What I know thus far…

By Angel Kane

More than two decades ago, as we were standing at the alter getting married, my minister, who had known me all my life, turned to my soon-to-be husband and said, “we all have our cross to bear in life, and, I promise, Angel is going to be yours!”

Everyone laughed, my brother, a little too loudly.

November will mark our 21st wedding anniversary. A couple moves, a couple jobs, a couple kids, a couple good years, a couple not so good years and then, just like that you’ve been married almost half your life!

So, what’s the secret?

Is there one? Who really knows. Not me.

For 20 of our 21 years, I’ve made a living helping people end their marriages. So, if anything, what I do know for sure is the reason why some marriages don’t work. And what I also know is that much of what we see on the outside is not what is really happening on the inside.

It doesn’t matter what their Facebook status says, there are days she doesn’t like him, he doesn’t like her, and both wish, they had said, I do not! That goes for me, you, your neighbor, your friends and even those who protest too much because at the end of the day, we’re all human, just trying to figure it out one day at a time.

So 21 years later, this is what I know thus far….

People change, some less than others. At 20, working part time so you can pursue your dreams, hanging out with friends, always looking for “fun” things to do is endearing. At 30, it’s the reason she will leave you.

My grandmother used to say that idle hands are the devil’s workshop. Truer words were never spoken. Or to put it another way, boredom leads to bad things. Very bad things. Find a job, find a hobby, find a purpose, preferably the same one as your spouse.

For most of us, our first love is a sweet memory. Keep it that way. Life may seem exciting again for those few months after you reconnect, but a year later, when you’ve lost everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve and your first love suddenly morphs into a 43 year old with two kids who don’t like you very much, you will wish with all your heart…you had not texted back.

Say or do ugly things to your spouse, because you’re not happy with yourself, and they will soon not be happy staying married to you.

Money makes the world go round. It just does. Try to pay your light bill with something other than money and your lights will get cut off. So if you spend all your money and then your spouse’s money too, when those lights don’t turn on, your spouse will have no choice but to go somewhere where they do come on.

What I also know for sure, is that everyone has their own, personal cross to bear in life. The secret to a long lasting marriage may be marrying someone willing to carry yours, as well as theirs, and your willingness to do the same.

What I also know thus far…is that there is more to learn.

To read more of Angel and Becky’s columns go to www.wilsonlivingmagazine.com and www.wilsonpost.com.

 

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Quality time…

By Becky Andrews

There’s something easy about traveling with your nuclear family. No grandma, no grandpa, no aunts, uncles, no cousin twice removed. Just you and the kids. Easy in the sense that there’s no expectations of how to behave. You’re in your comfort zone because you share your life with these people day in, day out. They know you will order dessert at every meal on vacation. You know deep sea fishing isn’t worth the money but totally worth it for the memories.

My oldest is 16 (I may have mentioned this a time or two), the youngest 11. By my calculations we have less than two years to make family vacations just about the four of us. No doubt young adulthood will bring along a type of collective bargaining that would put the teamsters to shame.

“I’ll go if so and so can go. Oh, and he’s broke. I told him it would be ok with you. Since he’s going with us on vaca, I told him it’d be cool to crash at our house this summer on break. He needs a car to get to and from work.  IF he finds a job. He’s a vegan and allergic to cats. So yeah, I’ll go on vacation if this can happen.” (I know, I’ve let my imagination run wild on this one.)

My point is there is precious little time to make memories that will be shared among us four. We can share the stories of our travels but, those first hand experiences belong to us. I intend to make the most of the years before they become adults. For now, vacation time with my family belongs to me. I’m very selfish. You can borrow sugar, my car, my computer, my favorite handbag, even my guest room. But not vacation time with my boys. Nope.

The four of us have taken several over the years. My husband and I have come to expect certain things about these adventures with our children.

