Combine togas with fried foods and quirky events like a frozen turkey toss and you have the ingredients for a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event.

The organization named the Athens Grease Festival a Top 20 Event in the Southeast for September 2017. Athens Main Street will host the festival on Sept. 30 in Downtown Athens. The festival is a play on words that honors the Greek origin of the city’s name and all things fried. Organizers caution spectators to “eat responsibly the other 364 days of the year.”

The event includes naming an Athena-Grease Goddess to honor a woman from Limestone County who gives back to Athens through community service. The event also has art activities for children, contests, music and fried delicacies like fried pies, fried fruits and fried bacon dishes.

“Organizers started the festival in 2012 to provide our community with a family-friendly event in Downtown Athens and to fundraise so we can support downtown revitalization,” said Athens Grease Festival Publicity Chair Holly Hollman. “We draw thousands to downtown who enjoy highlighting our Southern eccentricity by riding a mechanical bull in toga, tossing a frozen turkey and wearing creative togas, including some for a favorite football team or those made from camouflage material.”
Athens Main Street utilizes funds generated by the Athens Grease Festival to invest in downtown improvements, such as financially supporting new electrical outlets that provide safe access to electricity for musical acts and food vendors as well as handicap-accessible sidewalks and crossings.

The Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Festival and Event Awards have highlighted Southeast-area programs like the Grease Festival since 1985. Travel industry experts select 20 events per month, and the Southeast Tourism Society publicizes them throughout the United States by publishing them on two websites: EscapeToTheSoutheast.com and Travel Media Press Room.

Events considered for Top 20 recognition must be at least three years old and have attendance of at least 1,000. This will be the fifth Athens Grease Festival.

“The Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Festival and Event list is an excellent guide for the Southeast’s visitors, residents and travel writers. The events selected represent the best, and often most unique, activities in our region,” said Bill Hardman, president and CEO of the Southeast Tourism Society.

The Athens Grease Festival thrives on uniqueness and made Al.com’s list for “One of the Oddest Festivals in Alabama” and attempted to set a world record for largest toga party in 2014.

About Southeast Tourism Society

Southeast Tourism Society, founded in 1983 and headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting tourism to and within 12 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
By: Holly Hollman

“Bring your earplugs. You’re gonna need ‘em,” said Garth Lovvorn with his trademark grin. Why? Because Temple of Blood, a heavy metal band whose members are Christians, husbands, fathers, and members of their respective church’s praise bands are going to be kicking off this year’s Singing on the Square series.

On Friday, May 19, Temple of Blood and another metal band known as Contagon (pronounced “contagion”) will be performing on the Limestone County Courthouse Square from 6-8 pm. This year marks a bit of a departure from the norm, but Garth told me there is quite the “metal movement” amongst the youth of Athens, and he wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few hundred who show up.

Before you recoil in horror and fear that this means Athens has been invaded by rock stars whose music and lifestyles are not fit for human consumption, nothing could be further from the truth. Temple was founded in 2001 by Jim Mullis, and Garth has been with them off and on from the beginning. Garth came back full time around two years ago, plays bass and occasionally provides back-up vocals.

“Our songs are biblical,” said Garth, “And sometimes what is biblical is real and raw. Faith is critical to our message and the music we do, and the Bible is a great source for songs.” If you think about what used to happen at the temples of the Old Testament, you can’t escape from the fact that there was a whole lot of blood. He told me that years ago, when the band was first getting started, they would play around other metal bands whose lifestyles were those that would make mamas want to hide their children, and the fact that Temple was different opened up opportunities to get the Word out. “We have people who have come up to us after concerts, or have contacted us through Facebook, that have told us they were touched and encouraged by our music,” he said. Garth also told me that almost all of the famous metal bands have men of faith in them, and in addition, metal bands are famous for their support of the military. Anyone who has ever seen Gene Simmons and KISS do a musical tribute to the members of our armed services knows what I am talking about. “This is about God, this is about country, and this is about America. If you know the words, sing it,” says Simmons as he and the band get the crowd of troops from all the branches on their feet singing “God Bless America.”

