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V1010<br />

1123<br />

A Humble<br />

Hero<br />

Among Us<br />

the waymaker’s child

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4 • NOVEMBER 2023


After the princesses and superheroes have put away their costumes,<br />

and Christmas lights begin packing the retail shelves, the “merriment”<br />

seasons are officially underway.<br />

For young families, most months have more than their share<br />

of activities and demanding schedules—but November and<br />

December carry the greatest weight for pausing.<br />

Even with schedules that scream for attention, the majority<br />

in our hometowns take time to express thanksgiving for their<br />

multitude of blessings and to celebrate the greatest of all blessings<br />

– the birth of our only Savior.<br />

Our staff hopes this issue is a reminder of your blessings and<br />

gives you warm thoughts as you pause to reflect on your own<br />

countless blessings. From my office door I catch glimpses of staff<br />

members who are dedicated to completing their assignments<br />

and who continue to help meet those never-ending deadlines.<br />

Their names are listed on the editorial page of each of our<br />

ON THE COVER L-R: Rankin County Veterans - James Long, Jr., Maxey Phillips, Betty Newman, Charles Christian, John Bourgeois<br />

publications. I’m immensely grateful for their talents, attitudes,<br />

and willingness to work as a team.<br />

There are times that are stressful, and all will probably admit,<br />

there’s never a lot of downtime to small talk around the coffee pot.<br />

As we grow, and praise God that’s happening, additional jobs<br />

keep popping up which demand more work on everyone’s part.<br />

I’m blessed and grateful with a team like Hometown’s!<br />

As we set aside time in the next two months to share with<br />

our families and friends, let thanksgiving be at the top of each<br />

menu and gathering. We at Hometown Magazines consider<br />

our advertisers and readers high on OUR thanksgiving list and...<br />

if you are reading this, know that one more deadline was met!<br />

Let the merriment begin!<br />

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


The Way We Were 8<br />

Hometown High 5 12<br />

A Humble Hero 16<br />

Heart of Hometown 23<br />

Rankin Veterans 34<br />

Before & After 38<br />

Holiday Gift Guide 42<br />

Reader Spotlight 46<br />

Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet 52<br />

Hometown Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58<br />

A Place Called Raymond 64<br />

Kids Who Care 92<br />

The Time Coin 114<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 • 5


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6 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 7

Nancy & George Stallings<br />

Camille Anding<br />

It’s typical in the small towns of<br />

the delta for everyone to know their<br />

neighbors and their neighbors’ friends.<br />

Families grow up together and even go<br />

on vacations together. At least that’s<br />

the way it was for the Carithers and<br />

the Stallings growing up in Leland,<br />

Mississippi. As many as five families<br />

would vacation together.<br />

Nancy Carithers and George<br />

Stallings grew up going to the same<br />

Leland school with just one grade<br />

separating them. So, going on family<br />

vacations together was like going with<br />

friends and schoolmates.<br />

It was the husbands of those families<br />

who most often chose the vacation<br />

locations. Since the men enjoyed<br />

hunting and fishing, those locations<br />

were always on the water or somewhere<br />

near recommended hunting sights.<br />

Nancy and George will always remember<br />

one memorable vacation spot –<br />

Kentucky Lake. Nancy and a family<br />

friend set out on a walking tour of the<br />

water’s edge and soon found<br />

themselves in a snake-infested area.<br />

“I heard their screams,” George<br />

said, remembering the day he became<br />

Nancy’s hero. He rushed to their aid<br />

and carried them to safety, one at a<br />

time, on his back. He was fifteen and<br />

Nancy was fourteen, but in Nancy’s<br />

eyes, his heroic gesture turned that<br />

neighborhood friend into her beau.<br />

It was on Grenada Lake on another<br />

family vacation when George asked<br />

Nancy to go with him to a movie in<br />

Grenada. She was sixteen, and George<br />

was seventeen. They would agree that<br />

love began to blossom in the Temple<br />

Theater!<br />

The young couple talked of future<br />

plans as their relationship continued<br />

to grow. George decided he wanted to<br />

be a doctor, so Nancy thought nursing<br />

would be the most logical choice for<br />

her future occupation. George<br />

enrolled at Mississippi State and began<br />

the pre-med courses while Nancy<br />

finished her senior year in high school.<br />

Nancy had to change her career<br />

plans when she learned that State<br />

didn’t offer a nursing degree. Instead<br />

of choosing a college that did, Nancy<br />

chose being close to George and<br />

changed her major to elementary<br />

education.<br />

During George’s junior year and<br />

Nancy’s sophomore year, they were<br />

married on June 1, 1969, at First Baptist<br />

Church in Leland. A large crowd<br />

attended the wedding and watched as<br />

the newlyweds drove away to Dauphin<br />

Island on the Gulf Coast – just weeks<br />

before Hurricane Camille would<br />

wreak havoc on the entire area.<br />

They returned to college as a<br />

married couple and moved into<br />

University Village. George was an<br />

alternate on the medical school list<br />

and continued his studies in hopes<br />

someone would drop out of the list of<br />

med students, allowing him acceptance<br />

into the school. His dreams of<br />

becoming a doctor appeared to vanish<br />

when the list never changed. However<br />

his military draft status went to 1A<br />

during the height of the Vietnam War.<br />

When Nancy’s pregnancy test read<br />

positive, George joined the National<br />

Guard. Nancy did not want to birth<br />

and raise their first child alone.<br />

8 • NOVEMBER 2023

“Life is filled<br />

with storms,<br />

but Jesus<br />

can calm<br />

our storms...<br />

After the arrival of their daughter,<br />

Sydney, Nancy returned to college to<br />

earn her degree. George switched his<br />

dream to a business, real estate, and<br />

accounting. In 1982, George’s mom<br />

sold the family insurance company<br />

and gave her blessings to George to go<br />

into the National Guard full time.<br />

The family of three soon grew to<br />

five with the addition of their second<br />

daughter, Kristina and a bit later,<br />

Breisch, their son. Nancy was able to<br />

work near their home at the extension<br />

service while George’s position moved<br />

him around the state. For a lot of years,<br />

it was George working away from<br />

home during the week and being<br />

home on weekends.<br />

Nancy still has that “twinkle in her<br />

eye” that first captivated George. They<br />

credit the longevity of their marriage<br />

to their Christian faith and the Lord’s<br />

planning their steps. “Our lives have<br />

been like a pinball machine – we’ve<br />

been bounced in different directions<br />

but have always been able to see God<br />

making all the moves while teaching<br />

us to trust Him,” George explained.<br />

He still remembers the 1969<br />

calculus class he was sitting in when he<br />

was called out to learn that his dad<br />

had been killed in a hunting accident<br />

– the April before their June<br />

wedding. Nancy added that their<br />

other three parents had also died at<br />

early ages – “God put us together to<br />

support each other.”<br />

This husband and wife team is<br />

quick to encourage other couples to<br />

stay in God’s Word and be intentional<br />

in seeking a closer walk with Jesus.<br />

George speaks from experience:<br />

“Life is filled with storms, but Jesus<br />

can calm our storms just like he<br />

calmed the storm with His disciples.”<br />

The couple has also seen how<br />

their early paths have made full circle.<br />

Everyone in Leland has heard about<br />

the district championship between<br />

Leland and Drew basketball teams<br />

when George played against Archie<br />

Manning. Leland won with a score of<br />

4 to 2 (before the 24 second rule).<br />

George and Peggy now attend their<br />

grandson’s football games at Hartfield<br />

Academy and have recently met<br />

another grandfather, the coach for<br />

that legendary team in Drew. Jimmy<br />

Wise, the referee that tossed the jump<br />

ball between George and Archie in<br />

that game is now the father-in-law to<br />

the Stallings’ daughter, Sydney.<br />

After George’s retirement from<br />

the National Guard as a lieutenant<br />

colonel in 2001, he continued working<br />

with computers and networking until<br />

2019. Now, look for the Stallings at<br />

their seven grandchildren’s events or<br />

homes, or in their Brandon backyard<br />

where Nancy is making a list of<br />

projects or practicing her French horn<br />

that she plays in the Brandon Baptist<br />

Church orchestra. George finds<br />

contentment in growing blue-ribbon<br />

roses and bougainvilleas. It appears<br />

that they have also been successful in<br />

growing a noteworthy marriage.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 9

Meet our newest physician<br />

Dr. Elliott Browning.<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 />


601.353.2020<br />


601.853.2020<br />



601.924.9750<br />

©2023 Jackson Eye Associates<br />

10 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 11

For seven weeks, Renasant Bank<br />

and Hometown Rankin Magazine<br />

honors school personnel throughout<br />

Rankin County for outstanding<br />

work in their fields. Nominations<br />

are accepted through Facebook<br />

each week and those receiving<br />

the most nominations are awarded<br />

gift baskets from our sponsor.<br />

We are pleased to have been able to<br />

celebrate with these amazing school<br />

employees that were voted on by<br />

their peers. Thank you to all who<br />

participated and congratulations<br />

to our seven winners.<br />

Coach<br />

Rod Davis<br />

Florence High School<br />

Coach Davis is a tremendous football coach but, more<br />

importantly, an unbelievable role model to the young men<br />

at Florence High. His drive, work ethic, and character are<br />

unsurpassed. He has completely turned around the football<br />

program at Florence over the last five years because he gets<br />

the best out of his players each and every day. We can’t wait<br />

to see where Coach Davis takes our football program as we<br />

continue this season and into the future. Coach Davis<br />

exemplifies Eagle Pride!<br />

– Keith Reed, Principal Florence High School<br />

I am truly honored with this recognition and also understand<br />

that I did not win this award alone. I have a great coaching staff<br />

and support system. I was definitely surprised by receiving this<br />

award. There are a lot of well-deserving people who could’ve<br />

won this accomplishment but I am ecstatic to represent<br />

Florence High School with it. We will continue to raise the bar,<br />

not only here at Florence High School, but across the board in<br />

Rankin County.<br />

–Coach Davis<br />

12 • NOVEMBER 2023

Bus Driver<br />

Johnnie Mae<br />

Harrison<br />

Florence<br />

It truly takes a special person to drive a school bus for thirtyplus<br />

years. Mrs. Johnnie Mae has a level of dedication and<br />

work ethic that you don’t see anymore. In the ten-plus years<br />

I have been transportation director, I don’t think she has missed<br />

more than a handfull of times and believe me, those times she<br />

missed she did not want to. She is dependable and is willing to<br />

help out when needed. She loves her kids on her route like<br />

they were her own. She is their bus driver, mentor, counselor<br />

when needed, and friend. They love her and she loves them.<br />

– Shey Patterson, Florence Transportation Director<br />

I started driving around the age of 29, with a kindergartner and<br />

infant on a stick-shift bus. After driving all these years, I can truly<br />

say it has been an adventure. I have transported generations of<br />

families and hundreds if not thousands of children. It makes my<br />

heart smile for them to acknowledge me after they get out of<br />

school, more especially the recent comments on social media.<br />

One word comes to mind. Thankful.<br />

– Johnnie Mae Harrison<br />

Teacher<br />

Leah<br />

Fergusan<br />

Pisgah Elementary<br />

Leah has always done a phenomenal job with our special<br />

education classes, but she has taken her dedication to these<br />

students to a whole new level this year. She goes above and<br />

beyond to make sure she meets the emotional and academic<br />

needs of her students, and she continues to build on the<br />

relationships that she has with her former students.<br />

– Dr. Heather Faron, Principal<br />

My time at Pisgah Elementary has been wonderful. I am<br />

blessed to have a wonderful administration and coworkers that<br />

are like family. The kids are excited to come to school each<br />

day, and it’s a joy to work with them. It’s true, Pisgah is the best<br />

kept secret in Rankin County!<br />

– Leah Fergusan<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 13

Cafeteria Worker<br />

Veronica<br />

Hubbard<br />

Rouse Elementary<br />

Veronica Hubbard serves as the school cafeteria manager at<br />

Rouse Elementary School. However, she does much more<br />

during the daily operations at Rouse. You will find her greeting<br />

students, willing to help teachers or staff with any task, and<br />

does so without any prompting. She serves with her heart<br />

and loves her job.<br />

– Angela Nichols, Principal<br />

What I love most about Rouse is having the opportunity to work<br />

with children every day. I love that I am able to help provide<br />

nutritious meals and build relationships with them. I appreciate<br />

the connections I have made with the students and staff.<br />

– Veronica Hubbard<br />

Librarian<br />

Keli Hill<br />

Northwest Rankin<br />

Elementary<br />

Words can’t express how valuable Keli Hill is to our NWRE<br />

community. As an NWRE employee for 20 years, she has served<br />

in so many capacities from assistant teacher to second grade<br />

teacher and currently as librarian. She is creative, spunky, has<br />

passion for education, connects with and supports every<br />

student, and pours 150% into her calling each day. Mrs. Hill’s<br />

impact is far-reaching, her smile is genuine, and her love is BIG<br />

for our students, parents, and community at NWRE!<br />

– Kara Killough, Principal<br />

Northwest Rankin Elementary has played a HUGE role in my<br />

story as a librarian. I began as an assistant, was a second-grade<br />

teacher, and am now the librarian. I have been fortunate to love<br />

entire families (from parents to their children), teach beside<br />

former students, and learn from incredible administrators. We<br />

have fun reading! That’s what it’s about - showing that you can<br />

simply read for enjoyment and knowledge. I adore nothing<br />

more than to hear the squeal of a reader when they find a new<br />

book that captures their interest.<br />

– Keli Hill, Librarian<br />

14 • NOVEMBER 2023

Custodian<br />

Danny Hughes<br />

Northside Elementary<br />

Counselor<br />

Christy Tigrett<br />

StoneBridge Elementary<br />

There is only one Mr. Danny and this Northside Family would<br />

be lost without him. Over the past eight years Mr. Danny has<br />

been our constant, working tirelessly to make Northside look<br />

pristine, inside and out. He ensures that we have the proper<br />

inventory, looks for ways to reduce waste, and provides solutions<br />

to potential problems. Maintaining a clean and safe environment<br />

for students and staff is number one on Mr. Danny’s priority list.<br />

Mr. Danny is always there to answer the call and save the day!<br />

– Dr. Nikki Graham, Principal<br />

Over the past eight years, Northside has been a second family<br />

for me. One of the things I enjoy doing daily is overseeing the<br />

safety and cleanliness of the students and staff. I take pride in<br />

making sure Northside has the best floors in Rankin County. The<br />

staff knows that if they need anything, I am only one Mr. Danny<br />

call away. I want to thank the staff and students for always<br />

lending a hand when a hand is needed. I also want to recognize<br />

Mrs. Graham for being the best boss anyone could ever have.<br />

She has been such a blessing to me, and she doesn’t mind<br />

putting work clothes on to help when needed. I appreciate<br />

everyone that took their time to recognize “Me” for my hard<br />

work and dedication.<br />

– Danny Hughes<br />

Mrs. Tigrett, is a pillar of dependability and unwavering<br />

commitment to us at StoneBridge. She goes above and<br />

beyond, always putting our students’ needs first, and will<br />

stop at nothing to ensure their well-being and success.<br />

Her dedication to our school is truly exceptional<br />

– Dr. LaMarcus Norman, Principal<br />

For over 27 years, I have been very blessed to be able to work<br />

with children. I love my job and am so thankful I get to work<br />

with such amazing students and their families at StoneBridge<br />

Elementary. It is a great feeling to have the support of my SBE<br />

co-workers, family, friends and my local community.”<br />

– Christy W. Tigrett, NCC, NCSC, NBCC<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

