Doing Life Together

worryWhen Christians are being beheaded in the middle east, when a man shoots people praying in a church, when young girls are taken and forced into sex slavery, when you are falsely accused or ridiculed for your beliefs, it often feels like God is in hiding. The psalmist wondered the same. He begins Psalm 10 by asking, “Why do you stand afar off, Oh Lord? Why do your hide in times of trouble?”

The psalmist sees the wicked prosper, the greedy renounce God and the absence of any thought of God. It appears the Lord is absent. I have felt the same way at times in my life–a diagnosis of cancer, the death of a brother, the wrath of an insecure boss…we could all come up with a list of times when God feels absent.

During seasons of adversity, our trust is tested. It is during those times of adversity that the darkness of our heart is revealed and we appreciate God’s grace even more. Our thoughts are revealed–do we secretly wish harm to the person who is doing the injustice? Is our attitude one of wanting to take the person down or hurt back? Do our emotions of anger and hate get the best of us? Is forgiveness far off?

During trouble, our heart is exposed. Will we respond differently than those who do not claim Christ? Or will we trust God and allow Him to do the work needed in us?

Psalm 10 says that the Lord doesn’t hide or forget us in times of trouble. And while he may not deliver us from the adversity, he observes our troubles and grief and is our helper. He hears our cries and does “justice to the fatherless and the oppressed:that the man of the earth may oppress no more (v18).”

The promise is for His justice. Everyone will answer to God one day. All wrongs will be righted!

So when it appears God is absent, remind yourself He is not. He is working on your behalf even though you don’t see the full picture. Only God has the full perspective–one reason it is so difficult for us to trust. And we prefer to focus only on the people doing the injustice, rather than the work God is doing in our own heart. Yet that is part we control and and can conform to the image of Christ.


secretI was in the grocery store and the tabloids were headlining the secret love child of yet another celebrity couple. Secrets are a problem. They don’t usually end well.

I am often asked if it is a good idea to reveal secrets to a partner or a friend. The answer to this begins with a question. How does it feel to find out a secret after the fact? For instance, do you really want to be surprised with a secret ten years into a marriage, especially one that may have impacted your decision to marry in the first place? Or do you want to hear about something very personal from a stranger in a public place? Revealed secrets become gossip fodder in the wrong hands.

In my experience as a relationship therapist, keeping secrets usually backfires. Yes, secrets are difficult to bring out into the light, but keeping them sets the stage for heartache down the road. The hidden thing often surfaces later. Then the reaction is even more intense because now it is associated with dishonesty. Dishonesty makes the impact worse.

We keep secrets for all kinds of reasons. We may be afraid of disapproval. We may want to protect someone from hurt, or we may worry about their reaction. While you don’t have to reveal every thought in your head, keeping secrets about important issues is not recommended. Self-disclosure actually helps relationships and builds intimacy.

In our tell-all culture, where privacy is seriously lacking, discretion is needed. Be wise. Talk to the people involved in your secret, work on repair, and then carefully pray about whether or not this is something that needs to be shared with others.

Except from We Need to Talk by Dr. Linda Mintle (Baker Books)

IMG_3142Happy Father’s Day! I know not everyone has a great relationship with his or her father. However, this Father’s Day, I encourage to think about your father and find one thing he gave you as a gift. Some of you will think of many things, others will struggle. Our commandment is to honor our fathers in whatever way we can.

At this writing, my father is 94-years-old. It’s a blessing to still have him in my life. He gave me much!

So many fond memories flood my mind when it comes to my dad. Hardworking, steady, strong and fun, my dad taught me so much.

He taught me how to have fun, to relax, to go on vacation and see the country. Every summer, the family loaded up in our big Buick and discovered America. Some discoveries were a little cheesy, but most times, we were awed by our road trips and their adventures.

My dad had an upbeat attitude. He liked to explore, to see new things, and to meet people. In our small town, everyone knew him and greeted him by name. My dad gave me a love for people and connection.

My dad gave me security. He was always there and attended every recital, play and music competition in which I performed. He never complained, even though I often noticed him napping during long piano recitals. He endured nightly music practices of three children who turned out to be decent musicians even though he didn’t have much musical talent. Whatever we did, it was important for him to support us. And he always supported my mom.

My dad pushed me. Sometimes he pushed too hard, but I knew his intent was to give me more opportunities than he had in his life. Education was one of the most important things to him. It was the key to making a better life.

Finally, my dad gave me an appreciation for the church. He quietly served in whatever capacity needed. His humility and steady devotion marked his walk with God. And no matter the conflicts a church family presents, he taught me to love the body of Christ, appreciate their diversity and do my best to bring unity. And when we had differences with church leadership, we stayed and worked through conflicts.

All dads have their issues and aren’t perfect. But this Father’s Day, as you honor your dad with a special gift, a dinner out or a new tie, take a moment to reflect on the gifts he gave you. What did your Father give you? Yes, there is always baggage along the way, but the journey offers something to be appreciated.

divorce coupleTheir families were surprised. Don and Jackie were getting a divorce after 15 years of marriage.  Don’s sister believes Don will have a difficulty living alone. She fears the stress of the split could cause him serious emotional and health problems.

But new research says that Don’s sister should be worried about Jackie as well.

Divorce is never an easy road, but when it comes to heart health, women are more at risk than men. According to Duke University researchers, divorce may contribute to higher heart attack risk for women. The acute and chronic stress involved in divorce wreaks havoc on the body.

Researchers followed over 15,827 people for two decades and found that those who stayed married had a lower risk of heart attack. Emotional and financial stress of divorce, especially for women, are likely factors. So are taking care of oneself, losing friends and changes of lifestyle that come with divorce. Whatever the reasons (we don’t really know), the link between divorce and heart health was found to exist, especially for women. And going through multiple divorces further increases your risk of heart attack.

Men who remarried after divorce lowered their risk of heart attack to the same level as married men, but this was not true for women. Surprisingly, remarriage didn’t help women with this risk factor.

So if you are on the road to divorce, get help. Find a couples counselor and try to work through your issues. Your physical health might just depend on it.