For my addiction recovery work this year I’m going through The Twelve Gifts of Life Recovery by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. On the third Friday of each month in 2021 I will be sharing the blessings God brings us to honor our choices and encourage our recovery journey. This is the second column in this series. Today we are learning about the gift of Power.

We admitted we were powerless over our problems and that our lives had become unmanageable. ~ STEP 1

I know that nothing good lives in me… I want to do what is right, but I can’t. ~ Romans 7:18

We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. ~ Step 2

God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. ~ Philippians 2:13

The gift of power comes when we recognize and admit that we truly are powerless over our dependencies. In a sense that admitting brings relief because we realize it’s not our power that will keep us from falling into temptation, strengthen our walk or find our freedom.

“As we cease striving and begin to acknowledge in prayer the gift of God’s power in our lives, we experience growth in our recovery.” THE TWELVE GIFTS OF LIFE RECOVERY

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

Sure we have a responsibility to make wise choices with regards to friends, media input, behaviors and environment to avoid potential trigger points. But ultimately, it is the gift of God’s power that will give us the ability to say no to the temptation triggers.

So beware if you think it could never happen to you, lest your pride becomes your downfall. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12

The minute we think we’ve got this recovery life all figured out and can withstand temptations, that’s when we have stepped out onto the slippery slope that will most assuredly lead to a relapse. The gift of power must be protected! Our life recovery journey must be guarded at all cost.

By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. ~ 2 Peter 1:3

In time God’s gift of power will flow over into other areas as this life recovery journey becomes stronger. Soon we have more confidence to help others in their recovery walk as well. God’s power gift keeps working in and through all we do.

Meditate on the lyrics below and then take a few minutes to soak in the music video by Elevation Worship. Blessings… Tamara

“My weakness is hidden within your glory. Jesus my strength is in you The odds are against me . But you are for me Jesus. My strength is in you.”


On the third Friday of each month in 2021 we’re studying the Life Recovery Gifts. We’ll learn about the blessings God brings us to honor our choices and encourage our journey through the Twelve Steps of Life Recovery. This is the first column in the Life Recovery Gifts series.

For my recovery work this year I’m going through The Twelve Gifts of Life Recovery by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Each month of 2021 I will be discussing what I have learned on my journey. Today we are learning about the gift of Hope.

HOPE: desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment; believing that something good will happen.

Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope! ~ Romans 15:13

“The gift of hope is the motivation for our continuing on the same track when something is painful or difficult.” ~ The Twelve Gifts of Life Recovery

For those of us on the Life Recovery journey, it’s important that we stay connected to a support group and/or an accountability partner. If we don’t and then try to do life under our own power, our lives quickly become unmanageable and we set ourselves up for relapse.

We admitted that we were powerless over our problems–that our lives had become unmanageable.  ~ Step One (The Twelve Steps of Life Recovery)

When we stay close to our support system, be it a Bible study group or an accountability partner, we draw hope and courage to continue our journey. The  gift of hope is shared between each member as it inspires everyone to not give up.

Hope is a gift because it is something that is beyond our human power and abilities. It comes through God’s power which is founded in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

The gift of hope gives us motivation to press on when temptations arise, times become difficult and we don’t see anything happening in the natural.

Reach out to God today. Let Him put His super on your natural. Ask Him to fill you with His strength and transforming power that will give you the hope to carry you through!

Prayerfully listen to this classic hymn sung by David Crowder and Tauren Wells. You will be blessed!


In The Serenity Prayer column each month we’re studying this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These columns will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking as Christ did this sinful world as it is…


Taking as Christ did. In this passage of The Serenity Prayer we are asked to take our world as Jesus Christ did. We’re to surrender to God’s will in and for our life. We are to accept the things we cannot change and see that our hardships can be the pathway to Peace if we will accept them with the right heart attitude.

Walk in courage. As we walk in courage, not fear or resentment, God will give us the needed wisdom to make right decisions and to carry the burdens we are to bear. One day at a time, maybe even one moment at a time, we may have to endure hurtful people and difficult situations.

Look to Christ. We can look to Christ Who Scripture says, never trusted himself to man because He knew their fallen state. He took His assignment and for the joy that was to come, endure even the worst death a person could die — crucifixion on a Roman cross.

Follow Jesus’ example. As Christians we are to follow in Jesus’s footsteps, being willing to sacrifice our lives for Him. Our sacrifice may not mean physical torture or death like millions experience every day around the world. But every time we sacrifice our selfish desires, accepting the path put before us, we can know that God sees our heart and efforts and will honor them with His grace to make it through.

