For many of us, this is the New Year.  There were no fireworks, nor did any confetti get scattered in Times Square.  But school has just begun.  Routines are being attempted, established, re-established.  Bedtimes are coming faster.  Morning greetings are grumpier.  If you have children in school, you are likely excited for them, yet pensive over the way the years seem to be clipping away.

 What are our wishes for our children, their classmates, their teachers, and ourselves as the school year begins?  Maybe we hope that we’ve prepared them to be kind, thoughtful, and obedient.  None of us want to be “the parents” of that rude and disruptive child.  I’m learning that we, as parents, share many fears about what our little ones will be up to as the teachers carefully and tenderly ask for their attention.  I remember the first note we received pinned to our son’s book bag notifying us that our child had been rather disruptive in school that day.  My wife and I were mortified! Had we failed at parenting?  Was there a petition seeking the expulsion of our son circulating through the school?  How bad had he been?  The wave of irrational reaction was overwhelming, and it didn’t seem so irrational at the moment.  Somehow, we meted out the appropriate punishment and survived that event in time for the next one.  We actually had to come to terms with the fact that our child wasn’t perfect.  Can you imagine how dreadful it was to face that reality? 

What I have learned after parenting in community with other parents is that NOBODY wants to be “those parents” of that unruly child…while we are all, from time to time absolutely “those parents.” I’ve learned that we are all the same, for the most part.  And that we want to give our kids the best opportunities to grow and learn and develop into relational individuals.  Maybe we can realize, together as a parenting community, that when we became parents…we became “those parents.”  And that’s alright, because we can share our fears, our worries, and our failures and therefore become stronger and better at what we all pray so desperately for.


2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Guest Blog written by Heath Ferguson.  Photos courtesy of the Inspiration Mississippi team! 
BRIDE: Molly Kathrine Foster
GROOM: Courtland Raye Murrell
Hometowns: Groom- Avon, MS      Bride- Pearl, MS
Wedding/ Reception Site: Cotton Market Venue, Pearl, MS
Bride’s Bouquet:  White hydrangeas with green and pinecones

How did the two of you meet? In Nashville, TN in P.T. school

What is your proposal story?  I woke up one morning with a note beside my bed stating “Hello Gorgeous! Meet me for a brunch in our favorite spot.” Which is the Junction on MS STATE campus.  Upon arriving to the junction, I find a blanket laid out, my favorite coffee (Albino Squirrel from Strange brew) and to my surprise, no boyfriend, just another note.  The note states “You are about to play a game, follow the clues and you only get one lifeline. Good LUCK.”  Each clue leads to a new spot on campus where we share individual and shared memories, leading from the building all of our classes were in, to the Sanderson (workout center), to the baseball field (Dud Noble) and lastly to Davis Wade Stadium.  Each clue led to a new gift at the site for our 2 year anniversary.  We had just purchased season football tickets a couple of months before.  The last clue read “The game ends in a spot where we will spend many of nights, ringing our cowbells for the Maroon and White, now can you remember the seats?” Luckily I had a saved email with our actual seat assignments; otherwise it would have been a long day looking for the last gift! Oops! Arriving to our seats in the last gift bag is a brass cowbell, that states “Will you Marry Me??” and up from the bottom of the stands he walks up and gets on one knee.  Of course I said YES! I don’t know which was prettier, the brass cowbell or the ring!! Ha!

What inspired your wedding and reception locations? I wanted a simple, rustic look with the feeling of being outside. So the barn was perfect.

What inspired your color scheme/theme/flowers? WINTER!! I love neutrals, winter, and WHITE!

How did you pick the dress? It was actually in the window on display, and I knew coming in I wanted lace and a timeless dress.  Well walking in I stated to my friend (pointing at the dress in the window) “That’s TOO MUCH lace”.  Dress after dress none seemed to be “the one.”  Finally, my friend told to lady, “Get the one out of the window… Molly you can never have too much lace. Just try it!” Well, it fit perfectly and I knew before she even finished buttoning it up that THIS WAS THE DRESS!!

