Monday, November 27, 2017

Operation Integrity 2017 Year-End report



Operation Integrity
Facing Addiction – Inspiring Recovery - Transforming Lives

 

 

 With deep appreciation, I present our 2017 Year-End Update.

 

People Helping People
·       Operation Integrity (OI) is helping men and women in 7 U.S. States heal from their addictions, becoming transformed people who help other people recover. I continue my work with Clergy and Christian Leaders in several U.S. Cities, The UK, Shanghai and recently in Northern Ireland, assisting a young pastor plant a recovery fellowship to help himself and others – a first for the area.
·        We continue helping dozens of men and their families at home, Coast Hills Church. Lives transformed in community through OI’s 45 & 90 Day Programs and ongoing fellowship.

 
Partnering and Expanding
·        This year, I joined the faculty of THE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (TLI) to do addiction & recovery training for Pastors who come to TLI from around the world and develop retreats in southern California to help men and women enlarge their personal recovery through TLI.
·        This Fall I began working more closely with MARINERS CHURCH RECOVERY MINISTRY (MRM) - Irvine Campus, taping a Video Series sure to reach thousands of people in an ongoing partnership with MRM and OI – one that will grow significantly this next year.
·        I also completed content development for 8 Videos for a treatment program to use in their centers.

 Word Power
·        My books OUR JOURNEY HOME and WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY inspire a diverse group of people hungry to connect more deeply with God and other people. 700+ people are inspired each week by our blog, Operation Integrity Daily. I authored a booklet to help counselors and their clients better collaborate using Christ-centered 12 Steps.

 Overcoming Setbacks
·       The computer for Operation Integrity was hacked so we lost our entire 3700+ email list of subscribers and supporters. And, the decision was made to suspend work upgrading the current OI website to review with fresh approach in 2018.
·       We immediately begin rebuilding our database, already reconstructing a list of 350 with more added daily. Having consulted with marketing and internet/social media experts, and pending funding, we will launch a simplified operationintegrity.org that will offer online training courses.
·       We will always continue blending the love of Jesus with clinical insights and the 12 Steps, offering this narrative through speaking and writing, woven into the fabric of our fellowship programs, and always encouraged as an essential personal experience for recovery.

 Healing and Transformation

After 25 years, marriage for Leon and Trisha had grown cold, both were looking for a way out. But Leon made the decision to face his addictions and himself, so he enrolled in an OI Transformation Program that launched him into a journey of spiritual discovery and emotional transformation. Over the next year he became a personal growth leader for Trisha, she followed, together with OI and counseling, they are building intimacy and connection like never before.

 
And there is Robert, who suffered agonizing addictions to affairs and pornography, which of course brought calamity to his mental and emotional health and that of his wife and family. A church attender his whole life, Robert had given up on the possibility he could experience the freedom his heart longed to know. Doing his OI work, Robert learned to face the trauma and deep sadness of his childhood, embracing the value of being honest about himself with others, which helped him be even more honest with himself. His wife saw a difference in him and met him half way. Today, their whole family is healing.

 Your Chance to Help

Operation Integrity needs $33,000.00 to complete our 2017 budget and provide a strong start for 2018. I ask that you financially support our work. (All donations are tax deductible.) Over and above what I have shared above, your donation will…
 
·       Fund The Roger M. Fund (scholarships 45 & 90 Day Programs for those unable to pay).
·       My personal support for doing this work.
·       Print and ship literature sent to inmates through prison chaplains.
·       Everyday expenses including shipping and postage costs, vehicle and travel expenses, communications, professional services, social media management and website development and maintenance.
·       Client care such as temporary housing (sober-living), and sometimes help with food and clothing, as well as employer relations and family support and counseling. 
·       Print and ship literature in support of developing recovery groups in U.S and overseas.

Thank you in advance. Most of all, thank you for your ongoing support through prayer.
 To support Operation Integrity.
             1. Visit www.operationintegrity.org  
             2. Mail your check to Operation Integrity
                                                   2040 Camino del Avion #A115
                                                   Monarch Beach CA 92629

 Yours in Christ and recovery,

 
David Zailer
Executive Director
info@operationintegrity.org
1-949-842-1012       

 

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Operation Integrity Year-End Summary



Facing Addiction – Inspiring Recovery - Transforming Lives

 

 

 With deep appreciation, I present our 2017 Year-End Update.