  1. Setting the bar low, keeps us from losing it when the kids complain. “Are we staying on the beach all day? This is boring.”
  2. No matter how many stops we make, someone will have to pee 15 minutes after pulling out of a service station.
  3. Since the kids sleep or have headphones in for the majority of the trip to and from, my husband and I can talk about topics other than bills, cross country meets, college entrance exams, practice schedules.
  4. Being disconnected from technology is essential for a successful day at the beach.
  5. No matter how many bedrooms we have in our hotel or rental, all of us sleep in the same room.
  6. At least one of us forgets a toothbrush. It’s usually me.
  7. We will pay too much for snacks.
  8. We will eat too much.
  9. One of our kids will shout, “SHARK” at the beach while everyone is in the water.

AND FINALLY,

  1. No matter how much we argue, spend or sunburn, we will still have a good time.

 

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House Rules

Fellowship House, a halfway house and recovery program in Lebanon, prepares for a major fundraiser after 26 years of turning lives around

By Laurie Everett


Photos by Autumn McDowell Photography

 

To look at Justin Hodges you would never guess he was on the brink eight years ago. He was living out of his car, drinking whatever booze he could get his hands on 24/7, and did not have a friend in this world.

He was broken, beaten down and knew he was going to die.

For three years running, Lebanon resident Justin Hodges has qualified in his weight class in the Mr. Tennessee body building contest. Eight years ago he hit rock bottom, but with the help of Fellowship House found recovery from alcoholism (submitted photo).

Sooner – rather than later.

“I guess I was already dead really,” Justin, 36, recalled. “I had no life. Nobody wanted to be around me. I was lonely, sad and miserable.”

Somehow – he said it was divine intervention – after some time in jail for a DUI, he made his way to a nondescript little house tucked in Lebanon, Tenn.

And while Fellowship House doesn’t necessarily stand out superficially, within its walls some major transformations take place, like Justin’s.  The people here save lives.

Some, like Director Kris Warmath, have been there, done that. He knows what it’s like to be an addict, and knows the joy of recovery.  He and others reach deep down and pull people like Justin from the abyss, helping to guide, restore and support them so they can live full lives free from alcohol and drugs.

Justin was one of those lost souls eight years ago. But things have been different for a while now. Just recently, he won his weight class and qualified for the finals in the Mr. Tennessee bodybuilding contest. Actually, three years running he’s reached this almost surreal pinnacle.

Talk about a transformation.

He attributes his heIMG_8895althy physique, spirit and mind to Fellowship House.

“Living at Fellowship House for a year helped save my life and I was able to get closer to God,” he said. “For the first time in a long time there were people who actually cared about me. They told me I was special. They taught me how to get by day by day. If not for that place, I swear, I would not be here.”

It hasn’t been an especially easy ride to his current success, but it’s been steady. He’s sober eight years.

“Feb. 15, 6:30 a.m.,” he’s quick to note.

Justin still attends weekly meetings at Fellowship House and mentors those who are where he was eight years ago.

“It was an act of God I found this place,” Justin said. “Now I have over 100 close friends, a good job and my own place.”

 

In the beginning

 

Ralph Denny, along with Eddie Evins, helped found Fellowship House (submitted photo).

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.

“He was in recovery,” recalled Gloria. “We were married and involved in the initial Bible class.”

The first Sunday in January 1989, a group of twelve met for the first time in a house on East Spring Street for a Bible class. Eddie attended as well. The group called itself the Community Bible Class.

Former (now part time) College Street Church of Christ Pastor Larry Locke explained that the church began as an “offsite” Bible class for those perhaps intimidated by a church setting.

“It was an outreach,” he said. “When I was involved it started with twelve people. Many had backgrounds, and tough experiences and addictions. We also needed a place for the local AA groups to meet.”

After meeting on East Spring Street several months, the house sold and the group initially rented the house at 206 S. College Street. It was then that Eddie rounded up some contributions from family members and friends. They gave $2,500 for a down payment on the house and started renovations.

On April 24, 1992, the College Street Fellowship House was turned into a 501-C-3. Since that time Fellowship House has been used as a “half-way house” for those in recovery from additions to alcohol and other drugs. Four men can live in the house, and along with daily Bible studies, 22 recovery meetings are held each week, said Gloria.