Surrender. When Jesus accepted His assignment and came to earth in human form, He demonstrated the ultimate act of surrender and love. He surrendered His authority and power for a time so that He could live as we do. He wanted to experience the temptations, pain and suffering that humanity does. It is here His sacrifice takes on its full meaning of hope. When Jesus took our suffering He cleared our pathway to a direct relationship for us to have with the Father through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ surrendering and taking the world as it is allows us to surrender and receive God’s amazing grace and love.

Prayerfully listen to this powerful worship song by Hillsong. Contemplate taking on the heart attitude of Christ, surrendering all selfish desires… lay them at His feet and He will draw you near.


In The Serenity Prayer column each month we are dissecting this well-known prayer phrase by phrase and applying it to our life today. These posts will be published the first Friday of each month in 2019.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…

serenity:  a state or quality of being serene, calm, tranquil, peaceful; having an inner calm in the midst of the ups and downs of life; involves learning to be content with the things in our life that can’t be changed. (Serenity’s opposite is agitation.)

Human beings aren’t naturally serene creatures. We don’t have to be taught agitation. It seems to come with the inner selfishness which is built into our nature. I certainly lean more towards agitation with most things in life. That’s why we need God’s help!

Our lack of peace is directly related to our thought life, worry and ingratitude. The Apostle Paul teaches this in his letter to the Phillipians:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Now brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worth of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.              ~ Phillipians 4:6-9

It’s to us to decide what we’re going to think about. No one can control our thoughts but us. When we look for good we will usually find it. The opposite is also true.

Stressing over situations and people that we can’t change only makes more stress. If we can settle into life as it is, finding a way to be content, we can trust God will work all the good and bad for our good.

Let’s lean into God and put Paul’s teaching into practice. Then the peace of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will put a guard over our hearts and minds, and ultimately our life.

Take a few minutes to contemplate Christ’s peace with this beautiful worship song by Bethel Music.

Befriend Your Empty Spaces

We all have empty spaces in our lives. Maybe you’ve been waiting a long time for a life companion or maybe you’ve removed a bad behavior and are now left with a nagging empty spot with cravings to boot. Whatever your empty space looks like chances are you have more than one to deal with.

My personal empty space is connected to many things that have been removed from my life in the last year… Job loss has forced a move to another city to live with a family member while we get back on our feet… loss of home, car, finances; possessions; freedoms and privacy; our only grand children have moved to eastern Europe; my two elderly dogs went to heaven; health challenges that require a new very restricted food plan; not to mention trying to stay sober while living in a home that isn’t. Lots of empty spaces that could be filled with complaining, anger, resentment, and depression.

Last Fall I read Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addiction by Gerald G. May. This book has been a life changer for me. Since reading it I haven’t looked at God’s grace in the same way. My favorite quote comes from the last paragraph:

The specific struggles we undergo with our addictions are reflections of a blessed pain. To be deprived of a simple object of attachment is to taste the deep, holy deprivation of our souls. To struggle to transcend any idol is to touch the sacred hunger God has given us.

May tells us to make friends with the empty space and its pain, because that pain is God’s grace reaching out to us. You may have heard that empty space called a God-shaped vacuum a term coined many years ago by Blaise Pascal. We’re always trying to fill that empty space with anything BUT God!

With our EGO in charge we’re always Edging God Out fueling life with temporary worldly fixes. A food diet run on the empty calories of foods that either are sugar or turn to sugar, won’t lead to a healthy body. In the same way, trying to fuel our spiritual life on the empty things of this world will lead to an unsatisfied spirit that longs for more.

All through Scripture we ‘re taught to empty ourselves of worldly desires and fill that empty space with God. When St. Paul was given his “thorn-in-the-flesh” he asked God three times to remove it. God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

Whether our empty space is from putting down an addiction/behavior or because something/someone was removed from our life involuntarily, we are still dealing with an empty space. God’s grace gives us the power to endure, to press through, to be obedient, to lean on Him when we have the cravings or the loneliness hits.

Why not allow God’s grace to fill that empty space? Life will be much better when we do.

“My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9


Image credit 123RFPhoto

Playing with Fire

Temptations are tricky. They sneak up on you when you least expect it. You’re going along, thinking you’ve got it all together and then…


A big fat temptation hits you!

Well, that’s not exactly true. We may be going along alright, but somehow, we’ve let an old thought or pattern creep back in. We become complacent or simply lazy with our boundaries.

Either way, it’s very dangerous.