What’s your favorite unique accessory? Is there a story behind it? I would have to say the item my sister gave me to carry around my bouquet which was my “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”.  She gave me a blue ribbon with my mother’s wedding ring on it and a picture locket of my mother stating “You are always in my heart.” My mother passed away when I was younger so this was really special to me that I could have her be a part of my day.

What was your favorite part of the wedding planning process? Probably picking out the food and theme.  The rest was easily due to my fabulous wedding planner, Kendall Poole Ellis, with Kendall Poole Event Planning.  She and her team made everything much more simple and less stressful.

Besides the actual wedding, what was your favorite moment of the wedding day? I would have to say the first time I saw my son and daughter (1 year old twins) all dressed up in her mini flower girl dress and his sweet tux.  My husband and me both discussed how “real” the moment felt seeing them for the first time, that we were finally going to be a family. 

What was your favorite surprise detail/moment about your wedding day?  I guess I would say seeing all my friends and family from over the years in one place.  People I haven’t seen since college or in a long time being under one roof and celebrating.

Your favorite picture from the big day? ALL of THEM!! I would say my favorite is the one of Courtland leaning me back to kiss me in front of the barn after the ceremony.

The picture that represents us best? Our first look photos.  We are always laughing and joking.  Not two people that get really emotional.  So the photo shows us laughing as soon as he turns around. 


Photographer: Mary Moment Photography
Event Planner: Kendall Poole Event Planning
Dress: The Bridal Path
Bride’s Jewelry: Stella and Dot
Hair: Amanda Powell of Plush Salon
Make-up: Brittany Upton of Drench
Bridesmaid Dresses: The Bridal Path
Tuxes: George Sherman Clothiers 
Venue: The Cotton Market
Lighting: Davaine Lighting
Florist: Fresh Cut Catering and Floral
Catering: Fresh Cut Catering and Floral
Band: Union Road
Bride’s Cake: Denalda Parker
Groom’s Cake: For Heaven’s Cakes
Print Material:

With Summer quickly coming to an end, it's time to get outside and enjoy all that Mississippi has to offer!  Our state has incredible pick-your-own farms where you can enjoy the freshest of fruits, vegetables and honey.  We also encourage you to have fun in the kitchen!  Celebrate the flavors of the season and whip up dessert with fresh Mississippi ingredients!
A special thank you to La Brioche for the delicious dessert!  Also, thank you to Mary Moment Photography for capturing the sweets so beautifully! 
July is National Ice Cream Month, and this summer we were proud to partner with Sal & Mookie’s New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint to benefit Batson Children’s Hospital!  

We worked closely with the extraordinary team at Friends of Children’s Hospital, a nonprofit organization created to benefit Batson Children’s Hospital at The University of Mississippi Medical Center.  Batson is the only hospital in the state devoted exclusively to the care and treatment of sick and injured children.  The spectrum of care ranges from well-child care for healthy newborns to comprehensive care for cancer, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, allergies, diabetes and numerous other childhood illnesses.  

With your incredible help (and many helpings of delicious ice cream!), 15% of all "Batson Sundae" sales at Sal & Mookie’s was donated to Children’s Hospital!  We had an overwhelming response to Ice Cream with Friends, and our favorite Mississippi sports teams even got involved!  Mississippi State football Coach Dan Mullen and Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze both stopped by for a Batson Sundae, and we had a Millsaps College day to support Batson Children's Hospital!  Thank you all for your kindness and great support of Ice Cream with Friends.  

Jeff Good, Owner and Operator of Sal & Mookie's says, "At Sal & Mookie’s our mantra is 'Do the Right Thing.'  What is more right than helping raise money and awareness for Mississippi’s premier children’s hospital, Blair E. Batson.  What a joy it has been over the last month to serve miles of smiles by offering our very special ice cream sundae in the month of July.  We cannot wait for the opportunity to do it again!"

