Thursday, August 3, 2017

Love's Labors Lamented and Reclaimed

Twenty years ago, I was preparing for a visit from my quite critical mother-in-law (MIL). I was nearing the end of my tour in my Shepherding Discipleship Church, and my head was really full of ridiculous expectations – at least six impossible ones before breakfast every day. Before I started on cleaning the kitchen, I went out to tend my tomato garden.

I was on my hands and knees in the dirt, praying as I panicked in the mud. I thought of the Biblical characters of Ruth and Naomi – the greatest ideal of mother and daughter-in-law. Ruth was a convert to Judaism, but after her husband dies, Ruth pledges to continue to follow God and to stay with her MIL, Naomi, as they both struggle to survive. I started weeping as I worked in the garden. My brain washed over with the many memories of the many cruelties inflicted by my own MIL in the five or so years that we'd been married.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

School Supplies and Shoes for Short Creek

Please note the previous post for information about who administrates this effort and links to what the Operation Short Creek is all about. (

I wrote this to make it easy to cut and paste into facebook, so I did not embed the links.

Who is Responsible for Short Creek Outreach?

Note that I formatted this to be Facebook friendly so that people can copy and paste and preserve the links.

In several previous posts, I've described why I feel so moved to help with the Fundamentalist Mormons who have been evicted from their homes in Short Creek.  ( 

Today I'd like to clarify the details about who is administrating the project. Right now, I hope to help motivate people to take advantage of Back to School Clearance deals and shoes that the children and young people desperately need. More details about items that would be helpful for care packages for children can be read here (, and the greater, more comprehensive needs at ( and on the Short Creek Outreach page on Facebook (

Short Creek, The Now, The Not Yet (and me)

Check out the Crazy Coupon Lady site.

(Warning: It's one of those Christian posts.)

I'm still procrastinating about writing up my official Mother's Day post, so in the meanwhile, I'll help to contribute tangibly by planting some ideas. As noted in previous posts, without condemning or condoning anyone, too many children are still in need of pragmatic help after more than 1000 people were evicted from their homes.

Amazon Prime?  Target? A Salvation Army Raid?

It is my opinion also that there are many sides to the debate, and the children in the families who are currently faithful to Fundamentalist Mormon beliefs have little to no voice in the political and religious debates. So before I make my pitch to give to the needy, I'd like to tell you why I'm braking tradition to talk about where to get good deals on shoes and school supplies.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Support the Children Without Condemning or Condoning

As specified by those who are helping those among the estimated total of1000 evictees who have been displaced from their residences over the past six weeks, those who could afford to move who could find other housing solutions have already done so.

For those who remain (the majority of whom are children), a handful of people in the area and others across the country who are not part of the sect have joined to assist them with basic survival needs and small, practical gifts to comfort and encourage them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Hollaring for Help on Mother's Day

A Collection of Posts About My Most Precious Mother's Day Ever

Well, HOLLAR is just about all that I have left for ideas for retail therapy if you don't have items to send in a care package for a child or you'd like to save on shipping. There are some fantastic deals available, and their bulk items have sold out since I ordered over the weekend.

According to their FAQ page, “Hollar is your destination for the coolest gifts and goods starting at just $1. With a gazillion categories to shop, there’s always something new to score each and every day. We’re all about making shopping insanely fun—and keeping wallets extra happy. ☺”

Mother's Day Joy with Walgreens and Ebates

A Collection of Posts About My Most Precious Mother's Day Ever

I'd made the most out of my Ebates rebates and the JC Penney items that I could reasonably afford, and I recalled that I had procured many points with Walgreens. I get many of my prescriptions there, and with bad allergies and a bunch of other chronic problems, I make use of savvy shopping offers online. I generally by store brand unless some instant rebate or special bonus point offers on name brand items that I use works out to be about the same. Sometimes those name brand items end up paying for themselves, especially if they bump my purchase up into the free shipping zone. Walgreens' Balance Rewards program also helps me plan ahead for consumables that I use, too.

