The Road Home

No matter where you grow up, to the young, the grass is always a little greener somewhere else. Bryson Eubanks was certainly someone who wanted to spread his wings.

Bryson and his brother Lee were raised by their single mother, Marie Eubanks. “We lived near Carroll Oak-land school and it was the late 80’s, early 90’s, so Wilson county didn’t have as much going on as it does now,” notes Bryson. “Growing up I attended church at Immanuel Baptist Church, went to Lebanon High School, played baseball, football & basketball, the usual things kids from around here do. My family is very close so I was usually with my brother or my cousins, Lisa Eubanks Nave or Michael Eubanks but I always figured I’d move away.”

After high school, Bryson attended Carson-Newman where he continued his baseball career. Later he obtained a Masters in Gerontology from Appalachian State. “When I was growing up, my great-grandmother was very important in my upbringing. She would babysit my brother and I when needed and taught us many life lessons. It was tough seeing her fall ill because she was the first person I had ever seen age and progress through the later stages of life. I watched my entire family come together to care for my great-grandmother. There were not many options back then nor was there information as to what options were even available. We did what we could to help insure her later years were good ones, but it was then I knew my calling would be working with the aging population.”

After obtaining his Masters Degree, Bryson returned to middle Tennessee, settling in Nashville working for two of the leading attorneys in Elder Law. My adult life has been focused on the field of public benefits, Medicaid planning, VA planning, and asset protection. It was while I was working for Tim Takacs that he and another attorney came to me and encouraged me to attend law school because I had a real knack for elder law. I laugh now because most attorneys I know don’t like math but I loved it. I was really good at reading the Medicaid laws and then figuring out how to reallocate client’s assets to meet  Medicaid rules.

To say his mother is proud of the fact Bryson not only has a college degree, graduate degree and now a law school degree would be an understatement. “We didn’t have much growing up but I instilled in Bryson and his brother that an education and helping those less fortunate than you, are two things that will always steer you in the right direction.”

“I learned so much working with Tim and later Barbara Moss. They are both outstanding attorneys who specialize in the areas of estate planning and elder law. In fact, it was also at Barbara’s office where Bryson met his wife, Miller Hunt, also an attorney. The couple will soon be celebrating their one year anniversary and are excited about all their future holds.

“After law school, I knew the right place for me was back home. Back to my roots, back to my family and friends, back to where all this knowledge could really make a difference. So I knocked on a few doors and here I am, back in Lebanon practicing law with the law firm of Kane & Crowell. It’s a great fit because the firm already handles estate planning and I’m able to offer even more services to their clients by bringing my years of experience in elder law as well as asset protection. Plus it was about time the law firm hired a male attorney – I’m their 6th attorney and the only male, which makes for lots of laughs every day.”

Senior Law Partner, Amanda Crowell points out that “helping families has always been our goal, but as we ourselves are getting older, we are seeing the need locally for more expertise in the areas of Estate Planning and Medicaid and VA Planning. That’s why when we met Bryson, we knew he would be a perfect person to lead our Estate Planning & Asset Protection Division, with our other local attorney, Kayla Horvath.

Bryson points out that “U.S. News and World Report previously published an article that stated that 75 million Baby Boomers are on the verge of retirement, and over the next twenty years, approximately 10,000 people will turn 65 each day. The same report goes on to say that 18% of adults will be over the age of 65 by 2030, and the number of senior citizens in the population will total 89 million by the year 2050. To add to these staggering numbers, the parents of these baby boomers are living much longer than their parents due to better medical care, easier access to nutritional choices, and a focus on exercise and well-being.

These facts are important because the cost of long-term health care is rising as fast as those aging into it. The 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey presented facts from a study done by CareScout showing that nursing home care in 2019 will cost a resident between $78,960.00 and $84,588.00 per year; additionally, lower levels of care in an assisted living facility or at home will cost between $17,952.00 and $48,456.00 annually. All of those numbers are up from the previous year and can only be expected to rise; therefore, how people pay for long-term care is very important. Statistically, one in three Ameri-cans over the age of 65 rely on Social Security benefits alone.”
Being proactive is always the best option, but no matter the situation or timing, Bryson’s goal is to help clients face disability, aging, and the rising cost of long-term care head-on. Kayla Horvath, who has been with Kane & Crowell for several years notes that “our approach is a holistic one that focuses on care, finances, and the law. These three focus areas will work together so you and your family can answer questions such as:

• “Does my Will really do what I want?”
• “How will we provide for our disabled child when we can’t take care of ourselves?”
• “Who will make financial and healthcare decisions for me when I can’t?”
• “What do Medicare and Medicaid actually cover?”
• “How will I afford nursing home care, and will Medicaid take everything from me?”
• “Can my status as a Veteran help me in any way?”

Attorney Angel Kane, one of the founders of Kane & Crowell Family Law Center, commented that “everyone knows us as a Family Law and Estate Planning law firm which is what we do, but Elder Law is something very different from typical Estate Planning. We all need a Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will, because no matter how old you are, you should plan for who will take care of your children or your affairs if you suddenly pass away. Kayla Horvath has been working in this area of law with us for many years, and she has both the knowledge and compassion to serve our clients well with these needs.

Elder law, however, is for older adults who want to plan for their future care needs. It lays the groundwork for a financial legacy rooted in protecting family assets. It also encompasses crisis care planning for elderly adults that have immediate health and safety needs with a focus on getting proper, affordable care. This includes both Medicaid and VA aid and attendance benefits.

Amanda and I began focusing on this area of law many years ago as our own grandparents and parents were getting older, and we needed to help them plan and prepare. And as often happens, we grew busier and busier, and the cases we saw became much more complex. This area of the law is not one you can learn overnight. You really have to immerse yourself in this area of law to truly understand the complexities of Medicaid and Trust laws. Bryson has done that, plus when he told us he was raised here and all about his great-grandmother’s story – we knew he would be a perfect fit because he has a real passion to help those around him.”

“Elder law is near and dear to my heart,” Bryson says. “Watching my family’s struggle with my great-grandmother impacted me. Watching that struggle led me to focus my career on helping our aging community, and I’m glad to be back working in my hometown, serving the people who helped make me who I am today.”Recently, Kayla and Bryson, were asked to speak to a church group about elder law and asset protection. “People had so many questions and we loved being able to answer them and help make a complicated process easier to understand.

In 2020 we are planning many more seminars so if your organization or group would like us to come out, we are happy to do so. My goal is to help the aging population preserve their dignity and protect their assets. Information is power. I’ve got the information and I’m ready to help you get your power back.”
To reach Bryson call (615) 784-4800 or visit www.kane-law.com. Or to schedule a speaking engagement email him directly at beubanks@ kane-law.com

Enchanted Duck Pond Farm

Local couple, Dan and Lisa Liles, like to have breakfast and coffee on typical Saturdays. and this particular off-grid day they decided to haunt an auction to perhaps by farm equipment.

“Once we arrived at the auction, unknown to me, my husband’s interest quickly changed from the farm equipment to the land being auctioned,” remembers Lisa from that 2010 slumber Saturday.

Meanwhile, Lisa was poking around the landscape and became mesmerized by the natural beauty of the 150-acre spread off Couchville Pike in Mt. Juliet.

“While the auctioneer was doing his chant, I slipped away to walk close to the creek to calm my anticipation of finding out who would be the highest bidder,” said Lisa. “Talking with another lady about the charm and peacefulness of this secluded acreage the chant came to a stop.”

That lady told Lisa a tall guy with glasses was the new owner of the peaceful respite. Lisa’s husband was tall but didn’t wear glasses. She was poignantly disappointed. But when she got to the sale place, that tall guy was wearing
sunglasses, not “real” glasses.

And it began then.

Duck Pond Farm is now a true local gem. Minutes from the heart of Mt. Juliet and a couple more from Nashville, it’s a unique venue for a stay-cation this fall, or a preeminent wedding destination for those couples who want a flair for something other than the normal place to say their vows.

There’s no need to travel to faraway venues when Wilson County offers this spectacular one-stop getaway that is so close but transports you back off a country road to a splendid wilderness respite, but with all the amenities.

The Liles want to provide their guests, no matter the occasion, with an unforgettable experience, with a stress-free atmosphere, with a feeling of being tucked away with a view second to none.

Duck Pond manager, Marisa Henson, explained the gorgeous place was once a working farm with horse stables. There were some original buildings and the
Liles upgraded, and added to, for their dream to turn the place into a multi-faceted venue for the community.

Today, there are multiple cabins which include a bridal suite, a groom suite, a kitchen and full-size dining room, and huge pavilion, plus more.

