Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 12 - Part Three

I've talked about how being a parent affects my life and I've realized another change:  I can't transcribe CP/QF books when my kid is in the same room.   Oddly enough, my kid is quiet, mellow, and likes playing independently for short periods so his behaviors work well with transcription.  No, the issue is that I don't want him exposed to any of this crap.  I didn't want him exposed to it as an infant even when I knew he didn't understand words.  I didn't want him exposed to it as a toddler even though I doubted he could understand the concept.  I really don't want him exposed to it as a preschooler who is in the mynah bird stage where he parrots back phrases - and then adapts the phrases to use in other situations.

I bring that up because I usually transcribe when my kid is at school or napping.  Well, I've had some errands that needed to be done without a preschooler with me during school time and the kid is on a nap strike so I'm behind on transcribing from "The Battle of Peer Dependency" which means I'm gonna have to do two "Joyfully At Home" posts in a row.

Chapter Twelve from Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" gives a crash course in how to answer the most common questions about being a Stay-At-Home Daughter (SAHD).  The first question was "Shouldn't you be career-building?" and Jasmine's answer was "College is a crutch for people who don't trust God to make them wives and mothers - and it's ok to be single - but we're all getting married, right?"    The second question is "Do you want women to be treated as property of their fathers and husbands?"  The question is a bit inflammatory - but there's a real point there.  Women have a long history of being subsumed legally by the rights of their fathers before marriage, the rights of their husband after marriage and the rights of their sons or brothers after being widowed.  Is that the form of legal coverage that Jasmine wants to return to?

Let's take a look at her responses:
I want to go " back" to Scripture and Scripture alone.

When I read God's word, in passages like Numbers 30, and when I read Jeremiah 29 and other passages that speak about the giving of a daughter in marriage, I do not see women being treated like property. What I see is the beautiful provision and protection that they've been afforded in the Scriptures. Allowing your dad to carry out his god-given duty to provide for you is not a sign of weakness or intellectual flabbiness any more than following any other imperative in the Bible is. (pg. 142)
There are a lot of inspirational passages about marriage in the Bible - but neither of those two Bible chapters ring a bell for me so I looked them up again. 

I have to question Ms. Baucham's reading comprehension if she thinks Numbers 30 describes a daughter being given in marriage.   

Numbers 30 is a legal discussion of how women under the authority of a father or husband can make a vow.   Patriarchal societies run into this problem a lot.  Women often do business and make contracts or vows as part of business.  The problem is how to allow their husband or father to remain in control of the contracts or vows made by the woman without having the whole system fall apart by unscrupulous actors who let women make vows, then use the father/husband to revoke the vows randomly when it benefits their family.  Numbers 30 solves this problem by giving the male authorities a single chance to revoke the vow as soon as the husband or father heard of the vow.  Essentially, it lets the other party notify the husband or father and if he doesn't revoke it immediately, the male authority is responsible for the vow if the woman fails to fulfill her end of the vow.

If Numbers 30 is a dreary legal document, Jeremiah 29 is a combination of comfort for refugees from the Kingdom of Judah living in Babylon and a giant "Fuck you; karma is a bitch" to anyone who was still living in Jerusalem.  For the people living in exile, a huge psychological hurdle is trying to decide if the refugees should settle down in the foreign land or keep their lives on hold in hopes of returning to their home country.   Jeremiah tells them to settle in Babylon, marry off their kids and work at getting a good life started because no one is going home for a long time.  That may not be what the refugees wanted to hear - but boy, it sure sounded better than the world of hurt that was headed towards Jerusalem.

I guess Jeremiah 29 is a bit about marriage; it does contain one verse about marrying sons and daughters along with one verse about continuing to have kids. 

Letting fathers live out their dreams of being the head of patriarchal clans is not a major theme in the Gospel.  And, yes, using Numbers 30 and Jeremiah 29 as examples of young women getting married is a form of intellectual flabbiness.

After that non-answer, Jasmine finds a bunch of fluff written by other CP/QF writers to fill some empty space before sharing this:
I do not deny that there were instances and time gone by when women were treated like property. Where I disagree is that God's word is the culprit for this mistreatment. Nothing could provide a woman with a higher status than to understand the security the Lord has given her in the family unit, as a daughter and her father's home first, then as a wife. (pg. 142)
Question: how does an understanding the status that God gives women protect them when they have an abusive father? 