People Helping People

·       Operation Integrity (OI) is helping men and women in 7 U.S. States heal from their addictions, becoming transformed people who help other people recover. I continue my work with Clergy and Christian Leaders in several U.S. Cities, The UK, Shanghai and recently in Northern Ireland, assisting a young pastor plant a recovery fellowship to help himself and others – a first for the area.

·        We continue helping dozens of men and their families at home, Coast Hills Church. Lives transformed in community through OI’s 45 & 90 Day Programs and ongoing fellowship.

 Partnering and Expanding

·        This year, I joined the faculty of THE LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE (TLI) to do addiction & recovery training for Pastors who come to TLI from around the world and develop retreats in southern California to help men and women enlarge their personal recovery through TLI.

·        This Fall I began working more closely with MARINERS CHURCH RECOVERY MINISTRY (MRM) - Irvine Campus, taping a Video Series sure to reach thousands of people in an ongoing partnership with MRM and OI – one that will grow significantly this next year.

·        I also completed content development for 8 Videos for a treatment program to use in their centers.

 

Word Power

·        My books OUR JOURNEY HOME and WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY inspire a diverse group of people hungry to connect more deeply with God and other people. 700+ people are inspired each week by our blog, Operation Integrity Daily. I authored a booklet to help counselors and their clients better collaborate using Christ-centered 12 Steps.

 
Overcoming Setbacks

·       The computer for Operation Integrity was hacked so we lost our entire 3700+ email list of subscribers and supporters. And, the decision was made to suspend work upgrading the current OI website to review with fresh approach in 2018.

·       We immediately begin rebuilding our database, already reconstructing a list of 350 with more added daily. Having consulted with marketing and internet/social media experts, and pending funding, we will launch a simplified operationintegrity.org that will offer online training courses.

·       We will always continue blending the love of Jesus with clinical insights and the 12 Steps, offering this narrative through speaking and writing, woven into the fabric of our fellowship programs, and always encouraged as an essential personal experience for recovery.

 

Healing and Transformation

After 25 years, marriage for Leon and Trisha had grown cold, both were looking for a way out. But Leon made the decision to face his addictions and himself, so he enrolled in an OI Transformation Program that launched him into a journey of spiritual discovery and emotional transformation. Over the next year he became a personal growth leader for Trisha, she followed, together with OI and counseling, they are building intimacy and connection like never before.

 

And there is Robert, who suffered agonizing addictions to affairs and pornography, which of course brought calamity to his mental and emotional health and that of his wife and family. A church attender his whole life, Robert had given up on the possibility he could experience the freedom his heart longed to know. Doing his OI work, Robert learned to face the trauma and deep sadness of his childhood, embracing the value of being honest about himself with others, which helped him be even more honest with himself. His wife saw a difference in him and met him half way. Today, their whole family is healing.

 

Your Chance to Help

Operation Integrity needs $33,000.00 to complete our 2017 budget and provide a strong start for 2018. I ask that you financially support our work. (All donations are tax deductible.) Over and above what I have shared above, your donation will…

 

·       Fund The Roger M. Fund (scholarships 45 & 90 Day Programs for those unable to pay).

·       My personal support for doing this work.

·       Print and ship literature sent to inmates through prison chaplains.

·       Everyday expenses including shipping and postage costs, vehicle and travel expenses, communications, professional services, social media management and website development and maintenance.

·       Client care such as temporary housing (sober-living), and sometimes help with food and clothing, as well as employer relations and family support and counseling. 

·       Print and ship literature in support of developing recovery groups in U.S and overseas.

 

Thank you in advance. Most of all, thank you for your ongoing support through prayer.

 

To support Operation Integrity.


2. Mail your check to Operation Integrity

 2040 Camino del Avion #A115

 Monarch Beach CA 92629

 

Yours in Christ and recovery,

 

  

David Zailer

Executive Director

info@operationintegrity.org

1-949-842-1012       

 

Follow us on Facebook

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DESTINY ARRIVES AND WE SHOW UP

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
Philippians 4:8-9, The Message


"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
- Frederick Buechner

Destiny Arrives and We Show Up

None of us ever meant to get addicted to anything. We didn’t ask for it, and we didn’t intend it. In the beginning, addiction was the last thing we ever thought would happen to us. But, nonetheless, we got addicted anyway. In the end, no matter how naive or innocent we might have been, we have had to confess that our addictions have been deeply rooted in our bad thinking and our lack of a real faith in God. We now know how a lack of authentic faith and bad thinking go hand in hand.