There’s a huge A-frame with open-air accommodations, wraparound porch and a view of the pond that in all can accommodate up to 38 guests. There are other cabins and chalets, some with fire pits, grills and picnic tables.

The moniker “pond” is two acres and is majestic on the property. “Dan built a gazebo and pergola by the pond,” said Marisa “They were built from trees on the property.”

And, there’s a separate island on the pond that is a favorite ceremony site. It doesn’t have to be a wedding, but has also been a favorite for engagements and such.

Dan said he’d never sell the property, he loves the land and takes some occasions to hunt and hike on it. The greenspace pays homage to ducks, geese, deer and turkeys. A local grows impressive corn crops on some of the acres.

Marisa explained there are three main areas of the event space; the main pavilion, the party pad (concrete patio) and a cocktail area where patrons can bring in food trucks of their choice for their special occasion.

Already over 150 weddings have shared their joy on the place. Corporate retreats, family and high school reunions, birthday parties, baby showers, bar mitzvahs and more have found this local gem.

Duck Pond Farm is just several miles from Providence and greets guests with a long cedar tree-lined drive. Recent renovations include fresh coats of paint and a new pavilion and decks.

A common statistic is that 33 percent of engagements happen between September and Thanksgiving, so those newly engaged should snag this local venue as soon as possible to feel at ease while they plan their once in a  lifetime wedding. Also, locals who just want to chill can book a long-earned respite just a stones throw away.

“Come see our treasure,” said Lisa.
For prices, terms, reservations, and accommodations please go to their website at Duck Pond Farms.

Looking Back at Lebanon’s first 200 years

We don’t get as much snow as we once did.

Scores of former residents have had a significant influence on our nation’s government. One is regarded as the “father” of the United Nations.  And Lebanon has made its mark in the field of entertainment from an early spokesperson for a popular pancake mix to one of America’s most gifted songwriters.

These bits and pieces of Lebanon’s past can be found in a history that has been recently authored by Sam Hatcher and titled “Notes From Lebanon’s First 200 years.”

For several months, actually dating back to early spring, Hatcher, a former newspaper journalist, and Brandon Wagoner, a book publisher who lives in Lebanon, have been poking around records, looking through scrapbooks, making phone calls, and interviewing locals regarding Lebanon’s 200 years of history.

“It’s no secret of course that the City of Lebanon is celebrating its bicentennial this year and because of that Brandon and I believed it to be important to create a book to commemorate this very special event,” Hatcher said.

He explained that the book’s title, specifically the word “Notes” in the title, is used as “an apology of sorts because I’m not sure any history book is ever totally complete.

“We’ve tried for the better part of seven months to piece together as best we could the 200 years of Lebanon’s past.

“This has not been an easy chore for either of us,” Hatcher said in reference to Wagoner, who has authored a number of books and whose three-year-old company, Grassleaf Publishing, has published several works including children’s books and faith-based titles.

“I think many readers will be surprised to learn that one of the early representatives of Aunt Jemima Pancakes, Maude Woodfork, was from here; that the longest-serving U.S. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, was educated here; and that the songwriter who pinned “Green, Green Grass of Home,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and dozens of more classics, Curly Putman, made his home in Lebanon,” Hatcher offered.

A self-described “weather freak,” Hatcher said one of his personal favorite parts of the book deals with the weather.

Chapter Five of the book’s 11 chapters, “Weathering the Storms,” is a very thorough recall of significant weather events including a detailed graph that spans several pages noting dates of major local weather occurrences.

“We often hear that we don’t seem to get the winter snows as we once did and a graph Brandon labored over for several days spells this out clearly.

“Whether it’s global warming or some other cause, it’s evident that the deep snows experienced frequently in winters decades ago have been a rarity in recent times,” Hatcher pointed out.

Discussing the book’s content, Hatcher, who authored the popular “Heisman’s First Trophy” three years ago, said much of what’s in the history has been captured from other writings, reports by the community’s newspapers, individual interviews, records at Cumberland University, and other sources. He said there are a significant number of photos in the book, many of which have been in storage or not available for public display.

According to Wagoner, the book traces the development of industry and commerce; education, both public and private; healthcare; and other subjects.

He said one of the book’s final chapters is called Potpourri and addresses the World War II maneuvers, Gen. Robert Hatton, a Civil War battle in downtown Lebanon, and several other points of history that have had an impact on the community.

Both Hatcher and Wagoner reminded that “Notes from Lebanon’s First 200 Years” is strictly a history about Lebanon and shouldn’t be confused with matters, happenings or people outside of Lebanon.

“Notes From Lebanon’s First 200 Years,” will be available for purchase in early November. The book which sells for $20 per copy will be sold locally at the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce office on the Lebanon Square, at Gibbs Pharmacy on Baddour Parkway, Split Bean Roasting Company,  and at Gifts on Main on West Main Street.

Hatcher, who began a career in journalism after graduating from Castle Heights Military Academy, is a lifelong resident of Lebanon. He often tells that his great grandfather, J.J. Hatcher, was the City’s first electrician and was the one who turned on lights in Lebanon for the first time in the 1800s.

His book about Cumberland University’s game against Georgia Tech in 1916 in which Tech beat Cumberland 222-0, “Heisman’s First Trophy,” was published on the 100th anniversary of the game and has received national recognition by ESPN, several major metropolitan daily newspapers, National Public Radio, CBS, Sports Illustrated Magazine, and others.

Wagoner, a graduate of Friendship Christian School, holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Tech and a master’s degree in engineering management from Lipscomb University.

He initiated Grassleaf Publishing some three years ago and has had the opportunity to publish several books including children’s books and titles that are faith-based. To learn more about Wagoner’s company visit Grassleafpublishing.com.

 

 

 

Agee & Johnson…The Vision Lives On

Forty years ago Agee & Johnson was founded by Jim Agee and Jerry Johnson. The gentlemen shared a vision for a realty and auction company rooted deep in community service. That vision lives on today under the new ownership of Principal Broker and Auctioneer Jay White.

White began working for Agee & Johnson in 1988.

“I never thought about doing anything else,” he said.  “It has been enjoyable. I like helping people and seeing the joy in their eyes when they buy something or seeing the joy in their eyes when something gets sold.”

Helene Cash, an affiliate broker and spokesperson for White, explained that three years ago Agee & Johnson partnered with another real estate company, becoming a division of that firm.

“Early in 2019, the opportunity arose for Agee & Johnson to become its own brokerage again. Jay had an opportunity to open the brokerage and chose to restore the legacy of Agee & Johnson Realty and Auction,” she said.

White doesn’t plan to retire anytime soon and said that with his son, Hayden, now an Affiliate Broker and Auctioneer with the company – taking ownership seemed like the right thing to do.

“I wanted to bring back the way we have done things in the past and continue the legacy,” White said.

Cash added that although the business is community-focused, there is a modern approach with technology and utilizing the tools available for today’s home buyers and sellers.

“With the diverse talents of our real estate team, we handle all aspects – commercial and residential, buyer and seller, new home sales and resales, working with buyers searching for their dream home as well as land development,” Cash elaborated. “Jay and his team are highly skilled at land development and land division no matter if it is a real estate transaction or an auction sale.”

Agee & Johnson boasts over 100 years of experience in helping clients thanks to their team, which includes: Jim Agee, Harry Bennett, Phil Bryant, Linda Hackett, Seth Hallums, Scott Harris, Ed James, Larry Keller, Rene Ketelsen, Neal Oakley, Charlie Pass, Michael Randolph, Clay Sanders, He-lene Singer Cash, Chip Smith, Jan Smith, Lou Anne Snyder, Jessica Taylor, Rick Thorne, and Hayden White.

Hip To Be Square Market

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For some, it can’t happen soon enough. For the rest, the mere mention of four little words can incite anxiety, irritability, sweating, and nausea. No, it’s not, “Your relatives are here.” I’m talking about “it’s time to decorate!”

Pulling out the tree (or trees, for some), wreaths, and lights doesn’t have to be a curse inducing task. Do you believe that? According to Wilson County’s resident design expert and owner of home furnishings boutique, Square Market Paula McDonnell, there are more important things to wWrittorren By about. “Evy Bill Congereryone is going in different directions. And it gets even worse between November 1 and December 25. We set unrealistic expectations. We want perfection. And when you spend so much time focusing on getting the house totally decorated before a certain date, you miss all the fun.”

If you’re like me, you’ve gone down the Pinterest rabbit hole looking for tips on “Staying organized during Christmas” or “How to create the perfect holiday experience inside your home.” They never work. No matter how many clear bins you purchase, how loud Nat King Cole sings about roasting chestnuts, or how much you love your sweet family (even when they complain about pulling those plastic bins from the attic), every year someone winds up cursing or crying or both. And that someone is usually you (see: Becky).