How does that work when a husband is a serial cheater?  Or just turns out to be a poor provider?

How does that work if her excellent husband dies young?

I've been researching the residents of the local county Poor Farm.  Overall, the people most likely to end up at the Poor Farm were foreign-born single men - but women and children ended up there.  Those stories from the 1860's-1880's are heartbreaking; you know, those good old days that CP/QF want to return to.

Celestia Brott ended up there because her husband was killed in the Civil War and she was engaging in prostitution to bring in income.  Three of her children were brought to the Poor Farm and adopted out to other families before she was released. 

Mary Daniels came to the Poor Farm with three of her children when she was dying of tuberculosis. Her children - aged 5, 4 and 3 - were adopted out within a month of arrival.  She left six months later and died a few months after that.  Much to my surprise, I found that she was married and had two other daughters aged 13 and 11.   The best I can figure, the older girls were taken in by their paternal grandmother who was living with her teenage children on a struggling farm; I think that's where Mary lived for the few months after she left the farm until she died.   Where was her husband?   He took off to California and didn't come back to Michigan until he was elderly and needed a home with one of his children.

One of Mary's daughters ended up getting divorced in her 40's when her husband got another woman pregnant.   She was raising a late-in-life son and the orphaned son of her older sister.  She was able to do that because she was a skilled seamstress.

My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was 5, leaving five small children.  Grandma's father was a ne're-do-well who showed no interest or inclination in caring financially or physically for his children when his wife died.   The only reason my grandmother and her siblings didn't end up at their local Poor Farm was that my great-great grandmother raised them on an impoverished farm with financial help from her grown step-daughters.  This was less than 100 years ago.

Women prize education and career training because we are well aware of how desperate life can become for a woman with multiple children if her spouse dies, deserts, or divorces her.    God may want a perfect plan where women are protected by men 24/7 every day of her life - but in this fallen world, a lot of women will end up on their own through no fault of their own.   That's why women - and people of color - have fought so hard for so long to have the same educational opportunities as white men.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 12 - Part Two

 We woke up to a power-outage this morning.   My husband has just left the house when it happened; I woke up to my cell phone alarm a few minutes later.    My son's preschool teacher called as I was working on figuring out if the school had power; they didn't.

To be honest, I hate power outages in the country.  I was spoiled when I lived in the city.  A power outage would kill the power - but we had gas for heat and cooking and running cold water.   In the country, we lose power and we lose all utilities.  No running water at all.  No heat since the oil-fired furnace has an electric fuel pump.  I can cook outside on the grill - but the lack of water for clean-up is a pain especially in the winter.  I did finally remember to put a 1 gallon jug of water in the bathroom so we could flush the toilet - but that's about it. 

To add insult to injury, my husband's family all live along the same power grid so if we lose power, they lose power.

Thankfully, my parents had power so I loaded Spawn up and took him down there.  He was really clingy today, so I'm writing this as he's sitting on my foot.   Actually, that's a big improvement; I had to do my leg stretches with a preschooler attaching himself to whatever limb was most convenient.

Speaking of lack of power, young Jasmine Baucham's chapter on "Why Do You Live At Home?" in her book "Joyfully At Home" gives some very weak rationales for failure to launch.   The two quotes we'll be discussing today are in response to the very sensible objection of "You need to be career-building by going to college or learning a trade other than housekeeping".
A little girl growing up in the West is presented with the all-American ideal is being sent to the high-profile college of her dreams, where all of her desires can be easily within her grasp as long as she presents the golden ticket: her diploma. A college diploma is insurance against poverty. The young woman is told that if she is educated enough, she can get a good enough job to ensure that she will never be financially insecure again. A college diploma is an insurance against dependency. A young woman is told that she will be fully self-sufficient with the right amount of education and work experience. A college diploma is insurance against bigotry: little girls can fight the tide of sexism by proving that they are just as well educated as the men in their lives. (pg. 142)
Making light of objections is a different thing than disproving the objections.  Higher levels of education decrease the rate of unemployment AND increase the average weekly pay for workers according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The exact details of rates of unemployment and weekly earnings change over time - but the trend remains the same.   In fact, this graph has a fairly low reward for advanced degrees because the economy has been doing well and unemployment is low overall.  When unemployment is high, the contrasts get more stark. 

