Live Like You Were Dying…

By Jill Waggoner

“If you had just one-day

‘Til the breath left your body

Til the Lord took your soul


Would you still be afraid

To live in the moment

To let it all go”

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

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

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

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

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

First, Bryan made an album.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • John Rich and Bryan have a conversation at a release party for While You Wait.
  • Cover art for the album While You Wait.
  • Bryan and his family along with his musician friends at the home studio of Big Kenny.
  • Neil Thraser shakes Bryan’s hand during a release party for While You Wait
  • Bryan sings one of his own songs.
  • Jason Blaine sings while Bryan and others look on.

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…

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AR Workshop

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

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Confidence. Discipline. Character.

Hunter Wright

By Jill Waggoner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sweet Success at the 10th Annual Chocolate Affair!

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.

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Here comes the bride…The Estate at Cherokee Dock

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 info@cherokeedock.com.

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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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LET THEM EAT CAKE & other tasty treats!

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 2italianmamasbakery@gmail.com. You can also check her work out on Instagram or Facebook at @italianmamasbakery.

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BILL LEE, Tennessee’s 50th Governor

  • Pamela Garrett with the 50th Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, Dalena Berrett, and Dr. Cristy Stumb at Boots on Broadway - an event prior to inauguration at Acme Feed & Seed.

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.

Online writing services come with its advantages and disadvantages as well. Not all writing services are genuine and not all offer quality work, but our service http://cochisecountyhistory.org is one of the best. Just visit our website to check it out because it’s up to you which writing company you prefer.
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.”

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Wilson County’s Newest Judge

  • Judge Ensley Hagan and Andrea Hagan with retiring Judge John Gwin

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.

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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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