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V101<br />


2 • NOVEMBER 2023



CARE &<br />

WALK-IN<br />


AT AFC<br />





Viva Más Saludable<br />


La salud de uno es importante y para<br />

mantener la salud es importante de tener<br />

un físico anual. En AFC estamos listos<br />

para ayudar con su salud en su idioma.<br />

✚ Físico General<br />

✚ Atención Urgente<br />

✚ Prevención de Enfermedades<br />

✚ Atención de Enfermedades Crónicas<br />

AFC Urgent Care MADISON<br />

1896 Main St. Suite A<br />

601.898.6939<br />

Hometown MADISON • 3

"We make buying floors easy!"<br />

Unwrap your<br />

dream kitchen<br />

at<br />

2660 Lakeland Drive<br />

Flowood, MS 39232<br />

(601) 932-2926<br />

4 • NOVEMBER 2023

BlueHealth Baptist is Distinctively Different<br />

Your health is our priority.<br />

With next-generation primary care, we deliver a<br />

personalized & holistic approach to your health.<br />

We address what YOU really need.<br />

Call 877-8-GO-2-BLUE to<br />

schedule an appointment.<br />

401 Baptist Dr. Suite 110<br />

Madison, MS 39110<br />

@BlueHealthBaptist<br />

BlueHealth Baptist is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 5

Let’s Talk...<br />

Have you ever wondered if your investment<br />

strategy needs a second opinion? Maybe<br />

you have unanswered questions. Maybe<br />

you need advice on your retirement plan.<br />

The team at Mascagni Wealth Management<br />

might be exactly what you are looking for.<br />

We are a Registered Investment Advisor<br />

with over 30 years of experience helping<br />

Mississippians and their families. Let’s sit<br />

down over a cup of coffee and talk about<br />

your financial future. Call us today.<br />

205 E. Main Street • Clinton, MS<br />

For an free initial consultation,<br />

please call 601-925-8099 or visit<br />

mascagniwealth.com<br />




6 • JANUARY 2024


Embracing New Year’s resolutions often involves a laundry list of<br />

aspirations, from exercising regularly to achieving a healthier lifestyle.<br />

Yet, in the hustle of daily life, these goals can easily fade<br />

into the background. Reflecting on the wisdom of a cherished<br />

preacher who summed up his philosophy in just two words –<br />

“Do right” – simplicity becomes a powerful guide for navigating<br />

each day.<br />

Consider the transformative impact if, before reacting, we<br />

all paused to ponder the notion of “doing right.” As parents and<br />

grandparents, we echo the sentiment, urging our children to<br />

“act right” or to embody qualities like kindness, gentleness, and<br />

friendliness. These directives essentially converge into a vibrant<br />

neon sign that reads “Do Right.”<br />

In a world seemingly defining its own standards of behavior,<br />

let’s redirect attention to the timeless wisdom of the golden<br />

rule: treating others as we wish to be treated. Imagine the<br />

quieting of conflicts and friction if this principle were<br />

universally embraced.<br />

For those finding the Golden Rule a challenge, let the<br />

beacon for 2024 be the simple yet profound mantra:<br />

“Do Right.” Let’s collectively commit to this and watch as<br />

our hometown truly earns its place on the map!<br />



Tahya Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />


Reader Spotlight 9<br />

Hometown Family 14<br />

When Seconds Count 24<br />

The Lord Will Answer 30<br />

Kids Who Care 38<br />

First Responder 40<br />

Messages from Heaven 48<br />

The Time Coin 66<br />

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


Barbie Bassett<br />


Amy Forsyth<br />



Melissa Kennon<br />



Alisha Floyd<br />


Daniel Thomas<br />

3dt<br />

STAFF<br />


Othel Anding<br />

STAFF<br />


Debby Francis<br />


Susan Wolgamott<br />

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

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

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

Hometown MADISON • 7

8 • JANUARY 2024

READER<br />


Emily<br />


Why did you make Madison your home?<br />

We chose to live in Madison because it is a very<br />

safe community and has great schools!<br />

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

We’ve lived in Madison County since 2001.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

We’re Carl and Emily Sandberg. We have been<br />

married 21 years, and have three sons - Drew, 18,<br />

is a senior at Canton Academy, and twins, Reed<br />

& Ryan, 15, are freshmen at Rosa Scott. Carl is<br />

a builder and owns 3S Homes. He has served in<br />

the local and state home builder association for<br />

many years, always trying to give back to the<br />

industry. He is currently the president for the<br />

state of Mississippi. I stepped away from<br />

working as an occupational therapist about five<br />

years ago and am now beside him just about<br />

every step of the way, working with him in the<br />

3S Homes office. As a realtor with Front Gate<br />

Realty, I list and sell the homes he builds. It has<br />

been an adventure working together so closely<br />

these past several years! We also spend a lot of<br />

time on the baseball field, especially during the<br />

spring and summer months, but also love to<br />

travel. Carl and the twins are great snow skiers<br />

and Drew is a talented snowboarder. I just love<br />

to go!<br />

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

in Madison?<br />

El Ranchito in Madison, Railroad Pizza in Flora,<br />

and Ticos in Ridgeland.<br />

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

County on the weekends?<br />

You can find us at high school football games on<br />

most Friday nights. Madison Central tailgating is<br />

a fun place to visit with friends and watch<br />

football. We have also loved being a part of the<br />

Canton Academy family and meeting people at<br />

so many new schools and watching great<br />

football! We have been long-time members of<br />

Grace Crossing Church in Gluckstadt.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your<br />

spare time.<br />

The boys all love to be outdoors and deer hunt!<br />

Drew has recently fallen in love with duck<br />

hunting. Reed and Ryan love all things football,<br />

baseball, and most recently pickleball! Carl<br />

especially loves to fish. He even started the<br />

fishing team at Madison Central High School<br />

several years ago, which provides opportunities<br />

for students grades 7-12 to fish competitively and<br />

represent their school. I just try to keep everyone’s<br />

schedule organized and make sure they are<br />

where they need to be, and at the right time!<br />

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

Carl will still be looking for the next building<br />

opportunity, a maybe a stocked private lake to<br />

get away to, and I hope to still be putting trips<br />

together for our family.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging quote,<br />

what would it be?<br />

Our family group text is full of encouraging<br />

quotes, and favorite Bible verses that we send to<br />

each other. The most recent one was a tweet by<br />

Inky Johnson. Inky is a former collegiate athlete<br />

who suffered a career-ending arm injury that left<br />

it paralyzed and is now a motivational speaker.<br />

Inky recently tweeted “How you do anything, is<br />

how you do everything. How you do small<br />

things, is how you do all things.” So true—and a<br />

great reminder!<br />

Hometown MADISON • 9

The No-Delay<br />

Debit Card<br />

Where Public Meets Private<br />

Coming Together for The Betterment of All<br />

Lost card? You don’t have time to wait on hold, much less<br />

for the mail. Just walk in to your nearest BankPlus and get an<br />

Instant Issue Debit Card then and there. bankplus.net<br />


The Madison County Business League & Foundation is a private, stakeholder-based support<br />

organization that works with business owners and decision makers to discuss topics that<br />

affect economic development. Together, we continue to build upon the economic development<br />

infrastructure of Madison County. We recognize and salute the industry and businesses for the<br />

contribution they make towards our quality of life.<br />

135 Mississippi Parkway, Canton, MS 39046 | 601.707.3303<br />

madisoncountybusinessleague.com<br />


Member FDIC.<br />

MCBLF_MCEDA_Ad-2022-Full.indd 1<br />

2/2/22 3:15 PM<br />

YOUR HEART is in<br />

theRIGHT PLACE.<br />

The Mississippi Heart and Vascular Institute at St. Dominic’s<br />

provides leading expertise in cardiovascular care. As the top<br />

provider of cardiac, vascular and venous services in Central<br />

Mississippi, we have delivered the most advanced treatment<br />

options available to patients for more than five decades.<br />

We can guide you through heart disease prevention and<br />

ways to make lasting lifestyle changes that decrease your<br />

risk. Let’s hear what your heart has to say.<br />

Visit stdom.com/heart to schedule a heart health checkup<br />

to discuss your risk of heart disease and steps you can take<br />

to prevent it.<br />

10 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown MADISON • 11

12 • JANUARY 2024


COLD & FLU<br />


Walk-ins Welcome!<br />

294 East Layfair Drive • Flowood, MS 39232<br />

Across from Jackson Prep off of Lakeland Drive<br />

(601) 414-6520 • www.hattiesburgclinic.com/flowood<br />

Hometown MADISON • 13

14 • JANUARY 2024

The<br />

Johnsons<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Chad, Meredith, William & Franklin<br />