In October my daily 12 Step devotional focuses on Step 10

We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

So far the readings have hit home. Hard!

Check out these samples:

Dealing with Anger: Deal with short-term anger before it turns into long-term destruction.

Preventing Relapse: Only God’s Word will help us continue in recovery and avoid the devastation of relapse.

Dangerous Pride: Even the pride we feel in recovery can set us up for temptation and relapse.

Spiritual Exercises: Continued inventory will keep us spiritual fit and strong in the face of temptation.

Personal Boundaries: Honest inventories help us maintain boundaries important to recovery.

Positive Thoughts: What we keep in our mind and heart determines what we do and say.

Perseverance: We cannot win the race for recovery by going just part of the way.

No Shortcuts: On our journey toward recovery, shortcuts are only stepping stones to a relapse.

Daily Recovery: We will always be tempted by our old lives; but we need not always fall prey to them.

Needless to say, I’ve been doing some serious reflecting.

I don’t know about you, but an enticing temptation is not worth what it could cost me; all the ground I’ve gained in my marriage and my family, not to mention my health and my very life. More than anything, I don’t want to compromise the testimony I have today.

It’s time to reassess boundaries. Put back up the concrete barriers that can protect my heart, mind and soul.

Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. – Romans 13:14



The Road to Recovery



So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do’t fall! ~ 1 Corinthians 10:12


Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.


Principle 7 (Celebrate Recovery): Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. 

In Step 10 and Principle 7 we will begin to put into practice all the steps and principles we have learned thus far. We are beginning to live in reality vs. denial, we have made our amends and now we desire to grow in our relationships with God and others.
Principle 7 nicely complements Step 10. Taking our daily time with God for self-examination helps us prepare for our personal inventory. 
Something I learned about a couple of years ago was The Examen. The Examen is an ancient practice in the Church that helps us see God’s hand at work in our whole life experience. It is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day where we can detect God’s presence and discern his direction for our life. 

Here is how I like to work The Daily Examen:

1: Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are most grateful.

  • If you could relive one moment, which one would it be?
  • When were you most able to give and receive love today?
  • Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so good.
  • Breathe in the gratitude you felt and receive life again from that moment.

2: Ask God to bring to your awareness the moment today for which you are least grateful.

  • When were you least able to give and receive love?
  •  Ask yourself what was said and done in that moment that made it so difficult.
  • Relive the feelings without trying to change or fix it in any way.
  • Take deep breaths and let God’s love fill you just as you are.

3: Give thanks for what you have experienced. If possible, share these two moments with a friend. 


The Examen is a different way of taking daily inventory, but I like how it combines my prayer time with God and a daily reflection. There are many ways to work The Examen I hope you will look into it further and consider trying it. I think you’ll find it a sweet time with God as you look back over your day.

Enjoy this brief video that will walk us through The Examen. If you can’t see the video screen below click here .




One of the biggest challenges for the recovering person is getting to the place of surrender. Not only is this important, it is critical to the recovery process. This can be a tough, especially for those of us who are stubborn and willful! Before we will truly surrender we may have to go to the darkest of all places, possibly near death.

What does it mean to surrender your life?

The sense of not knowing can be paralyzing for some. We can’t go back but we can’t go forward either. We’re stuck sinking in our own quicksand of uncertainty and doubt.

How can we save ourselves? 

Surrender: to yield to the possession or power of another; to give oneself up to an influence, to abandon or relinquish; to resign; submit.

When I read Webster’s definitions I see myself walking in sin and addiction having already surrendered; just to the wrong side. I had yielded my power and abandoned myself to my addiction and the evil forces driving it.

Usually, when we think of surrendering, we think of a criminal surrendering to the police with their hands up; or perhaps in the old westerns and war movies — someone waving the white flag of surrender to the opposing forces. In these situations the surrendering party believes they have given up any hope of victory. These are good images of surrender because that is exactly what we must do when we surrender. We have to give up. But when we surrender ourselves to God we actually have hope for real victory.

The key element in the process of true surrender is accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. Until we do we are trying to do everything in our own power and we know how that works – it doesn’t! We must first humble ourselves before God, fall on our face and confess our sins; acknowledge Jesus’ death on the cross and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Jesus Christ took the pain we suffer in addiction to the cross. Why should we want to continue to carry that ourselves? Healing begins immediately when we give ourselves over to Him and let him carry our burdens for us.

