Sunday, November 30, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Grabbers, Hidden Flowers and Princesses - Part Four

Debi has explained two ways to end up miserable - chase boys and marry a pervert; live too sheltered a life and never get married.

Now she explains how to catch a guy without catching a guy....

A Princess will not be a come-on, neither will she stay hidden.  She will be busy, productive, and her life will have purpose, and her purpose will not be just to get married.

Based on the previous stories, Debi's definition of "come-on" is known as flirting in mainstream society.  

The basic idea of having a fun, satisfying life outside of a man is solid.

When a man is looking for a help meet, he will notice girls who are busy helping.  A girl who is enthusiastically involved in projects and activities exudes an energy that makes her attractive.  A young man of energy and vision who plans on conquering a little portion of the world and making a difference is going to find a partner who is already engaged in the same.  He is not going to want to marry a liability, a high maintenance wall hanging.  When he sees you aggressively helping at church, in camps, at home, friends, etc. he will take notice.

The unspoken assumption here is that young men pick out wives with the same level of detached, logical thought used in deciding which flooring option is best for a house.

Of course, Debi's already stated that young men can be attracted to and marry a "Grabber" so the message is getting a bit muddied.

So become busy workers.  When you work with children, your motherly skills will be noted.  Offer to cook for church meetings.  Smart girls will take charge of the clean-up routine, demonstrating a true servant's heart and a go-to personality.  People will talk about good food and who prepared it.  Everybody appreciates hard work and a good attitude.

Perhaps I'm cynical, but this sounds to me like a rationale for foisting all of the boring jobs at church off on to young adults while preventing them from actually being involved in the church meetings.  Is Debi that worried about a young adult rebellion in her church?  Hmm.....

Men not only listen, they watch.  All men appreciate women that are joyful, cheerful and entertaining.  A too-sober girl, a girl that has a slightly cautious air tinged with just a touch of critical attitude, will be passed over.  All men are repelled by self-righteous women.  It is a common fault that seems to overcome even the sweetest girls once they are married.  If your countenance as a single girl suggests even a hint of thinking yourself "wiser" and more "spiritual", you will most likely stay a single girl.  So if you feel your mind drifting into self-promoting piousness, relax, kick yourself, and put on a smile.  You can read more about this subject in my book Created to Be His Help Meet, in the chapter on Jezebel.

This is some extremely flawed and dangerous advice.  For years, I tried to deal with depression and anxiety by pretending to be happy, cheerful, entertaining, etc.  

It doesn't work.  I was miserable.

Starting a life-long relationship by pretending to be happy and cheerful and funny all the time is DATING.  Debi is rehashing all the same advice people can find on any dating help website.

The difference is that in dating relationships that are leading to long-term relationships, the people open up to each other slowly over time.  The couple forms an emotional bond based on trust and respect.  

I have grave concerns that Debi et al.'s views on what makes a woman attractive - be happy! work hard! don't complain! - is destroying more women than it is helping.

[Visionary Guy: Good guys tend to be busy and don't have time to stick around and get to know what a 'sweet' girl someone is behind their shyness or composed reservation.  Make a good first impression, make an effort to show on the outside what's inside.  It doesn't matter what kind of person you think you are.  It matters what you do.  People are known by their doings. (Pro. 20:13)]

Quick!  Everyone recite Proverbs 20:13!  

Why is it so quiet all of the sudden?  Doesn't everyone have the Book of Proverbs memorized?

Well, I don't.  

I've spent more time looking up random verses from Proverbs since I started reading this dratted book than I have ever before and I wondered how much of the Book of Proverbs made it into the Catholic Lectionary.  

Best case scenario: 47 verses or 5.7%  (Sundays + Weekdays readings combined.) 

More likely scenario: 24 verses or 2.6% (Sunday and Major Feast Dates only)

For contrast: The Gospel of Matthew is 85% read in the best case and 55.5% in the average scenario.  

It's like the Church decided that the Gospels were more important than Proverbs....

And yet, the Pearls have quoted the Gospel once.  One time in the whole book so far.

I digress...

Proverbs 20:13 is "Do not love sleep, or else you will come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread."  That has nothing to do with dating or marriage. I don't know why he quoted this.

AntiPearlPersonality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Grabbers, Hidden Flowers and Princesses

Debi's shown one trap for a girl who likes boys - flirting and showing any kind of sexual attraction leads to marrying a pervert.  

Now, Debi sets up the other worse-case scenario - being an old-maid.

Hidden Flowers
Hidden Flowers are treasures concealed from public view, either behind closed doors or disguised as icicles.  They might as well be wearing a sign that says, "Find me if you can, that is, if you are worthy of such a glorious gal as I."

Healthy self-esteem is attractive - but that's my worldly ways speaking again.

These girls live at home, seldom minister to others outside of their families, usually don't help out in events, steer clear of getting involved in projects outside of their small circle, don't work outside the home, wouldn't consider a mission trip unless it was very scheduled and chaperoned, and of course, seldom meet any cool dudes.

Of the six events in the previous sentence, four of them are church-related.  I don't know that young women are going to meet more guys at a tiny conservative church than at a home church.  

On the other hand, Debi does imply that young women can live outside of their homes and work.  That's down-right progressive for some circles.