Our hobbies are watching Ole Miss sporting events in Oxford (or<br />

away!) and playing kickball in our driveway. We enjoy reading and<br />

often visit the Madison Library. Spending time with grandparents<br />

is important to us. William (3rd grade) and Franklin (kindergarten)<br />

play basketball and baseball. William is learning to play the violin.<br />

We love our school, First Presbyterian Day School, and always<br />

have fun attending events there, including plays, special chapel<br />

services or classroom activities, and sporting events.<br />

We attend Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church.<br />

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

Chad and I both went to Ole Miss, but, being two years apart,<br />

we did not meet there. We met through friends at an Ole Miss<br />

alumni event in Jackson several years after college; then another<br />

group of friends set us up. We ended up going on our first date<br />

one week after Hurricane Katrina hit. We were married at First<br />

Presbyterian Church Jackson and will have been married 16 years<br />

this coming February.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 15

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

We do try to allow time for a date night, but, most often, we enjoy<br />

our own kind of date night just sitting outside after the boys go to<br />

bed and catching up on the week’s events. They are still young<br />

enough that this is doable and saves money on a babysitter! We<br />

enjoy traveling together and are blessed with grandparents who<br />

help allow that to happen.<br />

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

The greatest joy for us as parents is watching our boys grow in<br />

their love of learning and knowledge of God. We give so much<br />

credit to their teachers at school and pastors at church. It brings<br />

me to tears thinking of how many individuals have invested in<br />

our boys’ lives. We are thankful to have a “stool” in raising them<br />

- church, school, and us as parents as each of the three legs to stay<br />

balanced.<br />

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

Chad is definitely the financial manager in our home. He keeps<br />

us on track. I believe he inherited this from his mother, who<br />

worked at The Carthage Bank for 40 years! We make decisions<br />

together, though, and love to shop together for deals and<br />

Christmas gifts, etc.<br />

What is your discipline philosophy for your boys?<br />

They are still young, and we are learning every day as we go along!<br />

A lot of prayer and a lot of “question asking.” I am blessed to work<br />

at a school around so many Christian mamas, and I think it is<br />

daily that I am asking for advice. We waited and prayed for<br />

children for many years, so we are ‘older parents’ - and so we are<br />

thankful for the wisdom of our friends who mostly all have<br />

teenagers - especially those with active boys!<br />

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

And who does the cooking?<br />

Our quick go-to meal is hamburgers and hot dogs, and in the fall<br />

and winter, we like any soup or chili. Chad does all of the cooking<br />

while I help with homework! I do like to make several casseroles<br />

in the summer while I have time to freeze for the busy fall season.<br />

On Sundays, we try to package up as much of the boys’ lunches<br />

and snacks as we can to get ready for the week.<br />

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

In the summer, we swim with friends. William loves Twin Lakes<br />

Camp, and Franklin will be going for the first time this year. We<br />

spend time in Oxford - William has done the Ole Miss baseball<br />

camp. We read and cook and have fun just being together. We<br />

always look forward to a beach trip and a trip to Centennial Plaza<br />

in Gulfport (known to us fondly as “The Big Cup”).<br />

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

We lived in Ridgeland for several years after we were married.<br />

We built our house in Madison in Charlestowne in 2012 and have<br />

lived here ever since. We moved to our subdivision when it was just<br />

one street. Our boys were brought home from the hospital to our<br />

current home. We have loved watching our neighborhood grow.<br />

We believe we have one of the best neighborhoods in Madison!<br />

Our boys have so much fun with friends swimming, trick-ortreating,<br />

and playing in the front yard. We love riding our bikes all<br />

the way around Hoy Road to Madison Avenue and Old Canton.<br />

The snow ‘storm’ of 2021 was another neighborhood favorite -<br />

sledding down the driveway and around the roundabout with our<br />

friends. One of the blessings during the quarantine of 2020 was<br />

being in our neighborhood - we strolled and rode our riding toys<br />

to Madison Elementary and back. At 5:00, all of the neighbors<br />

would come outside and walk and ride bikes.<br />

16 • JANUARY 2024

What are some of your favorite things about Madison County?<br />

Our favorite thing about Madison County is definitely our<br />

neighborhood for all of the reasons listed above! We love the<br />

convenience. We can have dinner on the stove, realize we’ve<br />

forgotten something, and run to the Kroger and back while the<br />

dinner is still cooking! We like being minutes away from picking<br />

up dinner. We love the fall decorations - the hay bales and display<br />

at City Hall. We have a precious Fourth of July parade, and<br />

Madison fire and police are so gracious to come. The Christmas<br />

parade goes right in front of our neighborhood. We love walking<br />

through the Christmas lights at Strawberry Park and going to see<br />

the wooden village at the caboose. We enjoy all these small-town<br />

feelings!<br />

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

Chad is a pharmacist at The Transplant Pharmacy in Flowood,<br />

and I work in the office at First Presbyterian Day School. Both<br />

of our jobs are a blessing in that we are able to be with our families<br />

at night and on the weekends and even in the afternoons.<br />


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

William Go to Disney World!<br />

(We went for the first time this past February.)<br />

Franklin Celebrate Christmas<br />

What is your favorite restaurant?<br />

William Fernando’s<br />

Franklin Moe’s<br />

What is your favorite TV show?<br />

William G.I. Joe<br />

Franklin Chip and Dale<br />

What is your favorite thing about living in Madison?<br />

William I have a lot of friends who live close to us.<br />

Franklin Going to the park!<br />

Hometown MADISON • 17

18 • JANUARY 2024

Meet our newest physician<br />

Dr. Elliott Browning.<br />

Dr. Browning’s primary<br />

focuses will be:<br />





Small Seeds of<br />

Faith Grow Mighty<br />

Trees of Wisdom.<br />

Now Enrolling K3-6th Grades at fpds.org<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 />

Hometown MADISON • 19

20 • JANUARY 2024<br />

advertiser spotlight

Wesley Biblical Seminary<br />

Developing trusted leaders for faithful churches<br />

Melanie McMillan<br />

For nearly 50 years, Wesley<br />

Biblical Seminary has been<br />

training spiritual leaders from<br />

all over the world, right here<br />

in our community.<br />

Located in Ridgeland, the seminary’s<br />

most important mission is to raise up trusted<br />

pastors. “There is a deep need for biblically<br />

sound pastors in Mississippi as well as across<br />

the country and beyond,” says Wesley’s<br />

Director of Development Kaitlin Godfrey.<br />

Offering undergraduate and graduate degree<br />

programs, Wesley is dedicated to preparing<br />

students for ministry through on-campus and<br />

online study.<br />

As a global institution, WBS follows a<br />

polysynchronous model, meaning students<br />

can attend in person or online. “Wesley had<br />

implemented online learning long before<br />

COVID, so during the pandemic, other local<br />

colleges and universities reached out for<br />

guidance on remote learning for their students,”<br />

says Godfrey. “We are proud to be able to serve<br />

370 students, with approximately 60 of those<br />

from outside the United States.”<br />

Wesley has seen a significant increase in<br />

enrollment since becoming the first school to<br />

offer an approved Global Methodist Church<br />

course of study, which consists of educational<br />

requirements for students desiring to be<br />

ordained. The GMC list of recommended<br />

educational institutions for ordination<br />

candidates is short, so the fact that Wesley was<br />

the first to be approved speaks to the caliber<br />

of the faculty and curriculum. It’s fair to say<br />

that other schools are looking to Wesley as<br />

the benchmark for successful implementation<br />

of a GMC course of study.<br />

In addition to programs for ministerial<br />

students, WBS offers the Wesley Institute,<br />

a 9-month course designed for lay people.<br />

Participants can choose between the Bible<br />

or theology tracks, both of which provide<br />

seminary-level instruction to those desiring<br />

a deeper understanding of the Bible and<br />

growing in their faith. These classes are taught<br />

by Wesley faculty members.<br />

While the name Wesley certainly brings<br />

to mind the Methodist denomination, and<br />

Wesley Biblical Seminary is on the approved<br />

GMC list, the school itself is not affiliated with<br />

a particular denomination, nor do they receive<br />

any funds from a denomination. “Because our<br />

first priority is to fulfill the mission we are called<br />

to, Wesley never turns a potential student away<br />

due to his or her ability to pay,” says Godfrey.<br />

“Last year we provided students with<br />

$505,000 in unfunded scholarships, so the<br />

support of lay people is extremely important in<br />

continuing the work of the seminary.” A little<br />

over a year ago, Wesley launched the “Steadfast”<br />

campaign, with a goal of raising $4.17 million<br />

to drive long-term funding needs. In just a<br />

year, $3.1 million has been raised, 76% of the<br />

total goal, and this is before the public launch<br />

of the campaign in January 2024.<br />

Wesley Biblical Seminary is not just<br />

physically located in the community, but<br />

faculty and staff members are actively involved<br />

in the community as well. Teaching and<br />

preaching all over the metro area, faculty<br />

members are committed to serving in local<br />

churches, leading students by example and not<br />

just through instruction. A current WBS<br />

student says, “In my previous course of study<br />

at another seminary, the instructor came into<br />

the very first class and announced, ‘the Bible<br />

is not inerrant, and it is not the Word of God.’<br />

I was stunned. In contrast, Dr. Ayars joined<br />

my first class at Wesley Biblical Seminary to<br />

affirm that the inerrancy of Scripture is a core<br />

value that WBS will never depart from.<br />

I thought to myself, ‘I’m home.’”<br />

Wesley Biblical Seminary invites the<br />

community to a reception on Thursday,<br />

January 11th, from 10am-12pm to launch the<br />

Steadfast giving campaign.<br />

For more information on Wesley Biblical Seminary,<br />

visit wbs.edu or find them on Facebook and Instagram.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 21

