Emotional and Mental Health

Why It’s Not Really a Sex Problem

Behaviors matter. Behaviors have consequences. And sexual behaviors especially have consequences. But for those who are struggling here, putting your…

What Were You Even Created For?

If you woke up this morning feeling that everything in your world is better-than-good and you’re fully satisfied, this article…
Young person sitting in grain field. Brain CAN change.

Your Brain CAN Change

When I went through medical school back in the “dark ages” we were told that 50% of what we learned…
Cooking together

21 Things to Do Together As a Married Couple

When you were dating, you probably had no difficulty coming up with interesting things to do with your sweetheart. Now that you’ve been married for a few, or many, years, the newness has worn off and you probably spend more time thinking about work, budgets, kids, schedules, and just getting through the day.
It’s important to spice things up from time to time. Here are some things to consider doing together that can give you an opportunity to learn, stretch yourselves, and have fun:

Is God Disappointed in You?

How does God feel about you? (We’re using human words to talk about God; that’s troublesome. But stick with me.)…

El Roi: The God Who Sees Me

You carefully curate the pictures you upload to social media. You want to look your best. Or perhaps you are…

Your Marriage Under Lockdown

If things are wonderful between you and your spouse, lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic may seem great; you’ve got…

Love is NOT All You Need

If you’re over a certain age perhaps you can hear it in your head even now: “All you need is…

God Does Not Work Alone

God can and does work any way He chooses. But God did not create you to need only Him. That…
Single at Christmas

Single at Christmas

Christmas is only a few days away – and you’re alone. Well, not really alone, not totally. But you’re single.…

How Your Mood Affects Your Spouse

The honeymoon is over. You’ve settled into the routine of life. Small irritations and disappointments seem all too common. Life,…
Is my marriage toxic?

Is My Marriage Toxic?

How bad is bad enough? When you are unhappily married that can be a difficult question. If you’re serious about…
your spouse hurts you

When Your Spouse Hurts You

You will be wounded in your marriage.  It’s not a question of if, but when your spouse hurts you. But…
Spouse is Negative

When Your Spouse is Negative

Keeping a positive outlook on life brings many benefits – both to your own experience and to your marriage. But…
good things to think about

25 Good Things to Think About

Thoughts control actions. Thoughts come before emotions. Thoughts impact how other people see you, and how you react to every situation you come across. Choosing what thoughts to think can go a long way toward making you well or sick, happy or sad, lonely or connected, desperate or satisfied.
If you feel challenged to know what to think about, here’s a list to get you started. When you find yourself rolling negative things around in your mind, choose one of these items instead. You can think about:

"I Hate Sex"

“I Hate Sex!”

If your heart whispers – or screams – “I hate sex”, you’re not alone. That might sound as strange as…
Digital Diet Causing Anxiety

Is your Digital Diet Causing Anxiety?

Feeling overwhelmed with life. Distracted without a sense of purpose. Overstressed and overanxious. Lonely, without close relationships. Unable to focus,…
reconnect with your spouse

How to Reconnect with Your Spouse

You are feeling seriously disconnected from your spouse, and it’s just plain awful. You’ve determined you will no longer ignore,…
Come out of Hiding

How to Come Out of Hiding

How we love to hide! It’s been that way ever since the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:8-10) Wounds create shame.…
When people disappoint you

When People Disappoint You

Did you know that happiness research is a “thing?” For the past few decades researchers have looked at what determines…
the SCENE in your marriage

The SCENE in your Marriage

Today’s Western culture is often less than helpful or friendly to long-term Christian marriage. Few believers would dispute that, and…
Antidote to self-doubt

The Antidote to Self-Doubt

What does the self-talk in your head sound like? What do you tell yourself? Perhaps like so many people you…
when you feel lonely

What to Do When You Feel Lonely

Pain is perhaps the loneliest thing in the world. That goes for emotional pain, physical pain, spiritual pain. It becomes…
Jesus There With You

Take Jesus There With You

God doesn’t simply rain down healing or transformation from “on high.” Instead, He came to be with us. And in…
Loving Others

How Loving Others Changes You

Ask almost any Christian believer, and they will say Yes to the question, “Are you interested in becoming more like…
What Gratitude Does For You

What Gratitude Does For You

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Many are gathering to celebrate with family, food, — and football. It’s…
Your Change, Your Choice

Your Change, Your Choice

The God who created you has treated you with amazing dignity by giving you the gift of choice. Your limited…

What To Do When Your Husband Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You

The stereotype of a man pressuring his wife for sex does not apply to every relationship: there are many women who experience just the opposite. Even when a woman is not the sexual aggressor, it wounds a woman’s heart when her husband does not demonstrate sexual attraction to her.
Rather than wallowing in self-pity, or looking outside the marriage for satisfaction, here are five questions to consider if your husband appears to shrink from having sex with you.

Husband frustrated that wife doesn't want sex

What To Do When Your Wife Doesn’t Want To Have Sex With You

I’ve heard from husbands of my patients, blog readers, radio listeners, and others about how frustrated and even angry a man can become when repeatedly rejected sexually.
Rather than feeling sorry for yourself, or looking outside your marriage for satisfaction, here are five questions to consider, and some practical things you may do, that have a good chance of improving the sexual connection in your marriage.

Is sex a need?

Is Sex a Need?

Oh my, we’re getting touchy! Perhaps even asking that question feels like sandpaper in the most sensitive parts of you.…
Can your feelings change?

Can Your Feelings Change?

Feelings color everything we do. Some feelings are wonderful. And sometimes worry, anger, loneliness, depression, irritation, overwhelm, fear, or other…
submission in Christian marriage

Submission in Christian Marriage

Hear the words “submission” and “marriage” in the same sentence and you may feel something visceral rise up in your…
Worshiping God

Who Is Your God?

Do you know who your God is? As Christian believers that may seem a rhetorical question. But if someone met…
Emotions

5 Ways to Befriend Your Feelings

Feelings are fickle. They’re real, but they’re unreliable. Emotions can be affected by everything happening both inside you and around…
First Year Alone

A Widow’s First Year Alone

In some sense “widow’s first year alone” is deeply false. I’m not really alone. I never have been, and I…
Child with Bible

Positive Thinking and the Bible

Is it magic? Is it “mind over matter?” Does faith mean white-knuckling it with positive thoughts and affirmations? What do you…
Sunrise

HOPE for the In-Between Times

The in-between times can often be one of the most challenging. The Christmas celebrations are over. The New Year is…

What to do if you Feel Unloved

Unwanted. Rejected. Second class. Fifth wheel. Unimportant. Not good enough. Lonely. You feel unloved, and it hurts. You want to…

Facing Grief at Easter

Today is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. Is there a more important weekend in all of Christianity? The death, burial,…
Doing the next right thing

Doing the Next Right Thing

You’ve probably heard the adage, “Just do the next right thing.” In the midst of confusion or overwhelm, it’s a…

Two Minutes to Being More Happy

People who are more happy experience 23% less stress, 39% better health, 31% more productivity, and 34% more positive social interactions.…

4 Keys to Good Mental Health

Struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or the like? Would you like to have good mental health? There’s more you can…

3 Ways to Start Your Day Right

Have you ever wished you could go back and start your day over again? You’re frustrated, irritable, and nothing seems…
Woman alone

For the Christian in a Bad Marriage

There’s plenty of marriage advice out there: pre-marital counseling, marriage seminars, sermons and books proclaiming the magic of a marriage…

Why You Must Find Your WHY

Brianna sat down to chat yesterday. Her second child is nine months old, and she and her husband are planning…

Anxiety can be Good for You

Anxiety is a very unpleasant feeling. Your heart may race. Your stomach may be in knots. You may have trouble…
Feeling shame

How to Disinfect Your Shame

We are all wounded. Life happens to us. People hurt us. And we hurt ourselves. But when the infection of…

30 Things To Be Grateful For

Life is difficult. Bad things happen, and challenges come every day. One of the best ways to meet those challenges…

Live Healthy, Live Whole!