To wrap up National Ice Cream Month and Ice Cream with Friends, Inspiration Mississippi, along with Sal & Mookie’s, hosted an Ice Cream Party at Batson Children’s Hospital. The celebration took place in Wiser Cafeteria on Thursday, July 28, and precious patients and their families enjoyed yummy ice cream sundaes from Sal & Mookie's, face painting by the spectacular Fancy Faces by Sherry, took silly photos in Mississippi Photo Booths and even danced to music provided by DJ 51-50 .  Katelyn Anne Photography was on hand to capture every precious moment.  She smiles, "It was really amazing to see the heart behind Inspiration Mississippi, Sal & Mookie's and Friends of Children's Hospital.  All of these different avenues pulled together for a common goal.  I was honored to spend time with the kids and meet their families.  Being a part of something that brings joy to these children was incredible." 

A special thank you to the following Vendors:

Katelyn Anne Photography 
Brown Bottling Group
Sherry Burdsal of Fancy Faces by Sherry
Phillip Cothern of DJ 51-50
Scott Jones with Mississippi Photo Booths
Sal & Mookie's 
Friends of Children's Hospital
{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
Embrace the nostalgia. Make new memories

The Mississippi Museum of Art will be hosting its Third Thursday Museum After Hours TOMORROW NIGHT, August 18th!  Julian Rankin, Marketing Director, says, "It's themed 'Back to School' and celebrates the nostalgia of the school experience, showcases art made on chalkboard by local artists, and much more!" 

Every third Thursday, the Museum opens its doors to celebrate Mississippi's creative community.  Each month features a fun new theme and story, and this month's "Back to School" should not be missed!  The museum says, "The night includes a pop up exhibition showcasing original contemporary Mississippi artwork made with chalk on blackboard; pop up dining with Executive Chef Nick Wallace presenting elevated modern cuisine in a playfully recreated school cafeteria; a 'Picture Day' selfie booth to capture the awkward poses and backdrops of back-in-the-day school portraits; head-to-head paper football tournament; live music; and more!"

It sounds like the perfect evening to celebrate school!  Whether you have children in elementary school or graduated decades ago, we hope to see all of you at the museum tomorrow evening!  For more information on the event, please visit the Museum After Hours - Back to School Facebook page here
A special thank you to the Mississippi Museum of Art for hosting such wonderful events for the community!  All photographs courtesy of the Mississippi Museum of Art. 
Jeff Chao of Chao Photography is one of our favorite Mississippi photographers.  Not only is he incredibly talented, but he is also a kind, loving and devoted husband and father.  Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to the Chao family, through the eyes of Jeff and his wife, Jana!


From Jeff:  "I’ve spent time in lots of different places, but feel like God has blessed me with a spot right here in Mississippi. From the people and places to the friendly feel, this is just home.

My favorite shoots are weddings, families, and seniors–but that’s definitely not all that I do. Meeting new people truly makes my day. I love to hear people’s stories–who they are, where they come from, and what they are doing in life. I love getting to spend time with my clients and becoming a part of their lives. What’s even better is getting to know them and then getting to pull together some memories for them.

When I’m not behind the camera (and sometimes when I am), I enjoy spending time with my wife Jana and kiddos–Jase (5) and John Stephen (2). We love inviting clients into our home, and have a new home office/studio just for you! I also have a mild obsession with all things Mississippi State."

From Jana:  "I have been so blessed over that past almost 10 years to be married to this guy and see all that God is doing through him with photography. He truly impresses me every time I see his work. Jeff has had the opportunity to touch so many people’s lives, and truly LOVES what he does. I really think he loves the people more than actually taking the pictures!

When we first began our business, I played second-shooter with Jeff for most of his weddings–until the big kid came along. I usually play “mama” on the weekends, and would have it no other way. We have been very blessed with several amazing assistants that travel and work with Jeff–and they sure do keep things running smoothly! I’m still very involved in day-to-day, behind the scenes happenings of things, and I’m itching to get back behind the camera and tag along with Jeff on the weekends!"

