Monday, November 25, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Eight - Part Three

In Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" the eighth chapter focuses on false ideas that young women may have about husbands.  In the previous post, Jasmine fielded a question from a young woman who wanted to know what she could or should do when she had a crush on a young man.

My answer was to spend time around the young guy.  (As answers go, mine feels self-explanatory.)

When we left Jasmine, her answer involved crying in her dad's office interspaced with implausible scenarios where God is getting her to do non-sexual things like prayer by making her attracted to this guy.   To me, it's a sad commentary on how emotional purity messes people up when the fact of being sexually attracted to a man is so terrifying that Jasmine has to rationalize it as being part of a Divine Plan to achieve completely non-sexual ends.

From there, we return to the minor theme that Good Girls (TM) can beat sexual desire by praying correctly:
We can close our eyes and grit our teeth and ball our fists all we want, but if we are not consistently on our knees before the Lord in prayer, our struggle is in vain. I didn't pray for the young man's future wife. I didn't pray for my future husband. I didn't pray that the young man would be my future husband ( well, not often....). I prayed that Thy will be done. And praying that prayer, and submitting my emotions and my hopes to the future for the Lord, I found a freedom that I never could achieve through my own self-help remedies. (pg. 96)
What a masochistic series of prayer options those are!  All of those prayers require abrogating self
beyond the point of sanity. 

My church teaches that prayer is communication with God.   Under that definition, Jasmine can pray by sitting down and pounding out her feelings - good, bad, and indifferent - about the crush she is having.   I remember praying more than once that I was lonely, sick of being single and irritated that God give me a desire to be married without bringing a man I could marry into my dating experience.  I remember praying more than once that I really, really, really liked so-and-so and maybe I'd like being married to him? 

And honestly - because I was having a conversation about where I was - I was more able to move into asking God to help me see God's Will in my life.  Writing that out sounds noble and spiritually mature; there was a better-than-half chance that I felt crabby that my current wish-wants-and-desires were taking a while.

Here's the thing, though. 

The process of being honest with God and being honest with self followed by waiting....that's how we grow.    I didn't grow beyond desiring marriage when single; that was an honest desire.  By waiting, I accepted that I could have a good life as a single woman.  I didn't grow beyond wanting to marry my boyfriends in the first heady weeks of our relationships, but I realized that relationships can feel amazing while being fatally flawed after being through a break-up.

Why is that different from the quote above?  My religion allows me to have wishes, wants and desires - and God's Will will be done.   I'm allowed to have feelings - just like the authors of the books of the Bible did.  Just like Jesus did.

Most importantly, no one recommended praying for my future spouse or the future spouse of the person I was crushing on.  That's next-level brainwashing techniques that you are applying to yourself - and not cool.

The second way to control our reaction is to embrace accountability. I talked to my dad about my feelings far too late. By that time, I had lost my appetite, I was morose and withdrawn, and I had so many feelings pent up inside that when I opened my mouth to express them, all that came out were inelegant sobs. The thing about a lot of us girls is that our emotions affect every aspect of our personality. Try as we might, we can't compartmentalize our strong feelings. I've found that being open with both my parents about what I'm feeling and for whom: 1) eliminates the stress of trying to keep an embarrassing secret; 2) turns that embarrassing secret into an opportunity to build a stronger relationship with my parents; 3) my parents know where I am emotionally, and helps them as they prepare me to become the wife of one of the men who drives me crazy; and 4) give them a point of reference when they need to admonish me for the occasional moroseness brought on by my - shall we call it a crush? That seems so trite. (pg. 96)

 Thinking back to when I had crushes as a teenager and young adult, my family always knew about it because I was generally in a good mood and talked incessantly about how great so-and-so was.  And did you know that so-and-so....?  Also - so-and-so said.....

In other words, I was neither subtle about what was going on in my head nor particularly unpleasant to be around once the adult listener kindly overlooked that I was dragging a guy they'd never met into every conversation.  I was also rather distracted - but I'm generally scatterbrained so that may not have been as noticable.

