Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

worryIt was the beginning of a new day and all Ann could do was worry. From the moment her eyes were opened, her mind became filled with thoughts of, “What if…” When Ann feels worried, it would help her to talk to God through prayer. Brain scans and EEG monitors verify that prayer and meditation change the brain for the better. In his research at the University of Pennsylvania, neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newborn found that prayer and spiritual practices reduce stress and anxiety. Furthermore, when God is thought of as good instead of punitive, anxiety is reduced.

Worry anticipates the future in an anxious and often negative way. Worry takes us off the here and now and distracts us from the truth of who God is. It is a mental habit based on untruths and doubt. Worry falsely assumes that God has left us for a moment or is immobilized to act.

When difficulty comes, and the moment feels desperate or troubled, God does not abandon us even though it may feel that way. He is completely in control of each moment. Hell may be at work, but Jesus triumphed over hell through His resurrection. His quiet presence is there as He walks us through difficult times. God reaches into the evil of our world and brings good to us that can be used for His glory.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry says, “To cast our burden on God is to stay ourselves on his providence and promise, and to be very easy in the assurance that all shall work for good.” Henry goes on to say that if we do this, God will sustain us and supply all our needs.

Abandon your worry at this moment. Take a deep breath and remind yourself, God is here. He is in the moment.

Meditation:

Psalm 8:4—What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Matthew 11:28-30—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,  for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

couple unhappyIt’s post Valentine’s Day and the pressure is off..at least that might be thought of some couples. One day to celebrate romance, has come and gone but what if you are not feeling the love and lack desire for your partner? What could be wrong?

What happens when one partner’s desire level differs from another? Renee presented it this way. “It seems like all Chuck thinks about is having sex. I feel like that’s the only time he pays attention to me. After a rough day with the kids, I’m not exactly in the mood. But he seems ready to go any day of the week and oblivious to the household chaos. What’s wrong with me? At the beginning of our marriage, I couldn’t get enough of Chuck. Now, I just want a hot bath and some quiet!”

As a psychotherapist, I’ve treated many couples complaining of low sex drive or lack of passion in their relationships. Frustrated and even ashamed, they are bewildered as to how their once passionate feelings for each other dwindled to almost nothing. The immediate assumption is that something terrible is wrong in the relationship. There must be a deep hidden emotional problem that only Freud could understand! And if we can’t find that hidden problem, we can always blame our mothers!

In some cases, relationship issues are key to unlocking lost passion and renewing sexual interest. Men need to understand that women need to feel cared for, esteemed and emotionally connected to their husbands in order to deepen their sexual lives. Creating an atmosphere of relaxation is important to enjoying good sex as well. But for other couples, an understanding of the biology of desire is needed. It’s possible to be deeply in love with your spouse and have low sexual desire. Here’s why.

Desire differences are quite normal. Relationships usually begin with intense passion. You know, you overlook the fact that he can’t make a move without consulting his mother, or that he is really is obsessed with playing video games. You are in love and initial passion or infatuation does burn intensely. The reason this is true is because of the neurochemistry behind it.

According to experts, infatuation lasts about 18-36 months for most couples. Your hidden biology is thought to be the cause. Although theory is based on animal studies, research psychiatrist Michael Liebowitz at New York State Psychiatric Institute believes biochemical attraction goes this way: We meet someone to whom we are attracted. Our brains become saturated with a “love cocktail” composed of phenylethylamine (PEA-a naturally occurring neurotransmitter), dopamine (a neurotransmitter that stimulates libido), and other excitatory neurotransmitters. This natural amphetamine state is triggered by infatuation or what many of us call “romantic love”. To further give credence to this theory, a sexual medicine researcher named Theresa Crenshaw, documented elevated states of PEA in the bloodstreams of lovers and also in ovulating women.

What couples often fail to understand is that this burning fire of passion eventually reaches ember stage. The cool down, if not understood, can leave one feeling disillusioned and distressed.

Enter a second factor for couples to understand—the role of testosterone. This steroid hormone produced by both sexes correlates strongly with desire. After initial infatuation, a low testosterone woman can feel sexually disinterested. Men, on the other hand, have ten times the testosterone levels as women (Women have lower amounts but are more sensitive to the hormone). A man’s “T” level drops gradually with age but is genetically determined by the sensitivity of androgen receptors in the genitals. Typically, men have stronger desire than women. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.

During the time of infatuation, PEA release is time-limited and sexual desire can be hidden because of the PEA release. Afterwards, testosterone levels play an important part in on-going desire. If you have a high “T” (testosterone) level and you are married to a person with a low “T” level – you may have problems.

The bottom line is that sexual desire may have more to do with hormones than previously believed. And this can be easily treated. Instead of assuming your relationship is deeply troubled, consider the role of biochemistry and talk to your physician.