“We know this is not for everybody,” says Garth. “We definitely have a niche, and not everyone will like us.” We talked about the fact that music builds community and brings commerce to our city. “Back in the day our band traveled all over the Southeast, and we know that people drive hundreds of miles to hear bands,” said Garth. He added, “We are just some middle-aged guys playing the music we love, and we are not trying to become rock stars.”

We laughed about movies that have been made about bands, and Garth said, “We are a combination of The Blues Brothers, Wayne’s World, and Airheads.” So I asked, “You’re putting the band back together and are on a ‘mission from God?’” (This is probably the most famous line from Blues Brothers.) We laughed again.

“Ok,” I said, “Why should I come to hear you?” “It’s original stuff, and we enjoy what we do. We do ‘hair metal’ for fun,” said Garth. For those of you who have no idea what ‘hair metal’ is, Wikipedia defines it like this: “Glam metal (also known as hair metal and often used synonymously with pop metal) is a subgenre of heavy metal which features pop-influenced hooks and guitar riffs, and borrows from the fashion of 1970s glam rock.”

A further explanation is from the actual use of the word “hair.” If you were around in the 80s or 90s, everyone had “big hair,” whether they were in a glam band or not, which then led to the term “hair metal.” Just take a look at a high school yearbook from that era, and you’ll see what I mean. I don’t know if Garth is going to wear a wig, but I do know that he told me with confidence, “If you like 80s heavy metal, you’ll like us.” He also mentioned that they want to showcase Contagon’s music, as well as desiring to make contact with the metal kids who are working hard at El Opry, which is located on Hwy 127 just as you leave Athens proper heading toward Elkmont.

Temple of Blood hopes that if this type of music “resonates” with you, you’ll bring your family as well as your earplugs and join them on May 19 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Limestone County Courthouse Square. It is located at 200 W Washington Street, Athens, AL. The concert will be held rain or shine on the east side, which is Marion Street.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Twelve years ago, Amy Glasgow started teaching school in the Huntsville Public School System. She started out in UNA’s nursing program, and then realized that education was her true calling. She graduated from Athens State University with a K-6 certification. She then got her Master’s degree in Special Education, and currently is teaching 2nd graders in a regular classroom at Lakewood Elementary. Amy loves to teach math because she has access to such great curriculum. She also greatly enjoys teaching reading because she likes the small-group work. She serves as a go-to resource person for other teachers who need ideas for their special education students, and I know first-hand from talking with Amy that her dedication to her profession runs deep. However, Amy has another “love,” and that’s animals, any kind. “I love everything from spiders and snakes to dogs, cats, and horses,” she told me. So keen is her passion to be with her animal friends that in addition to her responsibilities as a teacher, wife, and mom, she has a second career as a dog groomer.

Amy is the owner of Paws and Whiskers Boutique, and would like to invite all of you to her Grand Opening event on Saturday, May 13, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The boutique is located in an outbuilding at Amy’s home, and is on the edge of a huge yard where dogs who are boarded get to play. The address is 14899 Old Banford Street, in Athens just off Capshaw Road. From 1-3 p.m. there will be live music, hot dogs, water and photos with pets. All day will be raffles and door prizes for things such as a free grooming, free boarding, specialty gifts from in-store, and more. If you are not able to make it between 1 and 3, stop by anytime during 11 a.m.-7 p.m. to tour the facilities and enter the contests.

Amy and her husband have undertaken an extensive remodeling project in preparation for the Grand Opening. The entrance of boutique is the retail part, with numbers of must-have items such as leashes, feeding bowls, toys, clothes, and accessories. The back boasts two washing sinks, grooming platforms, cages, doggy doors for boarders to have free access to the back yard, and storage.

