Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I Am Fortunate to Have L.I.F.E. (Summer 2007 Newsletter)

Contributed by S.C., Florida

I am so privileged to have a group of women to call friends. I am even more privileged to have a group of women called friends who are safe. And not just safe, but real. They are transparent. They let me be transparent. They let me be me. I can be hurt, I can be happy, I can be angry, I can be all the things God created and intended me to be; and nobody yells at me, dismisses me, or fixes me. They just let me be me, and when I do cry out for help, they offer some of the best insight and wisdom God could provide through sisters. I love these women. I love being able to be with them and not try to fix them....I love practicing (and I need a lot of practice) letting them be themselves and not always trying to offer advice, rather just listening.

I realized about two months after first attending my L.I.F.E. group that I had found a safe place to discuss my issues. It took another month or two for me to realize I had found a home. Who knew it was possible? I certainly didn't think so....I mean, I had spent my life judging others and being fearful of how they were judging me. There were so many masks I wore: different sizes, different shapes, and I could transition from one to the other quite professionally. I certainly didn't discuss feelings - my upbringing trained me well. Feelings just got in the way and prevented me from being successful, appearing educated, professional, and having it all together.

What sad thinking.

I remember the first night I attended a L.I.F.E. group meeting. I was ashamed, scared, disappointed and angry that I had to be there. Don't get me wrong, I chose to be there....but I was angry I had gotten to the point of needing to make the choice. It all makes sense in retrospect, but that night I was far from hopeful. Debbie was the facilitator that night and after making all the introductions, and being welcomed by the group, she said to us, "This is the envelope we pass around. L.I.F.E. Ministries asks for a meaningful contribution each time you attend. Part of our healing is understanding that we are important enough to invest in our own healing and wanting to give back to the ministry that has provided this safe place for us to gather together and create authentic relationships." She went on to say as a first time visitor no contribution was necessary, but to keep it in mind for next week. Strangely enough, in my heart I already wanted to contribute. Deep down, I realized what a fortunate person I was to have a place to go for healing that was already established. I remember thanking God that I lived in a city large enough to have a support group already established and I wondered what it must be like for women who are in small towns with nobody to discuss the pain of addiction. I really WAS grateful I had a place to go where other women had gone before me. Maybe it was because I had prayed for God to send me a mentor, maybe I realized the depth of the uniqueness this group provided. Either way, I was just plain grateful.

Which leads me to the garden. We all know that the ground where we are planting anything must have good soil. We know it must have sunlight and it must have water. Without these elements, what we plant simply dies. As I see it, I am the soil. God provides the sunlight, the water, the seeds; and He has certainly begun breaking up the soil in my heart. I will grow because He loves me enough to provide these things. However, when I participate in His work, it is like I am watering my own yard and I grow so much faster. I join Him in His work, which is reason enough, but I also get the benefits!

REASONS the giving of a meaningful contribution is important to us and the ministry we are benefiting from:

1. We need to invest in our own healing. We must value ourselves as God values us. Making a regular contribution allows us to both physically and emotionally acknowledge our value.
How much more do we appreciate something when we have worked hard and contributed to its success than when something is just given to us?

2. We are privileged to have a group to attend and we want to support the ability for other groups to evolve throughout the world. Only by supporting L.I.F.E. Ministries, saying "Yes, this group helps me!"; and the people who have not only gone before us but have also paved the way for this group, can advancement be accomplished.

3. Years ago, this group would not have existed. The funds are an acknowledgement of the gratitude in my heart to the men and women who broke ground on this addiction. The people who chose to step into the light, struck the first blow into the ground to break up the soil and create a place for the seeds to be planted, watered and grow despite their own shame. I want to honor them and I want the ground to continue being fertile for the heartbroken who are yet to come.