Thank you, Jeff and Jana, for telling us more about your beautiful family!  For more information on Chao Photography, please visit his website here
Imagine a southern girl, enjoying life in New York City.  She has a fabulous career, collects antique silver, and has an eye for vibrant works of art.  After a romantic engagement, she dreams of a wedding back home in Mississippi.  The result is stunning.  A custom, high-end soiree filled with exquisite details charms friends and family from around the world.  With the finest caviar hors d'oeuvres, spirits served in chilled mint julep cups, and custom paintings given to each guest, every detail is perfectly dazzling.

Venue:  Ardor Rental Boutique in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Photography:  Adam + Alli Photography
Lighting:  Davaine Lighting
Florals & Styling:  Ginger Cook Event & Floral Design
Pastries:  La Brioche
Linen Rentals:  Eventful
Props:  Ardor Rental Boutique 
Hair & Make-up:  Molly Gee Designs
Print Material, Dresses & Tuxes:  Forrest Paper & Bridal Company 
Thank you to all of our incredible vendors!  You can find more gorgeous photo shoots, inspiring people and events in Inspiration Mississippi Magazine! 

{Blog by Mitchell Walters}
{Name} Maurie Hartel 

{Hometown} Hattiesburg, MS

{Event Site} Ardor Rental Boutique, Hattiesburg 

{Tell us about the occasion for the event?} We wanted to celebrate sweet Charly Kate's 3rd birthday with a whimsical, woodland fairy world with everything magical and girly!

{What inspired your event location and theme?} Charly Kate's mom Katie loved the idea of a fairy party for her almost three year old!  When that was decided, I immediately thought of Ardor. I had been there once for an engagement party and fell in love with the space. It's so bright and airy. The white walls were the perfect blank canvas for us!

{What inspired your color scheme/flowers?}  We wanted to keep the colors very light and feminine. Adrienne Garanich of Bloom's A Garden Shop found the prettiest peachy pink carnations for the garland backdrop, so that set the tone.  I added some ferns and moss to help give it that woodland fairy atmosphere.  

{What’s your favorite event detail? Is there a story behind it?}  My favorite detail is the hanging carnation garland. It gave such a sweet, feminine feel to the whole room! It looked magical. 

{What was your favorite part of the event planning process?}  Seeing it all come together is so much fun and so rewarding. And of course seeing the birthday girl light up is special!

{What was your favorite moment of the event day?} I loved watching the girls turn their bird houses into magical fairy houses. They were so creative with it and I could tell they really loved it. 

{Your favorite picture from the event day?} I love the picture of the birthday girl admiring her party table.  


Photographer: Maurie Hartel 
Event Planner: Maurie Hartel 
Venue: Ardor Rental Boutique 
Florist: Flowers provided by Bloom's a Garden Shop
Cake and Cookies: Beth Robinson of Monkey Kisses  

"As a child, I would always flip our house.  My dad would walk into a room and his keys and wallet had been moved," laughs interior design Lynn Myers.  "I also loved shopping for antiques with my mom.  Naturally, interior design became a passion when I was a young girl." 

Myers' childhood hobby led to a wildly successful business.  Lynn Myers Designs has been has been beautifully transforming homes for over twenty years.  

Myers graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in Accounting and worked with a firm for over thirteen years.  She enjoyed decorating for friends and family on the side and was offered an opportunity to work alongside an interior designer.  Her extraordinary talents let to a career change - and the opening of Lynn Myers Designs.  

Myers smiles, "I absolutely love mid-century modern design.  Perhaps it is a reflection of my childhood; my mom lived in Europe for four years and collected the most beautiful antique pieces."  Whether her clients prefer traditional or contemporary design, Myers works closely with them to create something lovely and functional.  

Myers says, "I always meet with a new client, take my first impression of them and start pulling ideas.  I love to meet with them and get that feel and vibe for their personality.  I typically choose one lead fabric and pull everything else for the room off of that." 