Recovery became possible for us when we admitted our need and began to accept the help that God made available. Making this confession helped us hope for a better life than the one we had known in the past. We began to see that God had bigger and better plans for us than we did. Following His plan, both our addictions and our healing became a pathway. They became like stepping-stones to a revolutionary kind of personal transformation that we never could have envisioned when we first started our journey. And along the way, we receive much more than we ever could have expected or anticipated. We have been changed on the inside. We have learned things that no book could ever teach us. We have gained insights and had experiences that we could never get in any classroom or from any other person, either. There is a new presence and reality within us and it is more than our senses can identify, more than our physical bodies can contain and very, very much more than we can ever explain. We have God’s Spirit working inside of us and through us.

The way we experience recovery is a unique and personalized gift from God. We receive it and experience it on an individual and personal basis. It is a redemption that is deeply intimate between God and us, together, just the two of us, connecting and being close. This is why none of us will ever have the exact same experience in recovery or with God. And while we all have our own intimate encounter with God, the recovery experience He gives is not ours to keep for ourselves. We must be willing to share it if we want to keep it long-term. And as we share our experience with others, we will discover that we have much more in common than we ever realized before. This is how God expands and multiplies the intimate life He has shared with us.


available through all book sellers

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

FEELING AND DOING

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step by step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. I Peter 2:21–23, The Message

“It is not until we love a person in all his ugliness that we can make him beautiful, or ourselves either.”
- Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat, page 42

Feeling and Doing

Let’s be honest about the deep anger and resentment that we have held against some of the people to whom we owe amends. All of us have suffered to some degree because of the anger we have stored up on the inside. If we take a moment to honestly consider this, we will see that there is really no question that we have felt this way. Anger and resentment are some of the core feelings that drive our addictions. The only real relevant question now is, Can we – will we face our anger honestly, with integrity, and not let it stand in the way of our recovery?

Recovery and future growth will not allow us to sidestep our feelings. We have to be willing to confront the destructive feelings that we have felt for certain specific people (this may even include a group of people or a particular demographic) if we want to recover and make healthy changes to our relationships in the future. Feeling the way we feel does not excuse us from taking the important steps that we need to take in order to make amends to the people we have harmed. Feelings are feelings and nothing more. They are like lights on the dashboard of our lives. They tell us about important things that are going on under the hood but they are not intended to dictate the actions we take nor do they excuse our procrastinations.

There may be times when we realize that some of the people who are on our amends list have caused us harm and the wrongs they’ve done to us far exceed anything we’ve done to them. It is vitally important that we keep our focus here. The wrongs that other people have done to us are not our concern at this point in time. We need to make the decision to no longer hold their wrongs against them. After consulting with our advisors, let us contact these people and apologize to them for our inappropriate actions, offering to do whatever we can do to repair the damage we have caused. These particular people may have never acknowledged the hurt and pain they have caused us, and maybe they never will. Nevertheless, let us continue to forgive them everyday, not because they are innocent or because they deserve forgiveness, but because we need to do so in order to continue to recover from our addictions and to heal from the damage they did to us.

Occasionally feelings of anger and resentment will return. Because of this, we should diligently monitor our own thoughts and feelings and be willing to let go of any renewed anger that comes up. While we may not have a future relationship with these particular people, our attitude toward them, ourselves and others will be radically improved only to the degree that we are willing to forgive them and make amends to them. We can be honest about how things really were in our past relationships. We don’t need to make excuses for our friends, our families or for ourselves anymore. Things simply were the way they were and, today, they are the way they are. We can hope and even pray that someday things may change, that we can have a healthy and happy relationship with all people and that all people will recognize that our new life and values are worth appreciating. But, in order for us to continue to grow in God’s plan for our lives, we must remember that other people’s attitude toward us are none of our business. It is between them and God.