It’s here! Your Prescription for Healthy Living, Loving Relationships, and Joyful Spirituality Have you ever tried to have a meaningful…
Fully Alive

Christianity in One Word

Denominations. Cultures. Traditional vs. contemporary. Grace vs. good works. Community. Just love everyone. What is Christianity really about anyway? Controversy…

Who Should You Ask For Help

When you’re successful at doing it all on your own you’re left with feelings of accomplishment and pride. More often,…

How to Turn It Over to God

In Christian-eze it’s been said various ways: “Give it to God.” “Turn it over to God.” “Let God do the…
feeling shame

What’s GOOD About Shame?

Can there ever be anything good about shame? You may have heard it a lot: “You ought to be ashamed…
Crying

God Wants You Uncomfortable

“God, help me, please!” I believe God loves those prayers. There’s never a wrong time to pray, though sadly it…
Couple happy together

Sex Without Pain

Is sex without pain possible? Sex shouldn’t hurt! But too often it does. As a gynecologist I have talked with…

Did Christmas Disappoint You?

For most of us, yesterday was Christmas. The gifts have been opened. The food has been eaten. The Christmas carols…
Senior Couple in Love

Enjoying Sex After Menopause

Some men complain their wives lose interest in intimacy around the time of menopause. Some women complain they can’t enjoy…

How to Study Your Spouse

One of the two best pieces of advice I heard prior to getting married was this: Study Your Spouse! I…

Are You In The Right Church?

There’s a wonderful gospel song that proclaims, “God’s building a church!” Yes, He certainly is. And YOU are a vital…

4 Things To Do While Waiting

Nobody likes to wait. It’s frustrating. It feels cold. And it’s easy to let a seeming delay mess with your…

Getting Over A Bad Attitude

A bad attitude isn’t all in your head. Sometimes it’s very much in your body as well. A bad attitude…

Helping the REAL Problem

Trying to fix spiritual problems with physical “fixes” doesn’t work. And trying to fix physical problems with spiritual activities rarely…

The Gospel Is Not For Wimps!

Sometimes we think the message of the Gospel offers good people a way to become better, get over their hangups…
Skydiving

13 Things On A Bucket List For Christians

Wanting to “kiss at the top of the Empire State Building,” or “learn to play guitar” may be great goals. But if you believe that God has a purpose for your life, there are some other things that should be on your “bucket list” for sure. Here are some things you don’t want to get to the end of your life without having accomplished:

7 Things The Bible Says To Those Who Are Poor

There are few topics on which the Bible has more to say than the topic of money. And there are plenty of distortions of Biblical truths on the subject. Those on the political right and political left have found plenty of Biblical proof texts for their positions. And sadly someone’s position on what the Bible says can often be determined by their net worth.
But for those who are in need of material things, here are some specific things that the Bible makes clear:

How God Makes A “Real Man”

God’s not done creating and recreating men, remember. God still needs your viril strength, your adventurous or creative spirit, and your protecting, leading presence. Yes, those dreams you had as a little boy do need to grow up. But don’t just let them go.

Jesus and His disciples

Five Kinds of People Jesus Spent Time With

Jesus didn’t like everybody.
He loved everyone. He still loves everyone. But while He was here on earth, Jesus definitely had favorites. There were people He loved to be around, and people He avoided.
Here are the kinds of people Jesus spent most of His time with:

Frustrated husband whose wife doesn't want sex

What Does The Bible Say To A Man Whose Wife Doesn’t Want Sex

You can struggle greatly when your wife does not or cannot respond to you sexually. It’s a little ironic: here I am a woman, talking to men about sex. That’s because I’ve been asked about this specific question more than once, and this post is my answer. You may be struggling with this in your marriage and have told no one. I hope this helps you in some way.

In The War On Women, Are You A Victim, A Survivor, Or A Warrior?

There’s been a lot of talk about a war against women recently. I agree! There HAS been a war against women, but it’s not the war that’s being talked about in much of the progressive media. It’s a war that’s much older, much more sinister, and much more dangerous, than anything related to healthcare or so-called reproductive rights.

Quiet and listening

What To Do When You Want To Hear From God

I need God to speak to me. But I’m not hearing anything from Him at all!”
Have you said anything like that? Those of us who care at all about our relationship with God would love to have a way to know exactly what God was saying. But too often it seems like a game of, “Can you hear me now?”

Free From the Gold, the Girls, and the Glory

With painful regularity yet another preacher gets caught in a scandal. Donated funds have been diverted to personal use. An inappropriate sexual relationship is discovered. The “ministry” has become focused on someone’s personality rather than God’s work.
One more of God’s servants has fallen to the lure of the gold, the girls, or the glory.

Happy couple

5 Ways To Keep Your Husband Stuck To You Like Glue

“Nothing you can say, Can tear me away, From my guy. Nothing you could do, ‘Cause I’m stuck like glue, To my guy.”
Thank you, Smokey Robinson! Even though it’s been 50 years, you expressed what many women would love to be able to say today.
It’s one thing to be stuck to him. But it’s another thing entirely when he’s stuck to you more like a Post-it note instead of glue. Something, or more likely someone, comes along that feels a little stickier, and he sticks there instead.

What Would You Do If You KNEW What God Told You Was True?

I’ve read the Bible many times, but I still remember a Bible story book I had a child. It told the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41). Fearing for their lives, the disciples were valiantly trying to save themselves and the boat. They awoke Jesus, asleep in the boat, who then stood and spoke to the wind and waves. “Peace, be still!” And everything became quiet.

24 Things Your Spouse May Be Feeling When They Seem Upset With You

Your husband is giving you the silent treatment. You immediately think he’s angry with you, and you want to call him on it. You feel yourself getting angry in return. “Why won’t you talk to me?”
Your wife is irritable and distracted, and hasn’t taken care of what you asked her to do today. You’re frustrated, and want to lash out at her. “Why can’t you take care of something so simple?”

Couple talking

How To Talk To Your Spouse About Sex

Sex can become one of the most contentious and painful aspects of a marriage. Or it can be one of the most affirming and bonding parts of your relationship. One of the best way to move sex from something you avoid to something you anticipate is through talking about it.

Do’s and Don’ts For When Your Spouse Is Depressed

God’s plan for marriage is that husband and wife be a support to each other in good times and in bad. When your spouse is struggling with depression you will likely need to draw on the full range of physical, emotional, and spiritual coping strategies in order to do so.
A few things to do and not to do that will help you remain sane, strong, and supportive:

Unhappy wife

What To Do When Your Husband Wants Sex and You Don’t

I’m going to assume for a moment that you have a genuinely good man for a husband, not perfect, but one who truly wants to be good to you. You recognize that sex together as husband and wife is important to him, and you’d like to handle it better. Here are some things you can do.

Man wearing glasses

Can God Heal You From Mental Illness?

Of course God can heal you from mental illness!
But the real-life answer is often much more complicated, more painful, more excruciating.
When it comes to mental illness, like with most other problems we humans face, God’s answer is almost always, “All of the above.”

