As I sit here on my porch this early Saturday morning, I’m amazed by how time flies.
Four years ago I wrote an article about our oldest child leaving for college. At the time I thought my heart would break. Dropping her off and driving away was one of my toughest days thus far. I sobbed for the first hour and for the second and third hour, my husband and I sat in almost complete silence driving home.
We were always trying to teach her to be strong and self-sufficient, but to be honest we didn’t think she was listening!
And then she was gone.
Four years have passed and since then our #2 has followed in her sister’s footsteps and gone off to college. (A different one in a completely different direction because that’s what middle children do!)
And in that time we’ve survived.
Probably because #3 is still here and we are completely obsessed, with him. Some mornings, I literally just stare at him eating his breakfast.
“You’re doing that thing again. It’s freaky.” he used to tell me. (Apparently a completely normal phenomenon for parents trying to soak in the last few years of child-rearing. ) Bless his heart though, four years later, he no longer says anything and just lets me stare. And then he gives me a long hug goodbye before he heads to school.
But next week our eldest returns.
I remember the first year she was gone, I followed her every move on my Verizon App. I’d obsess if she wasn’t in her dorm by a decent hour. I’d fret over her wardrobe choices and friend missteps. And if she didn’t text back for over three hours, I’d start calling her friends to look for her! (True story, and now she responds a little more quickly.)
When she was happy we were thrilled, when she was sad we were crushed. She studied, she worked, she traveled. And each time we’d see her, she was a little smarter, a little stronger and a lot more self-assured.
She returns with two degrees in hand, a job lined up an hour from home and not the little Madi we dropped off with her matching dorm room bedding and twinkly lights.
I like this Madi more.
She survived and thrived and learned she could stand on her own two feet. That’s what we wanted after all.
Soon after I wrote my initial article, I was at the park walking. Glenda Davis was walking too. She may not remember, but she called out to me and said, “I read your article, just know it gets easier. She’ll be fine. This is what we raised them to do. “ For some reason, her words brought me the peace I’d been looking for. She had once been in my shoes and knew how the story ended.
So for all the mammas that are dropping their first-borns off this week, just know time will pass quicker than you know. They will call you heartbroken, they will call you overjoyed, each experience is a step to who they are meant to become.
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.
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.
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.”
A Mt. Juliet mother-daughter duo have joined forces to give all of us a chance to get our DIY juices flowing. To say it was a God thing puts it mildly. Both very spiritually minded, it was only natural mom Tina Pressley and daughter Haley Jones put their heads together – to be together – in a joint business venture.
They have recently opened an oasis for wanna be…gonna be…do-it-your selfers who just want to create original one-of-a-kind projects in a Zen environment with no pressures and tons of tools to simply create.
Right in the heart of Mt. Juliet.
Haley searched and applied for this franchise and got an automatic yes, said Tina.
They opened AR Workshop on March 16.
Think DIY art studio meshed with a very cool boutique. It’s the best of both worlds for those who want a wonderful escape to create fun gifts, special signs, and, while there, peruse a boutique full of enchanting items.
“God opened the door for us,” said mom Tina. “We wanted to work together and people have been gracious and supportive.”
“It has always been a dream of ours to work together, but we really had no idea what that might look like,” Tina said. “We had discussed every kind of business we could think of from real estate to clothing boutiques but something kept taking us back to the concept of a DIY-type business in general, but specifically AR Workshop. As longtime Wilson County residents, we were well aware of the need for some type of entertainment that would appeal to a broad age range and interests.”
They are the perfect pair, this mom and daughter. Haley is a 2014 graduate of Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and Cumberland University, where she received her master’s degree in business administration last year.
Tina is a longtime Wilson County resident and has worked as development director for Mt. Juliet Christian Academy for 15 years. She will step down from this job to focus full time on AR Workshop.
Tina’s dad, and Haley’s papa, Ken Stilts, was a much-revered businessman in Mt. Juliet and was Tina’s mentor. “This business was right up our alley,” said Tina.
She laughs out loud to say she’s not the craftiest person in the world. And, perhaps worse! Whereas her daughter is on point. They mesh their attributes to make the business run right. And, since they opened, it’s been a huge hit in Mt. Juliet with ongoing classes, workshops, and projects non-stop for people who just want to DIY.
“This makes me feel like I can do crafts,” Tina said with a laugh. They are 23 years and 53 years. “I see myself in her,” said mom. “It’s about patience and grace,” Tina said she’s the idea person and her daughter implements. “Haley is the nuts and bolts of this business,” she said.
The 1,350-square foot oasis is ready for anyone who wants to create.
“We are more than just signs, which are awesome,” said Tina.
There are also wood projects, chunky knit blankets, and specialty classes, with literally thousands of projects to create.
“I don’t think many people get to say they are business partners with their mom, but I am one of the few who can!” said Haley.
“Mom has always been my very best friend so it only made sense that we would start a business together. She is incredibly talented in all that she does and extremely giving, loving and a whole lot of fun! Working next to my mom is very rewarding and has given me a front row seat to see how amazing she really is as a mom, a person and now a business owner. I am extremely proud to work next to her every single day and although very hard work, there is no one else I’d rather be on this journey with!”
“We have never looked back, there is an internal peace for both of us,” said Tina.
AR Workshop works in four steps. First, participants choose a class based on the project they would like to make and then the day and time they’d like to attend. Second, participants book a seat at the workshop, choose their project, design and give them design-specific personalization. Groups or individuals can book workshops. Third, participants show up for the workshop, where the tools, materials and step-by-step instructions are provided. Finally, participants take home their finished projects.
“We look forward to offering something fun for all ages and interests, including those who do not really consider themselves the DIYer,” Haley said. “Anyone who knows Tina knows she is not exactly the most creative person, and she completes the projects with great ease all while having fun. This is a place for all groups, ages, men and women, those who do not know anything about DIY and the most experienced crafter. Along with our wonderful workshops of wood projects, chunky knit blankets, and specialty classes, we also offer retail for gifts, home decor, jewelry and more.”
Check it out at 1984 Providence Parkway, Mt Juliet, TN 37122 (615) 212-5676
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.