[Priestly Man: I've heard guys ask, "How can you get to know a girl enough to consider her if she is so protected that you can never find out anything about her or talk to her?  The answer is to be found, not in recreational dating, but in arranging social activities, dinners with other families, get-togethers, etc.  These events allow young people to interact, talk and see how others respond in various situations, in a 'safe' environment.]

Being in a 'safe' environment by definition severely limits the number and types of situations where young people can interact freely.  

With all the coverage of the older Duggar daughters' courtships, I keep thinking about how strange their first hours and days alone with their husbands must be.  They've never been alone their spouse until after they were married.  How do you transition from being in the middle of a huge family and never alone to a family of two people?

It is not their spirituality that makes these Hidden Flowers as "useless as they seem."  A few have adopted their cloistered life style as a matter of principle.  They think they are doing what God would have them do.  Other just live in a very protective environment and are guarded by parents.  Some are shy and uncomfortable in public, due to lack of experience.  Some are afraid of the world.  They, or their parents, fear the world will gobble up the girls.  Many believe somehow God is going to just find the perfect man and send him an email telling him to go to her house and ask for her hand in marriage.  For whatever reason, these flowers remain a secret to the many guys out there looking for a quality girl.

I can think of three other problems inherent in the CP lifestyle that makes it hard for young women to meet guys:

  • Home schooling - By definition, opting out of public or private education will greatly decrease the number of peers a young woman interacts with.
  • Enforced gender roles - I wonder how many young men Ellie met while learning to arrange flowers or being a nanny compared to working in a store.
  • Agrarian Idealization - If you choose to raise your family in an area with very low population density, they are going to meet fewer people than in a city.
These factors interact; how many eligible guys will a home-schooled daughter who lives in rural Minnesota and works at her local church of 30 families going to meet?  

[Priestly Man: Nuns don't married unless they leave the convent.  See "The Sound of Music."]


"The Sound of Music" was about finding your vocation in life - married, single or in a religious order.  If Maria had been a fully-professed nun instead of a postulant, leaving the convent would have been much more convoluted process and lots of paperwork would have needed to be done before she could marry the Captain.

They are good girls that would make great wives, but they have a misguided idea of how a righteous girl should spend her time.  If they remain home-bound too long, they might wake up to find that they have become Hidden Old Maids.  Many quality young men complain that they cannot find a virtuous woman.  When most young men get of age to marry, they will choose the best they can find among their acquaintances.  They don't knock on doors.

Debi's warming to the topic at hand: If a woman is single, it is HER fault.  Clearly, plenty of great men are easily available in all situations for all women.

[Priestly Man: If you want to be found, be findable (sic).]

That's the kind of deep I've come to expect from you, Priestly Man.  See, Hidden Flowers, you are missing out on Priestly Man's charms!  

I know several productive, charming, happy women who never married because they stayed Hidden Flowers too long.  If they had to do it again...well, they would tell you to read this book and do what it suggests.  


Debi's so good at this!  If her single friends had followed her advice years ago, they'd be married like her.  Since they didn't, she gets to gloat.  

Of course, if I were one of her single friends, I'd comfort myself with the fact I wasn't married to Michael Pearl.

Chances are, if you are reading this, you want to become a Princess who marries a real read on.

Both Grabbers and Hidden Flowers are on opposite ends of a spectrum.  Both loose (sic) out. One never marries; the other marries a jerk.  There is a balance.  The Princess wins the Prince.

Debi calls it balance.  I think a better description is tight-rope walking over lava...

AntiPearl:Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Grabbers, Hidden Flowers and Princesses - Part Two

Today, we get to learn about Grabbers - a term Debi dropped in about 30 pages ago without a definition.

In order to teach balance, I have divided girls into three kinds: Grabbers, Hidden Flowers, and Princesses.  This is not a biblical categorization like the three types we discussed earlier, but it is very representative description of today's girls.  I think the categories will help you gain a picture of what you want to become and what you need to avoid.

Thank you, Debi, for not trying to make these pretend categories "Biblical."

Grabbers are girls who go out hunting guys, latching onto the arms of any possibility.  The problem is that the good guys will look down on girls who come on to them.  Some girls are such renowned Grabbers that they hang on any arm that doesn't already have a swinger on it.

Does Debi know what "swinger" or "grabber" means? Between gratuitous use of the phrase "Place it in your Treasure Chest" (which I left out, but she uses in the homework section of each chapter) and these new ones, I'm starting to think Debi needs a refresher on sexual slang.

I digress...

No one really knows if they have a special boyfriend; they are just 'boy-crazy'.  There are plenty of guys who will welcome the attention and the good time, but they won't value what is cheaply given.

Perhaps the girls (and guys) are simply having a good time together. As long as everyone is clear on relationships - or non-relationships - most people will have fun, casual, romantic relationships without being scarred.  

The good guys looking on will disregard Miss Hanger-On as a possible mother of their future children even if they welcome her attention and flirt back.  If her actions are not wifely and motherly now, why expect her to be different in the future? "The heart of her husband does safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil" (Proverbs 31:11).  This girl is destroying her marriage before it happens.

People change over time, Debi.  I wasn't particularly "wifely" when I was 18.  I am "wifely" now.  

Some guys, even good ones, like getting their male ego tickled, but when you are married to a guy that you managed to snag this way, you'll be left wondering if he likes come-on females after he is married.

