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    Disney Pixar’s Soul: A Spiritual Review

    Disney Pixar’s latest feature film, Soul, follows the unassuming life of Joe Gardner. ( Caution, if you haven’t already seen the movie this blog includes spoilers.) He is a middle school music teacher with dreams of making it big. The character’s angst to accomplish his life’s dream drew me in as I sat and thought of my own unfinished goals. Joe’s desperation to become a successful Jazz performer highlights humanity’s struggle with meaning and purpose. While the movie Soul may not be a biblical guide to life, it echoes biblical principles without even knowing it. Joe Gardner’s search for purpose and fulfillment is reminiscent of the book of Ecclesiastes. After…

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    Stop Saying Christianity Doesn’t Make You Happy

    This week, a Gallup Poll has reported pretty dismal mental health ratings, adding to a year full of statistics about depression, suicide, porn, stress and substance abuse. 2020 stinks, and the world doesn’t know how to handle it. So can we please stop adding to the problem by saying that Christianity doesn’t make Christians happy? I know, I know. When we say this, we’re trying to explain that we–and our happiness–aren’t the point. We’re reminding one another that our faith doesn’t protect us from life in a broken world. We’re saying that the abiding joy in Christ is substantially different than flurries of happiness that may come. These theological truths…

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    On Suicide

    The incidence of depression, anxiety and suicide has skyrocketed as the isolation and life-disruption from Covid-19 has ravaged our world. I wrote this post in April 2013.  Over the weekend, Rick Warren (pastor of Saddleback Church in California, author of The Purpose Driven Life) and his wife Kay revealed that their son Matthew had taken his life after a lifelong struggle with mental illness. In an email to his church, Pastor Warren wrote, “[O]nly those closest knew that he struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness…

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    Theology of Self-Care

    Is self-care selfish or unspiritual? Some churches and Christian circles say “yes.” And while today’s popular self-care strategies may have a bent toward self-serving interests, a biblical perspective of self-care is holistic, worshipful, and others-centered. Self-Care Involves All Aspects of Ourselves God designed us as complex, whole persons (Ps. 139:13–16). We do not—like a computer or machine—consist of parts, but encompass spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and relational aspects in our intricate design. When we take care of ourselves, we can’t just target one aspect of ourselves. We need take a holistic approach to self-care. After my husband and I married, I moved from Lubbock to Dallas. In Lubbock, I…

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    Self-Care for the Whole Person

    “Read your Bible and pray more,” I heard over and over again growing up in the church. And I did. It helped fill my mind with truth and connect me with God. But it didn’t stop me from becoming depressed during my senior year of college. When my doctor diagnosed me with depression, I first thought, “No way. Not me. Christians don’t get depressed.” As if she could read my thoughts, my doctor, who knew I called myself a Christian, said, “Depression doesn’t mean you don’t pray enough or love God enough. Depression involves physical, chemical imbalances in the brain, and it commonly creeps up in busy, stressful periods of…

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    What CAN I Do?

    Many of us have experienced seasons of illness and injury––either our own or someone we love. Often these excruciating times of pain, fear, and doubt engulf us like a suffocating suffering. We wake up every morning in painful uncertainty and lay down each night in the same state. Daily we withstand a raging storm––everything circles around but nothing is clear. Movement requires pushing against unyielding barriers. We want to hope for complete healing. We want to throw off the heavy chains encasing us. We want to be released from physical and emotional burdens so we can regain strength and enjoy life again. But sometimes the hope we cling to feels…

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    The Keys to Emotional Healing: Part 1

    After seeing God bring about major transformation of emotional healing in a number of broken people, I asked Him what was happening when He healed people’s hearts. I wanted to understand the process. His answer was simple and profound, but never easy: “grieving and forgiving.” Both of these emotional disciplines are necessary to move from the place of sustaining a wound to the soul, to the place where that wound no longer controls and diminishes us—because it has been transformed into a healed scar. Grieving means moving pain and anger from the inside to the outside. Tears are God’s lubricant for that process, and what a gift of grace tears…

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    Fighting the Burden of Mental Illness Through Prayer

    Our wise, experienced family doctor asked me an unexpected question during a wellness checkup: “You live with two depressed men (my husband and my son, both of whom have been open about their struggle with depression). What are you doing to protect yourself? Depression is contagious.” I told her, “Well, actually, not long ago I got off a cruise ship with my joy-filled sister where we had five days together with nothing but fun and laughter, and it completely filled my tank.” “Great!” she nodded. You need to do that more often.” As soon as I left her office, I called my sister. “You’ll never believe what my doctor just…

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    TAKING TIME TO WORSHIP

    How is it possible that the day of the year set aside as a Holy Day to celebrate the greatest gift ever given usually finds us exhausted, stressed, and even at times depressed? Our children wake up all excited in anticipation of presents that in the end may or may not be what they expected. Spirits tend to dwindle as we move through the day ending up tired, over sugared, and overwhelmed ready to fall into bed exhausted.   We all have a desire to focus on the Lord. As believers. we usually plan to do our best to make the season one that is about worship and gratitude. Honestly, how…

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    Evangelicals and The “Happy” Imperative

           Some grow up convinced that feeling unhappy, uneasy, and uncertain is unnatural. American media promotes that being uninvited, unattractive and unintelligent is unnecessary. Even some evangelical circles will contend that feeling unwanted, unworthy, unlovable, and remaining unmarried is unacceptable.        Expectations for happiness run high for many evangelicals. Some even believe a marriage that does not offer a lifetime of bliss has no purpose. Well-meaning Christians sometimes nudge unhappy spouses towards divorce in the name of, “God wants Christians to have happy marriages.” But in Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas contests that God intended marriage to cultivate holiness more than happiness.        But some…