Available through all book sellers

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

FROM SHAME TO GRACE

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. 2 Corinthians 7:10, NLT

“We can accept God’s good gifts too easily. Grace can be accepted only when we face our own inabilities. Forgiveness can be embraced only when we lay bare our wrongdoing, and hope can be imparted only when we face the reality of our own despair.” - Charles Ringma

From Shame to Grace

Humility is an awareness that we are both imperfect and worthwhile at the same time. Humility is a high ground that traverses the bogs and swamps of grandiosity and self-hatred. Humility chooses to follow God’s plan over our own. When we live humbly, which we can be defined as consistently choosing God’s way of doing things over our own way of doing things, impossibly good things begin to happen to otherwise impossible people like us. We get turned inside out. Our attitude begins to change. Our outlook on life becomes healthier and more balanced. The destructive feelings we have had for ourselves will diminish. We will begin to see things differently. As we change on the inside, things around us begin to change as well. Life and the way we live it begin to make sense.

Humility is an acceptance of ourselves, sin and all. Humility helps us to see ourselves with one eye to evaluate and the other eye to appreciate. Humility admits to shortcoming and wrongdoing, then it reaches out and accepts the help that is needed to make serious changes. Humility helps us to understand the problems that we cannot solve on our own. This is why Jesus becomes increasingly important to us in our recovery. For you see, God never expects us to solve all of our problems on our own. He understands that our character defects and our addictions are beyond our ability to change. So, God offers to do for us what we can never do for ourselves. He offers to transform us by taking our character defects and, in exchange, replacing them with the character of Jesus. All we have to do to is to give up our character defects to Him and humbly receive Jesus’ character as God, according to His plan, builds it in us.


Available through all major book sellers

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

KEEP MAKING THE CHOICE

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.  I Corinthians 10:24, The Message

For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.
- C. S. Lewis

Keep Making the Choice

If we ever think that our healing is primarily for our benefit, the selfishness of our thinking reveals just how little we have been healed. On the other hand, when we believe that our healing is to be lived out for the benefit of others, our lives will bear witness to how we have been healed already. In either case, there is just one remaining question and it will never change. We will face it day in and day out, minute by minute, with every breath we take. The question is, Who owns us? Will we live for God and others or will we die in addiction and shame? The answer we give to this question will determine what kind of people we will be and how we will live out our lives.

How we answer this question is not the end of our responsibility; it’s just the beginning. All too often, we tend to compartmentalize our lives, and judge ourselves wrongly because we use the wrong criteria to evaluate and measure ourselves. We assume that we are doing well because parts of our life are in good order, while we ignore other areas of our life that are all messed up. Or, we judge ourselves too harshly because of one mistake, when in reality there is significant progress that we don’t see. Compartmentalizing and judging ourselves in this way is like determining the winner of a baseball game after just the first or second inning. It’s like judging a painting before the artist has completed his work. We need to always remember that God is the only perfect judge. God does not judge us by the pieces or compartments of our lives, and we shouldn’t judge ourselves that way either. He recognizes that the whole package of our lives, beginning with the condition of our hearts, is what really counts. He never looks down on us with a red pen and a grade book in hand. He judges us according to the love and righteousness of Christ. So, we should embrace His grace by measuring ourselves by our willingness to follow and obey Him. And even when we fall short and sin, we are not without God’s grace. Above all, God wants us to know that we are not worthless or hopeless, even when we are at our worst.

God’s grace through Christ gives us the power to recover from our addictions and to walk humbly with God, but it does not make us completely immune to sin or our addictions. We should never think that we are in full control of our lives because, if we go our own way, placing our confidence in ourselves, we become susceptible to relapse and the dire consequences that inevitably follow. If and when we hold even one thing back, we have not really given Him our lives. This doesn’t mean that walking with God is an all or nothing thing, because it isn’t. Walking with God is progressive. Walking with God is a growth in which we expand and enlarge our acceptance and expression of the grace that He has already given us.