Today I am in the front showroom of Square Market. I’m sitting in what has to be the most comfortable club chair in the world (or at least Middle Tennessee), and chatting it up with McDonnell when she declares, “I’m not pressuring myself into decorating by a certain time ever again. Adding a few pieces to what I already have out saves my sanity.” One might think it’s easy to say that when you own a home décor and furniture boutique but looking around at the sophisticated blend of modern and vintage, it’s easy to see that Paula practices what she preaches.

This year, she has a goal. That goal is to help you alleviate the stress when it comes to decorating this holiday season.

“By selecting items that are thoughtful, purposeful and simple, you can create a timeless Christmas décor theme that doesn’t have to be taken down on December 26th,” McDonnell says as she moves hand-carved wooden angels around a breathtaking table display.

According to Paula, there are several items needed to create timeless holiday décor that can stay up all year long.

“Angels, trees, nativity scenes, deer are things that do not scream Christmas, but can easily meld into your décor during the holidays when you pair with a string of lights.” Paula continues, “Boxwood wreaths are perfect transition pieces. Take the red bow off after Christmas and the wreath can stay up all year.”

There’s no one size fits all solution for taking the stress out of the holidays, but Paula hopes that she and her staff can help you focus on what matters. “The holidays are meant for spending time with family. Sometimes we get so busy trying to make things perfect, we miss everything. This madness must stop. Turn off the phone and iPad and pay attention. The magic of Christmas is in our families. Sure, the decorations provide a nice backdrop for photos, but simple décor keeps your family in the spotlight. And that’s what it’s all about anyway.”

Building Relationships

While Paula has a natural instinct for putting a room together and curating a home with unique style, she has put together a staff who also offer a fresh perspective on creating interiors with a keen eye towards current home trends. “I’m just one person so, it helps to have the best employees. Every single one of us cares about each person who walks through those doors. It’s about building relationships, not a database.”

Paula’s mission is to think outside the design box and offer the most exciting always-evolving unique collections of furniture, lighting, home decor, textiles, artwork, and gifts while supporting local artisans. These collections are both inspired by years of exciting design work, and the creativity Paula pushes to consistently surpass with each new day.

Location & Hours of Operation
115 South Cumberland Street
Open Tuesday-Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 10 am – 3 pm
615-965-2595
www.squaremarketlebanon.com

Tis the Season for Proposals

According to wedding experts and social media sites, the Christmas holiday is the most popular season for couples to get engaged.

There’s no time to waste when it comes to planning. Especially if you’d like to walk down the aisle in the coming year. After booking the location, it’s time to start thinking about the food. Like venues, caterers and restaurants are booked months and, more often-years in advance. The process of hiring the caterer for the wedding, then reserving a restaurant for rehearsal dinners, luncheons, receptions, or showers can be a little overwhelming. That’s why your first call should be to Sammy B’s Restaurant & Catering.

From backyard to black tie, Sammy B’s is one of Middle Tennessee’s premier restaurants and caterers. Whether you are planning a small affair or a grand one, Co-Owner Gina Stradley and her expert staff is here to help you plan the perfect day. From creating a most fabulous menu and all the little details in between…they will do everything they can to assure your event is a success.
Owners, Jim and Gina Stradley share a few of their most popular menu items (all curated and prepared by Jim and his culinary crew. Seriously, they are amazing!) that will have your guests swooning.

New Owners bring Breedans Orchard back to life

Aimee & Wendy Dorfman at the Orchard

They might be called a little “zany” to go out on a limb(s) (peach and apple that is!) and buy a revered orchard in Mt. Juliet during a ‘mid-life’ crisis whim. But, they did and those limbs are strong!

  • New Owners bring Breedans Orchard back to life
    New Owners bring Breedans Orchard back to life

Photos by Wendy Dorfman

Wendy Dorfman and Aimee Dorfman (sisters-in-law) opened the 12-acre boutique orchard July 2018 in the heart of Mt. Juliet.

It’s the Breeden’s Orchard County Store & Farmers Market. It’s a fresh new revamp on a beloved orchard that originated in 1974.

They’ve put their style and panache in the place, but with a respectful homage to the long-time owners who had to sell.

Together, Wendy and Aimee saved this pristine little orchard from the hungry hands of developers who wanted to raze the long-developed peach and apple trees to ‘raise’ a sprawling development.

Long time owners, the Breedens, had to sell after decades, simply because of health and age.

Aimee and Wendy are a cool pair. The “zanies” reference is to their partnership with their husbands in the well-known Zanies Comedy Club enterprise the past 25 years, ad all across the country. They’ve been doing it for decades, and, well, maybe a “zen” orchard was in order.

“We are in our 50’s now,” laughed Aimee. “We got a call to see the orchard. It’s a different path. It was so beautiful [the orchard sold by long time Tom Breeden because of health issues]. It was a dream that just sparkled.”

Rather than a bright red convertible mid-life crises issue, these two decided ripe peaches and red apples were more apropos.

Let’s get to real time and what this duo has done to enhance the orchard and provide a wonderful outlet for locals in Wilson County.

Their she-shed-place of business is spectacular with great space to showcase a myriad of locally produced products. It’s an Amish-style barn retrofitted with wood that came from the Breedens’ house and barn. No sadness, there’s still a place left where these women work, that was the Breeden’s home.

These nature lovers and preservers of history look toward many school field trips to visit them, and they are researching new apple varieties to call this place home.

“It is hotter, and we are sweatier and still celebrating our mid-life adventure,” said Aimee.

This year, Breedens’ peach trees have flourished so much that they opened up the orchard for a few limited u-pick days, something they thought they were years away from, or at least till their new grove of trees was ready.

“Although the trees are still old and fragile, they are stronger than we thought, well, and that the fact that some of those summer storms took out the weakest limbs,” said Wendy.

This year, Wendy and Aimee are making all their own fried pies, paying homage to the southern way with fried apples and dried fruit and perhaps leaf lard.

“We do get asked if we are frying them in leaf lard, I can’t source enough leaf fat or flair to do that,” said Aimee.

They say they don’t have a southern bone between the two of them, but, have managed to get more than a few “this tastes like my grandma from y’all.”

Think about peach, apple, lemon, chocolate, pecan pie, coconut cream, chocolate peanut butter, cherry, blueberry, blackberry, apricot, German chocolate, and finally, caramel banana fried pies and they are your ticket atop the orchard that is thriving under their care.

“And yes, we are working on sugar free and made without gluten varieties, but they are still in the testing stages,” said Aimee.

Both said they’ve augmented this orchard to include so many more agricultural opportunities. They said they want to get Tennessee peaches into peoples’ mouths and to remind them that the flavor of Georgia peaches doesn’t hold a candle to Tennessee peaches.

So, lets add tomatoes, pumpkins, melons and berries.

And, now they have their Scottish Highland beef cattle and invite people to taste and buy.

Aimee said they have a lot of fall activities planned. Their pond is taking shape, and, they baby their new 500 baby peach and apple trees.

“Some of the new varieties of trees took, some didn’t,” said Wendy. “Farm life lessons…not everything is going to take.”

One of their exciting new bits of information is that Edible is having their farm to table fall dinner at the orchard on Oct. 5.

Go to Breeden’s Orchard Facebook for updates on everything.

“We are doing a happy dance,” said Aimee. “We are a great spot for packing a picnic, grabbing some fried pies or a donut, a cider slushie and enjoying an afternoon with the family. This year, we will also have fresh beef from our herd of Scottish Highland cattle. We look forward to seeing you!”

This orchard is located at 631 Beckwith Road in Mt. Juliet.

Here’s To Strong Women!

May We Know Them, May We Be Them, May We Raise Them

When you meet Allie Cummings, Judy Cox and Medana Hemontolor, a few things stand out. Three generations of strong, smart, sassy women stand before you and you best get out of their way! These ladies have work to do! Allie Lee Tarpley Cummings and her husband, Howard Houston Cummings, raised their daughter Judy Cox on the family farm in Gladeville, where the Nashville Speedway sits today.

  • Here's To Strong Women

Life wasn’t easy back then, but life was good. Their children which included Judy, and her siblings, James Cummings, Joyce Reeves, and Joe Cummings were no strangers to hard work which often included early mornings, milking cows and tending to crops. And like many back then, that also meant there was no running water or an inside toilet.

But Judy remembers those days fondly, “life was simpler then. We didn’t have all the trappings we have now but instead we had family meals around the table and evenings under the stars listening to the whip-poor-wills. And yet we were never ever bored!” Christian values and family values were everything Allie made sure to instill those values in Judy at a young age. In the mid 60‘s, the family moved to “town” where Judy started high school, settling near Cumberland University. Soon, “Pa”, as Howard Cummings came to be known, had the kids mowing yards on the street for free, so they wouldn’t be bored. This strong work ethic eventually led to all four of his children working their way through high school and college and establishing careers in and around their communities.

