Jeanette Elrod is living proof that achieving your dreams may not be easy, but it is possible.
In August 2016 Elrod was crowned Ms. Senior Wilson County. Elrod competed in the Ms. Senior Wilson Pageant on several occasions before taking home the crown. For two years, she was a runner-up.
Elrod went on to represent our county in the Ms. Tennessee Senior Pageant in 2017, where she placed third runner-up.
"Winning at the fair last year was a highlight for me," she said. One of her granddaughters, 6-year-old, Lylah, rode with her in the parade.
"She said, 'Nana - I'm not going to wave.' She ended up waving more than I did," Elrod recalled. "It was a lot of fun."
Elrod is originally from the small town of Brooklyn, Mich. The first pageant she ever competed in was a mother-daughter event when her daughter, Lisa, was in high school.
"I was a stay-at-home mom. I had all the time in the world to sing and participate in community theatre and events," she said.
From 1981 until 1996, Elrod sang the National Anthem at NASCAR races. The last time she performed was in 1996 at the Michigan 500 with her daughter.
It was her passion for music that brought Elrod, a singer-songwriter, to Tennessee.
Her adult son followed.
In 2008, Elrod was a contestant on "America's Got Talent." Her performance was not televised; however, she remembered being flown to Atlanta to compete.
"They kept wanting me to talk about my job," she said, noting that she did not reveal her employer.
For the past 18 years, Elrod has worked as a housekeeper for a well-known former Tennessee politician. She called the job a "God thing" and even in this interview, simply stated she worked as a housekeeper at a private residence.
Elrod spoke many times about her Christianity.
At the age of 10, Elrod became a Christian and said she's relied on her faith to make it through many of life's battles.
One of her platforms is domestic abuse awareness. Elrod is a survivor of domestic abuse.
"My former husband assaulted me twice. I told him after the first time that I would not allow it. The second time he did it, I had him arrested," she said. "He was abusive in every fashion."
In her case, the abuse started with emotional abuse and control issues.
"I wish I would have seen all of the signs. I didn't see how full-blown it actually was in the beginning. I would get in the car to go to work, and he made me talk to him on the phone all the way to work and all the way home and during the day," she remembered. "He controlled all things. I had to move my money into his accounts."
Elrod is adamant that God will "restore what the locust has eaten."
"That is what scripture tells us. I have belief as a Christian woman that God is going to take care of me in every fashion," she added. "I've been very blessed amidst all the bad things."
Her first book - a devotional - is coming out this summer.
"For years, I've been writing on a weekly basis. I would send them to my family. This was before Facebook," she said. "I complied all the devotionals, and I have enough for two books. I love writing."