All this is to say that no matter how well or how poorly we have surrendered our lives to God, there is still more to be offered up. Surrender is never relevant in the past tense, but it is always relevant in the here and now. We have to be willing to give the whole of our lives to God, all the good and all the bad, the best that we possibly can, or our life as a whole will not belong to Him at all.

available from all major book sellers

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

INTEGRITY INSIDE AND OUT

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

God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us from the inside and out.
Proverbs 20:27, The Message


“The genesis of an obedient life is our confession, most notably the confession of our disobedience is what prompts us to live an obedient life with God.”
- Ann Lamott, page 99, Bird by Bird

Integrity Inside and Out

Ever notice how easy it is to become more concerned with how we look on the outside than with the honest reality of our inner character? It’s not like we intend to be dishonest because we don’t. We want and intend to live right and to do good but, inevitably it seems, we slip off the path of God’s leading when we become overly concerned with how we look to others. Then, the failures that follow make us feel embarrassed and ashamed so we naturally – instinctively - cover up and hide the failure and powerlessness that we don’t want others to see.

Trying to act ‘good’ on the outside in order to show that we are ‘good’ on the inside sets us up for failure. It adds to our dysfunctional way of thinking and living. We think and feel one way but then we act out in other ways, ways that are contrary to what we know to be right. And, when our actions go against our true convictions, we get split into pieces spiritually and psychologically. This results in a kind of deep interpersonal disintegration that, sadly, we will probably not even realize is happening to us. Just like with our primary addiction, the only way to break this cycle of denial and disintegration is to admit that we have a problem. Specifically, we have to be willing to admit that we suffer from the great obsession that all human beings, with the exception of Jesus, seem to suffer from; we want to be bigger and more powerful than we really are.

To address this kind of deep-rooted sinfulness effectively, we have to admit that we are obsessed with getting our act together so that others will be impressed with us and our efforts. We must admit our struggles if we want to be free from them. This even includes admitting how obsessed we have been to overcome our struggles. We need to admit that we don’t have our act together and that we never did have our act together. We need to accept in our innermost selves that even if it were possible for us to get our act together, all that we would ever have would be nothing more than an act.

The first act of integrity is to admit that we lack integrity.



Available through all major book sellers

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

THE DECISION

We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

“If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow Me. If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find it. What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?”
Matthew 16:24-26


“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything.”
- Bernadette Devlin

The Decision

It has been said that everyone will have their Waterloo. Now, in addiction we have found ours, too. We can no longer deceive ourselves, or anyone else for that matter. Our addictions have been profound. We know it, and other people know it too. Because of this, we just don’t have the energy to go on the way we’ve been going. Physically, mentally, and spiritually we’re done. It’s all over. It’s the end. It seems that we’re as good as dead. But here, when we’re at the end of ourselves, there is a calling for us. God, the giver of life, is calling for us to accept the loss of our own lives in order to accept the life that he has to give us.

The decision to surrender ourselves to God’s care is far more personal and practical than religious. We surrender our will and life to God because if we continue to live as we have, our addictions will destroy us. We’ve simply come to understand that God is a life-or-death decision for all of us. And today, each of us decides whether we are willing to trust God or continue our journey alone. Failing to trust leaves us spiritually alone and unprotected against our own progressing addictions. This is a potentially fatal mistake for anyone who has an addiction.

When we decide to trust God we are not making a religious decision, although many religions encourage us to do this as well. You see it’s not religion that we need. If religion was the answer for our addictions those of us who came from religious backgrounds would never have had the addictions that we’ve had. What we really need is intimacy with God. Intimacy with God is far more personal than religious. It is an intimacy that transcends all that we are as human beings. Intimacy with God puts God inside of us. It makes us bigger than what we could ever be on our own. We call it a surrender because we can’t be exactly sure how this intimacy with God will affect us. But while we may not know exactly how God and his goodness will play out in our lives we do know that it will be far better than staying in our addictions.

Ultimately, all of us will stand before God with their future literally in their own hands, making their life decision for themselves in their own personal way. Some recovering addicts, when they made their decision to trust their life to God, experienced immediate and profound gratitude with dramatic emotional outbursts. Others experienced only a quiet sense of relief that their life would change. Whatever the experience is for us as individuals, each of us must understand that it is far better to make the decision to surrender and trust than continue on the way we were going. We know that we must have God’s help and we have decided to ask for it.

As we make the decision to surrender our lives to God, let’s pray in ways that are personal and intimate. Let’s pray like this…

Dear God,
Only you are God and I am not. You are the Maker and Fulfiller of life. As for me, I know that I originate from you, that I exist because of you. Today, I make the decision to give myself to you, the best I know how. You own me, as far as I am concerned. I am yours. I give you my old life and I ask for you to give me your life. You can do with me anything you want to do.