Judy eventually went to work for Cecil and Sue Johnson at Johnson’s Dairy (Purity Dairy now) and became the first female District Manager for several counties including Wilson. After being in sales for years, real estate seemed a natural fit for Judy as Pa always told her she could talk to a fencepost! Judy notes “real estate is not about the sale, but it’s about the relationships you make along the way. I love to meet people and get to know them. My clients become my friends and I’ll often help families buy and sell several homes over the years as their families grow and change.” And while building her career and business have always been important to Judy, her mother, Allie, (known as Granny to many) taught her that family always comes first. That meant where Judy went, there was usually a little blonde-haired girl following her. Medana Hemontolor is much like her mother and grandmother and she is very proud of that fact.

Growing up Medana followed her mom not only to work, but to church events and community events. Judy, who has always been very involved in the community, felt it was important to teach by example. Medana remembers, “my mom would take me to her Business Professional Women meetings on Monday nights and Chamber events throughout the year. I had a blast and enjoyed getting to know professional women of all walks of life. I learned by watching mom and these women show me how to be professional at anything they did and how to be strong women with Christian values. I remember watching my mom be awarded the Career Woman of the Year award and was so very proud of her!

BPW no longer exists but in 2001 a core group of women from that group, which included my mom, formed Wilson ONE which is a wonderful group that encourages and supports women.” Today, Medana is the President of Wilson ONE, an organization of Networking and Education for Women – paid & non-paid working women of all walks of life. Each year this organization gives out two to four scholarships to non-traditional students and Medana has been instrumental in growing this organization to an average of 40-45 women who meet the first Thursday of each month for a lunch and learn one-hour event. Currently, Medana also serves on the Lebanon Wilson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and is a Chamber Ambassador. “I love helping new businesses and business owners get involved in our community.” Medana has also served as the past President of Kiwanis Club of Lebanon and currently serves as their Secretary. She is also a past graduate of Leadership Wilson, a group she continues to support. To say, she is following in her mother’s busy footsteps is an understatement!

These days when the ladies are not participating in community events, they are working side by side in the family real estate business. Judy’s husband, Mike Cox, is a well-known builder and owner of Cox’s Construction and Judy has been a top real estate agent in and around Middle Tennessee for almost three decades. In 2005, Medana came on board to help them both. Previous to this, Medana held several professional positions including working alongside her mother-in-law, Peggy Hemontolor, at the well-known school supply business, The Teacher’s Aid. No stranger to work, Medana met her husband, Greg, while the two were employed at the Lebanon Kroger, each paying their way through college at MTSU. Greg and Medana have been married for 26 years now and for the last 20 years, Greg has been employed at ICON Clinical Research as the Global Senior Project Manager conducting drug study trials. Medana has also stayed active working while also raising their boys, Evan and Grayson.

But these days, the boys are grown and busy. Evan recently graduated from MTSU and is engaged to be married and Grayson, begins Cumberland University in the Fall. Medana notes “we couldn’t be prouder of the strong, Godly men we have raised.” As her boys came into their own, so did Medana. Real estate you can say is in her blood. Medana’s father, Ronnie Lee Hobbs, is the great-grandson of JR Hobbs who started JR Hobbs & Sons, the oldest real estate company in Lebanon, which shows the apple does not fall from the tree! Initially upon joining up with Judy and Mike, Medana worked with Mike on the construction side as the Construction Coordinator for Cox’s Construction where she learned all the ins and outs of building from Mike. And then when not on job sites, Medana was learning the real estate side from Judy. And from there, quite a dynamic Mother- Daughter Real Estate Team was born. The ladies work side by side these days at EXIT Rocky Top Realty (C&D Team), an international real estate company, which means they are often tackling to-do lists all over town for their real estate clients. “My mother can put a to-do list together for a day that looks so impossible to do; but she can do that list and then some by the end of the day. That is what I have been taught most of my life – Put your mind to it and you will do more than you thought you could in a day.” And while they have shared many, many good times, it’s in tough times, you really learn what you are made of.

In June 2016, in the midst of growing their business together, Medana was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent treatment and credits her family and church support for helping her go through this valley of her life. “I
received love and support from so many and even received cards of encouragement from people I did not even know. My aunt, Del Lackey, formed a Sherry’s Run TEAM MEDANA and the friends and family that walked with me was completely overwhelming! In 2018, I was asked to be an executive member of the Hope Joy Light Cancer Support Group at Immanuel Baptist Church. Sally Pierce, the founder, and I were on our cancer journey at the same time and were a support for each other. Our group is for cancer fighters and survivors of our community and we come together and support one another. We meet the first Wednesday of each month at 6 pm and Immanuel Baptist Church and would love to spread the word about our group so we can continue to support people like I have been supported,”

And when the ladies are not supporting their community, they are often together spending time in each other’s company. “Granny has a fun-loving spirit and loves when we come together and celebrate. You can often find us together after church on Sundays, eating around the dining room table or enjoying an afternoon of family get-togethers. I also have a brother, Jason, and sister, Deborah and am blessed to have them in my life.” Allie and Judy are both proud of the strong woman they have raised. “Medana is a loving compassionate person, she feels her friend’s and client’s joys as well as their sorrows. I am so proud of the Christian lady, wife mother, daughter and friend she is to all of us.”

Designing Through the Decades: A Fresh-Traditional Renovation

For the past few years, most of my projects have been devoted to full home renovations. Many of them with homeowners who have spent the prior decades working, raising their families, and spending their time on all of the important things.

But now they’ve moved into a new phase of life- their children have left the nest, and they look around and realize their “nest” is in need of a few new feathers. These are the projects I love, and this one may be my favorite so far. When the homeowner originally contacted me about this project, she told me that she knew what she liked, she just didn’t know how to make it all work together. She felt her kitchen was too small to entertain family as much as she liked, and she just wanted to lighten things up.


She leaned toward traditional design and had many inherited pieces to work into the space. Upon our first meeting, I knew that updating this space with classic and timeless elements would be most important.

The time and planning required for a project of this scope is large, so it’s important to me to get to know my clients well as we will be spending lots of time together. Working in someone’s home is a very personal endeavor, and not something I take lightly.


I’m very grateful to my client, whom I now call friend, for letting me share her home with readers. We all love a good before and after, and these are some of my favorite shots from my client’s renovation.

A Cut Above…

Sammy B’s Restaurant & Catering

  • A Cut Above
    A Cut Above
 

Whether you are stepping inside their restaurant or attending one of their many catered events, the owners of Sammy B’s Restaurant want to make sure you have a culinary experience to remember.

With so many eateries, restaurants, and food trucks on the scene, it can be a challenge to stand out from the crowd. Jim and Gina Stradley have found that keeping things simple is the key to their decades-long success in the food industry with Sammy B’s Restaurant and Catering.

“By hand cutting the meat we serve and using superb locally sourced (when possible) ingredients, our food speaks for itself,” Gina says, “and there’s no difference in the way we prepare our dishes in the restaurant from the way we prepare for our catering events.”

Catering hamburgers for 600 means that they hand-cut every single one. “We could buy the frozen patties, but again, anyone can do that,” Gina continues, “trust me, you can tell the difference.”

Jim adds, “You can grab a burger from anywhere these days. We want to make a burger that brings you back time and time again.”

It’s clear that local is important to the Stradley’s. Gina sounds passionate as she describes the disconnection a lot of us have with the food we eat or how it’s prepared. We were fresh and local before fresh and local was ‘in.’ We wouldn’t have it any other way.” The filet is one of Sammy B’s most popular menu items. Their USDA Prime Barrel Cut filet mignon is hand-carved from the center of the tenderloin to deliver the quality and melt in your mouth tenderness you would expect from this cut of meat.

Another area where Jim’s culinary skills really shine is the smoker. He’s kind of known for it: that, and his special drool-inducing, homemade barbeque sauce. In addition to homemade barbeque sauce, their salad dressings, and hot honey (it’s sooooo good!), chicken salad, dips, etc. are all homemade.

In a fast-food, chain-driven, cookie-cutter world, it’s hard to find a true original. A restaurant that proudly holds its ground and doesn’t scamper after every passing trend. For more than 25 years, Sammy B’s has been that place. Whether you’re looking for a classic cocktail crafted from local spirits or a nationally acclaimed steak, Gina and Jim Stradley welcome you. “Come in and discover the unique mash-up of new and true that draws people to our restaurant or to use our catering services,” Gina continues, “and keeps them coming back for more.”