Oh, Jasmine.  I'm great at compartmentalizing strong feelings - and I'll bet you dollars to donuts that most of your loyal readers are, too.  To survive in a world that is freaked out by disabilities and death, I learned to stuff sadness and anger deep down inside of me.  Doing that allowed me to pass as a happy-go-lucky everygirl.

I suspect that sounds very familiar to young women in CP/QF land since they are not allowed to be angry, sad, sexual or ambitious outside of home and ministry.

After all, stuffing emotions inside doesn't hurt anyone, right?


Stuffing emotions hurts the person who is not allowed to express anger, sadness, sexual attraction or ambition ever; crushing all negative emotions means that all that negativity goes inward - why am I such a bad fit for my life? - rather than outward - I am angry that I can't flirt with Joe

That's a recipe for anxiety, depression and eating disorders. 

Good news is that you can unlearn the habit of stuffing emotions.  I've been doing that for nearly 20 years now.  I did a lot of hard work and in return I'm more centered, more able to handle strong negative emotions when they happen and more happy than I've ever learned before.

Speaking of strong emotions, I hope that Jasmine is describing the standard level of embarrassment that most pre-teens and young teens have when discussing anything sexual or romantic** with their parents. 

What I fear is that Jasmine has absorbed the emotional purity (emo-pure) junk idea that crushes are wrong, shameful, sinful and therefore embarrassing.  The reason I think that is she describes having a crush as needing to keep an embarrassing secret.  I also tried to keep my crushes secret - but not from embarrassment.  For me, I enjoyed having my own fantasies about why I liked So-and-so and enjoy the flush of energy and excitement that a crush brings.  No matter how sweet or sympathetic my parents (or friends) were, talking about a new crush consciously tended to kill my buzz.

As for the last two points, 19-year-old Jasmine can't have realized how oblivious her parents sound if the last two ideas are true. 

 Preparing a daughter to be a wife and a son to be a husband starts in early childhood with teaching children how to use words to express their feelings, teaching children how to share and rewarding patience and perseverance.  If her parents are waiting to start teaching interpersonal skills, job skills or the basics of human sexuality until Jasmine has a crush on a marriageable man, that's insane. 

And speaking of stuffing emotions, since when is moroseness a sin?  People have feelings.  People are responsible for their own feelings - not the feelings of others.  If Jasmine is morose, that's on Jasmine.  Her parents and siblings - but mostly her parents, I suspect - are responsible for dealing with their feelings of irritation, frustration, or helplessness when Jasmine is sad.   Instead, the parents essentially tell her to hide her feelings so that the parents can ignore their strong feelings.

That's not healthy - but that kind of emotional mutilation is the hallmark of CP/QF life.  Tread with care.

**I grew up with parents who treated sexuality in a positive, educational way.  I still went through a phase between 10-14(ish) where I would have preferred to eat broken glass than discuss anything involving my body or budding sexuality with them.  I bring this up because I often hear 2nd generation CP/QF escapees hoping that their kids will be free of embarrassment if their parents teach sexuality just right.   Sex-positivity and age-appropriate education is wonderful and life-giving - but pre-teen/young teens may still feel awkward about discussing things with their parents.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Eight - Part Two

Winter has come crashing into Michigan this year.  We've got trees with leaves still on at the same time as accumulating snowfall.  Like...four inches of snowfall.   The Chinese Elms in my yard keep their leaves until the absolutely last minute possible so I doubt I'll have a chance to rake the leaves this year.   Similarly, there is...oh....six inches of unmowed grass in the backyard that will hopefully die back before spring.

This time of year, we generally get some snow flurries - but just flakes that are visible in the air with a slight dusting on the ground.  I clearly remembering harvesting parsnips from a raised bed a day or two before Spawn was born in late November 2016. The leafy portion of the parsnip was still alive and the ground was unfrozen.  This year, I harvested my parsnips on November 9th with the tops flaccid from being frozen and thawed.  That was gross enough to start with - but we've had so much rain this fall that the ground was slightly frozen mud.   Even with the gross working conditions, I was glad because I'm not the kind of person who would root around in early spring mud to try and find the parsnips that overwintered before they started growing again.