How Discover Card, Amazon and EBATES Helped the Homeless on Mother's Day

A Collection of Posts About My Most Precious Mother's Day Ever

Continuing my quest to get the best deals on items needed by kids and their moms who found themselves homeless on Mother's Day weekend, I was disappointed that I couldn't find better deals on blankets at JC Penney. As I noted in the previous post, I felt very strongly about getting pillows and blankets. Then didn't have deals that were as good as the pillows and other items.

Big Lots also had a special 15% Cash Back award through Ebates for Mother's Day, but I just couldn't find anything good there, either. They're gearing up for summer, and I'm looking for what are more like back to school bargains. Where else could I look? I looked at Dollar Tree as well and was not that impressed.

Making the Most of Mother's Day Gifts (JC Penney)

A Collection of Posts About My Most Precious Mother's Day Ever

Well, after I'd devoted some time to the possibility for non-profit fundraising, I moved on to do what I could with what I had to give to help get kids blankets, pillows, and toiletries with something to carry them in. Also needed were craft items to keep kids busy while they were going through such a stressful time. I have a car payment and rent an apartment, and like everyone else, I've got limited funds. But not everything seems so bleak. It was the Saturday before Mother's Day, and I realized that I had more going for me than I thought.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Respecting Vulnerability on Mother's Day

Art by David Hayward
Read the previous post HERE.

One of the most painful things that I've seen in the Quiverfull Movement and in Shepherding has been the way each group dispenses resource to help those in need. To be given aid, you have to be a source of gain and you have to have followed all of the right rules to merit receiving anything.
I found a similar pattern when doing foreign missionary work with a large denomination. While I have no problem with explaining to people why we were doing what we were doing (to show a tangible element of God's love for them), when I was assigned to “keep statistics” near the end of one trip, I developed a whole different perspective. We kept records for local churches to follow up with people, but I was also counting the heads of numbers of people who allegedly “got saved” when they prayed with volunteers. I knew that many people were politely compliant to reciprocate us for the care we offered to them. They weren't converting to Evangelical Protestantism, and I think that everyone knew that.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An Unexpected Mother's Day Experience: Understanding Need

Much has transpired for me over the past week. I'd known for a couple of weeks that a group of religious families were being evicted from their homes. They were primarily comprised of many children and their mothers who have nowhere to go. Women in the Quiverfull Patriarchy Movement are often faced with the same problems. What transpired became a very healing experience for me on a couple of levels.

I'll unfold the experience over the next days through several posts.

Roughing It” with a Big Family

About a decade ago, my best friends with their seven children found themselves debt free, with excellent credit, and with a good chunk of money in the bank – but their living situation changed. They looked into renting homes and apartments, but basically no one wanted to rent to them. Mom was a stay at home, good GOOD mom, and dad was gainfully employed. The kids were all good. (I have on occasion borrowed a few of the here and there to help me and to do some interesting homeschooling ventures with them.) I love them all dearly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

More on Mother's Day

Well, so much for the best plans...

I've had the best and most meaningful Mother's Day EVER, and it's blended into a whole week of busy work that has spanned a whole week.  Not quite rested well enough to write about it and have so much to say.

Wish me productive sleep and help to get caught up on domestic stuff while busy helping moms and kids through a rough crisis that continues.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How to I Respond to the Mother's Day Merging of Nationalism and Christian Cheese?

I have no idea how I ended up on this list or what happened, but I received this invitation to donate to this Mother's Day fund drive. I'm on enough mailing lists that I know are bought and sold among Christian ministries, so I'm not a bit surprised. 

Mother's Day Outside of the Cruel Quiver

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How “Marriage Minutes” Helped Me Let Go of the Hunger Artist
Allegedly a book review of Gerald Ford's Marriage Minutes
it ended up becoming a celebration of my egalitarian marriage
and the unexpected the effect that the book has had on my life.

The first time that I ever heard anyone use the term “egalitarian” in a conversation was my husband, just after we'd first started to date. I seemed to prefer the patriarchal approach, even though I grew up in a church that ordained women. My church had more female elders than male ones, but as a daughter of sock hop era parents, I was quite comfortable with patriarchy. 