Godess of Grocery

Demeter’s Common is everything!

Mallory Jennings’ philosophy is simple: The earth has provided us with everything we, as humans, need to live a wonderful life. We just have to honor it and listen to it. Jennings recently opened a lifestyles grocery store in Lebanon. Demeter’s Common is located in a strip mall behind Cox’s Gifts and Jewelry on West Main. It is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Goddess Of Grocey
    Goddess Of Grocey
 

The store is full of locally grown produce, glass bottled milk, local cheese, flour grifts, cornmeal, spices, condiments, baked bread, eggs, jams, honey, coffee, salads, meats and more. The majority of her items are locally grown or made. It was a goal to keep everything in her full diet haven as natural and close to home as possible.

“I also have fun gifts such as cards, candles, tea towels dyed with natural plant matter, tote bags, t-shirts,” Jennings said. “We have a little of everything.”

Jennings grew up in Lebanon. She attended Tuckers Crossroads School until eighth grade. After graduation from Lebanon High School, she went on to earn degree in Agriculture from Tennessee Tech in Cookeville in 2013.

“After college, I worked on an organic farm in West Nashville for six years. I was the manager of the on-farm market. My job was to network with local farmers all across the state to get the best of the best produce, meat and cheeses
in the market,” she shared. “It is why I started Demeter’s Common. I wanted to do what I love, but be closer to home.”

The store is named for Demeter, the Greek Goddess of Agriculture.

Jennings studied agriculture in the Czech Republic in 2011 and noted that there was a huge statue of the goddess.

“They explained to us who she was and I absolutely fell in love. She inspires me and what she stands for is something I want to show the world,” she said. “She’s beautiful and I wanted to honor her with my store. I find Greek Mythology so interesting and I feel like with goddesses, you can make them your own and do your own rendition of what you think they look like. That is why you will find many version of Demeter in the store.”

She is helped at the store by her mother, Betsey.

“She is truly my best friend and the backbone of this store. She is here with me most of the time,” she said. Her fiancé, Miles Miller, also helps along with friends and her four sisters.

“It’s just me and mama for the most part and I have enjoyed every second of it – and so have the customers. She is basically famous now and people are mad when she isn’t here,” Jennings said.

She is intent on providing the best possible customer service. “That is my pet peeve and I have been so adamant about making sure everyone who steps foot in this door will be welcomed and feel comfortable. I want this to be a warm space for people to come relax, shop and have a full grocery store positive experience,” she continued.

“I use all of my products and stand behind them. I wouldn’t put anything on my shelves that I don’t support and believe in.”

Her store is incredible and unique – but Jennings credited mother earth and a supportive community with helping to make her dream a reality.

“I am in awe of our earth. It provides us with everything we need to live a full and happy life. I think our society has gotten away from that and the organic nature of our earth and is too caught up in technology, being in a rush, not listening and talking to one another,” Jennings said. “It plays into their diets and lifestyles. They are all wanting stuff easy and fast. I truly believe that taking time to understand where your food is grow, how its grown and who is growing it is so fulfilling and wonderful for our bodies, as well as our peace of mind.”

Jennings wanted to thank her community for making the hard work worthwhile.

“I will always be here with a smiling face because (they) have been so supportive and wonderful to me. Thank you is an understatement,” she said. “I am so grateful.”

Moonlight & Magnolias…a look at the 2019 Phoenix Ball and Patrons’ Party

  • Moonlight & Magnolias Phoenix Ball and Patron’s Party 2019
    Moonlight & Magnolias Phoenix Ball and Patron’s Party 2019
 

Since 1984, the first Saturday in June has always represented an evening of elegance, dancing, ballgowns, tuxedos, flowers, delicious food and a night of raising money to fund scholarships for the great students of Cumberland University.

By the time white tents start going up around campus, the Chairs and the Phoenix Ball Committee have spent months planning every single detail of one of Middle Tennessee’s premier fundraising events. Every detail, from choosing the theme and hiring the band to designing the invitations and curating the menu have been carefully planned to make sure the evening is perfect.

This year is certainly no exception as the 2019 Phoenix Ball Chairs, Scott & Kirsten Harris, worked hard to raise the bar. Kirsten Harris explains, “We wanted to give a nod to Southern Elegance while also keeping the evening relaxed and glamorous. That’s why ‘Moonlight & Magnolias’ was the PERFECT theme for our year!” Based on reviews and attendance from the evening, Kirsten was right. The 36th Annual Phoenix Ball presented by The Pavilion Senior Living set records across the board.

This year’s ball had the highest attendance to date with nearly 500 guests and raised a grand total of more than $350,000. “One of the Chairs’ primary responsibilities is securing sponsorships and corporate donations,” says Scott Harris, “but this year the excitement and momentum made our job easy. We sold out of existing sponsorships early so we created new donor opportunities in order to meet the demand from businesses who wanted to be part of this year’s event.! In total we had 42 sponsors and donors.”

The Phoenix Ball Committee is the driving force of the annual event. Alongside the Chairs, this group gives input and direction every step of the way. Without them, the Ball wouldn’t be possible.

Of course, the event’s success can also be contributed to the Silent and Live Auction. A very popular part of the night’s festivities, more than 100 items were donated this year from businesses throughout Middle Tennessee.

The Pavilion Senior Living Community was the Title Sponsor for the 2019 Phoenix Ball. This wonderful facility gives so much to our community. The Pavilion took the opportunity to announce their new development Cornerstone Place at the event.

The evening began with cocktails in a Baird Chapel while guest browsed Silent Auction items.

The Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena was transformed into an elegant ballroom with white draped walls, chandeliers throughout, an English Oak dance floor surrounded by a garden fit for any Southern mansion. At 7 pm guests were seated to enjoy a delicious menu that included, Charleston Shrimp & Grits, classic Blue Cheese wedge salad, Filet of Beef Oscar with orange-glazed carrots and Gruyere Potato Tart. A dessert buffet featuring classic Banana Pudding, Red Velvet Cake, Lemon Bars and chocolate bourbon pie capped off the dining portion of the event. 

After an exciting live auction, the Bourbon and Bubbles Bar and photo booth opened while guests danced the night away to classic tunes performed by 12 South Band.

The Patrons’ Party has become the 2nd hottest ticket in Wilson County and is a wonderful wrap-up event to The Phoenix Ball. This year’s Patron’s Party was hosted by Eric and Deanna Purcell. With more than 100 guests, this year’s event also broke records. The Purcell’s home offered a perfect location for a chic garden party.

Upon arrival, guests enjoyed signature cocktails and champagne and were invited to commemorate the event in the photo booth.

Attendees were led to the beautifully landscaped pool area where they dined on classic southern fare including fried green tomato BLTs, hot chicken and waffles, mini crab cakes, and Strawberry shortcake while the sounds of Amanda June & Cole Vosbury played in the background. The evening was capped off by a magnificent fireworks display.

Proceeds raised from the 2019 Phoenix Ball and Patrons’ Party will go directly into Cumberland University’s scholarship program. This enables more students to benefit from the superb education offered by the university. To learn more or to be a part of next year’s event got to www.PhoenixBall.com

Faith Over Fear… #sherrysrun2019

Sherrys Run

The 16th Annual Sherry’s Run 5K Run/Walk event on September 14 will be held in memory of Geoff Sadler, who passed away in November of 2018 after a year-long battle with esophageal cancer. Geoff Sadler served four years in the US Navy, during which he served as a submariner in Desert Storm before becoming an IT specialist and senior network engineer. “The world needs more Geoff Sadlers in this world,” says Heather. “He was a wonderful and genuine guy and was honored to serve his country. Heather and Geoff share two daughters, Sophie and Savvy Jean, who are excited to be a part of this year’s event.

  • Faith Over Fear

Throughout Geoff’s diagnosis and passing, the Sadler family has clung to their faith. “Psalm 91:4 tells us that He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge,” Heather says. “When the worst happens, you can choose to either walk away from God because He did not answer your prayers or choose to trust Him through it.” Geoff encouraged Heather to trust in God’s plans for their lives and to use their story to encourage others. “Although I’ve been the mouthpiece of our faith, make no mistake, Geoff was the foundation,” says Heather.

Heather, Sophie and Savvy Jean are walking forward, gradually putting the pieces of their lives back together. It has been seven months since Geoff’s passing, and the dust continues to settle. They continue to lean on family and friends and are thankful to everyone in the community who has upheld them throughout their journey. “I’ve been very vocal to everyone that Sherry’s Run paid our utility bill the entire time during Geoff’s treatments. It was one less thing for me to worry about,” says Heather. “That made a huge difference. Sherry’s Run helped us, and now we want to help them help others.”