“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.”
“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.”
Chances are, if you drove around Lebanon in the month of April you saw two pinwheel gardens. One by the train station and another by the main office of Wilson Bank & Trust. Combined, they showcased 260 blue pinwheels. Each pinwheel represented one case of child physical or sexual abuse reported in 2018.
“That is an average of 20 reports a month – in our community,” explained Jason Lawson, who serves as Treasurer on the Board of the 15th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center.
Thankfully, the CAC is there to help.
Whenever there is a case involving child physical or sexual abuse, the CAC conducts a one-time forensic interview. This is then viewed by assisting agencies, including the Department of Child Services, law enforcement and more.
“Interviewing one time prevents further traumatizing the child from having to retell (their story) over and over to everyone. It is also a very child-friendly environment,” Lawson said. Cece Ralston is the center’s forensic interviewer.
This past year, the CAC team – including Ralston and Director Nancy Willis – acquired family advocate Kira Bailey thanks to a grant. The CAC provides free counseling services to child victims of abuse. Bailey goes the extra mile by providing the family with information about community resources available to them.
“Your support makes those service available,” Lawson continued, “during the 10th Chocolate Affair – a fundraiser held on Saturday, April 6 at The Capitol Theatre in Lebanon.”
The Chocolate Affair, which included a scrumptious meal, chocolate fountain, live and silent auctions and performance by Audience of One, is held annually to benefit the 15th Judicial District CAC.
Bob Black, who owns The Capitol, also serves as Vice Chair of the board of directors.
“We are the ones who have to be their voice,” Black said. “You are supporting how we can grow and help the kids more than we already do. We know that this job is extremely important for the children.”
Willis thanked everyone who made the night and the Child Advocacy Center possible including Fundraising Coordinator Jackie Ramsey, Board Chair Dr. Bill McKee, Assistant Treasurer Judy Jordan, Secretary Anne Barger, Past Chair E. Marie Farley, Dr. Eric Cummings, Brian Harbaugh, Tom Swink, Lance Howell, Marilyn Bryant and Mary Ann Sparks. She also thanked Judge Ensley and Andrea Hagan, who were in attendance and mentioned longtime sponsors Vance Law, Bank Tennessee, Vanderbilt Medical Center and Wilson Bank & Trust.
For a complete list of sponsors visit www.cac15.org.
Whether you are hosting hundreds of family and friends for epic all-weekend wedding festivities or looking for an intimate way to say “I do,” The Estate at Cherokee Dock can make your dreams come true.
Once home to legendary country songstress, Reba McEntire, in recent years the mansion and lush 14-acre estate has been transformed into an event center. The mansion is just under 13,000 square-feet and hosts eight bedrooms with king or queen size beds, indoor/outdoor ceremony sites and a movie theatre.
“We can comfortably sleep up to 40 guests,” said Kelly Uldrich, The Estate at Cherokee Dock’s Social Media Manager. Uldrich described two of the popular wedding options they offer. “We have an elopement or intimate wedding option and we also have a wedding weekend option as well,” she said. “The wedding weekend offering is something that really sets us apart.”
With the wedding weekend option, the bride and groom have access to the property for the entire weekend.
“On Friday night, they would have the rehearsal dinner. Vendors and your wedding planner would set up and the bridal party would spend the night in the top level of the mansion. The groomsmen would stay in our Groom’s Quarters, which is our fully furnished apartment above the stables,” Uldrich explained. The wedding would take place on Saturday, including a reception and even an after-after party if you choose to do so. Then on Sunday, the couple could host a “Send-Off Brunch.”
“It slows down the process,” Uldrich said. “I remember with my own wedding, it all happened so fast – like a dream. Having a wedding weekend slows the pace and lets the bride and groom really savor every minute with their family and friends before going off on their honeymoon.”
The maximum number of guests for a wedding is 500. The Estate at Cherokee Dock does not provide catering but welcomes all licensed caterers and vendors. Uldrich, who works with Venue Directors Daniel Spires and Aryn Meyer, said they found that having an open vendor policy for the property gave the bride and groom more options and the ability to customize their perfect day – rather than offer a one-size-fits-all inclusive package.
Another option The Estate at Cherokee Dock offers is their new elopement package.
“We provide seating for up to 25 family and friends, the ceremony can take place indoors or outside. The couple has two full hours of time and we provide a licensed officiant and photographer to capture their day,” she said. “The bride and groom can get ready on-site and we provide florals – the bouquet and boutonniere – based on what colors they would like.”
She shared that they recently hosted their first elopement wedding. The couple told their children that everyone was spending the night at the mansion, then surprised them the next morning with suits and ties to wear to their wedding.
“The children were very excited. It is nice to see those intimate moments,” Uldrich added.
“We want to make sure you feel like it is your special day, even if it is an intimate production.”
For more information on The Estate at Cherokee Dock, email email@example.com.
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.
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!
It was a love of baking instilled in her from her own mother that started it all. And from that little spark, Italian Mama’s Bake Shop was born.
Lauren Costley lives in Mt. Juliet with her husband Brandon, their sons, Collin, Luke, daughter Tessa, and their fourth child, Barrett, just arrived on May 6th. When she isn’t mothering or working in the family hardware store and mechanical business with her father, then you’ll find Lauren in her kitchen – baking.
“I was very fortunate and blessed to grow up with a Mom (Sharon Caputo) who was always cooking and baking. So, naturally I have always loved to cook and bake, whether it to be for my family or my friends,” notes Lauren. “After my Mom passed away in 2008, I really started to cook more and more because it reminded me of our time together.”
A love of family and a love of cooking are an integral part of Lauren’s life these days. “When Brandon and I started our family I began to have an interest in baking even more. I loved to make my kids birthday cakes and cookies. My friends started asking to buy cakes and desserts from me and at first, I was reluctant but gave it a shot. From there I started doing a little advertising online with my sister-in-law and it’s now taken off! Everything I’ve done has been something I learned from my own mother or just getting in the kitchen and giving it a try.”