Ah, true Pearlian logic.  Men are blinded by sexuality that they can't possibly see through a flirty girl and are completely unable to resist attractive women after marriage - but they are still the leader.

[Kingly Man: Yes, he does.  You can state that emphatically.  If he married a girl that got his attention through constant flirting and flaunting her body, various girls will continue to get his attention that way after he's married.  The biggest problem with being a "Grabber" is that practically guarantees you're going to marry the wrong kind of guy - and that will probably become more of an even more acute problem 25 years later when you don't have a 20-year-old body anymore and lots of other girls out their do.]


Kingly Twerp, let me give you a tip: A 50-year-old married man with a houseful of children living in grinding poverty who leers at 20-year-old women is unattractive as hell.  He's also very likely to end up with a horrible divorce settlement.

That's a real problem.  As a young wife, you will be in a constant state of jealousy, so shun being a Grabber.

Even if a Grabber doesn't literally hang on a man's arm, a man will recognize the Grabber's intent of grabbing at the relationship.  An example of this would be the girls who approached my husband Michael, telling him they knew God had told him they knew he was to be their husband.  That is a spiritual Grabber.

Debi, you MARRIED Mike.  Stop being so jealous of the other girls he dated.  After more than 40 years, that kind of jealousy is pathological. 

(Does asking a guy to marry you count as a Grabber?)

[Kingly Man: I know if any girl had come to me and asserted God told her I was to marry me, I can promise you I wouldn't.  I'd be seeking the fastest route away from the crazy and/or grabby girl.  On a fundamental level, I don't think any man wants to be married to a self-proclaimed prophetess.]

That's the first sane thing Kingly Twerp has said.  For the record, I don't think any woman wants to be married to a self-proclaimed prophet either.

AntiPearl:Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Preparing To Be a Help Meet: Grabbers, Hidden Flowers and Princesses - Part One

Well, we all survived the world's most boring courtship between Ellie and Anthony.  Debi was really struggling; she couldn't insult anyone for an entire chapter.

Don't worry; she makes up for lost time and insults in the next few chapters.  Oh, and she gives the floor over to the Three Stooges - Unnamed Prophet Man, Priest Man and King Man - far too often.

Moral to the Story: The kind of female you are will determine the kind of male you attract.

A Caution: If you want a husband who is not a pervert, then act like a princess so as to attract a good, wholesome prince.

Whoa.  Debi managed to blame wives of men who are 'perverts' for attracting a bad guy. 

I'm horrified - and strangely impressed at Debi's abilities at shaming women retroactively.

The next few stories are disasters.  All these girls got too antsy.  What does antsy mean?  You'll see.

I'm worried that Debi's audience is presumed to NOT know what antsy means.  This does not bode well for the future home schooled children.

We have read three beautiful love stories: The Kid, Courtship with Whom? and The Italian Prince.  We learned about three kinds of men and three kinds of gals.  Now it is time for some ragging.

Oh, God.  I'd forgotten Lydia's arranged marriage courtship with Billy.  So, yeah, we've heard Mike and Debi's "When a narcissist meets a codependent" story, Lydia and Billy's "God, let me fall in love with him before we marry" story, and Ellie and Anthony's "Don't talk about the attraction we share" story.  

Wait, Debi thinks she's been "rag" free?  Agree to disagree on that one.

Don't be discouraged, for sometimes we have to explore the negative to get positive results.  Remember, your goal is to grow and change so as to attain a glorious marriage.  If you feel a little beat up, well....charge on and grow.  Life is a series of tests.  Discard and forsake those shabby things you have put in your life and start building that which will be a glory to God.  

Did Debi imply that God expects every girl to obtain a glorious marriage as the main goal of her life?  It would be nice to get through one freaking chapter without a bizarre new heresy.

Many young girls have come to me bemoaning, "How do you let a guy know you think he is really fine without being a come-on?"

I strongly doubt any young girl has come to Debi in the last 35 years and asked that question.

Other girls have said to me sanctimoniously, almost bitterly, "I am so embarrassed at the way that girl hangs on to guys.  She sure doesn't act like a chaste virgin."  Their critical observations are warranted, but sometimes it drives them to the other extreme - to become a Hidden Flower. Their reserved attitude often comes across as snooty and puts good men off.

"Chaste virgin"?  Who....who talks like that?  I've been around teenagers for years and none of them have ever used that phrase.  And, honestly, no adult has used that phrase either.

More practically, we've got a great Debi Catch-22.  You can either mimic her and complain about all other women but not catch a guy or not gossip and catch a guy.

[Priest Man: I've actually had this happen to me because I'm reserved, don't hug girls, etc.]

No man wants to get involved with a girl who thinks she is super-spiritual, holy and wise. 

I think it's safe to say no girl wants to get involved with a super-spiritual, holy, reserved guy who doesn't hug girls either.  Overweening self-importance broken up only by neurotic fear of sexuality is not attractive in either gender for any sexual orientation.

Advice from Zack* to his teenage sister:
My sister asked me how she can get a good guy to be interested in her.  I tell her that sometimes girls come across as, "I'm so cool" or "I'm too spiritual to have the time of day for you."
I really don't get into girls who have that "better than you" look.  I know that the girls say that they don't mean to come across that way, but that is what the guys are seeing.
I told my sister she needs to always make guys feel that they are liked and appreciated. Look at them and smile with an accepting look, not flirty, but a pleasant interest in them and in their interests.  Never put on airs of being a defensive, chaste virgin.
*Zack is a cool, 18 years old, talented, and has his eye on the girls.