The simple truth is that gaining a degree opens more job opportunities while keeping many job openings available at the lower level.  When I earned my high school diploma, I opened a pool of job opportunities.  When I earned my bachelors, I opened an new pool of jobs while remaining a viable candidate for the jobs that required a high school diploma.   The new pool of jobs brought an added bonus: there are far fewer people who have bachelors degree so there are fewer people to compete against for those jobs.  Those two pools working together explain why the unemployment rate drops so markedly at an associates'/bachelors' degrees.

Occasionally, anti-college activists will make a ill-considered argument that there are fewer college degree requirement jobs than non-college degree therefore people who get a college degree are more disadvantaged in the job market.   That argument ignores that fact that relatively few jobs penalize for hiring a candidate who is more qualified than the minimum.  Some employers will be understandably worried that the candidate may leave rapidly if offered a more desirable job - but that can be assuaged by the candidate explaining why they prefer the work load of this job. 

From personal experience, the words "I worked retail successfully before for 8 years" combined with "I'm looking for a part-time job on evenings, weekends and holidays because of a medically complicated kid" explained why a former teacher wanted to work at a home improvement store.

Jasmine makes light of financial insecurity.  I can't entirely blame her for that; she's benefited from having college educated parents and a tiny family-of-origin most of her life.  Her dad is in the 2% of American adults with advanced degrees; her mom graduated with a bachelors' degrees.   She and Trey were born when her parents were in their early and mid-twenties - but the next kids were not added for quite a few years.    The Maxwells run into the same irony.  Steven Maxwell's engineering degree and corporate jobs built the Maxwell family wealth much more effectively than a family ministry would have done.  Plus, Nathan Maxwell benefited from working at a corporate job that made him a much stronger contender to start a business than Joe Q. Homeschooler whose father preached to nobody.

For all of that - I suspect the Bauchams understood the effects of sexism and racism of the chances of young women to get jobs.   While she was writing this, Jasmine was going to college - and she did earn a degree from a real college.   

The American dream failed to line up with my biblical calling as a woman, as a daughter, and as someone who may - and probably will - become a wife someday. Glean God's word as I might, I can see no pattern in Scripture for a young woman to pack up and head cross-country to be discipled outside of the framework of the church and home. (pg, 142)
Well, I have no pattern in Scripture for people blogging - but Jasmine had a blog running at this point without any objections. 

More broadly, the Book of Ruth describes a young woman (check) who goes to a foreign land (check) to be discipled  (becoming a good Jewish woman is close enough for me) outside of church and home (both of which she leaves). 

I can hear the objection "But Ruth was under the authority of Naomi!".  Wrong! 

Naomi far more clearly states the expected and correct actions by Ruth and Orpah.  Naomi's male line in the local area is dead so Naomi will return to her homeland to avail herself of the charity available to widows.  She cannot guarantee a marriage for either young women so the young widows should return to their fathers - or brothers - who can arrange suitable marriages for them.

Instead, Ruth sticks by Naomi.  Naomi is an widow past childbearing age and the work of gleaning from harvested fields is grueling; I've always believed that Ruth accompanies Naomi at least in part because she knows Naomi will survive longer if she's with a woman of marriageable age who can glean more effectively. 

So we do have a Biblical example of a woman leaving home and kin to care for a person who needed help more. 

For many CP/QF homeschool graduates, the inclusion of "traveling cross country" to go to college is a red herring, anyways.   There are a lot of colleges spread across the USA - and I'm betting that most people live within commuting distance of a community college, college or university.  Living at home is a pretty standard if unexciting way to keep the costs of a college education down. 

Finally - we have another 'knock on wood' example of Jasmine Baucham reminding us that she's really training to be a wife and mother someday.    I would find her argument that women can follow God regardless of marital status more effective if she crossed out every conditional reference to her future marriage. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Chapters One and Two - Part Two

Parenting is hard. 

Don't get me wrong; I've loved my son fiercely since I was pregnant with him.  Watching Spawn grow and develop is a mindblowing privilege.  I feel so proud when he gets a new milestone because I know how much effort has gone into that new skill.

Parenting is hard nevertheless. 