As a child, I also watched some of those women elders inappropriately reject and strongly criticize pastors in conversations to which I never should have been privy. When the spiritually abusive church that my husband and I would one day join preached that women were meant to be reigned in and ruled over, I was willing to play along. I thought of the errors in judgement made by two women – events that were filtered through my poor understanding as a child. Patriarchy provided a very simple answer to a terribly complex situation.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bursting Bubbles and Feeling FUBAR

It always amazes me when my brain tunes into something, and suddenly, I start seeing examples the same message everywhere I look and in the most unlikely of places. My last few blog posts considered optimism as a coping mechanism. It was part of a series of posts about cognitive biases – the errors of thought that people make when interpreting the meaning of what happens to them or what they observe.

Optimism proves to be a bit of a paradox in that it is a hard bias to reduce, but it also fosters hope which becomes a powerful motivator for positive change. People who lean towards optimism tend to be happier, and the belief that an effort will be met with success can literally and dramatically improve a person's chance of success. The tricky part involves striking a safe balance between an optimism that fosters positive change while avoiding the pitfall of recklessness through risk-taking. We need some buffer to help us cope with the fact that life is not fair and that we are flawed creatures with limited power. And in life, sometimes the bubbles we create wear out their usefulness as we change and grow.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Bubbles Outlive their Usefulness: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part IV

This post discusses the use of the cognitive bias of optimism as a coping mechanism, continued from Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here. It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships.

Sometimes, I think that life is a process of bursting our bubbles of illusion as we grow to see reality more clearly. The world can be a chaotic and terrifying place, but we creative humans have a remarkable ability to construct an understanding of the world and themselves that gives them the opportunity to make the most of their resources while constructing a meaningful and rewarding life. This bubble might be considered a worldview. And from our culture and our nature, we develop our own style of communicating and our own style of learning. We're also faced with a paradox of human need between a healthy individualism (staying just far enough away from others) and healthy interdependence (establishing connection, rapport, and solidarity with others).

Monday, April 3, 2017

Caged with Kafka: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part III

This post discusses the use of the cognitive bias of optimism as a coping mechanism, continued from Part I here and Part II here. It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships.

As I prepared to conclude my thoughts about the musical Gypsy to explain how optimism helped me to cope with less than optimistic circumstances, I found myself thinking of another reference. I spent a whole week in awe at the artful ability to humorously disguise one of the most painful of subject so that it bypassed my conscious attention twenty five years ago. My brain tucked its language away for later consideration when I would be better able to face what I wasn't able to deal with then.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mature Optimism's Gift of Insight: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part II

This post which discusses optimism as a cognitive bias continues from PART I which can be read HERE. It references examples of ideas that I drew from the musical Gypsy to explain how optimism helped me to cope with less than optimistic circumstances. 

It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships. (I'm clearly learning as I go.)

Little did I realize until last week that I'd lifted my “Mama's little circus freak” moniker directly out a scene from Gyspy. Mama Rose Hovick who becomes jealous of the public attention garnered by her daughter whom she viewed as the least talented tells her that she is little more than a circus freak. Gypsy Rose Lee, the new stage name of her daughter [Rose] Louise, found great success in the Burlesque venue as their family's Vaudeville career evaporated along with Vaudeville itself. To tame the sting that she feels as she transitions out of stage mother mode and as her other loved ones leave her behind, she wields her iron will to force those left in her world to give her that to which she feels entitled. She tries to seize her own worth from the ostrich feathers of her daughter's new, successful career.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Curse of Optimism: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part I

Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

As the previous post postulated, in an unbalanced relationship, objectification on each side of that relationship can serve as a means of coping. One person becomes obligated to give if the other party always feels entitled to take from the other without reciprocating support. 

The less powerful party might trade their personal losses for the benefits that remaining entrenched in dysfunction yields for them. This 'secondary gain' essentially rewards a person for maintaining an unhealthy status quo. The illusions created by the party in pain help to preserve the dynamic which finds a stable point amidst its imbalance. By lessening the pain, by making secondary gain the focus of the relationship, motivation to change or exit the relationship drops and makes life more livable.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Using Halos to Cope with Horns? Objectification as a Double Edged Sword

Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Here's a radical thought as we continue to consider the trappings of the Halo Effect. (I've dubbed the other side of the idealization coin as the Horn Effect to describe cognitive bias that results in the demoralization of others.)

