Don’t Let Your Marriage Be A Flop

My heart goes out to Tarek and Christina El Moussa (of Flip or Flop). It’s bad enough having what you thought was a good working marriage fall apart on you, but to do it in the public spotlight has got to be agonizing beyond belief.

Here is my letter to them:

Dear Tarek and Christina,

I’ve really appreciated and admired your expertise at home remodeling and flipping houses. I’ve enjoyed watching your show! I wish I could do what you do. There’s no possible way I could, but it’s fun to watch you in action and dream!

I appreciate your willingness to share all those hours of your life with us, your loyal audience! All the agonizing decisions, the unexpected curve balls, the joy and excitement of decisions that paid off…

You make a great team!

Before you give up on your marriage, I hope you will sit down with a good marriage counselor. I’d particularly recommend contacting Caring for the Heart Ministries.

If you research them, I think you’ll understand why.

For everyone reading this, before you marry, before you’ve even gotten engaged, before you ever decide to date:

If you want to have successful relationships in life, then I highly recommend that you sit down with someone you can trust and learn to know yourself really well. This person doesn’t have to be a professional, but they do have to be someone you know is capable of giving good, honest advice.

It is never too early or too late to do this!


  • what makes YOU you
  • what you need and want in terms of a good relationship (any kind of relationship!)
  • what friends you should work to attract or avoid, and how to do that
  • where your relationship weaknesses and strengths are
  • what you can do to avoid the traps and snares your own personality, areas of blindness, and upbringing will create for you
  • where you need healing and growth, and work to effect that healing and growth

Become the person God intends you to be so that you can be a good friend and team player not just in marriage, but in all of your relationships.

It’s impossible to love someone else well and be a good friend to them if you can’t first love yourself and be your own best friend.

Take the time to develop close friendships where you feel comfortable and safe enough to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and theirs, where your friends give you honesty and encouragement in return. Where you can sit down with any one of them and they can say, “You’re being a brat and we love you enough to say so.” And you’re willing to hear them out, and to apologize and work to be a better person.

If you’re already dating, if you’re engaged, please don’t get married without first learning who you are (if you haven’t already), and who your intended spouse really is, and creating a game plan to intentionally work together to build a happy, life-long marriage.

You’ve got this amazing potential, this bright future beckoning you on. Take the time to create a solid foundation to build upon!

And hey, if you discover that you’re in the wrong relationship, a broken heart before marriage is so much less traumatic than an ugly awful divorce with kids in the middle! You have no idea–but you will–if you insist on marrying Mr. or Ms. Not-That-Person-God-Intended-For-You!

IF you’re married (I hope Tarek and Christina really do read this):

Stuff happens. You totally lose your temper. One of you treats the other with disrespect, hurt feelings multiply, someone freaks out, the world implodes, and now you’re wondering if it’s ever going to be all right again!

Maybe it’s happened more than once. Maybe this has kept happening.

You know what?

STUFF happens.

Don’t be hasty to throw away what began as a good relationship! Find a way to work together. Find a way to forgive. Find a way to safely express your feelings of frustration and misery, and work to relieve them without destroying your marriage.

Remember what’s most important.

If you’ve got kids, their best safety, stability, and happiness resides with both of you working together, loving each other, loving and sheltering them together. Your marriage is vital to you, but for them, it’s their whole world! Being a good parent means taking that seriously.

Making money is good in its place, but putting each other first is what keeps a marriage healthy and strong.

EVERY MARRIAGE needs work. Every marriage.

Every couple has their moments of marital disaster and most couples, like you, are going to sometimes have total meltdowns!

Here’s the secret to a happy marriage: you don’t have to live there.

  • You can forgive each other
  • you can ask God to forgive you and give you the strength and wisdom to avoid another meltdown
  • you can sit down and sort out the reason for the meltdown
  • you can make plans to avoid another like it in the future
  • You may not entirely succeed the first or second, or even the fifteenth time around, but it’s only by working together that you’ll truly be a real team

It’s easy to be a team player when everything’s going your way, when there’s unanimity and harmony, but this is a fallen, broken world, and we are, all of us, broken hurting people needing forgiveness and healing.