Now there are times when I get deceived and I become distracted from you. When I do, I feel that you are far away and I am hurt, from the inside out, when I sin. But, according to your Word and your promises, I know that You are always with me. Only You can save me from my addictions and my sins, renewing me in the center of my soul, my will. You protect me, You save me, You transform me.

I thank You for the changes in me that You have promised. I want to be more of yours. I seek You, and by your grace I am finding and knowing You. It is my desire to know You more intimately and to more effectively live out the life You have for me. Amen

Available from major book retailers

Thursday, September 28, 2017

MILLIE ANN'S STORY

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.
Psalm 37:23,24, NLT


“As you discover your faults and sins, make no effort in your own strength to overcome them. This is a waste of time! Rather, abandon yourself immediately to God. Only He is able to destroy in you all that displeases Him.”
- Jeanne Guyon, Intimacy with Christ

Millie Ann’s Story

It seems like I make the best discoveries when I am going through the toughest times. As a result of one particular issue that has repeatedly brought tough times to me, I’ve come to realize how God can help me to better deal with all of the difficulties that I suffer.

For years I had been working myself into a frenzy over my inability to handle my finances. Now I want you to know that I make a good income and I have always known that there is no good reason for me to run out of money. However, time after time I would overspend and have to borrow money to make ends meet. This happened numerous times and every time I would end up in great despair, feeling isolated and hopeless about ever overcoming my bad habits and problems related to money. I can’t count how many times I promised to do better and to change, but the harder I tried the worse things got for me. Each day I was feeling more inadequate. I seriously doubted my ability to manage my own life. I was becoming ever more desperate.

Then one day, when I was quietly considering my situation, I realized that I was dealing with a very serious character defect. I had never thought of my problem in this way before. I had always thought that I could solve this problem as long as I worked hard enough or smart enough. But when I started to think of my problem in terms of a character defect I realized that I could never solve this problem on my own. It was, at the very least, bigger than me. I knew that I had to turn myself over to God in a more profound and personal way, otherwise this character defect would continue to rule me, ultimately destroying my and my daughter’s future.

My sponsor from AA led to me Christ when I was about 6 months sober. While I had grown up attending church with my family, I had never known Christ as anything more than someone the priest talked about at Mass. The Christ I came to know by way of my sponsor was someone who had an interest in me and someone who I believed would want to be with me all of the time. Now, in turning over this most desperate problem that lived so deep within me, I felt like I wanted Christ to move into me in an ever deeper way in order to get rid of this deeply-rooted character defect. Later that same day I went into my bedroom and I got down on my knees beside my bed and prayed (pleading and begging was more like it) for Christ to take away this horribly defective part of my character. As I prayed I began to experience a very quiet sense of relief. Obviously nothing had changed in that moment except for maybe me. I knew that I did not have to bear this burden by myself anymore. I knew that God was going to be with me and He was going to help me. This made a world of difference.

Over the next few weeks I began to think a little differently about my problem. I began to see money differently too. I realized that I had always been afraid of the responsibility of money and I had always been scared of success. Not wanting to be scared anymore, I started to look around for someone who could help me learn to better manage my income and finances. Remembering that someone once told me that prayer without action is a waste of time, I enrolled in a credit counseling program that was free of charge. The people at this program helped me to develop a budget that was workable, one that did not put my back up to the wall. I made no promises to anyone, not even to myself. My only commitment was to continue to surrender my character defect and my fear to God and to act in accordance with the guidance given to me by my credit counselor. It took over two years but I finally got all of my credit cards paid off and I have begun saving money in the hopes of buying a home for me and my daughter.

My life is now marked by an increasing number of surrenders. Most are more subtle than the surrender I made over money. I have gained a greater appreciation for Christ and I believe more strongly than ever in His love and compassion for me. Life for me is far from perfect. I am, after all, a single mother who spent much of her life living wrongly and there are still consequences for my failures. But, right in the midst of the hardships of my life, I know that the power of God is always available to me as long as I ask Him for His help and I surrender my will to His.

Available through all major book sellers

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

LIFE LIBERATED

We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God's law.
Romans 13:8, NIV

“Honest men fear neither the light nor the dark.”
- Thomas Fuller, M.D.