I am truly grateful to no longer be wandering in the desert, praying for water to quench my thirst. God lead me to a place and an organization that participates in what He is doing to heal His children. L.I.F.E. Ministries is actively tilling, planting and watering gardens all over the world. I like to think of God's smile as the sunshine that makes us all stretch and grow towards Him. It is my pleasure to honor Him and my fellow gardeners by contributing each week.

Successful Facilitating: Intake Interview (Summer 2007 Newsletter)

Contributed by Jerry S., Facilitator to multiple L.I.F.E. Groups

When someone wants to enter a L.I.F.E. group, an intake interview is conducted to ensure that the individual is where they need to be, and to familiarize them with how the group works. It is important to make sure the group can meet the needs of the candidate. Established group member welcome newcomers with less hesitation when a candidate comes prepared to take recovery seriously. Participants accept the facilitator's intake Interview as a sort of initiation. Also, the newcomer feels more comfortable taking that initial step through the door to enter their first meeting. Newcomers feel frightened, overwhelmed, and timid. This intake interview can reduce everyone's fears to a manageable level.

During the intake interview, the facilitator should start with their own story. The story should include: First time exposure to porn or other sexual experience, shameful feelings, needing help, finding a L.I.F.E. group, the start of their journey to present day. This will help the newcomer relate to the facilitator by hearing that the facilitator has been where they are now, and the newcomer will gain hope through the facilitator's testimony and time in recovery.

The facilitator can explain the dynamics of the meeting, information about the resources used, and how the meaningful contribution is used each week to help yourself and others. This will give the newcomer insight into the meetings.
During the intake interview, if the newcomer is comfortable, they can share a bit about their addiction. This allows them to open their heart a bit, voice the problem(s), practice being vulnerable and feel a bit of relief even before their first meeting. It also gives the facilitator a chance to guide the newcomer about what is OK and not OK to say in a meeting (i.e. no graphic details, confidentiality, "said here stays here", etc.).

The Intake interview has been a wonderful tool in helping the meetings to remain safe for all participants.

Do you conduct an intake interview similar to this? What other topics do you cover? Share your thoughts now, click Comments below.


Jerry S. is a successful facilitator who facilitates operations of 6 L.I.F.E. Groups including a spouse’s group, organizes retreats, OPEN meetings, one day seminars, marriage seminars and other events for the L.I.F.E. groups in his city.

Updates (Summer 2007 Newsletter)

Upcoming Conference. We are excited to attend the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference this September! Every two years, this important event gives L.I.F.E. the opportunity to meet thousands of counselors and pastors, and this will be our fourth time there. We were among the first exhibitors to openly address the subject of sexual addiction, and hundreds have visited our dougle booth over the years. Many have expressed their appreciation for the work of L.I.F.E. Ministries during the three previous conferences, and it will be great to see these old friends. While sales of L.I.F.E. Guides at this event have grown each time we’ve attended: getting the issue of sexual addiction and the L.I.F.E. Ministry program in front of these attendees is critical to our growth. There will be about ten of our staff and ministry leaders present to meet and greet the attending pastors and counselors. If you are able and would like to make a financial contribution to help cover the costs (like printing of brochures, preparation of booth, transporation of booth, etc.) of this conference, please call Headquarters at (866) 408-LIFE or visit

Where are Bob and Johna? They are focused on the upcoming American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference. Their column will appear in the Fall newsletter. Please keep L.I.F.E. in your prayers as we make all the preparations to attend this outreach opportunity.

XXX Church. The crew at XXX Church is successfully entering college campuses and other venues. If you recall, they released a co-branded L.I.F.E. Guide series to offer a tool of recovery along with their awareness efforts. For more information about XXX Church and their message about the destructive nature of pornography, please visit

New resources. We are close to releasing two new resources. The first is the Orientation Guide for Men; a booklet designed to effectively educate and integrate newcomers to L.I.F.E. Groups. The second new resource on deck is the L.I.F.E. Guide for Young Women. Look for more information and availability on each of these soon.