The Monday night in-person Magnolia, TX Castimonia meeting is cancelled for two weeks, Jan. 31 and Feb. 7.
Please join the Monday night zoom meeting or the Cypress or Katy in-person meetings.
Frequent sex might enhance our performance on certain cognitive tasks. A growing body of research on both humans and animals published in the last decade points to this conclusion, including a new study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. Here’s a look at the accumulated evidence and what it suggests about how sex might benefit the brain.
First, a 2010 study published in the journal PLoS ONE discovered a link between sexual activity and neuron growth in male rats. Specifically, rats that were permitted to have sex daily over a two-week period demonstrated more neuron growth than rats that were only allowed to have sex once during the same amount of time.
Building on this, a 2013 study published in the journal Hippocampus — which also focused on male rats — found that daily sexual activity was not only associated with the generation of more new neurons, but also with enhanced cognitive function.
Research on humans has yielded similar findings. A 2016 study published in Age and Aging looked at how the sexual practices of nearly 7,000 adults aged 50-89 related to their performance on a number sequencing task (which measured executive functions, such as problem-solving) and a word recall task (which measured memory ability). It turned out that both men and women who had engaged in any kind of sex over the past year had higher scores on the word recall test. Furthermore, for men only, being sexually active was linked to better performance on the number sequencing task.
Likewise, a 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior examined how sexual activity was linked to performance on a common memory task in a sample of 78 heterosexual women aged 18-29. Specifically, scientists looked at whether their frequency of sexual intercourse was associated with memory while controlling for several other factors, such as grade point average, menstrual cycle phase, oral contraceptive use, and relationship length. The results revealed that women who engaged in more frequent sexual intercourse had better recall of abstract words on the test.
Last but not least, a new study out this year (also in the Archives of Sexual Behavior) that involved approximately 6,000 adults age 50 and over explored how sexual frequency was associated with performance on two episodic memory tasks administered two years apart. Participants who had sex more often had better performance on the memory test. It’s worth noting that more emotional closeness during sex was linked to better memory performance, too. However, it’s important to point out that memory performance declined for everyone over the course of the study and being sexually active did not prevent this decline. What this means is that while sex is linked to a higher baseline for memory performance, it doesn’t necessarily prevent cognitive decline in older age: We’ll all experience it at some point, whether we’re sexually active or not.
As always, more research is necessary, especially research that can help to establish cause-and-effect in humans and that explores what actually happens in the brain in response to frequent sex. That said, the overall pattern of findings to date is consistent with the idea that sex may very well be beneficial for our brains and our cognitive performance.
Leuner, B., Glasper, E. R., & Gould, E. (2010). Sexual experience promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus despite an initial elevation in stress hormones. PLoS One, 5(7), e11597.
Glasper, E. R., & Gould, E. (2013). Sexual experience restores age‐related decline in adult neurogenesis and hippocampal function. Hippocampus, 23(4), 303-312.
Wright, H., & Jenks, R. A. (2016). Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age. Age and Aging, 45(2), 313-317.
Maunder, L., Schoemaker, D., & Pruessner, J. C. (2017). Frequency of Penile–Vaginal Intercourse is Associated with Verbal Recognition Performance in Adult Women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 441-453.
Allen, M. S. (2018). Sexual Activity and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
SOURCE: Rick Warren
”There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 GNT).
In America, failure is almost the unpardonable sin. We idolize success.
But that kind of pressure creates major stress on people. The fear of failure has many different faces. It can cause you to be indecisive, a workaholic, and a perfectionist who clings to safety. Because we’re afraid to fail, we shun all kinds of risks.
For many of us, that fear of failure has an iron grip on our hearts. Even some of the best and the brightest people in the world are the most impacted by a fear of failure.
That’s why I urge you to internalize this one simple message: We’ve all made mistakes. It’s not just a “you problem”; it’s a human problem. The Bible says, “There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake” (Ecclesiastes 7:20 GNT).
