Monday, February 4, 2019

Post 114  


Hopefully, you have read Post 113 and are now smoothly living your new year’s resolutions, goals, aspirations, and growth-steps.  Well, perhaps, not always smoothly … but at least you may be experiencing and appreciating fresh thoughts, ideas, and – yes – attempts to turn specified goals into the norm within your world.   Last month, Bob H. suggested and encouraged ways to make recovery work stick … and grow.  Imagine how eleven months from now life will look, feel, and be like if his recommendations were to be taken seriously – and followed.

February’s Post adds to this.  Sherrie H., Bob’s wife, shares her thoughts on the greatest resource necessary to stay on and travel the road to recovery.  Notice how she personally fortifies our need for a Higher Power.   Not a sequel … Post 114 is part and parcel to January’s suggestions in continuing to keep your recovery journey going and growing.

Thank you, Sherrie for sharing your thoughts and experiences!  Welcome to the GRM Blog!

“Came to believe

 that a power greater than myself could restore me

to a better way of thinking and living.”

(inspired by Step 2 of Gam-Anon:

By Sherrie H., 19 year member of Toledo, Ohio Gam-Anon

Step 2 from the Gam-Anon combo book is a lifesaving concept.  In Gam-Anon meetings, we would go through a different step each month, and February meetings were usually devoted to Step 2.

February would come and I was always saying to myself that I was still working on Step 1. Then after several years, Step 2 began to seem like where my thoughts were always leading. What a great relief it was to believe what Step 2 had to say. What a wonderful realization that God (my Higher Power) cared for me. God cared for me and wanted me to depend on him.  He knew my struggles; my disappointments; my sense of being stuck on Step 1.  Step 2 became my way out.

Step 2 is an ah-ha moment. It’s an epiphany moment. Thinking about and holding space for Step 2 in my life helped me to move on in my recovery.  It brings me comfort and, of course, a sense of direction.  The entire statement of Step 2 leads me out of myself. It makes me look up. It focuses me toward the future.

I thank God for Epiphany, the season, and for Step 2.  I hope you too find time for Step 2. I hope you too find time this month to work again on Step 2, and allow God to change your beliefs about what he can do for you. Be open and allow him to do it.  We all deserve a better way of thinking and living.  Remember to be good to yourself.  And remember that recovery is a joyous journey of learning; self-realization; and genuine self-fulfillment. 

So travel on my friends in recovery. Travel on!

Once again, may each of the 300-plus days to come find you uniquely experiencing this new year,

one-day-at-a-time and with your Higher Power to guide, encourage, and teach you! 

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                      

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Post 113


As New Year 2019 rolled in, e-ads blasted the net, reminding me of self-care ways to greet the coming 365 days.  There were multiple tips for taking control - and even cautions about resolutions that could become overwhelming. As I scrolled through, a particularly helpful workshop at the 2018 Indiana Fall Symposium on Problem Gambling came to mind.  Focusing on recovery, husband and wife, Bob and Sherrie, shared their respective Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon journeys of lessons-learned in combatting and growing through compulsive gambling issues.  First-hand experiences are always good learning materials; and so I extended the invitation to share.

Our guest author of January’s Post, Bob H.  is a 1975 graduate of the University of Toledo with double Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communications and English Literature and a 1978 graduate of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, receiving a Master of Arts in Religious Studies.  He has previously worked as pastoral assistant at First St. John Lutheran Church in Toledo, Ohio, with duties of preaching, visiting, teaching, leading, and facilitating many ministry programs.  At First St. John Lutheran Church, he also serves on the Board of Elders and is chairman of the Call Committee.  Currently, Bob serves as the archivist/museum center curator of Genacross Lutheran Services in Toledo.  Bob has traveled on his recovery journey since November 10, 1999.  He has been a member of Gamblers Anonymous for almost nineteen years.  Since that time, he has participated in over forty GA Mini-Conferences, conducting various workshops on recovery issues, communications, and growing in spirituality.  Recently, he also completed training as an authorized lay leader in counseling compulsive gamblers.  Moreover, Bob is credentialed with  the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board’s Clergy/Lay Minister Certification.

NOTICE!  Bob and Sherrie will be our Keynote Speakers for the Clergy/Lay Minister Certification Workshop on Thursday, January 31 at 10:00 AM  - a special Pre-Conference Session of the Kentucky Council on Problem Gambling Annual Educational & Awareness Conference, Clarion Hotel, Lexington KY  I75 at Newtown Pike(Conference Information 502-223-1823)

Welcome, Bob, to the GRM Blog!

How to Keep Your Recovery Going and Growing  by Bob H.

Hi. My name is Bob H. and I am a compulsive gambler.  I placed my last bet on May 2, 2014. I would like to share with you my recovery story, and how I keep from making that next bet.  I first found the rooms of recovery with the help of my wife, and my therapist on November 10, 1999.  Prior to that date, my life was in shambles, and spiraling out of control due to an obsession to gambling.