One of Amy’s skills is dealing with dogs that are, for lack of a better term, “complicated.” She had a dog that was nervous and described by the owners as a biter. Amy asked the owner to toss her the leash, sat down cross-legged in her driveway, and bit by bit drew the dog to her through the use of the leash. As she slowly and carefully got acquainted with the dog, the dog ended up sitting on her leg and licked her. The owners were amazed, and Amy and the dog are now friends. “I love all dogs if they don’t fight me,” she said. She also tells of a standard poodle that came into the shop with his head down and unable to socialize or make eye contact. After he was groomed, Amy said, “The change in him was remarkable. It was as though his confidence had been restored.”

“I not only want the owners to feel good, I want the dogs to feel good and be at their best,” Amy told me. I asked her why I should choose her as a groomer for a dog, and here’s what she said: “I will do for your dog what needs to be done to make them feel their best. I’ll also do it at a reasonable price.”One of the things Amy offers to clients who have dogs with lighter colored coats is a blueberry facial wash. It helps reduce the appearance of tear stains. She also features natural dog products developed by a firm called Nu Vet. They are recommended by veterinarians and are made with human grade ingredients. They support immune function, and contain no fillers, artificial flavors, or binding agents. They fight free radical damage, which is a major source of illness both in pets as well as humans.

Nu Vet products have been known to help dogs suffering from dry skin, allergies, dry eyes, hair loss, hot spots, and more. Cats have benefitted as well, and both dogs and cats which had no energy have gotten their “zip” back. Amy swears by this stuff.
Amy has a reputation as a boarder for going above and beyond, just as she does for her students. Recently Amy was paid a high compliment by her neighbor, and it was this: “I know when you are boarding dogs that they’ll be safe. They’ll have playtime, be fed, watered, given attention, and not stuck in a cage. They’ll be well taken care of.”

Come on May 13 to see Paws and Whiskers Boutique for yourself and see what Amy has to offer you and your canine “kids.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

People in Athens are finding rocks painted with everything from geometric designs to Transformers to words of wisdom.

Roberta Ress, an artist with High Cotton Arts, started the painted rock project on March 18 with the Athens ROCKS kickoff event. Children and adults painted rocks and hid them in public places around Athens. During the paint session, Ress read a book called, “Everybody Needs A Rock.”

Now, couples dining on The Square, Girl Scout troops, business owners and walkers are finding the painted rocks in planters downtown, around the Courthouse and at Big Spring Memorial Park.

As people find a rock, they are encouraged to post a photo on the Athens ROCKS Facebook page of their find and then to re-hide it.

Athens and Limestone County are embarking on their 200th birthday in 2018. The State of Alabama, which turns 200 in 2019, is hosting a three-year celebration, and Athens and Limestone County are participating. The 2017 statewide theme is “Explore Our Places.” Athens ROCKS is a way to encourage families to sightsee and explore their own community.

“The Athens ROCKS project highlights that art is fun and art is educational,” said Athens Arts League Board President Amy Golden. “Tying the project into part of our local Bicentennial celebrations is a fabulous way to encourage citizens to learn more about their own city and enjoy creating their own piece of art.”

High Cotton Arts is located in Downtown Athens at 103 West Washington Street. Athens Arts League operates the non-profit arts incubator to support artists, provide art education and bring cultural events to the community.
By: Holly Hollman

The Senior Rehab and Recovery Center at Limestone Health Facility has one sharp cookie in the form of Mrs. Jessie Ruth Underwood as one of their residents. She was born at home on October 24, 1929 near Ardmore on the Alabama side. Five days later would be the official beginning of the Great Depression. Jessie was the baby of seven – five boys and two girls. Her parents farmed “just about everything from milk cows to crops,” she said.

Eighteen years later Jessie Ruth married, and her husband very much wanted to serve in WWII, but had a hernia which prevented him from enlisting. They had three children, two boys and a girl, and Jessie says she “done lost count of the grandkids and great-grandkids.” Lynnville Church of Christ was her life-long church home, and she was baptized at the age of 15.

