It was January, 2010 and I’d been in recovery for sexual addiction for almost ten months. I remember sitting in my office, my stomach turning as I thought about the possibility of attempting to take custody of my daughter Elizabeth away from her drug-addicted mother.  In my heart, I knew it was the right thing to do but in my mind, fear paralyzed me.  You see, although I felt we needed to take custody of Elizabeth, the choice was not up to me.  My wife would have to be onboard for this to work out, if she wasn’t onboard, then it wouldn’t matter what I wanted or what Elizabeth needed.

The previous December, I had learned that my last affair partner had given birth to a baby girl.  Although I wasn’t 100% sure it was my child because of the mother’s promiscuous lifestyle, I knew that the probability was higher than normal due to the amount of time spent with her;  Another (huge) consequence from my sexual immorality.  At first, her father called me to discuss the baby and wanted me to relinquish all custody of the child so that she could be raised by her and her family; pretty strange for a father to call to negotiate for his adult daughter.  What I didn’t know was that the mother had been using drugs throughout the pregnancy and after giving birth she tested positive for illegal drugs.  Initially, I felt God was speaking to me through His word when I read about Hagar and Ishmael being “set free” and God promising to make Ishmael into a great nation, protecting him, caring for him, making sure he was safe.  This is what I felt would happen with Elizabeth.  Even after verbally agreeing to relinquish my rights, I had a very uneasy feeling.  This feeling lasted for almost a month when we finally found out that CPS had been involved in this case and Elizabeth’s mother had actually lost her rights and Elizabeth’s grandmother had taken over as custodian so that Elizabeth’s mother could still “raise” her. I was heartbroken.  I felt helpless.  I felt that I couldn’t let Elizabeth be raised by a drug-addicted mother in a dysfunctional household.  I wanted to do something, I had to do something, but not without my wife being onboard.

We met with our family attorney who filled us in on the legal issues involved with taking a child away from her mother and how difficult it would be to do this; near impossible unless the mother harms the child or is incarcerated, both of which we did not want Elizabeth to experience.  So I sat in my office and I worried.  At this time, I was listening to a Christian satellite radio station and they had Mac Powell, the lead singer of Third Day giving insight into their song, Revelation.  He spoke about how the song isn’t about the book of Revelation or the end of the world, it was about prayer for God to show him the way, to give him a revelation on what he needed to do. I broke down and cried at this point; the weight of this decision tearing a hole in me.  Then the song began:

“My life, has led me down the road that’s so uncertain. Now I am left alone and I am broken. Trying to find my way, trying to find the faith that’s gone.  This time, I know that You are holding all the answers.  And I’m tired of losing hope and taking chances, on roads that never seem to be the ones that bring me home.  Give me revelation, show me what to do. Cause I’ve been trying to find my way, I haven’t got a clue….” 

I wept and I prayed.  I prayed, I prayed, I prayed for God to show me what to do.  “I can’t let this little baby girl grow up in that lifestyle, I can’t just sit back idle and allow this to happen to her; allow another human being, my daughter, to grow up to be as dysfunctional as her mother and her father.  I need to take action, I need to do something, but Lord, I can’t do this without You and without my wife.  I don’t know how to convince her to love Elizabeth enough to want to take custody of her, to endure the difficult battle ahead of us, to keep our marriage together as we struggle to do what is right.  I have to answer our attorney soon on what we intend to do.  Lord, give me a revelation on what to do with Elizabeth.”

At this time, as I was finishing my prayer, I received a text from my wife with the simple words, “Go ahead take custody.”  I couldn’t believe my eyes; I began to weep.  How could this woman, who I betrayed, lied to, cheated on, and hurt so deeply want to be a part of raising a little girl that wasn’t even hers, and worse, was my affair partner’s child?  The Lord put it on my wife’s heart to love all children and understand that it wasn’t Elizabeth’s fault that she was a product of two very selfish individuals and that she should not have to suffer because of our (my affair partner and I) poor choices.  I believe it was at this point that I stopped living in fear of my wife and began living in freedom with my wife.  I had feared my wife leaving me for such a long time (I’m codependent as most addicts are) and I knew that her unselfish decision to take custody of Elizabeth was a love so powerful, that it could only come from God.  Jesus was loving me through my wife and her unselfish actions.  She could have held on to the anger she had for my activities and sought revenge on me, or worse, divorced me because of this other baby, but instead, she showed me a tremendous amount of grace; a glimpse of what God shows me.  Her grace, and the grace of God, changed my life forever. It was love and grace that God used to restore me, not anger and condemnation. I am thankful to my wife for so many things, but especially thankful for this.

