox Davidson<br />

(Sophomore).<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 81

TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Clothing fashion is fascinating!<br />

What is “in” may linger for years or go “out” with the speed at which it came in. I’ve noted that<br />

serious shoppers know fashion and know what items to avoid on the sales racks. Others, like me,<br />

appreciate the sales racks and are drawn to them – more conscious of the money I spend than<br />

what fashion may dictate.<br />

When I was in the impressionable years of high school, I was much more aware of the latest<br />

fashions and the peer pressure feeding it. I’m dating myself when I can remember the joy of<br />

owning my first and only “sack dress.” The name certainly didn’t give the dress any enticement,<br />

but that wasn’t the point with fashion. It was the latest fad, so my sensitive mother who understood<br />

a young girl’s longing, ordered a sack dress from Montgomery Ward – the Amazon of the day.<br />

It was a lime green print with a white collar. The only seams were down the sides and at the<br />

shoulders. It was far removed from the usual pinched-in waists and full skirts of my other dresses.<br />

Becoming? Hardly! I was wearing a lime green sack! But I was IN STYLE!<br />

Years later I was in a Bible study with an older saint who attended every study with her well-worn<br />

Bible and wearing her well-worn dresses. Her scant selections were always clean and free of<br />

wrinkles, but style had nothing to do with her purchases at the thrift stores. A meager fixed<br />

income dictated her wardrobe.<br />

However, over the years I never thought about what was in her closet but what was in her heart.<br />

Her love for God’s Word inspired me to love it more. Her radiant smile reflected her kind, gentle<br />

heart, and her giant, embracing hugs for all in the class, showed me the love of Christ. She was one<br />

of the most “fashionable” Christians I have ever known. She wore what God’s chosen ones put<br />

on according to Colossians 3: “holy and compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness,<br />

patience and forgiveness.” Hers was an enviable closet.<br />

82 • OCTOBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 83

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