Pain

By Angela Tooley

Pain – it’s an inescapable part of life, yet we do everything we can to escape it or numb it. There is physical pain in our bodies – temporary or chronic. Then there is pain from our own choices and pain that comes from the choices of others.

The current opioid crisis demonstrates how far we have come in our culture in our inability to deal with pain. This crisis born of misguided notions of pain management with highly addictive forms of synthetic heroin

kills 91 people per day.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not unsympathetic to being in pain. I’m not unsympathetic to those who are addicted. I would like us to understand that there is something to be gained from pain. We must be willing to pay attention whether that pain is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

CS Lewis called pain “God’s megaphone.” Pain gets our attention so that we may know God is present. We see this in Job’s suffering, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5

Priscilla Shirer describes pain as a mysterious blessing, “it compels us to more accurately assess the wisdom or foolishness of our choices. Pain is ironically the key to being spared even worse discomfort.”

The reality of pain is that it should be confronted. The good news is that we do not have to do this alone. Our pain was never meant to be ours alone. Whether our pain is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we have help through Christ and through each other.

This is part of our mission at Noble Choices – to come alongside others who need recovery (and we all need it). We lead Celebrate Recovery in Richardson, TX and recommend it if you live in other areas. We offer life coaching and counseling to those struggling with sexual sin in their life or the life of a loved one.

We have had to face our own pain and by God’s grace we are here to help and offer hope. There is always hope!

“we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”  —  Romans 5:3,4

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, August 30). Understanding the Epidemic. Retrieved from Opioid Overdose: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

Lewis, C. (1940). The Problem of Pain. United Kingdom: The Centenary Press.

Shirer, P. (2017). Awaken. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.

Be FOMM not FOMO

By Angela Tooley

I hate to admit it, but I have FOMO. Do you have FOMO?  Maybe you’re not familiar with this but it is

Fear

Of

Missing

Out

(and yes it is a word)!

FOMO begins innocently enough, usually with our smart phone but it can be any digital device. The device lets us instantly:

  • check sports scores
  • check Facebook status and likes
  • look at all other social media
  • listen for incoming texts and emails

Our smart phones and mobile devices have become the indispensable organizers of our lives – through communication and calendars; and through every kind of conceivable news, entertainment, calorie counting, exercise, and fantasy football app that is out there. We get addicted – never wanting to be without our mobile device.

Ultimately interacting with our device takes precedence over a conversation with the person right beside us in the car or right in front of us at the dinner table.

What we are really missing out on is each other!

FOMO is now so widespread that it necessitates a public service campaign to get us all to put away our phones at the dinner table.  While I think it is a sad reality, I am encouraged by the opportunities for family growth that can happen by coming to the dinner table – device free.

At any age conversation matters. Sharing the day whether it was how the presentation went, or what was the most fun at preschool.  Laughing at silly pasta shapes and hearing the laments of pop quizzes is meaningful. One day there will be a hard conversation and you’ll be there to listen.

This isn’t just for family dinner, this is for friends, coworkers and everyone we face. Please don’t miss any of the experience, put the phone away.

I am making a conscious effort to be aware of how and when I am using my smart devices. I’m working on a new word for the dictionary, FOMM

Facing

Others

Matters

Most

(not quite as catchy as FOMO but I’ll keep working on it).

I hope you will all do the same and set a great example for your kids too.

Narcissist or Noble

By Angela Tooley

With the recent passing of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, I have been reflecting on his multiple legacies.

Media coverage has celebrated him as

  • a champion of the first amendment,
  • a liberator “from the shackles of repressive thinking”
  • a hero with “a sense of social responsibility”
  • being “one of the world’s most influential icons.”

As you might expect I think that is repulsively absurd.

I agree with coverage that accurately describes Hefner as a

“grinning pimp… taking pleasure at the expense of the vulnerable, poor and not-yet-born.” Hefner left a legacy that made “our culture coarser and crueller.”

Unfortunately, there is a more personal legacy. If you know Eric’s story of his pornography struggle then you know that as a young teenager he discovered a stash of porn magazines that belonged to his dad. Eric has shared how this discovery was a huge enticement to seek out more pornography in his youth.

Decades later as Eric and I cleaned out his parents closet I found this same stack of magazines just as Eric had described where he found them.

What I felt that day was pure rage!

  • for what happened to Eric,
  • for how that would go on to hurt our marriage,
  • For how that would hurt me, and
  • for the countless others who likewise suffer from the legacy of what Hefner and others like him created.

Noble Choices exists to create another legacy.

  • We speak the truth about pornography and sexual addiction.
  • We seek to educate all ages about this insidious trap.
  • We minister to those who struggle and those who have been hurt.

We hope and pray that our legacy will be of recovery and prevention from sexual addiction in all its awful forms. If your family, church or school has a need to address then we are ready to help. Please contact us and let us be a resource for you.

“Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my children live in the truth.” 3 John 1:4 (GNT)

Douthat, R. (2017, September 30). Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/opinion/hugh-hefner.html

Ellis, J. (2017, October 5). Hugh Hefner Was More Than a Playboy, Promoting Equality and Free Speech. Retrieved from Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/more-playboy-hugh-hefners-driving-inspiration-676825

 

Eight Factors Common in Childhoods of Sex Addicts

I am a huge baseball fan and the postseason is great. Last year in the 10th inning of the decisive game of the World Series, Chicago Cub Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run.

Was this just about an opportunity? Or was this path set much earlier: the Houston Astros who first drafted him? His high school coach who convinced him to try out? His whiffle ball games with his friends at age 8?

It was the opportunity AND the path.

What about a person struggling with pornography? Is it just about an opportunity? Or is it about a path that had been set many years before? Again, the answer is both.

Patrick Carnes lists eight factors common in families of sex addicts.

  1. Addiction.

This can be alcohol, gambling, nicotine, eating, drugs, sex, or pornography. Often it is a combination.

  1. Secrets.

This “elephant in the living room” is having a huge impact on life but everyone pretends it is not there.

  1. Rigid and authoritarian.

There is only one way to do things. There is no give and take.

  1. Sex-negativity.

Sex is always negative, dirty, bad, sinful, or nasty.

  1. Sexual duplicity.

Parents do not live up to their standards about sex. There are affairs, pornography, sexting, etc.

  1. Little intimacy.

Family members are disengaged. There is little sharing of feelings or vulnerability.

  1. Neglect.

This could be capital N neglect: sexual, physical, emotional abuse or a lack of food, shelter, clothes, or safety. It could be little n neglect: lack of attention, empathy, or love.

  1. Compartmentalization.

People act one way in one situation and something totally different in another. There is an overreaction or under-response to life’s problems.

Are any of these factors present in your home? King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Apparently, that is true negatively and positively.

Carnes, P. (2015). Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery (Third ed.). Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.

Topkin, M. (2009, July 13). Tampa Bay Rays’ Ben Zobrist has taken a surprising path to today’s All-Star Game. Retrieved from Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/tampa-bay-rays-ben-zobrist-has-taken-a-surprising-path-to-todays-all-star/1018198

The Noble Wolf

By Angela Tooley

Most of us consider the lion as the noble animal.  We think of these beautiful, stately creatures as the king of the animal kingdom.  So, it seems strange to think of a wolf as noble. “The big bad wolf” comes to mind as in the Three Little Pigs, or Little Red Riding Hood! Well it is true that wolves kill, but we are far less aware of their life-giving function in nature.

Just over twenty years ago, Yellowstone National Park’s efforts to control the overpopulation of deer were failing.  Overpopulation had allowed the deer to graze away almost all vegetation.

After a seventy-year absence, wolves were reintroduced to the park. While they did kill some deer, they radically changed deer behavior. The deer began avoiding the valleys and gorges where they were most easily trapped.  This allowed the regeneration of trees and shrubs. Songbirds returned.  Beavers, otters, muskrats, hawks, weasels, foxes, ravens and bald eagles could return because new forests allowed new habitats to be made. Even bears came to eat the berries off the trees.

Perhaps the most fascinating result – the course of a river changed! Regenerated forest stabilized the banks. There was less erosion and less meandering of the river’s course.  An entire ecosystem and its physical geography were transformed. Because of some wolves.

Are you a wolf? Yes, if you’re a parent, a grandparent, aunt, uncle or godparent. Yes, if you are a teacher, coach, minister or mentor to young people. Obviously, I don’t want you to kill, but I do want you to realize the major impact you have on young people

Like a wolf you will promote the growth of habitat by:

  • Educating youth about healthy sexual values and making wise choices
  • Providing a stable environment at home, in churches, schools, and extracurricular activities

Like the presence of the wolf, your presence can intervene in the lives of your kids and their friends by:

  • Removing threats using filters as well as monitoring all computers and mobile devices
  • Observing their social media habits
  • Protecting from abuse

Like the changed river course, your presence will have an impact for generations to come.

You can do this! Blessings!

Monbiot, G. (2014, February 13). How Wolves Change Rivers. Retrieved from Monbiot.com: http://www.monbiot.com/2014/02/13/how-wolves-change-rivers/

Be a Know No Parent

By Eric Tooley

What are our biggest worries regarding our kids?

A recent study of over 2,000 American adults revealed the following list:

  • Childhood obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Bullying
  • Stress
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Internet safety
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Not enough physical activity

Very good list. Several of them are main focuses of our work at Noble Choices.

What do these worries all have in common?

The need for our children to say, “No.”

Do you teach your children to say, “no”?