I call bullshit.  

  • Two uses of "chaste virgin" in less than 200 words from teenagers is completely unbelievable.  
  • I promise that I never had a conversation like that with my younger brother and my husband looked at me as if I was insane when I asked him if he ever had his younger sister ask him "How do I attract boys?"
  • Likewise, try and read the sentence that starts with "Look at them and smile" out loud.   Yeah.  Exactly.  It's a written sentence, not a spoken one.

Geez.  Dating is rough enough when you are allowed to flirt.  Expecting anyone to walk a "be pleasant and accepting but NOT FLIRTY and NOT FRIGID" line is sadistic.

Plus, the raging double standard is pissing me off.  Boys are allowed to be girl-crazy like Zack or stand-offish like Priestly dud, but those same behaviors are the kiss of death to girls.

Debi then adds a foot-note to the foot-note "from" Zack:
[Kingly Man: "I don't mean to come across that way" is really a useless argument and a cop-out.  Especially when the whole point is to get other people to notice you.  You are what other people see you to be.  It can really come across as just another way for an "uppity girl" to absolve herself of responsibility to change.]

"You are what other people see you to be"!?!? 

What is freaking wrong with you?

Have you actually read your Bible?  Ever?  Like read and thought about it?

You seemed to miss the OVERARCHING theme of the New Testament: We are all children of God.  The outsides don't matter.

The next time I need a better description of white, male, middle-class, Christian, heterosexual, ablest privilege I'm just gonna say "you are what other people see you to be."  

I'm so pissed right now that I'm gonna go read some Terry Prachett.  His foot-notes within a foot-note are awesome and he's a whole lot better at reading humans than Debi et al.

AntiPearl:An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Ellie's Love Story - Part Three

We get to hear from Anthony today.  I feel some compassion for him - he's as confused as Ellie.....

From the Italian Prince
My first impression of Ellie was that she was joyful, pure, confident, and full of productive activity.  The more I got to know her, the more I realized my first impression of her was exactly right.

I will never forget the first time I met her.  I was locked outside at the back of the church building, and she cane to open the door for me.  I recognized her as the sister of my friend Adam, and for some reason my heart started racing when I saw her.  In that moment when she opened the door I became so nervous that I just started walking past her without even telling her thank you. Then she put her hand out in front of me and introduced herself.  I quickly shook her hand like a wooden soldier.  As I walked away from her, I wondered why I had been so flustered.  For months, I was on edge whenever I was around her.

That flustered, nervous feeling?  That's a good sign that you were attracted to her.

I feel sad that Anthony had made it until his early to mid-twenties without being able to identify what sexual attraction feels like.

Does Anthony know that Ellie spent months planning activities hoping he would show up?

For those of you who don't know me, you would probably think that I was just a shy guy, but that is not the case at all.  I was able to become casual friends with other girls, but Ellie was different.  She was much more attractive to me than other girls, and she made me nervous.

[Steady Guy Interruption: Girls I like make me "nervous", too.  I often stumble all over myself when I try to talk to them.]

Yes, people get nervous around people they are attracted to.  I've found the best way to get that nervousness is to spend more time around them.    (I suspect my advice won't be seconded by Debi...)

Two years after I first met her I finally decided that, if she would have me, I would marry her, but still I did not speak. 

Just curious - how did you know she was interested in you?  If everyone is busy stuffing their attraction to each other deep down inside so it can't get out, what made you think she'd say yes?  

 I carefully hid my feelings from her.  It was another year of quietly watching her and getting to know her, plus preparing my life to include caring for her as my wife, before I knelt down to ask her to marry me.

This sounds painful.  Ellie and Anthony are attracted to each other.  Rather than dating, the two of them are busy hiding their feelings and tiptoeing around their relationship rather than risk getting hurt.

Even though Ellie must have sensed my high regard for her, she didn't push me or try to take the reins of our relationship.  She waited.  Again she proved her worth.

Oh, Anthony.  You have no idea what a dangerous game you were playing.  Ellie knew you liked her....kind of....sort of....not really.

Random thought: Were Ellie and Anthony free to date other people or were they both so wrapped up in their non-relationship that they were in an exclusive relationship that no one (even Ellie and Anthony) could admit to?

 For two and a half years we were friends, and then she left on a four-month mission trip. When she returned, it was as though I saw the sun for the first time after hibernating in a cave for the winter.

[Steady Guy Interruption: Absence of a loved one can make the heart grow fonder.]

Again, let me state the obvious.  Ellie was well within her rights to have come back from somewhere in Asia dating/courting/betrothed/whatever to another guy.

Following the example set by this story is likely to lead one of the two people into one heck of a heartache.

Three weeks after she returned I finished Bible School.  Within the hour of graduating, I was sitting with her dad asking for his blessing to marry his daughter.  He was shocked!  He knew I had never said anything romantic to Ellie.  

My parents have been asked for their blessing by guys before.  They were not shocked.  They weren't surprised.  Most people have a clear and visible public romantic relationship before getting engaged.  

This whole hole-and-corner bit is creepy.

Not once had I told her how gorgeous she was, how much I enjoyed being around her or how I longed to just hold her hand.  