My biggest challenge is trying to balance what I think my son needs in terms of unstructured play time - like he's doing right now with his cars, animals and a small garbage can where he keeps his treasures - and fitting structured repetition of skills he needs according to therapists.   The longer story is that my parents were told in the early 1980's that normal development for me and my twin sister required constant structured interactions with my parents.  Because of that combined with my natural personality, I've always been an overachiever who feels pressure to be doing something worthwhile all the time.  I see a lot of my natural drive and anxiety in my son - so I hope that making sure he doesn't feel pressure to be working on something 24/7 might make his struggles with perfectionism easier.

I bring this up because all parents have moments where they question themselves.   I do question myself sometimes; I find myself wondering if my son's delays would be less if I did 4 hours of therapy a day with him instead of a hour.  In my case, I remind myself that hypotonic CP is a real diagnosis my son has and that any lingering feelings I have that his delays are due to not enough parent stimulation are misplaced guilt feelings on my part.

Marina Sears in "The Battle of Peer Dependency" has moments where she asks very canny and insightful questions about her own motives in being excessively controlling in her children's lives:
Even more devastating was the idea that they might never trust Christ as the Lord of their lives. Where are my motives pure? Was I more concerned with the final outcome for their lives, or was I concerned for my reputation? What would people think of my God and me if I have a rebellious child? These were very difficult questions and fears to conquer. What I didn't see was that I was allowing Satan the ability to work in my children's lives to accomplish the very things I feared. (pg. 24)
Most of her questions have very unusual comparisons.  I find it very unfortunate for Mrs. Sears that she can't bring herself to ponder what some of these questions mean. 

The normal worry about children's salvation is phrased as "will my kids be saved or will I lose them when they die?".  That's a sad, but completely balanced worry in an evangelical household.   "Will my kids be saved or will our family look bad?" by comparison means that Mrs. Sears on some unconscious level is more worried that her family will look bad than losing her children to hell!  That's a telling glimpse into how strongly Mrs. Sears needs her life to be a shining example of God's Whatever rather than simply living her life by her Christian beliefs and letting the rest of the world decide what they will based on her life.

The next question amuses me because Marina Sears sets up a forced teaming situation involving God.  If she had said "What would people think of me if I have a rebellious child?", the level of self-centeredness in the question would be blindingly obvious to readers.   That question also leads to the rather pat answer of "People would think you have a rebellious child" - but I realize that a Good Christian Widow Who God Has Blessed (TM) would have to face the usual gossip mill about having a teenager who acts like a teenager - and she doesn't want to do that.    Throwing God in the question makes the question seem deep, relevant, and meaningful on a surface level - but it's pretty daft on examination.   I imagine a Worldly Person finally making up their mind to be saved - but they find out that Marina Sears has a teenager who is rebelling! - and that person decides not to be saved because God.   More broadly, tossing God into that question shows that Marina Sears uses petty power plays to control her kids.    "You want to spend time with your friends?  God doesn't want that that and I'm just doing what God wants!" 

These were important questions - but instead of thinking about them - Mrs. Sears decided that any questions must be due to Satan.   "You want to spend time with your friends?  God doesn't want that - BUT SATAN DOES!  Who do you want to follow - God or Satan?"

Sounds like a miserable place to grow up.

But don't worry - blaming peer dependency for family issues took the heat off the kids and what miserable specimens of Christians they were:
For five years I struggled with peer dependency, not understanding what it was. I thought if Dave would just have more character or love God and his family more, the struggle would disappear. God ultimately took us through a 7 and 1/2 year time frame would you use to shape and mold a very unique, amazing, young man who desires Christ to be the Lord of his life. (pg. 25-26)

Teenagers are annoying as all get out.  Many of them are simply difficult to live with between the hormones, the desire for independence and the connected desire to not do mundane chores or other duties that are beneath their newly found status as a person who should be treated as an adult. 

I say this as someone who chose to work with classrooms filled with extra-rebellious teenagers - and I really enjoyed my students.

Yes, teenagers are annoying - but adults should be mature and self-aware enough to roll with the teenagers in their lives.  After all, I remember telling my friends that "no one really understood me!" when I was around 14.  As my husband jokes, the feeling passes but the bad poetry created from teenage angst lasts forever! I remember being continually irritated by my parents - and that's with parents who were pretty relaxed. 