Many parents actually do the opposite. They will respond to their child’s “no” with hurt, withdrawal, guilt, anger, threats, and punishment.

Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend offer the following examples of parents not allowing their children to say “no.”

  • “Mommy needs to hold you now.”
  • “How can you say ‘no’ to your parents who love you?”
  • “Don’t talk back to me.”
  • “Someday you’ll feel sorry for hurting your parents’ feelings like that.”

Ask your self the following:

  • Do you allow your child to disagree with you?
  • When your child wants distance or to play something else, do you allow it?
  • If your child argues about bedtime, do you listen, consider, and even change your mind occasionally?
  • Even if you enforce the bedtime, do you do it without withdrawing love?
  • If your child doesn’t want to give affection, do you force it?

How can we expect our teens to say no to smoking, drugs, alcohol, pornography, or teen sex if we haven’t allowed them to say no to anything else while growing up?

However, if you teach them it is safe to say “no” and allow them to practice it, they will have ten years of practice before hitting their teen years.

Don’t be a NO NO parent. Be a KNOW NO parent.

 

Cloud, D. H., & Townsend, D. (1992). Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. (2014, August 11). School violence, gun-related injuries in top 10 child health concerns in U.S. Retrieved from National Poll on Children’s Health: http://mottnpch.org/sites/default/files/documents/081114_top10.pdf

 

 

Not Recycling versus Pornography

By Angela Tooley

I often have conversations with individuals who are not aware of the dangerous nature of pornography. Of course, as a part of my work I share this fact as much as possible.

Do you know pornography’s growing prevalence in our culture and its dangers?

The Barna Group released a landmark study last year showing a shift in morality as values are eroding. Teens (ages 13-17) and young adults (ages 18-24) were asked to rank the following actions as to whether they were morally wrong.

  1. Stealing 88%
  2. Adultery 75%
  3. Lying 71%
  4. Not recycling 56%
  5. Thinking negatively of someone with a different point of view 55%
  6. Overeating 48%
  7. Wasteful consumption of water or electricity 38%
  8. Jealousy 32%
  9. Viewing pornographic images 32%

Be sure to take a good look at that again. Did you notice that not recycling is considered a greater danger to our society than having future generations who are unable to have lasting, meaningful relationships because they thought pornography wasn’t wrong?

The study also confirms that pornography is not just a problem for men. 67% of male teens and young adults and 33% of females are seeking out porn on a frequent basis.

That is 1 in 3 females!

Pornography isn’t much better when we get over the age the age of 25: 47% of men and 12% of females frequently seek out pornography.

Even among Christian women ages 18-24, 56% viewed pornography at least once a month. For Christian women over the age of 25, it is still 27%.

If that wasn’t enough, 49% of all women surveyed think of pornography as acceptable.

Sobering. Clearly there is much that needs to be done in educating ourselves and those around us about the harm of pornography.

Barna Group. (2016).The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography in the Digital Age. Ventura, CA: Barna Group.

Parent Corner

Welcome to a new feature of Noble Notes, Parent Corner. In this spot of the newsletter, we will give parents ideas about how to use the information in the feature article. We are excited to offer this new feature periodically.

  1. Give your teens the list of nine actions above. Ask them to rank them in order of the worst to the least worst. Then discuss their list and their reasoning. Be careful not to judge their answers as right or wrong.
  2. Ask your teens how they thing their classmates as a whole would rank the list. Discuss what makes them think they would rank them this way.
  3. Share the way you would list them and why but again being careful not to claim the “right” answer. Offer it simply as another point of view.
  4. Quote the statistics about females viewing pornography. Ask if that is their experience with the females at their school.
  5. Ask your teen what they would do if they were offered pornography to view. This could be via text, YouTube, website, etc. Offer ideas and what you would like them to do.

Your Escape Room

Have you heard the latest craze? Escape rooms.

People pay $30 to be locked in a room. They have sixty to ninety minutes to solve a series of puzzles to find their way out. An escape room in Dallas should clear a million dollars just this year. You can find them all over the world even in Iraq and Iran.

Escapes have always been popular: movies, reality shows, books and songs. What are we escaping from though? Actor Nicolas Cage gives us a clue,

“As a child, superheroes provided an escape for me from my mundane existence, from my lack of friends or my inability to communicate well with people.”

We all have something from which we want to escape.

What is your escape room?

Some of us have socially acceptable escape rooms:

  • television/movies
  • video games
  • exercise
  • Facebook
  • workaholism/success/wealth

Some of us have addiction escape rooms:

  • pornography
  • alcohol
  • drugs
  • gambling
  • eating
  • sex

Our escape rooms become the very thing from which we cannot escape.