Not only have you made mistakes in the past, but you’ll also make more in the future. I guarantee it. Even playing it safe and refusing to take risks is a mistake. As a pastor, I hear people ask all the time, “What if I fail?” I want to ask them, “What do you mean ‘if?'”
You’ve already failed many, many times in life. So have I. You’re a failure in some area of your life right now. And you’ll fail a lot more in the future.
Even superstars stumble. The greatest professional basketball players only sink half their shots. The best professional baseball players will get out two out of every three at-bats. Failure is normal.
You’ll never overcome your fear of failure until you fully accept the reality that you’re not perfect.
The Bible says there is only one failure you need to fear: “Be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace” (Hebrews 12:15 NCV).
You need grace. We all do!
Only when we let go of the fear of failure will it let go of its maddening grip on our lives. Once that happens, we can fully accept the grace of God
Loss is the uninvited door that extends us an unexpected invitation to unimaginable possibilities. —
Craig D. Jonesborough
I once had a dear friend whom I loved wholeheartedly and with whom I shared so many fun times. We had endless heart-to-heart talks about God, ministry, life, family, fashion, movies, books, food, and of course, coffee. We shared an incredibly strong bond. We could talk about the most serious issues on earth one moment and then be laughing hysterically the next. She was one of those people with whom I didn’t have to second-guess my words or filter my responses. There was simply an ease between us. And we had just enough differences to keep our friendship interesting, engaging, and evolving. She was one of the people I could call for anything, a true BFF.
Until the day she just wasn’t.
She cut me off. No warning. No conversation. No explanation.
I felt… Bewildered. Confused. Shocked. I tried to make sense of it all, but no matter how many memories and conversations I relived, it still didn’t make sense. I had let her into my inner world, into my heart. I had let her into the space where she had the power to wreck my heart, and she did. I had trusted her, bared my soul, risked being seen by her, and she had rejected me. Perhaps there is no greater pain between friends than the pain of being seen and then unexpectedly rejected.
When she cut me off, I felt so lost about what to do, what to say, and how to respond — just like a middle school girl. I felt as though I had been knocked off my feet, dumped on the floor, and left gasping for air, and I needed God to help me catch my next breath. I needed him to help me process the hurt and wrap my mind around what seemed incomprehensible. How could she do this? She was my friend. I loved her and had shared so much of my life with her. We both loved Jesus and wanted to see His Kingdom flourish. How was this possible?
Rejection was the last thing I expected from someone I had trusted the most. I felt like King David when he penned gut-wrenching words about his own dear friend:
If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers.
— Psalm 55:12-14
Like David, I felt gutted to be on the receiving end of a severed relationship when I wasn’t even sure why it ended. And all of it triggered the rejection of my past. That was the Achilles’ heel of my soul — all the rejection and abandonment I had experienced as a child, all the shame. My knee-jerk response was to shut down and pull back. To draw a line in the sand and never let anyone cross it again. To erect a wall around my heart and never again let anyone in.
But I knew better and I wanted to do better. I knew the consequences of hardening my heart, and I didn’t want to grow bitter and resentful, judgmental and critical. I didn’t want to get stuck in emotional quicksand.
I knew I needed to start with forgiving. After all, that is what I spend my life teaching others to do. But it is never as easy as it sounds, especially when our heart is broken. I knew I couldn’t let what happened to me become what I believed about myself. Just because someone hurt me didn’t mean I was unworthy, unlovable, or unkind. It didn’t mean I was worth less or worthless. It didn’t mean I was not a good friend or capable of being a good friend. But that’s how I felt — no matter how many times I tried to refute all the lies bombarding my mind. If I were a good friend to her, she wouldn’t have cut me off without an explanation. If I were a good friend to her, she would hear me out and make time for me. If I were a good friend to her…
But I had been a good friend to her. I had done the best I knew. And regardless of what I might have done wrong, I truly loved her and wanted the best for her. I wanted our friendship to last. I never imagined it ending — especially not like this.
