Proud to Be a South Carolinian

By: Leah Prescott

I have lived in South Carolina my entire life. I have had a very blessed life, but I’m going to be completely honest with you: It has never occurred to me to be proud that I am a South Carolinian. I’ve been proud to be an American, proud to be Christian, proud to be a wife, a mom, a friend. This last week has fully changed my perspective.

SC Flood

SC Flood

This week, my heart is full and I am bursting with pride for my birth state. I suddenly feel I am living in the very best part of America. To those of you who haven’t followed the events, we have suffered historic rainfalls that have devastated our state. Roads have collapsed, dams burst, and buildings have crumbled. Beyond the initial rainfall, homes continue to flood a week later from the shifts of water as officials work to control the overage. Homes are being destroyed and there is no way to save them. Lives have been lost and families still search for loved ones that are missing as the waters recede. It’s been jaw-dropping to watch the devastation in an area completely unprepared for flooding of this magnitude. Knowing what my neighbors have been going through has broken my heart this week.

SC Flood

Now, to get to the joyful part. Get ready, because this is some good stuff.

I have seen unconditional love, boundless generosity, and Christ-like servant-hood like I have never seen before. I can’t even begin to tell all the stories that have been popping up across the Midlands and beyond of amazing rescues and sacrificial gifts. Victims were terrified and stranded. But help came, and it came with a force stronger than the rushing waters. Strangers helping strangers, rescuers laying down their lives, artisans and businesses pulling out all the stops to meet the needs of Columbia. From mega-donations by huge organizations to families cooking in their own kitchens for the first-responders, it seems like the entire city has contributed.

SC Flood Relief

Early in the crisis, I joined a Facebook group called “Midlands Flood Assistance” which quickly grew to well over two thousand members. As quickly as a need appears, there are dozens responding with ways to help. I’m blown away. I am so incredibly proud to be a South Carolinian today. I truly can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have a long way to go as we recover from this, but we will make it. Thank you to all who have helped; I’ll truly be thankful my entire life on behalf of my home town. What an amazing place to call home.

Food for SC Flood Relief

If you have been affected by the flooding in SC, please know my prayers are with you. And my prayers fly up with those of thousands and thousands of others. That’s a lot of prayer-power, people. God Bless South Carolina! If you would like to give to the relief efforts in the wake of this historic flood, you might look into Samaritan’s Purse or Harvest Hope Food Bank.

Home

By: Lara Winburn

Columbia was not supposed to be my home. I grew up in the Upstate, went to Clemson, married a fellow Tiger and don’t even look particularly good in garnet. But here I am 11 years later.

Our bridge

Our bridge

Over the weekend, the rains came down and the floods came up. The bridge closest to our house simply disappeared. Trees around us fell to the ground, the soil so wet that they just tipped over, roots and all. Friends who I hold dear and have collected here in this town suffered devastating loss. They swam away from their homes even though they were never really waterfront before. Friends I don’t know well (more the wave-to-at-Publix variety) have left their homes barely saved by boats. The stories of devastation are too much to bear sometimes, but there is another story too.

The aftermath

The aftermath

In the days since, all I have seen has been warm and loving neighborly assistance. We are new to our neighborhood (hence my absence from the blog), but Sunday night as we all feared evacuation and the creak of falling trees, we gathered in one kitchen. I watched as a full meal for a dozen neighbors suddenly, out of thin air, appeared. Straight loaves and fishes. Once it seemed the threat had passed for us, I gathered in my cow’s neighborhood, one of the worst hit in floodmaggeden.

There, I have witnessed men ripping their neighbors’ houses apart with their bare hands. My husband and his friends have emptied houses, all worldly possessions covered in something that can only be described as insulation/drywall mud (because the ceilings gave way and the insulation ended up on the floor). We have done loads of laundry in an effort to preserve everything from winter coats to smocked dresses that still had a chance against that sludge. We have spent hours delivering lunch, dinner, cold drinks, and the occasional beer to groups of helpers- their sole purpose to serve the need…whatever that need may be. Donations poured in. We mentioned we were making sandwiches or hot dogs or lasagna to serve to those whose stove was now sitting on the side of the road, and the deliveries rolled in. “I can bring salad, I can bring bread, I can watch all 11 kids,” were the words that rung out. As we walked these streets, armed with nothing more to offer than a cold drink or a sandwich, we were called “a blessing.” We encountered gracious families who had lost everything and were watching years’ worth of photographs dry on their lawn. With a smile and a thank you, those same people would point to other homes and ask, “Would you make sure they got some?” just as concerned for their neighbors as themselves.