It was a long and drawn out custody battle that went on for over a year.  Back and forth, back and forth, between grandmother and mother and us with tens of thousands of dollars being spent on attorneys and back child support. I don’t know how the Lord sustained us, provided for us, or how He kept our marriage together during one of the most difficult years of our lives, but He did.  It’s one thing to be in recovery working a proper program and couple’s program, but it is another to add a custody battle in the mix of it all.  There was a lot of prayer involved in this year, particularly from 2 Chronicles 20:15, where the Lord says, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army.  For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I learned to turn over this custody battle to God, for Him to do what was in Elizabeth’s best interest, either to be a huge part of our family or to remain with her grandmother and mother.  Either way, we were preparing to say, “blessed be the name of the Lord.”

On April 1, 2011 we officially took custody of Elizabeth with visitation by grandmother, a miracle by Texas custody rights standards.  It is very difficult in Texas for a mother to lose the rights to her children unless she has really messed up, and I mean REALLY messed up.  It’s actually a sad state of affairs that children have to suffer when there are other, healthier people willing to take the role of custodian be it another family member or through adoption.  But perhaps that’s what the Lord wanted to show us, that He can do what is impossible, sustain our marriage in the worst of situations and bypassing the laws of the State of Texas.


Astros Faith & Family Night with Third Day, 06/2012

A couple of years ago, I finally had the opportunity to see Mac Powell and Third Day perform after a Houston Astros game.  The photo above shows the band performing the song Revelation but also shows a building in the background outside of the stadium (top center of the photo).  That building is the Harris County Civil Court Building where all family law issues are decided.  It was in that building that my wife and I took custody of Elizabeth.  It is almost fitting that the building is in the background of this photo of Third Day and I don’t think it is a coincidence at all.  Elizabeth has a much better life now, because my wife made the commitment to trust the Lord, not me, in all of this.  She knew that there was something much bigger than her, me, or our marriage at stake in making this decision.  My wife has been more of a mother to Elizabeth than she will ever experience with her birth mother, and she fights to keep her safe, and loves her like her own daughter.  That gives me hope.  If God can take this mess of  a life, transform it, and also transform the wounded heart of my wife, then anything is possible as long as we seek Him in what we do.  Next time you listen to the song Revelation, think about this story, and how God has a plan for you and your family.  No matter where you are in your recovery, I pray this story gives you hope.

Happy 5th birthday to my Lizzie LooLoo, we love you very much!


Photo of Maddy (left), Lizzie, and our new daughter, Lexi.

Treating Codependency is not something a doctor does to or for a ‘patient’. It is more like having diabetes. The patient has to learn how to take care of themselves every day for the rest of their lives. Recovery starts when a Codependent understands and has insight into their condition. …I almost always strongly encourage… Codependency Recovery groups. Group is like the gym. It is where a Codependent goes to lift weights and get stronger… Group therapy rocks – it is inexpensive, weekly, powerful, fun, insight building and affirming. Recovery from Codependency is not just about gaining a strong voice. It is also very much about learning how to take good care of one’s self. It is about learning how to take the time to have fun, to exercise, to have a huge hobby that enriches your life and to nurture one’s self well. It might involve getting regular massages, joining a book club, making new friends, scheduling travel with your newly romantic and sensitive husband, getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising often, getting enough help in raising the kids, getting help with the household chores and getting enough alone time. Doesn’t all of that sound great? You can make it happen. You are in charge of your own life. The Recovery process for Codependency is an adventure. It is not torture. Recovery works. You just have to work at it really hard over a period of time. Today is the best day for you to start… From “Codependency – A Serious Disease of Lost, Confused, Undeveloped and Other-Centered Selves” by Mark Smith

“Scars are not injuries… A scar is a healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole.” - China Mieville

