Blog Archive

Healing the Future with the Linns
March 25th, 2013

FRESH Renewal Center welcomes the Linns back to St. Louis, as they present a workshop based on one of their books, Healing the Future: Personal Recovery from Societal Wounding. Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn will share their journey in which they were nearly overwhelmed by the toxic aspects of our society. As they noticed what helped them, they hosted retreats on personal recovery from societal wounding.

Most of us have dreams for ourselves, our family and friends, and our planet. Yet, often we are caught between two worlds. We can feel the stress and hopelessness – the individualism and domination – of a world that is crumbling around us. A new world, with different economic, political and spiritual assumptions is emerging. How can we live through this transition in touch with our dreams for ourselves and our loved ones?

As former chaplains and therapists, Dennis, Sheila, and Matt work together as a team, leading retreats and encouraging heartfelt companioning to integrate physical, emotional, and spiritual wholeness. They have taught courses on processes for healing in over 50 countries as well as universities and hospitals, including a course to doctors accredited by the American Medical Association. They are the authors of 22 books, which have sold over a million copies in English and have been translated into more than 20 languages. Dennis and Sheila live in Colorado with their son, John; Matt lives in a Jesuit community in Minnesota.

FRESH Renewal Center is sponsoring the workshop May 3-4, 2013, at Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, at 6400 Minnesota, St. Louis MO, 63111. Registrations is available at, or visit us on Facebook at Fresh Renewal. For more information, contact Carol Martin at 314-839-8828.

FRESH is an organization, founded in 1990 by Cheryl and Dick McKinley to serve persons recovering from addictions and damaging dependencies. The 12-Step emphases soon expanded to include all spiritual seekers.

Since the organization is not allied with any other organization or institution, FRESH, a welcome resource, serves individuals desiring to enhance their spiritual condition.

The FRESH Board of Directors is very active and intimately involved in guiding their mission of staying current, as the times and needs of the community change. The board and FRESH volunteers continue to kindle the vital beacon for group retreats, which has been maintained for over 22 years.

A Journey Within
May 28th, 2012

Cheryl McKinley
Cheryl McKinley

In early 1982, a writer by the name of Karen Casey caused a revolution in the book business, by inventing and putting forth a new format and genre: the daily meditation book for people in recovery from addictions.  Her first volume was called, “Each Day a New Beginning” and the little book of daily readings featured a quote by persons well-known or ordinary, followed by a reflection on the meaning or the implications for daily life.

Because these meditations had such wide value for any person seeking the spiritual life, Karen continued to create daily meditation books, and more recently books based in the Course in Miracles and the art of relationships:  “All We Have is All We Need” and “Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow”, for example. Her commitment to helping others heal themselves and their relationships is evident in the work she does around the country, and more than that in her Being with people wherever she is.

Since 2001 Karen has been travelling to Missouri, to the FRESH Renewal Center near Augusta, to hold her annual writing workshop in the Fall. Karen will once again be coming to FRESH on Sept. 10th through 12th. The writers’ weekend will be focused around Journeys of Awakening.  We will be writing and sharing on personal topics and allowing ourselves to discover – once again – the miracle of healing which DOES occur when we give ourselves time and expression in a safe place with compassionate others.

Attendance at the “weekend” can take several different shapes: Arrival Friday and 2 overnights through Sunday noon costs $135.  Saturday attendance all day including lunch will be $45.  Attendance for Saturday and Sunday (commuter rate) is $65.  All are invited to attend
the Friday night campfire with storytelling and the Saturday evening meal at a restaurant in Augusta (self-pay). Reservations for overnight accommodations at the Center are on a first-come first-served basis, so please phone us your interest at 314-839-8828. Space is limited so please register in advance to ensure a spot in the program. Please mail registration and payment to Fresh Renwal Center, Inc., c/o Carol Martin, 1340 Burning Tree, Florissant, MO 63033.

We, the community of FRESH, hope you will join us this year – whether you are a regular, returning  to revisit and refresh the miracle, or a newcomer, willing to risk something new – to discover more of your real self and the “more” of what life offers!

Time: Friend or Foe
May 28th, 2012

Noel Hwande
Noel Hwande

There’s a movie that was in the movie theatres recently called The Bucket List. I haven’t seen it yet, but it stars Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson as two old men who find out that they do not have much longer to live. So they decide to squeeze in the list of things they had always wanted to do before they kicked the bucket. I am sure that many of us have similar lists in some form or another.