But Lauren readily agrees she could not have done this alone. While her husband isn’t one to bake, he will help her when needed running to the grocery for necessary ingredients or cleaning up behind her. Her boys, on the other hand, don’t mind pitching in when its Pizza night, but it’s little Tessa who loves to put on an apron and help mom out in the kitchen.
“My sister-in-law Gina will also help me out with larger cakes or large events like parties or weddings. She is very talented herself and that’s how our name came about. We are both full blooded Italian so we thought it fitting to be known as “Italian Mama’s” Bake Shop.
Italian Mama’s offers all sorts of different treats from Italian cookies, decorated buttercream iced sugar cookies, different flavors of scones and breakfast/brunch desserts, cupcakes, cakes, cake pops, and brownies. They also are becoming very well-known for their gorgeous wedding cakes. “
The wedding cake trends I see and just love are the simpler one tiered cakes,” comments Lauren. “It’s a more affordable way to have multiple cakes with different flavors and designs for your wedding. Also, the semi-naked cake with gold drip and the two-tiered fresh flower cake with gold brushed paint, are both very popular right now and those are the ones we did for the Wilson Living Magazine wedding photo shoot.”
Lauren still considers her baking more of a hobby than a full-time business but her select few clients are keeping her very busy these days and no doubt, with her talent, we will all be hearing more and more about this Italian Mama!
If you are interested in any of her tasty treats then you can reach her at (615) 306-6355 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check her work out on Instagram or Facebook at @italianmamasbakery.
More than two years ago, businessman Bill Lee, founder of the Lee Company, em-barked on a new adventure. He would run as a republican candidate in the Aug. 2, 2018 gubernatorial primary.
He knew the process wouldn’t be easy. He was an outsider to the political process – running against seasoned politicians from both parties. His company employs 1,200 skilled tradesmen al-ready, but Lee longed to make a difference on a larger scale. Lee and his wife, Maria, prayed about their decision for a year before he entered the race and were pleased when he won the Republican primary to face-off against Democratic candidate, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. “I am a person who gets asked all the time why I would want to run for governor,” Lee remarked during a final campaign stop at Cumberland University in October 2018. “I have a private life that is blessed, indeed, but I found myself on a journey. God puts us on journeys that lead us places unplanned.” The polls on November 6, 2018, showed Tennesseans had voted Lee to be their next governor – and on Satur-day, January 19, 2019, he was sworn in. Bill Lee is the 50th Governor of Tennessee. A series of celebrations were held over the weekend, beginning with a Boots on Broadway party at Acme Feed & Seed on Friday, January 18. An inaugural worship service kicked-off events on Saturday. The ceremony was held at Legislative Plaza, followed by a tour of the Tennessee State Capitol for supporters who signed-up. Two balls were held that evening at the Music City Center – the First Couple’s Dinner and Ball and the Believe in Tennessee Ball. Gov. Lee thanked the ticketholders in attendance. “I am a little overwhelmed but so encouraged, so grateful, so humbled and so honored. So many people in this room have been responsible for where we are today and I just thank you … I certainly hoped (to be elected) but in some ways never imagined we would be standing here doing this,” he spoke to the crowd, with Maria by his side. “The Lord has been very good to us for our entire lives and through so many ups and downs, and certainly has been good to us in this last season of life. We are grateful to Him for what He has done and the spot He put us in.”
Lee next introduced special guests for the evening – which delighted the crowd at the Inaugural Ball. They were four-time CMA Entertainer of the Year, Luke Bryan, and outspoken country songstress, Wynonna.
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Bryan said it was an honor for a “kid from Georgia” to play the governor’s inaugural ball.
He sang several of his hit songs and dedicated “Here’s to the Farmer” to the Lees as the couple had their first dance.
Lee concluded by reiterating his commitment to his posi-tion.
“We will live our lives in the fullest capacity we can to serve every single one of you and the 6.5 million people that live in our great state of Tennessee,” he said. “We are deeply indebted. We count it a true honor to be in the spot that you have put us in. We will work to serve you – thank you very, very much.”
On December 31st, 2018, Ensley Hagan was sworn in as the new Wilson County General Sessions Judge, Division III following Judge John Gwin’s retirement.
Family and friends gathered for the swearing-in, held the day before Judge Hagan’s official start date of January 1st. Judge Hagan began practicing law in 2007 with his father, Tony Hagan, and wife, Andrea. He is a third generation lawyer and a second generation judge. His grandmother, who was married to the late Judge Willard Ensley “Buck” Hagan was on hand to watch her grandson being sworn in. A native of Wilson County, Judge Hagan, and his wife live in Lebanon with their three children.
By Jill Waggoner
Six years ago, a dozen ministers and local church members, led by those from Cross Style Church, decided to investigate what they had been told — that a small homeless community was growing in Wilson County. On a winter day, they went into the “woods” of Lebanon behind one of our busiest thoroughfares and found evidence of a homeless camp, including tents, groceries and diapers. Troubled and burdened by this discovery, the small group decided on one simple goal: No one would freeze to death in Wilson County. This goal ultimately lead to the formation of Compassionate Hands, a ministry to the homeless population with a vision “that the Wilson County community of faith be Christ’s hands and feet to our neighbors in need.”
Wilson County is buzzing with new growth — economic and population — creating wonderful opportunities and experiences for its people, but with that growth has come an unintended consequence. As property values rise and rent payments go up, many families and individuals are having trouble finding or keeping affordable housing. In addition, as word spreads about the job creation happening in Middle Tennessee, people from all over the country have arrived on a search for opportunity, but without much of a plan. These factors, along with the inescapable difficulties of life, have left a small portion of our population without a home.
In our region, homelessness is assessed by the Homeless Advocacy for Rural Tennessee Continuum of Care, which is organized under the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Their most recent “point-intime” count found 25 homeless individuals in our county on a night in January 2018.
Compassionate Hands provides temporary shelter for men and women in Wilson County every night in the winter months. A large network of volunteers from churches of all sizes keeps the system running each night. Those in need of shelter arrive at Cross Style church for dinner each evening. After a short vetting process, these individuals are taken to three different host sites — two for the men and one for women. A rotating group of churches offer their facilities to house the men and women. The homeless are provided a safe and warm place to sleep, as well as a warm breakfast. Laundry service and the ability to take a shower are also available. In the morning, a bus takes the individuals to various places across the county and leaves them with a sack lunch.