In Charge

10 Things God Has Put You In Charge Of

Try to take charge of what is in God’s hands, and you will become frustrated and anxious. Neglect to take charge of things God has placed in YOUR hands, and you will become depressed.
I’ve gotten confused over the difference many times, and perhaps you have too. Understanding the difference can change everything about your happiness, peace, and success in this world, and more.

10 Excuses That Won’t Work With God

God is as eager to bless you, heal you, give you good things, or fulfill a big purpose in your life as a father or mother is to give good things to their children. (Matthew 7:11) Most of what He wants for you is bigger and more eternal than you could imagine for yourself.
But too often we humans are so short-sighted, selfish, or afraid that we don’t take advantage of what God offers. It’s like a child afraid to get onto a bicycle or jump into a swimming pool. The joy of swimming or riding a bike is waiting for you, but it takes being willing to risk, and trusting that your parent (God) will be there.

Clasped hands

15 Ways To Help Someone Who’s Having A Bad Day

Having a bad day yourself is bad enough. But when your friend, spouse, child, or someone else close to you is having a bad day, that can almost be harder.
How can you help when someone is having a bad day? Your loved one will not appreciate it if you ignore them, pretend everything is OK, or get angry or upset yourself.
Here are some possible things you can do that WILL help:

Difficult People

How To Deal With Difficult People

Some people are impossibly difficult. At least for you. You can’t stand being around them. Every time you have to deal with them, you have a bad day.
If you’re a Christian, you may wonder what’s wrong with your spirituality when trying to deal with someone you can’t stand. Aren’t you supposed to love them? Isn’t that what Jesus would do?

Young woman

10 Mistakes To Avoid In Looking For A Husband

Looking for a husband? So was I.
And then I gave up. And it’s probably the best thing I ever did.
I’d like to look at it from the other side. Sadly, if you are looking for Mr Right there are a number of married women who would be glad to give him to you! Learning from mistakes others have made may save you a lot of heartache. (And in a moment, I’ll also share two things you SHOULD do.)

“Why Don’t I Feel Like Praying?”

Some part of your heart believes you “should” pray. Prayer is a good thing. But you are struggling to find it in you to actually pray.
Does that mean you’re just not “spiritual enough?”
Not necessarily. God made us as whole, integrated human beings. Something that happens in one part of our lives may impact every other area. And that includes your spiritual energy.

Lonely heart

How God Can Heal Your Lonely Heart

You’re single, with no good prospects in sight. You’re lonely, and you want to do things God’s way. You long for someone to love, and to love you. So why isn’t God coming through with a spouse for you?
You’ve heard people talk about God meeting your heart’s needs, and intellectually you believe He can. But you’re lonely. Right now you want a God with “skin on.”

When Your Soul Is Tired

In the 21st century there are so many things that can wear us out. An unhealthy lifestyle, lack of sleep, digital overload, complicated relationships, and stress of all kinds is enough to make any one of us exhausted.
But perhaps the most paralyzing of all is exhaustion of the soul. All the other stresses of life can certainly make your body and mind vulnerable, but soul fatigue leaves you barely existing rather than living.

What You Should Learn From A Bad Day

Bad days will come. You have them, and so do I.
I’ve had a couple bad days recently. And I’ve come to realize that having a bad day can be very useful. Through the experience of having many bad days (who hasn’t?), I’ve come to understand that there are many things to be learned. And some of those things really cannot be learned on a good day.

Smiling Child

10 Reasons You Should Smile More

Smiles are contagious!
That’s only one reason to be conscious of how often you smile. Smiling is good for your body, mind, and soul. It’s good for the people around you. And it can demonstrate an inner hope and peace that speaks of God’s work in your heart.
So, here are some specific reasons you should consciously make an effort to smile more often.

Sleepy boy

8 Things To Do When You’re Tired

If you’re tired because you are behind on your sleep, that may be the very best thing to do.
But not so fast. Sometimes sleep may work against you.
Often it’s not a medical problem that’s causing fatigue. There are many lifestyle factors in our modern world that just wear you out!
So what can you do when you’re tired?

Wealth or Poverty Is A State of Mind

Wealth, generosity, and poverty are not concepts primarily defined by your bank account, adjusted gross income, or zip code.
Wealth, generosity, and poverty are defined by your state of mind.
Are you a giver or a taker? That question is the best way to determine your state of mind when it comes to wealth or poverty.

Where Are YOU Looking For Love?

If you’re a single person, you’ve certainly been asked the question, How’s your love life?
As for the single life, I know what that’s like. During much of my single years I was decidedly unhappy about being single, and felt terribly lonely. But I did learn a lot. And I’d like to share two of those things with you.

God Has NO Perfect Soul-Mate For You

Don’t go looking for a perfect soul-mate. News flash: there aren’t any! And if there were a perfect soul-mate out there somewhere, you wouldn’t be eligible to develop a relationship with them. Because YOU are not perfect!
So let’s get rid of the idea that there is one perfect soul-mate out there for you, and you will only be happy when you find that person. That idea will make you sorely unhappy!

Woman crying

2 Questions to Help You Decide If Your Marriage Is Too Destructive To Save

If you’re wrestling with a painful or destructive marriage, you know all too well the frustration, tears, and loneliness involved. You know the feelings of powerlessness, shame, sadness, disappointment, or guilt. You may have prayed, cried, and done all you know, and are only left with weariness and hopelessness.
There are two things I know for sure:

Number One New Year’s Resolution: Losing Weight

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this year? If so, there’s a pretty good chance that losing weight is at the top of your list.
If weight is YOUR challenge, the costs are much more personal. You pay in ways such as decreased energy, self-esteem, or perhaps a sense of discrimination. I see women in my office regularly who break down in tears over their struggle with weight.
But now it’s a new year, and you’ve resolved to do something about it. And before taking any other action, I want you to think FIRST about what’s eating you!

Relationship

The Second Thing to Learn In Marriage

EVERY couple will face conflict. The question is not IF you will face conflict, but rather HOW you manage conflicts when they arise. Handling conflict in marriage is a learned skill: no one knows how to do it automatically, but anyone can get better at it.
Don’t be surprised when you and your spouse see things differently: after all, if you were both the same, one of you would be unnecessary! What’s important is what you do then.
Here are five important steps to learn:

The First Thing to Learn In Marriage

Each person comes to marriage with different expectations of what life will be like.
Your expectations of marriage ARE different than your spouse’s. Even if you communicate well before getting married, the realities of life together WILL challenge those expectations.
And you WILL be disappointed.

You’re Not Afraid? I Don’t Believe You

You might say, “Nothing scares me.”
But I don’t believe you.
You and I are human. We have feelings. God made us that way.
The question is not, “Are you afraid?” The question is, “What are you afraid of?”
And even more importantly, “What are you going to do about it?”

5 Ways To Be A Woman Nobody Can Live With

I know two women quite well who nobody can live with – at least and stay sane. You probably know one or more also. I just hope you aren’t trying to live with one!
If you want to be someone nobody can live with, here’s how:

Why You Don’t Have to Fear the Future

The analogy I like the best is comparing a new year to a newborn baby.
I frequently get to be the one who helps a new baby enter the world. From time to time I wonder what kind of life that newborn baby will grow up to have.

7 Things to Give Away This Year

This is the time when many look forward to the coming year, planning how to make things better than last year.
But there’s one other area of life where I would like you to plan as well. Plan to give away what you have!
The vast majority of us are far more likely to hold back than to give too much away.