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on my own “bucket list”. I remember when I first wrote it. I was preparing to graduate from college, and what an ambitious list it was. I was going to become Secretary General of the United Nations, on my way to gracing the cover of Time magazine’s “Man of the Year” issue.
Well, more recent revisions to this list have become noticeably conservative. For instance, running with the bulls in Spain has been replaced by taking a one of those famous siestas, in Spain.
Of course there is some humor to be found in this, but what is it about time that slowly chips away at our dreams and ambitions? Is time my friend or foe?
One of my wife’s favorite TV commercials shows a woman standing at the edge of a pond, feeding ducks. Unbeknownst to her is that there is a grandfather clock peeking at her from behind a tree. The clock eventually sneaks up behind her and pushes her into the water. Then a voice over says, “Time is not your friend.”
I think a pretty convincing argument be made to come to such a conclusion. Haven’t we all experienced this for ourselves?
Time intentionally moves fast or slow just to spite us. It drags on when we’re uncomfortably cramped in a car on a cross-country road trip, or when we’re stuck listening to some guy talk about “time” before lunch. On the other hand, time flies by in between mortgage payments, or tax deadlines.
In fact, because I can so vividly remember the day I arrived in this country over a decade ago, I have come to the realization that as quickly as one second passes, so goes a year. So goes a decade. And so goes a lifetime.
In his book entitled An Enemy Called Average John L. Mason says that God, in His infinite wisdom created us all equal in one respect. That is we all have the same 24 hours in each day. So can I really fault time for my not having accomplished all the things I’ve said I’d do? Perhaps it is not time, but how we use it that is our foe.

So, what more can be said about time?
A lawyer will tell you that time is money, and charge you accordingly. But the more I think of it, time is way more valuable than money. We can always earn more money, but nothing we can say or do will earn us more time. Time is priceless!
Time allows wounds – physical and emotional – to heal.
Time helps love grow.
Time soothes anger – allowing us to think before we speak or act.
Time is indeed our friend.
The 24 hours that the Creator gave to us – male and female, rich and poor – are a gift. I believe that the time that we give to others, to our families, friends and our community, are a gift back to God. Remember, time is more valuable that money.
There is an African proverb that says, “When a dying man cries, it is not because of where he is going – a place which he knows nothing about, but because of what he wishes he would have done in the world he is leaving behind.
This evening as you lay down for the night I encourage you all to think about that proverb and how it pertains to your life. Forget about the day that’s passed. You will never get that time back. Instead, focus on the day that is coming, and how you can bless someone with your time or how you can use the time to cross some more things off your bucket list.

And remember, time is our friend. But only if we spend it wisely.

Spiritual Renewal – A Portable Thing
May 28th, 2012

Cheryl McKinley
Cheryl McKinley

We are bringing our programs to the metro area increasingly, using Mercy Center and other sites to host FRESH activities. We believe that spiritual renewal is a highly portable item, and wish to offer more small group hospitality in locations which are more accessible to more people.

The Center near Augusta will no longer be hosting individual days or  groups after May 31, 2008. We have enjoyed welcoming guests and offering this facility for 17 years. It has been a joy and true privilege to serve your needs for individual and group retreat space. The board of Directors wants to thank you for your attendance and faithful support of this wonderful place which has served us all so well.

The Center will be open for the Picnic this year, as well as the Karen Casey weekend in the Fall.  The organization which is FRESH Renewal Center, Inc. will be using the Center for its Spring and Fall events in the future, and offering programs in the metro area throughout the year.  Fellowship Renewing Experience, Strength and Hope is what we have stood for, and what we will continue to offer.

With your help and input, we hope to grow in service to God, to ourselves and to others.

These Things I’ve Learned for Sure
May 28th, 2012

Patty Finley
Patty Finley

I recently celebrated 23 years of continuous sobriety and in addition to being very grateful I also felt an unusual peace about my recovery and life in general. Upon examination I concluded that after many years of meetings, sponsors, setbacks, therapy and step work there are certain life and recovery lessons I have learned for sure. I can now say that my life is no longer like a house on sand but rather a house built on rock with the foundation being a relationship with a Higher Power.

My guess is that these lessons are different for each of us and the lessons come in different packages and at different times. But I can assure you if you have surrendered in any way to a recovery program, the lessons will come because being healed and made whole is the essence of recovery from addiction/co-addiction.

Which leads me to my lesson #1  WE DON’T KNO W WHAT WE DON’T KNOW  For many years I thought recovery from alcoholism and codependency was the extent of my story. But I discovered there were layers under the layers. It has been necessary for me to understand the meaning of addictions unique to my story and family history. It has taken every bit of my recovery to unravel the damage that preceded my first drink and my first attempt to love another human being. What I didn’t know was my own dark side or those unconscious wounds and scripts that would play out in my life.