16 • NOVEMBER 2023

Leigh Ramsey<br />

A Humble<br />

Hero<br />

Among Us<br />

There is a hidden museum in the heart of Brandon.<br />

It’s not one that is open to the public, but if you are granted the rare privilege of<br />

walking down the hallway of Thomas E. Collins III’s home, a mere glance to the<br />

left and the right will tell the story of years of sacrifice and service this steadfast<br />

man has contributed to our country.<br />

Each wall is adorned with picture frames outlining photos of Mr. Collins with government officials<br />

such as Senator Bob Dole, President Ronald Reagan, and President George W. Bush. Scattered among<br />

the photos are shadow boxes filled with an array of medals. Finally, certificates and plaques honoring<br />

the Air Force lieutenant colonel for his service during the Vietnam War and beyond are placed in a<br />

timeline, telling a summary of his story. However, to sit across from this American hero and hear him<br />

unpack the treasure chest of memories from his time fighting in the Vietnam War and then as a<br />

prisoner of war, will make a person give pause to the reality of sacrifice that was made for our country.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 17

homas E. Collins III, originally from Utica, Mississippi, and his<br />

son, Marty, moved to this area two years ago from Arizona. They<br />

have family here and wanted to be close to them. Lieutenant<br />

Colonel Collins and his son told many stories of his service in Vietnam.<br />

The memories began in Holland where the Collins family was stationed<br />

with the U.S. Air Force when Mr. Collins was only 21 years old. Marty<br />

was born while Thomas and his wife were stationed there. Not long<br />

after the birth of Marty, the Vietnam war began, and Mr. Collins was<br />

deployed to Vietnam.<br />

After flying missions<br />

all over Southeast Asia and<br />

Vietnam, Collins was assigned<br />

a mission to attack a Vietnamese “Mig” in Northern Vietnam. On<br />

October 18, 1965, his plane was forced to fly way too low and received<br />

small arms fire from an enemy attack. Mr. Collins was forced to eject,<br />

landing in the middle of enemy forces.<br />

The impact injured his back and ankle. He began to crawl through<br />

a field where he was captured by villagers. He was tied up and beaten.<br />

Mr. Collins was eventually taken to “Heartbreak Hotel” which was part<br />

of the “Hanoi Hilton.” These were nicknames the Americans had given<br />

Hoa Lo Prison, the Vietnamese prisoner camp. There, the captors<br />

questioned and tortured Mr. Collins, trying to get the soldier’s name,<br />

rank, serial number, and date of birth. They also tried to get secret<br />

information from him. After the initial interrogation ended, he was<br />

sent to his prison cell.<br />

Thomas spent 7 years and 4 months in different locations of Hoa<br />

Lo, often in 4x6 cells with four men to a room. They wore what the<br />

soldiers called pajamas but were actually the prison uniform with flip<br />

flops made of salvaged airplane tires. They were fed pumpkin soup<br />

nearly every day. Mr. Collins laughed a little when sharing that he<br />

actually learned to like the soup. They were interrogated and tortured<br />

on a regular basis. When Mr. Collins tried to recall some of the methods<br />

of torture he said, “I can’t even remember them all because I’ve put<br />

them out of my mind.” What he did remember was being tied at the<br />

elbows and hung from the roof. He also said the prisoners would<br />

often be taken to the interrogator. Mr. Collins continued, “They’d sit<br />

you in a chair. When you wouldn’t talk, they’d leave you there for<br />

days and days.”<br />

18 • NOVEMBER 2023

Propaganda was constantly played on the radio. This was used to<br />

try and brainwash the soldiers to become supporters of communism.<br />

They were not allowed to share if they disagreed with that form of<br />

government or even if they missed home. The soldiers were not<br />

allowed to talk with one another, so they learned to tap on the wall<br />

to communicate. Upon hearing that they may be coming home, they<br />

were excited, but calm. “Everybody kept their mouth shut, knowing<br />

they weren’t supposed to make noise,” he shared.<br />

The day to leave finally came. On February 12,1973, nearly 600<br />

soldiers boarded the American plane that the POWs had affectionately<br />

named “The Hanoi Taxi.” They flew first to Guam, then to Travis Air<br />

Force Base in San Francisco. From there, they were all flown to the<br />

base nearest their home. Thomas Collins III arrived at Keesler AFB in<br />

Biloxi. He was greeted by his wife, two sons (Edward was born while<br />

Mr. Collins was a POW), his mother, and other family members. He<br />

said he didn’t allow himself to get overly emotional when he was<br />

finally back on U.S. soil because he had spent over seven years learning<br />

to hide emotions. They simply weren’t allowed while he was a POW.<br />

It’s no wonder that Lieutenant Colonel Collins went on to be highly<br />

regarded and heavily decorated. In his hometown of Utica, he was<br />

greeted with a huge sign that read, “Welcome Home Tom Collins!”<br />

The transition from coming home to getting back to his normal<br />

American life was pretty rapid. Collins went through Armed Forces<br />

Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, and then went to the University of<br />

Southern Mississippi to get his MBA. He served with the Air Force<br />

Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, from 1974 to<br />

1975, and as assistant professor of aerospace studies at the University<br />

of Southern Mississippi from 1975 to 1978. He then worked at Maxwell<br />

AFB, Alabama, from 1978 until his retirement from the Air Force in<br />

1980.<br />

After retiring, Tom served as executive director of the Mississippi<br />

Veteran’s Farm & Home Board from 1981 to 1987. He was then personally<br />

asked by President George H.W. Bush to serve as assistant secretary<br />

of labor for veterans’ employment under Elizabeth Dole, from 1989 to<br />

1992, and he served on the board of directors for the Institute for<br />

International Commerce from 1992 to 1993. Tom and his wife Donnie<br />

were married for over 52 years until her death on November 14, 2011.<br />

What an honor it is for Brandon to be the home of this incredibly<br />

strong hero. He carries himself with such gentleness and humility.<br />

And just like the adorned walls of his home, he has a treasure trove of<br />

stories to tell and an immeasurable amount of inspiration to spark.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 19

20 • NOVEMBER 2023

See why Fortune ranked Nucor No. 1 in its industry on the<br />

World’s Most Admired Companies list as well as one of the<br />

Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production.<br />

www.nucor.com/careers<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometowns always brand us with indelible memories. We sort those<br />

memories into so many different categories, but to have the majority of them<br />

labeled as wonderful, happy, positive or enjoyable is a reflection of those<br />

hometowns as well as the goodness of our Creator.<br />

All would surely agree that our world has never faced such turmoil and<br />

chaos. “Wars and rumors of wars” aren’t just ancient descriptions of historic<br />

times; they are today’s news. That’s why this special spotlight on deserving<br />

members of our hometown is a welcomed and refreshing feature in this<br />

issue of Hometown Rankin.<br />

Every reader will recognize some or all these individuals, because they are<br />

an integral part of what makes our hometown a place known for making<br />

happy memories.<br />

You probably won’t see their names on neon billboards – maybe not even<br />

in another Mississippi town, but know that each of these individuals is a<br />

valued contributor making our community a happier place and a place<br />

we love to call our hometown.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 23

Angela GRIFFIN<br />

Trey REIN<br />

Mrs. Angela Griffin is the founder and executive director<br />

of Amazing Grace 247, a community driven, non-profit<br />

organization committed to supporting women and children<br />

when faced with personal challenges, family crisis, and loss<br />

of independence. They provide essential services, and serve<br />

as a conduit, partnering and connecting to other individuals<br />

and organizations to access services related to social,<br />

vocational, and spiritual needs. She’s a lifelong resident<br />

of Brandon and a graduate of Pearl High School. She has<br />

a master’s degree from The University of West Alabama.<br />

Amazing Grace 247 – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit – launched in<br />

January of 2020. The AG247 Thrift Store opened in<br />

August 2022.<br />

Having grown up in Central Mississippi, Trey knew<br />

from an early age he wanted to pursue a career in<br />

education. After attending both Hinds and Mississippi<br />

College to obtain his bachelor’s degree, he began<br />

teaching and coaching in Rankin County. Since then,<br />

he has attained his master’s degree in educational<br />

leadership through MC and he and his wife of eighteen<br />

years have had four wonderful children. The last<br />

thirteen years of his career have been spent as an<br />

administrator at Brandon High School and, currently,<br />

Brandon Middle School. Trey and Sarah are members<br />

of Lakeside Presbyterian Church and are enjoying<br />

raising their family in Flowood.<br />

24 • NOVEMBER 2023

Sue MAGEE<br />

Gene<br />

DR.<br />


Sue Magee, a certified coach and youth mentor, is a<br />

resident of Brandon. Her passion for youth mentoring<br />

and family coaching comes from her own personal<br />

experiences and knowing the benefits of having a<br />

mentor at a young age. Sue is the founder of Pearls<br />

for Girls, a nonprofit mentoring program for preteen<br />

and teenage girls. She is also passionate about training<br />

and preparing others who are interested in becoming<br />

mentors. Sue volunteers with several youth programs<br />

and activities. Aside from mentoring, Sue loves spending<br />

time with her family. She is the mother of one son,<br />

a daughter in love and five beautiful grandchildren.<br />

I graduated from Batesville High School. It was in my second year at<br />

Northwest Mississippi Junior College that I met Dorothy Brown and<br />

eight months later, we were married. Less than a year later, God came<br />

into my life. Two weeks after he saved me, he called me to preach, and five<br />

months after that I became pastor of my first church. Dorothy and I were<br />

blessed with three daughters (Gina, Page, and Dawn). Our son, Chip, was<br />

born in 1967 while we were serving at Carrollton Baptist Church. Thirteen<br />

years after Chip, God gave us our fifth child (Hope). She was born while we<br />

were serving Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus. My pastoral career<br />

has spanned sixty-one years. I have served seven churches—the last 20<br />

years being at FBC Brandon. Since stepping down in 2005, I have served<br />

numerous churches as interim pastor or transitional pastor. God has<br />

graciously blessed me during these years of ministry. I was able to<br />

complete work on my bachelor’s degree from MC and two degrees from<br />

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I could not have accomplished<br />

this without the support and encouragement of my precious wife,<br />

Dorothy. I have jokingly said that she is the best associate pastor I have<br />

ever had. I was privileged to serve as president of the New Orleans<br />

Baptist Theological Seminary Alumni for the state of Mississippi, and<br />

later the national alumni association. It was my joy while serving as<br />

pastor of FBC Brandon to serve two years as president of the Mississippi<br />

Baptist Convention. I am thankful to God and to the wonderful church<br />

family at FBC Brandon for the privilege of serving in these assignments<br />

beyond my duties as pastor of the church.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 25

Larry NICKS<br />

Michelle RHODES<br />

Larry Nicks lives in Brandon and attended Starkville High School, Hinds<br />

Community College, Mississippi State University, Mississippi Baptist<br />

Seminary and New Orleans Theological Seminary. Prior to serving as<br />

senior pastor at Triumph Baptist Church in Vicksburg, he served at<br />

Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church. He is founder and president of<br />

Nspirational Communications Group. He serves on the boards of Touching<br />

Hands Ministry, Roaring Lambs of Greater Jackson, the Jackson Leadership<br />

Foundation, and Unite Mississippi. He also served as COO of the<br />

statewide reconciliation crusade in 2019 and worked with the statewide<br />

adopt-a-school initiative in partnership with Dr. Tony Evans. Before<br />

entering the ministry full-time, his 30-year career was spent with ABC,<br />

Fox, and NBC TV affiliates. He is the co-founder and executive producer<br />

of “Talking Sports Live,” as well as senior host of “Defining Moments with<br />

Larry Nicks,” an inspirational talk show. Larry has been married for over<br />

40 years to Carla. They have three children and two granddaughters. He<br />

says a song taught to him by his mother has guided his perspective in life.<br />

“If I can help somebody as I travel along. If I can help somebody with a<br />

word or song. If I can help somebody from doing wrong. No, my living<br />

shall not be in vain.”<br />

Michelle has been married to Keith Rhodes for 33<br />

years and lives in the Shiloh community on a farm.<br />

They have three wonderful children, an awesome<br />

son-in-law, and an amazing daughter-in-law. The joy<br />

of their life is their granddaughter, Reese. They are<br />

looking forward to the arrival of a new granddaughter<br />

in December. Michelle enjoys spending time with her<br />

family, church activities, and volunteering in the<br />

community. She is currently president of the board<br />

at Shannon’s Hope. Shannon’s Hope is a non-profit<br />

organization that helps families who are in crisis<br />

situations. Michelle’s most humbling award was the<br />

Crime Victim Assistance and Service Legacy Award.<br />

This award recognized her efforts resulting in the<br />

rescue of a human trafficking victim.<br />

26 • NOVEMBER 2023

Beth MASTERS<br />

Mack STUBBS<br />

DR.<br />

Beth currently serves the Mississippi Department<br />

of Corrections as a chaplain and has the privilege<br />

of directing the Leveall College extension center<br />

at Mississippi Correctional Institute for Women.<br />

Residents have an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s<br />

in Christian ministry while serving their community<br />

through churches inside. Looking to the future, Beth<br />

is creating a non-profit, Maggie Mission, as a way to<br />

assist previously incarcerated women cultivate their<br />

confidence, creativity, and identity in Christ while<br />

serving the community. After 20 years of college<br />

ministry, she never saw herself working in corrections,<br />

but knows this is exactly where God has her serving.<br />

My name is Mack Stubbs, and I work at the Reservoir<br />

Branch Post Office. I have been employed there for<br />

twenty-five years, and I have lived in Rankin County<br />

for twenty-four years. I have been married to my<br />

wife, Tenille, for twenty-three years, and we have two<br />

children, Bryce (22) and Emma (19). Both graduated<br />

from Hartfield Academy and now attend Mississippi<br />

State University. I am a member of Pinelake Church,<br />

and I enjoy going to all Mississippi State sporting events.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 27