Instead of managing her own feelings, Mrs. Sears blames her son.  The frustrations and irritations of living with Dave as a teenager are due to Dave's imperfections as a person rather than the natural outgrowth of a developmental stage.  The failures that Mrs. Sears assigns to her son are especially caustic; he has a bad character and lacks love for God/family.   I've worked with 600 teenage students conservatively as a teacher in an alternative education system.  Of those teenagers, I've had around 6 who had severe, pervasive and frightening issues surrounding morality - what I would loosely refer to 'character'.   The remaining 595 students had well-formed moral characters; they simply had the normal human struggles to do the right thing (like do classwork, use kind words, don't spread gossip) rather than the wrong thing.  Similarly, those 595 teens loved their families even while driving their parents and siblings completely bonkers at time.  The only ones who showed conditional love towards their families were the same kids who had pervasive, dangerous issues surrounding behavior - and point-blank - those kids had psychological issues that needed highly supervised treatment. 

I bring that up because if Dave was showing signs of full-blown psychopathy he wouldn't have been magically cured in 7.5 years of Mrs. Sears working on him. 

No, Dave was a normal kid who had the audacity of not wanting to do everything with his family to the exclusion of everyone else in the world.

And really - who could blame him?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 12 - Part One

There's been a rough cold going around West Michigan.  I was hoping against hope we could miss it if we all washed our hands enough - and ignore the fact that my husband and I work around large numbers of people and have a preschooler.

We got the plague last week.

Everyone has survived - although one more day with a crabby preschooler may have changed that.

The little guy may have gotten Fifth Disease...or rubeola...or maybe the cold caused him to develop the viral rash colloquially known as "Slapped Cheek Rash".  He looked a bit like a garden gnome.    I took him to the doctor when the nurse line* let us know that we needed to bring him in since he had a rash.  Turns out the receptionist forgot to hit the "Patient Ready" button and we ended up in the waiting room for an hour.   The Garden Gnome Preschool Edition was good company, though, and we met a very nice resident who managed to examine the Garden Gnome without too much fuss.

That was my first experience with viral rashes.  I found myself wondering idly if Jasmine Baucham, Jana Duggar or any of the SAHDs who raised multiple younger siblings had more experience with childhood rashes - and how depressing if the answer was yes.

We're into Chapter 12 of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" titled "Why Do You Live At Home?"  Essentially, Jasmine attempts to walk other SAHDs through an apologetics course to teach them how to answer crazy questions like "Wait....you are doing what?" and "Shouldn't you attempt to get some career training?"    The issue is that 19-year old Jasmine is really sheltered from the harsh realities of adult life - like the fact that some men leave their wives and children - and so her answers manage to be both idealistic and fantastic at the same time.

Here's a great quote demonstrating how strangely sheltered she is:
One hand, a blog is a public forum-- those who write do so at their own risk. However, it never ceases to amaze me how people who are diametrically opposed to my lifestyle curiously peruse what I write. I always liken it to a young conservative evangelical like myself religiously reading the blog of a left-wing homosexual college student. Frankly, that's just not something I would ever do. My curiosity has its limits. (pg. 137)

Well, the interest in her blog isn't based on the fact she's an evangelical SAHD; it's because she's the daughter of Voddie Baucham and received a lot of publicity thanks to Vision Forum and her father's self-promotion.    Believe me, there are plenty of SAHD blogs that probably get a few hundred views a year - so SAHDs don't need to worry about being flamed by liberal visitors because most will never have a visitor comment.

Or the girls can pull a Maxwell and close down all comments on posts with material more controversial than "Here are photos of kids!"

I am curious, though; where is the line where a blog becomes off-limits for Jasmine?  Is it based on political views, religious views or sexual orientation?  Would a right-wing heterosexual LDS BYU college student blog be too scary?  How about a right-wing evangelical college student who is homosexual? What about a left-wing evangelical heterosexual who lives at home right now?

I find the flip comment about limiting curiosity weirdly unattractive.  I can wrap my head around not reading blog that are of a different viewpoint because of personal comfort.  But claiming that she's literally not curious - not even a little bit - makes her sound either dull or boring.