The aftermath

A lasagna run

I tell you all of this to say, we were not alone. This was the norm. This is what the masses were doing to serve their neighbors and town – the people of Columbia and the people of South Carolina together.

I know this is not an unusual tale. We have all seen it on Facebook and even the nightly news. But this is not a story that gets old. Community should be celebrated again and again.

And with all of this, I know these are my people, my neighbors. This is my tribe. This is my town. And this is my home.

Celebrate Memorial Day

american flag

Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the summer. We’ve rounded up fun events so you can enjoy the holiday weekend with your family.

Iris Festival – Sumter’s Iris Festival is South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival, and has even been featured in “Southern Living.” The 3-day festival includes concerts, an arts and crafts show, a flower show, a quilt show, car shows, contests, and children’s activities.

Friday, May 22 – Sunday, May 24
822 W. Liberty St., Sumter, SC 29150
For more information, visit http://www.sumtersc.gov/iris-festival.aspx.

9th Annual Jailbreak 5K – Family fun for everyone! People of all ages and fitness levels are invited to participate in the 9th Annual Jailbreak 5K for a morning of fun and friendly competition. All proceeds go to support professional law enforcement services in Lexington County.

Saturday, May 23
8:00am – 12:00pm
521 Gibson Rd, Lexington, SC 29072
For more information, visit http://www.jailbreaklexington.com/jailbreak-5k.html

Palmetto State Chili Cookoff Calling all chili fans! Take a drive to Fountain Inn for the first annual Palmetto State Chili Cookoff. Sponsored by the International Chili Society, this event will bring together the best chili cooks from all over the country, as well as local cooks. The event will feature arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment, and fun activities for kids.

Saturday, May 23
102 Depot St. Fountain Inn, SC 29644
9:00am – 4:00pm
For more information, visit http://www.palmettostatechili.com.

Honoring the Heroes: A Memorial Day Concert – Join the Palmetto Concert Band as they celebrate and pay tribute to our veterans with a free, public concert.

Sunday, May 24
4:00pm
Koger Center for the Arts
1051 Greene Street Columbia, SC 29201
For more information, visit http://palmettoconcertband.com/performances.

Honor WWI & WWII Veterans  Pay tribute to Lower Richland-born Veterans of World Wars I & II at the Historic Barber House in Hopkins. This family-oriented event will feature a free buffet lunch, entertainment by Mike Stone Entertainment, the Gospel Redeemers and others, mule-drawn wagon rides and vendors.

Monday, May 25
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Historic Barber House
116 Barberville Loop Hopkins, SC 29061
For more information, visit http://wis.eviesays.com/event/1108144/invitation-to-spend-memorial-day-in-hopkin-sc-honoring-wwi-and-wwii-veteran?tid=3253735.

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler

LexMed Heart & Sole Women's Five Miler

Lexington Medical Center is pleased to announce it’s now the title sponsor of the Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler, which is set for Saturday, April 25 in downtown Columbia. As South Carolina’s premier all-women road race, Heart & Sole includes a five-mile run, and three- and five-mile walks.

For the past 14 years, the event has encouraged healthy lifestyles through physical activity and called attention to the issue of heart disease as the #1 killer of women. More than 2,000 women participated last year.

With a personal and supportive environment, the course begins near Finlay Park at Laurel Street, and winds through the Vista and the University of South Carolina campus before ending on the Taylor Street side of Finlay Park. This year’s event will begin with an opening ceremony at 8:00 a.m. featuring news anchors from WIS-TV, the co-sponsor. The five-mile race begins at 8:30 and the walk at 8:35 a.m. Top runners will receive cash prizes.

After the race, participants will enjoy special refreshments, entertainment and an expo featuring health screenings and local vendors.

We know you’ve got heart. And we know you’ve got soul. So, join us on April 25! We’ll see you at the start line!

General Registration

Registration is only available online.

For group of 7 or more people, registration is $23 before March 20. There will be no group registration after March 20.

Individual registration varies:

  • $28 before March 20
  • $33 through April 24
  • $45 on Race Day

Get Social

Learn more about the race on Facebook! LexMed Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler

Follow Every Woman Bloggers, Sherree Thompson and Crissie Kirby, who are training for Heart & Sole here from now until race day!

Angel Wings Over Lake Murray

By: Shannon Shull

I have the privilege of driving across the Lake Murray Dam almost every day during the week. I’ve written a blog about this before, describing the peace and joy the beautiful views crossing that dam bring me. But a recent journey crossing that incredible dam literally took my breath away with its glorious view.