First, take a few deep breaths, relax the tension in your body (perhaps by stretching), and slowly count until you calm down, whether this takes 5 seconds, 20 seconds, or more. Imagine your parents and grandparents, a preacher or priest, a respected and well-loved teacher or boss, your counselor, or several policemen are watching how you respond. If you can’t use a calm tone of voice to respond tactfully and respectfully, start counting again and pretend the authority figures are watching. If this doesn’t help, take a time out. Leave and do something else until you calm down. Be sure to avoid angry thinking when you count or leave to calm down. Repeatedly thinking about the conflict only prolongs the upset feelings. If you tend to blame other people or circumstances for your anger, read or repeat every day, “Nobody makes me angry. I make myself angry over certain situations and only I can change this.” If a man’s anger is intense or explosive, don’t bother with counting: he should leave the situation immediately. If he has ever been violent, he should use time out often, at least several times a week for practice and to develop the habit, even if he feels only mildly irritated and doesn’t really need to leave. Avoid angry thinking during time out by getting things done or doing what you enjoy. You might work on a hobby, read a good book, or work on projects around the house. Practicing meditation or deep relaxation is an excellent way to calm down. Physical activities such as walking, jogging, exercising, or bicycling help by releasing tension. Don’t punish a loved one by leaving for much longer than an hour or two. Be very careful if you drive a car because angry people often drive dangerously. Don’t use alcohol or other drugs when you feel angry. If you return and can’t use a calm tone of voice to respond respectfully, despite pretending authority figures are watching, leave again and do something else. As you gradually improve in dealing with your anger, you should be able to reduce the time you need away from the situation to calm down.

“Anger hurts, it drives it burns; friends are lost enemies are gained; anger lies, and steals anger destroys and changes anger is blind…” Taken from “Anger” by Johnny Nathan Botelho

Great sermon from this past Sunday on forgiving those that have hurt us.  Coming from a man that was sexually abused as a child, I have come to understand quite a bit about forgiving those that hurt me.  Nevertheless, this can be applied to various aspects of life to anyone who has been hurt by someone else. If you have been hurt by someone (a loved one, a friend, a co-worker) I urge you to watch this sermon.

1. Forgiveness is the key to healing my hurts.

2. Forgiveness does not mean their actions were “OK” or that I forget what she did. 

3. Forgiveness is a process, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

4. Hating the person that hurt me keeps my hurt alive!

- Hate is a parasite that hurts us, not the person we hate.

5. Forgiving the person allows my life to move forward!

6. Not forgiving others keeps us locked away in a prison, where we hold the key.

7. Forgiveness is for me, not for the person who hurt me.



Click on this link to view more messages in the Transformed Series:

There is a lot of good stuff over at Intentional Warriors.  I encourage y’all to take a look.

Originally posted at:
by james tarring cordrey

Just a few weeks ago, Enough Is Enough — a non-partisan, non-profit dedicated working toward a culture in which “all people are respected and valued; for a childhood with a protected period of innocence; for healthy sexuality; and for a society free from sexual exploitation” — released a revised version of its earlier report titled “The Internet Pornography Pandemic:  The Largest Unregulated Experiment in Human History.”

It’s extensive. It’s troubling.

Still, it’s important and should be read.

The report is authored by Donna Rice Hughes, the agency’s president, who served on the Child Online Protection Commission and the Attorney General Technology Task Force in 1990s when the Children’s Online Protection Act (COPA) was forged.

Some of the statistics (which are footnoted in the report, but not here on the site) quoted in the report include:

  • Porn Sites Get More Visitors Each Month Than Netflix, Amazon And Twitter Combined.
  • 30% of the Internet industry is pornography.
  • The online porn industry makes over $3,000 per second.
  • Mobile porn is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2015.
  • The United States is the largest producer and exporter of hard core pornographic DVDs and web material.
  • A Google Trends analysis indicates that searches for “Teen Porn” have more than tripled between 2005–2013. Total searches for teen–related porn reached an estimated 500,000 daily in March 2013 — one–third of total daily searches for pornographic web sites.