I was living the American dream.  At least, I thought so.  My wife and I had wonderful jobs, and we lived in a three-bedroom ranch style home off the 14th hole, in the country with two beautiful daughters, three cats, a dog, and longed for peace and quiet.  But instead of feeling grateful for my many blessings; and instead of feeling contented, I wanted more.  I wanted to pay off the house; fund our children’s college educations in advance; buy new cars every year; and take vacations to Disney World every March.  So to speed up the process, I started to gamble.

I entered the world of gambling through the commodities markets.  Of course, I had a commodities broker who would steer me in the right direction and increase my bankroll exponentially, much like Hillary Clinton who turned a $1,000 portfolio into a six-figure profit.  There was one small problem.  My broker, or “bookie”, was getting a 40% sales commission on each trade.  So I had to make at least 40% on the trade just to break even.  Sugar was the big mover in the mid-1990s.  Unfortunately for me, it was moving in the wrong direction.  My commodities investment career was short-lived; and soon my commodities account was closed due to lack of funds.  Lesson learned?  Not quite.

Commodity investing was not for me.  I thought different gambling venues might work out better.  So I tried penny stocks, mutual funds, municipal bonds, tax-sheltered annuities.  In desperation, I tried illegal pyramid and Ponzi schemes.  All the while, I kept losing; and I kept feeling depressed about life.  So I started seeing a psychologist.  On-line sports betting was in its infancy.  So I tried that.  But my bankroll kept getting smaller.  My depression worsened.  Refinancing our dream home in the country bought me some more time but the gambling continued.     

Finally, I confessed to my wife and my therapist that I needed help to stop this freefall of irresponsible and uncontrolled gambling.  I called the local Gamblers Anonymous Hotline and talked to the GA operator; and on November 10, 1999, I walked through the doors of twelve-step recovery. 

My first meeting was in a church.  I was scared, depressed, and lonely.  I answered the 20 Questions – No  to thirteen of them; and I lied about five more.  It was there I found people who had the same addiction as me, the same financial issues as me, and the same hopefulness that I was yearning to feel.  That night I learned that I was powerless over gambling and that my life was unmanageable.

From that date on, except for a relapse on May 27, 2014, I have been gambling-free and living life in recovery.  So you may ask what keeps me abstinent and in recovery for over four years.  I cannot begin to share what others have done to quit gambling.  But I can share with you things that I have done to stay stopped or abstinent.

Seven Ways to Keep Going and Growing

1.      Find 12 Step GA Meetings in your area and attend a minimum of two meetings a week. If you have to travel to find a meeting, so be it.  You travelled to gamble, didn’t you?

2.      Become part of the fellowship of GA.  Attend pinnings, mini-conferences, and periodically go out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner with fellow GA members. 
3.      Get a sponsor.  It helps to have someone in the GA program that can support you on a one-on-one basis, and guide you through the 12 steps of recovery.

4.      Keep in contact with other GA members throughout the week either through phone or e-mail.  Talking with fellow GA members gives you a feeling of belonging and compassion.

5.      Get in touch with a Higher Power.  It doesn’t have to be God.  Your Higher Power can be a GA room, another GA member, a minister, or a friend.  Belief in a High Power is essential in bringing your recovery to an inner spiritual level.

6.      Pass it on.  When new members come to a meeting, welcome them, and feel their pain.  You were there once, remember?

7.      Live life one day at a time.  Don’t try to solve all your problems in one fell swoop.  And above all, be patient.  Recovery is a marathon, not a sprint!  And enjoying your recovery journey is the key to happiness, success, and serenity.

Thank you, Bob, for sharing both your challenges and joys in recovery!

May each of the 300-plus days to come find you uniquely experiencing this new year, 


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                      

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Post 112


Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, God of love;

Joys are flowing like a river since the Comforter has come; 

The Joy of the Lord is my strength; 

Joy to the world, the Lord is come …

JOY!  We see and hear this word often during the weeks before Christmas:  crocheted on pillows,  large-letters on fireplace mantles, expressions in cards, spoken within sermons, and today – the third Sunday of Advent – proclaimed while a candle (pink usually) is lit. During the four weeks approaching December 25, Christian worship centers upon the concepts of HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and LOVE in preparation for the birth of Jesus, the Christ … the Promised Messiah. 

Within past GRM Blog Posts, I have spoken much about HOPE but hardly at all about JOY.  I preached on joy this morning and would like to share some thoughts on this very topic.

If the question were asked:  what is JOY OR  define JOY … we may hear “happiness”  as an immediate answer.  Other replies might be “excitement”  OR  “thrilling”.   However, none of these were in the above song lines.  I thought, also, of other expressions such as exhilaration, delight, intense pleasure, elation. 

As I take another look at this list, it appears to me that they describe more of a surface response to something very positive – a special happening on a human level … nothing wrong with that – as long as it’s a healthy situation, of course!  A person wins an award, attains recognition, experiences a particularly happy event, receives a gift … happy situations, indeed. 

But let’s dig deeper … with JOY.  The late Henri Nouwen, theologian and priest, speaks of JOY in his book entitled, Bread for the Journey and he places this article under the title of  “Choosing Joy”.  To be sure, humans do not react to the same circumstances in the same way: a comedy may not be perceived as humorous; a compliment could be taken as a slight; disappointing turns in a relationship bring a sense of freedom.  One response may be devastation while another looks deeper and asks, God, where are You in this? What is Your plan for me now?   