Whew!  I'm so glad he held off holding her hand.  My husband never held hands with ANYONE except me.  Not even classmates or family members.  (/massive sarcasm)

I had waited until I knew it was the right girl and the right time.  Her dad asked me when I wanted to get married and I said, "Soon."  I had waited so long for this wonderful girl...I asked her dad not to tell Ellie a word.  I wanted the privilege and the honor of asking her myself.  He totally agreed.

I wonder what probability Ellie's dad put on her accepting him....

Two long weeks later, I took Ellie to a secluded beach and asked her to be my bride, my princess, my help meet.  She said yes!

Yes, it did work out well for you.  Hopefully, you understand how this all could have gone horribly awry.....

We now have a daughter, and my dream for my daughter is that she was grow up to be just like her mother - joyful, pure, confident, diligent and content.

I hope your daughter never feels the need to run a massive social calendar in hopes a guy she likes notices her.  I hope she has the confidence to ask a guy out.

Debi jumps back in:
Here are some things we need to consider after reading Ellie's story:
  • She was busy with school, ministry, service and even setting up socials.
  • Ellie was patient. For years, she had her eye on her "Italian Prince" but never pushed herself or demanded that he make up his mind and declare his interest! Her busy life helped her stay focused on serving God.  If she wasn't busy and fulfilled, she might have been trying to get the hesitating Prince to rescue her from a life of boredom.
  • Ellie had purpose.  Her life was doing something that gave her fulfillment.
  • Patience is not sitting around waiting.  Ellie regularly organized and hosted social activities in hopes of gaining his attention.  It worked.
One practical point: How long was Ellie supposed to wait?  She had no proof of Anthony's attraction to her or his intention to have any kind of a romantic relationship with her.  At what point should Ellie have started looking for another guy?

Hint: Debi never answers that question although she has plenty to say about girls who don't get married.

AntiPearl: “Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks. Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won’t suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow. But when that person looks back – and at some point everyone looks back – she will hear her heart saying, “What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days? What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you? You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful of losing those talents. So this is your heritage; the certainty that you wasted your life.” 
― Paulo CoelhoBy the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Ellie's Love Story - Part 2

Alright.  Back to Ellie's story.

One day, three or four months after asking my brother if he knew of any good guys, the phone rang.  It was a guy asking for my older brother.  I told him that my brother was out of town, and I politely asked if I could take a message.  He told me his name and said he was moving to the area to attend Bible College. Later that day my brother called, we talked for a little while, and then I remembered the guy who called.  I said, " Somebody called for you."
"Who was it?" he asked.
"I think his name was Anthony Taylor."
My brother didn't say anything for a few seconds, and then he asked somewhat sharply, "What did he want?"
"He said he is moving here to go to Bible College.:
Again my brother didn't say anything for a few seconds and then he said very seriously, "Oh no, Watch out!"
I was startled by his reaction and I asked him, "What? What are you talking about?"
To which he responded, "Oh, nothing; never mind."

I'm a bit worried that the brother's friend is an axe murder....

I didn't have to wait long before I met the mystery man.  My brother was back in town when Anthony first came to our church, and he sat with our family for the morning service. I couldn't wait for the preacher to finish his message so my brother could introduce me to the guy with the warning to "watch out". 

That's a bit weird, too.  Does she trust her brother's take on the guy or what?

As soon as the service ended I stood up and turned towards my brother with expectation, but he quickly turned away and escorted his friend out of the pew without an introduction.  I was so disappointed!

Ellie was probably the only person surprised by that outcome.

A few minutes later I walked into the lobby and there was Anthony, leaning up against a wall.  He was well-dressed, and my first thought that he looked like a super-handsome Italian prince.  He didn't look my way, and he was soon gone.  About ten minutes later I heard the church's back doorbell ring. I opened the door and he began to walk past me without even saying, "Thank you," so I stuck my hand out and said, "Hi, my name is Ellie."  He gave me a quick handshake and then, without even glancing at me, walked on by.

Kudos to Ellie for taking some initiative. He's not sounding like a great catch, but first meetings can be really awkward.

We slowly became friends over the next two years.  He was very discreet with girls, so it was hard to get to know him well, but his passion for ministry and the things of God were evident.  I wanted to know him better, so I began to set up soccer, ping-pong matches, and volleyball games.  It took many months before he started coming over a couple times a week to events that I was putting together.  Of course, I cooked fantastic meals and treats, and I made sure that I looked cute for the get-togethers.

Whoa.  That's an insane amount of work to get a guy's attention.  Several months of several activities a week all in hopes of a guy she's passing.  I prefer the idea of calling him and asking if he wants to get coffee.

Oh, and of course, everyone is involved in "ministry".  Do these crazy stories apply if the guy is in a secular job?

I was able to observe him in many circumstances.  One time we were playing a game and someone got very angry at him.  I was impressed with the way he patiently calmed the angry man down. 

In all seriousness, why did the man get mad at him?  Is the 'angry man' high-strung or is the not-boyfriend bad at interacting with people?

 I also noticed that instead of hanging out with the cool kids, he was often seen with inner city children, immigrants and street people.

How old are Ellie and Anthony?!?  Who "hangs out with the cool kids?"  This isn't junior high.