1 Peter 4:1-2 beautifully expressed in The Message gives us our true escape room:

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. (MSG)

We try to escape our suffering instead of going through it like Jesus did. Yet it is that very suffering that brings us our freedom.

Follow Paul’s yearnings in Philippians 3:10:

All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life. (GNT)

So when you feel that temptation to go to your escape room, ask yourself:

  • What suffering am I trying to avoid?
  • How is God wanting me to be like Him in this suffering?

Then remember His promise:

 Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 

 

Study on Porn Use

A recent study shows that porn use is worse than we thought. And we thought it was pretty bad.

The Barna Group surveyed a representative sample of U.S. adults.

Men age 18 to 30 who viewed pornography more than once a month was 75%!

It wasn’t much better for men age 31 to 49 which was 59%.

Viewing porn more than monthly was relatively the same across all income levels and education levels and specifically was:

  • 69% of Hispanic men
  • 64% of Black men
  • 49% of White men
  • 56% of non-Christian men
  • 52% of Christian men
  • 62% of non-married men
  • 40% of married men

Roughly 1 out of every 5 men either said they were addicted to pornography or were unsure.

Particularly alarming was the rate of women using pornography.

While less than 10% of women over 30 view pornography more than once a month, for women 18 to 30 it was 34%!

Income and education levels also had little differences among the rate women viewed porn more than once a month. Specifically:

  • 14% of White women
  • 12% of Hispanic women
  • 7% of Black women
  • 22% of non-Christian women
  • 10% of Christian woman

However, there is a problem among married women.

  • 19% of married women view porn more than once a month
  • compared to only 10% of non-married women.

Where do you fit in this study?

Maybe you only view pornography a few times a year or even less. Before you think you don’t have a problem, let me tell you that was the rate of my porn use. It still caused me great pain. I never could quit until I started admitting I had a problem and got help. Please do the same. The freedom and restoration of your sexuality is worth the work. Call me at 972-342-0753 or email me. I can help.

As a parent, teacher, or youth worker, what are you doing about this problem among our young adults?

Just this month, I have had three churches and one school pull back from having my pornography presentation because of resistance from their parents about addressing this topic. Their fear is that if we talk about it, the students will become more curious and therefore more likely to try it. There is not a single study that shows addressing sexual issues with young people increases their likelihood to engage in that activity. Call me at 972-342-0753 or email me or submit our online scheduling form. Let’s protect our youth.

2014 ProvenMen.org Pornography Addiction Survey (conducted by Barna Group). The survey results are located at www.provenmen.org/2014pornsurvey/pornography-use-and-addiction.

Dating Apps with Teens are Dangerous for Adults

Deceptive Teens Phone(This is the second of a three-part series on the dangers of dating apps and teenagers. See the first in the series here.)

It is obvious to tell teens on dating apps their vulnerability to sexual predators. What is not so obvious is the danger to adults when teens use these apps.

In June, a Houston man used the dating app Plenty O’ Fish to meet an 18 year-old woman. After talking online for three days, the woman invited him to her apartment. When he arrived, the woman claimed to need to take a phone call. When she left, two male teens approached with a gun. When the man had no money and refused to take them to his car, the teens shot him. The man survived by playing dead and calling 911 when his attackers fled. The girl was only 14 and had done the same scheme with another victim.

In Indiana last month, a nineteen year old man used the app, Hot or Not, to meet a 17 year-old girl (“of age” in Indiana). The two meet and have sex. It turns out the girl was only 14. The girl testified at his trial and admitted lying about her age. She said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you my age. It kills me every day, knowing you are going through hell and I’m not. I want to be in trouble and not you.”

However, even if the sex was consensual and even if the girl did lie about her age, it is not a defense under most statutory rape laws. After a short jail sentence he is listed as a sex offender for 25 years. As such, he cannot live with his parents because his brother is 15. He is forbidden from using computers or smart phones to communicate with minors the rest of his life.

These stories aren’t just important for adults to reconsider their use of dating apps. Teens need to know them as well. The Indiana story shows what a young teen can do to someone they care about when they lie about their age in these apps.

For a list of these apps see my previous article on dating apps.

ABC 13 Eyewitness News. (2015, July 6). Police: Man played dead after being shot in southwest Houston. Retrieved from News: http://abc13.com/news/police-man-played-dead-after-being-shot-in-sw–houston/831467/
Kasparian, A. (2015, August 5). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/teen-listed-as-a-sex-offender-for-dating-app-hookup/
Phillips, K., & Fitzpatrick, D. (2015, August 4). How a dating app hookup landed a teen on the sex offender registry. Retrieved from CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/us/dating-app-sex-offender-registry/
Shay, M. (2015, July 10). Charges dropped against teen accused of luring shooting victims. Retrieved from ABC 13 Eyewitness News: http://abc13.com/news/charges-dropped-against-teen-accused-of-luring-victims/840675/