In the report, Hughes says that pornographers are marketing themselves to kids using:

  • Free Teaser images:  Most pornography sites do not request age verification of their visitors and offer a multitude of free samples of pictures and/or streaming videos to entice users.
  • Innocent Word searches: Pornographers use popular terms or innocent words that may have little or nothing to do with the content they display they display to increase traffic to their sites through search engines.
  • Misspelled Words: Online pornographers purchase domain names with commonly–misspelled words, such as typing “boyz” instead of “boys,” which can direct an Internet surfer who misspells a word on his keyboard to sites containing extreme hard core material.”
  • Stealth Sites: Online pornographers often purchase “Stealth URLs.” These are sites with web addresses that are close in name to the “legitimate” site.
  • Cartoon Characters and Child Icons: Pornographers misuse popular cartoon characters such Disney characters.
  • Pop–ups and ad Banners: Pornographers often purchase available banner space advertisements on popular websites and social networking spaces hoping to draw young users to their sites.
  • free flash games: Many popular websites integrate interactive, easy–to–use games that are designed to be attractive to children, such as puzzle games, word games, card games, and uncomplicated animated games. However, pornographic games such as ‘****** ****’ are easily accessible to children.
  • e–mail spam: Otherwise known as “junk e–mail”
  • Mousetrapping: This crafty “tech–trick” prevents users from escaping a pornographic site once they have entered it.
  • Looping: A seemingly never–ending stream of pornographic pop–ups that appear on the computer screen that continues until the computer is shut down.
  • Porn–napping: Pornographers purchase expired domain names, so what was once a web address for a legitimate company takes users to a pornographic site.

The report has plenty of other things to say, and it makes a case for a public-private collaboration to reverse the trends in our culture, similar to the campaign used by William Wilberforce when he confronted the slave trade in 18th Century England.

Moreover, the report directly contradicts popular thinking that pornography is both normative and harmless.  While the New York Times ran a piece titled “Does Porn Hurt Children,” written by David A. Segal on March 28, 2014 in which the author concluded that “the jury is still our with respect to the hazardous mix of teenagers an pornography,” Hughes insists that research has determined that exposing minors to pornography is child sex abuse.

Furthermore, Hughes quotes Maryann Laden, PhD, Director of Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program Center for Cognitive Therapy, University of Pennsylvania who has said that “there is a growing body of peer–reviewed research supporting the unequivocal harm to youth from exposure to Internet pornography.

In short, science supports what those of us who have been trapped in pornography addiction found out through experience:  pornography is destructive, endlessly so. It’s cancerous in the way it operates and the way it attacks a person’s soul.  Porn, like cancer, uses a person’s body against itself, all while re-shaping a person’s brain.



Male attachment needs are somewhat different from women’s. Men generally do not need verbal communication about feelings or “talks” about the relationship. Nor do they need direct, verbal validation of their feelings or needs. Men have a natural, biological proclivity toward interaction with the environment, more so than the verbally based interactions that women desire. They do need to know they are appreciated, respected and loved. And men are often quite satisfied by having these needs met with direct, physically nurturing behaviors by women. Many adult men feel a basic sense of security and even love simply by the very presence of the significant women in their lives. Men also experience sexual connection as a form of nurturance, acceptance, love, and even emotional security. Sex for men is a primary attachment need – compared to women, who need verbal communication and validation. Men also tend to have fewer friends than women, and when they do, they tend to focus on activities rather than verbal interactions (watching sports, hunting and fishing are examples). Recent findings from modern neuroscience and interpersonal neurobiology show there are unique aspects of the male brain (also endocrine and other systems) – quite different from female brains. This includes analytical brain structures (not emotional) designed to solve problems. Men have an inborn, biologically based competitive instinct. They also have an area of the brain designed for sexual pursuit that is more than 2 times larger than females (Brizendine, 2010). The brain circuits for fear, aggression and defense are far more prominent in men than in women. In comparison, women have more prominent mirror neuron systems for emotional empathy. There are no male-specific diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The most common diagnoses for men are addictions, personality disorders such as narcissism, avoidant, and anti-social personality disorders, intermittent explosive disorder, conduct disorder, and ADHD. Depression, however, is very common in men. Men also experience complicating medical issues such as stress-related heart and digestive disorders, and they may also present with a variety of sexual disorders. Other medical concerns may result from drug and alcohol addiction.