Myers is a joy to work with, along with her team, Virginia Evans and Claire Farmer.  Myers says,  "All of my clients are so important to me.  I want everyone to know how important they are, so I personally text them, pull everything together and I always visit the site." 

Lynn Myers Design recently opened an impressive studio and art gallery on the top of Banner Hall in Jackson.  The loft space is open and airy, featuring a fabric library and grand windows with sweeping views.  Light pools into the space, highlighting sculptures, mid-century art and pieces from local artisans.  

A gorgeous home Myers designed in Alys Beach, Florida,  recently graced the pages of Elle Decor Magazine.  The Moroccan-style terrace has been featured on countless blogs and is a top pick on Pinterest.  Myers reflects, "The owner of the home prefers traditional designs, so I tried to give her that feel.  But we didn't want it to look like a beach house.  You walk into the door and everything is completely unexpected.  White walls, antiques, white linens, venetian plaster and acquired art really liven the space." 

Myers resides in Jackson with her husband, two children, two step-children and three dogs.  She uses a wonderful mix of local and global artists, and seems to transform spaces effortlessly.

For more information on Lynn Myers Designs, please visit her website here! You can also find inspirational photos of her work on Instagram here or visit the Lynn Myers Designs Facebook page here.  

A special thank you to Lynn Myers Designs for the gorgeous photographs of her work! 
“I bought my wedding gown in 1954 for $300 at the New York Fashion Shop in Iowa.  It was quite a dress.  With delicate Alençon lace, a sweetheart neckline and long sleeves, it was simply breathtaking.”

Like most newlyweds, Mary Cobb packed away her precious gown after the wedding.  “When it came time for my daughters, Mary Al and Susan, to get married, my husband told them, ‘I’m not buying you a new dress.  There’s a perfectly good dress in the closet,” laughs Mary.  “They were not eager!  But they wore it to please their daddy, and they looked beautiful.”

Mary, affectionately known as “Ama” by her nine grandchildren, was shocked when her granddaughter, Leah Cox Hendrix, approached her about wearing the lace gown. Leah says, “I am extremely sentimental.  My mom and aunt had worn it, and when I got engaged, I knew my grandmother had the dress packed away at her house.  I tried it on and it fit like a glove.  It was absolutely perfect.”

Leah started an extraordinary tradition among her cousins, and with the help of Jackson seamstress, Sandra Ashford, it has been exquisitely restored for each bride.

When Jenny Cobb Sneed became engaged, she shopped around for a new wedding gown.  Leah laughs, “Jenny called me and said, ‘I cannot find a dress that I love as much as Ama’s.’”  The 1954 dress fit Jenny stunningly.  Jenny was living in Manhattan at the time and shot incredible bridal portraits throughout New York City.  Mary laughs, “I did not think the dress would survive!”  But it did.

Sara Jimenez Burns was the next to marry, and she embellished the gown with a lovely new cummerbund.  With her fiancée standing at a handsome 6’ 8”, Sandra mended the sleeves so that Sara could reach up and embrace her new husband.  

After Sara, Lauren Cobb Steele chose to wear her sweet grandmother’s dress.  She reflects, “I wore it just like Ama did, which felt so special.  I love the look of the gown because it is from the 1950’s: the feminine lines and elegant details make it beautifully regal.  If the dress is still intact, I would absolutely love for my daughters to wear it one day.” 

Mary says with awe, “It conforms to each girl perfectly.  It is truly a magical dress.  My mother would be so pleased, because she helped me pick out the dress.  I think she is in Heaven smiling, because she knows.”

The dress will make its next debut when Mary’s last granddaughter, Mary Grace, gets married.   “She tells me, ‘Ama, I have to wear the dress,” smiles Mary.  “We will put it together beautifully somehow.’”  

A special thank you to Christina Photo for the beautiful photographs! 

Blog by Mitchell Walters