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese<br />

• 1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni<br />

• 2 cups half and half<br />

• ½ cup unsalted butter, melted<br />

• 8 oz. cheddar, grated<br />

• 8 oz. Monterey jack, grated<br />

• 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces<br />

• 2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk<br />

• 1 tsp. ground mustard<br />

• Kosher salt and black pepper<br />

to taste<br />

Stir together macaroni, half and half,<br />

butter, cheddar, Monterey jack,<br />

cream cheese, evaporated milk, and<br />

mustard in the bowl of a 5- to 7-<br />

quart slow cooker. Season with salt<br />

and pepper. Cover and cook on low,<br />

stirring every 30 minutes, until<br />

macaroni is tender, 2 to 2½ hours.<br />

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled<br />

Pork with Cabbage Slaw<br />

• 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder or<br />

butt, trimmed of excess fat and<br />

cut into 6 pieces<br />

• Kosher salt and freshly ground<br />

black pepper<br />

• 1 yellow onion, chopped<br />

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped<br />

• ¾ cup ketchup<br />

• 1 Tbsp. tomato paste<br />

• 2 tsp. mustard powder<br />

• 2 tsp. cumin seed<br />

• 2 tsp. smoked paprika<br />

• 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, divided<br />

• Hamburger buns<br />

Combine onion, garlic, ketchup,<br />

tomato paste, mustard powder,<br />

cumin seed, paprika, and 3 Tbsp.<br />

vinegar in the bowl of a 5 -to-7-quart<br />

slow cooker. Season pork with salt<br />

and pepper and place on top of<br />

ketchup mixture. Cook on high<br />

until pork is very tender and easily<br />

shreds, 5 to 6 hours on high or 10<br />

to 12 hours on low. Transfer pork to<br />

a cutting board and shred meat<br />

(discard any fat). Return to the bowl<br />

and stir in remaining Tbsp. vinegar.<br />

Set slow cooker to warm.<br />

Slaw<br />

• ¼ head small cabbage, shredded<br />

• 1 large carrot, thinly sliced with<br />

a vegetable peeler<br />

• 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar<br />

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil<br />

• 1 Tbsp. country style Dijon<br />

mustard<br />

• Kosher salt and ground black<br />

pepper<br />

Combine cabbage, carrot, vinegar,<br />

oil, mustard in a bowl. Season with<br />

salt and pepper. Serve pork and slaw<br />

on hamburger buns.<br />

Slow Cooker<br />

Green Beans & Potatoes<br />

• 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed<br />

• 1 lb. small new potatoes, halved<br />

• Water to cover<br />

• 2 (1 inch) cubes salt pork,<br />

or more to taste<br />

Layer green beans and potatoes in<br />

the bottom of a slow cooker. Add<br />

just enough water to barely cover.<br />

Top with salt pork. Cover and cook<br />

on low until tender, 6 to 8 hours.<br />

22 • JANUARY 2024

Crockpot Hot Chocolate<br />

• 3 cups whole milk (must be whole<br />

for the best texture)<br />

• 1 cup half and half or heavy cream<br />

• 6 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate,<br />

coarsely chopped<br />

• 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar<br />

• 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder<br />

• 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract<br />

• 2 tsp. instant expresso powder<br />

(optional)<br />

• Pinch of kosher salt<br />

Toppings of choice: marshmallows,<br />

whipped cream, caramel, extra<br />

chocolate chops<br />

Place all the ingredients except for<br />

toppings into a 3 to 5-quart slow<br />

cooker. Briskly whisk to dissolve the<br />

cocoa powder as much as possible.<br />

Keep whisking until none of it floats<br />

to the top; one to two minutes.<br />

Cook on low two to three hours.<br />

Whisk every 45 minutes to make<br />

sure chocolate doesn’t burn on the<br />

bottom. Set to low or warm.<br />

Cowboy Brisket<br />

• 2 Tbsp. Cowboy rub<br />

(such as McCormick Cattlemen’s)<br />

• 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar<br />

• 2 tsp. smoked paprika<br />

• 1½ tsp. kosher salt<br />

• 1 tsp. ground cumin<br />

• 1 (6 lb.) flat-cut brisket<br />

• 1 large sweet onion, sliced<br />

• 3 garlic gloves, minced<br />

• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro<br />

Slow Cooker Crack Chicken<br />

• 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken<br />

• 1 oz. packet ranch seasoning mix<br />

• 16 oz. cream cheese<br />

• 8 slices bacon (slices, cooked<br />

and drained)<br />

• 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese<br />

• ½ cup sliced green onions<br />

Add the chicken to the slow cooker.<br />

Sprinkle over the ranch seasoning<br />

mix. Place the cream cheese on top<br />

of the chicken. Cover and cook on<br />

low for seven hours without opening<br />

the lid during cooking time. Shred<br />

the chicken, I do this right in the<br />

slow cooker with two forks. Stir the<br />

cooked cream cheese into the<br />

shredded chicken and stir in the<br />

bacon. Spread out into an even layer.<br />

Sprinkle cheddar cheese and cover<br />

for 10 more minutes for all the cheese<br />

to melt. Serve over rice and top with<br />

green onions. Can also be served on<br />

a baked potato or on sandwich rolls.<br />

Stir together the first five ingredients.<br />

Trim fat from brisket leaving a thin<br />

layer; cut into three-inch chunks.<br />

Rub evenly with spice mixture.<br />

Arrange meat on top of onions and<br />

garlic in a lightly greased 5- to 6-quart<br />

slow cooker. Sprinkle with cilantro.<br />

Cover and cook on low eight to nine<br />

hours or until brisket shreds easily<br />

with a fork. Serve drizzled with a<br />

small amount of the cooking liquid,<br />

or cover and chill up to 4 days.<br />

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp<br />

• 6 large Granny Smith apples,<br />

peeled, cored and cut into slices<br />

• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice<br />

• ¼ cup white sugar<br />

• 1 tsp. cinnamon<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

Topping<br />

• ½ cup rolled oats<br />

• ½ cup all-purpose flour<br />

• ¾ cup light brown sugar<br />

• ¼ cup white sugar<br />

• 1 tsp. cinnamon<br />

• ½ tsp. baking powder, double acting<br />

• ¼ tsp. nutmeg<br />

• ¼ tsp. salt<br />

• 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold,<br />

cut into pieces<br />

Place sliced apples in slow cooker.<br />

Add lemon juice, cinnamon, white<br />

sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir until<br />

apples are evenly coated. In a separate<br />

mixing bowl add topping ingredients<br />

(oats, flour, baking powder, brown<br />

sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg,<br />

and salt). Stir to combine. Cut butter<br />

into flour mixture. Using a spoon or<br />

your hands, combine flour mixture<br />

and butter until ingredients look wet<br />

and crumbly. Sprinkle topping on top<br />

of apples evenly. Place lid on slow<br />

cooker and set on high for<br />

two hours. Open lid<br />

part way and cook for<br />

one additional hour.<br />

Serve warm and top<br />

with vanilla ice cream<br />

if desired.<br />

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic<br />

Pork Chops<br />

4 boneless pork chops, thick cut<br />

1 Tbsp. olive oil<br />

Kosher salt and pepper to taste<br />

2 tsp. minced garlic<br />

½ cup honey<br />

¼ cup chicken broth<br />

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar<br />

2 Tbsp. cornstarch<br />

2 Tbsp. water<br />

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley<br />

Season the pork chops generously<br />

with salt and pepper on both sides.<br />

Heat the oil in a pan over high heat.<br />

Cook the pork for 4-5 minutes on<br />

each side until deep golden brown.<br />

Place the pork chops in the bottom of<br />

the slow cooker. In a medium bowl,<br />

whisk together the garlic, honey,<br />

chicken broth, and vinegar. Pour the<br />

sauce over the pork chops. Cover the<br />

slow cooker and cook on low for 4<br />

hours. In a small bowl, whisk the<br />

cornstarch and cold water. Add the<br />

cornstarch mixture to the slow<br />

cooker for the last 30 minutes of<br />

cooking. Cook until the sauce<br />

thickens and the pork chops are<br />

tender. Sprinkle with parsley and<br />

serve over potatoes.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 23

24 • JANUARY 2024

When<br />

Seconds<br />

Mary Mullen Brinson<br />

Count<br />

Elizabeth Ann Howell, VP of design and culture at Miskelly Furniture,<br />

saved her husband, Tyler’s, life thanks to her fast-acting response in<br />

performing CPR and calling 911 immediately when she discovered<br />

him unresponsive in the middle of the night in January 2023.<br />

Elizabeth Ann (Miskelly) and Tyler met<br />

in 2017 while Tyler was in his fourth year of<br />

medical school, and they married the<br />

following year. In 2022, Elizabeth Ann was<br />

trained in CPR at work, but she assumed<br />

that if someone in her family ever needed<br />

CPR, her physician husband would be able<br />

to help. She never imagined that the training<br />

she received would allow her to help save<br />

her husband’s life a year later when he<br />

suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in the<br />

middle of the night.<br />

Elizabeth Ann awoke in the night,<br />

hearing a noise. She thought it was the dog,<br />

then she realized the noise was coming from<br />

Tyler. “I tried to shake him awake,” she said.<br />

“I thought he was just having a bad dream.<br />

In that moment, the training that I had<br />

learned from our CPR class kind of kicked<br />

in,” said the relieved EA, as she is known to<br />

family and close friends. “I called 911, put<br />

them on speaker phone, pulled him off the<br />

bed, and started doing chest compressions.<br />

I was on the phone with 911 for nine minutes<br />

before the first responders arrived to take<br />

over and provided the necessary shocks from<br />

an AED (automated external defibrillator).”<br />

Once the first responders arrived, EA<br />

called her family and a close friend, who is<br />

also a cardiology fellow and happened to live<br />

just a few blocks away from the Howells.<br />

He was able to quickly get to their house, ride<br />

in the ambulance with Tyler, and support<br />

him through a series of very scary and<br />

life-threatening events. They got him to a<br />

local hospital, where he was immediately<br />

placed in the cardiac ICU and put on a<br />

ventilator.<br />

Later in the night, Tyler awoke and was<br />

quickly aware of what had happened. He<br />

was able to communicate with hospital staff<br />

and his wife, Elizabeth Ann. This was a<br />

major reassurance because the medical staff<br />

was concerned about the possibility of brain<br />

injury due to the amount of time his organs<br />

went without oxygen. Tyler had no visual<br />

or mental effects from the event and was<br />

thankful to have received an implanted<br />

defibrillator a few days later. The defibrillator<br />

allows his heart to maintain appropriate<br />

rhythm, should his heart ever stop again.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 25

As EA and Tyler think back to that night,<br />

they want everyone to know that they don’t<br />

believe any of the things that happened were<br />

coincidence. EA knows that she was trained<br />

in CPR for a reason, and that miracles do<br />

happen, and we don’t always need to know<br />

the why or the reasoning behind them.<br />

As Tyler states when asked about that<br />

night, “I’m just beyond grateful for this miracle.<br />

Being on the other side of healthcare–<br />

the patient-side instead of the provider-side–<br />

will certainly change the way that I practice<br />

medicine in the future.”<br />

Elizabeth Ann now also knows that a<br />

cardiac episode could happen at any time, to<br />

anyone. According to the American Heart<br />

Association, 70 percent of heart failures<br />

happen at home. She now has an AED in<br />

her car. “So, we’re just thankful to be able to<br />

share with people the importance of CPR<br />

because nobody ever thinks it’s going to be<br />

them that has to perform CPR.”<br />

The Howells are thankful for everything<br />

that allowed Tyler’s life to be saved that night.<br />

Tyler is especially thankful to be able to<br />

watch their precious daughter, Everly, grow<br />

up. More time with family is something the<br />

Howells do not take for granted, as they<br />

know that Tyler’s outcome is not the case<br />

for many who suffer from a similar cardiac<br />

event.<br />

The Howells will serve as the Open Your<br />

Heart Honorees at the 46th Annual Metro<br />

Jackson Heart Ball. The event will be held<br />

on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at the<br />

Country Club of Jackson, where Elizabeth<br />

Ann and Tyler will help raise crucial funds<br />

to support the local work of the American<br />

Heart Association. They are proud that<br />

100% of the funds they help raise through<br />

Heart Ball will stay in Mississippi to help<br />

support CPR education, policy for first<br />

responders, and research for future lifesaving<br />

discoveries.<br />

For information on corporate sponsorship,<br />

ticket sales, or to make a 100% tax-deductible<br />

mission donation in their honor, please reach<br />

out to Jordan Walker, director of this year’s<br />

Heart Ball, at Jordan.Walker@Heart.org,<br />

601-321-1215, or visit heart.org/jxnheartball.<br />

26 • JANUARY 2024

Hands-Only CPR<br />

Hands-Only CPR<br />

Join a Nation of Lifesavers today.<br />

Join a Nation of Lifesavers today.<br />

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause<br />

of death, with nearly 400,000 out-of-hospital<br />

cases occurring every year in the United<br />

States. About 89% of people who suffer an<br />

out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die. Research<br />

shows that hands-only CPR (without<br />

mouth-to-mouth breaths) performed by a<br />

bystander is just as effective in the first few<br />

minutes of sudden cardiac arrest outside of<br />

a hospital.<br />

No matter where you are, if you witness<br />

a teen or an adult suddenly collapse, you<br />

need to act fast — a delay of just a few<br />

minutes could be the difference between<br />

life and death. The American Heart Association<br />

offers these two easy steps:<br />

Call 911, or have someone else call<br />

immediately and keep your phone on<br />

speaker mode.<br />

Push down hard and fast in the center of<br />

the chest at a rate of 100-120 compressions<br />

per minute.<br />

A song like Bee Gees’ disco hit “Stayin’<br />

Alive” can help you keep the correct pace.<br />

Hopefully, you’ll never have to use<br />

hands-only CPR, but in the event of an<br />

emergency, your preparedness could save<br />

a life. Learn more about hands-only CPR at<br />

www.heart.org/handsonlycpr.<br />

The American Heart Association is a<br />

relentless force for a world of longer,<br />

healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring<br />

equitable health in all communities. Through<br />


Transforming a Nation of Bystanders into a Nation of Lifesavers.<br />

heart.org collaboration with numerous organizations,<br />

and powered by millions of volunteers, we<br />

fund innovative research, advocate for the<br />

public’s health and share lifesaving resources.<br />

The American Heart Association has<br />

been a leading source of health information<br />

for nearly a century. Connect with the<br />

American Heart Association’s local social<br />

media channels @ahamississippi.<br />

1 2<br />

1 Call 911.<br />

Push hard 2 and fast in<br />

the center of the chest.<br />

Know it. Feel it.<br />

Push it. Keep it.<br />

Mary Mullen Brinson<br />

© Copyright 2023 American Heart Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved.<br />

Unauthorized use prohibited. WF213148 5/23<br />

Communications & Marketing Director<br />

American Heart Association<br />

4830 McWillie Circle, Jackson, MS<br />

Transforming a Nation of Bystanders into a Nation of Lifesavers.<br />

heart.org<br />


Call 911.<br />

Push hard and fast in<br />

the center of the chest.<br />

Know it. Feel it.<br />

Push it. Keep it.<br />

601-321-1214<br />

© Copyright 2023 American Heart Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved.<br />

Unauthorized use prohibited. WF213148 5/23<br />

Hometown MADISON • 27

Financial confidence<br />

begins with an advisor<br />

you can trust.<br />

Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates.<br />

Community Bank and Community Wealth Management are not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using Community Wealth Management,<br />

and may also be employees of Community Bank. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, Community Bank or Community Wealth<br />

