Last week I decided to visit Meridian, Mississippi... the birthplace of actress Sela Ward.
I’ve been fascinated with Ward’s story since reading her memoir “Homesick.” Inside the book she shares how like me she had to move away from her modest hometown. It was too small to hold her dreams and too quiet for the noise she was born to make. I can relate!
Also like me, half way through life she realized an important lesson… making it in the big city comes with a cost. A cost we have to be willing to pay. The yearning for home, community, Sunday morning worship, the simple things in life…
I’ve gone back to the place I once wanted to leave behind,” she says. “I understand it now. My journey has been a journey home.
I was pretty excited to dive into this place she called home. I wanted to visit her childhood home and maybe run into an old friend who could tell me how she was as a teenager.
That’s not what I got… I got a Sela who has spent years giving back to the very community that helped raised her.
1st thing I discovered was that the actress founded Hope Village a foster home for kids.
“Through Hope Village for Children, I hope to do something more: to give vulnerable children a home. Not an institution, not an orphanage, but a home.
After stopping by Hope Village, I headed over to the MSU Riley Center, which use to be the Opera House back in the day. It closed it’s doors back in 1927. Ward helped to raise money to restore the building and now it stays booked and busy. My favorite Gospel artist CeCe Winans will be there this fall and another Mississippian LeAnn Rimes is also headlining an event there.
In third grade I saw a picture of it in its heyday,” she says. “All these amazing people, like Gershwin, signed the dressing-room wall there. Now it’s used as a concert hall.
A kind lady behind the desk told me I should go have lunch at Weidmann’s. She told me it was the oldest restaurant in Mississippi and that they had great vegetable plates. I was sold!
I ordered a vegetable plate and OMG!!! those butter beans, black eyed peas and fresh tomatoes had me thinking about my grandma’s house in Tchula, Mississippi.
While there I found out that Sela helped to preserve this hometown favorite that dates back to 1870.
I wanted to save Weidmann’s more than anything,” she told Parade. “It was the heart and soul of that town, the place you’d go for Sunday lunch and see everybody.
After eating I was stuffed and ready to head back home, until it was revealed to me that the actress and her family owns a 500 acre farm in town. Honeysuckle Farms is just outside the Meridian city limits. The first structure they built there is called the Rose Cottage, and Ward’s parents and an uncle are buried on the hill behind it.
I’m trying to teach my children the lessons I learned in Meridian–genuineness, belonging, caring about others,” she says. “Treat people as valuable in themselves, not for what they can do for you.
I jumped in the car and attempted to go check out Honeysuckle Farms, but it sits way off the road and is surrounded by trees, a lake, and a beautiful countryside… it had me thinking about Blake Shelton’s song “God’s Country!”
I did pull up to the gate (not being stalkerish) just hoping to take a pic for you guys to see. Anyway, a pick-up truck pulled up and scared the mess out of me so I pulled off and said,”no worries.. God is going to get me behind those gates one day!”
Have a Mississippian you would like for me to cover email me at email@example.com
To learn more about Hope Village click HERE
To learn more about Weidmann’s Restaurant click HERE
To learn more about MSU Riley Center click HERE