Heather and the girls will be a part of a team named Princess Protection Agency to honor Geoff. “Geoff always said he was the founding member of the Princess Protection Agency, and we have had so many who have stepped up to help us protect our girls,” says Heather, “This is a way for us to give back and make it fun for the girls.” Giving back is one way the Sadler family has continued forward while honoring Geoff’s legacy. “Geoff wanted to teach the girls to help those who help others, whatever organization or mission you believe in,” says Heather. “For us, one of those missions is going to be Sherry’s Run.”

If you are or know someone who is actively undergoing treatment for a cancer diagnosis and are in need of assistance, funds are available thanks to the generous support from the Sherry’s Run community of supporters.

To learn more about the Sherry’s Run organization, please call 615-925-2592 or email info@sherrysrun.org To refer someone for assistance, please call 615-9259932 or email sherrysrunhelp@gmail.com

To make an online donation to Sherry’s Run, visit www.sherrysrun.org or mail donations to Sherry’s Run, P.O. Box 8, Lebanon, TN 37088-0008.

Angels and Ice Cubes

By Andrea Hagan

When my daughter was four years old, she took a pretty bad tumble down the front staircase of our home.  I was walking in front of her and had just descended the L shaped staircase when I caught sight of her in the mirror hanging on our dining room wall.  In what seemed like slow motion, my daughter tripped and did a mid-air somersault, landing face-first at the bottom of the staircase.  She cried, but amazingly, she was not hurt.  From my viewpoint, her spill should have resulted in serious injuries.  She asked for some ice so I held an ice pack on her head where she said it hurt, but after about a minute, she said she was fine and that she wanted to go play.  

The next morning, my daughter slept in a little later than usual. At breakfast, I asked her how she slept, as I do every morning, and she said that she did not sleep well because there was a glowing man in her room that was keeping her up.  More curious than alarmed (my daughter is a creative and imaginative child), I asked her what this man looked like.  She described him, matter of factly, as a huge, white glowing man.  I asked her if he said anything and she said no, that he was quiet.  He was just watching her and he had a cooler.  Confused, I asked her what she meant, and she explained that he had an ice cooler with glowing cubes, probably in case he fell. 

Now, skeptics will say that my daughter simply recalled a vivid dream in which her subconscious mind was processing her fall earlier that day.  But I believe her angel was watching over her, explaining why she had no injuries whatsoever, not even the slightest bruise or knot.  Her angel, continuing to care for her that night, brought her some extra ice, the glowing heavenly kind, just in case.  

Seeing is believing, she saw and I believe.

Live Like You Were Dying…

By Jill Waggoner

“If you had just one-day

‘Til the breath left your body

Til the Lord took your soul


Would you still be afraid

To live in the moment

To let it all go”

Bryan Galentine wrote these words in 2002 for his song “Fly,” and today, he finds himself living them.

Bryan, known professionally as Bryan Wayne, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS,) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in April 2017.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The terminal, horrific disease eventually robs individuals of their abilities to move, eat, speak and, ultimately, breathe.

When Bryan began to realize the prognosis he would be facing, he asked himself some tough questions, along with his wife Staci. In short, if he knew his time was limited, what would he do?

“It does change how you view life. What are you going to do differently? What do you wish you had thought about before?” explained Staci.

First, Bryan made an album.

“When I knew that ALS could take my voice, I knew I had to hit the studio and put my voice on some of the songs that I’ve written over the years… I wanted my wife and boys to hear me singing forever. No matter what,” said Bryan. “It’s more than just a record.”

Within the week of his official diagnosis, Bryan and a group of his musician friends were in the home studio of country music artist Big Kenny, recording the first songs of his album, While You Wait. While Bryan has spent most of his adult life in the music business, recording an album was never in his plans. He’s enjoyed a successful career behind the scenes as a professional songwriter.

Bryan, Staci and their sons Grayson and Bennett have lived in Wilson County for 11 years. Bryan struck success with “What If She’s an Angel,” a song recorded by singer Tommy Shane Steiner. The song, which asks listeners how they would react to people in need, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts in May 2002 and achieved BMI’s “Million-Air” status.

Bryan and his wife, Staci, with their two boys, Grayson and Bennett.

When putting together what he hopes will be his legacy on While Your Wait, Bryan carefully chose songs that he had written over the last 25 years. Songs like “Fly,” “Simplify” and “No More Rainy Days” share compelling, inspirational messages for those of us caught in the daily grind. “Still Beautiful” and “A Good Day” were inspired by his wife and children. In recent weeks, his songs have been gaining national exposure on country radio, podcasts and more.

It’s remarkable to understand that these songs were all written long before he faced this terrible disease. His diagnosis of ALS hasn’t changed his faith, his positivity and his overwhelming love for friends and family. It’s all there in the lyrics, but there is now a new power to his words and a new purpose in his heart. Rather than simply promoting an album, Bryan is devoting his platform to spreading awareness about ALS and working toward a finding cure.

Millions of people have participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which began over four years ago, including the Galentines and their children. Yet, many could not tell you its purpose or anything about ALS.

This reality is a catalyst for Bryan to promote understanding about the disease. Most recently, Bryan serves a board member with I AM ALS, a patient-led movement that seeks to accelerate the search for a cure. He hopes to lobby soon on Capitol Hill for more ALS research and better care.

Locally, Mayor Randall Hutto will be honoring Bryan with a proclamation at the County Commission in May, which is also ALS awareness month. “This is a vicious, horrible disease,” said Bryan. “I’m going to lose my voice. I’m going to lose my ability to eat, to move and eventually breathe. But so many people out there don’t have the platform that I have. I’m trying to spend every moment being their voice. This disease needs to be eradicated. No family should have to go through this.”

Bryan has also made a priority the last two years of living out the lyrics found in his song, “Fly,” which, interestingly, was first recorded on the day he met his wife, Staci: “Who knows what tomorrow’s gonna bring; What are you waiting for, Spread your wings.” This living-in-the-moment song meant so much to Bryan and Staci that they gave out copies at their wedding.
Bryan explains, “What have you always wanted to do or learn how to do and why aren’t you doing it? If you’ve got something you want to do… do it now.” For Bryan, that included learning how to make an omelet, a skill he is proud to say he has mastered. He also learned how to dribble a basketball around his back and through his legs, but now is unable to do because of the progression of his disease.

He and Staci have also focused on creating memories with their boys, Grayson and Bennett. With help from organizations who serve families after such a diagnosis, they have been able to travel together to Disney World, sporting events and of course, some country music concerts, in recent months.

Bryan also shares his message of gratitude and positivity on the Facebook Page, Find the Good Stuff, through memes, videos, and stories. Again, this outlet was created before the diagnosis. Yet Bryan says that what’s important to him has “absolutely changed” since his discovering he had ALS. “Just like my song, ‘Wake Up World,’ it’s made me wake up and realize what’s most important. Time to make memories with Staci and the boys — number one. Also, reconnecting with friends and family,” Bryan said.

The Galentines’ community – from every facet of their lives – has rallied to their support since the diagnosis. Friends from Wilson County, the Nashville music community, as well as those from Bryan’s home in Northern Virginia have come together to support them in numerous ways. “We definitely consider our friends here our family,” said Bryan. “They’ve just been amazing: bringing us food, gifts out of the blue, helping with the boys, putting us on their prayer chains at church. That’s family.”

As those around them seek to encourage the Galentines during this difficult time, many have come away encouraged as well. “Staci is one of the strongest women I’ve ever met,” said Jenny Bennett, who works at Cumberland University with Staci. “She is kind and cares deeply about others. When we met, it occurred to me that I already had been praying for them at my church. We became instant family.”

In November 2018, when the album was released, Bryan found his voice unable to perform his songs. Several of his While You Wait co-writers joined him on stage for a release party in Nashville. Six-time ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley performed the title cut, and GRAMMY winner and 2004 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Neil Thrasher sang “Just Wouldn’t Leave It Alone.” GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Bonnie Baker sang the moving “No More Rainy Days;” Jason Blaine performed “Slow Time Down;” and Joanna Janet performed “Fly.” Big & Rich wrapped up the evening performing Bryan’s single,“Simplify,” along with many others.

“I was blown away to see so many people show up and lend their support,” said Bryan. “This industry has been good to my family and me, and I hope these songs inspire people for many years to come.”

His support from the music community extended all the way to the stage at 2018’s Soul2Soul tour in Nashville, featuring Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. During the Saturday night show, knowing Bryan and Staci were among the sold-out crowd, McGraw dedicated that night’s performance of “Live Like You Were Dying” to Bryan.