Reading this section of "Joyfully At Home" by Jasmine Baucham is a bit like rooting around in the mud for half-frozen parsnips.  I know I need to get through this chapter to move on - and eventually finish the book - but man, it's not a pleasant task.   This section includes Jasmine's way of dealing with crushes.  We get into the idea of dealing with crushes by reading a letter from an young woman:
I'm struggling with my thoughts. There's this particular young man I know, that I would REALLY like to marry. No matter how hard I try, I find myself thinking about him every day and ALL day long. How in the world do I get "free" from this? I mean, I don't want to pretend like he doesn't exist ( ie: convince myself that he was never born) , but at the same time, I know I shouldn't think about him ALL the time. Do you or others have any advice? And also, should I maybe not allow myself to want to marry him??? I'd appreciate any thoughts and advice. (pg. 95)


My best way of dealing with a crush is to spend time with the guy rather than trying to crush my feelings to death. 

Yup.  That's my advice.  Yuppers.

I mean, spend a bit of time to figure out if he's available, right?  You don't need to go panting after a married dude or someone who is in a relationship.  You deserve to be the main woman in a guy's life, not a piece on the side.

Then figure out if you still like him after spending more time together.   You'd be amazed how many crushes of mine have been killed by spending time talking with the guy. 

If you still like him and he's available, ask him out.  Or make it clear you're totally up for seeing him sometime.

In terms of feelings, just roll with them.  Personally, I often laughed gently at myself when I was daydreaming about a crush when I should have been doing something else like....I dunno....lecturing about evolution or ionic naming conventions. 

Of course, having a wide range of real adult responsibilities like a job, volunteer activities and a social life did impinge on my unstructured daydreaming time because you just can't daydream very well when you are lecturing on the role of genetic drift and gene flow in evolution to a classroom full of high school students.  Likewise, daydreaming while contra dancing never worked well for me; I was too busy focusing on the steps and my enjoyment of the dance in the moment.

If you feel like you want to marry him, you feel like you want to marry him.  Feelings are feelings; they are not an ultimatum or a binding contract.   But be sure to spend time with him; that's a far better way to determine if your feelings are accurate - or based in fantasy.

I remember sitting on a chair in my dad's office sobbing about a similar situation ( which is a familiar setting for my anecdotes), and realizing that maybe the Lord might be using my struggles to teach me something. Maybe when this young man came to my mind, I needed to pray for him. Maybe the Lord was showing me his admirable qualities so that I would file them away for traits for my future spouse. Maybe the Lord was teaching me a lesson about contentment. Perhaps I would end up marrying the man I was, frankly, pining over. In hindsight, the Lord has afforded me the wisdom to see that he knew what was right all along, and I'm glad my daydream did not come true. (pg. 95)
I sincerely hope the first sentence is an awkward construction and Ms. Baucham didn't spend a lot of times sobbing in her dad's office.  I am saddened that I fear that the sentence construction was fine and Ms. Baucham spent more than one time sobbing in her dad's office about a crush.

The fact that I had freaked out for around 30 seconds when Jasmine brought up the idea that she had a crush because that dude needed prayers was not her fault.   I was having a flashback to Debi Pearl's bat-shit crazy theological train-wreck idea involving angels giving girls crushes so they'd pray for Mike Pearl, psychopath extraordinaire.  To rehash my theological objections, the entire argument implies that God needs prayers to work in the world in the same way that a jukebox requires coins to play songs. 

Jasmine's take brings the addition weird complication that believers are supposed to take sexual attraction and assume the attraction is a sign that the other person needs prayers or that Jasmine needs to pray.  There's no Biblical support for that.

We agree that deciding which good traits Mr. Crush has is a good idea.  I would also add thinking about which bad traits (or even neutral traits) are deal-breakers is a great idea.  The problem is that Jasmine's not allowed to interact enough with Mr. Crush to figure out his negative traits.

At the time, though, I definitely considered that the last scenario would be the best-case scenario. My mother later reminded me, however, that, whatever the outcome of my current struggle, I have been called to be faithful in this situation: to use my single years to glorify the Lord, to wait patiently until he revealed them to me, not through wild imaginings, but through of sound sign of commitment, that the young man I was thinking about was the man he intended me to marry. I think one thing that kept me holding onto my struggle was the slim possibility that I'd get married to the man I was thinking about, and my struggle would be worthwhile. In reality, though, even if I married him 6 months from then, I'd been called to turn every distraction over to the Lord right now; I was to be whole devoted to him right now ( Isaiah 58: 1-8), because his love is utterly, beautifully sufficient. (pg. 95)

I respectfully disagree with Jasmine about why she had such a hard time with that crush.