“Those who have struggled with addictions attend the meetings to talk about their struggles,” she said.

 

You never have to be alone again

IMG_8874

Kris, the director, became sober Feb. 2, 1989.

“I had a 25-year drinking career,” he said quietly. “Everyday I told myself I was going to quit tomorrow. At first I had some good times. Then there were no good times.”

He started to drink “full time” at 15 years old in France.

“I realized it was a problem at age 19,” he said. “I spent 20 more years hurting a lot of people, including myself. It was an escape. I didn’t want to deal with life and hid behind a bottle.”

And while he was a “functional drunk,” – didn’t miss a mortgage payment or a bill – he was miserable.  Finally, he went cold sober and found his way to Fellowship.  He went to Bible class, and, simply, found the “the power of the Lord.”

The house was so instrumental to Kris that in 2002 he started directing the activities there. He collects rents, performs periodic drug tests, leads classes and encourages those who live there, and those who drop by to visit.

 

The basics

A 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. Kris explained residents can’t spend the night away for 90 days and must be back at 10 p.m. weeknights, and midnight weekends.

There are now two houses, one at 206 S. College Street with three beds and one at 205 East Spring Street where there are eight beds.

“Some may live here a few weeks, and some several months,” Kris said. “Justin lived here a year.”

Fellowship House Director Kris, who has been sober since 1989, still enjoys his coffee.

“When I came to the Fellowship House I was just out of the hospital,” said Chuck K. “I had been trying to get sober since 1983. With the help of morning Bible Studies and the Sunday Community Bible Study I’ve been able to find God in a recovery program and find a way to stay sober.”

Kris said Justin is one of his favorite success stories.

Fellowship House is now separate from College Street Church of Christ.

 

Fundraiser

A huge fundraiser is slated for Thursday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Wilson County Fairgrounds. Kris said it’s in the East Building where for a $25 donation people can get a plate of catfish, slaw and “taters.”

People are encouraged to drop by the House during the day to get a cup of coffee, visit and share with one another.

“It’s a place of refuge where people feel acceptance, rather than judgment,” said Kris.

Justin said he’ll be at the fundraiser.  People say he’s a “poster child” for Fellowship and an example of how anyone can turn themselves around from within the walls of a place founded by locals who wanted to make a difference.

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And then they do…

By Becky Andrews

They told me it would happen. My sisters, my brother, my friends, strangers in line at the grocery. I didn’t listen. In fact, I despised those words, “You’re going to miss this stage.”  The problem was timing. This was usually mentioned as I was changing the 10th dirty diaper of the day, trying to soothe an unsoothable colicky baby, or emotionally spent because my toddler refused to go number two in the potty; he didn’t care how many damn M&M’s I promised if he did.

Then the toddler years. Those days brought mood swings, crying, and separation anxiety. It was hard on my boys too. For the most part, I enjoyed it. I worked less and had more time to enjoy two little boys who were still under the illusion that their mama was the best thing since whole milk and strawberry Quik. I couldn’t wait until they were potty trained. And then they were.

Then school starts. New friends, sleepovers, homework, birthday parties, sports, and on and on. Just when we’d start to figure out the proper way to construct the perfect diorama for science, it was time to lace up and head to ball practice. After a quick dinner, it was time to start the bedtime ritual of, “Can you read that book one more time? I’m thirsty. I hear a weird noise. I’m hungry. Tell me a story. Tell me another story. My stomach hurts. Can I sleep with you?” I distinctively remember waking up one morning. I was on the bottom edge of the bed, Jay clung to the opposite edge while our two boys slumbered peacefully in the middle. He looked at me and said, “I feel like I was in a boxing match last night. Jackson kicked me in the eye. Is it black?” We couldn’t wait until they started sleeping in their own rooms. And then they did.