With the assurance that God knows each one of us completely and intimately,  JOY comes from our holding on to God’s promise of  His divine presence that will accompany us, no matter what.

God knows us through and through: God knows our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and our spirits … and still, God loves us through and through.  God WILL NOT leave us alone – though we may feel differently.  JOY then, comes to us – and becomes a living part of us – when  we openly receive the peace God is offering in order for us to accept and respond, in trust, to God’s wisdom and divine plan for us. 

JOY is found in what I’ll call our “heart-memories”  … our recall of times when we know that we know  that God spoke to us … when, by divine mystery, God lifted the veil between heaven and earth - and we experienced a glory that could never be explained in human terms.  JOY reassures that the divine is real - and the Risen Christ is present  for  us. 

It is at those times and circumstances when we can meet Christ in our midst – in sickness, in health, in sorrow, in normal everyday times.  Practicing the presence of God anytime – anywhere, ushers in the divine – and the depth of God’s nearness, care, love, strength, and peace.   IT  IS JOY when we behold and recognize this!!

There is still another aspect of JOY:  I have read true-life accounts and spoken with persons who have experienced unthinkably sad, unfair, and/or devastating tragedy.  Yet these folks, as well, have encountered God in unexpected, empowering, and even miraculous ways.  To hear their stories and to see the expressions on their faces of peace and joy re-presents the work of God within human life.       

If we regard JOY as a gifted presence of the divine in our individual lives, then, is it not wondrous that the Triune God: Father/Son/Holy Spirit also experiences JOY when we do?!!   

Think of this:  when JOY comes to us through a recalling of a heart-memory  OR  a present happening, God is sharing this same JOY with us!  In other words, we are at-one with God.  We are experiencing the same  JOY together!

Recall … Recognize … Reveal!

JOY comes when we recall and recognize God;


JOY comes when we experience God’s revealing God’s JOY with  us!

May you experience the true blessings of joy: God-with-us!

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                       

Monday, November 12, 2018

Post 111


As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, my reviewing-the-year-thoughts have started in earnest.  Asking myself what progress has been made on personal goals and new year’s resolutions (made months ago), the idea to reformat a diagnostic tool into a Giving-Thanks Screen began to take shape.

That was seven years ago – 2011 – and there was very positive feedback from the recovering community.  Last fall, in Post 100, I wrote, “Recently, it has crossed my mind that being thankful, as well as proactively looking for reasons to be thankful, provide very effective antidotes for maintaining recovery-strength and serenity.”  Indeed, gratitude is recognizing both the little (immediate) and the big (wider range) pictures.  Being thankful keeps us balanced between an ever-present search for satisfaction/comfort/happiness and a perpetual sense of fear/anger/hopelessness. 

At the Mid-Central Disordered Gambling Symposium held last month in Indiana, the focus was on the family.  Over two days, we continued to hear not only recovery testimonies from gamblers but also from family members, who have their own recovery journeys. Now with Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaching, I offer a third Giving-Thanks Screen. 

This time, the inspiration for such a model comes from lessons-learned and wisdom-gained by veteran Gam-Anon members.  Definitely, the loved ones, friends, and associates of persons with disordered gambling are impacted, as well, by the controls of a world caught in and ruled by another’s addiction.  Obviously, finances need to be addressed and restructured.  However, self-image, lifestyle, and personal responses can, also, become severely affected.  Still, the good news is that there is hope and there is real help for recovery too! 

Thus Model #3 of the Giving-Thanks Screen tests the responses of those impacted by another’s gambling addiction.  Realistically, being co-dependent with a disordered gambler calls for serious recovery work … but it is do-able!  Gam-Anon members share encouragement and ways to find strength, peace, confidence - and yes, security and stability. 

Once more, the following items are formatted as thankfulness questions.  As I have said before: prayerfully, each will not only provide progress-assessments, but also measurable reasons to give  thanks!

1.      Do you give thanks for having recognizable – and do-able – priorities?

2.      Are you thankful for days and nights not controlled by fear?

3.      Are you grateful for Gam-Anon Meetings wherein you can learn from others and share your own lessons-learned, as well?

4.      Do you, thankfully, practice letting go of the things you cannot change?

5.      Are you thankful for the growing relationship you have with your Higher Power? 

6.      Is your day spent in a mode of thanks-living now that you are experiencing a better sense of balance and control in your life?

7.      Do you experience thankfulness for new-found ways of honestly expressing yourself and having the assurance and courage to speak your own opinions?

8.      Are you grateful for ways in which you are caring for yourself in body, mind, and spirit?

9.      Do you feel thankful for active experiences in new involvements outside of your home?

10.  Do you give thanks for moments of humor,  times of glass-full  optimism, and a growing sense of peace?

11.  Are you grateful for being able to accept the acceptance of what you can change and  what you cannot?

Once again, do you tell yourself THANK YOU!

for saying





Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit: