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Apart But Still Connected

After you get past the crazy toilet paper hoarding, the coronavirus is perhaps making better people out of most of us. In a mustering of individual and collective unity on a scale that many alive have never seen before, Americans and others across the world are metaphorically joining our washed hands in an amazing communitarian

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Coronavirus Interconnectivity

For the third time, I’m deleting what I’ve written about coronavirus and starting over. By now, if you don’t know the basics of how and why many of us initially downplayed the risk and associated hype, what we’ve come to understand about the dangers that are far beyond individual patients getting sick or even possibly

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God Deeply Loves Dust

Ash Wednesday wasn’t part of the faith tradition of my upbringing, and I was a married adult before I was introduced to the sacred ritual of having ashes imposed on my forehead on the Wednesday that marks the beginning of Lent. I had grown to love the symbolism of a liturgical church, and the ashes

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Will You Be My Valentine?

In contrast to the messages from florists, greeting card companies, and candy manufacturers, Valentine’s Day is a landmine for most people who are connected to Bethesda Workshops. The pain of betrayal experienced by partners of sex and love addicts is amplified by the saccharine atmosphere that supposedly portrays “true love.” Expectations for the day are

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Fear or Courage?

Since early in my recovery journey, which started in 1991, I was certain of God’s call to tell my story, and I’ve shared about my experiences as an abandoned child, sexual trauma survivor, and sex and love addict hundreds of times in various media, including on Dateline in 2004. I’ve consistently received grace, support, and

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Be the One

The family room floor is stacked with boxes of packed Christmas decorations, which spill into the garage where they wait to be hauled into the attic. For the first time in memory, I’m sad to see the festive trappings gone. Normally, I’m so done with the craziness and exhaustion of the season that December 26th

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Life Support

The two women walking in front of me on the lake trail caught my attention. It was extremely warm for late December in Middle Tennessee, and this easy, flat path was crowded on the day after Christmas. These two, though, stood out as they walked slowly 50 yards in front of me. The older woman,

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A Very Personal and Extravagant God

Many years of spiritual direction, which for me is like Jesus-oriented experiential therapy, has radically changed my connection with God. I’ve regularly come to see, hear, feel, and experience the presence of a very personal and extravagant God. These encounters have strengthened and deepened this year as a tender Mama God has shown up for

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Thanks for the Memories

Thanksgiving this year is marked by significant family milestones for my brothers and me. Our mother died 60 years ago this month, which is hard to realize. It’s harder still to imagine what our lives would have been like if she had lived. How can you possibly quantify what might have been? My oldest brother

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Sacred Texts

I saw a story recently on Facebook about a young woman from Arkansas, age 23, whose dad died four years ago. Every day since his passing, Chastity Patterson has texted his number to share about her day. She said it made her feel closer to him and she hoped somehow he was receiving her messages.

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Singing On

Music has always been important to me, but I’ve only recently connected with Spotify. In the garden at Bethesda or at home I stream music through a Bluetooth speaker a friend gave me (another novelty), and I wonder how I ever lived without music at my ear tips. I walk every morning with earbuds and

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On Grief, Gratitude and Consolation

How do you measure the impact of a relationship? We have words that characterize various forms—like parent, child, spouse, colleague, or friend—but some connections defy and transcend easy descriptions. Some associations are too complex; some bonds are too profound, even mysterious. Dr. Mark Laaser, who went Home September 27, 2019, was that undefinable person in

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Climbing a Mountain

Many people have a “bucket list” of significant things they want to do before they die, but I’ve never made one or even given it much thought (other than a long-held desire to be a guest on Oprah, which is clearly unrealistic). At the same time, I’m intrigued by others’ bucket-list adventures. Before the start

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More Frightening than Lions, Tigers and Bears!

Certain phobias are widespread it seems, like the fear of public speaking or of flying. I happen to love both, and judgmentally I can’t understand those who find either activity frightening. But since childhood, I’ve had an equally common deathly fear, and I do everything in my power to avoid any contact with its source,

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The Little Things

Being present in the moment is one of the most precious gifts of recovery. Before God coaxed me into a healing journey, I spent my life spaced out, fantasizing, or obsessing. Shame-fueled dissociation made me oblivious to the world around me. Early recovery, now nearly three decades ago, involved its own obsession with the healing

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Fifty Years Toward Forever

What stands out most in my memory is the heat – oppressive, stifling, nauseating heat that took your breath when you ventured outside in suburban Chicago. Next, I remember that a bridesmaid was sobbing in the un-air conditioned van on the way to the church, and the bride was patiently redoing the distraught girl’s hair.

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Thank a Teacher

My father was a life-long educator, and I grew up on a college campus where he served for years as academic dean in the days when one person was responsible for all the various areas of collegiate academics. The institution began serving students in kindergarten and went through college, and my brothers and I were

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Healing Connections

At Bethesda Workshops, we routinely say, “No one can recover alone.” We encourage workshop participants to develop a safe community for support and fellowship as much as for accountability. We believe God created us for relationship, and healthy connection is central to well-being. Connection is also a core value for the ministry itself and among

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Tend to Your Foundation

The summer after Bethesda Workshops moved into our building, we noticed water seeping in across the back wall of the eating area, originally a long warehouse, where the wall met the floor. Investigation determined the drainage ditch behind the building needed clearing out, and our angel investor had someone do that for us. Grateful, we

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Honoring the Heart

From a plain wooden bench at the top of Ganier Ridge, a popular and challenging hiking trail, I examined a rock that I chose from the Heart Tree collection about a third of the way up the steep ascent. Several weeks ago, I first selected a rock when a friend shared about the tree, which

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All the Moms

Retailers estimate over $20 billion will be spent honoring mothers this year in the US alone, which translates into a lot of cards, flowers, jewelry, and personal services like spa trips and pedicures. On this special day, I honor my mother, Dorothy Anne Discher Craig (whom my father nicknamed “Dottie”), and two other amazing moms

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More Than a Garden

Life is full of meaningful symbols. Some are universal among a group of people like the cross for Christians or the star that shone above a Bethlehem stable. Others are unique to individuals like a piece of jewelry or some memento of an event that has meaning far beyond the object itself. Occasionally, a place

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Sorrows Too Deep for Words

Within a two-week period, three families in my circle have been devastated by an untimely death. A young couple lost an infant son who died two days after birth. A family and huge extended group lost a pillar in the recovery community who was felled by a brain bleed in middle age. A healer lost

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A Favorite Simple Thing

Life for me has always felt complicated. It’s not just my byzantine history or the complexity of various current situations. I work daily with people whose lives have been upended with the complex challenges of trauma and addiction. Their path to untangle that knot is as thorny as the road that led to the crisis.

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