Lisa HAYMAN<br />

Lisa is the proud mom to three daughters and five<br />

beautiful grandchildren: Gage, Anna Lauren, Bree,<br />

Grayson, and Layla Kate, and a great grandchild,<br />

Rivers Brooke. She and Stanley will celebrate 28<br />

years of marriage in November. She and all her<br />

children and grandchildren live right here in Brandon<br />

and love calling Brandon their hometown. She and<br />

Stanley are active members of Crossgates Baptist<br />

Church where they both have taught and served<br />

for 20 years. Lisa is the owner of Chapman’s Florist at<br />

Park Place Shopping Center in Pearl where she meets<br />

and serves families most every day. Lisa sits on the<br />

board of the non-profit Brooke and Emile’s Kids that<br />

provides school supplies and Christmas for children<br />

that are in the Region 8 System, and has served on<br />

countless organizations affiliated with the floral<br />

industry over the last 25 years.<br />

Robin MOFFIT<br />

I was born in Dunlap, Tennessee. From as early as I can<br />

remember, I wanted to be a wife and mother. When I<br />

graduated from high school, I came to Mississippi to attend<br />

Wesley College. After college, I began my career in teaching<br />

for Rankin County Schools. As the time passed, I was caught<br />

up in teaching and still did not have a family of my own.<br />

God used this period in my life to teach me to be content.<br />

However, I still had the desire to do more. At this point,<br />

God put foster care on my heart. I didn’t even know a foster<br />

parent personally. I argued with God about my ability to<br />

foster because I was a single, working woman. In the end,<br />

I made myself available to God, and He worked out every tiny<br />

detail. In 2010, I became a licensed foster parent. Over a very<br />

long and sometimes painful journey, I have adopted five<br />

children from foster care. Then God placed a special man in<br />

my life. We were married in November of 2020. Terry not<br />

only became my partner, but a father to my five children.<br />

This past May, we were blessed once again with a baby girl<br />

being placed in our care. Now as a stay at home mom, the<br />

days are hectic and sometimes stressful. However, God has<br />

blessed me with a wonderful husband and six beautiful<br />

children, and for that I am so thankful.<br />

28 • NOVEMBER 2023




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Hometown RANKIN • 33

“Honor to the soldier and<br />

sailor everywhere, who<br />

bravely bears his country’s<br />

cause. Honor, also, to the<br />

citizen who cares for his<br />

brother in the field and<br />

serves, as he best can, the<br />

same cause.”- Lincoln<br />

Hometown<br />

Magazines<br />

Salutes our<br />

Veterans<br />

Maxey Phillips<br />

US Air Force: 1962-1970<br />

• Pilot training, then flew fighter aircraft in<br />

Florida, Vietnam, and England.<br />

• Mississippi Air National Guard: 1970-1990<br />

• Pilot and Squadron Commander<br />

in Reconnaissance aircraft – Meridian, MS<br />

• 1990-1996: Wing Commander,<br />

172nd Airlift Wing – Jackson, MS<br />

• 1996-1998: Chief of Staff, Mississippi Air<br />

National Guard - Jackson, MS<br />

• Retired in 1998 as Brigadier General<br />

• Wife: Sandra Phillips<br />

• Children: Mark Phillips, Elizabeth Morgan,<br />

Shana Pitman<br />

What does freedom mean to you?<br />

I love this country and when I think of the<br />

freedom it gives to us all to determine our own<br />

pathway in life, I can’t help but remember the<br />

fight to obtain that freedom. From the time the<br />

first shot of the American Revolution was fired<br />

in Concord in 1775 it has been a continuous<br />

struggle for well over two centuries to keep those<br />

freedoms secure. That freedom is not guaranteed<br />

but must be guarded continuously for future<br />

generations to enjoy.<br />

Betty Newman<br />

Lt. Col. Ret USAF,<br />

183AES, 172 ANG<br />

Flight Nurse<br />

20 years’ service<br />

• Husband: Gene Newman<br />

(Rep. Russell G. Newman Rankin County)<br />

• Children: Ann Evans, Russell Gene Newman II<br />

• CWO3 (Chief Warrant Officer 3)<br />

What does freedom mean to you?<br />

Freedom to me is the ability to pick up my Bible,<br />

walk out my front door, and speak to anyone I<br />

come across and tell them about my Jesus that<br />

loves them. That same freedom allowed me to<br />

travel the world serving as an Air Force flight<br />

nurse helping others secure their freedom.<br />

34 • NOVEMBER 2023

James M. Long, Jr<br />

U.S. Air Force<br />

Airman First Class<br />

4 years of service (1 year in Vietnam)<br />

• Wife: Betty Long<br />

• Children: Terri Little, Tina Loftin,<br />

Lori Guillot<br />

What does freedom mean to you?<br />

I served our country to help our freedom to<br />

stand as did many others, some who gave their<br />

life for our freedoms. Freedom to me is being<br />

able to worship and serve God without government<br />

interference. It means being able to vote<br />

the candidate of my choice, express my opinions,<br />

and being able to travel to see this beautiful<br />

country. Freedom means being able to marry<br />

and raise my children and grandchildren in a<br />

free country. We must never lose our freedom.<br />

May God bless America!!<br />

Charles F. Christian<br />

U.S. Army<br />

Retired Sergeant First Class<br />

20 years of service<br />

• Wife: Julia Bacon Christian<br />

• Children: Kenneth and Allison<br />

and five grandchildren.<br />

What does freedom mean to you?<br />

Freedom means watching my grandchildren<br />

grow up in a country where they don’t have<br />

to be afraid.<br />

John C. Bourgeois<br />

Air and Army National Guard<br />

34 years of service<br />

• Deputy Group Commander of both the<br />

172nd Air Guard’s Mission Support and<br />

Aircraft Maintenance Groups<br />

• Commander of the 172nd Air Guard’s<br />

Civil Engineering Squadron<br />

• Retired as a Lt. Col. in 2017<br />

• John and his wife Kathy are members<br />

of Pearl Presbyterian Church<br />

What does freedom mean to you?<br />

To me, freedom is the liberty to live, work, speak,<br />

gather, and worship in any manner and without<br />

limitation or interference. The United States truly<br />

affords those freedoms to its citizens.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 35

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38 • NOVEMBER 2023

Before & After<br />

Brandye Boyd’s Story<br />

Sarah Rein<br />

You know those moments in life when<br />

all seems to be going well? There are<br />

no major issues at work, the laundry is<br />

caught up, the children are getting good<br />

grades and staying out of trouble, and<br />

more meals were eaten at home than<br />

out that week. You have that brief,<br />

illusory moment in which you think...<br />

“I might actually have<br />

life under control.”<br />

In her previous life, Brandye Boyd would<br />

have treasured that feeling. A self-proclaimed<br />

busybody who thrived on having things<br />

together, she was the woman many of us<br />

aspire to be—an involved mom to three young<br />

kids, leader of her church’s ministry to young<br />

mothers, and an adjunct college professor<br />

with a master’s degree.<br />

The first part of Brandye’s story sounds<br />

like a life many of us would have been glad<br />

to have. She was fortunate to grow up in a<br />

happy home in Clinton - with a mother who<br />

put the needs of Brandye and her brother<br />

first, a stepfather who treated them as his<br />

own, involved grandparents, and a church<br />

family. As a regular churchgoer, she knew<br />

about Jesus from an early age and, though<br />

she considered herself a Christian, she isn’t<br />

sure she understood what it meant to<br />

relinquish control of her life to God.<br />

After receiving her degree in education<br />

from Mississippi College in 1996, Brandye<br />

began teaching school and coaching a<br />

cheerleading squad at Byram Middle School<br />

and moved into an apartment with her best<br />

friend from high school. Young and single,<br />

Brandye was enjoying her freedom. When<br />

she met her current husband, Joey, she did<br />

not relish the thought of settling down.<br />

The night they met, Brandye was at a<br />

Halloween costume party at her apartment<br />

complex. She had recently been in a car<br />

accident that left her with a broken femur<br />

and was on crutches. Not wanting to miss<br />

out on the fun, her roommate decided to<br />

make the most of Brandye’s misfortune by<br />

dressing them in coordinating patient and<br />

nurse costumes. After she’d changed out of<br />

her costume, Joey, who worked at the<br />

apartment complex, approached her to ask<br />

for a date and comment on her costume<br />

choice. Brandye, who was savoring her<br />

newfound adult life, was not eager to accept.<br />

“I thought he seemed like a cute, good guy,<br />

but I wasn’t ready for a relationship,” Brandye<br />

shared. Eventually, however, Joey’s persistence<br />

won her over, and they went out for lunch.<br />

Brandye’s intuition had been correct, and<br />

the two have been inseparable ever since.<br />

When they got married just a year later,<br />

both agreed they wanted to grow up and make<br />

some life changes. They moved to Rankin<br />

County because of the excellent school<br />

district, and Brandye decided to pursue a<br />

master’s degree in education. Joey began a<br />

new career with BellSouth. Their first order<br />

of business after moving was to choose a<br />

church to attend. These were the days before<br />

your first thought was to Google church<br />

options. “We opened The Clarion-Ledger to the<br />

Places to Worship section and saw that<br />

Pinelake was near our house,” she recalls<br />

laughing. And that church is where they<br />

found their community - the people they<br />

were going to do life with.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 39