When Jessie was first married, she worked at the phone company, but was then able to stay at home once her children came along. Her husband, she said, “did a little bit of everything; picked cotton, picked corn, built houses, and cut trees.”
We moved to the topic of favorites, and Jessie’s favorite color is blue.

Favorite food to either make or eat? Fried chicken. She also loves dressing, and wanted me to know that the only way for dressing to be good is to serve it warm.

Favorite book? The Bible.
Favorite Bible verse? “The Golden Rule. My husband used to say, ‘Treat people the way you want to be treated.’”
Favorite hymn? “Amazing Grace.” We talked for a while about just how good that song is, and how it never goes out of style.”
Favorite US President? John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We also chatted about how clear the day of the Kennedy assassination still is to us both, all these years later.

Biggest change in Jessie’s lifetime? “Landing on the moon. Many things have happened before and since, but that moon landing was something,” she said.

Jessie came to Limestone Health Facility about four years ago, and likes it there. Savannah, one of the activities coordinators said, “She’s really good at Bingo.” Jessie showed me her most recent prize, which she won on Good Friday. It was a purple Easter egg that featured cross-shaped, fruit-flavored candies in it. She also won a silver-colored glittery nail kit in a previous game. We needed to wrap up our time together because the next Bingo game was due to start soon. As we headed outside to the beautiful garden to take Jessie’s picture, I was able to scope out some of the prizes that were waiting for the Bingo winner, and this game was no doubt going to be spirited.

I asked Jessie if there was anyone on staff that had taken especially good care of her, and she said with a smile that a nurse by the name of Aurea had done so.

Jessie told me that the advice she would give to young people today is, “Make sure you have the Lord as your Savior. Trust Him and obey Him, and He’ll see you through.” Timeless advice from a woman who continues to live life well, Jessie Ruth Underwood.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

The Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives, Scout House and Athens-Limestone Public Library are among the many local projects that have benefitted from the Boy Scout program.

Scouts seeking the Eagle Scout rank have volunteered throughout the city and county to improve facilities, assist non-profits and beautify the community.

On Wednesday, April 5, local leaders gathered for the annual Athens-Limestone Community Breakfast to raise funds to support the Arrowhead District, which serves Limestone County Scouts. Eric Blackwell, the director of plant operations at Polaris, was the keynote speaker. Blackwell stressed that employers like Polaris place importance on career tech education and the values instilled in those involved in Scouting.

As part of the program, the Scouts honored three schools for their efforts to be creative in offering career-related education to students. The three schools that received Heart of an Eagle awards were:

  • Athens Renaissance School
  • Limestone County Career Technical Center
  • Calhoun Community College

A committee comprised of Scouts, the City of Athens, Limestone County Commission and Limestone County Schools organized the breakfast, which was sponsored in part by Steelcase and Redstone Federal Credit Union.

“The City of Athens and Limestone County understand the importance of supporting programs that engage our youth in civic endeavors,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “These are our future leaders, and programs like Scouting teach them to be invested in the community.”
By: Holly Hollman

Kathleen Magnusson Hillis and Lorene Magnusson Davis were both born at home in Ardmore. Kathleen was born in 1922 and Lorene in 1924. Now, all these years later, they are roommates at Limestone Health Facility’s Senior Rehabilitation and Recovery Center. They are the daughters of O.W. and Ellis Magnusson. O.W. was a farmer, and according to Kathleen, “He raised everything—corn, cotton peas, sorghum, and peanuts.” Later on he raised cattle, too. Both girls worked the farm hard, as was the case with every kid during the Great Depression, and Lorene’s husband was a farmer, too.