Sustained sexual intimacy may have to be worked on for some couples. All couples face challenges when it comes to covenant endurance, but remember this: Passion is short-lived; sexual desire may be related to biochemical factors; and sustaining sexual interest is a complex phenomenon that includes your physical body as well as relationship factors.

distress woman“I’m stressed out, tired, exhausted.” From moms to executives, these words reflect a growing state in which many women feel they live. Women in all walks of life are no exemption. Pouring our lives into others often leaves us feeling depleted with little to give. If you feel overwhelmed by the demands of family and work, you are not alone.\

Stress is a byproduct of our postmodern life. We feel we have too little time, too few resources and a lack of control over most things in our lives. Stress can be generated by an event such as death, illness or even a board decision. Some events, like the birth of a baby, are predictable. Others, as in the case of natural disaster, are not.

Stressful events can be ongoing or resolved quickly. They can be related to life transitions, the environment, our individual growth, need for healing and/or our perceptions of things. Stressful events may be avoided or unavoidable, and rated mild to severe.

Stress can also be a response to events. Things happen. We react. How we react is the key to keeping stress in check. If we carry stress in our bodies, in our minds and worry about the lack of control we feel over certain things, this disrupts our sense of well being and the rest that God promises. To be “anxious about nothing” becomes an unreachable ideal rather than a directive. Unmanaged stress can lead to the development of anxiety disorders, depression and physical symptoms.

Because stress is inevitable, pause and take inventory because your ability to cope with stress is related to the resources you have. We typically think of money, education, power and support as necessary resources to accomplish what we need. However, the most important resource we possess is our standing with Christ. Here’s why.

Resources can be depleted over time. People let us down, control is elusive and time moves forward. For example, maybe you began with an adequate volunteer staff for your fund raising banquet, but eventually people dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Or maybe the board support you thought you secured for an upcoming women’s conference didn’t materialize. The point is resources are usually limited. But God is an unlimited resource that can be continuously accessed. His promises never run out. And His faithfulness will never fail.

Because we are joint heirs with Christ, we have all He has. Best of all, we have Him. So in times of stress, remember where your help really comes from—who it is that is dependable and present. God is not only our present help in times of trouble, but the God of more than enough, El Shaddai. Call on Him. Ask Him to supply the need. In our culture of self-sufficiency, we often forget to access the endless supply of provision we have through Christ. Instead, we rely on ourselves and eventually feel exhausted.

If you are tired and stressed, make an appointment. Schedule your God spa time of refreshment and relaxation. It begins with the one who nourishes us as the Living Water and the Bread of Life. Intimate time with God is our greatest resource to managing stress. The promise is that if we dwell in the shelter of the Most High, we will rest in His shadow. And right now, a little rest is what is needed to move us from stressed to refreshed!

rose-3142660_1280My boss made a nice gesture at work. He gave gifts.  He passed out a single rose to all the employees and reminded us to not be so busy, we forget to smell the roses. And this gesture occurred days before Valentine’s Day.

One of my colleagues was trying to get everyone’s single rose to make a dozen for his wife. The man sitting next to me grumbled and said, “I don’t do Valentine’s Day. It’s stupid to designate one day of the year to do something for love. I ignore it.”

I think he missed the point and doesn’t understand the value of a gift-small or large. Of course we should be mindful of love expression through out the year. But a day to focus on love and give a gift does all relationships good.

  1.  The best gift is you.A gift is less about buying love or bargaining for something in a relationship. A gift is about the giver. Gifts are an expression of gratitude and love. You have someone in your life who chose you. Yes, you are flawed and perhaps even broken, yet someone picked you to do life. The person desired you and is now showing love in some form of a small gesture. Embrace it.  Gifts are tangible expressions of love. But they symbolize the love the person has for you. Focus on the giver who wants to show love.
  2. Love is not self-seeking. The fun of a gift is trying to figure out what the other person would appreciate and want. There is joy when you find that special something that makes the person smile and feel loved. Love is about giving to another person. It is sacrificial at times. The gift doesn’t have to cost a lot, rather it has meaning when you know how to please the other.  You anticipate their desires.  When you know what shows love to someone and you do it, that is gold.
  3. Quality and quantity of time. One of the five love languages is quality time. I would argue that time (quantity and quality) is something all of us need and want in a relationship. It takes time to get to know someone and be in tune with them. I once heard it said that you can’t make good tea by quickly dipping the tea bag in the water. The water won’t change to tea. This is true with relationships. Moments of togetherness will not create a deep relationship. You have to do more than dipping. You have to soak! So give the gift of time to the one you love. Soak in love.
  4. Give your heart. All of it, not just parts. When you become fully open to a relationship with someone, you lose control and are ruined (in a good way) by that person. Love is patient, kind and doesn’t boast or envy so true love is not frightening despite the loss of control. It always protects and perseveres. It doesn’t fail.  So this Valentine’s Day, think of your gift of words, time and money as tangible expressions of how you feel about a person who is in your life every day. Gifts simply symbolize a greater love that hopefully lives on and grows through out the year.