Our efforts at team building will never measure up completely. Sometimes, we’re going to get it really wrong! Being a success as a couple means that you’ve got each others’ backs even when you’re in utter and complete disagreement, and fuming and totally fed up!

When that happens, don’t give up and go date other people. Sit down with a counselor, talk through the issues, but (this is key)–don’t dwell on the negative stuff.

First, find a way to eliminate some of the outside stresses on your relationship. If your job is getting in the way, find a way to disconnect from it for a while. Take your spouse and head for somewhere you can be alone together. Leave your kids with the grandparents or someone else you trust.

Take along your scrapbooks, take along your family albums, look at all your photos! Bring your love letters or retrieve all those emails or texts, or whatever you did to draw closer to each other to begin with.

Remember TOGETHER why you fell in love. Remember why you decided to get married. Remember why you’ve been working together, and above all, remember that your kids deserve a stable loving home.

Look each other in the eye, hold hands, sit close. Recover the romance. Resolve to stick it out. Resolve to give your marriage two hundred percent!

FIGHT for what you’ve built, for that dream you wanted to have together!

There may be situations where, it doesn’t matter what you do, your world is going to fall apart. I’ve lived that. I know the pain and despair of that.

Sometimes there aren’t happy endings.

Sometimes one of you is willing to work to make the marriage a success, but the other person isn’t or isn’t able.

Sometimes they’re too damaged emotionally or trust has been irrevocably broken.

If you’re there, if that’s the truth hiding behind your public split, then I feel your pain.

But I urge you, again, not to jump from one relationship into another. You need to sort out your own heart first, and heal and grow before entering another relationship. Please do that not just for you, but for your kids, who are depending on you for emotional support, love, stability, security; all those benefits they were receiving from your marriage and now aren’t.

You owe it to them and you owe it to yourself to discover what you contributed to the failure of your marriage and how to avoid going there again, to be the kind of person it is safe for someone else to draw close to. You owe it to your children as well as yourself to pursue healing and growth, to model being a healthy, responsible adult and parent.

I’m praying for you. I’m praying that God heals your hearts and mends your marriage, and steps into the gap where your brokenness, your pain and failure are eating away at your souls, and pulls you together again.

I’m praying for your kids’ protection in the middle all of this.

Whether or not you continue to have a television show is not important, but YOU matter!

You will always matter, not because you’re famous or good at flipping houses, but because God created you and loves you with an everlasting love.

This is true for everyone. I pray that His love embraces you and makes you whole again,


Does Harry Potter Romanticize Boarding School?


Instead of taking a bus, I flew on Cessnas and jets to get to school.

I feel that it’s only reasonable to write a response to Tilda Swinton’s assertions that ‘Harry Potter romanticizes boarding school and this is damaging to children.’

In an earlier life, I read the entire Harry Potter series and watched at least three of the movies (I preferred the books). I’m not going to endorse Harry Potter or critique the series here, but I do have an acquaintance with the contents of the stories.

I also attended boarding school from 2nd grade through 12th, with a few breaks in between.

There were aspects I hated about boarding school (mostly missing my parents and preferring to be at home), but there were aspects I really appreciated about boarding school too.

I mostly liked and appreciated my dorm parents. I had some good roommates, I had more than one best friend, I had other good friends, and even had a boyfriend for a short while.

I rarely felt isolated or stressed to the point that I would call my experiences there “hell,” although sometimes I really did feel stressed as well as challenged, and I didn’t always enjoy the experience.

The reasons for that were several: no one was nice to everyone else all the time (not even me!); teen girls can behave like vicious piranhas under certain unfortunate circumstances, but this is true in public and private schools that don’t take boarders too, and not at all unique; and even dorm parents and teachers aren’t immune to having a bad day or totally losing their patience at times.

I can understand why Tilda Swinton might not have enjoyed her boarding school experience, especially if she attended one only in her teens–which seems to be the British model, but I found there were definite advantages to being at boarding school instead of at home.

Outrigger Canoe Beaching Sandstone CoasterIn elementary school, at boarding school I could go swimming with my friends at the school swimming pool after three just about every afternoon, except when the pool was under repair. There were trips to the nearest big city to go shopping, trips to the beach, trips up the mountain to the falls, and trips to the nearest “swimming hole”.