Obviously, I'm in favor of dealing with crushes by spending more time around the person you are crushing on so their obnoxious or irritating habits will kill the crush faster.  (I'm deeply romantic, you see. 😃)

The other problem, though, is that Jasmine is literally allowed no other path in adult life than "wife and mother".   A young woman would have to be preternaturally calm to NOT obsess over any single man she might be attracted to.  After all, a man must approve of her enough to want to spend his life with her before she's viewed as an adult in that culture.

But what about that unicorn prancing in the mist - the much vaulted "family-based ministry" that is supposed to fill a young woman's hours?

There's some lip-service paid to doing family-based ministry, but precious few SAHDs seem to have access to a home-based ministry.    As I'm thinking about it, I can only think of two sets of sisters who have a standing ministry of any length.  Sarah Mally and her newly married sister Grace Moffiat have kept their family ministries (Tomorrow's Forefathers, Bright Lights, Just Men, Stand Strong, etc) hopping for over 15 years now.  The other SAHDs who deserve mention are Sarah Maxwell who runs the entirety of Titus 2 / Managers of Their Homes/Schools and has for close on 20 years now along with her sisters Anna and Mary who have been allowed to run a children's Bible club at an apartment complex.  Considering how sheltered the Maxwells are, that's pretty renegade of them...

But even those ministries are constrained in many ways. 

Grace and Sarah Mally set up various clubs, book studies, conferences and events that gathered obedient CP/QF teens and sent them out on missions to convert strangers.   What I doubt the Mallys are even aware of is the fact that "soul-saving" outings like that are much less about saving souls and far more about indoctrinating CP/QF young adults about how much they will be rejected by the wider world if they stray from the fold.   Because - seriously - I've yet to see a soul-saving technique that isn't guaranteed to annoy or anger most people. Why do people continue to do such daft techniques if they don't work?  Because the purpose is to solidify the unity between members of the CP/QF culture - not save the rest of us.

Similarly, Anna and Mary Maxwell have finally been allowed to run a Bible study for mostly children of color at a local apartment building.  That's more interaction that the Maxwell girls have had with non-CP/QF folks in their lives, but being immersed with elementary school aged kids is very safe for  women who are 27 and 23.  It's pretty unlikely that those kiddos would ask any really challenging questions like "So what are you planning on doing with your life?" or "If marriage is so important, why aren't you married?" Additionally, any time the kids allude to being raised by a single mother or dealing with poverty, Anna and Mary can pat themselves on the back at being such virtuous young women who have avoided reproducing before told to do so by a legal husband.

Since every activity that marks adulthood for women in CP/QF land requires a man to declare that a young woman is worthy of being his wife, of course Jasmine Baucham went a bit overboard on her crushes.  I would have, too, since boredom is a powerful motivator.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Joyfully At Home: Chapter Eight - Part One

Welcome to Chapter Eight of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home"!  This chapter helps young women examine and move beyond a "false view of husbands". 

Honestly - the very term "false view of husbands" makes no sense to me.  This is a book written by an young unmarried sheltered woman to an audience of extremely young sheltered unmarried women.  How much of a false sense of husbands can they have?  They can't have had that many interactions with married women of their own generation to have much of a "sense of husbands"period.

Equally pertinent to me is the fact that the broad "view of husbands" is of marginal bearing on personal happiness compared to the very specific "view of MY husband" that these girls will one day be facing.   I worry very much that these girls and women will marry in the first heady blush of infatuation and be hurt badly when their relationship hits the normal growing pains that come with living together as a married couple.   Most married or committed couples in western society have a much wider series of life experiences prior to marriage that help young people learn that this current pain or struggle too will pass.   Going to high school and college brings awkward transitions that eventually become comfortable.  Working outside the home and safe confines of family always feels clunky and unwieldy at first - but people grow in skills.   Experiences like these serve as a touchstones for a young married couple navigating their first disagreements - that it is bumpy right now, but the bumps make for a stronger relationship later on.    Those touchstones also serve as a point of reference if things don't get better - and it is time to seek outside help.