As they joined small groups and mentoring<br />

programs, they didn’t realize how vital those<br />

connections were going to be. They began<br />

having children and raising them alongside<br />

the other couples from their young adult<br />

Sunday school class. Brandye shares that at<br />

one point there were thirteen women in<br />

their church group that were pregnant<br />

simultaneously. This was a pivotal time in<br />

Brandye’s life, and you can tell she’s unsure<br />

how to explain it. “This was when I truly<br />

came into relationship with God,” she<br />

remembers. “I don’t know if I’d say it was a<br />

rededication or what, but I know that’s<br />

when I really met the Lord.”<br />

Their careers were also off to a promising<br />

start. Brandye took a job at the Department<br />

of Education, and Joey had moved into<br />

management at BellSouth. But commuting<br />

to Clinton to drop off her oldest son, Blayze,<br />

with her mother before heading to work in<br />

Jackson was wearying. And when Brandye<br />

became pregnant with their second son,<br />

Bran, she and Joey agreed it was time for her<br />

to scale down to working part-time. She set<br />

her own schedule conducting teacher<br />

training for the Department of Education<br />

and became a representative for Cheer &<br />

Dance apparel. But when their third child<br />

and only daughter, Breyle, was born, they<br />

decided to make adjustments that would<br />

allow Brandye to be home full-time…<br />

something she’d been praying for for years.<br />

Brandye thrived in the business of that<br />

season of life. “I had everything color-coded<br />

for each kid and three-ring binders with lists<br />

and schedules,” she chuckles. “I was such a<br />

control freak, and I just couldn’t sit still.”<br />

Indeed, she filled up every spare minute<br />

volunteering at Pinelake and heading up<br />

various committees and programs at her<br />

children’s schools. She was the mom who<br />

kept her kitchen stocked with children’s<br />

snacks so the neighborhood children would<br />

gravitate to their house to play.<br />

That was life before.<br />

In the summer of 2010, Brandye was<br />

training for the Watermelon Classic run<br />

when she began having regular headaches.<br />

Blaming it on the heat and the fact that her<br />

children were a handful during the summer<br />

months, she began taking Excedrin Migraine<br />

regularly to try to find relief. She’d experienced<br />

migraines off and on during her life<br />

and saw a neurologist once a year to keep<br />

them managed. But as the summer continued,<br />

feeling unwell began to take a toll on her.<br />

Brandye found herself sending the kids<br />

over to the neighbors’ homes to play and<br />

not planning her usual outings. Events she<br />

usually hosted and enjoyed, like the summer<br />

planning meeting for Pinelake’s MOMS<br />

program, she forgot to prepare for. She<br />

missed her yearly neurologist appointment<br />

without ever realizing it and unintentionally<br />

offended friends by behaving in ways they<br />

would not normally expect.<br />

In the meantime, Brandye had been<br />

reading in the book of Luke during her daily<br />

devotional time. A few days before her<br />

August 13th birthday, she wrote the words<br />

“God, increase my faith,” in the margin of<br />

her Bible. There was an upcoming church<br />

mission trip to Africa that several of Brandye’s<br />

friends were going on and that she wanted to<br />

join, but she was nervous about leaving her three<br />

young children. “That’s what I meant when<br />

I wrote that. I wanted Him to increase my faith<br />

enough to make me feel comfortable about<br />

leaving the kids,” she laughs. But He would<br />

answer that prayer in a very different way.<br />

In August, Joey planned a trip to New<br />

Orleans to celebrate Brandye’s birthday. Her<br />

brother, an Ole Miss graduate, and Joey, an<br />

LSU fan, had made a bet on which team<br />

would win when they played that year. And<br />

the couple whose team lost had to babysit<br />

the winning couple’s children for a weekend.<br />

Since LSU was victorious that year, Brandye<br />

and Joey were cashing in on the bet and<br />

planned to drop their children (ages 8, 6,<br />

and 3 at the time) off in Covington with her<br />

brother. But as they were unpacking the<br />

kids’ stuff, Brandye suddenly fainted. When<br />

she recovered, she insisted she felt well<br />

enough to continue with their plans. But it<br />

did force her to share with Joey what had<br />

been going on with her health recently.<br />

While they were alone that weekend,<br />

Joey paid closer attention to Brandye’s<br />

behavior than he was usually able to. And<br />

she didn’t seem like herself to him. Her gait<br />

was off as she walked and she was more tired<br />

than usual, so Joey insisted she see a doctor<br />

when they got home. Brandye was unable to<br />

get in to see her neurologist, Dr. Ruth<br />

Fredericks, on such short notice but she did<br />

agree to go to MEA the Tuesday morning<br />

after they returned. She was hoping for<br />

some relief from her headaches.<br />

The doctor she saw that day at MEA<br />

gave her a shot for pain relief but required<br />

that she get a ride home from the clinic. He<br />

also made a call to get an MRI scheduled for<br />

her as soon as possible. Joey, who was at a<br />

meet-the-teacher event for their daughter’s<br />

preschool program, came to pick her up and<br />

asked Brandye’s mentor from Pinelake,<br />

Susan, to come stay with their daughter. But<br />

just as Joey and Brandye were leaving MEA,<br />

the doctor informed them that the imaging<br />

center had a cancellation and asked if they<br />

could go have the MRI performed right then.<br />

The Boyds headed straight to the center for<br />

the test and afterwards were told they could<br />

return to MEA for the doctor to read the<br />

results to them.<br />

Assuming this was how the process usually<br />

worked, they returned to MEA and were<br />

taken immediately to an exam room. A new<br />

doctor, Dr. Marc Hellrung, came into the<br />

room to meet them, explaining that his<br />

colleague they’d just seen that morning was<br />

gone for the day. Dr. Hellrung began their<br />

conversation by saying, “I’ve been praying<br />

about how to deliver this news to you.” And<br />

then he shocked them by saying Brandye<br />

had a brain tumor encased in a cyst that was<br />

the size of a grapefruit. It needed to be<br />

removed immediately.<br />

Life as they knew it was over. Reeling<br />

from the news, the Boyds asked their doctor<br />

if he would pray for them. And so they were<br />

ushered into their new reality through the<br />

prayers of a complete stranger. Brandye said,<br />

“My mind immediately went to what I’d<br />

written in my Bible days before. I knew this<br />

was God answering that prayer. Joey didn’t<br />

know about that yet, but I felt at peace.”<br />

40 • NOVEMBER 2023

They went to more appointments that<br />

day for initial neuro-oncology consultations<br />

and, when they arrived home at the end of<br />

the day, they were met by a crowd of their<br />

church friends. Joey and Brandye took their<br />

boys into a bedroom to share the news with<br />

them (their daughter was too young to<br />

understand what was happening) and pray<br />

together. Brandye remembers those moments<br />

vividly. “The only hospital their boys were<br />

familiar with is the one they were born in -<br />

St. Dominic. So, Blayze prayed that I would<br />

get to go there for my surgery, and he also<br />

asked that I wouldn’t be left alone at all.”<br />

That night, their pastor, Chip Henderson,<br />

and some of the church’s elders, along with<br />

their family and friends, came to pray for the<br />

Boyds. Brandye surprised herself by being<br />

able to pray aloud. “I asked God to let me be<br />

here to finish my roles on earth - to be a help<br />

to Joey and raise my babies. I know I’ll be<br />

healed ultimately, but I do want to be healed<br />

here on earth. Still though, I trusted that His<br />

ways are higher than mine.”<br />

Over the next few days, Dr. Fredericks<br />

helped them form a treatment plan. She was<br />

immediately admitted to the hospital where her<br />

surgeon practiced—which was St. Dominic.<br />

After waiting a few days for the level of<br />

aspirin in her blood to reduce, Brandye had<br />

a five-hour surgery to remove the tumor<br />

which was then sent off for testing. And, in<br />

another answer to her son’s prayer, a kind<br />

nurse brought a cot into the ICU for Joey to<br />

sleep on so he never had to leave Brandye’s<br />

side during recovery.<br />

The initial reports were that the tumor<br />

was benign - a best-case scenario meaning<br />

no additional treatment would be required.<br />

However, further tests revealed the tumor<br />

was malignant - an aggressive grade 3 tumor<br />

that would require every form of treatment<br />

they could throw at it. So, while Brandye<br />

began undergoing radiation, their friends<br />

mobilized support.<br />

Meals began arriving that week in<br />

August and didn’t stop until Thanksgiving.<br />

She remembers offers of help coming in<br />

constantly - “One friend called about<br />

organizing a barbecue fundraiser which made<br />

me laugh because I thought…what am I<br />

going to do? Pass out red and white napkins?<br />

And then another friend asked if she could<br />

sell t-shirts at the fundraiser.” Next, someone<br />

asked Brandye to design a Christmas shirt to<br />

sell, and now, thirteen years later, the shirts<br />

have become an annual fundraiser. “I never<br />

imagined we would still be doing this thirteen<br />

years later. Or that people would actually<br />

continue to buy them!” Brandye marvels.<br />

That was largely because of the poor prognosis<br />

Brandye received after being diagnosed.<br />

They knew her life expectancy would likely<br />

be shorter. The Boyds trusted their doctors,<br />

and they knew that, ultimately, God was in<br />

control of her disease.<br />

After receiving the lifetime maximum<br />

amount of radiation, Brandye began chemotherapy<br />

to hold the cancer at bay. She is<br />

scanned regularly and her treatment is<br />

adjusted as needed when a particular medicine<br />

stops being effective in keeping the remnants<br />

of her tumor stable. But it’s not just the<br />

cancer that has to be monitored constantly.<br />

Brandye fights an even more important daily<br />

battle in her mind and heart. “I’ve always<br />

heard to take your thoughts captive but I<br />

didn’t grasp what it meant. It’s moment by<br />

moment. When my mind starts to go on<br />

trips, I have to say the truth out loud. I may<br />

have this, but God You are still good! When<br />

I got to see my sons graduate from high<br />

school, I was so thankful to live to see that<br />

day. It just changed my entire perspective.”<br />

Early in her treatment, Brandye remembers<br />

waking up at the usual 4am to spend time<br />

with God before the day started. She has a<br />

particular chair she sits in with her Bible and<br />

journal. But, on that particular morning, she<br />

lay there exhausted, trying to will herself up<br />

and into her reading spot. As she lay there,<br />

she felt God prompting her to rest and<br />

assuring her that He could talk to her right<br />

there in her bed. She believes that God then<br />

gave her a visual - a mental image she has<br />

held on to in the years since. She imagined<br />

herself on a roller coaster but knew that<br />

God was the one in charge of driving it. She<br />

shares, “It was like He told me, ‘Look, there<br />

are going to be dips and sharp turns. In the<br />

end, we are going to arrive just fine. But first,<br />

you have to get out of the driver’s seat and<br />

let me take over. Just stay behind me and all<br />

will be well.’”<br />

There have been plenty of scary moments<br />

in the last thirteen years. Her chemo has been<br />

changed twice because of tumor growth, and<br />

she experiences seizures and mini-strokes on<br />

occasion. Brandye has moments, she confesses,<br />

in which she wishes her children could have<br />

had more years with the pre-cancer version<br />

of herself. She’s been sick since her daughter,<br />

now a junior at Hartfield, was three, so she<br />

has no memories of life before her mom’s<br />

diagnosis. And yet, she knows their lives are<br />

better because of it. Brandye thinks often of<br />

the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible.<br />

When Jesus came to visit, Martha was up<br />

cooking and cleaning and playing hostess<br />

while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to learn. When<br />

Martha complained to Jesus that Mary<br />

wasn’t helping, He told her that Mary had<br />

“chosen the better part.”<br />

Brandye remembers herself before cancer<br />

almost as a different person. She longed to<br />

be like Mary but knew her personality made<br />

her prone to Martha’s distraction and worry.<br />

She reminisces, “I don’t think my faith would<br />

ever have grown like it has otherwise. I believe<br />

God knew me and loved me enough that He<br />

knew I needed this. And, honestly, it sounds<br />

crazy but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”<br />

Hometown MADISON • 41

gift<br />

guide<br />

Koestler Prime<br />

All-purpose seasoning - $10<br />

The Rug Place<br />

YASTIC rug 2’x3’ - $199<br />

Apple Annie’s<br />

ALT perfume. $42 - $66<br />

Chapman’s<br />

Acrylic painting by Brandon artist,<br />

Haley Bush for Raz imports - $46<br />

Jackson Jewelers<br />

14k white gold sapphire and diamond<br />

art deco design ring<br />

14k yellow gold ruby and diamond necklace<br />

14k yellow gold and white gold<br />

1/2 ct diamond anniversary band<br />

42 • NOVEMBER 2023<br />

Lakeland<br />

Yard & Garden<br />

CR Plastics<br />

Adirondack rocker - $440<br />

End table - $120<br />

Boondocks<br />

Gift cards -any $$$

Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet<br />

The Nutcracker Tickets $30 - $35<br />

Land of Sweets Tickets $25<br />

Ballet Magnificat<br />

Tickets to “Most Incredible Christmas”$25-$70<br />

Gift certificate for ballet lessons<br />

Ages 3-18 - $20 per class<br />

Rankin County<br />

Co-Op<br />

3 Piece Nativity - $37<br />

Holy Family Woven Fabric - $100<br />

Mocha Mugs<br />

Peppermint Bark Frappe<br />

The Lucky Hen<br />

Coffee bags - $14, White Horse Coffee Company<br />

Candles - $21 and up / MS Made Felicity Pottery<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 43

NUCOR<br />

Golf<br />


OCTOBER 11-12<br />


44 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 45

READER<br />


Sandra<br />

FLOYD<br />

Why did you decide to make Rankin<br />

County your home?<br />

I grew up in Pearl. I was actually a 2nd generation<br />

Pearl graduate (my dad and his siblings, and my<br />

maternal uncle, all graduated from Pearl). I was<br />

living in Simpson County with my husband as<br />

that is where his family is from, but when we<br />

had kids, and the opportunity presented itself,<br />

we moved straight back to Pearl–into the house<br />

I grew up in, funny enough. I knew I wanted<br />

my children to be Pearl Pirates and to receive<br />

the top-notch education that we have become<br />

known for here in Rankin County!<br />

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

I lived here from birth to 20. When I married<br />

my husband, we moved to Magee. We moved<br />

back eight years ago, when our kids were two<br />

and eight.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My husband Bryan and I have been married for<br />

15 years this past April. We met through mutual<br />

friends and hit it off right away! We were<br />

married after a whirlwind romance, and still get<br />

on each other’s nerves every single day! He is a<br />

welder by trade. We have two beautiful children–<br />

Bailey, who turned 16 in October and Owen,<br />

who just turned 10 in July. Bailey is a sophomore<br />

at Pearl, where she is a cheerleader, student<br />

council member, and youth cheer coach, which<br />

she and I coach together. I have been coaching<br />

at Pearl since 2015. Owen is a 5th grader at Pearl<br />

Upper Elementary and plays baseball for Pearl<br />

youth league, where my husband coaches.<br />

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

Rankin County?<br />

When I was a freshman at Pearl High, we were<br />

chosen to march in the inaugural parade for<br />

President George Bush. It was such an amazing<br />

experience, and one that I will never ever forget.<br />

More recently, one of my favorite memories is<br />

sitting in the stands of Ray Rogers Stadium on<br />

Friday nights watching the Pirates play and my<br />

daughter cheer, or watching my son and his<br />

friends play baseball at the youth fields.<br />

Watching the Pearl varsity coed team win their<br />

third state championship in a row and watching<br />

them place 5th nationally at the national cheer<br />

competition at Disney this past February was<br />

pretty special too!<br />

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

Rankin County on the weekends?<br />

We are always at a football game on Friday<br />

nights in the fall and at baseball games during<br />

the spring. We tend to go shopping a lot (thank<br />

you teenage daughter) on the weekends or catch<br />

a Braves game! We love going out to eat with<br />

friends, usually watching the game on Saturdays<br />

at Buffalo Wild Wings!<br />

Tell us about your occupation.<br />

I have been a certified pharmacy tech for 18 years.<br />

I started a couple of weeks after Hurricane<br />

Katrina hit. The last three and a half years have<br />

been with UMMC Specialty Pharmacy in Suite<br />

G at the Pavilion. I currently help rheumatology,<br />

gastroenterology, and pulmonology patients<br />

obtain their specialty medications. We train<br />

patients how to self-inject their medications,<br />

help them with resources in obtaining their<br />

medications, and make sure they are taken care<br />

of not only from a pharmacy aspect, but also<br />

from a medical aspect. Our goal is to help our<br />

patients be more than their disease state and<br />

thrive in their everyday lives. Before working<br />

for Specialty, I worked in the UMMC Adult<br />

Emergency Department and the Adult ICU.<br />

46 • NOVEMBER 2023

Share some things you enjoy doing in<br />

your spare time.<br />

When you are a parent, your spare time is normally<br />

consumed with your children’s activities. Currently<br />

we are enjoying football and cheer season. My<br />

daughter also competes in pageants, and we are in<br />

full swing with that, preparing for her upcoming<br />

state level Magnolia State Pageant! We also love<br />

football games (Go Rebs!), catching a movie, or<br />

going out to eat together. My husband and I also<br />

participate in a non-profit Medieval re-enactment<br />

group called the Society for Creative Anachronism,<br />

where he participates in armored combat.<br />

So that is always a fun time on the weekends,<br />

being able to get away from the hustle and bustle<br />

of the modern world!<br />

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

I want to visit every Disney park in the world!<br />

This has been a goal of mine since I was a very<br />

young child. I want to visit Greece and Egypt!<br />

And I’ve always dreamed of moving to England<br />

and restoring a manor home. That’s one of those<br />

deep down bucket list items that is more of a<br />

dream!<br />

Where are your three favorite places<br />

to eat in Rankin County?<br />

Salsa’s in Pearl, Amerigo in Flowood, and Kismet’s<br />

in Brandon!<br />

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

My mom! She is the one person I have always<br />

looked up to my entire life! She is always so<br />

positive and giving. She taught me not only what<br />

kind of mom I wanted to be, but also how to be a<br />

good human, and how to be proud of the person I<br />

am when I look into the mirror.<br />

Pamela Martin Sutton at Southern Glitz in Pearl<br />

is also someone I look up to. She and her girls at<br />

Southern Glitz are just so amazing and she makes<br />

every single person who walks into her store feel<br />

loved and beautiful! She has such a servant’s heart<br />

for what she does and makes the world a better<br />

and more beautiful place!<br />

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

Hopefully still helping the wonderful patients of<br />

Mississippi at UMMC! I would love to own a<br />

boutique one day here in Rankin County selling<br />

apparel and gifts, so that is definitely a goal I am<br />

working towards now.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

My favorite early childhood memory is definitely<br />

all of my trips to Disney World with my mom and<br />

dad. Those were the times I was the happiest kid<br />

in the world! My favorite older childhood<br />

memories came from my freshman year at Pearl<br />

when we marched in the inaugural parade in<br />

Washington D.C. We got to tour D.C. and visit<br />

the Smithsonian. Later that May, the band went<br />

to Disney World to march in another parade! I<br />

made some of my best lifelong friends in the band,<br />

and those trips were once-in-a-lifetime trips that<br />

created once-in-a-lifetime memories!<br />

If you could give us one encouraging quote,<br />

what would it be?<br />

Let all that you do be done in love.<br />

–1 Corinthians 16:14<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 47

48 • NOVEMBER 2023<br />

Pass the Gavel<br />

Breakfast<br />


Hometown RANKIN • 49

Free Checking<br />

Free Mobile Banking<br />

Free Mobile Deposit<br />

Auto & Personal Loans<br />

Home Mortgage Loans<br />

www.RivertrustFCU.com Phone: 601-664-2085<br />

Brandy@insurems.com 601-651-3111 508 Grants Ferry Rd. Suite B,<br />

Brandon, MS 39047<br />

50 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 51


Celebrating<br />

30 Years<br />

of Holiday<br />

Enchantment<br />

The Mississippi Metropolitan<br />

Ballet’s Nutcracker Legacy<br />

A magical holiday tradition is preparing to dance its way into the heart of Mississippi for a tremendous<br />

anniversary this December. The Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet is celebrating its 30th annual performance<br />

of “The Nutcracker.” That’s over a quarter century of delighting locals with spectacular costumes and<br />

sets, exquisite choreography featuring dancers of all ages and touching many lives with the holiday spirit.<br />

This milestone is not only a testament to the enduring appeal of this timeless classical ballet, but also<br />

a celebration of MMB’s profound artistic impact on our community.<br />

52 • NOVEMBER 2023

A Perennial Holiday Favorite<br />

“The Nutcracker” is a beloved full-length ballet that has captivated<br />

audiences worldwide since its debut in the late 19th century. Its enchanting<br />

story, based on the 1816 E.T.A. Hoffman tale, combined with<br />

Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, have made it a cherished part of holiday<br />

celebrations for generations. Each holiday season, the Nutcracker’s magic<br />

transports us to a world where toys come alive, snowflakes dance, and<br />

the Sugar Plum Fairy reigns supreme. For 30 years now, the Mississippi<br />

Metropolitan Ballet has brought this magical tale to life for the metro<br />

area. For many, attending a performance of MMB’s “The Nutcracker”<br />

has become as much of a holiday tradition as decorating the tree or<br />

baking Christmas cookies. “For all of us at MMB, ‘Nutcracker’ and the<br />

holidays are synonymous,” says Artistic Director Jennifer Beasley. “It’s<br />

wonderful to witness how attending our production has become a multigenerational<br />

experience, with parents, grandparents, and children<br />

alike entranced by the magical story.”<br />

A Local Treasure Blossoms<br />

MMB began as The Madison Civic Ballet, which was founded in 1992<br />

at the Madison County Cultural Center by Cherri Barnett. In 1997,<br />

Jennifer Beasley, a former professional dancer and dedicated dance<br />

teacher, took the reins as artistic director and in the same year the name<br />

of the organization was changed to the Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet.<br />