Life Liberated

Learning to love ourselves the way that God loves us will give us an ever increasing freedom to live our lives. This freedom to live is not just a freedom from our addictions; it is a fully liberated life that begins on the inside of us and then it moves out into all of the ways that we express ourselves. 

The liberty that God gives is not subject to the limitations and demands that we experience in our day-to-day lives, and while this freedom is bigger than our everyday lives, it does not make us immune to feeling fear when we are faced with uncertainty. God gives the kind of freedom and liberty that empowers and equips us to act with courage even in the face of uncertainty, when we feel fear. And, in the same way, we may feel pain but we can act with kindness even when feeling pain. The gift and responsibility of freedom is most evident when we address the negative consequences we’ve created, and when we make amends to those who have been hurt by the way we’ve lived in the past. When speaking with those to whom we owe amends, we will want to share with them that we recognize that we have had an addiction, that we know that our past actions have been hurtful and that we want to make things right to the best of our ability. Sharing the facts of our addictions and our mistakes in a general way allows us to communicate with others from a standpoint of humility and honesty. We don’t have to share every gory and ugly detail with them. We don’t need to air out all of our dirty laundry either. This is not about the past; it is about the present and about the future. We should only share what will be helpful to them and to others. Being forthright in this way, we begin to establish healthier communication with those that we’ve hurt. It will also help to put them at ease and it will put us in a place where we can more effectively make the amends that we need to make. Sharing in this way will also open the door for others to honestly share their feelings with us. Dialogue must be an honest two-way street. We must be willing to listen – honestly and openly listen -- in order to understand how we have hurt them and what we need to do to help them.

Some amends can and should be made face-to-face. Some can never be made directly. Others will have to be postponed for a better time. We’ll be of little benefit to anyone, if in our attempts to clear our own conscience, we offer ourselves as sacrificial lambs. We should consult with our sponsors and our counselors about situations where we face serious consequences. We never want to run away from the reality of our past mistakes but we also do not want to be shortsighted, disregarding our current relationships or responsibilities in an attempt to be a hero to the past. Our sponsors and counselors helped us to know how to handle each situation. When we face situations where people demand certain answers from us that we do not want to give, we consult with our sponsors and counselors. Sometimes a three-way meeting between us, our victim and our counselors is necessary for things to get going in the right direction. There is rarely a good reason to hurry. It is far better to do recovery well than to do it fast!

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

LIVING LIFE

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry the message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

"Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out." - Galatians 6:1, The Message

“You can’t keep it unless you give it away.” - Alcoholics Anonymous

Living Life

We have good reasons to be proud of our growth, and we should also be proud of those who are growing alongside of us. Not proud in a boastful or self-confident way, but in a way that acknowledges and appreciates the role we have played in our own recovery. We have, after all, been desperate enough and smart enough to partner with God in the building of our new life. With His power and our willingness, we are ready and well equipped to give goodness and love to whomever we encounter. This doesn’t mean that we have fully recovered from our addictions, because we haven’t. We must remember that overconfidence and complacency can set us up, and then we easily become our own greatest downfall. We must never forget how we have been addicted in the past, and we must never think that we cannot be addicted again in the future.

God, in His loving way, will give us our reminders. Every now and then, our brains will make a spontaneous wrong turn and we will once again experience the conflicted impulse and desire of addictive thinking. Every one of us will have our temptations and mental lapses, especially when we are tired or stressed or hurting or afraid. So, let us never forget that we are people who are at risk of relapse. Our challenges start with our thinking, but it is not our first thought that gets us into trouble really. A first wayward thought is nothing more than a temptation and temptation is nothing but a fork in the road. It is a place where we have to make a choice. The real concern is what choice we will make when we’re tempted. What we do with the first thought will make all the difference for us. It’s with our second thought that we choose to continue to walk with God and enjoy the life that He gives, or go the way of sin and relapse, suffering the inevitable consequences that come with sin and relapse.