Lorene is the baby of the family, and she married at the age of 15. Kathleen married at the ripe old age of 17. Kathleen made an interesting comment about her father when she said, “He wanted us to go to college and get jobs.” I asked, “But you both fell in love, right?” She smiled. Both Kathleen and Lorene were happily married, and each of them had one child. Kathleen had a son, and Lorene had a daughter.

Kathleen went on to become a doctor’s assistant at Jackson Hospital in Lester, and Lorene worked the farm with her husband. Kathleen’s husband served in Europe during WWII, and Lorene’s husband was exempt due to the fact that “he got butchered when he got his appendix out, and he had flat feet.”

The sisters were raised Methodist, but Kathleen spent her life fellowshipping at the Church of Christ because that was her husband’s church. They both love reading the Bible, and Kathleen especially loves to read the book of Revelation. Kathleen enjoys reading the newspaper from front to back, and because Lorene was out in the fields a lot, she didn’t read much for pleasure. However, Lorene did read trade magazines that had to do with cattle.

This is the first time that I have gotten to do the “faves” section with more than one person in the same interview, and it was so much fun to hear sisters act like sisters with each other as they discussed their possible answers. Kathleen’s favorite color is purple, which she wore for the interview, and Lorene’s is red, which she wore as well. The one thing they share in common is that they both like to make and eat fried chicken. They are also big Dolly Parton fans. However, they made me laugh when they talked about how, long after they were married and living on opposite corners of the same property, they would call each other on the phone when it was time for Dancing With The Stars, which was broadcast on WAAY 31. Kathleen told me, “I would be willing to miss a meal before I’d miss Dancing With The Stars.”

Their favorite United States President is Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lorene says that she appreciates how FDR took care of the soldiers. As far as the biggest changes that have occurred in their lifetime, Kathleen says that she thinks it’s the invention of the TV, and Lorene says it was when all the soldiers came home from World War II.

I think the most interesting and entertaining thing about these two is that they yodel! They gave me a demonstration, and it made my day.

They love the care they are getting at the Limestone Health Facility and enjoy being there. Kathleen says, “I love the way they take care of us now that we can no longer take care of ourselves.” She and Lorene say that the food is good, and Kathleen’s favorite activity is bingo. “We love music, too,” she said, and Lorene said with enthusiasm, “Music is our middle name!”

I asked them what words of wisdom they would give to young people, and Kathleen said, “Be good, study hard, and stay out of trouble.” Lorene said, “Live a good life, stay out of trouble, and do the best you can.”
As we moved things about so we could take their picture, Kathleen looked at me and grinned, saying “We’ve had a good life.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

I first had the chance to tell the folks in our area about Top Job Roofing and Construction back in the fall of 2014. At that time, they had been in business for about a year, and have now grown to where this year they are going to be Gold Sponsors at the Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Home and Garden Show. The show will be held on Friday, March 10th, and Saturday, March 11th at the Limestone County Event Center, and they will be there to answer all your roofing questions. Zeb Lewter and Tim Lewter are the owners, and together bring decades of construction, roofing, and classroom experience to both get the job done right and educate as well as serve their clients throughout the entire experience.

Why should you choose Top Job Roofing for your project? There are a number of reasons, one being that it is the only roofing company in the area to have the GAF Master Elite Contractor certification. Top Job has also achieved the status of Certified GAF Weather Stopper Roofing Contractor, an achievement for which only 6% of professional roofing contractors meet the qualifications necessary to be designated as such.

In addition, they are members of the National Roofing Contractors Association, the Limestone County Chamber of Commerce, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. They are also what is known as Green Roofers, a certification that demonstrates that their methods are eco-friendly.