The coordination among so many churches and volunteers requires significant oversight and this October, John Grant, formerly a minister at College Hills Church of Christ, began serving as the full time minister and executive director of Compassionate Hands.
Grant was a part of that original group who visited the homeless camp and began ministering to the homeless in 2013. He is the first full time staff member for Compassionate Hands. Though the decision to leave College Hills was a sad one for Grant, it was in many ways, an easy one, because of his desire to serve the community, his network of friends at churches and his personal giftings.
“I think it was a call from God. This was a ‘John Grant’ shaped role,” he said.
Grant is joined by a board of directors in leading the ministry, each from a different church in the area. They include Dawn Bradford from Fairview Church, Joyce Gaines from Cook’s United Methodist Church, Mark Taylor from The Glade, Michelle Wilde from First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, and Steve Wheeley of the Salvation Army.
All of those involved in the ministry are quick to point out misconceptions about the homeless. They regularly and lovingly refer to them as their “homeless friends.” Many of those in need who have come to Compassionate Hands have full-time jobs and cars. Many are locals who grew up in our community and have fallen on hard times.
In Grant’s experience, he estimates that “one third have an addiction. One third have mental illness and a third have had bad luck.”
“I was scared and concerned about inviting homeless people into our church building,” Grant said describing his church’s first evenings with Compassionate Hands. “What I’ve learned is that the homeless people were also scared of us and skeptical of churches. They’re spending the night with strangers too. Homeless people are really not that different from you and me.”
“The Good Samaritan is one of our key stories,” Grant said, referencing the story found in Luke 10. “We think Jesus is bringing us people who are battered and bruised by life.”
Brandt Waggoner, lead pastor at Fairview Church, said their partnership with Compassionate Hands is important for their church.
“These are people in need right in the middle of our community,” Waggoner said. “We cannot turn a blind eye to that. In addition, it’s remarkable how the churches across our area are seamlessly partnering together to serve this group. We want to be a part of that.” Dawn Bradford has served with the ministry for three years and says Compassionate Hands has “absolutely changed my life.” Bradford continues, “Yes, it’s inconvenient and sometimes a little uncomfortable, but it’s not about me, it’s about living out the biblical principle of thinking of others before your own needs.” John Ashman, a member of Faith Lutheran Church, is a volunteer with Compassionate Hands, along with his wife Bonnie. Their experience serving has made a profound impact on their lives. “Often when we see homeless people on the street, we may see them as lazy, dirty, and not worthy of respect. But when we sit by them during the evening or morning and talk with them about their lives, we see that they are usually people who have had a some bad breaks,” Ashman said. One of the most emotional moments for Ashman came last Christmas. “Due to the generosity of our church members, we were able to put together backpacks with a number of food items, personal care products and some warm hats and gloves,” Ashman said. “Church members wrapped the items, so that on Christmas morning, they were able to open the presents, just as if they were living with their families. One man said ‘It’s been a long time since anybody gave me a Christmas present.” Every year, the ministry has experienced growth. At the close of last winter, 34 churches from 16 faith traditions had contributed to Compassionate Hands, providing over 5,000 beds and 11,000 meals to 400 homeless individuals since 2013. “Every winter we’ve seen two or three people who go from homeless to established,” Grant said. “They’ve gotten on their feet, into housing and are now volunteering in our ministry.” The leadership of Compassionate Hands desires to meet even more needs of the homeless. Their first objective is to secure an office space, but hope the years to come allow them to be able to provide shelter for families with children, as well as lockers, classroom space, and computer lab. For more information about Compassionate Hands or if you or your church would like to be involved, please visit compassionatehandstn.org, like their Facebook page or email John Grant at jgrant1817@gmail. com.
When I was 12 years old, my family moved from Northern Louisiana to Wilson County. Being the son of a preacher, moving was nothing new, and the place my parents bought on Old Horn Springs Road in Lebanon would be the 4th house that I would call home. Immediately upon our arrival, I felt like I had been missing out on life. The first time we drove around, we saw streets with names like “Stumpy Lane” and “Tater Peeler Road.” The first time we went out for dinner, I learned that I could order off of a breakfast menu. That first week I was introduced to both Country Music and College Football. And on our first Sunday at the new church, I met a 6th grade blond girl with the prettiest green eyes I had ever seen. I remember thinking to myself “I have arrived!”
But that move here also brought with it something else, something I wasn’t ready for. A Community. Most of my new friends had not only lived here their whole life, but their grandparents lived here too. Everyone knew everybody. They didn’t just have homes; they had a homestead. The people here seemed to have found the good life, and I was a little jealous.
As a teenager, I decided that a community was not good at all. Not only did everyone know everybody, but I felt like everyone was concerned about everybody. When I got paddled at school, my mom knew about it before I got home. Once after being pulled over on West Main, my dad paged me while the officer was writing the ticket because someone had passed by and called him. The Mayor would say “Tell your Daddy I said ‘Hey!’” and the ladies at the bank would ask “How’s you momandem?” By the time I graduated, I no longer thought that I had arrived. All I could think was “I’ve got to get out of here!”
My parents moved to Virginia after I graduated High School, and when I started College at MTSU, I was ready to leave too. Only I couldn’t completely leave. I was still in love with that blond green-eyed hometown girl, and after six years Kimberly Carey had finally noticed me. We began dating our senior year, and even though I had moved to Murfreesboro, I made many trips back to Lebanon to be with her and her family. And even after attempting to move to Virginia to be with my parents and work in D.C., I was still in love with Kimberly, and I just couldn’t stay gone. We married in 2001, and her father built our first house one mile down from their home on Coles Ferry Pike.
For the next 8 years we continued to work and live here in Wilson County. During that time our family grew and we moved 3 more times. I was restless. In the back of my mind, I still thought “I got to get out of here!” And in 2009, we did. I became the preacher for a church in Maryland and for the next 7 years I would only return to Wilson County a handful of times. But living up north, I began to miss
being a part of a community.