#2  WHAT IS UNHEALED WILL BE REVEALED  Whenever a theme or a pattern keeps returning to my life with unwanted results it is a sure bet that there is something in my past that needs to be addressed. This is the spiritual axiom that AA refers to in the reading on the 10th step…”that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us.” Wrong in this case being those unhealed wounds that unconsciously direct our actions. This is when it is often necessary to go the extra mile in the guise of therapy, spiritual direction, deeper step work or another 12 step program. It takes enormous courage and ultimate humility to continue to face the past and your part in it. But I also know that if God has guided, God has provided.

#3  THERE IS A SOLUTION  This of course is the title of the 2nd chapter of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. But these four words have worked almost as a prayer for me in my life and are a source of hope. This belief has given me a confidence to be in the world without fear because I know today that I have been given a personal GPS in the form of the steps, 12 step fellowship and a Higher Power. Not to say there isn’t often a time lag between the problem and solution, but there is a solution. I’ve always been a fan of the line, “don’t quit five minutes before the miracle” which is exactly what we do when we don’t believe in a solution.

#4  SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIPS DO NOT GUARANTEE HAPPILY EVER AFTER  I am speaking here of matters of the heart. For me and others there is great disappointment in divorce following a marriage in recovery. But marriage like any other life is there for our ultimate healing, which may include an end to the partnership. What is important to realize is that the true partnership between you and your Higher Power is still intact even though your partner is gone. My most profound healing and transforming enlightenment followed a divorce in sobriety. I am a great fan of the spiritual aspects of baseball and one of my favorite movies is The Natural with Robert Redford and Glenn Close. There is a line that states, “I’m convinced that we have two lives, the one we learn with and the life we live after that.” And, that is precisely where I am today. I am living the life after my learning life and it was worth the wait.

#5  YOU DO KNOW WHAT YOU DO KNOW  I believe there comes a time in your journey when you are the combined experience of your hurts, your past, your sadness and disappointments fortified by your forged relationship with your Higher Power. I know the knocks I’ve taken along the way with every tear, bit of anger and lost hope, but I also know the miracles, the wisdom and faith that are the byproducts of the spiritual journey. No one can take my truth away from me nor the lessons learned. The Big Book refers to this as “the great reality within,” which of course is your understanding of God.

Finally, #6  CLAIM THE PRINCIPLES OF YOUR LIFE AND LIVE THEM FULLY  I once had a recovering brother-in-law who had many years of sobriety and he would say to me, “Patty, in recovery there are no rules…there are only principles.”  Before recovery I never lived a very principled life and suffered from Hollywood set syndrome…I looked good on the outside but there was nothing around back! This is not the case today. Recovery has given me principles that I can live by and that define who I want to be. My principles that give my life purpose and meaning are integrity, willingness, courage, faith, and honesty. Whenever life is hard or I find myself at a crossroads I can rely on one of these principles to set me on the right path.  There is another good book where is states, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” But, today our faith encompasses the knowledge of our entire journey, the lessons we’ve learned and the unwavering presence of a Higher Power. This kind of faith I’ve learned for sure.

A FRESH Haven for All
May 28th, 2012


F.R.E.S.H. is an acronym for Fellowship, Renewal, Experience, Strength and Hope. It was founded in 1990 by Dick and Cheryl McKinley with the intention of assisting people recovering from addictions and other dependencies. Initially, the emphasis at the Center was on 12-Step programming, which included group meetings, picnics and well-known speakers, retreats and workshops.

While 12-Step recovery is still s focus, F.R.E.S.H. has also become a haven for many other spiritual seekers, artists, writers and nature lovers. This was reflected in the Spring picnic on June 10th which featured Jack Sisk from the Living Insight Center. Jack played the Crystal Singing Bowls in the morning and afternoon.

Additionally, John MacEnulty shared his flute music and his story of the creation of the labyrinth. Some of the picnic participants brought rocks to repair the labyrinth after some years of use. For me it was symbolic of the need to recondition and renovate the spiritual path – a group effort of renewal.

The Renewal Center is located on 85 acres near Augusta, MO in a quaint German chalet. The beautiful surroundings are conducive to guided nature walks and lakeside campfires.

Karen Casey, renowned author of many meditation books, recently led a writers’  week-end workshop. The topic, “From Family of Origin to Family of Choice”will continue as an on-line workshop. You may join this workshop at any time. The charge is $25 for the year’s membership. Karen will give monthly writing assignments and some personal feedback. It is not necessary to have attended the September workshop to join the online group. Please call (636)-482-4548.

For general reservations call (636)-482-4528.