I loved to swim and hike, I was an indifferent shopper, but I loved eating local foods. I loved roller skating and a game we called “Hunter,” dodge ball, floor hockey, playing in the band, and anytime I got to do anything creative. I especially loved it when my parents came to visit and we did these activities together. I also earned fairly decent grades after I decided to take studying more seriously.

I enjoyed the church services every Sunday that were all in English, unlike church services at home which were mostly in Indonesian and Citak (pronounced CHEE tuk). I learned a lot in our Bible Study groups, and particularly enjoyed it when our group met at the home of a teacher who brewed his own root beer! I also enjoyed evening devotions and singing hymns and choruses with the other kids in the dorm.

In high school, there were more shopping trips and adventures on our own without the dorm parents, and sadly, not much swimming. I couldn’t go home as much, and my parents only came twice, but there were also visits to friends’ homes on vacations, and more activities at the school and opportunities to participate in and contribute to the spiritual life of the community, as well as a missions trip to an orphanage.

I didn’t love everything I was asked to do at boarding school. I particularly disliked softball and soccer, and just about anything else athletic that wasn’t roller skating, swimming, floor hockey or hiking. I thought for the longest time that life would have been perfect if only they’d lived near where I was attending school.

Why was I sent to boarding school?

Parents make use of boarding schools for practical reasons that have far more to do with wanting their kids to receive a quality education than with any idea of their kids being unloved, unwanted, or inconvenient.

Wanting your kids to receive a quality education that teaches them how to be a success at life is a very loving desire.

At the time when I attended boarding school, homeschooling was in its infancy and wasn’t a particularly practical choice where we were, because everything had to be done by us–no convenient shortcuts (like dishwashers, automatic clothes washers and dryers, microwaves, supermarkets–all the conveniences of civilization that we have here in the U.S.

When you’re spending extra time butchering and processing your own meat, dealing with dirty laundry 3 times a week (because otherwise it would rot), washing mountains of dishes by hand with water heated by you…even with hired help to do some of the cooking and cleaning, time to do school is in short supply unless your child is actively engaged with the material and willing to study on their own.

I couldn’t attend the local school taught in Indonesian because I wasn’t Indonesian, and even if I could have, rote memorization of their curriculum (their preferred method of teaching) would not have prepared me for college once I returned to the U.S. Then there was the language barrier.

I was never in any doubt that my parents loved me very much or that Mom struggled particularly with having to let us go so far away to school.

I always thought that I would prefer to be taught at home…at least until I “got” to stay home for five or six weeks because we were all under medical quarantine.

I absolutely hated it!

I turned out to be a terrible home school student: I missed my classmates, I missed my roommates, I missed my friends. I hated sitting in a room at a desk all by myself to do my schoolwork! I resented my parents’ insistence that I had to do my studies anyway, there were tears, sorrow, gnashing of teeth, and generally I was a very miserable wretch who drove everyone around me to utter distraction!

My brother was under quarantine too, but we weren’t allowed to study together because we pestered each other until Mom couldn’t take it.

My parents resorted to bribery: in exchange for catching up with my studies, they sent me off with a wonderful nurse who lived near us to visit another station for a couple of weeks.

When we returned, my family flew to a station in the mountains where my feet were cold all night and the mice ran relay races, and thumped and bumped, and shrieked shrilly in the walls all night long, and we all got terrible colds, and had lots of adventures, but my parents couldn’t do any of their work, so we were “on vacation.”

And finally everyone decided that the quarantine wasn’t necessary and I was permitted to return to boarding school, and life returned to the normal I was used to. Hallelujah…

Do I recommend sending your kids to boarding school? Not unless that’s what you need to do for their best good.

Do I think it’s damaging to children that Harry Potter got sent to a boarding school (or any of his friends did)? No.

That’s the beauty of fiction: you can appreciate someone else finding themselves in odd or unusual circumstances without having to experience those same circumstances for yourself!

And I do not agree that the Harry Potter books romanticized boarding school. I only need to mention one name: Dolores Umbridge, and you’ll probably know why!