Kimberly and I wanted to move to a place where we could finally put down roots and create a place for our kids to return when they moved away. We almost moved to North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Memphis. But in 2016, I accepted the job as the minister for the UNA Church of Christ in Nashville, and we moved right back to Wilson County. Shortly after returning, we discovered that we didn’t need to put down roots nor did we have to make a home for ourselves. Our roots were already established. We were returning to the homestead.
Upon our return to Lebanon, I began to feel nostalgic about my surroundings, and soon I wrote my first book—a 25-day Christmas Devotional that celebrates the memories of Holiday tradition and rejoices in the remembrance of the nativity story. It was published in September and released just in time for that season of the year where we celebrate faith, family, and friends. Back to Bethlehem, a 25-day Christmas Devotional, can be purchased through Amazon and locally at Square Market.
But if you are from Wilson County, you are already accustomed to this kind of celebration. Here faith, family and friends don’t just come together once a year. It happens every day. Here we know one another. Here we’re concerned for one another. When you have a community, you don’t have to search for the good life. You live it. You miss it when it’s gone. And you hold it tighter when you get it back.
Now as I drive the streets of Stumpy Lane and Tater Peeler Road, as I watch my kids attend the same school that we attended, as I order my dinner off the breakfast menu, as I watch football with my childhood friends, and as I write this sitting in my new home…back on Coles Ferry Pike… right behind my in-laws, I think to myself “I have arrived!”
By Becky Andrews
2014 was a big year for Dr (Retired USAF Colonel) Paul and Elaine Nawiesniak. After an impressive military dental career that spanned nearly three decades and moves to eight different bases; including one in Japan, Dr. Nawiesniak decided it was time to retire and begin a new adventure right here in Wilson County.
While military service certainly enabled Dr. Nawiesniak and his family to travel many roads, there was one road he had not taken; private practice. “We had visited middle Tennessee several times and fell in love with this area. So, it made sense to concentrate our search for a practice opportunity in Tennessee. We explored several options before deciding to purchase the thriving dental practice of the now retired Dr. Wayne Johnson in Lebanon.” Dr. Nawiesniak continues, “Lebanon has both small-town charm and the potential for growth that made it the perfect choice for us.”
Patriot Dental (the name, an homage to Nawiesniak’s; military background) opened for business on June 14, 2014. His time in the Air Force gave Dr. Nawiesniak training and education that enables him to offer the best possible care to patients. He earned his undergrad in Biology from Loyola in Chicago and completed dental school at Northwestern University in Chicago. While in the Air Force Dr. Nawiesniak was selected to attend their two-year Advanced General Dentistry Residency Program. Upon finishing, he became certified with the American Board of General Dentistry. After more than 1200 hours of continuing education, Dr. Nawiesniak became a Fellow and then a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry. An impressive fete considering only 2% of all dentists carry this designation. In fact, he is the only dentist in Wilson County who is certified by the American Board of General Dentistry.
Dr. Nawiesniak works side by side with his wife of 27 years, Elaine. In addition to her duties as office manager, Elaine is a Registered Nurse and an accomplished photographer.
While Patriot Dental initially started out occupying the same space as Johnson Family Dentistry, as their patient list grew- thanks to word of mouth and the Nawiesniak’s community involvement- it was clear that they needed more room. “Our goal when we purchased the practice was to move to a new office within five years and we were able to do that ahead of schedule.” The Nawiesniak’s renovated an existing retail space located in Signature Place on the west side of Lebanon.
Their new state of the art facility provides patients with a comfortable, modern home-like environment. Elaine says their new space is a win/win. “We upgraded most of our equipment to reflect the digital age and are constantly striving to make changes that both improve our patient experience and make our staff’s jobs easier.”
As the dental industry continues to evolve, along with technology and advanced education, Dr. Nawiesniak says patient focus is essential now more than ever. “Our goal is to meet patient’s where they are in their dental needs and work with them to achieve the best possible outcomes for their oral health.” Dr. Nawiesniak continues, “We recognize that not everyone has always had access to dental care and may be embarrassed to seek care. We find helping these patients to be particularly rewarding. To help those who don’t have dental benefits we offer an in-house discount plan that is focused on preventative care which we emphasize in our office”.
With more than 100 years of experience between them, Dr. Nawiesniak and his staff are eager to meet all your dental needs. Stop by to visit them at their brand-new location, 99 Signature Pl, Lebanon, TN 37087
Our front desk receptionist, Beth Williams, has lived in Lebanon her entire life. She always has a smile on her face and has the best laugh! She has over 20 years’ experience in dealing with the always challenging insurance issues that arise daily and is an amazing multi-tasker! She does her best to help our patients manage their benefits to their maximum. She keeps everyone humming along. We affectionately refer to as our Queen “B”.
Our lead hygienist, Jace Crooks, is the perfect fit for our office. She is originally from Minot ND which was one of Dr. Nawiesniak’s prior duty stations in the Air Force, so he bonded with her instantly over stories of life in freezing weather, ice fishing and her fun North Dakota expressions. She received her hygiene training at Tennessee State University and has been a hygienist for 15 years. Her attention to detail and genuine care for our patients make her an asset to our office. Our other hygienist, Debbie Page, came to us searching for a privately-owned dental practice to work part-time in after she and her husband Mark moved to Lebanon from Ohio. She brings over 20 years of experience. Both of our hygienists have helped us grow our practice thru education that emphasizes preventive care.
Our lead assistant, Andrea Griffin, received her training at Nashville Staff and is an expanded duties assistant with over 20 years of experience. Andrea has a talent for making patients feel comfortable. She and her husband Mark live in Antioch and are planning to eventually relocate to Lebanon. She loves music, craft beer, and fishing. She’s also a die-hard Alabama fan but don’t hold that against her!
Our newest team member is assistant Miranda Walker. Miranda is from Lebanon and is a graduate of Vol State University. She and her husband just purchased their first new house in Hartsville. We call her the Swiss Army Knife of our office. She does whatever needs doing in our office and always with a servant’s heart.
