#1,683 Distinguished Young Woman.

This morning I had a delicious breakfast compliments of my mama’s homemade strawberry fig jam made from figs out of their backyard. It reminded me of the jams and English muffins from Sarabeth’s, which made me itch for New York. Just a few more months!

And I spent another day photographing—this time… The super secret custom design commissioned for the November issue of Southern Living’s sister magazine, Southern Weddings.

But the very best thing about today was that we spent the evening cheering with Byron and Mary Hannah, youth who were 7th graders when we came to FUMC and in August will start their senior year. I love these two SO much. I can’t explain. I also can’t think about them leaving us. So I won’t.

Mary Hannah’s best friend and another of our amazing youth kids, Alexis, is competing at the statewide Junior Miss pageant (now called Distinguished Young Woman) all weekend and we made the hour drive to Meridian to cheer for her in the talent competition tonight.

After a fancy dinner downtown at Weidmann’s, Meridian’s oldest restaurant…

We made it over to the theatre to see her perform.

Her voice is incredible. You don’t expect it when you know her, that when she opens her mouth to sing it’s like a voice you’ve only heard on recordings from the 1930s and 40s, soft but commanding, and full of soul. She sounds very much like Billie Holiday—a ghostly, beautiful voice that you just don’t hear in 2014. She sang a slow, gorgeous version of Summertime by Ella Fitzgerald that gave me goosebumps!

And on the drive home, we listened to really loud music and told some really funny stories, and I realized again how lucky we are that Ben’s job means getting to be part of these almost-adults’ lives, to see them grow and help when we can. I love these people. I can’t wait to see what kind of amazing things they will do and the places they will go.