Even if boarding school isn’t the romantic ideal in education, it can be a perfectly normal and reasonable experience for kids who need a quality education and can’t get it in another way.

That doesn’t mean your kids will want to go there or that you should send them to one just because they read about kids attending a boarding school in a work of fiction.

But neither are they going to be traumatized or damaged somehow by reading stories that have boarding schools in them either.

In my books, no one attends boarding school (at least so far), but my characters do have lots of fun going on adventures. Check them out!

Book covers 3D

Of Cats and Sewing

black and white cats in a basket

When I get out the camera, the sillies ham it up!

Cats and sewing don’t mix very well, but I’ve learned so much through trying to persevere in finishing this project I’m working on (a gingerbread costume) while trying to distract Lil’ Stinker (the white kitten in the photo) from wreaking havoc!

Over the course of this project, he’s spilled ALL my pins (but only once!). He’s attacked and chomped holes in my crackly paper patterns, which were fortunately designed by me out of butcher paper and not that flimsy shreddable stuff store-bought patterns are made of, so a few teeth and claw marks didn’t really matter.

He let me know that he very much likes the color red. He thought he also liked pins because they’re shiny, but he tried to grab one out of the cloth this evening and discovered they’re also sharp and pointy. (Ouch!) He didn’t much like that!

He also likes spools of thread because they’re round and have colorful thread on them, and he HATES the noise the sewing machine makes!

He also made me laugh when he kept trying to “hide” beside the sewing machine because it’s white and he’s white. He was trying to hide because he knows he isn’t allowed on the table!

I think we can safely say he isn’t color-blind and that he recognizes and differentiates colors!

Shelah (my tuxedo kitty) also informed me that she loves the color red, and was totally disgusted when I took the red fabric she appropriated away from her.

You may wonder along with my family why I didn’t just shut the kitten in another room to keep him out of the sewing. It’s a good question, but it’s got a fairly simple answer: this project isn’t a big one, and I’ll be done with it soon. If I upset either of my cats over it, then I get to spend weeks trying to calm them both down. Meanwhile, I won’t be able to get anything else much done!

It’s easier on all of us if the kitten learns to respect the house rules and discovers that there are things he’s allowed and encouraged to do to entertain himself during the hours I have to focus on other things.

I’ve found various ways to keep the cats out of the sewing: opening a window works for a while. So does wearing them out by playing with their favorite toys (I’m not ignoring them quite all the time). Lil’ Stinker’s favorite toy of the moment is this soft squishy red ball with iridescent ‘fur’ sticking out of it. He’s got a yellow one just like it, but will he play with the yellow one? Hah– But he’ll play with the red ball on his own for hours!

I’ve gotten the costume almost done. Tomorrow it needs another fitting, then I can finish off the neckline and add some peppermint felt ‘buttons.’ Then it’s back to the computer and writing to see if I can catch up my word count for NaNoWriMo, even though the month’s already half over.

How To Successfully Fight Muscle Pain

dscn3108In order to treat pain, it’s helpful to know that pain is our body’s warning system, letting us know that our bodies are taking damage, warning us to stop before the damage is irreversible.

However, there are circumstances under which it is very frustrating to have pain!

“Yeah, so I worked out and I’m not used to that, and now all my muscles are spasming and I hurt all over! I did something good for my body! Why is it complaining?”

AND there’s fibromyalgia and other mystery illnesses where excruciating pain develops for no discernible reason.

I do not have fibromyalgia, but I have a lot of friends suffering from it, and I am very sympathetic, because I can also sometimes have debilitating pain all over caused by chemical sensitivities.

Not knowing why you’re in pain can also be the very worst–because if we know why we’re in pain, then we’re halfway to fixing it. Not knowing why makes it almost impossible to fix.

Here’s what I’ve learned about successfully fighting pain from my naturopath (he’s one of the best in the nation) and from a massage therapist who I am very grateful to for teaching me so much!