Dr. Nawiesniak›s wife, Elaine, is our office manager and marketing director. Elaine is originally from Louisiana and is an emergency room trained RN. Her military spouse philosophy has always been to «Bloom Where You are Planted» and she has done her best to embrace Wilson County as our forever home. She is a member of the Lebanon Noon Rotary Club where she serves as Sergeant at Arms, she is on the membership committee for the Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce and is the Treasurer for Wilson One, a local woman›s networking group that focuses on community service. She is a graduate of Leadership Wilson Class of 2018. ***Our services include general restorative dentistry usingtooth-colored filling material and all ceramic crowns and bridges, cosmetic dentistry including veneers, teeth whitening, root canal therapy, periodontal therapy for treating gum disease, extractions, and implant restoration, as well as partials and dentures.***
By Angel Kane
If you haven’t noticed the holidays are here! And we couldn’t be more excited as Christmas is our favorite time of year. To celebrate all things Christmas, 10 years ago we started the Wilson Living Holiday Expo and are excited to be bringing you a bigger, brighter and better Holiday Expo than in year’s past.
General admission day tickets are $6.00 on Friday, November 16th
The doors open bright and early on Friday and will stay open until 4 p.m. for the general public. This year we have included more booth space and will have three buildings filled to the brim, as well as various outdoor vendors on hand. Vendors were hand selected for their unique products, and to encourage more local participation we allowed vendors to share space this year, to bring in even more selection. That means there is something for everyone on your holiday shopping list including gifts, clothing, jewelry, holiday decor, art, as well as tasty treats and warm drinks.
Gala tickets are $16.00 on Friday
On Friday the Expo doors will close at 4 p.m. and reopen at 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the Holiday GALA party. Different tickets are needed to attend the GALA. Once inside our ticketed guests will be treated to tasty treats and drinks courtesy of Sammy B’s, swag bags filled with great free products and exclusive vendor discounts just for our special guests. Santa will be on hand for free photos as well. It’s a night of holiday music, twinkling lights and shopping galore – so be sure to bring a few friends and kick off the holidays at the best holiday party of the year!
General admission day tickets are $6.00 on Saturday, November 17th
On Saturday we reopen our doors at 10 a.m. and will again stay open until 4 p.m. Friday or Saturday General Admission Tickets, as well as GALA tickets, can be purchased online on our website at www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com, on the Wilson Living Magazine Facebook page, at various Wilson Bank & Trust locations, as well as at the door. $1.00 of every ticket sale will go to the Agricultural Center Management Fund.
On Saturday, Mrs. Claus will be on hand for free photos with the children and various book readings. We also will have various local authors on hand for book signings.
The great thing about the Fairgrounds is all the space! If you are a local vendor and want to participate, give us a call at 615-818-4646 or 615-364-9082 or email us at email@example.com. We want to have as many booths as possible for all those attending so don’t delay!
Thank You to our Sponsors
We have been blessed with continued support, not just from the community, but from our Sponsors over the years. Once again this year, Wilson Bank & Trust, Tri-Star Summit Medical Center, Vein Centre, The Lett Center, WANT, Advanced Signs and Sammy B’s, are sponsors. We appreciate their support and what they all do for this community.
Save the dates! November 16 & 17 & SEE You aLL Soon!! If you haven’t been before, this is the year to come out. If you have been before, then come back to see all the returning vendors you love plus many, many new ones. It’s ten years in the making and we can’t wait to see you all very soon!
By Laurie Everette
Chuck Keel said he didn’t get to Fellowship House in Lebanon by accident. This respite and place of redemption helps addicts get on the straight and narrow, and, it keeps its residents accountable.
Keel is the director of operations of Fellowship House now. Ten years ago, beer took away his spirit. Four failed marriages and dozens of jobs had gone bad. Keel was a train wreck in the worst degree.
“I had gone as far as I could go,” he said. “I could not pay the rent. I was not working. I loved the beer better than jobs and four wives.” He said he had 15 seconds of a lapse in judgement and swallowed a handful of pills to end his misery. But, he had a epiphany two seconds afterward, and called 911 to save his own life.
From that day forth he never had a drink again. It was the ultimate “hit bottom” moment. And now he runs the house – and who better to uplift and steer-straight addicts than a reformed addict who has been down that road and can support and uplift? He’s been there and done that. The near-death experience made him sober, but, he remained sober with the help of Fellowship House.
“I became involved in their daily Bible study and that is what kept me on track,” he said.
Now, Keel mentors Fellowship House clients in his role at the house. He helps men from the abyss of addiction and guides, restores and supports them so they can live full lives; free from alcohol and drugs.
Currently, there are more than a half-dozen men in residence.
“The coffee pot is always on,” said Keel. “We are open from 5:30-9:30, 365 days a year. Anyone is welcome to come as long as they behave. The men who live here have rules they have to follow. They are given a guide – a structure that will, if they adhere to the rules, in many cases, lead them back to a real life; a clean, productive and sober life.”
Lebanon attorney Gloria Jean Evins is very aware of Fellowship House. Her husband, the late Eddie Evins of Cracker Barrel fame, was instrumental in the start of Fellowship House.
On April 24, 1992, the College Street Fellowship House was turned into a 501c. Since that time, Fellowship House has been used as a “half-way house” for those in recovery from addictions to alcohol and other drugs.
Today, modest rent is charged to those who come to live just out of treatment or jail. They have access to a kitchen, living room, shower and their own bed. They are required to attend daily recovery meetings, stay clean and sober and get a job. They also must agree to random drug tests. There’s a curfew.
“Lives are transformed at Fellowship House,” said Keel. “It can change you if you take it seriously. For me also with the help of Christ.”
Though not officially connected to Alcoholics Anonymous, Fellowship House hosts daily meetings at their place and these are mandatory for their residents.
David Denney is the current Fellowship House chairman of the board. He got sober in 1984.
“I got into trouble,” he explained.
He had three DUI’s and one ended in a vehicle homicide. He knew that was his ultimate bottom. Now, he nurtures Fellowship House residents, and, is a role model of sobriety.
Fellowship House holds 22 meetings each week and there is a daily Bible Study in the morning. An important component is “Chicken Church” on Sunday that starts at 10:30 a.m. During church, residents learn lessons about living life on life’s terms.