Management. The LPL Financial Registered Representatives associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: AL, AR, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS,<br />

MT, NC, NJ, NY, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, & VA. Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates are:<br />

Not Insured by FDIC or Any Other Government Agency | Not Community Bank Guaranteed | Not Community Bank Deposits or Obligations | May Lose Value<br />

Visit us at 2160 Main Street in Madison or online at www.ginadiamondsflowerco.com<br />

28 • JANUARY 2024

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Hometown MADISON • 29

30 • JANUARY 2024


The Lord Will Answer<br />

Overcoming the Isolating and<br />

Often Silent War on Depression<br />

Sarah Rein<br />

“Then your light will break forth like the<br />

dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;<br />

then your righteousness will go before you,<br />

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear<br />

guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will<br />

answer; you will cry for help, and he will say:<br />

Here am I.” – Isaiah 58:8-9<br />

Christy, what were you like growing up?<br />

Actually, I was recently thumbing through old pictures.<br />

Thats always fun to do. I come from a big Italian family - my<br />

twin brother and I are the youngest of five children. So, there<br />

was always a lot of energy in my home—especially around the<br />

holidays.<br />

I can remember fun memories of playing in my neighborhood.<br />

I was a tough little girl. There were no girls my age around, but I<br />

loved riding bikes and playing sports and could hang with all the<br />

little boys. I had a huge imagination, so a lot of my time was spent<br />

playing creatively. Drawing and painting. I would make pretend<br />

farms and barns for my pretend animals. I spent hours in the<br />

sandbox and on my swingset. I think people would have viewed<br />

me as a shy, quiet child, but under the surface, I felt a lot of deep<br />

emotions...some were pleasant, and some were really difficult.<br />

I’ve always had a highly sensitive soul—meaning I experienced<br />

things in life vividly. Still do. That goes for beauty in life.<br />

I see colors and things in nature that other people might not<br />

notice, and music will move me to tears at times. I am able to<br />

experience the greatest joy...but also deep darkness. I remember<br />

being young and sensing things around me that were definitely<br />

dark, even spiritual darkness, that I had no language for. That was<br />

terrifying at times.<br />

You know, high sensitivity often has a negative connotation.<br />

But I hope people see that it’s part of some of our wiring. I believe<br />

it’s a gift. We are able to experience life to the fullest. If I could go<br />

back and talk to myself as “little girl Christy,” I would encourage<br />

her to speak out about her brilliant emotions—the things that she<br />

is sensing and not hold them in. I would hold her and listen to all<br />

of the stories behind the difficult feelings. Because of some<br />

traumatic things that I experienced, I think all of the anxiety and<br />

sadness got stuck inside me and I began feeling a very heavy<br />

darkness. I can remember having my first depressive time as a<br />

seven-year-old. This became a pattern for me from then on.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 31

Share with us about marrying and transitioning into<br />

adulthood.<br />

When I grew up and entered high school, I felt a reprieve from the<br />

heavy emotions. I met Chip his junior year in college. When I saw<br />

him the first time I fell head over heels for him. I’d never met anyone<br />

like him before. We were friends for about a year and then we started<br />

dating. That was a high point in my life, for sure. We had the most fun.<br />

We were the exact opposites in personality. The old saying rings true<br />

for us. Opposites do attract. He made me feel special, and it was<br />

amazing to be with someone who was fun and spontaneous and<br />

who was following Jesus. I had given my life to Christ the same<br />

month I met him. I graduated high school in 1990 and went off to<br />

college at Ole Miss. My first day of class, Chip drove to Oxford from<br />

New Orleans where he was in seminary. He picked me up, and we<br />

drove to Memphis where he proposed. Three months later we got<br />

married and moved to New Orleans where he was in seminary.<br />

We were wildly in love and things were exciting, but when he wasn’t<br />

around I found myself alone in our tiny apartment much of the<br />

time with no friends. I became very isolated. And that is a breeding<br />

ground for depression.<br />

What was it like for both of you in those early years<br />

as you dealt with depression?<br />

When Chip first noticed it, it really pushed him away. He didn’t<br />

know what to do with me. He didn’t have a category for depression.<br />

Chip was raised to be super-independent. He didn’t have anything<br />

in him that felt like he could say ‘I need help or I’m struggling.’<br />

His attitude was ‘I’m fine, I can take care of myself.’ I have great<br />

compassion for him because there were some difficult stories behind<br />

that narrative in his head. So it was hard for him to be present. He<br />

didn’t know what to do so he would try to escape this pain - he’d<br />

go hunting or play basketball just to get away from all the discomfort.<br />

Looking back, we had some difficult seasons with all of this.<br />

When you feel isolated in your depression, it’s extremely hard to<br />

get out of. God opened up an opportunity for me to get out of the<br />

apartment and meet some good people. As an artist I was thankful<br />

to find a ceramics class. The lady who taught the class managed<br />

the business office on campus. She gave me a job and I started<br />

connecting with people and making friends. This helped me in many<br />

ways. I had another season of relief. After several years we began<br />

having our beautiful children—Rachel, Kenzie, and Regan. It was both<br />

a beautiful and brutal season. I had terrible bouts of postpartum<br />

depression. It was a different level of struggle than I’d had before.<br />

I think the deep-rooted feelings from the past began to come back<br />

up, combined with the overwhelming responsibilities and all the<br />

hormonal changes. It was the perfect storm.<br />

Postpartum depression is so heavy because it carries much<br />

shame. I would ask myself ‘Christy, you are so blessed. What is wrong<br />

with you? This should be such an enjoyable time.’ But I was really<br />

struggling emotionally and mentally. I was trying to keep my head<br />

above water. It was so hard not having anyone who truly understood<br />

the silent struggle that I was dealing with. I can remember<br />

rocking my babies, thanking God for them and at the same time<br />

weeping because of the pain. I did have sweet friends and my mom<br />

would come help me, but it was the first time I realized I needed<br />

professional help. I speak out about this a lot because I don’t want<br />

moms to feel shame. Postpartum depression is a very real thing<br />

and there’s a lot that contributes to it. There are people who DO<br />

understand what you are going through and they can support you<br />

in your suffering. Please don’t be afraid to seek that help.<br />

How would you describe your journey with depression<br />

since then?<br />

There was a long time of feeling isolated in my pain. I felt like a<br />

misfit. I felt like there were many people observing me, but very few<br />

really knew me. In the darker days, I doubted if I would ever be free.<br />

I wondered if the clouds would ever part. My connection with God<br />

was the only thing that kept me grounded. When my mental and<br />

emotional state was a wreck, I can remember going to my closet<br />

where I wrote God’s word on 4x6 cards and tacked them to the<br />

wall. My wall was covered. It helped me meditate. There were<br />

mornings that I would spend hours in there. I would light a candle<br />

to help me visualize the Holy Spirit as I prayed for strength. God held<br />

me in that space. But the depression was relentless. It was like I was<br />

in a war for my life. Off and on for four decades, I suffered to some<br />

degree.<br />

I know there are people out there who need to hear this—in<br />

the lowest moments, I didn’t want to live. This is hard to say, but I<br />

can remember waking up and being disappointed that I woke up.<br />

But I knew I had to live. God had a purpose for my life. There was a<br />

lie that Satan would whisper to me—’everyone would be better off<br />

without you,’ But I would look into the eyes of my children, and I<br />

knew that they needed their mama. This gave me the drive to<br />

persevere—to get out of bed and make breakfast and care for them.<br />

Recently, there came a breaking point for me. Things became<br />

unmanageable. I was under the care of physicians who had done<br />

everything they could to help. I had been placed on a terrible<br />

combination of medication that was toxic to my system. I was<br />

underweight and very weak, physically. I was in a state of disconnect<br />

with myself, my loved ones, and even feeling extremely disconnected<br />

from God. I’m 51 now and that happened when I was 47. By God’s<br />

grace, He put my feet on a healing path. I went to a place far away<br />

and spent a month and a half in intensive therapy. There were<br />

compassionate professionals there who helped me. It was very<br />

difficult going through a medical detox and then uncovering all of<br />

the pain that I had buried for so long. But with each session, I began<br />

to feel a difference. Slowly the light and freedom came to those<br />

wounded places inside my soul. God helped me dismantle false<br />

belief systems as I acknowledged the root causes of my pain.<br />

I felt the miracle begin in my body. It was a sacred space<br />

where I found greater intimacy with God than I could ever imagine.<br />

I tell people all the time that “Jesus reintroduced Himself to me.”<br />

Today the work continues. I still have someone I talk to therapeutically.<br />

I have a new physician. I am on safe medication with no side effects.<br />

32 • JANUARY 2024

I still have mornings that are a struggle for me. My life used to be<br />

80% some level of depression and 20% freedom. But I’d say it’s<br />

reversed now. That 20% is still there, but I have tools that help me<br />

process those thoughts and emotions. And I think maybe God has<br />

allowed that to remain so that I can be most effective as I empathize<br />

with others.<br />

As a Christian, and more specifically a pastor’s wife,<br />

what has it been like facing this darkness spiritually?<br />

That is a tough one. There was a lot of pressure there. In the<br />

beginning, I was young and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so<br />

insecure. I was a Christian, but I was never really discipled. I didn’t feel<br />

like I had someone to walk through Scripture with me. I didn’t develop<br />

much spiritually in those early years. Looking back now, I realize<br />

Jesus was with me in the darkness even when I didn’t know what<br />

verse to quote or what to pray. He sustained me in those times.<br />

With depression, there’s a disconnect between what you know to<br />

be true and what you feel in your body. When that happens, it’s a<br />

shaming feeling and the enemy uses that. I had many beautiful<br />

people who loved me and showed up for me. Their sincere prayers<br />

supported me and I will forever be grateful to them. They know<br />

who they are (smile). But unfortunately, people can, and did, use<br />

their words and even used scripture to shame me. Some just wanted<br />

to step in and slap a Bible verse on me and stop my suffering and<br />

tears. But they didn’t know me.<br />

As the Body of Christ, we have the power to heal. That may look<br />

differently than most people have come to expect. We cannot put<br />

God in a box. The more we are able to really lean in and be with<br />

people in their pain and hold sacred space for their story the more<br />

healing we will witness.<br />

When I read scripture now, I see that Jesus himself was a sufferer.<br />

He felt the deepest most difficult emotions and there was no shame<br />

in that, right? David praised God in the psalms but he was also<br />

brutally honest about his suffering and his doubts. Yes, the scriptures<br />

say ‘Don’t be afraid.’ But God was talking to people who were afraid.<br />

He wasn’t scolding them. There is a tenderness in His words. I interpret<br />

that as ‘Don’t fear because I’ve got you. You are mine.’<br />

A couple of my favorite verses are John 16:33 where Jesus says,<br />

‘In this world you will have tribulations, but take heart, I have<br />

overcome the world!’ And in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 it says that it’s<br />