  • There is never “no reason” that pain occurs. There is always at least one reason! To successfully treat muscle pain, it’s important to find out what is causing it. (more about this further down)
  • fibromyalgia is a “junk drawer” diagnosis. An MD can tell you that you have fibromyalgia, but will he get to the cause of it or give you an action plan for healing? Most likely not! (you’re going to need a naturopath to help you permanently stop that pain)
  • Best emergency pain relieving gel I’ve ever found: Boiron Arnica gel.
  • A great natural pain reliever: Quercetin
  • Pain can be caused by our bodies not getting the proper nutrients to repair tissues. Two of the most important nutrients our muscles need in order not to ache or cramp are:
    1. calcium
    2. potassium

We need to take the right calcium though, or it isn’t as effective. Calcium lactate is what muscle cells need in order to effect daily repairs.

After much trial (and misery), the calcium supplement I found I could take years ago is Calcium 6 plus, but I can’t find a place that sells it online. If you want the company’s info so you can source it locally, feel free to contact me.

What I like about it is that it’s one of the few calcium combinations that includes calcium lactate, and that it tastes halfway decent (if still a little chalky) when I chew it.

If I take enough calcium lactate, my muscles function better, my S/I joint pops out of joint far less often, and I’m in a lot less pain.

While you may end up taking something else, my advice is to make sure that it’s readily absorbable (chewables are best), and that it has some calcium lactate in it for your muscles.

Potassium is easy to get from bananas and potatoes. A banana a day keeps that ol’ Charlie Horse away! Organic is always better–

In order to properly absorb calcium, a supplement needs to have enough magnesium in it. But be careful: too much magnesium, and you’ll get the runs! Some people are more sensitized to it than others. I’m fine with the small amount in the Cal 6 plus, but you may find that you need more.

  • Did you know that Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils are also important for promoting muscle health and pain reduction? It’s true!

Hot Tip: they’re also very good for reducing menstrual cramping and other symptoms of PMS including crabbiness!

Omega 3 is obtained from fish oil. Anchovies and sardines are a high quality source for fish oil, krill oil is even better, but it’s gotten to be very expensive. I used to say salmon was good, too, but that was before Monsanto created the frankenfish cross between a salmon and an eel. Unless you eat a lot of quality, wild caught non-frankenfish salmon (because you’re living in Alaska), you’re probably going to want to take a supplement instead to get enough Omega 3 oil into your diet.

Here’s a high quality Omega 3 fish oil supplement that may be helpful.

Omega 6 oil is obtained from three specific plant sources, but they are not created equal: evening primrose oil is the best quality, then borage oil, then flaxseed oil–which is comparatively poor in quality.

I recommend Akin’s evening primrose oil, because it has worked long-term for me with no side effects and I’m confident of the consistent quality of the supplement. However, you’ll have to source it directly from Akin’s as it isn’t available for sale on Amazon.

Our bodies need both Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils. If we starve our bodies of either one, we can wind up hurting and in pain.

  • Eating dark leafy greens like Swiss chard and kale is beneficial for our muscles and overall health too.
  • If your body can’t break down and process nutrients, you aren’t going to derive any benefit from any amount of dietary supplementation–and–you will still be in pain. I recommend seeing a naturopath. If you don’t know a good one, I recommend mine!

If you contact me, I’ll be happy to put you in touch with him.

Naturopaths are far better at diagnosing and successfully addressing most issues that cause chronic pain than any MD or specialist. The big exception would be where surgery is necessary.

The best thing I like about how my naturopath taught me how to treat my pain is that most of the time, I don’t have any unpleasant side effects from the supplements and therapies he recommends. If I have a bad reaction to something, I can stop taking it and we can find something better that doesn’t cause trouble.

I can’t do this at all with pharmaceuticals. It’s very difficult to find pharmaceuticals that don’t cause side effects and don’t have bad drug interactions, even for “normal” people!

  • Therapies used to treat muscles aches and pains:
    • massage therapy
    • DIY hot rocks massage
    • DIY ice cube massage

Finding a massage therapist who makes your muscles feel good can be a huge help to stopping the pain. My massage therapist friend has what I like to call “healing hands.” She’d find just the right pressure points, and–suddenly–the pain would be gone, and it wouldn’t come back again for days, maybe even weeks!

While you may not know my massage therapist or be able to visit her (she lives a long way from me now), making a study of the pressure points to turn off pain may help you and your loved ones stop each other’s pain from progressing to unbearable levels and help speed healing.

