Godess of Grocery

Demeter’s Common is everything!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Faith Over Fear… #sherrysrun2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Angels and Ice Cubes

By Andrea Hagan

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

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

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

Seeing is believing, she saw and I believe.

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The ‘I do’s & don’ts’ of catering…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Best Dressed! 2019 Bridal Style Guide

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

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

PRETTY IN PINK

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


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

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

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

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

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

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

MEET OUR MODELS

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

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

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

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A lesson on loss from my friend’s mom…

By Becky Andrews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments? Email becky@wilsonlivingmagazine.com

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Got joint pain?

By Angel Kane

As 2018 year comes to a close, many of us are starting to read up on new and innovative technologies available to us all in the new year. One such medical field that is at the frontier of present-day advancements is the ability to harness and enhance the body’s own innate response to heal and defend itself. To those that have experienced the miraculous power of what is known as regenerative medicine, they are true believers in this new therapy.

Sounds impressive but confusing, right? In layman’s terms, it means our bodies were designed to heal themselves! Makes sense…you cut yourself, it heals.

What would life be like if pain medication were not needed or surgical procedures were no longer necessary? By way of new technologies in the field of regenerative medicine, there are now treatments available to the general public that may enhance your own body’s natural ability to heal without the need for harmful drugs and surgeries. What seemed impossible only a few decades ago, is now not only possible but is our new reality.

Regenerative medicine is a rapidly advancing area of health care that works to repair the injury, not just mask the pain. Unlike treatments that simply address the symptoms, regenerative cell therapy promotes the natural process of repair in the body assisting in restoring degenerated tissue. As we age our bodies degenerate due to cellular death.

By taking cells recovered from completely healthy umbilical tissue, medical practitioners can now treat arthritis, alleviate chronic pain and even combat the natural effects of aging. The field holds the promise of re-engineering damaged tissues and organs by stimulating the body’s own repair mechanisms to functionally heal previously irreparable tissues or organs.

At Inspire Medical & Wellness located in Mt. Juliet, owner and founder Dr. Jason Burchard, supervising physician Dr. Gary Adams and Zack Benner PA-C, are at the forefront of this emerging medical practice. As we know, umbilical cord blood is blood that remains in the placenta and in the attached umbilical cord after childbirth. This cord blood contains stem cells, which can be used to treat a number of disorders and has been for over two decades now. Inspire Medical & Wellness obtains their mesenchymal stem cells from the Wharton’s jelly inside the umbilical tissue from New Life, a multi-state and FDA approved cord bank that screens donors and extracts the cells from the umbilical cord. New Life is registered with the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB).

Therapies utilizing this umbilical tissue are countless – from regenerating damaged skin, accelerate healing and alleviating pain. At Inspire Medical & Wellness, patients can find safe and effective treatments for knee, shoulders, hips, elbows, wrists and even neuropathy available without the harmful side-effects or pain.

Their treatments can be used as a stand-alone therapy or in conjunction with other available medical treatments. Inspire also specializes in medical weight loss and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. So, if you are tired of living with chronic pain, now is the time to take control! Contact Inspire Medical & Wellness today at 615-453-8999 and receive a complimentary consultation until December 15th and visit their website at www. weightlossmtjuliet.com for more information.

The new year is almost upon us, isn’t it time you took that first step into a whole new and pain-free you!
Inspire Medical & Wellness is located at 151 Adams Ln, Suite #18, Mt. Juliet, TN 37122.

 

What are stem cells?

Stem cells are the basic building blocks of human tissue and have the ability to repair, rebuild, and rejuvenate tissues in the body. When a disease or injury strikes, stem cells respond to specific signals and set about to facilitate the healing process by stimulating your own body to repair itself.

How do stem cells work?

Stem cells that come from perinatal tissue(healthy post-natal C-sections) have distinct functional properties including immunomodulation and anti-inflammation which support the repair and regeneration of damaged tissue associated with disease and injury.

When do we use the body’s stem cells?

We tap into our body’s stem cell reserve daily to repair and replace damaged or diseased tissue. When the body’s reserve is limited and as it becomes depleted, the regenerative power of our body decreases and we succumb to disease and injury.

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Compassionate Hands

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.

  • L to R Front row: Dawn Bradford, Fairview Church and Coordinator; Michelle Wilde, Lebanon First United Methodist Church and Communications Coordinator; Joyce Gaines, Cook’s United Methodist Church and Financial Coordinator; Courtney Bradley, Chili Cook-off Coordinator; Lindsey Godby, New Tribe Church; Steve Wheeley, Salvation Army and Coordinator. L to R Back row: Jeff Loper, Providence UMC; Bill Owen, Leeville UMC; John Grant, College Hills Church of Christ and Executive Director.

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.

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Coming Home

By Dr. Adam Tune

Photos by Mary Beth Richerson

 

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!”

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