People don't like to think that thinking very well of a person
or others thinking very well of them
as something negative.

Consider how this might work in light of how abusers treat victims when they're trapped in 'middle management' in a high demand system. As the other side of the coin to Lifton's description of the duality required of doctors under the Third Reich (discussed in the previous post), we might reverse the roles to see how the victim also uses the healing-killing paradox by default. While some may learn to use evil to accomplish good, they would not accomplish much without those who accept that evil, accommodate it, and support it.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Halos and Objectification

Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).
I've spent years reading, thinking, and writing about objectification – to treat someone as if they are a mere object instead of the unique, complex, and valuable person that they are. The cognitive bias of salience describes general aspects of this attribution error which overlaps with some others – that of objectifying people as primarily good or evil by splitting them and their worth entirely into only one one or the other.
[Please take note of the many links embedded in this particular post for background on some of the concepts and history referred to in the post.  This one seems rather dense with them.]
The black and white thinking that high demand groups and relationships use to advance authoritarianism force simplistic assessments by making leaders and model citizens who follow their program as divine and intrinsically good, so the related CranioRectal Inversion has been termed the halo effect. This contrasts a whole range of possibilities when people are viewed in the opposite light – diminishing or minimizing others and their influence. Spiritual abusers love to cast those who fail to follow the informal rules of conduct or the affection of leadership as ranging from problematic to malicious if not demonic. I've dubbed it the horn effect for this discussion.

This blog often explores both concepts as essential components of spiritual abuse but uses the term objectification to describe horns far more frequently than it does halos. Why might that be so?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Deeply Planted Seeds of Cognitive Bias
This is a tweeked excerpt from a post that I wrote a few years ago, prompted by Cindy Foster's reflection on a blog post about a blog post (Rachel Held Evans' The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart)

     Reflecting on my own, consistently repeated cognitive biases, I thought that this might give the reader some insight into how illogical ideas can become so entrenched in our natures and the ways we learn to we see the world. I still find the tendrils of tributaries and branches of these basic false beliefs in different areas of my life, and I still work like a gardener to keep weeds at bay. There's not as much tugging and pulling as there used to be, but it seems that like the seeds of weeds, the scandalous lies about who I am and how the world 'should' work keep popping up. They have shaped who I am, and I am determined to use them to as potent motivators for growth.

And then I felt moved to make what I think might be art.

Christian Language Trigger Warning: I wrote this from an openly religious perspective targeting a Christian audience, for it is how I make sense of the experiences and find meaning and hope despite the hardships they created.

This narrative is known ad nauseum to those closest to me as 
The Saga of Marcy and the Pennies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kiss Your Monster on the Nose 

I first encountered this story near the end of the book An Adult Child's Guide to What's “Normal” by Friel and Friel, but beyond that, I have no idea where it originated. 

In many ways, I hope to make the monsters of Cognitive Biases something of friends by what they tell us about ourselves. May we continue to learn from our mistakes and those uncomfortable parts of ourselves that tend to scare us. May they become our respected friends and instruments for fostering healthy growth.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a village far from the big city. The village was nestled in a beautiful, sunlit valley surrounded by a tall snow-capped mountain range.

As the little girl grew older, she began to hike in the foothills at the base of the mountains, and when she became a teenager, she asked her parents if she could hike over the mountains to the village on the other side to visit her grandparents.

At first, her parents were very upset and worried, and they told her that she could not go. But the little girl pleaded and begged and argued that someday she would be a young woman, and that she would have to grow up sometime. After several months of debate, her parents finally agreed to let her go.

Strategic Wisdom, Cognitive Bias and Poker

Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I'm not cut out for poker and political games, especially interpersonal ones.  Just the same, I forget (through errors of attribution) that for some people, the drama created by such strategic game paying adds spice to their life. I actually have trouble accepting that it also comes into play when working with others to meet a common goal. I've been in some skirmishes that have demonstrated my desire clarify some matter of logic or miscommunication, but the whole mess quickly degrades into a emotional battle of wills before I realize it.  The cues are there, but I don't want to notice them.  I don't understand what motivates them, but I must learn to respect them and the problematic ways I've coped with them in the past.