10 Things to Leave Behind in 2014

A new year provides a wonderful opportunity to leave behind things that aren’t working.
At least briefly review your physical lifestyle, money habits, thoughts and emotions, use of time, personal relationships, and spiritual practices. Ask a few important questions about each area, and it’s likely you will find things that you can do without in 2014.

Weight loss

Does God care if you’re fat?

If approximately two thirds of Americans are overweight, and one third are obese, surely God has something to say about the situation.
Christian preachers and gospel singers have a reputation for being seriously overweight. Some data asserts that Christians are more frequently overweight than those of other religions, or no religion at all.
But again, what is God’s perspective on this?

Does Being a Christian Make You Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise?

Some of God’s best friends were healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Some of God’s best friends were also poor, weak, and outcast.
Does God enjoy blessing you with financial means, good health, and a good life here and now? Yes, He does. But don’t ever make the mistake of judging someone’s Christianity, or your own, by their bank account, popularity, or physical health.

5 Ways to Get Through the Holiday Season Happier and Healthier

Too much food. Too much stress. Too much spending. Too much drinking. Too much unhappy family time. No wonder many people start the new year heavier, unhappy, and in more debt.
There’s no holiday magic that gives you a free pass on what it takes to be healthy physically or mentally. The principles of healthy living apply during the next six weeks just as they do the rest of the year. It’s not too late to plan some better strategies.

When You Dread the Holidays

I have a friend who dreads this time of year. Come each November 15, he wishes he could fast-forward to January 2. The stress, the rush, the shopping, the expectations – he hates it all. And most of all, he hates being lonely.
There are a number of reasons why you might not look forward to Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. Holidays make our normal vulnerabilities more apparent.
If that’s you, there’s one important thing you must do this holiday season.

Young woman

When God-Talk or Religion Is Part of Abuse

When religion, church, God-talk, or spirituality is included as an aspect of abuse it becomes even more damaging. It’s bad enough that your body and soul are hurt in the process; it’s even worse when your spirit is abused and assaulted at the same time.
When the abuser uses spiritual jargon to justify the abuse it adds a further dimension to the healing that is needed.
Healing can be a challenging process. Here are a few thoughts for those who need healing when God-talk was part of the abuse or violence:

MEMO: Getting Past Your Past

Have you ever felt really stuck? It feels like something big has its claws in your brain and you just can’t move. No matter how hard you try you can’t get rid of the baggage that is weighing you down and holding you back.
We all come with a past. Some of our baggage is stuff others have done to us. Some of our baggage is stuff we have done to ourselves.
But how do you get past all that? Here’s how:

10 Things I Learned in 5 Years of Marriage

My husband Al and I recently celebrated our five-year anniversary. It’s been a wonderful five years, and I would say “I do” all over again knowing what I know now. God has blessed us with a very happy relationship.
But that doesn’t mean these past five years have been trouble-free. And it’s some of those challenges that have led to the closeness we increasingly share.
Here are some things I have learned during these five years, some of them expected and some unexpected:

Praying

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Praying

Only the most spiritual of people would deny that there are times they don’t feel like praying. And I’m not sure I would believe them if they did!
Whatever the reason, sometimes you just don’t feel like praying. And if someone says to you, “Pray about it” at one of those moments, they’re the one who might end up needing prayer!
So what do you do with those moments? Is there an option other than living with the guilt of not being “spiritual enough?”
Yes, there is. A few thoughts:

Happy woman

For the Christian Woman Struggling with Hormones

Every part of your being impacts every other area. There are times you may not immediately understand what the root cause of your distress is. But menopause is one time when physical changes may lead to very real emotional and spiritual problems.
It’s no wonder that the physical, emotional, and spiritual pressures become heavy for many women to carry.
Here are some specific things you can do that become especially important at this time of life:

How to Find the Freedom of Forgiveness

You’ve been wronged. Badly.
There comes a time after every such horrible wrong where you must make a decision. And it’s yours alone to make. You have only two choices. Do you remain hurt and miserable, or do the hard work of forgiveness.
Forgiveness sets you free. It does much more for the one doing the forgiving than the one needing to be forgiven.
Forgiveness is also one of the hardest things for most people to do. There’s a sweet misery in nursing your wounds. Having been hurt is a wonderful excuse for all kinds of bad behavior.

What Is God’s View of Healing?

Like everything else about Him, God’s view of healing is much bigger than ours.
Throughout history people have sought healing from sickness and disease in many ways. The God we serve has a lot to say about healing. Jesus had only one attitude toward sickness: He is against it!
But His goal in our healing is much broader than we usually realize.

When to NOT Discuss Things With Your Spouse

You are supposed to communicate together as husband and wife. And that’s a good thing. But there is a difference between communicating and dumping.
However, some women (and a few men) use the principle of communication to unload on their spouse. That may place a burden on your spouse that is not their place to carry.
Communication lets your spouse see and touch the difficult things in your heart. Dumping tries to force your spouse to carry what is yours to own.

Why It Matters Who Is In Charge Of Your Life

“Who’s in charge around here?” That’s a very good question. For any endeavor to succeed, someone must take responsibility.
If your life is a project, or an expedition, or a book, who’s in charge? If you are playing a part in some great drama, who’s directing? It makes a difference.
There are three basic choices when it comes to who’s in charge:

Sapling

What Does Spiritual Maturity Look Like?

Just because you reach a certain birthday does not mean you are mature. And there is no area where that is more true than in matters of the heart and soul. But what does it mean to grow up spiritually?
You know people who are emotionally and spiritually children, even though they have lived many years.
Here’s what spiritual maturity would include:

The Exhilarating Freedom NOT To Care

Have you ever come to the point where you don’t care? It’s one of the most powerful places you can be. And it’s exhilarating!
This is about getting rid of the chains that your own fears create in business, personal relationships, and even your spiritual life.
It’s possible to care too much. Becoming too invested in the outcome puts you in a very vulnerable position, clouds your perspective, and removes all your negotiating power.

Why You Are Afraid of Intimacy

Buried somewhere in your soul beneath the bravado, the anger, the pasty smile, or the hopelessness, there’s a desire to be known. Truly known, intimately, for who you really are.
God created us for relationship. Close, personal, intimate relationship. When that is lacking you feel incomplete, undone, like something is missing.

How A Christian Faces Trouble and Tragedy

We live in a world where there is no shortage of trouble. And that trouble often presents a great challenge to our faith.
Perhaps it’s a natural disaster. Then there is the almost unspeakable violence both near and far. Or perhaps it is your own private trauma. When trouble happens, it’s normal to ask questions: Why me?
In the face of unexpected tragedy, the challenge to faith is real. When trouble comes, here are three things to do:

6 Things That Wear You Out That You Can Stop Doing

If you spend your time and energy trying to do something you can’t do, you’ll only experience frustration, fatigue, and failure. How much better to understand where you can make a difference, and where your efforts are useless. Then you can spend your valuable time and energy in the right place.
Here are six things you might as well stop doing. All your time and effort will just be wasted:

Healing From The Bondage Of Addiction

The numbers concerning addiction are truly staggering. And the problem is huge in the Christian church as well. But numbers tell little of the personal devastation caused by addiction. And the most devastating cost of all is to the soul of the person held in bondage by an addiction.
Yes, addiction is powerful. But as powerful as addiction is, there is ONE who is more powerful. There is ONE who is the Bondage Breaker, Jesus Himself. He has already gone to hell and back for you, and He offers you a way out.

Having a bad day

18 Things To Do When You’re Having A Bad Day

Sometimes it’s a bad hair day. And sometimes it’s a whole lot more than hair that’s going bad! Sometimes everything that can go wrong does go wrong, your stability feels threatened, and you’d just like to go away somewhere and forget everything.
When you’re having a really bad day, here are some suggestions on what to do. Choose one, or two, or three, and see if you don’t feel more able to get through the difficulty:

Where Do You Fit In The Big Drama?

For many people the Christian life seems difficult. You try to knuckle down and push yourself to make it work. But that’s just it: it’s work!
Seeing the Christian life as work will always make it seem difficult. It may help keep you out of jail, but it certainly won’t be much fun.
Let me suggest a much more engaging way to look at things. Rather than work, consider the Christian life as part of a very great drama. Think of what you know of the Bible.

25 Small Things That Make A Difference

Small changes in direction may make a huge difference in your destination. You know that. But it’s easy to fall into a routine and end up some place you would rather not be.
So many areas in life follow this principle. Here are some things where very small actions may make a huge difference down the road:

Managing Your Mental Health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that at least one in four adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness during any given year. Sure, there’s controversy over whether the one-in-four number represents an over-diagnosis. But what is absolutely certain is the pain and loneliness many of those affected struggle with.
There are a number of things you can do on your own to maximize your mental health. You don’t have to accept emotional or mental problems as your destiny. Here are recommendations that will make a difference in managing your own mental health:

Disappointed

When You Are Disappointed in Your Marriage

You expect certain things of your spouse. But sometimes you want more. You believe your spouse loves you, but it’s not enough. You crave something you’re not getting. You want adventure, intimacy, emotional connection, time, trust, help around the house, more money, children, support, more sex – something more.
The only way to keep “wanting more” from coming between you and your spouse is to address the problem head on. If you feel you want more than you are getting from your spouse, here are the steps you can take:

Senior Moments, or Alzheimer’s?

One of the biggest fears many people have as they get older is the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s or some other dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in this country. One in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia. Direct costs of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States will top $203 billion this year.
But these numbers don’t really touch on the personal cost of dementia. Many of both the patients and family members affected feel like Alzheimer’s steals what should be some of the most meaningful years of one’s life. Family members put careers on hold. Financial savings are wiped out. And the physical and emotional toll of caregiving becomes overwhelming.

Why You Should Care About Your Health If You’re A Christian

Some Christians have been criticized for not caring enough about their health in the here-and-now. You know, being “so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.” It seems Christians on the whole do not have a very good track record for being healthy.
While not the deciding factor in your eternal salvation, doing all you can to maximize your health leads to increased effectiveness in what God has given you to do, allows you to hear God’s voice better, helps you experience God’s restoration now, and more.

10 Things To Look For In Your Friends

The people you align yourself with will determine your future, good or bad.
It’s important who your friends are. You become increasingly like the people you hang out with. Your attitudes, behaviors, and values naturally move closer to those of the people around you. It’s possible to know much about your future by looking at your friends.

Single: When You Live Alone

The rates of marriage may be going down in our society. But for most, you expect to grow up, find a man or woman to join your life with, create a family, and live happily ever after. Your mental life plan, conscious or unconscious, probably did not include being single.
At least for some, marriage will never happen. And then the truth is that marriage is temporary. Every marriage has an end. Your spouse dies, or your marriage ends in divorce, and you face being single again. Whether never married or newly single, the single life has special challenges.
Being single is not just a prelude to being married. Go ahead and enjoy life, and take God with you on the journey.

Things Children Can Teach You

Seeing things through a child’s eyes sets so many things straight. Learning to walk, fascination over a butterfly, first day of school – every day is wonderful in some way.
The tiredness and busyness of life lead most of us to forget much of what we knew as children. Here are some things children know that we can learn again:

10 Things To Do When You Feel Lonely

Make friends with yourself; then you will never have to be lonely!
Sometimes it really is that simple. We do need people in our lives. But being alone does not have to mean feeling lonely. When you feel lonely, taking some specific action can change your whole emotional state. Over time, those actions may create new emotional habits, and you will feel entirely different about the times when you are alone.
Here are some things you can do when you feel lonely:

5 Ways Being Single Helped Me Be Happily Married

I had given up on marriage. It just wasn’t for me. It’s not that I didn’t want to be married: I had hoped and prayed for years. By the time I was in my early forties I had come to terms with the fact that I would always be single.
Then God brought a wonderful man into my life. During my single years I learned a lot. It was that kind of growing up that has allowed me to be so happily married now.

Woman in Meditation

Your Soul Gets Hungry! 5 Ways to Feed Your Inner Being

We need to eat every day. So does your soul. Sometimes a mental fast-food snack will keep your soul’s hunger at bay for a time. But you regularly need to bring some real nourishment to the deeper parts of you. Neglect doing so for too long, and you will become irritable, short-sighted, frustrated, angry, and ineffective.
Here are several possible ways to give your soul some gourmet nourishment:

Where Is Your Body Vulnerable?

Stress exacts a toll on your body, mind, and soul. But how your body responds is unique to you. The same outside stressor may create a very different reaction in your body than in mine.
If you are paying attention, your body will tell you when you need to take action to prevent further damage. Each of us has one or two body systems that are most vulnerable. Some common vulnerable areas are:

How Do You Handle Stress?

In preparation for being part of a group I hope to work with, I underwent a behavioral interview this week. A behavioral interview focuses on such things as how you deal with people, how you handle situations you dislike, what excites and energizes you, and how you handle stress.
How DO you handle stress?
There are many different ways of handling stress. Here are a few:

Why Seeing Yourself as “Body, Mind, and Soul/Spirit” is a BAD Idea

“I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body.” Have you been in Christian gatherings where the preacher asked you to say that out loud, or something similar?
Some readers may issue with this position. But I believe this discussion really misses the point. God didn’t take a bit of this and a bit of that and weld it together with some cosmic superglue when He made you.

When Arms Are Empty: Infertility

There’s something intimate and beautiful about new parents holding their newborn baby in their arms. But sadly, many couples do not have an opportunity to experience that joy, and do not have a baby to hold in their arms.
As a Reproductive Endocrinologist I’ve seen couples struggle with these issues, and have seen the stress it puts on their relationship. Helping couples experience that miracle is a privilege I enjoy. And my hope and prayer is that you can experience that miracle when you so desire.

5 Actions to Take With Almost Any Problem

If it wasn’t one thing it was another. The very professional woman broke down in tears, hoping for some help from me as her doctor.
I explained to Linda how inter-connected a women is in her body, mind, and soul. And we talked through these action steps that I’ll share with you. When faced with almost any problem, here’s what to do.

10 Things A Woman Wants and Needs

If you’re a guy, you probably would do just about anything to impress your lady love, or win her heart.
But do you know what she really wants?
And if you’re a woman, do you recognize what your heart really wants – and needs?
In the deep parts of a woman’s soul most of us share these common needs.

Searching For The Fountain Of Youth

Even before Ponce de Leon spent his years searching Florida for the illusive fountain of youth, men and women have searched for ways to look and feel younger, and to keep from getting old. Most of us recognize that with maturity often comes wisdom, but we long for the freshness of youth.
Something in our soul understands that getting old, weak, and dependent is not our original destiny. Deep inside we sense that 70, 80, or even 90 years is not long enough.

Don’t Let These 4 Dangerous Spiritual Viruses Infect You

Sandra and Tom plan to never enter a church again. They feel bruised and beaten emotionally and spiritually at the hand of a group of Christians, and feel their only hope of survival is to separate from the Christian church as they see it.
Unhealthy spirituality can be toxic – to your mental well-being, to your physical health, and to your relationship with God. Don’t let one of these dangerous spiritual viruses infect your life:

birth control pills

Should I Use Birth Control? A Christian Doctor’s Answer

When I think of contraception, a number of images come to mind. Talking about contraception is often an emotionally charged issue. The debate really has nothing to do with birth control. The debate has to do with sex.
If you’ve read this far, you want to know how I deal with these issues, and what I tell patients. As a Christian, as a gynecologist, as a minister, what’s the RIGHT thing to do?

Body

Women and Hormones: No Excuse!

A woman is beautiful, complicated, fascinating, strong, and loving. Much of a woman’s fascinating, complicated nature comes down to a woman and her hormones.
As a gynecologist, I see women at some of the most intimate and challenging times of their lives. And I’m honored to help. I’ve also seen some women use their hormones as an excuse for bad behavior.
Here are a few suggestions I make to women struggling with their hormones, and the men who love them:

The Ripple Effect: How One Lifestyle Change Creates Another

Making lifestyle change takes a lot of effort. And it can get discouraging at times. Setbacks are common. Your original motivation becomes cloudy. Is all that effort really worth it?
But when you start to notice benefits in other areas, it may be easier to find the motivation to stick with the change you know is important. Here are a few ripples that are easy to understand:

7 Sure Ways to Stay Young(er)

Yes, you are only as old as you feel! But none of us enjoys having to face grey hair, skin wrinkles, loss of strength, or “senior moments.” People have been searching for the fountain of youth for centuries.
There are many things you can do that either speed up or slow down the aging process. No, none of them will make you live forever. But they will make a big difference in how your body, mind, and soul look and feel. Here are seven ways:

2 Lessons to Guarantee You Will Have a Positive Impact

Part of you really wants to make a difference. You want your life to count for something. But how do you do that? In the middle of a busy life it can seem like most of what you do is fruitless.
So here are the two lessons that will guarantee you will have a positive impact on those who come after you:

7 Things I Would Say To You As My Patient

You’re tired, you don’t feel well, and you want some help. You come to see me in my office, hoping I will have an answer.
How I wish I could fulfill your hopes! I wish I could fix you. That would make your life, and mine, so much easier. Most of the time it’s a matter of you and me figuring things out together. Here are a few things I’d like to tell you:

Sad young woman

25 Messages Women Hear

Think of the messages you hear during an average evening. Some of them come in pictures, some in words, some in feelings. Here’s what they sound like:
1.You’re not young enough anymore.
2.You’re not pretty enough anymore..

What It Means To Be A Man

I’m a woman, and I’m talking to men about men. Sure, that’s a little dangerous, but here’s my perspective.
Men have challenges to face that our modern society perhaps makes even harder. Today’s jobs and today’s families often give men the message that they are unnecessary. And perhaps the church can be especially faulted for making a goal out of becoming a “Mr Nice Guy!”
But I believe that God created men the way they are on purpose.

What A Difference A Father Makes

We just passed Father’s Day. Many of you celebrated the memory or presence of a father who passed on a godly heritage, important values, and a readiness to take life on. Others of you were not celebrating: your earthly father was either absent, uninvolved, or abusive. One thing we all agree on – a father makes a difference!

Baby and father alseep

Sleep – Good for Your Body, Mind, and Soul

I’ve never especially liked going to bed. There’s so much to do.
We all know that our human bodies need sleep and rest. But that’s not all. Your mind, emotions, ability to handle stress, and how you relate to your children, spouse, God, and others are all affected.

Your God May Damage Your Mental Health

Or to put it more academically correctly, your view of God as either benevolent or vindictive is correlated with your risk of psychiatric symptoms. At least that’s what recent research published in the Journal of Religion and Health seems to indicate.
For a person of faith, examining religion, spirituality, or Christianity from a scientific viewpoint may at first seem a like denial of that faith. But if our faith cannot stand up to scrutiny perhaps it’s not faith in the right thing!

6 Fruitless Ways to Prove Your Worth

We want to feel important in some way. We want to know we have made a difference, that our existence has been more than an accident. We try to find our worth in so many ways that are dependent on other people.
The only accurate way to judge your own – or anyone else’s – worth is to consider how valuable your Creator judges you to be. And to Him, you are PRICELESS!

When It’s Time to Say Goodbye

Losing a loved one in death is one of life’s most difficult experiences. It’s something each one of us either already has or someday will go through. Knowing it will happen does not make it any less painful.
The journey of grief is just that – a journey.

things to be angry about

5 Things to be Angry About

It’s good to be angry! If you are not angry at intolerable evil, you will never have the motivation to do something about it. It’s good to be angry! If you are not angry at intolerable evil, you will never have the motivation to do something about it.
Here are some things I hope each of us is angry about:

Seeing You from God’s Point of View

We’re not used to waiting. And we can get rather irritated when we have to do so.
God’s long term view is a whole order of magnitude larger than ours. Think of these Biblical examples of how long God’s friends sometimes had to wait for Him to fulfill what He had promised:

7 Benefits of Healthy Living Beyond Being Healthy

For many people, lessening the risk of disease or living longer is a rather boring, un-spectacular motivation for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Understanding more of the “other” benefits of healthy living can help us find more of the motivation necessary to actually make those healthy lifestyle choices. Here are some of those benefits.

Who is Your Role Model?

Suppose you had to choose a role model among contemporary Christians. Who would it be?
Take “Christian” completely out of the equation for a moment. Who would you choose to be your role model?
Now what is it you admire about these potential role models? We have too often equated being weak with being godly. And nothing could be farther from the truth!

Nature or Nurture: Managing Your Genes

The more than 3 billion base pairs that make up the DNA in each of your body’s cells provide a blueprint for everything about you. But are you doomed to live out the results of whatever your parents passed on to you – good or bad?
The genetic package we are each left with simply means we have to work harder in some areas than others.

“God Is Your Father” – Good News or Bad?

If you’ve gone to church or read the Bible you’ve surely heard that God is your Father. You’re supposed to feel safe and secure knowing that. The thought of God as your Father is supposed to make you want to run into His arms with joy, knowing He will handle all your problems.
But does it really make you feel that way?

Couple in love

The Impact of Sex Outside the Bedroom

We get into trouble so easily over sex. For many it is the ultimate slippery slope.
The misuse of sex is a common denominator in a whole host of problems. Sex touches something very deep within us. There is probably no other area that so strongly impacts our sense of identity and value as sexuality does.

5 Different Kinds of Hunger

There is a difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Feeding emotional hunger with physical food may lessen the “Feed me!” screaming in your brain, but that only lasts a little while.
Understanding – and meeting – the different needs we have with appropriate “nourishment” will make a huge difference in our health and happiness.

The Journey From Being Squeezed to Thriving

We don’t like being squeezed! Just the thought of it is uncomfortable.
When some people get squeezed they become bitter, angry, and isolated. And other people take those times of being squeezed and leverage them into an opportunity for growth. What makes the difference?
Here are some critical steps that can take you from being squeezed to thriving on the other side.

Fast Food or Gourmet Meals – for the Soul

The average American eats fast food several times a week. Most of us realize that fast food is much less healthy than most food prepared and eaten at home.
We love fast food in other areas of our lives as well. We settle for fast food all too often, and miss the deep pleasure, satisfaction, and nourishment we really crave.

What Do You Want?

It’s one of the first questions I ask a patient who comes to see me: “What do you want us to accomplish together?” So much frustration, misunderstanding, disappointment, and upset feelings can be avoided by getting this clear up front.
Clarifying what you want dramatically increases your chance of getting it. Even Jesus followed this when talking with people.

Asking Your Input: What Changes You?

Change is fascinating. The basic message of the gospel is one of change.
I’d like to know from your own experience what changes you. Perhaps your comment will be helpful to someone else.

5 Things I Know For Sure

Some days are definitely better than others. When things are frustrating, painful, difficult, or confusing, it helps to have some things settled – those things you know for sure.
Here are a few things I have settled for good, things I know for sure:

4 Heart Reasons to Change

Any significant change in our habits, patterns of behavior, ways of thinking, or lifestyle is tough.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Doing something different will become easier and easier as new pathways are established in your brain.

Valentine’s Day for Men and Women

Valentine’s Day can be fun and romantic. But the majority of both men and women were probably NOT happy yesterday.
There are needs that only God can meet, needs we too often try and meet with the fluff of candy and flowers instead of the substance of God’s presence.

3 Things that are NOT Small Stuff

Rule Number 1: Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Rule Number 2: It’s ALL small stuff!
There are very few things in life worthy of being excluded from the “small stuff.”
We were reminded of this today when we heard from a friend of ours that his father had passed away this morning.

People talking

5 Thoughts Before You Speak Harshly

Words can hurt! It takes real emotional and spiritual maturity to pause before speaking, and to consistently use our words for good and not for ill.
Thoughts affect words. The thoughts you think when your spouse frustrates you can dramatically affect what comes out of your mouth. Here are some questions to think about in that moment before speaking harshly.

3 Benefits of Being Single

No little girl or little boy dreams of always being single. I was single for 48 years.
Living alone for all those years, I did learn some very important things about the single life. Whether you’re still single, newly single, or temporarily single, there are some real benefits to take advantage of.

Hands reaching

An Entitlement Mentality in Church

Our Western culture has incorporated an entitlement mentality into much of our lifestyle. I want to talk about how this entitlement mentality displays itself in the Christian community.
The entitlement mentality can show up in church when we feel “It’s all about me!”

The Gift of Your Transformation

There is real joy in giving. When someone we care about is in trouble it’s natural to want to help.
But your own transformation is the most powerful gift you can give to someone in trouble.

Nobody Wants to be Healthy

I have assumed everyone wants to be healthy. But that’s not true!
The most powerful lifestyle changes come from the inside out. For most of us a desire to “be healthy” is too nebulous, too temporary, too easy to compromise. It takes something deeper.

Being REAL or Being Helpful

Do I share my feelings completely? ALL the time? Will it hurt other people if I do? If I don’t, will keeping secrets hurt me – or them? If I know this, shouldn’t I share the information?
So how can you know if this is a “secret” you should keep or not? Maturity, wisdom, counsel, and prayer are all very necessary for some of these tough decisions.

It’s Never Only Medical

When can you ever put stress, time, and money aside? Medical care does not exist in a vacuum. There are times when a serious illness demands something be done right now – sometimes something intense and expensive. But there are many more situations where there are choices involved. And I believe those choices are available many more times than most people realize.

5 Tips for Getting Past the Drama

Just coming through the holidays, you may have experienced some family drama – as a couple I saw in my office had just been through. These tips may help you keep your sanity in crazy-making situations.

No More Conversation!

Talking is good. Communication is even better. Having a good conversation warms the hearts of friends and improves understanding when people disagree. But talk is cheap!
Waiting until there are no obstacles guarantees that nothing will be done and nothing will change.

Pain at Christmas, Part 2

The topic of painful holidays really touched a nerve with our readers/listeners! I wish you could see some of their responses.
There’s no magic wand to make those painful things go away, even for one day. But there are a few things that can help.

Pain at Christmas

Christmas is a time for joy. Christmas is a time for joy.
May I remind you of something we often forget: The very first Christmas was one of great pain.

Hands of trust

The Fragility of Trust

Trust takes a long time to build. And it can be lost in a moment.
Sitting in the airport not long ago, I couldn’t help overhearing one side of a phone conversation.
We were witnessing a young man in real torment.

Run – or Pray?

As a physician and a minister I see both extremes: I see those who live an unhealthy lifestyle become frustrated, angry, or depressed when they experience the physical or emotional consequences of those behaviors, but they often seem empty spiritually.
I sometimes see others who try to live a wholesome lifestyle – natural foods, exercise, manage their stress, etc.,

5 Steps to Staying Present

There’s more than one way to leave. And we do it all the time.
Whether it’s a job, parenting, church, or marriage, being present is a first step to anything good. You’ve got to show up! And that means showing up with more than your physical body.
Here are five steps to challenge that leaving, and stay present.

The Intimacy of Vulnerability

There are few things that bring two people closer together than vulnerability. Being physically, emotionally, or spiritually vulnerable with someone is a powerful force welding two hearts together.
Where two people of good will are in a relationship together, being vulnerable is one of the most intimate things they can do.
What does vulnerability look like in a relationship? Here are some ideas:

Thanksgiving

When You Feel Anything but Grateful

Our world is messed up! And for that I’m NOT grateful. And you shouldn’t be either.
This week we will all see and hear everyone talking about what they are grateful for.
For some, the holiday season is only painful. Once in a while it helps to put our gratitude against the backdrop of what is truly dark in our world. Here’s a short list of a few things I’m NOT grateful for:

Intimacy is about YOU TWO, Not Performance

By the time they come to see me most couples are frustrated, disappointed, anxious, and tired. And tired of always having to perform in the bedroom.
And of course that’s not what sex is about. Or at least shouldn’t be about.

The Benefits of Anxiety

Anybody out there want to be anxious? Probably not.
Anxiety is a very unpleasant feeling. Your heart may race. Your stomach may be in knots. You may have trouble sleeping and trouble concentrating.
But there IS something very positive about anxiety. And that comes in the process of change.

Happy Farmer

5 Times to NOT Care What Anyone Thinks

I might not say it in quite those words, but it’s really true: “I don’t care what you think!” In fact it HAS to be true, or I’m no good to you or anybody else.
For a people-pleasing person like me, that conclusion is a hard one to come to.
Here are some specific situations where it’s important to NOT care others think:

A Response to Recent Election Results

Along with millions of others I was watching the election returns on TV Tuesday night.
Different generations ARE going to see things differently. Their cultural understanding is different. Certainly there must be principles, ways of communicating, person-to-person connections, that can help make the most important things relevant for those in every culture even now.

Happy girl

Doctor, Doctor: Bitterness and Unforgiveness

Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
That’s exactly what bitterness and unforgiveness does. It’s terribly toxic physically, not to mention emotionally and spiritually.

The Benefits of Healthy Investments

Investments come in all varieties. Financial, yes, but so much more. Little things you do today make a much bigger difference in your tomorrows.
We marvel at the accomplishments of well-known authors, thinkers, politicians, preachers, sports figures, artists, or entrepreneurs. But we usually only see the end result, not the investment of blood, sweat, and tears day after day, year after year.
Here are a few ways my “investments” have paid off:

7 Things to Do Intentionally Every Day

Do you remember learning the classic laws of thermodynamics, perhaps in seventh grade science class? The basic idea goes something like this: any system will seek equilibrium where the least amount of energy is expended.
Doing something on purpose makes the difference. So, for myself, here are some things I must do intentionally:

Doctor, Doctor: Your Family of Origin

You can’t choose your parents. Or your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If your family of origin was reasonably healthy you probably don’t think much about how you choose to relate to them.
But not all families are so healthy. It seems some significant measure of dysfunction is the norm in most families. Where you come from affects you.

Married – and Lonely

My heart has been breaking. I’m sure it’s nothing new, but I’m hearing it a lot lately. Middle-aged and older women who are married – and desperately lonely.
As a gynecologist I’ve heard these sad comments from women I’ve seen just in the past couple weeks.
Don’t let that happen to you! Here are a few suggestions:

Things growing

5 Tips For Growing Up

Have you ever grown up in some significant way when everything was easy?
Probably not.
There’s the cliché that says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I don’t believe that’s always true. Sometimes trauma can stunt our growth: child abuse, rape, severe poverty, and others.
I DO know that the times when I’ve grown the most have definitely been some of the most difficult.

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Our little granddaughter is a month old. Is there anything more precious? We’re told Madelyn will be the last one, so we as her grandparents treasure each moment just a little more.
A newborn baby is a full-time job. Mommy and Daddy do it gladly – at least most of the time! But their biggest job is working themselves out of a job, helping her grow to become thoughtful, loving, wise – and independent.
Growing up emotionally, relationally, and spiritually is often harder than growing up physically.

7 Things to Check when Not Feeling Good

I’m feeling good today.
But there are certainly days when I don’t feel good. Something’s definitely off. Occasionally it’s immediately obvious what’s wrong, but other times it’s frustrating to just feel bad and not be sure why.
We can’t expect to feel good every day. That’s just life.
Here’s my checklist for when things are looking bad, and most of the time it will help determine why I’m not feeling good.

Dealing with Desire: Sex and Spirituality

“It” has been the vehicle for some of the best experiences human beings can have, and also some of the most traumatic and painful.
You’d think with all the downsides sex has brought, all the trauma, shame, guilt that so often have accompanied sex, that we’d shy away from it. But for the most part we keep going back for more.
If our desires are built in and divinely created, then it’s what we make the object of those desires and how we try to go about trying to get them met that can be at fault.
So what do we do with our desires? I offer these thoughts:

Doctor, Doctor: Ignoring the Symptoms

I could probably use her real name: she’s been dead over 20 years. I met her one night in the emergency room during my residency training. She had been bleeding for months, and finally became so weak that she allowed her family to bring her to the hospital. She hadn’t seen a doctor in years.
Periodically it’s a good idea to do a mental check of the different areas of your life, and see if there are symptoms you might be ignoring. Symptoms that need to be dealt with before they get worse, and before the problem becomes deadly.

Hot Flashes, Power Surges, Grey Hair – and Wisdom

I’m getting old!
That’s a very subjective statement. I don’t feel old. And I do subscribe to the adage “You’re only as old as you feel.” Do I guess I’m not old.
As a gynecologist I speak with many middle-aged women about very personal things. Passing through the menopause transition is sometimes very emotionally challenging. Although freedom from the risks of pregnancy is usually a welcome change, issues of body image, desirability, mental and physical health, and multiple life pressures are difficult for many of them to manage.

A Big Enough Reason

Making a change is hard. Habit, routine, addiction, convenience, or a thousand other reasons keep us doing the same thing over and over again, even if it’s terribly unhealthy. Or dangerous. Or even deadly.
It takes a big enough reason to endure the anxiety, setbacks, difficulty, or even pain that may be involved in making a lifestyle change. Sometimes that reason is positive, where the outcome you wish is enticing enough to work hard for. Sometimes that reason is negative, where the pain of remaining where you are is big enough to force a change.

Food for the Soul: Learning to Feed Yourself

We get hungry! And it starts from the day we’re born.

A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2-3 hours. They are completely dependent on others for the timing, quantity, and quality of the food they receive.
Later a child learns to feed themselves. Food preferences develop, and we have an increasing control over how much food, what kind of food, and when we eat. Eventually everything about what we eat is our own choice.
Food for the soul is just like that. When we’re immature we are dependent on others for any stimulation, human communication and connection, and spiritual nurturing we receive. Eventually we need to learn to feed ourselves.
Three things you need to consider in learning to mentally/emotionally/spiritually feed yourself:

Doctor, Doctor: The Hope Factor

We all hope for something.
At least I HOPE you hope for something. The loss of hope is dangerous – of course mentally, but also physically. Hope is an especially powerful force for good in our health.
Science has been able to demonstrate the very real biologic effects of hope. Believing and expecting that something good can happen, for example, can block physical pain. With even a little bit of hope the brain releases endorphins and enkephalins – substances that act like morphine in eliminating pain and providing a sense of well-being. The pain lessens a little, which increases hope that the pain may lessen even more. It creates a positive cycle leading to healing.

Step-Parenting for Adults

Parenting is forever. Sure, the details change through the years. And for the most part the load gets lighter. But children are always on your heart. You will ALWAYS be a mom or a dad.
And the same goes for step-parenting. Some of those realities have become especially clear to me recently. I married late in life – I was 48. My husband had two adult sons with families of their own. I became a step-mother under perhaps the easiest of possible circumstances. And yet there was still a very real process of adjustment in becoming a family.

Doctor, Doctor: Are You Addicted?

Alcohol. Drugs – legal and illegal. Tobacco. Those are the “usual suspects.”
But there are a whole lot more: food, pornography, sex, gambling, internet/tech use, exercise, and more.
Is addiction a physical problem? A mental health issue? A spiritual matter?
Yes, yes, and yes. It’s all those. And if you struggle with any addiction and you don’t address each one of these areas, you are very unlikely to experience any real healing or relief. As with most things, it’s a matter of body, mind, and soul.

Doctor, Doctor: Your Mental/Emotional Health

Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I get angry. Sometimes I feel strong, and sometimes I feel very small. Sometimes I get anxious and upset. Sometimes I feel so happy I can’t imagine ever having a bad day ever again. Sometimes I feel like I could change the world, and sometimes I feel like nothing I do makes any difference.
Life has emotional content, and that’s a good thing. One of the best signs of psychological health is the ability to experience the whole range of human emotions.

Healing begins

Where Does Healing Begin?

As a doctor I can give you pills. I can recommend changes in your lifestyle that can improve your health. I can do surgery at times. Once in a while I might even save someone’s life. But can I heal you?
As someone wanting to be healthy you might get all the exercise you need. You might follow careful healthy eating habits. You might get enough sleep and take plenty of vitamins. But will that heal you?
As a minister I can pray for you. I can teach you about having a relationship with God, and faith. I can introduce you to Him and help bring you into His presence. But can I heal you?

What is Your Body Telling You?

Our physical body takes a hit when we experience stress. Even if that stress is not especially negative or traumatic, our body takes the wear.
And if the stress involves danger or trauma, or continues over a significant period of time, our body may just “shut down” in some way.
It has been estimated that 75% or more of the time a patient visits a primary care physician the true reason is stress, psychological difficulty, or something related.

Sad woman

When Only Tears Will Do

Last weekend I was around plenty of tears. This time they were not mine, but those of other women sharing their stories.
I had been invited to be part of a conference on domestic violence, addressing the emotional, physical, legal, and spiritual aspects of this terrible reality. During the final session the participants were invited to say whatever they wished, and they started sharing their stories.
And they cried!

Olympic Rings

Faster, Higher, Stronger: Your Gold-Medal Run

The 2012 Olympic Games in London have just come to an end. For these two weeks every two years I spend more time watching sports on TV than probably the entire two years between them.
Names like Michael Phelps, Usian Bolt, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Oscar Pistorius, and others are now household words around the world. There’s something about the Olympic Games that draws us in.

Doctor, Doctor, Tell Me

I do it almost every day. Someone doesn’t feel well. They come to see me as a doctor and talk about their symptoms. I ask questions, do an exam, order tests, and prescribe treatment.