“It’s just like the song,” Bryan said. “None of us know when that’s going to happen. Based on odds, I have a more realistic timeline. We hope and pray for a cure, but the odds are not good. Only 10 percent live 5 years past their diagnosis. I’m two years in. “I’m at peace at where I’m going. I’m not really angry about having this diagnosis. God has put this on me to use it as a platform to spread the underlying message of kindness, goodness… find the good stuff. That’s my role here.”

The lyrics of “Wake Up World,” co-written with Greg Bieck, sums up well what Bryan would say to you, if you were sitting together at the coffee shop…

“Someday this light will fade, we will die with our mistakes. It’s not too hard, it’s not too late. Wake up world.”

The 'I do's & don'ts' of catering…

For better or worse, hiring a caterer can be one of the most daunting tasks when planning a wedding. It’s food, after all. Food is what brings people together. At your rehearsal dinner or reception, it can unite or…not. So, Sammy B’s Co-owner and Catering Manager Gina Stradley agreed to share some important tips and mistakes to avoid when working with caterers.

1. Don’t cut corners (i.e., be honest about your budget)
I’m naturally artistic, and as a caterer, this is where I work very hard to make my clients’ visions come to life. However, there are limits. I hate to be the one to ruin culinary dreams for a couple, so YOU MUST CREATE AND UNDERSTAND your budget. A caterer will be honest with you and help you discern what’s doable and what’s a no-go. You want a caterer that’s not afraid to say “no.” If they are offering something that seems too good to be true, it is.

2. Let your caterer guide you with the menu.
Odds are this is your first time planning the food for a wedding reception. Your caterer has likely done this hundreds or thousands of times. Take advantage of their expertise. We know that in the heat summer cheese sweats and fruit attracts flies. We know good alternatives. And I promise you that our goal is to make it look as beautiful as you imagined.

3. Make a list and check it twice.
Include everyone, not just those on the guest list (add a few more for those guests who don’t RSVP. Trust me there’s always a handful!). Your photographer, florist, wait staff, planner are all working to make your day spectacular and unless you don’t mind them leaving to grab a burger, include them in your head count so there’s enough food.

4. Meet/interview your caterer.
Unless you’ve tasted the food or experienced the professionalism of the caterer personally, you need to set up an in-person or phone consultation. It isn’t until you get face (or phone) time with the caterer that you can really know what he or she is all about, and vice-versa. This is the first opportunity to show you their style. Anyone can print beautiful brochures and have a fancy website. The proof is in the product.

5. Don’t curate your menu around one person’s taste.
If you have special dietary needs or restrictions, the time to let your caterer know is as soon as possible. The sooner I know about your strawberry allergy or hatred of onion, the more gracefully the catering team can work around it. However, this is not an excuse to push your beliefs or restrictions on the rest of your family and friends. It’s my responsibility to please the wedding couple and all of their guests, and that includes “meat-and-potatoes-only” Uncle Fred and “there-must-be-a-fish-option” crazy cousin. Thankfully, there’s a happy medium that falls between gluten-free everything and well-done filet mignon for 300. We can help you create the perfect menu that everyone will remember as fondly as the first dance.

Confidence. Discipline. Character.

Hunter Wright

By Jill Waggoner

All this and more, Hunter Wright, has found at the speed of 80 miles per hour on a quarter-mile track. Hunter, an 18-year-old senior at Wilson Central High School, began racing when he was just 4 years old. But before Hunter ever got behind the wheel, he was watching his father, Dwayne Wright, race cars at Highland Rim Speedway in Ridgetop, Tenn. Dwayne no longer races, but in a full circle moment, Hunter claimed two of his own championships at Highland Rim, now known at the Veterans Motorplex at The Rim, in March.

Hunter cringes at the word “career,” but he’s been working toward his racing goals for over a decade. He maintains a schedule that would intimidate most adults. He attends high school, plays football when in season and spends most of his free time working on his cars with his dad. He’s made tremendous sacrifices in his teen years, mostly social, in order to pursue these dreams.

Hunter races regularly on tracks in Middle Tennessee, but will participate in races in Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia this year. He would love to spend a lifetime in the driver’s seat, but also would be happy if he could continue working on the race cars professionally.

Hunter Wright’s Late Model race car on the track.

“This is a lot more fun that just a job,” said Hunter.

The car Hunter races has grown with him. He began his career in a small Quarter Midget model, which was created as a safe and fun way for children to become involved in racing. Wilson Living featured an article on Hunter while he was racing these cars in 2009. Today he races two types of cars, the Legends series, which is a 5/8-scale version of an early NASCAR modified car, and the Late Model, which looks like a car you could see on the road.

There are other teens who compete in these racing circuits, but both the Legends series and the Late Model series are semi-professional adult leagues. Hunter has been competing at this level since age 15.

“Over the past few years, it’s made me mature more quickly because of all the responsibility and sacrifice,” said Hunter.

“He’s in an adult sport and we expect adult things out of him,” added his mom, Julie Wright.

Hunter is not your average high school student. Yet, he’s also not your average race car driver.

“At the big events, most people lease a car, or they own the car, but pay someone to work on it. The driver just shows up to drive,” explained Hunter. As has been the case for over 10 years, Hunter and his dad do all the work on their cars themselves, adapting the set-up of the car for each track and performing any repairs. They have a home garage on their family property in Gladeville, Tenn., where the Wright family also owns and operates Premier Sign & Trophy. Julie is also actively involved in his career, managing his social media, and his little sister is his “biggest fan.”


ABOVE: Hunter Wright with his 5/8 Scale Modified race car is the 2018 Champion.

“When we’re at the big events, I don’t really have time to get extremely nervous,” said Hunter. “Dad and I are just constantly hustling. I don’t have time to stop and think until I get everything done and get in the car and am waiting to race. That’s when it settles in.”

Yet, he says his favorite part is “racing.”

He says the Legends are his favorite to race. Up to twenty-eight cars compete at rapid speed on a quarter-mile track and can complete 25 laps in under 10 minutes–without caution flags.

“We’ve won six championships in the last two seasons,” said Hunter. “Most nights Dad and I are out here working on the car, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Not only does Hunter assist with the maintenance of his cars, but he also primarily manages the relationships with all his sponsors.

“We greatly appreciate the way our sponsors have been able to make this all possible,” said Hunter.

His current sponsors include a variety of local businesses: B. H. Holmes Construction, Tennessee 811, Springfield Plumbing, J & D Specialized Equipment Hauling, Ace Fence Supply, Wholesale Trailers, Sanders Lawn Care, Al’s Tire Repair, Old Dominion Brush Company, and Standing Ovation Entertainment Management & Marketing.

Hunter’s family and Wilson Central have forged a partnership during his high school career in order to allow him to pursue his dreams, all while attending school.

“Wilson Central has embraced us,” said Julie. Hunter is currently enrolled in the Work-Based Learning Course there, which allows him to leave a little early and spend more time working toward his racing goals. His enrollment in this course allows him to build on his Automotive Program of Study at Wilson Central, while pursuing his love of racing.

“Mrs. Jennifer Allen has been one of my teachers all four years and she understood what I want to do,” said Hunter. “Mr. Travis Mayfield, our principal, also has been very helpful and understanding.”

“Hunter is a great young man,” said Mayfield. “He is a good student, very mature and the kind of student that everyone likes. I hope all my students realize their dreams, accomplish their goals in life and are happy. In addition to that, for Hunter, I just hope he keeps the rubber on the road!”

“Hunter has integrity and initiative to get what he wants,” said Allen. “I believe that no matter what he chooses to do, he will be successful. He has the drive and determination to learn, along with an entrepreneurial spirit. That is what impresses me the most, he is not afraid to try. He gives his all to whatever he is pursuing and that will get him where he wants to be.”

Graduation will mark the end of a personal chapter for Hunter. He will be starting at Tennessee College of Applied Technologies for machining, a skill set he can learn and apply to racing, and he hopes his racing will only continue improving.

He is seeing some of his biggest goals coming to fruition this year. He has plans to compete in major races around the country in the months ahead.

“I never thought I’d get to do the majority of them, and now I get to do them all in one year,” said Hunter.

For every mile of the track, the Wright family has been in this endeavor together. Damien and Julie are proud of their son and are excited about his future because they know the character he has formed is what’s most important. “I’m proud that when he wins, he gives away his trophy to a kid in the stands,” said Julie.

“I’m proud that he deals with the majority of our sponsors and the relationships that he forms. I’m more proud of those types of life experiences than how many championships he has won.”