Then middle school. More new friends, more homework, sports, school plays, puberty. This is also the stage in which my kids had their first experiences of being left out of something. That’s the worst. As a mom, you want to fix it and you can’t. If I’m being honest you really want to smack the little twit and their parents responsible for your kid’s heartbreak. Instead, you just listen and wait and feel totally helpless and not sleep and pray that he will be ok and you can get through this without going insane. Because when your kids are hurt, you hurt until they feel better. And he gets through that and many other little life hiccups along the way. Still you can’t imagine anything worse than seeing your 12 year old little boy sad. I couldn’t wait until he matured enough to not let little things get to him. And then he did.

Then high school (for the oldest). Fitting in, different friends, hormones, tougher academics, more accountability, girls, mistakes. And when your teenager makes mistakes, it’s hard…on both of you. But the magical thing about life is it goes on. They learn from their mistakes and you do too. They learn that calling BEFORE your curfew to say you will be a few minutes late is better than calling 10 minutes past. You learn that making mistakes and/or using poor judgement doesn’t mean your child won’t be a success. It just means he’s human. I would love to keep him in a bubble and helicopter him into his 30’s mistake free. Then what? Without downs there’s no ups. Without failure there’s no success. Without mistakes, there’s no maturity. On a side note, without teenagers, there’s no need for alcohol or chocolate.

Then this. We went to dinner tonight, my 16 year old and me. He talked and talked and talked. When he would say something that I wanted to correct, I tried something different. I listened. As he sat across from me, wide eyed and smiling, I realized that sometimes he just needs to talk and he needs to know that I hear his voice. When the waitress started giving me the side-eye, we decided it was time to head home. On the way out, he put his arm around my shoulder. When he did that, I said the one thing I knew he’d appreciate, “What do you want and how much does it cost?”

“Geez, nothing. But $20 would be nice to have in case of an emergency.”

becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Healthy Living

By Angel Kane

 

I’m a sucker for anything holistic.

Some of my first memories are of my grandmother giving me a big, heaping spoon of cod liver oil right before bed, followed by a dose of wisdom. “This will make you smarter than all the other girls,” she would promise.

And with that…I was hooked.

Who needed to memorize multiplication tables each night, when instead, I could endure two seconds of this gross, nasty, magical elixir and just like that, I would know math!

My grandmother was also a big believer in the benefits of fresh goat’s milk. And when I mean fresh, I mean still warm from the utter, fresh. To keep me from gagging she would add in two tablespoons of chocolate Ovaltine and then place the tall glass of frothy, smelly, awfulness in front of me. “This will make you prettier than all the other girls,” was the promise this time.

To this day, if I pass Ovaltine in the grocery aisle, I have to take a big gulp and look away.

But I continue to be a believer and so every few months, if I stumble on an article or hear about an amazing superfood that will make me healthier (with no other effort on my part), usually within 48 hours I’m trying it.

Coconut oil. Check

Kefir. Check

Green tea. Check

Ezekiel sprouted bread. Check

You name it. I’ve suffered through it.

And most always, I’ve done it alone.

This time, however, my husband was the one who heard about the benefits of apple cider vinegar and wanted to give it a shot. A quick google search of all this vinegar could promise, and I was in!

Before he could say Kroger, I was home with a big bottle of Bragg’s Organic Vinegar.

This would be easy. I liked apples. I liked cider. And I loved vinegar on my salad.

The bottle said add two tablespoons to a cup of water and then mix in honey to taste.  Are you kidding me? I was weaned on the oil squeezed from the liver of a cod fish.

I drank it straight.

The burn as the vinegar went down my throat was like tiny razors slicing my throat, one paper cut at a time. The taste was like eating a salad puréed in a blender.

This elixir was going to go the way of all the others, but for one small fact.

Throwing away a six dollar bottle of vinegar is not anything Brody Kane can bring himself to do. So instead, every morning, he brings me my vinegar water.

“I promise, two more weeks and the bottle will be done,'” he tries to remind me.

I close my eyes, hold my nose, and gulp it down.

This worked a lot better, when I was the only health nut in the family!

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