I have learned some things about roofing in talking to the Top Job guys; one thing being that architectural roofing materials have to be nailed in six specific locations per shingle, or they can slide off the roof. All felt from the roof must be removed in order for the job to be done right, and not everyone does that. Top Job uses synthetic felt, which provides a much better moisture barrier. In 75% of their installs this year they used the architectural grade materials, and they are paying more per roof in their contracts than anyone else. They use lead boots instead of rubber gasket boots, and the result is simply a much better product, with a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Top Job also puts a professional starter strip at the edge of the roof, rather than do what many companies do, and that is flip around a shingle tab to make a strip. The problem with that is there is no seal on the makeshift strip, and it can peel up far more easily. The professional starter strip greatly increases a shingle’s ability to withstand high winds.

Storm season will soon be upon us, and for the last several years as we have had to contend with Nature’s wrath, bargain rate roofing companies have sprung up out of nowhere, offering “unbelievable prices.” One of the reasons they can do that is because their roofers are not covered by Workman’s Comp, and the State of Alabama only requires that roofing companies guarantee their work for one year. “All our roofers are covered by Workmen’s Comp,” I was told. What you as a consumer may not know is that if a worker gets hurt on your property, and does not have insurance coverage, you as the homeowner are liable.

Top Job provides 10-50 year warranties and itemized statements as part of the contract process prior to beginning the job. The contractors are certified, and the shingles used for each job are made locally in Tuscaloosa.

Top Job offers monthly specials, as well as special discounts for members of our Armed Forces, Educators, and Emergency Response Personnel, (active, retired and their surviving spouses). They also offer incentives for referrals.

Top Job will also go above and beyond to help their clients finance their roofing jobs, and are proud of their ability to do so. They know that replacing or repairing your roof may be an unexpected expense. They offer interest free financing from 12 to 24 months – same as cash with a 90% approval rate. They also have longer term loans available at low interest rates. If it is a repair and you need help filing an insurance claim, they are there to help.

If you are looking for a local roofing and contracting company with membership in the best national trade related certifying organizations, Top Job Roofing and Construction is going to be your best choice, because Zeb and Tim will make your job their “top priority.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

“Attitude IS Everything,” we are told. This is such an important business mantra that is used often in the workplace, but ultimately could and should be the approach to how we live our lives every day. What these three words mean holds a different connotation for you than it does me. When you think about these words, I want you to visualize what comes to mind. Whether these images that float in your mind are positive or negative can dictate how you view the world around you.

For myself, I am not the kind of guy where the “glass is half-full” nor is the “glass half-empty.” For me I like to think that my cup overflows with the emotional effects that my attitude has on the world around me on an everyday basis. Let’s face it, the world is full of negativity in which the running joke is the evening news beginning by telling you “Good Evening,” and then proceeding for the next 30 minutes telling you why it’s not.

How we respond to events that happen to us, even if we think they are beyond our control, is actually well within our grasp. If you want to know how your day is going to turn out, then ask yourself one simple question. How is my attitude going to be today?

In the world of business, I see all kinds of attitudes. I see good ones, I see bad ones, and I see ones that I will never soon forget. To make the biggest impact upon yourself, your loved ones, your friends, your neighbors, but most importantly your customers, you must maintain a positive attitude even when the world around you suggests otherwise.

I have found the overall satisfaction of my customers increasing when my attitude exhibits an overwhelmingly positive approach. The saying that “misery loves company” holds no weight in my life, nor should it in yours. If you tend to be the negative person in the room, might I suggest you make some subtle changes. I recommend that you commit yourself to only thinking positively, and withstand any negative thinking that might cross your mind.

I understand that in life it is so much easier to be negative. Negativity requires so much less effort than what it takes to be positive. To my knowledge, there is no medication out there that is designed to make you hate life. There’s plenty out there for you to enjoy life, but none exist to bring you down from your emotional high.

I oftentimes get complimented on my attitude, and from a business perspective I relish in this. When customers notice my positive attitude, I realize they are not receiving this same energy level down the street. Your positive attitude can set you apart from your competition. When your customers feel uplifted by your daily approach, they will want to do business with you. Before you can get to this point though, you are going to have to work on your mindset.