In 2002, Artistic Associate Crystal Skelton joined the MMB staff and<br />

since then, Skelton and Beasley have been dedicated to producing<br />

well-trained dancers and to providing quality dance performances for<br />

the Metro Jackson area. “One of the earliest MMB performances I remember<br />

took place outdoors at the Madison County Cultural Center<br />

in front of the famous red caboose,” recalls Beasley. “Just before the<br />

show was set to begin, a strong wind blew in but that didn’t stop us! We<br />

have video footage of the dancers carrying on through the weather, with<br />

their long tutus blowing every which way and things flying through the<br />

air. Talk about determination!” Beasley laughed. “It’s that kind of tenacity<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

that has helped us achieve so much through the years.” MMB’s earliest<br />

performances of “The Nutcracker” were housed at the Madison County<br />

Cultural Center in the gymnatorium, where MMB hosted its popular<br />

Tea Party Performances. These seated the audience at tables with<br />

delectable refreshments to enjoy throughout the show. This formula<br />

proved extremely popular with audiences, and families returned year<br />

after year. In 2010, MMB moved its annual performances to the<br />

newly constructed Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center, which<br />

allowed the production to grow in numerous ways. The 800-seat theater<br />

allowed for larger audiences, and the bigger stage, professional lighting<br />

system, and full fly-loft allowed for the technical aspects of the show to<br />

grow. “The JA Performing Arts Center has become our performing<br />

home, and our show has really flourished in our time there. The JA staff<br />

has been wonderful to work with, and the central location and size<br />

of the theater seems to really appeal to our audiences,” says Artistic<br />

Associate Crystal Skelton.<br />

One Tradition Leads to Another<br />

The move to JA dramatically changed the Nutcracker MMB experience.<br />

Whereas attendees previously had a combined experience at the Tea<br />

Party Performances, watching the show while munching on gingerbread<br />

men and hot cocoa, at JA, the performance and the tea party<br />

would be separate events. MMB began hosting “The Nutcracker Sweet<br />

Tea Party” following its matinee performances, and transformed the<br />

JA cafeteria into a holiday wonderland with festive decorations and<br />

delectable treats for patrons. These proved highly successful and sold<br />

out several times. In recent years, MMB has changed the tea party<br />

concept to the Land of Sweets Tour, which also follows the matinee<br />

performances, while offering young attendees the chance to visit with<br />

the dancers, see costumes and sets up-close, collect Nutcracker souvenirs,<br />

have their individual Land of Sweet passport stamped…and still enjoy<br />

cookies and hot cocoa! “The Land of Sweets Tour has become a real<br />

hit with our attendees,” says Skelton. “We have a wonderful team of<br />

talented volunteers who have seen this idea through from inception to<br />

implementation, and it is truly a magical event to experience. The way<br />

young eyes light up when they see the Sugar Plum Fairy up close and<br />

personal is unforgettable.”<br />

Keeping It Fresh<br />

Producing the Nutcracker is a huge undertaking. When Beasley<br />

choreographed her first Nutcracker for MMB, she had 50 dancers.<br />

The current cast boasts over 150 dancers. MMB’s production of The<br />

Nutcracker has evolved in several other ways besides the number of<br />

dancers over the years. From costume upgrades to new sets and<br />

props, it’s been important to the organization to keep the production<br />

from becoming as stale as yesterday’s (ginger)bread. This year’s 30th<br />

anniversary production will feature new choreography in the battle<br />

scene between the Nutcracker and the Mouse King, as well as a new<br />

version of the Arabian divertissement in the Kingdom of the Sweets.<br />

A new growing Christmas tree prop will also tower over the mice and<br />

soldiers in the iconic battle scene. “The ability to purchase or create new<br />

sets and props every year is due in large part to the generous support<br />

we receive from sponsors and donors, as well as the loyalty of our paying<br />

audience. We are truly grateful to all of our supporters whose financial<br />

contributions have allowed us to grow over the years,” says MMB Executive<br />

Director Amanda Kibble.<br />

54 • NOVEMBER 2023

A Family Affair<br />

Aside from MMB’s professional staff, comprised of Beasley, Skelton,<br />

and Kibble, the gargantuan task of mounting The Nutcracker<br />

production each year is accomplished by countless volunteers, mostly<br />

parents of dancers. From ticket sales to costuming to pulling sets on and<br />

off the stage, MMB is supported by dozens of volunteer parents<br />

who help make the magic of the Nutcracker come alive each December.<br />

“We are so lucky to benefit from the talents of our dancers’ parents, who<br />

give so generously of their time at the most busy time of year,” says<br />

Beasley. “When people hear that our productions are completely run<br />

by volunteers, from backstage to front of house, they are blown away.<br />

It is wonderful to have our MMB families come together at Nutcracker<br />

time to form what we call ‘MMB Family’. It is amazing the things we<br />

have all accomplished together, and I am truly grateful.”<br />

Sharing the Magic<br />

What makes MMB truly exceptional is its unwavering commitment to<br />

community engagement. The ballet company actively fosters a love for<br />

the arts among Mississippi’s youth, offering educational programs,<br />

scholarships, and outreach initiatives. Before opening night, MMB has<br />

historically invited children from organizations such as the Boys and<br />

Girls Club, Sunnybrook Children’s Home, the Mustard Seed, and Big<br />

Brothers/Big Sisters to attend the final dress rehearsal of The Nutcracker,<br />

free of charge. MMB also annually brings a mini-performance into<br />

local schools, along with a mini-ballet lesson and Q&A with the dancers.<br />

MMB has also given outreach Nutcracker performances at Mistletoe<br />

Marketplace, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, and Highland Village.<br />

Giving children from all walks of life the chance to witness the magnificence<br />

of ballet and see, first-hand, why the arts are so important has<br />

been a priority for MMB since its beginning. Janet Shearer, former<br />

MMB executive director and current member of MMB’s advisory<br />

board, fondly remembers a moment when Mississippi Metropolitan<br />

Ballet performed “The Nutcracker” for 1,100 Madison County second<br />

and third graders last November. “MMB’s annual school performances<br />

provide many local students with their first ballet, even their first<br />

theater experience. They are amazed at the space, the backdrops, the<br />

costumes, the music, and especially the dancing, its artistry and its<br />

athleticism” Shearer says. “The children are always absolutely enthralled<br />

by the experience of seeing dancers on the stage. They asked so many<br />

questions after they saw the performance,“ Shearer recalls. “One of the<br />

questions asked most frequently of the dancers after the performance is,<br />

How? How do you jump so high? How do you turn so many times?<br />

How do you dance on your toes? Sharing in these students’ joy and<br />

excitement at these special, educational performances is always such<br />

a magical way to begin the holiday season,” Shearer concludes.<br />

The Magic Continues<br />

As Mississippi Metropolitan Ballet presents its 30th Nutcracker performance,<br />

it is as apparent as ever that the arts bring magic into our lives<br />

and our community. MMB’s devotion to excellence and community<br />

engagement has kept its traditional holiday production shining brightly<br />

after 30 years, filling countless hearts with the magic of the season. Join<br />

MMB, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara, and the Nutcracker, alongside<br />

menacing mice, waltzing flowers, sparkling snowflakes, and more, on<br />

December 2 and 3 at Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center. There<br />

are matinee and evening performances each day, perfect for either a<br />

festive family outing or a magical date night with that special someone.<br />

The Land of Sweets Tour is a perfectly sweet treat for young ones, and<br />

will follow both matinee performances. To purchase tickets and to find<br />

out more about MMB, visit www.msmetroballet.com.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 55

56 • NOVEMBER 2023

Dr. Jason Cox<br />

Dr. Daniel Atkins<br />

Glory to God in the<br />

highest, and on earth<br />

peace, good will<br />

toward men.<br />

Luke 2:14<br />

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

Hometown RANKIN • 57

58 • NOVEMBER 2023

The McGowans<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

John, Chuncey, Kenadi, Khloe, John Jr - The McGowan Family<br />

Kenadi 11th, Khloe 8th, John 3rd<br />

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

We’ve been married for 12 years. We were introduced by a mutual<br />

friend and our first encounter was a blind date to the movies to see<br />

The Blindside.<br />

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

We enjoy our date nights and our Bible study with each other.<br />

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

Our greatest joy as parents is seeing our children alive, healthy, and<br />

enjoying their talents. The thing that brings us the most joy of all is<br />

their passion for Christ.<br />

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

My wife is the financial manager in our family. She is a note taker,<br />

and her financial tracker is truly admirable.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 59

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

discipline philosophy?<br />

Our philosophy for our family is to set limits, don’t do anything<br />

that will cause self-harm or harm to others. We want our kids<br />

to become emotionally and socially mature adults one day.<br />

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

to your family?<br />

John My greatest benefit to our family is being the head of<br />

household and ensuring my wife and kids are led by a man of<br />

faith and instilling in our kid’s passion to live a Christ-like life.<br />

Chuncey My greatest benefit to our family is being the glue<br />

that holds us all together. I do my best to keep us all on track<br />

because we all have super chaotic schedules.<br />

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

And who does the cooking?<br />

A quick go-to meal for us is air fried salmon with a side of<br />

broccoli. Chuncey does all the cooking. She’s a Mississippi<br />

Delta girl so there is nothing she cannot cook, and it is all<br />

delicious.<br />

How long has Brandon bee your home?<br />

Brandon has been our home since 2014.<br />

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

Rankin County?<br />

Attending Word of Life Church, attending Brandon High<br />

School football games because we get see Kenadi dance and<br />

Khloe cheer. We also enjoy chilling out at McGowan Estate<br />

on family game/movie night.<br />

60 • NOVEMBER 2023

What accomplishments make you proud during your<br />

time living in Rankin County?<br />

We are proud to serve our community. The girls are members<br />

of Crown Club of Rankin County, Kenadi is a member of<br />

Rankin County Youth Leadership, and Chuncey is a 3rd year<br />

active member of Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County. We also<br />