Here’s a great chart to help you get started.

I also recommend buying one of these hand-held massagers. We really love ours and have replaced the batteries more than once since we bought it!

A great trick my massage therapist friend taught me was to heat up palm-sized smooth river rocks in a small crock pot on low to medium heat covered with just enough water. Putting a little olive oil on one of the warm rocks, rub it around in small gentle circles on knots and sore places on muscles: five minutes in each general area. This softens the knots, loosening the pinching around nerves. When the rock cools off, put it aside (not back in the crock pot) and get another. Repeat until all painful spots have been treated.

Wash the oil off the rocks before re-using.

To follow up a hot rock massage, rub an ice cube (or if there’s nerve damage, a cool wet rolled up washcloth) on the knots and sore spots for five minutes each. This stimulates the capillary system in the tissues to wick away the excess fluid from the irritated tissues, taking the knots down like magic!

There’s more I could say, like how soaking in a hot bath with 1 cup Epsom Salts and a few drops of lavender oil can really relax sore muscles, or how a therapist who practices accupuncture can help. And how regularly eating raw almonds, curry, ginger, and cinnamon (all natural anti-inflammatories) can  help with managing and healing pain–

The important thing, though, is to remember that no matter how much pain you’re in, there is always hope for relief! Never give up on looking for a solution! If you’re stumped and you don’t know where to look for relief next, it never hurts to ask. If you don’t want to ask me, then–ask your friends and family what they’ve done that works! Ask your co-workers, neighbors… Find someone to ask. Keep on asking until you get answers.

Never, ever give up.

And–last but not least: God is my great Healer. I ask Him for healing and strength, and He has continued to provide me that healing and strength, even when sometimes it’s only enough for one day at a time.

I’m happy to pray for your healing too if you want me to. Feel free to contact me any time!

How To Fight A Cold or Flu And Win

Under the weatherLast Wednesday night I went to bed feeling pretty good, but I woke up the next morning totally miserable with that peculiar, sore throat-referred pain I get when the source of the irritation is really sinus pressure causing inflammation in my middle/inner ear. Wow, that came on fast!

But I got dressed and took my daughter to school because it was early hours and I wasn’t sick enough yet to stay home. But–by the time she got home from school, she was starting to get sick too. We both knew we were really in for it! What was it going to take to get us better again?

We knew we had to take a few sick days to let the virus run its course, but we weren’t going to let it take any more time than we absolutely had to give it!

The best thing we found to fight back with this time:

Oscillococcinum: This is a homeopathic I’ve never used before, but it came in really handy! I’d take the dose and within minutes the sinus pressure would let up, the post-nasal drainage would cease, and I felt almost like a normal human being! I even managed to sleep through the night cough free! This was incredible.

I can’t remember the last time I had it so good when I caught a virus like this one! However, I didn’t get the feeling that the Oscillococcinum was helping to fight the actual illness as much as treating the symptoms, so–

Other good choices you can use to fight a fall or winter virus:

A good probiotic is invaluable at this time of year for promoting better health and immune system function, and if you can also find one that specifically promotes ear, nose, and throat health, I encourage you to get it and keep it on hand, especially for your kids’ sake. We have one we’ve ordered through Kohl’s Preventive Care in Omaha. We’re down to one box… time to get more? I’d share a link, but I can’t find it online…

L-Lysine: Usually at this time of year, we take L-Lysine as a preventative, but when the virus came on so hard and fast, I realized I hadn’t been taking it. I started taking double doses. Now that I’m doing better, I’ll go to taking one a day.

Garlic oil capsules (tasteless, odorless): garlic is great for fighting or preventing any kind of infection, and also can be very helpful in controlling cholesterol–unless you’re sensitized to it like I am, and it knocks your cholesterol down too far!

Quercetin also helped some for the headaches and muscle pains that the Oscillococcinum didn’t quite cover, but– that was pretty much it except for a few Ricola throat lozenges!

We stayed away from the cold meds: no decongestants or antihistamines, or cough syrups (which usually destroy my throat and make me cough harder). Cough syrups are also corrosive and will quickly damage children’s teeth, but somehow no one warns parents until it’s too late.