Jasmine Baucham's recommendation at age 19 or so is to blame women's disappointments in marriage on having unreasonable expectations in the first place:
For so many of us young women, our ideal man might look like [ insert wildly attractive movie stars named here] on the outside , but, on the inside, his identity comes from making us happy. He is fine tuned to meet all our desires. He caters to our every romantic whim. He never disappoints us. He never aggravates us. He never falls short of our expectations, even though they hover somewhere in the stratosphere.

One young man once described him to me as the perfect man on the outside -- and the quintessential woman on the inside. We want a girlfriend on the inside and a husband on the outside, a hunter gatherer with Florence Nightingale tendencies. (pg. 93)

Of course your dream boyfriend is perfect; he's imaginary!  I think it's more mentally healthy to daydream about a man who fulfills all your needs and wants than to daydream about a man with carefully curated flaws.  Plus, most people understand that daydreams of the perfect job, the perfect lover, the perfect vacation will never translate - but a life experience is real so the mistakes, quirks and flaws are all part of the package.

Man, I'm still burnt-out from the Botkin Sisters' blathering "male friends" and really don't want to add Jasmine Baucham's male friends.   Actually, there's probably a pretty big overlap between the two groups since all of the women were in Vision Forum. 


 Am I supposed to believe that young men have a more mature and nuanced view of their future wives?  What few descriptions I've read seem to imply that many CP/QF young men view their future wives as adoring groupies who provide sex while doing all the work of cooking, maintaining the house, and rearing children.  That view isn't much more realistic than the women's imaginary boyfriends.

That last sentence makes me laugh.  Women apparently want a man who provides food for his family though wild sources and who also has time to demonstrate the power of using graphics to explain data while reforming the nursing profession.  This is going to be a hard combination to find, ladies!

I'm going to wake up one morning ( not right away, perhaps, but eventually) and realize that we were made to be the suitable helpers of flawed men, and not the other way around ( Genesis 2: 19- 25). Beyond that, we're flawed women who will react to flawed men, sometimes, in very flawed ways. Some days, there will be trouble in Paradise. And beyond that, we're not goddesses to be worshipped, but helpmeets who are going to be in the trenches. If we go into a marriage looking to have our needs met, we're eventually going to realize that marriage, like every other state of our lives, isn't about us. In fact, in many ways, marriage is less about us than singleness is. (pg. 94)

Listening to 19 year old Jasmine Baucham lecture about being in the trenches of marriage is both sweetly naive and so terribly young. 

She has no idea what being in the trenches looks like. 

We're approaching Spawn's third birthday (which I can't believe) so I am thinking frequently about the stress surrounding my severe rapid onset preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome while 26 weeks pregnant, Spawn's miraculous yet compromised birth, and the year of medical intervention that followed.   This may sound crazy - but I was often glad that if someone had to have a baby born very, very early, I was relieved/grateful that Spawn's birth happened to us rather than a teenage girl or young family.  The first week after Spawn was born was really rough since my preeclampsia didn't resolve after my son was born.  My OB kept me hospitalized for a week after Spawn was born because they couldn't find a drug regimen that kept my blood pressure under 150/85 - and I frequently had pressures in the 180/90 to 200/100 range when taken off of IV antihypertensives.  Between the 52 hours on IV magnesium sulfate, a variety of organs in the early stages of failure, abdominal surgery to get my son out, losing most of my blood volume from HELLP, continuing high blood pressure and all the hormonal changes of giving birth, I was physically shattered as well as emotionally hurting.  My husband was doing the best of us physically - but living in your wife's hospital room is exhausting before adding the stress of watching your wife and son struggling without being able to make it ok.  Plus, he was under a lot of pressure to return to work at the family farm starting the day after my son was born. 

The year after Spawn was born was just hard - but we got through it.  I did wonder - fairly often, actually - how much harder that year would have been if I was a young newlywed like Jill Dillard or Jessa Seewald instead of a older woman with lot of life experience.