 I remember seeing him many times sitting in the park talking to strangers about Jesus, and once in a while I attended one of weekly Bible studies he was leading with various people he had met.
Over a couple of years, our friendship grew stronger.  Then he gave me an essay he had written for college and asked me if I would edit it.  I read the essay over and over again.  It was life-changing! In the essay he explained that a person could not be saved by the act of praying a sin, stopping their sin, or making Jesus the Lord of their life; a person could only be made righteous by faith in Christ alone.  I began pointing others to Jesus instead of things they had to do in order to get to Jesus.

*stifles a yawn*

Ok.  I think we've got it. Anthony follows the Pearl method of bizarre interactions in hopes of converting people.  He even managed to convert Ellie.

Instead of leading me further away from God and toward himself, Anthony was leading me closer to God.  He treated me in such a way that if I married someone else, my future husband could have thanked him.

I love how the unstated implication is that the rest of the world who "dated" is completely filled with jealous rage toward all of their partner's previous romantic partners.  Personally, I'm grateful my husband dated other women besides me.  According to him, they collectively sanded off a bunch of rough edges.  

I respected him more than any man I had ever met outside of my immediate family, yet I still had not allowed myself to dream romantically about him. This is probably because I never sensed he was thinking romantically about me.

Now, over two-and-a-half years had passed since I first laid eyes on my Italian prince and still were just friends.  I had real yearnings, but I was committed to keeping my eyes on serving God as a single woman until God made my romance happen.  About that time, I decided to go on a four-month mission trip.  The whole four months I never wrote or phoned him, and he didn't contact me.  I stayed focused.

I know this whole story is supposed to illustrate a healthy relationship...but this is crazy.  There is nothing healthy or normal about repressing all romantic feelings for two and a half years! If you like someone, you don't break off contact for 4 months - or at least not without a talk about the relationship.

Towards the end of my trip, I was on a train thinking about going home and seeing Anthony again.  As I watched the beautiful Asian countryside pass by, I realized that I did not want to spend the rest of my life without the godly man that I had come to greatly honor.  I had delighted myself in the Lord.  I knew he would give me the desires of my heart.  He so promised in Psalms 37:4.  I remained full of peace and delight.

In real life, Ellie would come home to find out that Anthony - who may or may not have been interested in her - was dating someone else. 

Within six weeks of my return, my dream finally came true.  He came to visit and asked me to take a walk with him on the beach.  We walked to the waterside and stood there for a few minutes.  I asked him, "Well, what do you want to do?"  He said "I think we should pray."  Then he dropped to his knee. "But before we pray, I want to give you something."  He pulled out a ring and pressed it into my hand, and then asked me to marry him.  

I hope Ellie and Anthony were in some kind of declared relationship before he proposed.  Because going from single friends to engaged is one heck of a big step.

For the first time, I looked deeply into his eyes.  He had never told me he loved me, but he had loved me.  He had never tried to kiss me or even hold my hand, but he had treated me like a treasure.  I said, "Yes!"

Ellie, from one woman to another, let me give you some advice. 

 Actions are important.  

He never told you he loved you before asking you to marry him.

He was unwilling/unable to enter a committed relationship for longer than 6 weeks before he wanted you to marry him. 

He let you go away for 4 months without any contact after 2.5 YEARS of a 'non-romantic' relationship. 

 If a friend of mine told me described her relationship like yours, I'd tell her to sign up for some hard-core pre-marital counseling because I worry that he can't form a healthy long-term relationship...and that you are far too willing to follow him around like a puppy dog waiting for any scrap of romance to come your way. 

He took my hands and we prayed together, dedicating our lives to God.  Then he said, "I have a gift for you," and started digging in the sand right where we were kneeling.  He dug up a box and opened it, revealing two dozen red roses.  As he handed me the roses, he finally told me the three glorious words every girl longs to hear: "I love you."

Admit it; the story would be much funnier if Anthony was a few feet off from the buried roses....

My handsome Italian prince and I have now been married for almost seven years, and for better or worse, for richer or poorer, through it all, we have rejoiced in one accord.  I have traveled around the world with him and watch him preach the Good News to thousands.  We just returned from living in Africa for the summer with our three kids and another baby on the way.  Just today, we talked with a friend whose eyes filled with tears as he thanked my husband for preaching the gospel to him last year. My love story gets better every day.

And we end on some humble-brag.

Next post: Anthony's side of the story.

AntiPearl: I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Ellie's Love Story - Part One

The name of this chapter is "the Italian Prince".  Since I find Debi's marginalization of women annoying, I'm going to refer to this chapter as Ellie's love story.

My name is Ellie.  It was around my nineteenth birthday, and and I was wondering if there were any good guys out there.  I thought the best person to ask was my protective older brother. So while we were on the phone, I nonchalantly threw out the question, "Adam, have you meet any good guys who would be good for me?" Now, thus far, my brother had given the hostile stare to every potential suitor that had looked my way, approving on none; but I hoped in all his recent travels he had met someone of whom he approved.
Without hesitating, he answered, "Yeah, I've met one."
"Good," I said. I didn't ask him anymore about the mystery man. I wasn't looking for him to set me up; I was just wondering if there were any good guys out there.

That's a very...unique...conversation.

I had already had my experience with a charmer  three years earlier.  I was fifteen years old and my family started going to a new church in Denver.  There was a handsome older boy there whom I noticed right off because the very first Sunday he looked right into my eyes.  It was clearly a special look, and I was excited to get his attention. We soon became friends.  We spent time talking, playing group games and laughing together and by the end of the year I was deeply infatuated with him.

