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Sweet South Carolina

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The best part about the campaign trail is the places you go and the people you meet. This week, we are in South Carolina, and I am thrilled to be back in the Palmetto State. I graduated from Presbyterian College, located in Clinton, live across the state line in Georgia and feel very at home here.

The week started in Charleston, a beautiful city with wonderful memories. In college, we would travel to Charleston every fall to watch The Citadel Bulldogs beat our football team, the mighty Blue Hose (OK, our mascot is a Scottish Warrior who wears "blue hose"). My husband, Jimmy, and I have travelled to Charleston for the Cooper River Bridge Run, as well as several weddings in the area.

Yesterday's lunch with the Charleston County Republican Women's Club was a special treat. It wasn't just the location at the country club that was lovely (I looked on longingly as we drove past the tennis courts) or that the people were friendly (they were very friendly), but that the lunch program was a pause in the whirlwind of campaigning, a refreshing and needed reminder to turn my focus toward God. It reaffirmed my belief in God and my faith in Him.

The lunch began with the reading of Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me," followed by a prayer. It set the stage for what was to come.

There were several representatives attending on behalf of the Republican presidential candidates. Only two of us were family members -- myself and Anita Perry, first lady of Texas, wife of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. We sat next to each other at the head table. She is poised, lovely, very attractive, like a beautiful, fragrant flower, but with a spine of steel.

After we all talked about each of our candidates for a few minutes, the floor was opened to questions. The first went to Mrs. Perry, a question about how she and her family handle the attacks on Gov. Perry. Her answer referenced the Bible verse read earlier in the program, and she said that their faith has helped them through.

Smiling, I nodded my head in agreement. Her answer resonated with me. My faith has grown stronger and deeper through this campaign process. While those in the press are spinning stories, looking for angles and edges, I have attempted to slow down, listen more intently to God, to be more patient and less controlling.

I'd like to say that I am always successful, but that of course would be wrong. But I press on, attempting to lift my vision away from day-to-day events and up to heaven and the eternal purposes of God. As the daily world becomes more challenging, hard, complicated, I find that it helps me to relax, be present, do my very best, but leave the outcome up to God.

Last night, as I watched my dad bow his head for a few minutes before his speech, I remembered my sister's story about asking for speech advice. Years ago, she asked dad for advice about speaking, how she should focus her thoughts, what she should do to ensure a great performance. He replied that she should say a prayer before she started to speak. Years later, he is still bowing his head, a pause in the midst of the whirlwind of campaigning, to focus on God.

Through the trial and travails of campaigning, our strong family has become even stronger. One of the joys of the journey is the extra time that I have been able to spend with Callista, my dad, my sister Kathy and her husband Paul. As I have campaigned away from home, my husband Jimmy has stepped in, stepped up and been a tower of strength, for which I am thankful.

During the last few days in South Carolina, while my dad is picking up in the polls, I am sure that the outside attacks will only become more shrill, more strident, more stinging. My goal is to remember -- on a daily, or even hourly basis -- that I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me, to remember to bow my head before speaking and to ask that God be seen through me as I speak.

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