I agree that married life can feel like you are in the trenches - but I disagree that the best way to prepare for marriage is to stay at home as an adult for spiritual reasons.  Resilience, endurance and communication are critical to surviving hard times in life.  We learn these skills through facing new, challenging situations and working through them.  While I suspect living at home is difficult at times, it often serves to keep women young and inexperienced rather than growing and mature.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Spawn has wheels!!!!!

Last week at PT, Spawn started using a walker.   I cried a lot.  I've been waiting for him to have independent upright mobility since he was 12 months old - and he's now almost three - so freedom has been a long time coming.

We've previously tried to interest him in one.  His facial expression was "You know that walkers are the first step in feeding children to wolves? Right?  What kind of a wolf feeding program are you running here?  I'm onto your game, lady!"

If I haven't been clear, Spawn is one of those kids who needs to accept an idea on his own time frame.

I can understand that; I remember when I spent weeks arguing with a young PT about my belief that walking on my toes 24-7 put me at an advantage if I ever went into ballet.  I was five and had seen about 5 minutes of "The Nutcracker" on TV months before.   My mom eventually told the PT that this was NOT a hill to die on; I wasn't using my newfound understanding of ballet to get out of PT.  I just wanted to share information.   So....Spawn's clearly my son.

Two weeks ago, he saw a little boy using a walker when we were waiting for his speech appointment after PT. Spawn was fascinated.   I asked him if he wanted to try a walker.   He said "YES!" very clearly - and he's in that phase where his favorite and most common word is "no".   I left a note with the receptionists to tell his PT in case I forgot - and the rest is history.

Seeing how proud Spawn was of being able to walk with a walker made me so very happy - and proud.   He is a walker champ!  He knows how to walk forward and shift weight backwards to free a wheel when it's caught.  He's a natural problem-solver so he figured out immediately how to slide his walker sideways to move around an obstacle.  And that's after less than 20 minutes of walker time with a PT!   (I come from a long line of crazily proud parents; it's genetic :-) )

His NICU PT happened to be over in the outpatient building and got to see a baby she knew as a 1 pound 12 oz snippet cruising the halls like he was all that and a bag of chips.  We gave each other hugs and cried.

Spawn's PT started the paperwork to get a walker paid for by insurance.  Spawn has a diagnosis of hypotonic cerebral palsy - so that helps greatly - but it will take weeks to months for everything to move through the process.   I wasn't thrilled about that - but I had two backup plans.

Plan B: Spawn's special education team mentioned months ago that the county probably had one we could borrow.   Spawn had an IEP testing time that same day - and three appointments a day with a toddler is hellish - so I brought up the idea with his point person.   She said she'd bring it up with his care team - but he's transitioning between the county-level and district-level of care - so that kind of leaves him in a weird no-man's land.   I was not surprised by this response both because I've worked in education before and because I've been less than thrilled with the county level of infant education but I was still disappointed and more than a little annoyed.    My annoyance, though, was mitigated because I still had Plan C.

Plan C: The DIY retailer I work at had a motivational pamphlet describing lots of charitable things done at the store level.  One of the stories was about parents who came to the plumbing department with a list of items.   The associate asked them what they were doing and they said they were building a walker for their preschooler based on a video they found online since they weren't sure if insurance would cover a walker.   The associate let the store manager know about the project - and the store manager told the parents to go out to dinner while the store team members built it for them.

My takeaway from this was that you can find plans for DIY walkers online - and that the US's private medical insurance system sucks.

It took me 5 minutes to find the video followed by 20 minutes to find all the right parts on my store's website and order them.   My dad has a chop saw, helped measure Spawn and helped me glue all the pieces together.  My mom gave me lots of hugs.

We had a functioning walker for Spawn in two days.

The weather was windy today but over 50 degrees.   Since winter is setting in quickly this year, I decided today was a great day to do a paint job on his walker since the white PVC highlighted the printed batch information, UPCs and escaped PVC glue extant on the tubes.   I had high-gloss candy apple red spray paint that I used on the body and satin gloss teal spray paint for the white portions of the wheel. 

 He loves it - and so do I.