involve John Jr in community service efforts when we participate.<br />

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

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

Chuncey My passion for the elderly, sick, and underserved<br />

drives me to continue service as a home health and hospice<br />

nurse.<br />

John My passion is people. I enjoy pouring into people and<br />

watching what flourishes from a part time job into a career.<br />

The restaurants we operate are all about changing the lives<br />

of the people we encounter.<br />

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

Summer breaks are always spent beaching and spending time<br />

time with family.<br />


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

Kenadi Going to church together.<br />

What’s your favorite restaurant?<br />

Khloe We love going to Moe’s and Pizza Hut.<br />

What’s your favorite TV show?<br />

John Jr We love watching family movies, especially funny<br />

movies.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 63



Just a short drive away, Raymond<br />

is one of central Mississippi’s<br />

best-kept secrets.<br />

For an easy day trip, Raymond invites you to shop, eat,<br />

and experience all the unique small town has to offer.<br />

Centrally located almost exactly in the middle of the state,<br />

Raymond is easily accessible from I-20 and is a short drive<br />

from downtown Jackson and the airport. From its earliest days,<br />

native Americans and early settlers were drawn to the area<br />

due to its abundant wildlife. When Hinds County was established<br />

in 1821, Raymond became the first county seat. It still<br />

remains as one of two county seats for Hinds County.<br />

64 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 65

Sadly, Raymond’s namesake,<br />

sells his premium duck calls there,<br />

I love the people. I believe visitors are<br />

up-and-coming haven for the arts and<br />

General Raymond Robinson, was<br />

and he and his wife, Ann, carefully<br />

attracted to genuineness, integrity,<br />

a place where there is never a lack of<br />

killed by Grant’s army as they marched<br />

curate leather goods and gifts for<br />

passion, and a love for what you do.<br />

something to do. Eagle Ridge<br />

his troops through the area on their<br />

those who enjoy the outdoors.<br />

Love and respect for each other’s<br />

Conference Center is nearby and<br />

way to capture Vicksburg. On May 12,<br />

Josh grew up here and has chosen<br />

talents and gifts are the key for<br />

offers a golf course, a meeting venue,<br />

1863, 12,000 Union soldiers and<br />

Raymond to locate his business and<br />

multiple businesses to co-exist and<br />

and newly renovated hotel rooms.<br />

3,000 Confederate soldiers met in<br />

raise their children. “There is a sense<br />

grow in healthy ways toward a<br />

Over 70 happenings are held in<br />

the Battle of Raymond. After the<br />

of community here that I want to<br />

greater future.”<br />

the town each year, including the<br />

battle, over 1,000 wounded soldiers<br />

sustain.” Josh and his wife, Ann, are<br />

Porch has invested all of<br />

Raymond Country Fair each May, and<br />

from both armies were cared for by<br />

raising their two children in Raymond.<br />

herself into growing the community.<br />

Christmas on the Square in Decem-<br />

residents in their homes, in St. Mark’s<br />

“I could have put my business<br />

In addition to other ventures and<br />

ber, the two largest events presented<br />

Episcopal Church, and in the newly<br />

anywhere, but I choose to be here.<br />

accomplishments in Raymond,<br />

by the Chamber. Ribbon cuttings for<br />

built Hinds County Courthouse.<br />

I believe in our town, and I want to<br />

she currently owns two growing<br />

new businesses, open houses,<br />

Stains of blood still remain visible<br />

continue investing in its future.”<br />

businesses. The Lucky Hen is a unique<br />

and meet-and-greets make up<br />

on the wood floors of St. Mark’s,<br />

Take a drive around the Square<br />

gift shop that highlights products<br />

more activities.<br />

a definite reminder of times past.<br />

and it’s easy to see both the town’s<br />

made in Mississippi with a distinct<br />

Shopping in Raymond is a<br />

Today’s Raymond is a quiet and<br />

historic background as well as its<br />

style of gifts and curiosities. The<br />

pleasure, with gift shops offering<br />

peaceful place where people come to<br />

progression towards the future. Kim<br />

White Horse Coffee Shop, situated<br />

made-in-Mississippi products,<br />

raise families and retire. Jerry Bryant<br />

Porch, who serves as president of the<br />

within The Lucky Hen, offers a range<br />

professional framing and art, a coffee<br />

and his wife, Cathryn, moved to<br />

Raymond Chamber of Commerce,<br />

of specialty coffee drinks and good<br />

shop, a shop for teas and shakes,<br />

Raymond in 1969, and for decades<br />

says, “I want to see Raymond grow<br />

vibes all around.<br />

antiques and consignments, and a<br />

he served the town as their only<br />

with integrity to honor the past while<br />

With Hinds Community College<br />

grocery store conveniently located on<br />

pharmacist. “I like seeing the progress<br />

being progressive in our thinking<br />

located nearby, Raymond has cultural,<br />

the Square. Merchants and Planters<br />

in Raymond,” he says.<br />

and vision. I have a love for Raymond<br />

recreational, and educational<br />

Bank is an anchor for the community<br />

Within the past couple of years,<br />

and the state of Mississippi. I believe<br />

opportunities often only found in<br />

and offers many services and<br />

Albert Smathers has created a fabulous<br />

visitors to our sweet city come here<br />

larger communities. The town is<br />

continually helps support the town.<br />

mural on the side of the old drug-<br />

for a genuine experience, and that’s<br />

quaint and vibrant and is focused on<br />

Little Big Store has been selling<br />

store, which now houses Raggio<br />

what they’ll find. It’s a new day in<br />

providing a good quality of life for<br />

albums in Raymond since the early<br />

Mercantile. Josh Raggio makes and<br />

Raymond. I love the history here, and<br />

everyone. It has developed into an<br />

1990s and they ship albums all over<br />

the world. Boondocks on Highway 18<br />

offers shooting ranges and training<br />

classes for the community and they<br />

routinely help sponsor events and<br />

even host events on site.<br />

Several new Airbnbs have opened<br />

in Raymond and surrounding areas,<br />

many in historic 1800s buildings, and<br />

stay booked by people who are<br />

traveling the Natchez Trace Parkway,<br />

located only three miles from the city<br />

limits. Many people also follow the<br />

66 • NOVEMBER 2023

Mississippi Blues Trail. “It’s not unusual<br />

to see people visiting here from<br />

Europe, the Netherlands, Asia, and<br />

other places,” says Porch, who credits<br />

Raymond’s mayor, Isla Tullos, and city<br />

leaders, along with town patriarchs<br />

for making the city what it is today.<br />

“They have worked for many decades<br />

and have paved the way for the<br />

possibilities and potential for greatness<br />

that we enjoy today,” Porch says.<br />

“Groups like the Raymond<br />

Garden Club keep our city looking<br />

beautiful,” says Porch. “They maintain<br />

a community garden, select the Yard<br />

of the Month, keep the community<br />

involved, and work hard to keep our<br />

Square looking nice.”<br />

The Culture Club has been<br />

meeting monthly since the 1930s,<br />

keeping the city’s history relevant and<br />

hosting speakers from all over the<br />

state. Friends of the Library board<br />

offers community events and holds<br />

weekly readings for school children.<br />

Several churches are in the area and<br />

many have fantastic architecture and<br />

histories, adding a real sense of<br />

support and resources for the city.<br />

“Everybody calls this Mayberry,”<br />

laughs Porch. “But there is something<br />

to that. There is a real genuine spirit<br />

here. We have a lot of momentum in<br />

Raymond, and we encourage folks to<br />

come spend a day with us to see all<br />

we have to offer. We don’t take<br />

anything for granted and we believe<br />

every day is a gift to be shared. There<br />

is a real sense of goodness here and<br />

that is something we strive for and<br />

want to share with others.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • NOVEMBER 2023


Hometown RANKIN • 69

In compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 of the Higher Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other<br />

applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status<br />

in its educational programs and activities. We recognize our responsibility to provide an open and welcoming environment that fosters a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion for employees and students to collaboratively learn,<br />

work and serve our communities.The following have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies:<br />

EEOC Compliance: Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601-857-3458 or Email: EEOC@hindscc.edu.<br />

Title IX: Associate Vice President Student Services, Title IX Coordinator, Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601-857-3353 or Email: TitleIX@hindscc.edu.<br />

70 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • NOVEMBER 2023


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Hometown RANKIN • 73

Gifted<br />

to Tell<br />

Karen<br />

Kingsbury<br />

The Women’s Ministry of Fannin Baptist Church<br />

created a flood of book readers’ excitement when they<br />

named Karen Kingsbury, the famous American Christian<br />

novelist, as the keynote speaker for their October<br />

weekend conference.<br />

The Fannin church’s grandiose exterior matches the<br />

interior with its spacious circular walkways and their<br />

tastefully designed and decorated stations. The large<br />

crowd of attendees for the conference needed the space<br />

for registration, book display area and meeting with<br />

new and old friends.<br />

A small segment of time was allowed for a private<br />

interview with the celebrated author before the evening’s<br />

program began. Mrs. Kingsbury’s Christ-like warmth,<br />

smile and greetings set the tone for an informative time<br />

of questions and answers.<br />

Her speaking skills match her writing talents. She didn’t<br />

have to pause or ponder answers to questions. Her amiable<br />

disposition shown through her constant smile, laughter,<br />

and transparent sharing.<br />

74 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 75

76 • NOVEMBER 2023<br />

Age five was when Karen began putting stories on paper – pages<br />

that she stapled together along with her own colored illustrations.<br />

Karen remembers her dad telling her that one day everyone’s going<br />

to know your writing. She continued to write short stories and majored<br />

in journalism in college.<br />

After reading any of her novels, it’s obvious that God has blessed her<br />

with extraordinary talents for writing. Her stories are permeated with<br />

Scripture and are God-honoring, but these characteristics weren’t possible<br />

without her becoming a Christian. God saw to that when he sent Ron<br />

Kingsbury, a really cute guy, who asked her for a date. She was living in<br />

Los Angeles at the time and wanted someone “clean-cut, who didn’t drink<br />

or do drugs or partied.” Ron seemed to fit her qualifications, but he asked<br />

a strange thing. He wanted to bring his Bible on their first date.<br />

Karen had never opened a Bible, so even though it seemed strange<br />

to her, she said okay. While Ron read from Philippians 4, she kept looking<br />

at her watch and feeling uncomfortable. It was after becoming a Christian<br />

that she realized the Holy Spirit was convicting her, but she had no idea<br />

of what was happening at the time.<br />

Three months into their dating, the Christian and non-Christian<br />

continued to discuss the Bible, but Karen couldn’t accept Ron’s attachment<br />

to God’s Word. It was on a Sunday afternoon, standing by his car in another<br />

Bible discussion, that she took Ron’s precious Bible and threw it on the<br />

ground, breaking it in half.<br />

“Even though I wasn’t a Christian, I believed in God and knew what<br />

I had just done was terribly wrong. I thought a hole might open and<br />

swallow me for such an act,” she said. Ron picked up his Bible and left.<br />

He wasn’t mad or angry – he was sad.<br />

The next day Karen passed a Christian bookstore. She went in and said<br />

she was looking for an English Bible and a way to look up words. She left<br />

the store with an NIV Bible and a Strong’s Concordance. When she got in<br />

her car she began reading the Bible and searching for answers to questions<br />

that she had about her man-made beliefs. The man-made beliefs began to<br />

crumble, and it was like she could audibly hear God saying to her, “You can<br />

fall away with your man-made beliefs or you can grab onto my Word and<br />

never let go.” And so she grabbed on and has never let go. With more than<br />

twenty-four million copies of her award winning books in print, she has<br />

convincing evidence that she’s still in love with God’s Word.<br />

Her Baxter Family books are being developed into a TV series slated<br />

for major network viewing this next year. Many of her other novels are<br />

under development with Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures.<br />

With her innate and incredible ability to write a book in ten days, her fans<br />

can expect more heart-warming novels from this masterful author.<br />

Karen doesn’t hesitate to share her commitment to the main “point”<br />

– Jesus winning people to Himself by telling stories. She explained, “When<br />

Jesus wanted to tell you straight, He would just tell you the truth. When<br />

He was angry He would turn over a table, but when He wanted to touch<br />

your heart, He told a story.”<br />

Jesus continues to touch hearts and draw people to Himself. He does so<br />

in many ways. One way is for certain – through the dedicated heart of the<br />

masterful story-teller, Karen Kingsbury.

Hometown RANKIN • 77

Ladies’<br />

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PHOTOS: Maddy Brown<br />

78 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 79

80 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown Holiday Market<br />

Girls’ Night Out<br />

Thursday, November 16<br />

5pm-8pm • $15 Admission<br />

Half of each ticket sale goes to<br />

the Rankin County Junior Auxiliary<br />

82 • NOVEMBER 2023

Formeka Ball, above, passed away unexpectedly one week after this photo was taken.<br />

On behalf of Hometown Magazines, and Rankin County Junior Auxiliary, we extend our deepest<br />

condolences to Formeka’s family. She was loved by so many, and will be missed.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 83

Open daily for fevers,<br />

ouchies and more.<br />

Children’s of Mississippi Urgent Care sees kids up to<br />

18 years old for fever, vomiting, minor cuts and burns,<br />

sprains and minor broken bones, earaches, colds,<br />

coughs, flu and many other minor medical conditions.<br />

Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.<br />

Saturday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. • Sunday 1 – 7 p.m.<br />

Walk-ins are welcome.<br />

To schedule an appointment, call 601.815.0610.<br />

Children’s of Mississippi Urgent Care<br />

University Physicians at Grants Ferry<br />

1010 Lakeland Place<br />

Flowood, MS 39232<br />

84 • NOVEMBER 2023<br />

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8/10/23 10:22 AM


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Roll-Out Event for all nominees - December 12<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 85

86 • NOVEMBER 2023

OUR<br />


jacksonprep.net I 601.939.8611<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 87

Cranberry Pecan Sweet<br />

Potato Wild Rice Pilaf<br />

• 2 cups chicken broth<br />

• 1 cup wild rice blend<br />

• ½ teaspoon dried parsley<br />

• ½ teaspoon dried oregano<br />

• ½ teaspoon dried thyme<br />

• 1 tablespoon olive oil<br />

• 1 cup sweet potato diced small<br />

• ¼ cup chopped onion<br />

• ⅓ cup dried cranberries<br />

• ⅓ cup pecans chopped<br />

In a medium saucepan, bring the<br />

broth to a boil and add wild rice,<br />

parsley, oregano, and thyme. Reduce<br />

the heat to a simmer and cover with<br />

a lid. Cook for 45 minutes or until<br />

tender. In another skillet add olive<br />

oil, sweet potato, and onion and<br />

cook until tender. Add<br />

cranberries and chopped<br />

pecans and cook for 1-2<br />

minutes. Add to the rice<br />

mixture and fluff with a fork.<br />

Parmesan Herb Roasted<br />

Acorn Squash<br />

• 2 acorn squash<br />

(small to medium sized)<br />

• ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil<br />

• 1 cup finely grated parmesan<br />

cheese<br />

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder<br />

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt<br />

• ½ teaspoon dried basil<br />

• ½ teaspoon dried thyme<br />

• ½ teaspoon dried oregano<br />

Preheat oven to 425. Slice the top<br />

and bottom of the squash, then<br />

place it on a flat end and slice it in<br />

half. Scoop out the seeds with a<br />

spoon and slice each half into slices<br />

about 1-inch thick.<br />

Place slices on a parchment-lined<br />

baking tray. If there’s extra parmesan<br />

herb mixture in the bowl, just press<br />

that onto the top side of the slices.<br />

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until soft<br />

and lightly golden on top. Transfer<br />

the roasted acorn squash to a<br />

serving platter and enjoy!<br />

Pineapple Cheese<br />

Casserole<br />

• 2 (15 oz.) cans pineapple chunks<br />

drained<br />

• 1 cup white sugar<br />

• ¾ cup all-purpose flour<br />

• 2 cups shredder cheddar cheese<br />

• 25 buttery round crackers,<br />

crumbled<br />

• ½ cup melted butter<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Spread<br />

pineapple a 2 quart casserole dish.<br />

In a small bowl, stir together sugar,<br />

flour and cheese. Add to casserole<br />

dish. Sprinkle crackers over the top<br />

of pineapple and cheese mixture.<br />

Pour melted butter over the top and<br />

bake for 30 minutes.<br />

Cornbread Casserole<br />

• ¼ lb. butter, melted<br />

• 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn,<br />

drained<br />

• 1 (15 oz.) can cream corn<br />

• 1 (8.5 oz.) package corn bread mix<br />

• 1 oz. sour cream<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Fold all<br />

ingredients together in a mixing<br />

bowl and pour into a 2 quart<br />

casserole dish. Bake for 1 hour.<br />

88 • NOVEMBER 2023

Garlic Parmesan<br />

Roasted Sweet Potatoes<br />

• 2 large sweet potatoes, washed<br />

(peeling is optional)<br />

• 3 Tbsp. melted butter<br />

• 1 cup parmesan<br />

• ½ teaspoon fresh cracked<br />

black pepper<br />

• 1 Tbsp. minced garlic<br />

(or garlic powder)<br />

• 1 teaspoon salt<br />

• 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning<br />

• 4 strips of bacon (optional)<br />

• 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped<br />

for garnish (or chives)<br />

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking<br />

sheet with parchment paper. Prep<br />

sweet potatoes by first cutting off the<br />

ends and slicing in rounds with<br />

a mandolin slicer or a sharp knife.<br />

In a small bowl, combine parmesan,<br />

garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian<br />

seasoning. Arrange sweet potato<br />

slices on the baking sheet, slightly<br />

overlapping. Brush with melted<br />

butter and sprinkle the parmesan<br />

mixture over. Roast sweet potatoes<br />

at 400 for 25 minutes.<br />

In the meantime, cook bacon on the<br />

stove until crispy, drain from fat, and<br />

then cut into small bits. This step is<br />

optional. Remove roasted sweet<br />

potatoes from the oven, sprinkle with<br />

bacon bits, and fresh chopped parsley<br />

or chives. Serve the roasted sweet<br />

potatoes immediately with a delicious<br />

grilled meat, or on its own, enjoy!<br />

Apple Cranberry<br />

Walnut Salad<br />

• 6 cups salad<br />

• 1 red apple<br />

• 1 green apple<br />

• 1 cup walnuts - roughly chopped<br />

• 4-6 bacon strips - cooked and<br />

chopped (optional)<br />

• ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese<br />

• ⅓ cup dried cranberries<br />

Dressing<br />

• 1 cup apple juice<br />

• 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar<br />

(or white vinegar)<br />

• 2 tablespoons honey<br />

• ½ teaspoon salt<br />

• ¼ teaspoon black pepper<br />

• ¼ cup oil<br />

• candied walnuts (optional)<br />

• 1 cup walnut halves<br />

• 1 Tbsp. butter<br />

• ¼ cup sugar<br />

• ¼ teaspoon salt<br />

• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon<br />

Core and chop apples (thin slices or<br />

1 inch chunks). Toss lettuce, apples,<br />

walnuts, feta, bacon (if using) and<br />

cranberries together in a large bowl.<br />

Whisk together all dressing<br />

ingredients or combine in a jar and<br />

shake vigorously. Toss with salad<br />

immediately before serving. Enjoy!<br />

Sheet Pan Roasted<br />

Vegetables<br />

• 8 zucchini, peeled and chopped<br />

• 1 eggplant, peeled and diced<br />

• 8 carrots, diced<br />

• 16 cherry tomatoes<br />

• 2 red onions, sliced<br />

• 1 red bell pepper, sliced<br />

• 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced<br />

• ½ cup olive oil<br />

• 1 tsp. dried rosemary<br />

• 1 tsp. dried thyme<br />

• 2 bay leaves, crushed<br />

• 1 tsp. dried oregano<br />

• 2 cloves garlic, minced<br />

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice<br />

• 1 tsp. grated lemon zest<br />

• Salt and pepper to taste<br />

In a large bowl mix zucchini, eggplant,<br />

carrots, tomatoes, onions and peppers<br />

with oil, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves,<br />

oregano, garlic, lemon juice, lemon<br />

zest, salt and pepper. Cover and chill<br />

for at least 2 hours, and preferably<br />

overnight. Preheat oven to 400.<br />

On a large pan, roast the vegetables,<br />

uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until<br />

the tomatoes have split and the edges<br />

of some of the vegetables are starting<br />

to crisp. Remove from oven and stir<br />

before returning to the oven for<br />

another 20 minutes. Reduce heat to<br />

200 and continue cooking until<br />

vegetables are tender, turning every<br />

20 minutes.<br />

The Best Mashed Potatoes<br />

• 5 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes<br />

• 2 cups parmesan cheese<br />

• 1½ cups cream cheese<br />

• 1 cup chopped fresh chives<br />

• ½ cup butter<br />

• ½ medium head garlic,<br />

peeled and minced<br />

• 1 pinch of salt and pepper to taste<br />

Peel and quarter potatoes and place<br />

in a large pot. Cover with salted water<br />

and bring to a boil. Cook until tender<br />

but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain<br />

and return potatoes to the pot over<br />

low heat to dry for 1 to 2 minutes.<br />

Add parmesan cheese, cream cheese,<br />

chives, butter, garlic, salt and pepper.<br />

Use a potato masher to mash until<br />

smooth and serve.<br />

Easiest Eggplant<br />

• ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs<br />

• 1 medium eggplant, peeled and<br />

sliced into ½ inch rounds<br />

• 4 Tbsp. mayonnaise, or as needed<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking<br />

