It’s A Wonderful Life!

By: Tina Cook

If I told you that 2022 was fabulous with no mishaps or issues, I would be lying! It may have been the toughest one yet in my 11 years of sobriety. When my mind first ‘landed’ on that realization, I almost swatted it away. How could this year be so difficult when God has been so lavishly kind to me…how could I even fathom that thought when I am ever so aware and grateful for all He has done for me? So, I began to ponder the answer to that…

The conclusion I have come to is because the root of anything is the hardest to remove! The previous 10 years, I have been dealing with more outward issues and symptoms. But 2022 has had me dealing directly with MYSELF…my deeply seated ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and automatic behaviors that no longer work on the path of who I am becoming. So, in the light of that revelation as well as the fact that I am ending the year still sober and determined to remain that way, it has been another fantastic year to be alive…to be useful…to be present in each moment that I have had.

The past year has held many wonderful occurrences. Taylor and Hayden, my girls (nieces), have both married wonderful men who I now get to call my nephews. I walked my sister, Angie, down the aisle at both events representing family members who could not be present…especially Mama and Dad. I know they were in that stadium full of witnesses who are constantly cheering us toward the finish line God has set for us. My Baylee (another niece) has settled in Birmingham on a different journey of self-discovery and service through her passion for nursing. My brother Doug’s life continues to unfold into a beautiful mosaic that warms my heart. Each battle he overcomes, I give praise and thanks that he, like myself, has made it to the other side of a difficulty that most do not win. Angie and I have entered a new level in our relationship as sisters. She has been my constant throughout life and the only person who is the same as all that I am. This new territory we are traveling has anchored itself deeply and I have fully embraced that knowledge that she is who God gave me to walk through life with from beginning to end. I am so thankful to finally be at a place where she can lean into me and know nothing…NOTHING except death will separate us ever again! (Ruth 1:16-18)

I feel closer to others in my life as well. The pandemic has enhanced the relationship between my stepmother of 50 years, Roanna, and me. I am getting to know my brother Clay and his children, Hugh and Belle, better. Other family relationships have grown close again. Cousins that I lost touch with have begun reentering my life and our bonds are being renewed. I have friends that I love like family who are always ready to encourage, love, and even remind me to chill or get over myself!  And then there are my TRIBES that keep me centered by keeping me focused on my relationship with God: Alcoholics Anonymous, New Covenant Emmaus Community, and Friendship Church.

I’ll mention the BIG ONES now…my doggie daughter Chloe and my job! Perhaps THOSE have been the biggest life-rafts that God allowed to rescue me. Both have grown me up in ways I didn’t even know existed! Chloe is 14 years old now. I don’t believe she has many great days anymore. But together we are enjoying the days that she does have, and I am enjoying each moment that I have left with her knowing they grow fewer and fewer as I watch her movements decline. She truly is the dog who saved me. I recall those days in April 2013, at home across the river after Mama died. I was alone there with no job, no money, and little dignity left because I had squandered it away along with everything else. I wanted so badly to stay in bed and not face the day…to face LIFE at all. But Chloe needed to be let out and to eat, so I got up for her. Both she and my job have helped me realize that even though I was never blessed to have children of my own, that I could have been a good mother. I believe God gave me Chloe and my position at the Athens Limestone Co. Family Resource Center to bless me and to pour His love into places in my life that were empty. Hence the significance of the Christmas pictures that may have made some of you wonder, “Who are those children with Tina?” They are just a few of the many children God has allowed me to love, spoil, and shop for at Christmas year after year after year after year, like actual mothers get to do.

I am a woman truly blessed…lavishly loved…extremely grateful…and exceedingly strengthened by the JOY of the Lord!!

Happy New Year to you all!

Tina (and Chloe too!)

By: Tina Cook

Director, Athens-Limestone County Family Resource Center