“I would suggest that just as women who make it in the world of business need male business mentors, perhaps men who make it in the world of emotions will need female emotional mentors.” - Warren Farrell

I’ve read three articles recently about the topic of pro-marriage, church and pastors not addressing the issue of difficult marriages well:

1.  “Help!” by elisabeth klein corcoran

2. “Enough with the Divorce Shame” by Chump Lady

3. “Pastors: Send a Different Message to Struggling Wives” on Crosswalk (also by elisabeth klein corcoran)

All three articles are written about one overall theme: the pro-marriage community…the Christian community…is not dealing with adultery, addiction or abuse in marriages.  The messages perceived by those who are hurting are “Pay me $199.99 and you can save your marriage all by yourself!”,  “If you tell anyone what’s really going on, you’ll be judged for it”, “Asking for help results in you being blamed for your spouse’s choices”, and “If you only ____ more (fill in the blank with prayed, submitted, cooked, had sex, or forgave) then your spouse wouldn’t ____.”

As a nouthetic counselor, I wanted to look at these articles and ask myself two things.  First, I want to do an honest assessment: Do we–the Christian, pro-marriage community–do an injustice to those who come to us, hurting and in a difficult marriage?  How do we need to change?  What do we need to learn?  I want to take an honest look in the mirror and see what we need to do differently … and better!  But second and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I want to look at the Bible and what God says in the Bible, because I am duty-bound to obey God and encourage others to do the same.  It has been my experience that obeying God and doing what He wants is not always easy and is not always painless, nor is it usually what we want to hear!

The first thing that I’d like to address is the pastor himself.  I’ve heard many times of people going to their pastor or their counselor as if the person is a mind-reader and can magically tell what is “the truth” and what is a lie!  So I want to remind everyone who does go to a pastor, preacher, minister, or spiritual leader…they are a human being with the same human limitations that you have.  Can you just “detect” what is the truth and what is a lie?  No.  And neither can they.  Furthermore, they often only have one side of the story, and my guess would be that your version of what has occurred differs GREATLY from your spouse’s version of what has occurred.  Even in strong, godly marriages, each individual in the marriage has a different personality, different personal strengths and weaknesses, and the way they view things is entirely different–so it is just common sense that in a painful marriage that differing point of view is even more different!  Finally, any pastor or church is an imperfect, SINFUL representation of what God intends His bride, The Church, to be.  Pastors can have their own (sinful) agendas; churches can be anything but Christian and just be basically social action committees, and sometimes people are afraid to stand up strongly against a sin because they don’t want to be accused of being judgmental–especially if the sin is a popular one!  So part of the issue here is that we expect “the pastor” to be a lie detector and then basically scold the cheating spouse (and come down on your side) — and those expectations are unrealistic.

The second thing that comes to my mind is that when one spouse goes to any kind of professional–whether they are a coach, minister, counselor or therapist–people who are professionally-trained are going to address the person in the room with them.  Your spouse is not there; you are.  Your spouse didn’t make the effort to make the appointment, figure out childcare, and get their behind end to the office; you did.  And the professional person (who is not a lie detector and can not just tell “the truth”) is not going to tell you “how to get your spouse to do it your way” or scold them if they don’t.  Again, that is an unrealistic expectation.  On this same topic, it is just one of those universal truths that no one can control another person.  Period.  The only person at the appointment is YOU and the only person you can control is YOU.  So the professional is going to help you look at and address YOUR issues…not your spouse’s.  What I’m trying to say is that as a pro-marriage Christian coach, when I have a loyal spouse in session with me whose disloyal spouse is wantonly flaunting adultery in their face, I can show the Loyal in the room how a loving spouse “should” act according to the Bible, but there are no magic words to MAKE the Disloyal do that.  We may be in complete agreement that a godly spouse would not do X, Y or Z, but if their Disloyal is bound and determined to sin–I can’t stop them and neither can the Loyal who took the time to come talk to me!  I can’t even change the spouse who came to me!  The only person who can change is the person who came can change themselves and even then it’s with God working in them, not through sheer will.  Thus, I can maybe confirm for the Loyal “Well, when your Disloyal expects to be able to sin with no natural consequence, that’s unrealistic, so you are okay in acting in a way that allows consequences.” But otherwise my options are limited to addressing the person in front of me: what ways they may have contributed (if any), how they handle it, how they decide to act, tools they can use to understand, and what they do to grow as a person due to this circumstance.