If I were going to move beyond this pain and not get stuck in this one dark moment of my life, I knew I had to quit obsessing over past events and fall into the arms of God, letting him help me sort through all my emotions — and get control of my runaway-train thoughts.1
When I reached out to my friend to talk and find a resolve, it was to no avail. She didn’t want to talk it through with me. She had simply shut down, and shut me out.
Invite Jesus In
None of us starts out in life planning to be hurt — or to hurt others — but it happens. People fail us — and we fail people — repeatedly. It happens in our childhood and continues all the way through our adulthood. Our lives are intertwined with everyone around us — just as God designed — but we are all a part of a flawed humanity. None of us ever arrives, so it stands to reason that every time we open our hearts to one another, every time we’re thrown together into each other’s worlds, we will, quite possibly, hurt one another.
Whether it occurs in our dating, marriage, work, or friendships, it is going to happen. I’ve heard so many stories from women who started out their careers full of enthusiasm and talent only to be devastated by life-altering criticism that postponed or derailed their success. They didn’t know how not to believe everything someone in a position of authority said and how not to let it define who they were. So they minimized their talent and settled for a less fulfilling position. They believed the lies that they were not smart enough, not gifted enough, not savvy enough.
I’ve listened to stories from women who married the love of their life only to have the marriage eventually crumble. Because of all the hurtful words thrown at them, they believed they were a failure and that they were unworthy of a loving relationship.
Just because we experience failure, it doesn’t make us a failure — but that’s hard to process when we don’t know how.
My own aunt was married for twenty-five years when she learned her best friend had been having an affair with her husband for eighteen of those years. She was devastated, and it was so hard watching her internalize lies about herself because of their deceitful actions. She agonized over not understanding how she never knew. She questioned everything she’d ever done or said that might have made both of them betray her. She obsessed over what she could have done differently, believing she was the one who had failed.
We have all been through deeply painful situations where words or actions significantly wounded us and threatened to derail us — whether it was from a friend, a spouse, a colleague, or a mentor. When we were…
We’ve never forgotten those times when we lost our peace, joy, and hope and sometimes our vision, passion, and purpose.
Unexpected emotional wounding is so deeply painful because it is… unexpected. It hits when our defenses are down and our trust levels are up. How critical then to understand that even when people leave us and hurt us, God never leaves us nor forsakes us.2 He understands what it feels like to be kicked in the gut, to have the wind knocked out of us — and He cares. He promises to be there for us and to help us.
If your heart is broken,” writes the psalmist, “you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath. — Psalm 34:18 MSG
Even when people are unfaithful, God is always faithful.
Every time we’re deeply hurt, we’re faced with the opportunity to let that wound define us — for a season or for the rest of our lives. Maybe we’ve altered our course, scaled back our dreams, or given up on them all together. Maybe we’ve believed something about ourselves — consciously or subconsciously — that may not be true.
Reframe Your Question
I remember when the initial shock of my friend hurting me began to subside, and I slowly realized that I had to work through all my hurt without her. It was a defining moment in my healing, a moment of reckoning, of turning my attention from how deeply hurt I felt to how I could get better. But I really wasn’t sure I could do it alone — and be as healthy as I wanted to be — and so I decided to get help.
When we get a hit out of nowhere that threatens to knock us out, we need wise Christian counsel.
I’m a big believer in going to Jesus and to safe people who can help us process unexpected wounds. Because of my past wounds — like those from my childhood — I knew I was vulnerable in this area, so I reached out to a Christian counselor who could help me. I knew that ultimately Jesus is the only one who can truly heal our deepest hurts, but I also knew the value of having someone help me sort out my perspectives and my heart.
Unexpected hurts often reveal unexpected pain, and, as strange as it may sound, I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to be healed of anything lurking under the surface of which I might not have been aware. I’ve been on this journey long enough now to know that when I feel a certain type of heart pain, it is an invitation from God for a deeper healing He wants to do in me. I have been so broken, wounded, and fragmented that I am a constant work in progress. I’ve learned to lean into this kind of pain when it happens — even though I know that doing so will hurt — because I so desperately desire the healing I know is on the other side.