sheet with aluminum foil. Place<br />

breadcrumbs in a small shallow dish.<br />

Coat eggplant slices on both sides<br />

with mayonnaise, then press into<br />

breadcrumbs to coat. Place on the<br />

baking sheet. Bake until bottoms are<br />

golden brown, about 20 minutes.<br />

Flip slices over and continue baking<br />

until brown on the other side, 20 to<br />

25 minutes.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 89

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John Lutz, MD<br />


Carroll McLeod, MD<br />


Jeremy Smitherman, MD<br />


Jackson • Madison • Flowood • Ruleville • Yazoo City • Brookhaven<br />

90 • NOVEMBER 2023

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Hometown RANKIN • 91

92 • NOVEMBER 2023


Micah Lane<br />

Melanie McMillan<br />




A well-rounded young man, Micah is an honor roll student and talented<br />

musician. He plays the quints drums in the Richland High School band, and<br />

has been making music since the 4th grade. “Music is a huge part of my life,”<br />

Micah says. “I’ve been writing songs and arranging music for many years. I’ve<br />

also been heavily influenced by my experiences at Jackson State band camps.”<br />

A longtime JSU fan, Micah plans to continue his education there, and will<br />

continue to create and play music, although not as a career. “Music is my talent,<br />

and it will always be part of my life,” says Micah, “but I plan to major in<br />

forensic accounting and pursue a career with the FBI.”<br />

Micah is committed to making his community a better place and is always<br />

looking for ways to serve his school, friends, and family. He helps the band<br />

boosters set up before games, volunteers at a local daycare and at Ball Tax and<br />

Accounting, and works at Ace Inflatables. Most parents struggle to get their<br />

teenagers to clean their rooms, but Micah spends every weekend voluntarily<br />

cleaning the daycare his family owns, simply because he wants to be of help.<br />

Micah’s family is very important to him, and he’s devoted to his parents,<br />

siblings, aunts and uncles. In fact, it was Micah’s late aunt, Formeka Ball, who<br />

nominated him for “Kids Who Care” recognition. “Micah is a great big<br />

brother and cousin,” she wrote. “He’s very hands on with his younger cousins<br />

and siblings, and he loves and honors God in all he does.”<br />

Micah says his mom, LaTasha Owens, assistant principal at Terry High<br />

School, is his “super hero.” He credits his parents and step-dad with keeping<br />

him grounded in his faith. “My step-dad, Eric Owens, and my mom host a<br />

Bible study every Tuesday night,” Micah says. “They, along with my dad,<br />

consistently point me to God. I am the person I am because of them. They have<br />

taught me to hold myself to a high standard because others are watching me.”<br />

Micah is very focused and driven, and will no doubt go far in life and<br />

continue to impact others positively. “Jesus Christ didn’t put me on this earth<br />

for no reason, and I’m going to make the most of it,” he says. “I’ve had nothing<br />

but blessings in my life and I thank God for that.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 93

94 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 95

96 • NOVEMBER 2023<br />

Photos: Aubree Johnson Photography and Jennifer Hudson

An Adoption Story<br />

Melanie McMillan<br />

“God’s hand was in it.<br />

It was meant to be.”<br />

Wife and mother Katie Gable can look back at her family’s<br />

journey over the last few years and see that God had a plan all<br />

along, but the road had some bumps along the way.<br />

Katie and her husband Jacob married in 2014, and looked<br />

forward to the day they would welcome their first child. After a<br />

few years, it seemed a biological child may not be in their future,<br />

so after much prayer, the couple decided they would begin the<br />

process of adoption. God had other plans, however. “I was driving<br />

to work on a Monday morning, thinking about our pastor’s sermon<br />

the day before, and meditating on this verse from John 14:13:<br />

‘And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father<br />

may be glorified.’ I poured out my heart to God and prayed for<br />

Him to bless us with a child.”<br />

Six weeks later, a positive pregnancy test revealed that Katie’s<br />

prayer had been answered, and their son Gus was born on October<br />

26, 2017.<br />

When Gus was a year old, Katie noticed a small bump on her left<br />

arm. It didn’t go away, so she went to the doctor. The Gables were<br />

shocked to learn that Katie had metastatic melanoma, the most<br />

aggressive form of skin cancer. Katie had surgery to remove the spot,<br />

and doctors discovered the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.<br />

Treatment was difficult, physically and emotionally. “I just wanted<br />

to be a mom and take care of my son, which was really hard to do<br />

when I was so drained.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 97

While Katie’s diagnosis and treatment were extremely tough,<br />

what the couple would learn about this particular type of cancer<br />

would be even harder to accept. “My doctors at Vanderbilt told us<br />

this type of melanoma is linked to pregnancy hormones, and that<br />

another pregnancy would be a death sentence for me,” Katie says.<br />

“Jacob and I went through so many emotions - anger, devastation,<br />

sadness. It was a very difficult time, but God used that experience to<br />

show me two things: first, that I would go on to help and encourage<br />

others who find themselves on a similar journey with cancer, and<br />

second, that He wanted us to grow our family through adoption.”<br />

Once the Gables made the decision to adopt, they knew that the<br />

first step was to find a bigger home. They purchased a three-bedroom<br />

home in Sandhill and began the adoption process as soon as<br />

they were settled. “We didn’t have an extra $30,000 laying around,<br />

which is what a typical adoption costs,” says Katie, “but we knew that<br />

God was in it, and we trusted that He would provide.” Throughout<br />

the paperwork, home study, and raising of funds, Katie says they<br />

received support from family, friends, and people they had never<br />

even met. “God calls us to care for widows and orphans in whatever<br />

way we can, and there’s a way for everyone to help,” Katie says. “We<br />

were blown away that all we had to do was accept the call and wait<br />

for God to provide, which He did through the prayer and support of<br />

so many.”<br />

The Gable family got plugged into the Zaccheus Tree adoption<br />

ministry, led by Chris Gray, which meets monthly at Crossgates<br />

Baptist Church in Brandon. “I cannot recommend it highly<br />

enough,” Katie says. “We were encouraged, informed, educated, and<br />

I felt like we knew what we were doing after just one meeting.” Chris<br />

helped them navigate the process of applying for grants, and they<br />

began raising money to fund the adoption. They also worked with<br />

98 • NOVEMBER 2023

Julie Welch and Julie James<br />

with the Hearts of Compassion<br />

ministry at Colonial Heights<br />

Baptist. The Gables were blessed<br />

to receive grants from Zaccheus<br />

Tree and Hearts of Compassion,<br />

as well as Lifesong for Orphans.<br />

On December 4, 2022, ten<br />

months after they began the adoption process, they learned about a<br />

baby due to be born on December 27th. They met with the birth<br />

mother, who was excited to meet them. Everything was going<br />

according to plan when the baby boy was born on December 20.<br />

After the birth, the baby’s mother changed her mind and decided to<br />

raise the baby. “I just began praying,” Katie said. “I had no resentment<br />

or anger toward her. We were there to support her and that’s<br />

what we did. We have actually become close and still talk to this day,<br />

often sharing pictures of our children with each other.” Ironically, the<br />

day they received the news that the baby’s mom had changed her<br />

mind was the day the Gables found out that their adoption was now<br />

fully funded, thanks to the generosity of all those God brought into<br />

their lives.<br />

Two weeks later, Katie and Jacob learned through a friend at<br />

church about a birth mom in Texas who was interested in adoption.<br />

The adoption came together and fell apart several times before<br />

finally working out, one day before the baby girl was born.<br />

“We were told it would be 21 days after the birth before we could<br />

take our daughter home,” says Katie. “But through the help of our<br />

friend Chris Gray with<br />

Zaccheus Tree, and a precious<br />

lady named Olivia with the<br />

Mississippi Interstate Compact<br />

for the Placement of<br />

Children, we were able to<br />

come home within 48 hours.”<br />

The new family of four was<br />

able to celebrate their first Easter together just one day after bringing<br />

their daughter home.<br />

Months before he even knew that he would have a little sister, big<br />

brother Gus had chosen the perfect name for her - Olivia. “We hadn’t<br />

chosen a middle name for her and we had to choose a name quickly,”<br />

says Katie. “I felt such joy with the birth of Olivia that we chose Joy<br />

as her middle name.” Olivia has certainly brought joy to her entire<br />

family, and Gus is her biggest fan. “Olivia laughs every time she sees<br />

me,” says six-year-old Gus. “I always tell her that I will love and<br />

protect her forever.”<br />

Katie is in contact with Olivia’s birth mom and sends her pictures<br />

periodically. The Gables are grateful for the many blessings they’ve<br />

experienced together: the gift of their daughter, clear scans and no<br />

signs of cancer for Katie, and for the tremendous support they<br />

received along the way. “Because it’s important to us to encourage<br />

others who are considering adoption, we are in the beginning stages<br />

of starting a ministry for families considering adoption. “We want<br />

them to know the resources that are out there, and to show them<br />

that if they’re called to adopt, God will make a way.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 99

100 • NOVEMBER 2023



Walk-Ins Welcome | No Referral Needed<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 101

Together,<br />



Who We Are and Who We Serve<br />

Who We Are and Who We Serve<br />

Since Make-A-Wish Mississippi’s inception in 1984, more than 2,528 children with critical illnesses have experienced<br />

life-changing Since Make-A-Wish wishes. We Mississippi’s serve children inception the 65 southern in 1984, most more counties than in 2,528 the state, children spanning with every critical socioeconomic<br />

factor illnesses and ethnic have background. experienced We’ve life-changing never turned wishes. away a We child serve eligible children for a wish. in the A family’s 65 southern financial most status, race, or<br />

religion counties has in no the bearing state, on spanning whether a every child will socioeconomic receive a wish. factor and ethnic background. We’ve<br />

never turned away a child eligible for a wish. A family’s financial status, race, or religion has<br />

Our no continued bearing on success whether at Make-A-Wish a child will receive Mississippi a wish.<br />

only achieved with great people and great relationships.<br />

It’s through the generous support – our community of donors, staff, volunteers, medical professionals and sponsors –<br />

the Our real continued heart and soul success of the at organization Make-A-Wish – that Mississippi we will reach is our only vision. achieved As you with read great through people the information and in the<br />

Fiscal great Year relationships. 2022 annual It’s report, through please the remember generous how support important – our you are community to all the progress of donors, we have staff, made…and all that<br />

is volunteers, yet to come. Your medical impact professionals is profound and meaningful. sponsors – the real heart and soul of the organization<br />

– that we will reach our vision. As you read through the information in the Fiscal Year 2022<br />

On annual August report, 29, a kick-off please social remember for W.I.S.H. how Society important (Women you Inspiring are to all Strength the progress and Hope) we have was held made at Char … Restaurant<br />

in and Jackson. all that Twenty-three is yet to come. women Your are being impact honored is profound which means and meaningful.<br />

that twenty-five wishes will be granted for deserving<br />

kids fighting to overcome unimaginable odds right here in Mississippi.<br />

Thank you for your commitment to our organization and the precious lives we transform<br />

Thank each you year. for your commitment to our organization and the precious lives we transform each year.<br />