Angel Wings Over Lake Murray

The pictures will speak for themselves. They are untouched – no editing at all. It was another extremely long day of teaching, one that started at the usual 5 a.m. After an after-school faculty meeting, I was finally headed home. My eyes caught a glimpse of a gorgeous sunset to my right. Its beauty called out to me, but I had to keep my eyes on the road. I carried out my usual habit of rolling down the window, holding up my phone and just clicking away as I kept my eyes on the road. I had no idea of the immense beauty that was before me. In person, I did not get the opportunity to take in the heavenly view, but I was blessed with having captured it on my phone. I made it across the dam, got hung up in traffic, and while stopped, took the moment to look over my pictures…WOW. Words could not describe what I saw. My heart, mind and soul instantly saw, felt, and thought of angel wings watching over me.

Angel Wings Over Lake Murray

See what you will. No matter what you see in the pictures, I know you will see something breathtaking. I will forever treasure these pictures because for me it represents a beauty that is indescribable on many levels, a reminder of the beauty of the world, a reminder of how blessed I am to see this beauty and appreciate it… a reminder of my angels watching over me.

A Happy Pre-Thanksgiving

By: Chaunte McClure

In less than a week, airports will be packed, grocery stores will be super busy, and families will be preparing a heaping helping of turkey, dressing, ham, green beans, pumpkin pies, velvety mashed potatoes and other traditional delicacies to enjoy together at the dining room table on Thanksgiving Day. Well, that’ll be the routine for most families…

There are those who are less fortunate and won’t have the privilege to prepare a meal, have dinner at someone’s home or perhaps even have a meal. The kind people of Keepin’ It Real Ministries recognized this sad reality and did something about it. Last Sunday, the organization, with the help of volunteers, served a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to more than 400 homeless men and women, and a few children, at Columbia’s Finlay Park.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Seeing the homeless kids really tugged at my heart and I couldn’t help myself but to get down to their level to strike a conversation. Although they had little say, it was obvious that what they had just received meant a lot to them. Their faces lit up like a child’s does on Christmas morning when he or she opens gifts, and all it took was a plate of warm food, a backpack and people willing to make it happen. That’s ministry. God wants us to be among those who are suffering so we can be ministers for Jesus Christ.

The more than two hours spent in the cold organizing, plating food and distributing backpacks were worth the smiles I saw and the expressions of gratitude I heard.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Whenever I participate in this type of mission, I always have to thank God. Lord, thank You for the roof I have over my head. Thank You for the food I can eat daily. To be in the presence of so many people who don’t have a place to stay really helps me appreciate the state I’m in, even if I think it’s not the best.

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

Keepin’ It Real Ministries

As we enter the holiday season, I hope you will find opportunities in your community to serve. Keepin’ It Real Ministries will serve dinner to the homeless again on Christmas Day and the ministry is in need of volunteers. Will you help? The Christmas meal will be served at the Sumter Street Transit Station on the corner of Sumter and Laurel Streets at 4 p.m. If you’re interested, give Oscar Gadsden a call at (803) 406-0724 and let him know you want to help.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Meet Our Soon-To-Be Every Woman Bloggers!

Every Woman Blog

When we started the search for our new Every Woman bloggers, our goal was to select five wonderful women to join our current roster of bloggers. However, we received so many amazing entries that we had to raise that number to six! Congratulations to all of the women who have been selected to become Every Woman bloggers! We can’t wait for the blog’s readers to get to know them better and for these amazing women to share their lives with us.

Below is a sneak peak at the women who will join our amazing group of Every Woman bloggers:

  • Lara Winburn: A mom who works both in and outside the home, Lara has two young children who keep her on her toes!
  • Leah Prescott: This mom of three is learning to navigate the world of homeschooling and will share her experiments and successes teaching her children.
  • Chaunte McClure: This minister and seminarian is an aspiring voiceover artist who has a sudden desire to try out arts & crafts projects.
  • Lydia Scott: A mom to a gaggle of teenagers, Lydia has overcome health issues and has accomplished significant weight loss.
  • Sherree Thompson: An experienced blogger, Sherree will share tips on gardening and finding locally grown foods to help families eat clean.
  • Sydney Yarbrough: This 23-year-old loves fashion and design. An experienced crafter, she’ll share her many DIY projects and homemade jewelry.

Please stay tuned to learn more about our new Every Woman bloggers in the New Year!