no wonder we don’t give up. For even though our outer person<br />

gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day.<br />

We view our slight, short-lived troubles in the light of eternity. We<br />

see our difficulties as the substance that produces for us an eternal<br />

glory far beyond all comparison. I don’t want people to feel shamed<br />

by scriptures. I want them to be empowered by them! His Word is<br />

not generic and void of emotions. I want them to know that Jesus is<br />

near to the brokenhearted and He rescues those whose spirits are<br />

crushed. He makes provision. He’s okay with you not being okay. He<br />

can bring healing to your spirit, your soul, and your body and mind.<br />






THE WORLD!<br />

JOHN 16:33<br />

Hometown MADISON • 33

What have you learned about depression and mental<br />

health that you want to share with others?<br />

I want people to understand that there is a reason for the way<br />

you are feeling! There are stories underneath each emotion.<br />

Whether it is depression or rage or anxiety or addiction. So much of<br />

it is because of your experiences in life. Your traumas. Those<br />

traumas can look like lots of things, big and small. Do not minimize<br />

your past pain. I believe that healing is possible for anyone. It may<br />

not always be physical healing, but I know that no matter what, our<br />

hearts can heal.<br />

Too many people end their lives because they are in despair.<br />

They give up hope. We all have struggles at some point in our lives<br />

whether we admit it or not. We are relational creatures and we<br />

need each other. We need others to hold hope for us and to remind<br />

us that we are strong. We are overcomers. This is where healing can<br />

touch mental and emotional illnesses. Sometimes medicine can<br />

help support you, but connection with other compassionate,<br />

empathetic people . . . THIS is what God can use to bring true<br />

healing.<br />

Why is there so much shame around the idea of suffering<br />

emotionally?<br />

Shame is a tactic of the enemy. If he can keep us in isolation, it’s<br />

much more likely he can destroy us. The Bible says that’s what<br />

Satan comes to do – ‘to kill, steal, and destroy.’ But Christ said that<br />

He came so we could have life—abundantly. He desires us to be<br />

seen and heard and known. You know you would go to a doctor to<br />

fix a broken leg. People aren’t shamed for getting treatment for<br />

their cancer. There’s no shame in pursuing healing in any other part<br />

of the body. But there has always been a stigma about mental and<br />

emotional health. One of my missions in life is to help people<br />

understand they are NOT ALONE… and God is not ashamed of you.<br />

He loves you. He has a purpose for your life and He can redeem<br />

your heartache. This is my own testimony.<br />

How has this struggle affected your family?<br />

How have they handled it?<br />

Depression touches the whole family. I know that it affected our<br />

children. They were so strong and resilient though. They championed<br />

me. And when I went off for treatment, they were my biggest<br />

cheerleaders.<br />

I can see now how God has used our experience with pain to<br />

shape all three of our children into amazing young adults. They<br />

have a trust and faith in God that is strong and secure. They<br />

witnessed His faithfulness as He sustained me and as He ultimately<br />

brought healing. While sometimes they probably were discouraged,<br />

they never gave up hope. Now they are not afraid to engage their<br />

own stories of pain. They are not afraid to ask for help. They are<br />

empathetic and they’ve offered our story as a testimony to many<br />

who are suffering. It is really beautiful. They are not ashamed of me.<br />

They are not ashamed of our story.<br />

I do think Chip has had an honest struggle with my mental and<br />

emotional health. But he loved me, and he prayed fervently for me.<br />

It has been beautiful to see how God has used this to bring out so<br />

much compassion in this man! Over the years, His life has changed<br />

in many ways as a result of our journey. It has opened his eyes to<br />

his own pain. All the things he kept concealed.<br />

When I went away and started my work. God was already<br />

moving in him. After some time, Chip started doing his own work in<br />

therapy and it has brought a deeper connection and more honesty<br />

with me. And I can see it’s what God intended for marriage - to be<br />

naked and unashamed. Not just physically but a true soul connection<br />

and openness without shame. Now God’s work is flowing out<br />

of our family’s pain as it’s affecting many individuals and families our<br />

community.<br />

What words of hope would you like to leave readers with?<br />

I would encourage people to be vulnerable. Be open and honest<br />

and transparent. Be willing to be known. The more the body of<br />

Christ can be honest about their story, I have GREAT HOPE that<br />

shame will be broken, and healing will occur.<br />

To people in the middle of this struggle…allow God to nurture<br />

you spiritually. He desires to apply the fullness of the gospel to your<br />

life and redeem every part of you. Meditate on scripture. Listen to<br />

podcasts - they are like free therapy! One of my favorites is The<br />

Place We Find Ourselves, by Adam Young. Find someone you can<br />

trust to talk to. Even if you can’t afford a counselor or therapist,<br />

you can still heal.<br />

Step into a community that will love you, champion you, and<br />

be vulnerable with you. Our ultimate hope always has to be in Jesus<br />

Christ. God’s presence is holding you no matter what you’re going<br />

through. He is faithful.<br />

Looking back on my pain in my darkest places, He was there.<br />

I know that now. In light of eternity, the suffering you’re going<br />

through is temporary. God is a redeemer. He is redeeming my<br />

heartache by allowing me to sit in the presence of fellow-sufferers.<br />

It is an honor and I am humbled to hear their stories that lie beneath<br />

the surface and to witness the bit of relief and healing that comes<br />

even with one honest conversation. I have come to understand that<br />

we can hold suffering and hope at the same time. K.J. Ramsey says<br />

it like this. ‘Grief does not cancel out goodness. Hurt does not<br />

silence our hope.’<br />

34 • JANUARY 2024

We asked Christy’s family to share what they learned<br />

and experienced as she dealt with her depression.<br />

Daughter Rachel<br />

When mom was struggling, it was difficult to see God in it at<br />

times. We would have hopeful seasons, but when the darkness<br />

would come over her again, I felt frustrated and questioned<br />

whether or not God was interested in completely healing her. I just<br />

wanted her to be well and be free, for God’s glory, and for her to<br />

not have to fight anymore.<br />

I saw her faith to be out of this bondage and the faith of those<br />

praying for her, so it was confusing to me what His holdup was. I<br />

could feel my hope for the situation fading at times, like maybe this<br />

would just be our reality and I should get used to it. Looking back, I<br />

see now that He was big enough to handle my doubts and frustrations<br />

and that He was with her (and me) throughout it all.<br />

When God finally opened doors for a plan that would set her<br />

free from this cycle, I saw freedom in her like I never had before. It<br />

strengthened my faith that God is always ahead of us and His timing<br />

is perfect, even if it’s not what we would have chosen. It’s so<br />

important to hang on to what you know is true and not let your<br />

situation determine your faith.<br />

My encouragement to people going through this is to let people<br />

around you know what you’re going through and what is helpful for<br />

you. It’s not too much for them and you’re not a burden. Your<br />

people really want to help and often don’t know how best to<br />

support you beyond prayer. So, communicating that is so helpful.<br />

For those who know a loved one struggling, ask them how you<br />

can help! What makes them feel seen? What makes it worse? Be<br />

there to listen and remind them of scripture, but understand that<br />

your words likely won’t make everything all better.<br />

Daughter McKenzie<br />

Looking back on my mom’s life and her experience with mental<br />

health, the biggest thing that I learned about God is that He is<br />

ALWAYS working. Even when you can’t see Him and He feels a<br />

million miles away, He is at work. It was so hard to see my mom<br />

struggle for so long, but to look at what God brought her through<br />

to where she is now is a beautiful thing. Outside of simply just being<br />

there for someone you love, one of the encouragements that I<br />

think touched my mom most was to just tell her how strong she is.<br />

To go through struggles with emotional health is hard, and people<br />

need to hear how strong and courageous and brave they are even<br />

when they don’t feel it. And healing is possible. Every person’s<br />

journey is different, but God is in the business of doing redeeming<br />

work in our lives.<br />

Son Regan<br />

Back in those days, I’m not sure that I fully understood what<br />

mom was going through. I can remember when I was much<br />

younger, thinking something must have happened to a family<br />

member or something bad happened if I saw her upset. As I got<br />

older, I probably knew more of what depression and anxiety were.<br />

It became something I would see come and go in waves. Not really<br />

sure when the next would come. I just felt sad that she was<br />

continuing to wrestle with this with no easy way of helping it. I just<br />

wanted to hold her hand or do whatever I could to make her feel<br />

a little bit better. I never saw it as something being wrong with her,<br />

but I knew there was another way of life and I wanted her to be<br />

able step into it and out of the darkness.<br />

I have learned that it is not God’s will or plan for someone to<br />

remain in that pain. The truth of Jesus defeating death means we<br />

can be brought out of darkness. We are now heirs to the kingdom<br />

of light. It’s not a question of ‘Is it just God’s will for me to be<br />

downcast/confused/anxious?’ I have seen myself, and those around<br />

me, be brought out of those places when we call out. I know many<br />

people can struggle to find their way out of those places. It may<br />

sound easier than it is.<br />

Romans 12:2 says to be “transformed by the RENEWING of your<br />

MIND.” The enemy’s only weapon against us is lies. If we are<br />

reinforcing lies that he feeds us, it may seem impossible for us to<br />

break free from that bondage. But if we can renew our mind with<br />

truth, even when we don’t feel that it’s true, we will see change.<br />

Renew your mind to align with the truth of the gospel.<br />

Husband Chip<br />

To those in the thick of the fight, I would say lean in to your faith<br />

in Jesus instead of running from faith in Jesus. In the midst of the<br />

hardship, God is working, revealing Himself, refining your faith, and<br />

ultimately shaping you to be more like Jesus. You can’t handle it or<br />

make it through on your own, but the Holy Spirit will strengthen<br />

you and sustain you.<br />

In the darkest and hardest times, reading the Bible and listening<br />

to worship music really helped me. I also learned that I couldn’t fix<br />

Christy’s battle with depression. That was a helpless feeling. But what<br />

I learned was that Christy didn’t need me to fix it or try to fix her.<br />

What she needed was me to be present and to love her unconditionally<br />

and reassure her I was with her. That’s sometimes harder<br />

for us to do than trying to fix it, but in the end our presence and<br />

love are healing.<br />

What I learned about faith and God is that He is faithful and sees<br />

your struggle. There were days when I said to God - ‘I don’t think<br />

I can do this anymore‘ and I needed Him to help me. Then He would<br />

do something that let me know He was with me, He saw me, and<br />

I was going to make it through. I also learned that God’s ways of<br />

doing things are not always what I want or expect. But His ways<br />

and timing are always perfect.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 35