The only way to ensure our ability to make good choices in times of temptation is with our ongoing spiritual submission to God’s way of living through faith and obedience. He alone has the power to keep us safe from our selfish nature, but He cannot help us unless we obey Him! Sometimes, the temptations will be uncomfortable and other times they may be miserable. So, let us continue to admit that we are powerless over our addictions and that our lives are unmanageable without God’s care and control of our lives. Every time that we feel the urge to go back to our addictions and we don’t, the obsessions and compulsions associated with our addictions will lose some of their power. They will never go away completely, but new attachments for goodness are being made inside of us every moment that we walk with God by doing our recovery work. Ultimately, if we persist, these new good attachments will gain strength over the old bad ones. Increasingly, we will lose interest in our own life compared to the expanding thrill of giving God and His life to others. We’ll want to share the spiritual revolution that God is giving to us with the whole world.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

BECOMING OUR FRIEND

Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins – make a clean break of them – he won’t let us down, he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we've never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God --make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.  I John 1:8-10 The Message

“Tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.” ~ Mark Twain

Becoming our Friend

Jerry does a great job of telling us what it was like for him to get honest and admit what he was really thinking and feeling on the inside. As he became honest with himself, he was better able to get honest with God as well as those who were close to him. Jerry discovered that self-honesty was required for his good intentions to become reality. This simple principle holds true for all of us.

Trust, is a byproduct of honesty. It is essential for all healthy relationships, whether it’s a relationship with someone else or our relationship with ourselves. We all have people in our lives that we don’t trust because they have not been honest with us. When we can’t trust someone, we can’t feel at peace with them, comfortable with them or have a real friendship with them. It’s the same way with ourselves. When we are dishonest with ourselves we won’t feel comfortable, and we won’t be able to be at peace with ourselves. This is why we so often resort to some kind of mood- or mind-altering experience. Knowing this helps us to better understand how our addictions have become entrenched inside of us. We will also better understand why we have felt lonely and isolated for so much of our lives.

In the past, we’ve seen ourselves through a lens of deception and secrets. Now, we throw off the blinders so that we can see ourselves more realistically. By admitting the truth about ourselves to ourselves we become better integrated with the reality of life. The holes inside of us get plugged up and the bleeding stops. The broken pieces of our hearts and minds start to find their right places again. We become ready to receive God’s compassion and care, which will take root in the very places where our personal deceptions have lived. This blows the lid off the box that our addictions have placed us in. Our identity, that we were made in the image of God, finds new life as we become connected with God in this way.

We become the most blessed of all people when we get honest with God and ourselves. We go from being our own worst enemy to being one of our most intimate friends. In purging the dishonesty from our lives, we purge the things that have been destroying us. We will see our future will be good, irrespective of the difficulties that come our way. Our days will be brighter, the sun will be warmer, the breezes of life will be cooler and fresher. We will find that life that is well worth living.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

REVERSING THE PAST

We became entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I'm single-minded in pursuit of you; don't let me miss the road signs you've posted. I've banked your promises in the vault of my heart so I won't sin myself bankrupt. Be blessed, GOD; train me in your ways of wise living. Psalm 119:10-12 The Message

“When our desire is focused on loving God and others, we will realize our deepest longings for life fulfilled." - A Recovering Alcoholic

Reversing the Past

None of us will ever eliminate our character defects on our own, no matter how hard we try. While it is not possible for us to remove our character defects on our own, we can learn to change the way we think, the way we act and the way we live our lives. Letting go of character defects is never passive. Like everything else we do in recovery, character change requires action. Personal growth and change is a divine interaction between God’s grace and our choices. When we change our actions, we interrupt habitual patterns of thinking, believing and feeling. Motion changes emotion!

If we are willing to change, we will not make the same mistakes time after time. It takes some practice, but with a little commitment and a few failures (which we will want to share with another person), the changes to the way we think, the way we feel and the way we act will begin to come quite quickly. People from religious backgrounds call this repentance and that’s exactly what it is. Grassroots, down and dirty, rubber meets the road repentance. The simplest definition of repentance is to “change one’s mind.” It’s an about face. Turning and going in the other direction. Whatever you call it, it works.

Scripture offers an overwhelming abundance of practical insight and guidance for those of us who are looking for renewal and strength. There are some things that just cannot be said any better than the way Scripture has already said it.

“And so I insist – and God backs me up on this – that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty- headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion. But that’s no life for you! You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything – and I do mean everything – connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” Ephesians 4:19 - 23 The Message

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