We have all overcome obstacles that have stood in our way. Personally, my father died when I was 15 years old and my mom abandoned me less than 2 years later. I could have been negative. I should have dropped out of high school, gotten mixed up in drugs or become a statistic you read about in the paper. I should have never graduated high school, let alone college. I did, though. All because of my attitude.

Do not get me wrong; there were many lonely nights I found myself crying out to God just asking, “Why me?” For several years I took the victim mentality that I “had it so rough,” but then I realized there are people out there who have it worse than I do. This helped change my way of thinking. Being able to reflect upon the obstacles others faced helped me to realize what I was going through was easy compared to what others were facing.

As you are reading this, I want you to realize that the way you conduct business and your life needs to change today. You can make a difference to your customers, and I urge you to let your positiveness shine through to them. No matter what your definition of attitude has been, I want you to start today by realizing that Attitude IS Everything. Go be the difference you want in the world.

Athens Now is pleased to welcome D.A. Slinkard, manager of the Athens Staples store, to our crew of contributing writers.
By: D. A. Slinkard

Tina Cook is well known in our community as the hard working Director of the Family Resource Center located on Jefferson Street, and I first met her at the monthly Chamber of Commerce coffees that are held at various businesses in our area. I immediately liked her, and one of the things that impressed me is that she is both uncommonly transparent and intensely joyful. I became aware that she has a personal “death, burial and resurrection story,” and seeing as we are coming upon the season of Resurrection and Passover, now seemed the appropriate time to tell it.

We met for the interview in the FRC board room, which is lined with inspirational sayings as well as scriptures. One that stuck out was written by Mark Twain, and it says:

“Challenges make life interesting, however, overcoming them makes life meaningful.”

Tina has had no shortage of challenges, some of which were beyond her control, and many with which she saddled herself. Her folks divorced when she was small in a time when “nobody’s parents got divorced.” She said that she knew her dad loved her, even though living apart made it harder for her to realize it, yet like so many girls, Tina became “daddy hungry,” and started looking for love in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways. By the time she was 15, she had an abortion, and began to get into serious trouble with first substances, and then crime. The abortion also made it so she would never have children. By the time she graduated from West Limestone High School, she was running stretched out down the wrong road.

She would disappear for months and sometimes years at a time, and her family had no idea if she was dead in a ditch somewhere or just not communicating. She was no stranger to wanting to commit suicide. Once she sat in the Limestone County jail for 11 months because she wouldn’t roll over on her fellow partners in crime. The last time she was arrested, which occurred in Florida, her mug shot portrayed someone who was frightened, defiant, and her eye was still swollen from where she had been beaten by a man.

“I was in jail on and off for a total of seven years, and I lived a sordid lifestyle,” she said. It was in jail that she got her wake-up call in the form of learning that her dad had died, and she couldn’t go to his funeral. That’s when she began to give up and give in to the love of God and discover His purpose for her life. Her “Life Scripture” became “the joy of the Lord is your strength,” and it shows.

Tina was able to reconcile with her mother, and after she got out of jail Tina went to care for her mom as cancer did its worst. However, that time is one of the treasures of her new life, and Tina was with her mom when she passed. They got everything between them straightened out, and the years were restored. In addition, one of the blessings that came out of that rough time is that Tina was given her mom’s dog, Chloe to care for, and Chloe is one loyal little pooch.

Tina has extensive knowledge of what it takes to overcome addictions, both from her personal life as well as her studies. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from City Vision University in Christian Addiction Studies and Urban Missions, and all of it was a perfect training ground for her new life. It takes guts to come back and rebuild in the same spot where it all went bad, but that’s what she felt she was being called to do, and rebuild she most definitely has. One of her favorite scriptures is Philemon 1:10-11, talking about Onesimus. “Formerly he was useless, but now he has become useful to you and to me.”

This woman inspires me, and I hope you are blessed by her story. If you are struggling, please know there is hope. Tina lives it, and you can, too.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner