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…

Your Body: Friend or Foe?

Your body can be a touchy subject (no pun intended). Is your body friend or foe to you? Many if…

How I Decided to Marry a Divorced Man

Remarriage after divorce is one of those topics that can make otherwise “good” Christians become prickly, self-righteous, or downright vindictive.…

How I Learned to Love Well

While learning to love well is a life-long process, loving well was something I was privileged to deeply experience with…

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,…

Are You Spiritually Healthy?

I hope you are. I really do! Hopefully your spiritual practices bring you joy and growth, you feel connected to…
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:

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…
OK to ask WHY

Is It OK to Ask WHY?

For as long as human beings have tried to survive in a sinful world they have asked WHY. The problem…
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…
Women's Health and Shame

Women’s Health and Shame

Women’s health topics bring up such strong emotions – “for” and “against” and everything in-between. By listening to some people you’d…

Women In Charge!

Women have a difficult time in this world. We always have. It’s not that men always have it easy, but…

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…

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…
Healthy weight loss

10 Healthy Weight Loss Tips

Healthy weight loss is a big deal. Losing weight – or trying to – is big business. Researchers tell us…

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…

Preparing For Menopause

It seems that every time I’m around a group of women and they find out I’m an OB-Gyn doctor the…

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…

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,…
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…

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…

What the Bible Says About Health

I often see honest Christian people who are not at all healthy. Sometimes they become frustrated and discouraged, even wondering…

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…

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.

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.”

The Message Of Your Life (Or, Why Nobody Likes To Eat With Me)

It’s almost become a joke: nobody likes to eat with Dr Carol! Almost without fail, when eating around me people comment about how they should be eating healthier, and try to convince me how they really are trying. I don’t breathe a word about healthy eating when we’re in public. I order what I want, right off the menu. And I don’t think they really believe him when Al tells them (truthfully!) that he’s lost all his weight without dieting once, or missing a meal.

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.

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?

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!

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?”

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.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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.

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.

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:

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:

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!

Growing Up Without Regrets

Growing up has never been easy. But in today’s culture young people have more challenges to face than ever before, especially in the area of sexuality. The basic issues may be no different, but the speed of life and the multiple pressures teens face make the risks even greater.
A few sobering statistics:

How I Got My Husband to Change

I got my husband to change. When we first met Al was a smoker, and had been for 45 years. He was seriously overweight, and had been much of his life. He ate – and loved – the typical unhea
lthy American diet.
Today things are completely different. He hasn’t smoked since we got married: that was a huge accomplishment, and made a big difference in his health right away.
How did I get him to change?

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.

What Your Lifestyle Can – and Can’t – Accomplish

Going to extremes is only human, but it’s not healthy. Many people have a difficult time finding a healthy balance in lifestyle choices.
On one extreme are those who throw caution to the wind. On the other extreme are those who wouldn’t eat a piece of bacon or a candy bar if they were starving. And then there are those who jump between those two extremes – with no better results.

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.

Lifestyle

10 Tips for Losing Weight

Losing weight is one of the top resolutions people make every year, and yet one that people find hard to follow through on. The emotional, physical, and relationship cost of being overweight is heavy!
Here are some tips that I give to my patients when they want help to lose weight. I believe a lifestyle change is the safest, healthiest, and wisest way for most people to lose weight, but you may need some help along the way. Here are some tips to provide some of that help.

The Supplements I Recommend, and Why

Americans love supplements! Roughly half of us use them. We spent $11.5 billion on supplements last year, and that number is consistently climbing.
Here are the criteria I use in choosing whether to recommend a given product or supplement.
And here are the supplements I take, and those I recommend to my patients.

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.

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.

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.,

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:

Happy Anniversary! Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

First a disclaimer: I’m not sure there are ANY five steps that guarantee happiness in any area of life, let alone something as long-term and complicated as marriage. But I DO know that there are some things that can make or break the union of two people.
Four years ago today (as I write this) I married Al Tanksley, and I’m more in love now than on the day I said, “I do!”
Here are a few things I believe have made a critical difference in our marriage,

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.

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.

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.

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: 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.

Doctor, Doctor: Your Physical Health

You don’t feel good, so you snap at your spouse. You’re tired, so you make a quick unwise decision you later regret. You wake up with a headache, so you try to sleep in, and skip your morning quiet time.
Our physical health impacts every other area of our lives. If you are in shape, at a healthy weight, with good nutrition, and well rested, you are a comparatively formidable force against any obstacle in your way. On the other hand, if you are sick and tired, overweight, full of junk food, and never exercise, you have no reserve to handle even the “normal” stuff life throws at 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.

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. For some “simple” medical problems, that is enough.
But more often than not there are so many more issues beyond just the physical symptoms. If I ignore these other factors, the patient may or may not get better. And I have done the patient poor service.

Did You Build Your Health?

President Obama stirred up some strong controversy last Friday when he stated in one of his speeches, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” While the politics of that statement have occupied a great deal of the airwaves over the past few days, I have a different take on this controversy. What about your health? Who is responsible for your health or the lack thereof?

steps to forgiveness

Steps to Forgiveness

Holding on to wrongs done to you will eat away at your soul, and eventually your body and mind. We have heard about forgiveness from preachers, and well we should. But I believe we need to hear more about forgiveness from doctors.

Staying Healthy On the Road

Keeping a healthy lifestyle is a challenge at any time. But when you’re traveling it takes special determination to keep from falling back into less healthy eating and exercise patterns. These tips for eating healthy and exercising on the road will keep you feeling better and healthier.

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