Soooo…we’ve addressed two unrealistic expectations: 1) Pastors/professionals can tell “the truth” and will do a perfect job doing the godly thing, and 2) Pastors will come down on my side when I tell them the sin my spouse is committing, and they will tell me how to get my spouse to stop it.

Next, let’s address some major errors I think the Christian community is making, and what we can do differently.

One of the MAJOR mistakes I see is when a hurting spouse comes to their pastor/priest/minister and reveals that there is adultery, abuse or addiction, and the pastoral response is basically a cliché…something like “Well you go right on back there and just submit more.”  Yes, as I said above, when you go to a professional they realize you can not change your spouse, so they may focus on you and what you can change, but it’s my experience that by the time someone gathers the courage to say “Ummm…I think something is wrong here” they are usually hurt so badly you better react as if you’re in the emergency room and they just came in with a gunshot to the head.  When it’s just “somewhat bad” people keep trying, keep their mouths shut, wonder if it’s just them, and try to just bear it (of course, not EVERYONE is that way, but many/most).  And when someone makes all the effort to set up an appointment and get to the office and says “It’s not going very well” that really means much, MUCH more.  Sending someone back into a home that is harming them via mental, emotional, spiritual or physical abuse is cruelty, frankly…and both adulterers and addicts DEFINITELY employ abuse!

Thus it seems to me that one area pastors REALLY need to do better, is to take the time to find out if it is a case of adultery, abuse or addiction, and if it is… to protect the spouse who is being abused! Now, this does not mean “end your marriage immediately” or encouraging divorce even–but it does mean taking the time to do true investigation, because often abusers are masters of deception.  And it does mean giving the abused spouse–whether that is a man or a woman–the support of finding safety.  As much as Malachi 2:16 is used to force “God hates divorce” down people’s throats, listen to the WHOLE VERSE: ” ‘The man who hates and divorces his wife,’ says the Lord, the God of Israel,  ‘does violence to the one he should protect,’  says the Lord Almighty.  So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful. 

One thing that is extremely important–and I mean EXTREMELY–is that the shepherd should “take the time to find out if it is a case of adultery, abuse or addiction”.  The reason that is so important is because there are times when a spouse will claim “abuse” when their spouse disagrees with them…or claim “abuse” as the justification for why they are doing the sin they are doing!  Since pastors are not lie detectors and do not live behind closed doors with you, they can’t “just tell” that one spouse is sitting in their office lying their head off, and outside the office they are a completely different person.  But too often I think one spouse comes in, the pastor hears one side of the story and does not investigate, and just believes whatever is told to them.

I’ll give you one crazy example … and then another the other way.  Once a lady came to her mentor and told him all about how her husband screamed at her last night for THREE HOURS and then threw some china at the wall that smashed it to smithereens.  Naturally the mentor told her the husband was abusive and no way was it acceptable for him to scream for three hours and break things…and the mentor encouraged her to leave him.  Only problem?  The wife didn’t mention that her husband screamed for three hours BECAUSE HE HAD FOUND HER IN THEIR MARITAL BED WITH ANOTHER MAN!!!  She “forgot” that little detail and when asked why she didn’t tell him, she told the mentor she didn’t think it was relevant!

Okay here’s the second example.  A spouse goes to her pastor and tells the pastor her husband has been drinking, been abusive and calls her names.  The pastor calls a meeting with the husband and tells him how wrong he is to be abusive and that calling your wife names is sinful and that he has to stop drinking immediately.  Well obviously “abuse is sinful” and “drinking is sinful,” right?  And they are…but what the wife didn’t tell the pastor was that she was having an affair and finding fault with everything about her husband, telling him he didn’t earn enough money, he wasn’t a good father, he wasn’t a good husband, having him do literally all the housework all the while screaming at him…and to escape the pain of being told how worthless he was, he would drink so he’d feel numb.  Okay not a SMART solution but it was a way to cope.  And finally, after getting abused all night long, he’d tell her, “Leave me alone you witch!” and off she run to the pastor waving the “abuse”word …who then called the husband and told him how wrong he was without ever investigating or dealing with the real issue: the affair.