Does anyone see any red flags in that story?  I don't.  Ellie's description of her relationship sounds completely age-appropriate for a fifteen-year old.

Our relationship took an inevitable turn.  There came an awkward moment when his mom approached me and said "I'm looking for a good wife for my son."  I was shocked.  Did she know that I had secretly thought about marrying him?


How is it "inevitable" that a mom will appear and have a crazily inappropriate conversation with a teenager.  The mom's behavior is INSANE.

Yes, girls think about getting married to guys they are attracted to. Nothing is odd or embarrassing about that - although Ellie seems to disagree....

I was very confused and unsure of what to do, so I turned to God. Do you know that there are turning moments in a person's life, pivotal points that decide their future? God waits for you to decide which way you want to go.  I'm so glad that at that moment I only wanted what God had for me.

Ellie would had been better off getting information from her parents.   Anyone else notice the conspicuous absence of her parents in this story?  Hopefully, they would have pointed her towards a healthier understanding of human sexuality and development.

It was the truth I read in 1 Corinthians 7:34 that turned my heart away from her son.
"There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin.  The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit.

Ironic that she stopped mid-verse like that.  The rest of the verse explains how married women only care about pleasing their husband.  The whole chapter explains why Paul feels people should stay single since the end of the world is coming soon.

My life headed in a completely new direction.  I laid aside the boy crush thing and threw myself into pursuing a life of knowing and serving God.

Having a crush is compatible with knowing and serving God.  Jeepers.  

When I was sixteen, I worked part-time as a nanny.  I took extracurricular art, music and speech classes.  I received certification from the Institute of Floristry to do floral design.  I started teaching English to immigrants in the inner city of Dever, and I went from being a Sunday School teacher to becoming Sunday School superintendent with my older brother.  My brother and I also took our first cross-country trip together before I turned seventeen.

So, were the teachers at the Institute of Floristry "professionals" or professionals?  I can't find a record of any business or school by that name using the internet, but there are several places that offer certificate training in floral design in Denver.  It's between 100-125 hours of class time. 

I was teaching in a CCD (Sunday school) class when I was 16 with an experienced teacher.  I can't imagine being made a supervisor of any kind at that age.  That seems premature to me.

I eventually went on to start my own business.  I named it Ellie Designs and I started doing floral arranging for weddings and other events.  I also did interior decorating, gardening, landscaping, and housecleaning.  When I wasn't working, I was busy doing ministry, taking courses, and spending time with like-minded friends.

Good news: Debi lets young women work outside of the home.  Bad news: only in very traditionally female roles.  I hope "taking courses" means taking college courses toward an Associate's degree or courses that would let her become a Certified Floral Designer.

Well, this story has been fairly painless so far.  Let's hope for the best.

AntiPearl:“First best is falling in love. Second best is being in love. Least best is falling out of love. But any of it is better than never having been in love.” 
― Maya Angelou

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Preparing to Be a Help Meet: Knowledge - Homework and Homeschooling

This section makes me angry. 

I think I've mentioned before that I taught for 7(ish) years in a low socioeconomic status, urban district in the alternative education high school. 

Surprisingly - or not surprisingly - I HATE most popular teacher memoirs that fit the following trope:
1. Well-off, white, young and strangely idealistic teacher decided to go save the poor minority students in a rough district.
2. Teacher does the bare minimum of preparation required by the state or Teach for America.
3. Teacher shows up and is surprised - shocked! - that the students don't take to them immediately and generally call the teacher out for being a crappy teacher.
4. Teacher finds out that students are people, too.
5. Teacher is "saved" by the students the teacher set out to save.
6. Teacher writes crappy book to inspire others to start at step 1 since the teacher is now out of education after 2 years in the system.

Why do I hate these books so much?  

It's NOT OK to USE the most vulnerable people in a society. That's what the teacher is really doing - using the students to make themselves feel better or accomplished or useful.

But Debi's ok with that.  Let's hear her views on learning.

Practice Makes Perfect:
Homework Time: Go out and earn some money.  Take that small sum and plan to have four families over to eat.  Not families that make you feel comfortable, but families that need someone to be their friend.  Do all the preparation before and cleanup after.

  • Don't earn a lot; it's not like the poor/marginalized families deserve a good meal.  
  • Make sure you have to scrimp and save.  After all, dried beans are cheap.
  • Don't embarrass yourself in front of friends.  Pick people who can't complain without losing face.

Stretch the Dollar:
Homework Time: Go out and earn some money. Find a family that is struggling financially.  Tell the mother you are doing a Preparing to Be a A Help Meet Project and want to see how much you can buy for her kids on a limited and fixed budget. Get their clothing sizes and any preferences they may have. Tell her that it is her lucky day, because as a learning project it is important that you cover all expenses.  Look around until you find a good secondhand store or look for garage sales. Start shopping.  Learn to stretch the dollar. Learn to please every kid. Learn to make wise decisions quickly.  Make sure you buy something for the mama.