Surrender means to relinquish control over what we consider ours: our property, our time, our “rights”. To properly surrender to God we are simply acknowledging that what we “own” actually belongs to Him. But not just what we own, what we think and do also are His. He is the Giver of all good things. Also, the degree in which we surrender determines the degree in which we grow in our character. So if we are still holding on to something, by not surrendering it to God, that can inhibit our potential for spiritual growth and full recovery.

Similar to salvation, surrender is a gift we receive from God; we can’t will it for ourselves. But also like salvation, the gift of surrender requires a response from us: acceptance. And there must be fruit: a changed life! Actually living a life surrendered to God is so much easier than trying to do it on our own. But it is a daily choice, sometimes moment by moment, with every breath. So stop right now and do a few deep breathing exercises…God’s way in, my way out… You may not be happy about it right now, but in the bigger picture of life, you’ll be glad you chose to surrender your pain, your addiction, your life — to God.


So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. ~ I Peter 5:6-7




Image Credit: christingasner / 123RF Stock Photo

The Road to Recovery :: STEP 9


STEP 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar ad there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” ~ Matthew 5:23-23

PRINCIPLE 6 (Celebrate Recovery): Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.

“Happy are the merciful.” ~ Matthew 5:7
“Happy are the peacemakers.” ~ Matthew 5:9

Last month in Step 8 we worked on listing the people we need to make amends to. This month we take the next, maybe the most freeing step, and actually make the amends. This is a difficult step but a critical point in our recovery. Without this step we will continue to beat ourselves up and continuing to carry more shame and guilt which could be the driving force to possible relapse.

The *Celebrate Recovery program is full of beautiful acrostics that help flesh out the work of each step. Each letter in the acrostic helps us make the next important step in the process of making our amends. Take some time to sit with the acrostic. Read it. Meditate on it. Journal how you can apply each letter’s step to your life as you prepare to make your amends.

A — Admit the hurt and the harm ~ Holding on to old resentments blocks our recovery and God’s forgiveness in our lives.
M — Make a list ~ Not worrying about how we will make the amends we simple list the people we have hurt.
E —  Encourage one another ~ It’s important to meet with our sponsor or accountability partner beforehand to practice making our amends.
N —  NOT for them ~ Without excuses or justifying our actions we make our amends humbly, honestly, sincerely and willingly. We focus on our part only.
D — Do it at the right time ~ Before making our amends we should pray for God’s guidance, direction and perfect timing.
S  —  Start living the promises of recovery ~ Embracing true freedom from our past we are now ready to receive God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

~ Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Remember, the recovery process is not meant to be worked alone! Reach out to your sponsor or accountability partners to assist you. If you’re not in a 12 Step program please click here to find a CR group near you.

If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE to watch our Road to Recovery theme song.

Celebrate Recovery Bible 
*Celebrate Recovery Leadership Guide

Photo Courtesy

Originally published September 4, 2013


When I was growing up my father was an alcoholic. Our home life was stressful and unpredictable so I developed a coping mechanism to escape the painful reality of my daily life. My personal escape mechanism was fantasy. I created invisible friends who kept me company when lonely and scared. Fantasy served me well in my childhood but later as an adult it became an unhealthy escape.

39368870 - two eyes with the sky and so many butterflies flying on the forehead


Though fantasy escape is no longer a issue for me, I still struggle with wanting to avoid the painful realities of daily life. In the last 50+ years I’ve made the rounds of the common addictive substances/behaviors: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sexual addiction, gambling, shopping, television, and food.

In this most recent season of recovery I’m giving up something that I have to witness someone else using on a regular basis. At first this was extremely difficult and maddening. It’s getting easier as time goes by, but some days are still hard. At the same time I was getting sober from this substance both of my elderly dogs died within a few weeks of each other. The emotional pain was so intense I wanted to run away. But I couldn’t.

Most of my life I’ve avoided feeling anything really. The bad was numbed with some substance. And the good was also numbed with a celebratory substance. So I grew up not knowing how to feel. Now in my late 50’s I’m in one of the most difficult seasons of life and facing it completely sober.

To be honest, I’ve cried a lot and I’ve yelled at God. But ultimately what has helped me the most has been just sitting quietly in God’s presence. I’m learning how to accept this moment, one moment at a time.

Life may not get any easier, but I’m learning new ways to cope with my pain. I’m avoiding television programing that highlights escapist lifestyles and replacing them with encouraging audio books and podcasts, listening to liturgical prayers, reading scripture, journaling, and writing this blog. It’s vital to have a creative outlet to help process feelings.

When we escape this moment we are running from the only life we have.

Are you always seeking escape? Do you often want to fly far, far away?


Image credit: semolina / 123RF Stock Photo