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36 • JANUARY 2024


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38 • JANUARY 2024


Amelia Cook<br />

Susan Marquez<br />






The Cooks had sponsored children through<br />

the organization in the past. In the letter Amelia<br />

saw detailed information on an orphaned child<br />

in China named Liang. “She had a cleft palate<br />

and needed surgery before she could be adopted,”<br />

explained Kristy. The letter touched Amelia in a<br />

special way. “From a child’s point of view, it hurt<br />

me to see this happening to a little kid just like me.<br />

I wanted to help in any way I could,” Amelia stated.<br />

It was summertime, and Amelia asked her<br />

mom if she could bake to help raise money for<br />

Liang’s surgery. “I agreed, thinking she could<br />

maybe raise $75 to $100 to go towards the surgery.<br />

Instead, something big happened,” Kristy recalled.<br />

“When my mom posted about what I wanted<br />

to do on Facebook, I was immediately flooded<br />

with orders. I spent half of my summer baking to<br />

keep up with the requests and ended up baking<br />

200 cakes and 264 cookies. I was in shock when<br />

I found out I would be able to pay for Liang’s<br />

entire cleft pallet surgery, part of a heart surgery<br />

for an orphan, school tuition for one year for a<br />

child living in Mongolia, a year’s worth of school<br />

supplies for three students, shoes for ten children<br />

in Mongolia, a start-up sewing business for a<br />

single mom, nine farm animals for a family, and<br />

training and equipment for a farming family to<br />

start a garden!”<br />

Realizing firsthand the power one person has<br />

to make a positive impact on people’s lives, Amelia<br />

understood that baking was something she was<br />

called to do. “I started my charity, Cakes for a<br />

Cause, because I was able to see that I could make<br />

a difference.”<br />

Amelia gives 100% of her profits to charity.<br />

“Holt International sends me requests when they<br />

have something they need help with. I sponsor<br />

two kids monthly, one being the little boy that<br />

I bought a house for last year. I also pay attention<br />

to local community needs that arise or anything<br />

I hear about within my school. I also reach out to<br />

Holt International to find families in need. Last<br />

year, I was able to buy a house in Mongolia for a<br />

single mom. I’ve had the honor of sponsoring her<br />

oldest boy Tergel (five years old) who lives in the<br />

home. Holt International has been able to update<br />

me on the family and it’s been a joy to know that<br />

not only was my baking able to give them a home<br />

but also send Tergel to school and have his basic<br />

needs met. Seeing the joy on the faces of the<br />

family when they received their first home was<br />

such a blessing.”<br />

A junior at Canton Academy, Amelia is<br />

involved in a wide array of extra-curricular<br />

activities, including serving in leadership roles in<br />

the Civinettes, Fellowship of Christian Athletes,<br />

Canton Academy National Honor Society,<br />

Canton Academy Student Body, and MSAIS<br />

State of Mississippi Student Council. She serves<br />

as the leadership representative for Madison<br />

County Youth, and she serves on the board of the<br />

Gluckstadt Mayor’s Youth Council. She is a<br />

Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership representative,<br />

and she is a singer on the 3:16 Church praise team<br />

and also volunteers in the preschool. She is a<br />

cheerleader at Canton Academy, and she plays<br />

tennis and softball for the school. And that’s not<br />

all. She has been named Canton Academy’s most<br />

beautiful, class favorite, and named the kindest,<br />

cutest, and best personality in her class.<br />

On top of all that, Amelia has the highest<br />

academic average in her class. “I like to make the<br />

most of the time I have. I don’t think anyone in<br />

my family likes to waste any time! I like to have<br />

something to do whenever I can. I love being<br />

productive. It makes me appreciate the downtime<br />

I do get even more. I love doing things for other<br />

people, and if I could, I would consume my whole<br />

day doing that.”<br />

Amelia plans to major in cosmetic dentistry at<br />

Mississippi College. “I only have one more year at<br />

Canton Academy. It makes me sad to think about<br />

it, but at the same time, I can’t wait to see what<br />

God has in store for me. I want to accomplish<br />

even more charity work. I know that I’m capable<br />

of helping anyone who needs it, and I’m going to<br />

spend my last year here doing what I know I was<br />

created to do. My biggest wish is to meet little<br />

Liang and tell her how big of an impact she had<br />

on my life. She’s made me a better person, has<br />

changed the way I look at life, and I wouldn’t<br />

have been able to accomplish the amount of<br />

service through my charity if I had not seen her<br />

sweet picture.”<br />

Inspired by her family, Amelia says that she<br />

knows God has a purpose for us in every season<br />

of life. “I’ve grown up watching my parents live<br />

lives full of service. I’ve also been greatly inspired<br />

and supported by my best friend and older<br />

brother, Jameson. His accomplishments and life<br />

of service made me want to follow in his footsteps.<br />

He has always pushed me and cheered me on in<br />

everything I’ve done, including offering me a<br />

dental partnership one day.”<br />

To place an order for Amelia’s delicious baked<br />

goods, visit her Facebook page at facebook.com/<br />

cakesforacause. She also has an Instagram<br />

account, @ameliarosecakesforacause.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 39

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

Why did you decide to be a fireman?<br />

As a volunteer firefighter I responded to a wreck in which three<br />

teenagers died. I remember feeling helpless. From that day forward,<br />

I have wanted to learn as much as I could to be able to help others.<br />

I wanted to be able to make a difference.<br />

How long have you been with the Ridgeland Fire Department?<br />

24 years<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I have been married to Connie for 23 years. We have two children.<br />

Our son is a junior at Mississippi State. Our daughter will be graduating<br />

from Clinton High School in December and then moving to Starkville<br />

for college. We have two fur children. Our Yorkies’ names are Abby and<br />

Bentley.<br />

What is the toughest thing you have experienced in your job?<br />

Having to tell a father that his child was dead and then seeing him<br />

work through that grief.<br />

What is the most rewarding part of your job as a firefighter?<br />

We were able to revive someone that was in cardiac arrest even after<br />

being told by a doctor that there was nothing else we could do. We<br />

continued and were able to restore his heartbeat. Several weeks later he<br />

brought his family to the fire station and his son thanked me for saving<br />

his dad. That was 10 years ago, and he is doing well.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.<br />

In my spare time I run my business that teaches CPR and sells AEDs.<br />

Any additional spare time is spent with my family. I enjoy cooking,<br />

fishing and golfing.<br />

Training Officer<br />

Nathan<br />

BELL<br />


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

Being debt free, traveling to Hawaii, and taking an Alaskan Cruise.<br />

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

That’s a tie between two people: my parents Pat and Randy Bell. They<br />

have always been there for me and my family. They would literally<br />

drop anything to help us out. They taught me about work ethic and<br />

dedication to my craft. They also taught me to treat everyone with<br />

respect regardless of any differences, and have compassion for others.<br />

What advice would you give to a young person?<br />

Love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Madison County?<br />

I may be biased but I believe we have some of the best first responders<br />

in the state.<br />

40 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown MADISON • 41

42 • JANUARY 2024

Inpatient mental health services for senior adults ages 65+<br />

Psychiatric assessments may be necessary<br />

if an individual has trouble with:<br />

• Memory loss<br />

• Mood disturbances<br />

• Depression or anxiety<br />

• Coping with losses and transitions<br />

• Activities of daily living<br />

• Substance use<br />

We can help with no-cost assessments<br />

available 24/7. Walk-ins are welcome and<br />

most insurances accepted. Call us today<br />

at 601-936-7886 to take the next step.<br />

Learn more at brentwoodjackson.com.<br />

3531 Lakeland Drive • Flowood, MS 39232<br />

601-936-7886<br />

Model representations of real patients are shown. Physicians are<br />

on the medical staff of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare, but, with<br />

limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not<br />

employees or agents of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare. The facility<br />

shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.<br />

For language assistance, disability accommodations and the<br />

nondiscrimination notice, visit our website. 232304-2988 11/23<br />





BEST<br />


SCHOOL<br />


Hometown MADISON • 43

44 • JANUARY 2024


Neurological disorders can be devastating to patients and their families.<br />

A unique clinic in Ridgeland, Mississippi, offers a convenient approach to<br />

neurological conditions. From the ease of making an appointment to the<br />

experienced staff members, MS Neurology Care Clinic is committed to<br />

making a positive difference in the lives of their patients.<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

MS Neurology Care Clinic was established in August 2020 by Amanda Greene.<br />

Dr. Greene is a neurology nurse practitioner with over 30 years of healthcare<br />

experience. She began with the mission of providing neurology- based care<br />

for Mississippians and individuals in surrounding states experiencing various<br />

neurological conditions. In 2023, MS Neurology Care Clinic expanded to<br />

include four neurology nurse practitioners.<br />

Dr. Amanda Greene, DNP, NP-C, a board-certified nurse practitioner, completed a<br />

fellowship in multiple sclerosis and neuro-immunology at the University of Mississippi<br />

Medical Center under the leadership of Dr. Robert M. Herndon. Dr. Greene collaborates<br />

with numerous colleagues for the best outcomes for her patients. Her primary<br />

focus is patient-centered, individualized, and evidence-based care.<br />

Karen Freeman is a family nurse practitioner with an AQH (Added Qualification<br />

in Headache Medicine) specialist. She has 38 years of healthcare experience,<br />

manages a variety of patients with different headaches, and is certified in Botox<br />

administration for chronic migraines.<br />

Kaylon Lewis is a neurology nurse practitioner with over ten years of experience<br />

in the healthcare industry. Kaylon is trained in diagnosing and treating various<br />

neurological conditions including dementias, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),<br />

balance disorders, Bell’s palsy, cerebral aneurysms, Guillain-Barre, headaches,<br />

traumatic brain injuries, hydrocephalus, spinal radiculopathies, Parkinson’s Disease,<br />

stroke, myasthenia gravis, seizures, neuropathy, dizziness/vertigo and many more.<br />

Jessica Lowery has over two decades of healthcare experience. She is a certified<br />

hypertension clinician through the American Society for Hypertension and the<br />

American Heart Association. She also has training in headache management. Jessica’s<br />

focus at MS Neurology Care Clinic includes assessment and treatment of headaches,<br />

hypertension, lipid management, and post-stroke care and prevention. In addition,<br />

she is certified in the administration of Botox for chronic migraines.<br />

The small, specialized, privately owned clinic provides a cozy environment to<br />

make patients and staff feel as comfortable as possible. “We accept appointments<br />

by patients and providers and typically book appointments within one to two weeks<br />

depending on the provider’s schedule,” says Greene.<br />

When a patient is seen for the first time, they will receive a head-to-toe assessment.<br />

“We address more than just medical needs,” explains Kaylon Lewis, nurse practitioner.<br />

“We dive into diet, sleep, psychological needs, and even behavioral therapy. We look at<br />

a patient’s lifestyle to help determine the cause of the issue they may be experiencing.”<br />

Being involved in the community in a meaningful way is important to those<br />

who work at MS Neurology Care Clinic. “We participate in the Alzheimer’s Walk,<br />

the Parkinson’s Movement Day, the Epilepsy Glow Walk, and the Brain Injury of<br />

Mississippi’s Annual Noggin Feast,” says Lewis. “We recently joined the Ridgeland<br />

Chamber of Commerce and had a ribbon-cutting for our clinic.”<br />

Everyone on staff participates in continuing education. “Our staff attends<br />

neurological conferences, focusing on the sub-specialties we diagnose and treat,”<br />

Greene says.<br />

The clinic is open Monday through Friday and accepts all major insurances.<br />

To learn more about the clinic, visit their website at msneurocareclinic.com.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 45