This next quote is out of the mouth of a thirteen year old visitor when she found out about Ms. Baucham's current life as a SAHD.
" Wow. I didn't know some 20 year olds weren't out on their own making something of themselves and going to college-- you're just living at home!"

I didn't flinch, although I might have three years ago. I'm used to that reaction. (pg. 139)
Honestly - the kid's not wrong.

The average SAHD is living like a young teenager until she gets married. 

Let's look at Anna and Mary Maxwell.  Anna works part-time as a customer service representative for her brother; I worked as a grocery store clerk starting at age 16.  Anna and Mary run a Bible club for kids at a local apartment complex; I ran CCD classes at my church starting when I was 16.  They babysit for their expanding set of nieces and nephews who live on the same block; I was babysitting local kids starting when I was 14.  Anna wrote a weirdly passive-aggressive post about how more people should use Google than ask the Maxwells questions about computers or for recipes.  That level of self-important obliviousness is classically found in young teens who don't recognize that employers give them trivial jobs to do because the teens are unready to do anything else.  Mary wrote a post about how to start lettering that has a disorganized first paragraph followed by "Practice a lot?" without any useful examples.  That post gives me flashbacks to reading high school rough drafts - and not the rough drafts from successful students.

Here's the problem - and the overarching theme for my response to the next two chapters.  Living at home isn't a problem; refusing to gain any marketable skills and employment references is. 

Imagine that something happened that required the Maxwell girls to start careers right now.  They have NO non-family references.  They have no post-secondary education or vocational training.  Anna's work for Nathan is a starting point - but only if she can hide the Maxwellian disdain for anyone who has the audacity to use the customer service provided as a term of being a client of Nathans.  Sarah and Mary....I've got nothing.   

If I pushed, I could probably get them retail or fast-food jobs - but only because the unemployment in my neck of the woods is at historically low levels and employers are struggling to fill positions.   When unemployment increases, the Maxwell girls would rapidly be blocked out of those positions by people with references and previous job experiences who are applying for the same jobs.

Looping back to Jasmine, she spends this chapter and most of the next chapter dancing around one major difference; she's attending college online while at home.   Entirely online college degrees are not something I recommend for a variety of reasons - but Jasmine has managed to get and keep teaching positions in home-school extension groups using that degree.   Why is she dancing around that?  Well, a truly good SAHD must be childlike - and children don't take steps to become financially independent.

Thank God Jasmine's family didn't live by the ideals in her book - and I'm terribly sorry for the daughters whose families did.

*Seriously, I called because my kid had a rash - but was hoping that if I described it as superficial, non-blistering, lacy and not petechial I could get a "keep on giving him Tylenol, Motrin and fluids until he's fine".   Dragging a three-year old into a medical setting in the middle of flu season was NOT my idea of a good time.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Chapters One and Two - Part One

Proof we have a merciful God - I've misplaced my copy of "The Battle of Peer Dependency" by Marina Sears!   Fortunately (or unfortunately), I had already transcribed the next few posts and had notes on what I thought. 

The first chapter is a drawn-out, melodramatic slog up to Jeff's death near the end of the chapter.  For the curious, Jeff died in a freak single-car accident on his way to work.  The second chapter is about how Marina coped with that tragedy. 

In between loving family anecdotes ending with hammy reminders that tragedy or peer dependence happened in spite of being happy, we learn a few things about Marina Sears' view of God:
At the end of that morning's devotional, I got up off my knees, stamped my foot, and confronted the Lord. " Lord, I didn't get mad at you when you took Jeff home to be with you, and I've tried to be a good testimony of how you were taking care of us. The only thing I've asked you to do this to sell this house. Why aren't you bringing a buyer?" I was really mad at the Lord! Intellectually, I knew that being angry with the Creator of the Universe was very unwise, but I couldn't help how I was feeling. I thought that if God really loved and cared for me, and understood my circumstances, he would bring a buyer. In fact, it wouldn't have surprised me to find one standing on the porch when we pulled up from the funeral, saving me from all the details and expense involved in using a realtor. I wasn't trying to presume on God; I just believed him to be that big. (pg. 20)
Mrs. Sears' God is petty, cruel, and profligate in turn.