Denny said Fellowship House has a good history of reforming residents.
“I’m proud of it, it saved my life,” he said. “I have a wonderful life, a son and two grandchildren.”
A resident’s story
Larry Garner, 62, is a current resident at Fellowship House. He had a good living as an electrician. In 2009, he had a work accident and his ribs and collarbone and back were hurt.
“They put me on pain meds,” he said.
In 2010, he had an automobile accident and broke both legs. It was a disaster in the making. He was put on disability and was addicted to drugs.
“But, my primary drug was alcohol,” he said.
“One was too many and 1,000 not enough.”
He had three DUI’s in some months. Spent time in jail. His driver’s license was taken away.
“I was depressed and angry and full of self-pity,” he said.
One day he went to an AA meeting and saw a guy without legs, and another guy with cancer, and another guy blind.
“I realized how blessed I was,” he said.
He said Fellowship House has helped him believe how blessed he is. He is now working, and, working out.
“I’m building a bridge,” said Garner.
Denney said it’s these transformation that solidify the work at Fellowship House.
“On the surface,” said Denney. “We provide a bed, clean living space, hot showers and the necessities of living. But actually, we provide a lot more. We encourage work on the spiritual side as well as the physical side. So many of the men coming in here, have nothing. They are financially, physically and often spiritually bankrupt. Our job is to get them started on the road back – the right road. Without that, most return to the streets and continue to be a financial drain on the community and the county.”
In October, Fellowship House held its 5th annual fundraising dinner at the fairgrounds. It was a catfish and chicken dinner and dedicated in the memory of Dr. Larry Locke, who was the founder of the dinner and former chairman of the board at Fellowship House.
Denney said the outreach needs money to possibly expand, but will continue to focus on serving the community and provide a safe, structured environment for men who have nowhere else to go, outside of the streets and a life of addiction.
Fellowship House is located at 206 South College Street in Lebanon.
By Laurie Everett
Jennifer Pollock Osborne is a self-described Medicare nerd. She’s also a highly successful local business owner who is all about empowering women to find their nugget in the business world and blaze a path toward individual independence – while extending a service that is invaluable to others.
A mother of adult twin girls and a son, Jennifer has forged a business that is solid and highly respected. She is the Agency Principal of IMS (Insurance Management Services). Her division is located in Mt. Juliet on North Mt. Juliet Road. It’s solely operated by women.
In layman’s terms (because it’s pretty complicated), Jennifer and her team help people figure out their health or Medicare insurance needs and then help them get enrolled into the plan they’ve pinpointed best for them.
In other words, they are a lifeline to people who all of a sudden realize they are reaching the golden age of retirement and are completely in the dark on what to do, insurance-wise. It’s a scary place and Jennifer eases the navigation process in a way only a woman long experienced in this field can.
Jennifer has been in this business for over 20 years, on her own. Her father opened IMS in 1992. She worked for him
and learned the ropes. When he retired he sold IMS, with the exception of Jennifer’s book of business. She restarted a division of IMS and focused on her expertise, which is Medicare and health.
“I handled COBRA benefits back then,” she said. “I learned about Medicare, both individual and family.”
Jennifer said she originally wanted to be a doctor. “Two of my kids are in the medical field now,” she noted. But, she loved her job in the insurance field, and, had a goal to be self-employed. She got the nerve to forge her own path and refocus.
“I am not the only woman in this office who has had to jump off a cliff with a leap of faith to start on my own,” said Jennifer. “The woman who work with me had to make the same choices, and basically started from scratch. Jaime and I went to Mt. Juliet High School together and have worked together for 20 years.”
Jaime worked for Jennifer’s dad at his insurance agency. And, Jaime’s mother, Judy, left her job and decided to come and work with Jennifer.
“Tricia is my assistant and is newly licensed!” said Jennifer. “None of these ladies started here with any salary at all, except Tricia. They had to meet with clients and earn the trust of those clients and be paid by insurance companies. They are all very good at what they do.”
In simple terms, what they “do” is some small group plans, but their specialty is the individual, and especially, the Medicare demographic.
“Medicare is a very complicated beast with many working parts,” Jennifer explained. “There are laws, penalties, enrollment windows, special elections, different plan types and structures and so much more that it makes most peoples’ heads spin. When someone is approaching the golden age of 65, they are bombarded with mail from companies that sell Medicare supplements, Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D drug plans and they also get telephone calls from people trying to get them to purchase a product from them. It’s somewhat of a predatory market in my opinion.”
What IMS does is different. They sit down with each client, face to face, and draw a picture to help them understand their different options.
“We want them to be educated on the different Medicare options, not just be told what is best for them,” this entrepreneur explained. “Once we educate them on the different routes, we then go over their list of doctors, medications, and medical issues to see what may best fit their needs.”
Jennifer said the Medicare product landscape has changed drastically over the last 12 years and is still changing, “for the better.” They are paid by the insurance companies and the government sets the amount they are allowed to pay them so they are not biased toward one plan verses another.
“We also represent every plan available in the state,” she said. “Our storage room is like Disneyland for a Medicare nerd like myself!”
Jennifer said while it’s not easy being a woman entrepreneur in such a competitive field, she loves her team like family.
“We absolutely love our clients and we love what we do,” she said with a smile. “We have a lot of fun together and we trust each other wholly.”
IMS is also a trade partner for Del Webb retirement community in Mt. Juliet. They love the Del Webbers and they cover the entire state of Tennessee, as well as some other states.
Jennifer has been there and done that in her field, successfully. She encourages other women to take that leap of faith to self-employment.
“It’s OK to be scared,” she advised. “It’s a day to day faith walk. I know everything is OK, as long as my family is OK.”
And during “open enrollment” for Medicare she works dusk to dark, she reiterated her career journey is worth it all.
“It’s hard sometimes, but it’s a great journey,” she said. And, because Jennifer and her team believe in “self-care” and the important knowledge that you can’t pour an empty vessel, each year Jennifer takes her team on a cruise in January – a girls’ trip for sure.