46 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown MADISON • 47

Messages<br />

Heaven<br />

FROM<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

48 • JANUARY 2024

Anyone that has ever lost a loved one<br />

knows of the longing that comes with<br />

wanting to somehow reconnect. In our<br />

minds, we know they’re gone but we<br />

still need to feel them to know that<br />

they’re ok--- and neither time nor<br />

distance can change that desire.<br />

There’s an old saying that goes,<br />

“When cardinals appear, angels are near.”<br />

I’ve always been enchanted by that idea<br />

as the red cardinal has played many<br />

prominent roles throughout our history.<br />

The notion that cardinals are messengers<br />

of spirits exists across numerous<br />

cultures and beliefs--- just ask anyone<br />

that’s seen one when they<br />

needed it most.<br />

But truth be known, redbirds<br />

are pretty common in this area.<br />

They thrive in this habitat and while<br />

I’d love to think that every time<br />

I see one it’s a spirit-come-to-visit,<br />

it’s just as easy for me to<br />

imagine that it’s not.<br />

In 2012, my grandmother died at the<br />

age of 96. When it was time to clean<br />

out her house, her youngest son from<br />

California (and the sibling-declared<br />

family-favorite among the four of her<br />

children and two grandchildren) came<br />

to Mississippi for a week to help with<br />

the overwhelming task ahead. She had<br />

lived in the same house in Yazoo City<br />

for over 80 years.<br />

There was stuff everywhere–in the<br />

attic, in the garage, in drawers, and in<br />

closets stacked from floor-to-ceiling.<br />

Much of it I had meticulously sorted<br />

over the course of several weeks and<br />

months but when it came time to do<br />

the final clearing, a lot of it was taken<br />

to the curb. We worked for days to<br />

ultimately prepare the house to be sold.<br />

I called the waste management<br />

company to arrange for a special pick-up<br />

since it was just too much to leave until<br />

the regular trash day. They needed a<br />

heads up–it was a lot. Besides, I needed<br />

to get back to Jackson and wanted to<br />

know that it would be taken care of.<br />

Early the next morning, as promised,<br />

the garbage truck ran and around<br />

mid-day I called my uncle to verify that<br />

it had, in-fact, all been cleared away. He<br />

walked outside and was just astounded<br />

at what had previously been an absolute<br />

massive amount of rubbish. The<br />

mountain had been reduced to a single<br />

random Christmas ball. Every bit of it<br />

was gone.<br />

As he leaned over to scoop up the<br />

old faded ornament, he noticed<br />

something shining in the grass. He<br />

reached down to find a little gold heart<br />

charm. The irony was not lost on him<br />

that it was all that was left–and that he<br />

had found it. He stuck it in his pocket<br />

and went back inside.<br />

His wife was in the kitchen at the<br />

stove fixing a late breakfast. They were<br />

still on California time and were slow<br />

to get going, not to mention worn out<br />

from the several days of hard labor,<br />

prior. He reached in his pocket and<br />

showed her the heart-shaped trinket<br />

and when she flipped it over, she<br />

noticed right away that it was engraved<br />

with the name John. That was his name<br />

–my grandmother’s youngest son–the<br />

declared family favorite, which now<br />

seemed somehow divinely confirmed.<br />

Coincidence? Maybe.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 49

Several years before her death, my grandmother gave me an<br />

enamel-coated steel colander. It had belonged to her, seen decades of<br />

usage, and was the only “strainer” I had. I used it regularly and often.<br />

It had long-since begun to rust where some of the enamel had<br />

chipped away, but I continued to use it anyway. I eventually purchased<br />

a new one–coincidently, after she passed. The one she gave me was<br />

just too rusty. So one day I decided to throw it away.<br />

I put it in the garbage. I took it out of the garbage. I put it back in the<br />

garbage and before I even closed the lid I reached back in to rescue it.<br />

It was not just a rusted colander but a piece of my past–and a piece of<br />

someone important to me. I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous!”<br />