Mrs. Sears is doing her best to be a shining example of how God takes care of widows and orphans.  When God fails to provide as she had hoped, she's understandably pissed.  Rather than explaining that young widows are allowed to be angry at God, Mrs. Sears implies that God punishes people who are mad at him.   That's a strangely non-Biblical idea since Jesus - following the path of the prophets before him - spent much of his life angry at God.    Instead, we're left with a God who can do anything - even let a very needed father and husband die in a freak accident - and who will punish us if we ever object.

On the flip side, Mrs. Sears' God also holds vast wealth and power that he parcels out to his followers.    No wonder Mrs. Sears was so angry; she was only asking that God sell her house located in the middle of nowhere without the effort of a relator! 

Look, I have no idea why God doesn't end all suffering and pain right now.  That's so outside my pay grade that I've got nothing.  What I do believe is that we can be angry at God without having to worry about being hit by a lightning bolt and that support in hard times comes from other caring people.

Next example of a scary God:
The house did finally so, but only after 1 year and 3 months from the time we first put it on the market. Looking back, I can see why God had me stay in that house. Even though I had lived in New Mexico for eight years, I still had a great fear of many creatures that lived on and in the land. I have never heard of a scorpion or tarantula except when I was a little girl, on the late night, scary movie channel; to see one and then to find it in the bedroom or among one's belongings is more than I can bear. (pg. 21)
Fear of arthropods - even pathological fear of arthropods - is not a sin. 

There are no Bible verses about how God expects us to subdue scorpions in sock drawers as a sign of faith. 

If God leaves a pregnant widow and three children in a rural house thousands of miles away from family and tens of miles away from help in an emergency for 15 months so that the widow can get over a fear of scorpions, the rest of us are screwed. 

Marina Sears lives in fear of her life's consequences.  Selling a house is hard.  Selling a house that was recently sold without improvements is even harder.   Selling a recently purchased house located in the middle-of-freaking-nowhere while dealing with a traumatic grieving situation is insanely difficult.   Depending on the local market, moving the house in 15 months may well have been a miracle!  But instead of being honest with how choices that Jeff and Marina made before his death affected her after his death, Marina focuses on how any flaw in her perception of God's Plan is really due to a personal sin of hers.

She spends a lot of time discussing her fear of scorpions.  She buried the lede, though.  She casually mentions that someone was trying to break into the house.  That's genuinely scary - and she ignores it because it can't easily be blamed on her life choices......

The answer to these questions would revolutionize my walk with God. Did he care about a young widow was four small children, two dogs, a house to sell, and the circumstances and events which are trying to break her? What I didn't see at the time was that the difficult circumstances were sent and allowed by God in order to break my will, self-reliance, and my very small definition and picture of God. (pg. 23)
The Bible is full of verses that talk about how God is a jealous God.   Traditionally, those verses are taken in the understanding of God is a jealous God because followers are expected to be monotheistic in a society where most other groups were polytheistic. 

Marina Sears' God is also jealous - but in a very self-centered and personal way.  Marina Sears' God reacts with jealous temper tantrums whenever Marina gets any kind of support from any humans rather than directly from God himself.   In this case, Marina and her kids are literally kept trapped in the middle of nowhere until she's reliant enough on God.

That's a pretty common method for abusers to control their victims, fyi.

Is Marina's God jealous - or is Marina?  That's a decision that each reader needs to think about as we explore how Marina's discussions from God give her the rationale to control her children excessively.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Joyfully At Home: Chapter 11

Chapter Eleven of Jasmine Baucham's "Joyfully At Home" has the delightful title of "Overcoming a False View of God's Sovereignty and Embracing The Bigger Picture".

Are we overcoming the false view of God's Sovereignty which leads to embracing the bigger picture - or are we overcoming the false view of God's Sovereignty and the false view of the bigger picture?
I think Jasmine meant to do the former - but her inability to shake free of the CP/QF obsession with marriage for women makes the chapter feel more like the latter.   Like the previous chapter, the entire chapter focuses on marriage as being the only desirable state for an adult woman - but single women had better not feel bad about not being married!  God is angry when people who recognize that they are getting the short end of the stick have the audacity to feel angry or bitter about being left behind.

This chapter - compared to a real chapter about God's Sovereignty - shows off the inherent roadblock in CP/QF life for accepting that some women are called to be single.  Jasmine Baucham fails to describe any paths for adult women besides marriage.  This absence highlights the complete lack of milestones or chances for recognition that a girl is growing into an adult woman outside of marriage.  In broader society, women have many possible chances to celebrate adult milestones like high school graduation, graduation from post-secondary education, housewarming for an apartment, housewarming for a new home, and celebrations inherent with having a job.  Yes, there are still a separate set of celebrations surrounding marriage and motherhood - but in CP/QF land, a really Godly Woman only graduates from homeschool, gets married, and has babies. 

It's a bleak world for a woman who misses the window for getting married.

With that background, let's look at the first quote:
In so many ways, this issue is the crux of disappointment. This is why I worry when I see a young woman at the tender age of 18 becoming despondent because no one has asked for her hand in marriage yet. She's worried that something is wrong with her, and that the silence will set the pattern for years to come. I worry about the girl 10 years her senior, who has had men come and go, but does not think any of them have been the right man for her. She is wondering if she should settle for the next guy who asked for her because, let's face it, she's not getting any younger. I worry for the girl who knows a young man that she would jump at the chance to marry, if only he would glance at her. She is turning down perfectly acceptable godly young men because of the one guy whose attention she can't get, and she's perfectly convinced that God will send her the one she wants. (pg. 124)
Is disappointment the main theme really?

The first girl isn't disappointed; she's scared witless.  Eighteen is so very young - but a sheltered 18-year old who has heard her whole life that women only matter as wives and mothers has no way of knowing that she's going to be in a much better place to be a wife if she waits to get married until after age 20.    The lifetime divorce rates for people who marry before age 20 are the highest of all so why not wait a few years until age 24 or 25 and spend the years between homeschool graduation and marriage learning how to be an adult.

The best way to get rid of the fear is to be around men and....well, date or court.   To find a partner, a woman needs men to know she exists and that's she's interested in getting to know men as potential spouses.  The details of dating vs courting vs whatever matter much less than sending a clear signal of "I'm here and available!"

The second girl is also anxious - although somewhat less than the first because she's had decent luck finding out that guys are interested in her.   For me, she's the most relatable of the three women because I did wonder if I was being too picky in the dark hours of the night sometimes.   Here's the thing, though.  Those feelings passed in the light of day when I was busy with my job and activities.  The feelings certainly stopped dead on horrible first dates.  The feelings was replaced with dread when I contemplated going on one more date with a guy I met at work when I worked from 7pm-2am.  He was fascinating at 3am after work - but mainly because I was punch-drunk tired.  Dates during normal daylight or early evening slots were awkward and dragging. 

That feeling sucks - but a job, volunteer opportunities, hobbies or anything that gives a purpose to a young woman's life outside of being a wife and mother tends to mitigate that desire to marry the next guy who seems remotely interested. 

Ironically, Miss Baucham seems to be leading girl #2 away from settling while implying that girl #3 should settle for the next guy who comes along.  Maybe God will send her TheOne - or maybe he'll marry someone else and that'll be that.  Either way - girl #3 is not doing the next "acceptable godly young man" a favor if she marries him while she's carrying a torch for TheOne.

Even at 19, Jasmine was more than old enough to recognize that there are far more men in the group "acceptable godly young men" than are in the group "marriageable men who I could be married to happily".

Just remember - being angry at God means you are an immature toddler!
This attitude of contentment is radically different from the attitude that walks around, despondent and forlorn, angry at God like a two year old gets angry at her parents because she isn't allowed to eat ice cream for breakfast. You see, the child's parents have insights that the child does not have. Eating ice cream for breakfast every morning is an unhealthy habit. Ice cream will not give her the nutrients she needs to grow healthy and strong. From the 2-year olds perspective, her parents are just being sadistic. From the parental perspective -- the more knowledgeable perspective-- they're actually being loving. (pg, 127)

After....dunno.... three chapters of informing young women that they can be Godly without early marriage - Jasmine informs women that marriage comes when God decides young women are worthy of marriage.   You know - just like when parents decide that their kids deserve ice cream for dessert. 

I triple-dog dare Jasmine Holmes to contact her buddies Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin and tell them that God hasn't sent them husbands yet because they aren't ready for marriage yet. 

Mrs. Holmes won't do that, though, because that would be cruel - and that quote is brutally cruel to women who want to marry but haven't met the right man yet.