“We all agree that it is the most fun trip we’ve all ever been on,” she laughed.
This boss trusts her team so much, she took a family trip to Ireland in September to refresh and recharge and spend time with her loved ones.
To talk to Jennifer and learn how to navigate retirement insurance, call IMS at 615.831.3800
While the doors have been open for just over one-year, Healthy Fashions is already an under-the-radar hit in Wilson County. Specializing in intimates, loungewear and body care products, shop owner Angela Mueller says opening a brick and mortar location has enabled her to expand the products she offers including a full line of CBD Daily Products. “The hemp company we work with started manufacturing hemp products in 1996, and we started working with them in 1998. So, when they broke into CBD products, it was a logical addition to our current line.” Mueller continues, “I knew nothing about CBD at that time and jumped in with Hope. I had Plantar Fasciitis bad at that time, and they told me to try the CBD Cream….viola, it worked!!! I have been a passionate advocate ever since.”
CBD, or Cannabidiol, is one of over 110 natural cannabinoids and is a non-psychoactive component of the Hemp or Cannabis plant. It possesses many of the healing properties without the “high” that is delivered by THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Mueller is committed to helping the community understand the beneficial properties of CBD, which has long been used as a natural remedy for a multitude of ailments.
Healthy Fashions new storefront also gives Mueller the opportunity to have a more hands-on experience with customers. Something that’s essential when many patrons have so many questions about CBD. “I always ask what the objective is from the new CBD customer to help them make the best and most economical decision. I am in this for the long run, not a quick sale. I find that most people that try the topical can feel almost immediate benefit from pain. We are a society fixated on NOW results, and the CBD topical I have will satisfy that need. CBD Drops, and Capsules are not an immediate fix for most people. It is something that you will need to find your sweet spot on as far as dosing and dosage.”
In addition to a full line of CBD products that include everything from pain-relieving topicals to shampoo and conditioner and oral drops to disposable vape pens; Mueller carries an impressive range of loungewear from Hello Mello, Shirley of Hollywood and Natural Inspirations.
With seemingly endless choices when it comes to lady’s loungewear, intimates, and CBD products-especially online, Mueller knows that offering a personal interactive shopping experience and a staff with extensive product knowledge, sets Healthy Fashions apart. “We are a face and a place. We want you to be happy with our service and our products.”
Originally from Chicago, Mueller has lived in Wilson County since 2004. She and her husband, Grant live in Lebanon with their four-year-old, Gunner. Mueller also has two adult children, Aaron and Amber.
Healthy Fashions is located inside The Mill at Lebanon 300 North Maple Street, Suite 4118 615-453-1129.
Can’t make it to the store? You can now purchase products online www.TheDropsofHope.com
Become a fan on Facebook, and you’ll find out when Healthy Fashions will be hosting their next educational event. www.facebook.com/HealthyFashions
By Jill Waggoner
Photos By Hannah Vermilye
What began with the spark of an idea on a Sunday morning has become a two-day, full family event with an international impact.
Fairview Church hosted its fourth annual Fairview Missions Market, an artisan craft and food event, supporting local and international mission organizations & mission trips, as well as local businesses, Sept. 21 and 22 in Lebanon, Tenn.
This year’s Fairview Missions Market featured live music, food trucks and 50 vendor booths from local artists, craftsmen, and farmers selling handmade crafts, goods and locally grown produce. Despite a few rain showers over the weekend, the event welcomed almost 1,500 visitors and raised approximately $7,000.
Four years ago, a community group of Fairview Church that included Lacie Aldret of Carthage, Tenn., decided to host an artisan craft fair and use proceeds to fund mission endeavors.
“It was a way that we could spread the gospel, fund mission work, use the resources and talents we had to glorify God, and grow together as a group,” said Aldret, who now serves as the Fairview Missions Market director.
“Missions is at the heart of our church family,” said Brandt Waggoner, lead pastor of Fairview Church. “We want everything we do to be focused on sharing the Gospel here and around the world. The bonus to the Missions Market is that we get to do this while providing a platform for artists and local businesses to share their work.
“God is a God of creation and we want to celebrate the creativity of people in our community and know that our efforts can be used by God to spread the message of hope in Christ at the same time.”
Proceeds from this year’s event will go toward supporting Fairview Church’s missions teams who will serve in Central Asia and Central America. Previous events have support several ministries and mission trips to Guatemala and Israel.
The Missions Market required a great number of volunteers, led by Aldret, to pull off the event. A board of nine volunteers from Fairview led the endeavor and over fifty more individuals gave of their time for weeks and months to plan and execute the event.
“The people you saw volunteering are those who are going to serve people around the world, or who are working on behalf of a ministry,” Waggoner said.
“I love this team of volunteers,” said Aldret. “We’ve really developed a community among us, serving alongside each other. We could not
do this event without them.”
Some of this year’s vendors include Barbara’s Homemade Baskets, Empower Me, The Faith Store, Gnashgirl, Love & Laundry, LulaRoe, My Sister & I, Oh Crumbs Bakery, Psalmbird Coffee, Ralston Farm, Sunshine & Sweet Tea, Turtle Dove Pottery and many more.
In addition to the businesses, many local ministries set up a booth at the Missions Market to draw awareness to their services for the local community, such as the local BackPack ministry, Empower Me, and the Faith Store.
Aldret described how the volunteers at the Missions Marketplace special emphasis on serving the vendors, businesses, and craftsmen who partner with the event, as well as those who attend and shop.
“Once again, we received feedback from our vendors about the huge impact Fairview Church’s volunteers made on them,” Aldret said. “Our Fairview community seeks to care for and love on the vendors and customers in a way that leaves them looking forward to the next Fairview Missions Market, which has turned out to be one big mission trip in itself.”
Organizers are already making plans for next year’s Missions Market, which will take place Sept. 27 and 28, 2019.
They would like to provide more fun activities for families, extend the silent auction and increase indoor vendor space in 2019. If you are interested in supporting the missions trips through Fairview Church, Missions Market T-shirt’s are still available for purchase, and sponsors and donations are accepted all year long. More information is available at the Fairview Missions Market Facebook page or by calling 615-444-0111.