And after wrangling with it for almost an hour, I proceeded to shove<br />

it down into the trash bag and tie it shut, once and for all.<br />

The weather on the morning of “trash-day” was bleak. It was<br />

already drizzling and the forecast called for the possibility of severe<br />

conditions later that afternoon. By the time I got home from work,<br />

dark had fallen. It was storming with 30-mile-per-hour winds, and<br />

my garbage can had blown clear to the end of the cul-de-sac. I had<br />

no choice but to battle it out and go get it.<br />

The rain was blowing sideways and I was soaking wet and dragging<br />

the garbage can behind me. I noticed what appeared to be some type<br />

of helmet in the grass next to the curb–dome shaped and glistening<br />

under the streetlight in the pouring down rain. Maybe it was my son’s.<br />

I’d grab it as I dashed up the driveway.<br />

But it was no helmet. It was that colander, turned upside down and<br />

sitting there all by itself. How did it get out of the bag that I had so<br />

painstakingly and reluctantly tied together? I was stunned–and still<br />

am to this day.<br />

Coincidence? Maybe.<br />

50 • JANUARY 2024

So a few weeks ago, I was in our back yard building a fire in our fire<br />

pit. I had decided to dispose of some sensitive paperwork that really<br />

should have been shredded, but burning was simply more convenient<br />

and certainly more fun. In the closing of my grandmother’s estate, I<br />

had stored countless banking statements and papers that needed to<br />

be discarded but were too sensitive to just put in the trash–and still<br />

held value in my heart. So I poured a glass of wine and my husband<br />

and son helped load up the fire pit. I recalled funny stories about my<br />

beloved grandmother as they continued to crumple up papers and<br />

put them below the logs. Then we lit them.<br />

The fire struggled to catch. My wood was wet. I decided to add<br />

some kindling from a pot we keep nearby. That’s when I saw the<br />

blooms. For 30 or 40 years, my grandmother had a pot of succulents<br />

on her back porch that stood year-round on a little dime-store plant<br />

stand in the rain, sun, sleet and occasional snow. She was a master<br />

gardener and yet these succulents were the only plant-life I brought<br />

home with me after her death. I’d had them now for four years and<br />

they live on my back patio next to a big fat pot of kindling. I looked<br />

down and they were in full bloom–and they hadn’t been the day before.<br />

I’ve never seen them bloom. Ever. I didn’t even know they would.<br />

So, I’ve decided they were blooming just for me. As if to say, it’s ok to<br />

let go–just never forget.<br />

Coincidence? Maybe. But it serves as a wonderful reminder that we’re<br />

never far apart. The truth is that the bond we share with those we<br />

love is a bond never lost or broken–not even by death. Death just<br />

changes the dimensions–like water, evaporating into steam.<br />

Or like a redbird sitting on a window ledge singing, “My spirit will<br />

live on forever there within your heart.” n<br />

Hometown MADISON • 51

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52 • JANUARY 2024

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Hometown MADISON • 53


Getting on<br />

the Bandwagon<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

It’s exciting to jump on the<br />

bandwagon when a new<br />

business opens.<br />

With a lifelong love for athletics, a deep<br />

connection to sports, and a love for his<br />

hometown of Madison, Robert Brister and his<br />

wife, Jenn, have created a special space that<br />

celebrates the power of sports and fosters a<br />

sense of unity. Bandwagon Sports opened<br />

recently on the corner of Main Street and<br />

Highway 51 in Madison.<br />

Bandwagon is a sporting goods store<br />

and more. While the business offers local<br />

school apparel, cheerleader outfits, team<br />

uniforms, sporting equipment, sunglasses,<br />

baseball cards, and other sports-related<br />

items, they also offer a way to bring people<br />

together through the power of sports. “Sports<br />

inspire personal growth and create lasting<br />

memories,” says Robert, who grew up in<br />

Trace Vineyard subdivision in Madison.<br />

Robert graduated from Mississippi State<br />

University and then worked in commercial<br />

real estate in Birmingham for 15 years. While<br />

there, he got married and had two children.<br />

When they got pregnant with their third child,<br />

Robert and Jenn decided to move back to<br />

Madison to be closer to parents and siblings.<br />

“We moved in May 2020, and had our third<br />

daughter here,” Robert recalls. “One thing we<br />

felt strongly about was starting a business.<br />

We loved the growth we were seeing in<br />

Madison and wanted to do something here.<br />

We explored ideas, looking at what was<br />

needed, and we decided to open a familyowned<br />

community-based sporting goods<br />

store.”<br />

It truly is a family affair. Robert and Jenn<br />

started the business in their home. “We<br />

worked out of our kitchen and garage. We<br />

sold online and delivered in person. We<br />

wanted to get out and meet people and<br />

thank them for their business. That helped<br />

build a good social media following. As a<br />

family-owned business, we understand the<br />

importance of community and the value of<br />

strong relationships.” When the opportunity to<br />

open a brick-and-mortar store presented<br />

itself, they were ready.<br />

The business is truly family-owned and<br />

run. Robert says his two oldest daughters,<br />

Rylee (9) and Alex (6), love to come to the<br />

store. “They help fold shirts, and they spread<br />

the word at their school.” The girls attend<br />

Madison Station Elementary. The youngest,<br />

Collins, is three, but there is no doubt she’ll be<br />

involved with the business when she is old<br />

enough.<br />

The store offers custom team uniforms<br />

and local fan wear. With top brands and<br />

exclusive designs, they can outfit both<br />

players and coaches in comfort and style.<br />

Even spectators and fans can have a fresh<br />

take on classic athletic style.<br />

Robert says Bandwagon works with the<br />

schools to provide items for their spirit shops.<br />

“We also want to start holding spirit nights in<br />

the store, with a portion of the sales going<br />

back to the schools.” That’s not the only way<br />

Bandwagon gives back to the community.<br />

They have a Most Valuable Teacher program<br />

that helps with the store’s mission to strengthen<br />

the community. Teachers are the foundation<br />

of building the community’s strength, so<br />

Bandwagon encourages people to nominate<br />

a teacher who has made a difference in their<br />

life or the life of their child. “It’s a way to let the<br />

teachers know you appreciate their investment.”<br />

Each week a teacher will be selected<br />

to receive a gift from Bandwagon.<br />

“We are deeply committed to serving the<br />

needs of our customers with care, expertise,<br />

and a personal touch,” Robert says. “We invite<br />

everyone in the area to join us on this exciting<br />

journey as we celebrate the joy of sports and<br />

empower people to thrive both on and off<br />

the field.”<br />

54 • JANUARY 2024

1089 Highway 51, Suite 500, Madison, MS • bandwagonsportsms.com V@bandwagonmadison<br />

Hometown MADISON • 55

P r o u d l y s e r v i n g<br />

M a d i s o n C o u n t y<br />

w w w . b r u n i n i . c o m 6 0 1 - 9 4 8 - 3 1 0 1<br />

56 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown MADISON • 57

For seven weeks, Whataburger<br />

and Hometown Madison Magazine<br />

honors school personnel throughout<br />

Madison 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 />

Herbert<br />

Davis<br />

Madison-Ridgeland<br />

Academy<br />

I have the best job in the state. I have tremendous support<br />

from players, parents, teachers, and administrators like no other<br />

school!! Also seeing their support during some really difficult<br />

times for me has been very humbling!! We truly are FAMILY<br />

here at MRA! – Coach Herbert Davis<br />

Coach Davis is a great example to our students of someone<br />

who strongly values commitment, focus, and determination,<br />

and is going to complete the task no matter the circumstances.<br />

– Termie Land, MRA Head of School<br />

58 • JANUARY 2024

Bus Driver<br />

Eric<br />

Washington<br />

Madison Station<br />

Elementary<br />

Teacher<br />

Katrina<br />

Lawson<br />

Madison Station<br />

Elementary<br />

It was really special to be honored in this way. I have never really<br />

thought about the impact that I have been able to make, but<br />

goodness I sure heard appreciation from so family families.<br />

It is a blessing to have so many relationships in our hometown.<br />

I love Madison.<br />

– Eric Washington<br />

Eric Washington makes a difference in our community. He sees<br />

each person he interacts with and reacts with the purest of<br />

intentions. He is a helper. He is a friend. He is a mentor. Mr. Eric,<br />

as we all lovingly call him, is always one step ahead and ready<br />

for the next adventure, task, or need. Mr. Eric offers love and<br />

wisdom to the children of our county. He is a treasured soul to<br />

our Jaguar community.<br />

– Kara Davis, Principal<br />

When I come to Madison Station Elementary each day, it<br />

doesn’t feel like I’m coming to my job. It feels like I’m coming<br />

home. After 33 years, there is no other place I’d rather be.<br />

– Katrina Lawson<br />

Mrs. Katrina Lawson is a living legend in our school family.<br />

As the daughter of Shirley D. Simmons, who has a middle<br />

school in the Falcon school zone named in her honor, Mrs.<br />

Lawson values education for all students. She is most often the<br />

first faculty member to arrive, and last to leave. She has taught<br />

two generations of children in many families. Mrs. Lawson<br />

maximizes minutes with focus of kindness, respect, and learning.<br />

Mrs. Lawson is a well loved member of our Madison Station<br />

family, and her contributions are great. She is an original faculty<br />

member and Madison Station doesn’t know a day without her.<br />

Isn’t that amazing? We have such strong roots because of<br />

dedicated teachers like Mrs. Lawson.<br />

– Kara Davis, Principal<br />

Hometown MADISON • 59

Cafeteria Worker<br />

Jackie Harris<br />

Madison Avenue<br />

Upper Elementary<br />

Librarian<br />

Tosha Nowell<br />

Madison Avenue<br />

Lower Elementary<br />

“I enjoy getting the food prepared for our students. They are<br />

our future. I love seeing the smiles on their faces, and I am<br />

thankful for the opportunity afforded by Dr. Brewer to be the<br />

cafeteria manager and make the kids smile. This school has the<br />

best staff, and I am so thankful to be here. Thank you to Sharon<br />

Thompson and Calvin Younger for always having my back.”<br />

– Jackie Harris<br />

Since I began as librarian at Madison Avenue the staff, students,<br />

and parents have become family to me. They are creative,<br />

inspiring, and encouraging. My desire is to develop a love of<br />

reading within each student through story time, makerspace,<br />

drama, and independent reading time. Each day is a new day to<br />

make a difference!<br />

– Tosha Nowell<br />

“Ms. Jackie is a ray of sunshine in our cafeteria. She works hard<br />

daily to ensure the students and staff are well-fed, especially<br />

when she makes her famous cheesy chicken and rice! Ms.<br />

Jackie greets every person she sees, and she always offers<br />

the students a smile, a laugh, and a full belly. We are so grateful<br />

to have such a wonderful cafeteria manager!”<br />

– Mary Kate Diltz, Ed.D, Assistant Principal<br />

You could not have selected a more deserving person.<br />

Mrs. Nowell puts her special touch on all she does in the library<br />

and life. Whether it is bringing an outdoor book walk to our<br />

school to actively engage students in reading or using a superhero<br />

theme to empower students to reach their reading goals,<br />

she is going above and beyond to excite and motivate students<br />

and staff members. She is a humble, servant-minded educator<br />

with a heart of gold, and we are proud that she is a part of the<br />

MAE family.<br />

– Dr. Melissa Philley, Principal<br />

60 • JANUARY 2024

Counselor<br />

Taylor Walden<br />

Germantown High<br />

I love having the opportunity to get to know my students and<br />

their families on an individual level and watching them learn to<br />

navigate high school. The most rewarding part of my job is<br />

watching them walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.<br />

I love the opportunity to serve my students, parents, faculty,<br />

and staff at Germantown on a daily basis! Thanks to Hometown<br />

Madison Magazine for this honor. I was completely shocked<br />

when they came to recognize me. It truly humbles me to<br />

receive such an honor.<br />

– Taylor Walden<br />

Mrs. Walden is a fantastic person on so many levels. She<br />

promotes a positive school culture and helps push our students<br />

to be the best they can be. I’ve witnessed her interactions with<br />

students, and it’s evident that she has compassion for everyone.<br />

She ensures our students are equipped with the knowledge to<br />

be successful as they move past high school. Mrs. Walden is an<br />

outstanding counselor that goes the extra mile, and I am proud<br />

I to get to work alongside her.<br />

– Brent Brownlee, Assistant Principal<br />

Custodian<br />

Stevenson<br />

Lewis<br />

Germantown Middle<br />

I am very honored to be chosen for this recognition. Every day<br />

for the past 17.5 years, I wake up and look forward to working<br />

with the staff, teachers, counselors, administrators, and students<br />

of the Madison County School District. Thank you again for this<br />

award.<br />

– Stevenson Lewis<br />

Stevenson Lewis is a Madison County Schools graduate and<br />

loves being a MAVERICK! Germantown Middle School is a better<br />

place with Stevenson there!<br />

– Wesley Quick, Director of Student Affairs,<br />

Madison County Schools<br />

Hometown MADISON • 61

62 • JANUARY 2024


Madison Ridgeland Academy<br />

Sliding Into The Record Books! MRA Senior QB John White has taken over the top spot in<br />

Mississippi for career passing yards. White has amassed over 15,139 yards over his high school<br />

career. He breaks the record previously set by Myles Brennon (15,138) who played at St. Stanislaus<br />

from 2013-2016. Brennon went on to play for LSU, White is currently committed to play for<br />

the University of Southern Mississippi.<br />

64 • JANUARY 2024

Jackson Academy<br />

JA Students Value Giving Opportunities<br />

Jackson Academy’s school-wide food drive leading up to the holidays gave<br />

students opportunities to improve food security in the area. It also helped them<br />

reflect on why serving is so important. During carpooling each morning, JA soccer<br />

players and Fellowship of Christian Athlete members collected bags of food brought<br />

to campus by JA families and delivered them to a holding area. Later, they helped<br />

We Will Go Ministries load the food into a van for distribution.<br />

Students say they look forward to opportunities to serve in this way. “It is<br />

meaningful for me to volunteer in a program like this because it is a great way to<br />

show kindness and the love of Jesus to others,” said Ridgeland resident and eighth<br />

grader Drew Hederman. “I love how JA provides these opportunities for students.”<br />

Sixth grader Savannah Peters, a Jackson resident, also appreciates how JA<br />

connects students to service opportunities. “I love how JA gives us a chance to<br />

chip in and help out organizations like We Will Go Ministries. It always brings a<br />

smile to my face to see so many bags in the middle school office! Also, to see their<br />

Instagram posts,” she said.<br />

We Will Go Ministries’ efforts focus on education, essential food, and engaging<br />

others. The website states that specific actions include “distributing groceries to<br />

low-income families in our community, offering after-school care with a focus on<br />

literacy, and providing all-day summer learning for students in need. All programs<br />

are centered on evangelism and sharing the love of Christ with our neighbors.”<br />

Sharing that love is meaningful to eleventh grader and Ridgeland resident Anna<br />

Adkins. “I love having the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ. Jesus lived<br />

His life as a servant for others, and we are called to do the same thing,” she said.<br />

“Service not only benefits the recipient but also the one who is serving. In Act 20:35,<br />

Paul says, ‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work, we must<br />

help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more<br />

blessed to give than to receive.’”<br />

For more information about the programs of this ministry, visit WeWillGo.org.<br />

The Distracted Dog Book Helps Others<br />

Faculty and students joined family members and friends at a book signing for<br />

Jackson Academy senior and illustrator Sydney Thaxton and author Judy Turner.<br />

The children’s book, about a dog that is distracted, helps readers better understand<br />

the challenges of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Lemuria Books in Banner<br />

Hall hosted the signing of “The Adventures of Rudy, the Distracted Dog” on<br />

December 12.<br />

Sitting beneath photos of famous writers such as Eudora Welty and Ernest<br />

Hemingway, the author and illustrator personalized messages in the books that<br />

were being purchased by their many supporters. Years ago as a fifth grader, Sydney<br />

Thaxton experienced her first book signing at the JA Lower School library for her<br />

original published book, “Dusk,” also written about a dog.<br />

Hometown MADISON • 65

TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

When Joseph, Mary and the Babe left the stable of Bethlehem that first Christmas,<br />

I imagine it as being a picture of simplicity.<br />

Their temporary dwelling had been a stable, so there had been no cleaning, dusting or polishing.<br />

There was no Christmas tree or decorations to pack, and the only brilliant star had faded with<br />

the sunrise. There were no plans to store boxes, make gift exchanges or return broken items.<br />

After their guests had left, there was no gathering of articles of clothing or gifts that had been<br />

left behind. Their guests had been lowly shepherds bringing nothing but their rods and staffs.<br />

Nor had there been any sad farewells. Those that had witnessed this first Christmas weren’t<br />

concerned about the New Year’s economy, inflation, interest rates, or unemployment.<br />

Why should they be? They had just witnessed and worshiped the answer to every problem<br />

that would ever face mankind. They left with the promise of victory in their hearts, and this<br />

overshadowed any gloom or doubt about the coming year.<br />

Our celebration doesn’t carry much resemblance to that first Christmas.<br />

The present day has brought us to an era where only our imaginations<br />

can relieve that first miraculous event as it is told in the Bible.<br />

Yet, the story in Luke remains the same. Time hasn’t changed or reconstructed<br />

the story of Christ’s birth. The love we share with family and friends is a<br />

continuation of that first love that God sent through His Son.<br />

January is a time to pack Christmas ’23 away- all the decorations and lights<br />

and find a space for the gifts. There’s always a trace of sadness as I dismantle<br />

the tree and return Christmas storage boxes to the attic. This year I’ve asked<br />

God to give me the joy that the shepherds had as they left the newborn<br />

Messiah. Like them, I want to experience peace, love, and joy in anticipation<br />

of the coming year. May God grant each of us the faith to live this year in<br />

the overcoming victory in Jesus that has never changed and never will.<br />

66 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown MADISON • 67


#1<br />

Best Place to Live in<br />

Mississippi<br />

#7<br />

Top Ten Best Cities<br />

to Live In the US<br />

Mississippi’s Safest<br />

City<br />

Mississippi’s Most<br />

Successful City<br />

Best Educated City<br />

in Mississippi<br />

Best Place to Raise a<br />

Family in Mississippi<br />

Mayor Mary<br />

$<br />

Richest City in<br />

Mississippi<br />

1 of 14 MS Certified<br />

Retirement Cities<br />

A Top 10 Best High<br />

School in Mississippi<br />

Best Place to Buy a<br />

House in Mississippi<br />

“Madison is a city that prayer is<br />

building. We look to build upon<br />

our successes and forge an<br />

even brighter future for our<br />

cherished community. Madison<br />

is the best place to live in<br />

Mississippi, and in my opinion,<br />

in the country as well.”<br />

2023 Ribbon Cuttings and<br />

Groundbreakings<br />

Bandwagon Sports • Bless This Food<br />

Catering • The Bridal t Path • Chipotle •<br />

Data Systems Management • Fernando's<br />

• Ice &Vice • Keifer's • Lacey's Salon •<br />

Little Caesar's • RenewMD • T-Mobile •<br />

Tamper Specialty Coffee<br />

2023 Events<br />

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise Luncheon •<br />

Tractors, Trucks, & Big Stuff • Market on Main •<br />

Easter in the Park • Jive after Five Networking<br />

Swing Into Summer • Community Partners Golf<br />

Classic • Farmer's Market • 4th of July Fireworks<br />

• Scarecrow Festival<br />

Movie on Main & Tree Lighting • Christmas<br />

Parade • Senior Activities • Festival of Trees •<br />

Merry Market<br />


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