Best Dressed! 2019 Bridal Style Guide

There’s something about seeing a beautiful bride draped in an amazing gown that hits us all; young and old-right in the feels. Even if you’ve been married for decades, watching a friend or relative try on gowns has the power to make some consider how much more fun your wedding could be now that you have the money to spend on it. Some, not all. But still. It’s no surprise that this is the issue that leaves the Wilson Living team with serious wedding envy.

While white has traditionally been the go-to color for wedding gowns, today’s modern bride craves variety. Not just with length, neckline, and fabric. If fashion magazines and runways at Bridal Fashion week are any indication, today’s bride loves color. We’re not talking about ivory or cream. We’re talking pinks, blues, and grays. So, we couldn’t wait to show off this year’s gowns provided by our good friends with The White Room in Lebanon.

PRETTY IN PINK

If there’s one wedding trend that’s not going away, it’s the blush pink wedding gown. And why would it? Pink dresses add a perfect subtle hint of color. No wonder the color is a favorite of celebrity brides and wedding gown designers alike.


Fun and flirty is how you will feel while wearing this dress. This v-neck ball gown with a floral beaded bodice is complimented with a full ruffled skirt featuring a horsehair hem. Buttons align the zipper to complete the look.

India is wearing a Hamlet Crepe with wide cap sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. Princess seams accent the bodice. A-line skirt with a slight back train. Cortnie is wearing a chiffon high-neck sleeveless gown in slate. It features hook closure at neck with a large keyhole back. Ruched cummerbund accents the waist. Soft gathers surround the skirt.

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

A long sleeved beauty! This allover lace fit and flare gown may appear modest, but the V-neckline and low V-back add the perfect amount of flirtiness. Buttons are placed from the low back to the end of the chapel length train.

A long sleeved beauty! This allover lace fit and flare gown may appear modest, but the V-neckline and low V-back add the perfect amount of flirtiness. Buttons are placed from the low back to the end of the chapel length train.

Our bridesmaid, India is wearing a Bill Levkoff chiffon spaghetti strap gown with crisscross pleats embellishing the bodice. Ruched cummerbund accents the natural waist. Soft gathers adorn the front of the A-line skirt.

MEET OUR MODELS

Wilson County native Monica Duff is an instructor at Hot Yoga Lebanon and is currently working on a masters in exercise science and nutrition at David Lipscomb University. Monica served in the US Airforce before moving back to Lebanon. When she’s not busy guiding local yogis through a powerflow class or studying, she’s active in her church where she volunteers as a life group leader for 6th-grade girls. Monica plans to become a health coach and use this foundation to help young ladies and women learn to love their bodies physically, mentally & emotionally. PLUS, she’s single! We should do something about that!

17-year-old, India Mastin is a junior at Lebanon High School. An honor student, India is on the school’s cross-country team as well as track and field.

10-year-old Cortnie Ragsdale is 5th grader at Carroll Oakland in Lebanon. Cortnie is an honor student and a member of the school’s cross-country team.

A lesson on loss from my friend's mom…

By Becky Andrews

I sat in the passenger seat and made small talk with Sylvia. It was the morning after a sleepover at my friend Paula’s house. At 15 years-old that meant Paula’s mom Sylvia, had to take me home. First, we had to make a detour. Sylvia made a right turn into the closest entrance of the local cemetery. After parking, she opened her handbag and grabbed a greeting card, a piece of pink saran wrap and a plastic fork.

While she fussed with the greeting card and saran wrap, the small talk drifted, and the car became very quiet. I didn’t have a cell phone or iPad to keep my eyes and mind distracted. Nope. It was just me, Sylvia, and the rustling sound of plastic wrap.

It felt like we had been sitting in silence for at least 30 minutes, but my blue faced Swatch indicated it had only been two. Before I could let out a teenage, “why can’t we leave already, I’m so inconvenienced” sigh, Sylvia piped up and said, “This is the hardest day for me.”

She wasn’t saying it to me as much as she was giving herself a pep talk or maybe a short affirmation to let her mind know, “hey, it’s me. This is supposed to feel rotten. You just go through it, girl. We’ll get through this like we always do. Until then, don’t be too hard on yourself.”

When she finished wrapping the card in saran wrap, Sylvia exited the car and walked to a nearby tombstone. She knelt then secured the plastic wrapped greeting card with the plastic fork at the foot of a grey-flecked stone.

She stood there for no more than a minute. When the cloudy sky started spitting out a slow drizzle, she walked back to the car. After plugging in her seat belt, Sylvia turned to look at me. “It’s hard losing your mom, kid. It’s hard losing your mom.” Paying no mind to the clouds, she put on her sunglasses, and we drove away.

I didn’t know what to say or IF I should say something. I just looked at my friend’s mom and studied her tear stained cheeks.

She didn’t know how to celebrate the day made exclusively for the person who brought her into this world. She was feeling Mother’s Day like she had never felt it before. It didn’t matter that she was a grown woman and a mom herself. It mattered that her person-her mom-wasn’t here. She wasn’t just “Paula’s mom” that morning. She was a daughter.

The small talk picked up shortly after pulling away from the cemetery. Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into my driveway. I said thank you and jumped out. Before reaching the front door, Sylvia shouted, “See ya later, Kiddo!” Just like she always did.

I knew then that I wouldn’t forget this otherwise unmemorable trip home from a sleepover. And I never have.

In August of 2004, nearly 15 years after that morning car ride with Sylvia, I became a card-carrying member of the Motherless Child Club. Since then, the heaviness inside me cracks open every year around this time. I also think about that car ride. I think about how at 15 years-old, I witnessed a daughter delicately navigating her way through the grief of losing her mom. I think about how that short drive home on a dreary Saturday taught me that it’s ok to cry. It’s ok to not understand the timing of grief or know how to deal with the waves.  It’s even ok to give side-eye to all the mother/daughter duos eating at the table next to you on Mother’s Day. Just deal and don’t hide from it. Because hiding from uncomfortable feelings is as productive and enjoyable as taking a one-year-old to a Mother’s Day Brunch.

So, no matter what your day looks like this year, enjoy it on your terms (even if it includes giving side-eye to anyone). Your mom would want it that way.

Comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

What ever happened to Betty Crocker?

By Andrea Hagan

Forget the birthday cake made from a box mix and the waxy primary colored candles of our youth.  Imagine now an event that takes months of planning, countless hours combing Pinterest, Instagram and Etsy in search of the perfect themed event followed by countless hours executing said themed event.  Lots of cash spent, the house wrecked, mom and dad needing to take to bed, and what’s to show for it?  Pictures to prove to your child years down the road that you went insane one day a year? 

Parents, why do we fall into this trap?  While I did not go completely insane, I did go bigger than I intended to for my oldest daughter’s first birthday party.  Surprisingly, my husband was a terrible enabler.  I set out initially to have a mini cake, made by me, with the grandparents over to watch the time-honored ritual of a one-year old smearing icing everywhere.  And that would be that.  

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Except that it wasn’t that.  My husband really pushed for a big party, that it was our first child’s first, after all.  I caved, allowing what should have been simple and stress free to turn into anything but.  Extended family, friends, a buffet of homemade finger foods and treats, two dozen homemade cupcakes, not including the homemade smash cake, a helium tank purchased for the balloons, the perfect birthday girl outfit, monogrammed birthday bib, I could go on here, but you get the picture.  And looking back, this party was low key and modest compared to other parties we’ve attended. 

Who’s to blame for this epidemic?  Perhaps the blame lies with event planners in LA who celebrity moms hire to throw lavish parties for children with “quirky” names such as Apple, Blue Ivy, or Zuma.  

Maybe it’s MTV’s fault (remember MTV?!) for the strangely addictive, train wreck of a television show “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, where bratty teenage girls get their overindulgent parents to drop 10 grand on an over the top birthday extravaganza.  Think red carpet and designer gowns, the hottest band of the moment, security guards at the door, all the while documenting how low we- as a society, have fallen. 

Or it could boil down to the fact that when you become a parent you are suddenly in a secret competition that your child is/has the best, and this competitive nature includes having the “best” birthday party.  And biggest is best.  Add gasoline to this fire, i.e. social media, and it’s the perfect storm for a one upper birthday bash blowout.  (Or we could just stick with blaming celebrities and MTV).

My youngest daughter’s first birthday is a few months away.  Already the debate begins.  I want cake and grandparents.  Now my husband is using a different tact:  Well, since we threw a big party for Emeline’s first, shouldn’t we throw a big one for Natalie, too?  Sneaky.  I’m a middle child and so of course this argument resonates with me.  (Ah, but middle child angst stories are for another day…).  

Will I go insane this time around?  Place your bets here.  Do you go all out for your child/children’s birthday parties or did your own mother know best with her box mix birthday cake set atop a tinfoil covered piece of cardboard?