I know that God sometimes uses relational fractures to show us where we are out of alignment with Him; maybe our affections are misplaced. It’s so easy to have unrealistic expectations of others — to inadvertently want them to love us as only God can — and to set our friendships up for failure.
We can’t expect people to be Jesus to us. It’s too unfair.
Jesus is the only true friend who can love us unconditionally and really stick closer than a brother.3
So, it was then, with a counselor’s help, that I slowly quit asking, Why, God, why? — because honestly, sometimes we may never know, and because that question usually just spirals us into a dark hole that leads nowhere. Instead, I started asking, Jesus, where are You in this? What can You show me through this? What can I learn from this?
It wasn’t the first time I’d been unexpectedly hurt, so I knew there was always something God wanted to do in me. He didn’t cause the hurt — my friend did — but God is always eager to use our circumstances to bring more wholeness into our lives, if we will let Him. God is good; God does good; and God uses all things for my good.4 These are truths I believe with all my heart. So, as I invited Him in, I knew He would use this for my good somehow.
Reframing my questions changed my perspective. It turned my focus back toward Jesus — where real answers come from. It reconnected me to hope — which meant I was looking forward now and not backward at all the emotional wreckage in my wake. It also set my heart in a direction of letting Jesus mold me further into being the kind of friend I had always wanted.
Only Jesus could heal me completely, so I took the time to tell Jesus of the loss I felt — like part of my life was missing — and He walked me through the sorrow of how much all of this had hurt me. I grieved the loss of someone I had come to love dearly. I grieved the loss of not having to second-guess my words or filter my responses. I grieved the loss of having a friend who understood me implicitly and let me be myself. I missed all the time and space she filled in my life. I missed all the laughter we shared. I missed all the deep conversations we used to have. I missed the random texts and jokes and prayer requests. And I told Him all of this. I allowed myself to be in touch with how I truly felt by being honest with God and myself.
And as I did my part, God began to do what only He could do — heal my heart.
1. Unashamed by Christine Caine, chapter 8, “He Healed My Mind,” pp. 133–47.
2. Deuteronomy 31:16; Hebrews 13:5.
3. Proverbs 18:24.
4. Romans 8:28.
Excerpted from Unexpected by Christine Caine, copyright Christine Caine.
SOURCE: Aaron Karmin
When people are upset, the words they use rarely convey the issues and needs at the heart of the problem.
When we listen for what is felt as well as said, we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people.
· Listen to the reasons the other person gives for being upset.
· Make sure you understand what the other person is telling you—from his or her point of view.
· Repeat the other person’s words, and ask if you have understood correctly.
· Ask if anything remains unspoken, giving the person time to think before answering.
· Resist the temptation to interject your own point of view until the other person has said everything he or she wants to say and feels that you have listened to and understood his or her message.
When listening to the other person’s point of view, the following responses are often helpful:
Encourage the other person to share his or her issues as fully as possible.
· “I want to understand what has upset you.”
· “I want to know what you are really hoping for.”
Clarify the real issues, rather than making assumptions. Ask questions that allow you to gain this information, and which let the other person know you are trying to understand.
· “Can you say more about that?”
· “Is that the way it usually happens?”
Restate what you have heard, so you are both able to see what has been understood so far it may be that the other person will then realize that additional information is needed.
· “It sounds like you weren’t expecting that to happen.”
Reflect feelings-be as clear as possible.
· “I can imagine how upsetting that must have been.”
Validate the concerns of the other person, even if a solution is elusive at this time. Expressing appreciation can be a very powerful message if it is conveyed with integrity and respect.
· “I really appreciate that we are talking about this issue.”
· “I am glad we are trying to figure this out.”
This site is intended for individuals who struggle with maintaining sexual purity. This information is posted for individuals at various stages in their recovery, year 1 to year 30+; what applies to some, may not apply others. Spouses are encouraged to read this blog with the caveat that they may not agree with, understand, or know the reason for some items posted. As always, take what you like and leave the rest.