  • Find a poor family.  Tell them to be grateful you are going to buy their kids some nice clothes.
  • Ignore the awkward feeling you have at the idea of telling an adult woman that you - an unmarried teenager most likely - totally get what her life is like.  If you keep ignoring that nagging feeling of guilt or embarrassment, eventually you can pass out advice like Debi!
  • Don't give the money to the family - that's not the point.  The point is for you to learn using them as toys.
  • Buy the kids about one used item each.  Hope you know what makes good used clothes....and what the kids actually need.
  • Be sure to plug Debi's book - sales are important.

Homework Time: Tell your parents you want to learn what it is like to have the entire responsibility of caring for a family for one week.  Let them help you choose a family.  Volunteer your services in accordance with when it will be most convenient for the chosen family.  Most overworked moms will jump at the opportunity.  Go ready to clean, cook, wash clothes, keep kids, homeschool, car-pool, and even keep Grandpa.  Be a servant and let them grade your services.  Don't be offended when they say you were edgy or too slow! If you are offended at their grade, you will spend your first years of marriage offended.  Part of the class is to learn not to be offended when judged and found wanting.

*raises hand*

How is that getting the "entire responsibility for a family"?  Shouldn't the parents just leave for a week and see what happens?

I also have a hard time believing the target audience needs more practice at housework and child care.

I don't want to leave a teenager in charge of home schooling, car-pooling or taking care of Grandpa.  Each of those sound like a disaster in the making.

If your husband judges you and finds you wanting, tell them to do whatever you are "wanting" at themselves.  That'll stop him pretty quickly.  

Homeschooling for your future children starts today!  Many years ago I read a book on how to introduce an infant to great music and instill in them a natural musical talent.  When my first baby was born I had already purchased old records and a record player from the Goodwill store.  In her first hours she faintly heard strains from some of the best violinists in the world.  Did it work?  It did.


I didn't know science was that easy! 

Thesis title: "Does introducing newborns to violin music at birth lead to natural musical talent?"

Thesis: Yes.  It does.

Thesis defense - think a oral interview from hell: 
Q:"What the hell have you been doing for 3 years?"
A: "Listening to violin music with a baby."

Q: "Wait. How many babies?"
A: "One.  For 20 minutes on the day they were born."

Q: "How did you test the natural musical talent?"
A: "Oh, it was obvious."

Q: "How was it obvious?"
A: "The music listening babies clearly had more talent."

By the time my second child was born I had read how to introduce a newborn to math.  That works as well. 

*Giggles convulsively*

On a totally unrelated note, many studies by actual child development experts have show that infants have both basic math skills and an appreciation for music.  Of all of Debi's quirks, this one is at least fairly harmless.

The time to read up on subjects like that is now.
I often wonder what could have been for my children if I had learned all that information before I had married. 

Well, if your techniques worked, it would have been exactly the same.  I don't know of any studies that have demonstrated in utero learning plans....

 Good homeschooling does not come just from textbooks; it also comes from research and life.

I just remembered Debi home schooled her kids.  (I block the thought out as much as possible one should be educated by Debi.)

*shudders convulsively*

Homework Time:
Start today going up and down the library aisles and plan to introduce yourself to a new subject each week.  Or, if you are computer-oriented, spend your time studying vital subjects rather than idly "surfing".  I was a young mother when I decided to stop wasting my time with entertainment and start trying to learn.  My first subject was mushrooms.  It was fascinating.  The mushroom subject of different kinds of fungi.  This past year, as we harvested our corn, I noticed a few plump purple kernels.  I quickly put the strange corn into a pile for burning.  It reminded me of the barley fungus blight that hit Europe several centuries ago didn't destroy the grain; it just caused a few grains to take on a strange looking fat-looking shape.  It was the common folk who finally realized it was their diseased grain that was destroying the brains of the people, making them go totally crazy.

Oh, Debi.  

You are describing ergot poisoning. Ergot is a separate fungi than barley fungus blight.  If you were collecting home-grown wheat, rye or barley, ergot is a real concern.  Ergot can infect corn, but it's pretty rare.  You were probably seeing either cross pollination between sweet and Indian corn which can happen very easily if a neighbor is growing an Indian corn that pollinates at the same time as your sweet corn is receptive.  Look at how strange some of the kernels can look:

On the other hand, maybe she had corn smut - which is a different fungus that either of the other two.  It's also edible and can be sold for up to a few dollars per ear.

Corn Smut is used like cooked mushrooms

Either way, it's kind of sad.  Debi thinks she knows a ton about fungus, but really doesn't know much at all.

Over the years I have covered the strangest subjects, some of which have come in handy at the oddest times.  Almost forty years ago I started studying herbs; now two of my children are herbalists.  Later I studied space, air movements, and flight.  One of my sons is a pilot.  My study became their school.

My dad studied history and English.  My mom studied theology.  I'm a teacher/scientist, my twin sister is a special education teacher and my brother works in logistics.....

I don't think career choices follow a Lamarckian evolution, Debs....

Why do I tell you all this weird stuff? I want you to know that walking through the door of knowledge will make you a stronger, healthier, smarter and more resourceful person.  It will make you a more capable wife, a wiser mother and an interesting person.  It could save your life or that of your child.

And yet, Debi scorns advanced education.  I find that really sad because she clearly has some native intellect and curiosity.  Imagine what she could have accomplished in her life - and for her kids - if she had taken some accredited college classes in any subject.

The AntiPearl for today captures why I think CP/QF families really homeschool - and poorly at that.

AntiPearl: Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.