102 • NOVEMBER 2023

Mandy Baker<br />

Nurse Practitioner<br />

During my time working at Batson<br />

Children’s Hospital, I was able to see,<br />

first-hand, how much Make-A-Wish<br />

impacted the children of Mississippi.<br />

These families were given an amazing<br />

experience, making happy memories<br />

during such a devastating time. I’m honored to have such<br />

a small part in helping grant wishes!<br />

Katie Banks<br />

Tax Accountant/Grantham Poole CPA<br />

I am honored to accept the position as<br />

honoree for Women Inspiring Strength<br />

& Hope to further the mission of Make-<br />

A-Wish MS. I look forward to raising<br />

funds to assist children in our state<br />

who have been presented with difficult<br />

diagnoses and medical conditions. All children deserve hope,<br />

strength, and joy, especially as they navigate medical treatments.<br />

Natalie Baten<br />

Mocha Mugs, Owner<br />

I am honored to have been selected as a<br />

Make-A-Wish Foundation honoree. I look<br />

forward to helping raise money to fulfill a<br />

child’s wish. It is a privilege to be able to<br />

help these families and children in need<br />

and to bring awareness to Make-A-Wish<br />

Mississippi. Make-A-Wish makes a huge impact on so many<br />

lives and it is an incredible honor to be part of it.<br />

Beth Brantley<br />

After Five Designs<br />

As a mother of four children, and soon to<br />

be grandmother, I know it takes a village<br />

when caring for children. When this opportunity<br />

presented itself, I knew I had to get<br />

involved. If the love, compassion, and<br />

experience as a parent or the skills I’ve<br />

acquired through work and various volunteer<br />

positions I’ve held over the years can make a difference in a<br />

single child’s life, then I’m all in! I’m looking forward to what we<br />

can do together.<br />

Ashley Dukes<br />

Pre-School Teacher,<br />

First Presbyterian Day School<br />

When my daughter, Charlotte, was a patient<br />

at St. Jude, Make-A-Wish asked if they could<br />

meet with us. I realized how much hope they<br />

were offering to Charlotte and our whole<br />

family. For our whole family, knowing<br />

Charlotte’s wish would be granted was a God-given rainbow<br />

in our darkest and hardest days. I will always do what I can for<br />

MAW because what they gave us was simply immeasurable.<br />

Jamie Foster<br />

Event/Wedding Planner,<br />

Kendall Poole Event Planning<br />

I have long desired to work with children in<br />

need, and to make a difference in just one<br />

life would be a blessing. There is nothing<br />

more important than bringing joy and hope<br />

to a child and to families dealing with the<br />

fear associated with a life-threating illness. I would also like the<br />

opportunity to highlight the need for supporting this amazing<br />

organization.<br />

Beth Hennington<br />

The Vanillan, Owner<br />

I have a special place in my heart for all<br />

God’s children and especially those that<br />

need a little extra help. I accepted the honoree<br />

position and wanted to fundraise in<br />

order to help some of these kids’ dreams<br />

become a reality.<br />

Rae Ann Lawrence<br />

Having four children of my own, I am<br />

keenly aware to never take the health<br />

of my family or those I love for granted.<br />

I can’t imagine anything more rewarding<br />

than helping a child and their family forget<br />

their hard and heartbreaking circumstances<br />

—even if only temporarily—by allowing<br />

them to simply live in the moment and make memories with<br />

one another.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 103

Elizabeth Mehrle<br />

I am honored to accept the position as<br />

honoree and look forward to raising money<br />

for such a worthy cause. As a mother of<br />

four children, I cannot imagine the challenges<br />

involved with a child suffering from<br />

a life-threatening disease. I know that<br />

wishes become such an important part of a<br />

child’s treatment and provides them a glimmer of hope and a<br />

break from treatment. The impact of a wish for a child can be<br />

transformational. I am thrilled to be a part of this Wish Society.<br />

Kamesha Mumford<br />

Mumford Title,<br />

Closing Attorney & Owner<br />

I struggled with infertility for many years.<br />

In 2010, I lost a pregnancy at 13-weeks<br />

due to Turner’s Syndrome. After the loss,<br />

I learned that only 1-2% of babies with<br />

Turner’s survive. My motivation is to honor<br />

the babies I lost by supporting children who are dealing with<br />

critical illnesses. Life is so precious, and I feel honored to have<br />

the opportunity to create a special moment for a child.<br />

Katie Nalty<br />

Sales and Leasing Agent,<br />

Pinpoint Commercial Real Estate<br />

I am incredibly grateful to be an honoree<br />

and member of the Wish Society. For years,<br />

Make-A-Wish Mississippi has helped to<br />

bring much needed joy to children who<br />

are battling critical illnesses. Joy is such a<br />

powerful took and I hope that through these fundraising efforts<br />

we can experience the joy of philanthropy while showering the<br />

children in as much joy and love as possible.<br />

Manisha Patel<br />

Realtor, EXIT New Door Realty<br />

I feel incredibly honored for the opportunity<br />

to raise funds for Make-A-Wish and<br />

contribute to a child’s wish coming true.<br />

The decision to fundraise for this organization<br />

is simply because through the help<br />

of the community, we can all make a<br />

difference. While I can’t change the world, I believe that even<br />

a small contribution can make a significant impact in the life<br />

of a child battling illness.<br />

Ceejaye Peters<br />

Vice President and Corporate Counsel,<br />

EastGroup<br />

Over the years, I have followed several<br />

Mississippi Wish kids through updates<br />

shared by their families. The parents of<br />

these special children have experienced<br />

highs and lows that I can’t even begin to<br />

fathom. Their hearts have been broken many times over, but<br />

they remain strong and brave. The wishes granted by Make-A-<br />

Wish are life-changing for Wish Kids and their parents.<br />

Brittany Rogers, OD<br />

CEO, Optometrist,<br />

Rogers Family Eye Care<br />

I am so honored and humbled to be<br />

recognized as a 2023 W.I.S.H. Society<br />

honoree. Service to my community is near<br />

to my heart because I believe serving<br />

others, selflessly, enriches the lives you<br />

touch. I am passionately invested in partnering with Make-A-<br />

Wish to inspire hope, strength, and empowerment to any child.<br />

Bethany Smith<br />

I am excited to help bring awareness to the<br />

mission of Make-A-Wish and all that this<br />

wonderful organization does for children<br />

and families in our state. As a mama of<br />

three young children, my heart goes out<br />

to families with children battling a critical<br />

illness. The wishes granted by Make-A-Wish<br />

give these children the opportunity to make precious memories,<br />

to feel joy, to sustain hope, and to be celebrated. I am honored<br />

to play a small role in this important work.<br />

Brittany Spiers<br />

Owner and Stylist, Raymond’s Salon<br />

As a mom of three, it was easy to say yes<br />

and accept the challenge of fundraising as<br />

a Make-A-Wish honoree. I am grateful to<br />

play a small part in providing hope and<br />

happiness to the children and families of<br />

Make-A-Wish. During the most trying of<br />

times, Make-A-Wish has the ability to renew strength and restore<br />

faith by granting a life-changing wish.<br />

104 • NOVEMBER 2023

Bethany Stanfill<br />

Partner, BSS Global<br />

If I can make one child’s life a little bit<br />

better by granting their ultimate wish,<br />

then hopefully I can bring some light to<br />

their tough situation and ease the burden<br />

on their loved ones. I can’t imagine what<br />

some of these children go through, and<br />

I’m honored to be a small part of Make-A-Wish Mississippi.<br />

Make-A-Wish is the national philanthropy for my college sorority,<br />

Chi Omega, and has been near and dear to me for years.<br />

Anna Stroble<br />

Partner, HORNE<br />

Children are one of the greatest gifts in life.<br />

It is heart-breaking to see a child experience<br />

challenges to their health and even<br />

fight for their lives. Make-A-Wish serves a<br />

meaningful purpose for these children and<br />

their families as it brings light to a dark season<br />

in the lives of many. I accepted this opportunity to serve,<br />

hopeful that, alongside remarkable women, our efforts will result<br />

in numerous wishes granted for brave children in need of a<br />

ray of hope as they walk through this season of their life.<br />

Denisa Strong<br />

Manager, Wal-Mart Pharmacy<br />

I am committed to making a difference in<br />

the lives of others, including children with<br />

life-threatening medical conditions. As a<br />

two-time breast cancer survivor, I know<br />

personally how it feels to experience unexpected<br />

life altering health adversities and<br />

struggles. I will remain diligent in my commitment to supporting<br />

children facing life-threatening illnesses so that their wishes are<br />

fulfilled, and they can make priceless memories of a lifetime.<br />

Hannah Waller<br />

Account Executive, UPS<br />

My niece, Makinzi, at age four, had brain<br />

surgery due to an AVM. We spent a lot of<br />

time over the years at Blair E. Batson and<br />

had the pleasure of meeting some of the<br />

sweetest kids and families that were granted<br />

a wish and saw what a huge impact it<br />

had on their lives. Seeing how an organization can fulfill and<br />

give so much joy to the children and parents, I knew I wanted<br />

to be involved one day with Make-A-Wish.<br />

Jamie Woods-Dull<br />

Co-Owner All Pro Clean<br />

I had no idea when I attended a fundraiser<br />

for Make-A-Wish event in 2022, that I<br />

would form a bond with a precious soul<br />

and her family. Gabby Buford was diagnosed<br />

with a brain tumor in 2021. Make-A-Wish<br />

provided a trip of a lifetime in 2022 to<br />

Gabby and her family to Hawaii. Gabby’s family was able to<br />

enjoy this experience of a lifetime with her thanks to Make-<br />

A-Wish. I pray other families can experience this joy.<br />

Dr. Teneisha Wynter<br />

St. Dominic FMOLHS, Rehabilitation<br />

Supervisor – Physical Therapist<br />

As a healthcare provider, I strive to offer<br />

support, lend a listening ear, and demonstrate<br />

love, respect, and compassion to<br />

those in need. I am committed to making<br />

a meaningful difference in the lives of<br />

families and children facing life-threatening conditions.<br />

By granting a wish, I hope to provide them with a glimmer of<br />

hope, strength, and joy during their challenging journey.<br />

Chanda Yelverton<br />

Owner, Madison Nutrition<br />

It is an extreme privilege to be nominated<br />

as an honoree. I have seen how these<br />

wishes can make such a huge difference<br />

for children fighting illness. To be a tiny<br />

part of this and to get to help Make-A-<br />

Wish is all the motivation needed to help<br />

grant some wishes. I am excited to work alongside this amazing<br />

group of lady leaders in our community for a common goal in<br />

fundraising.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 105

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

Why did you decide to be a fireman?<br />

I love helping people and really found I had a knack for it.<br />

More than 22 years ago, I became a volunteer firefighter.<br />

I discovered I loved firefighting and being a part of a community<br />

of brothers and sisters with common goals and interests. I joined<br />

the fire service full-time soon after and have enjoyed it ever since.<br />

How long have you been with Richland Fire Dept?<br />

I started as a full-time firefighter at Richland in November 2003.<br />

I was elected chief in June of this year. I’m very fortunate to have<br />

the best team working with me.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I have a very supportive family. My wife and two children<br />

have always supported anything I do.<br />

What is the toughest thing you’ve experienced<br />

on the job?<br />

I really hate to see anyone hurt. You learn quickly that<br />

emergency situations can happen to anyone.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.<br />

I spend a lot of time with my family. I also enjoy hunting, fishing,<br />

and working on old vehicles.<br />

Chief<br />

Trey<br />

PORCH<br />


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

One day I’d love to see all 50 states. I’d like to retire and spend<br />

more time with my family. I’d like to own several classic cars.<br />

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

Someone I admire is my dad. He passed away seven years ago<br />

and I miss him every day. He loved family, could fix anything,<br />

and was a very kind soul. He was known for always helping<br />

anyone in need.<br />

What advice would you give a young person?<br />

Make every day count. Life flies by and family is so important.<br />

Don’t sweat the small stuff, take lots of pictures, set out to make<br />

a difference, and do your best in everything you do in this life.<br />

106 • NOVEMBER 2023

What is your favorite thing about Richland?<br />

I love the small-town feel. I grew up here and still have family<br />

here. There’s a real sense of community, and the support of<br />

the fire, police, and EMS departments are really unmatched.<br />

Richland has always had a special place in my heart.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?<br />

I grew up in Rankin County and the schools are great. Rankin<br />

County has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. I’m really<br />

glad the Hwy 49 project is over. The future is bright in Rankin<br />

County. It’s a safe place to live and raise a family. I’m thankful<br />

to have an opportunity to serve in this community.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 107

108 • NOVEMBER 2023<br />

Thanks<br />

to all our<br />

readers<br />

and<br />

advertisers.<br />

We<br />

appreciate<br />


southern belle photography<br />

est. 2022<br />


D e s t i n e e J e n n i n g s | 6 0 1 . 9 4 2 . 3 5 3 7 |<br />

s o u t h e r n b e l l e . d e s t i n e e j @ g m a i l . c o m<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 109


Pearl Public School District<br />

Pirates Wear Pink. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To honor those wholost their fight, survived, or continue to battle<br />

breast cancer and to raise awareness for breastcancer research, Pearl Public School District encouraged everyone to wear pink!<br />

110 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 111


Brandon High<br />

Brandon Bulldog Media Group is an elite educational organization at Brandon High School that encompasses learning paths in broadcast, print, sports, and<br />

photojournalism. The highly sought after and competitive program includes five media outlets, seven faculty members, and sixty-seven promising media students who<br />

devote countless hours to feature the very best of Brandon High School. Students are selected through an application process and teacher recommendations for<br />

available positions with The Paw Print (print publication), The Bark (broadcast), Brandon Bulldog Sports Media, The Bulldog (yearbook), and Bully’s Buzz (alumni news).<br />

“The Brandon Bulldog Media Group is one of a kind because our students are given creative freedoms and the use of cutting-edge technology to decide what they<br />

want to cover and how they want to present it to our audience,” said Nichole Robinson, assistant principal. “It is a joy to watch many of our media students turn this into<br />

a college degree or career.”<br />

This innovative group works tirelessly researching, writing, filming, editing, producing, designing, and more to keep their peers and community up to date with<br />

the Dogs, as well as showcase the multitude of talent that surrounds them. From the beloved yearbook and interviews with faculty and staff, to alumni spotlights and<br />

football highlight reels, each student-run entity shares its unique perspective on life at Brandon High School.<br />

The recent launch of the group’s website has created a platform for its contributors to showcase their work outside of the school walls. It has also made it easier<br />

than ever for students and parents to receive the school’s daily announcements.<br />

Stay up to date with the latest headlines by visiting brandonbulldogmediagroup.com or download the “Student News Source” app from your device’s app store and<br />

select “Brandon High School” to get your news on the go. Don’t forget to turn on push notifications to get the latest stories the moment they publish.<br />

112 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 113

TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Living in Mississippi means living far from climate control.<br />

The temperature gauge can resemble a rollercoaster, and the seasons can<br />

name their own conditions – even in November and December.<br />

I recall a particular December weather pattern when we lived further north in<br />

the state. The radio Christmas station sang of winter wonderlands, sleigh bells<br />

ringing, and “Baby, it’s cold outside.” But in reality, the grass was still green, the lawn<br />

mowers still hummed, and shoppers wore shorts and flip flops to the mall.<br />

We opened lovely Christmas cards with traditional snow scenes, but our<br />

back yard actually had December blooms of daisies, begonias, and Mexican heather.<br />

My four baskets of hanging ferns shot out new growth and leafed out like they were<br />

finalists in the county fair.<br />

Meanwhile, sweaters stayed in dresser drawers, fleece jackets rested in closets,<br />

and furry boots waited their turn behind sandals. Turkey and dressing kept their spot<br />

on the Christmas menu, but grilled burgers and baked beans would actually<br />

have been the more appropriate fare.<br />

There was a lesson for me in the unseasonable December weather.<br />

Complaining and whining didn’t drop the thermostats a single degree.<br />

While I dreamed of frosty mornings and toasty firesides, those on<br />

fixed incomes were grateful for the break on heating bills, and the<br />

homeless surely rejoiced for every mild night.<br />

Nature didn’t gripe about balmy December days. Instead, they<br />

flourished in the lingering blooming climate. I enjoyed roses longer<br />

than I ever remembered because they continued to do what their<br />

Creator intended. They bloomed where they were planted!<br />

If they had followed the calendar, they would have dropped their<br />

leaves and turned into thorny stubs. Instead, they absorbed the warm sun<br />

rays and continued to add beauty to the landscape.<br />

The apostle Paul is a shining example of living free from murmuring and<br />

complaining: ”...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”<br />

A few “blooms” added to our attitudes during a month that’s become way too<br />

frenzied could make a powerful statement on our world’s landscape.<br />

114 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hello<br />

Brandon!<br />

Bye bye<br />

boo boos.<br />

TrustCare Kids now open in Brandon<br />

Trusted care is now in your neighborhood. At TrustCare, kids are welcomed with fun animal themes,<br />

and interactive games in every room. From urgent care to routine check-ups, our experienced team<br />

takes the stress out of every visit in a kid-friendly clinic.<br />

© 2023 TrustCare Health. All rights reserved.<br />

TrustCareKids.com<br />

Open late & weekends<br />

Scan the code to be one of the first<br />

to experience our new location.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 115

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