Sunday, June 24, 2018

That Tricky Survivorship Bias and Recovery

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 a bit lighter, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

This bias fascinates me because it has a direct impact on how many approach recovery from post cult trauma syndrome, as I believe that people make this common error in their assumptions. It is one of the many attribution biases – wrong assumptions due to informal logical errors that are often based on too little information and consideration of the wrong perspective on that information.

For a period of time during World War II, the likelihood of a person returning home alive after serving in any capacity on a bomber plane was no better than flipping a coin. To improve the survival odds, the military focused on the planes that returned from battle. They noted that there was more heavy damage sustained in certain areas of the planes, and it seemed sensible to many that the planes should be reinforced in those areas that were most heavily hit.

Not so! A statistician named Abraham Wald came to the rescue of the Army Air Force by saving them from falling into the error of the survivorship bias. If you want improve the survival odds that bomber crews, does it make sense to focus on the opposite population? It wasn't that the information gathered from the planes that survived had no value. That information just failed to elucidate what was happening to the planes that didn't make it. The areas of the surviving planes that were damaged were not the weakest areas of the planes. They were, in fact, the strongest ones. The planes that were lost weren't in the air long enough to sustain – and survive – their opposition.

Here is one author's summary:
Simply put, survivorship bias is your tendency to focus on survivors instead of whatever you would call a non-survivor depending on the situation. Sometimes that means you tend to focus on the living instead of the dead, or on winners instead of losers, or on successes instead of failures.

Who is Representative of the Spiritually Abused?

What does this have to do with people who are recovering from cults or trauma from spiritual abuse? Well, for one, not everyone makes it through.

I was told by a therapist that Second Generation Adults (SGAs) who sought help when they left a cult were amazingly resilient. SGAs are those adults who are raised in a restrictive group or in a high demand home) We were told that this resilience developed in us because we were raised in our respective groups. It felt good to be honored and encouraged, but if that were the case, why do I feel like “I'm never going to get there”?

Whether you joined a group as an adult or whether your parents made that choice for you, if you actually show up at a meeting or a conference for people who are in recovery from cults, abusive religion, or even an abusive relationship, you're not representative of all of those who are and were members. Many people leave their group, and they either lay blame on the leader or some “bad apples” in their group. That isn't so personally threatening. But the number of people who realize how much the experience changed the way they think and the way that they relate to others drop off sharply from there. “No one joins a cult,” and no one takes any pleasure in considering that they were duped by one.

I've tried many times to organize recovery sessions with psycho education about cults and trauma for people who contact me requesting help for themselves, loved ones, and other former members. I'll spend time finding resources and people who are willing to help, but most of the time, only one or two people will commit to participate. Showing up requires some acceptance of the idea on the part the attendee that they were in a cult. More often than not, people will join a similar church that isn't quite so abusive but uses the same dynamics. Without knowledge of just what made the group abusive, they never really transcend the problem and end up repeating what they know and saw modeled in their group.

Cream of the Crop?

I once had a therapist what brought me though the things I've been through, because some of them were horrible. I know that I'm stubborn, and my die hard optimism does sometimes come with a silver lining, even though there are better ways of coping. Maybe those weaknesses of mine saw me through just as much or more so than my strengths? At the time, I felt anything but resilient. I used the word “brittle” to describe how I felt, and every challenge felt like a crushing hammer. I felt like spun glass that would turn into shards of abrasive powder – all tiny pieces that I could never repair. I sought help because I'd lost flexibility and the ability to adapt.

People who study thought reform will never have access to those who suffer in cults, and those who walk away from cults differ from those who get thrown out by and shunned by their group. Of those who walk away, only a small number of those people will seek out information about what they've been through, and of those, only a limited number of people will entertain the unpleasant idea that they were in a cult. If you're reading this, you are a subculture and a smaller part of all of the people who get involved with cults. The woman who designated herself as my mentor in my cults of record have all died – all while still members of the groups that I abandoned because I loved the truth more than I feared the unpleasantness of admitting that I had been used up and thrown away.

What do we know of the people who don't survive or don't make it out? I know of people who committed suicide. I know more people who refused proper treatment to manage their physical diseases in favor of faith healing. I know of many who buried their head in the sands of ignorance. While the military may have had access to the wreckage of bomber planes, those of us who hope to stem or stop cultic abuse will often never get the opportunity to learn in depth of those who didn't make it. And because of the threats made by abusive groups, most people who do break free don't speak about what happened because of the threats leveled at them when they left.

They're Lucky and I'm Not

The Survivorship Bias can also manifest as the attribution error which limits risk and increases a person's rigidity. Those people tend to approach a topic with such a narrow view that they are not receptive to the suggestion that success might be random or related to something else that is seemingly unrelated. They don't cherry pick information to arrive at the conclusion that benefit them the most, but their narrow vision causes the neglect of other obscure factors.

I used to know someone who gambled regularly and spoke about his 'system' of winning. They will study others who they believe are successful at gambling, but when they try the same strategies, they find that they fail. The idea that the winner is just very lucky and they are not becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. Because of their stress and focus on winning instead of being more relaxed and resilient, they are more likely to have the confidence to take risks. It's an easy way of explaining away the discomfort of the powerlessness we feel amidst a world that is full of uncertainty, becoming a defense mechanism that helps create a sense of safe resignation.

To win, it can be at least as beneficial to learn from someone's mistakes or from your own as a way of developing a wiser sense of winning. Your chances of success increase because you've learned strategies that help you better identify pitfalls that lead to failure. On the surface and from a distance, it appears as if some people always win and others always lose. The truth is that winners don't talk much about their losses, and those who don't ever win don't seem to be that interesting. “Follow the leader” seems to make more sense than heeding those who seemingly failed. To transcend this, one needs only to reframe failure. By losing and walking away from gambling, the unsuccessful aspiring gambler wins by no longer putting themselves at so great a risk. They found the cure to their disease of losing money.

I also like this author's description:
Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.

Again, we are reminded that all that glitters isn't gold, and in so doing, we may overlook vital information that may serve us far better than the glitzy stuff.

Pyrite specimen

For Further Reading:

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Reviewing Liking and Social Proof as Weapons of Influence

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 a bit lighter, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

We've reviewed the effect that liking has on us, and we tend to comply with people that we like. Just to dig into this method of influence, lets consider some factors that manipulators use to persuade us with liking without our even realizing it:

Physical attractiveness. We've already reviewed the halo effect, and studies show that if we think a person is attractive, we automatically assume a favorable opinion regarding unrelated traits, intelligence, moral behavior, kindness, etc. Attractive people also have greater success in getting others to comply with requests.

Similarity. We feel more comfortable and like people who are more like us. We will be more compliant with them than with people who do not share our own traits and characteristics.

Praise. Though praise and flattery can have the opposite effect (especially in people with PTSD), compliments tend to increase and enhance liking.

Familiarity. When we have regular experience with person, an object, or an event, it habituates us to accepting them which usually increases liking. We 'get used' to whatever it is, and it sort of subtly resets our sense of what is average and acceptable. Biderman's Chart of Coercion (another model describing thought reform) tends to best capture this element of habituation. The more pleasant the experience, the stronger the liking bond.

Association. Akin to similarity, we enjoy connecting to that which we think of as positive. This facilitates an automatic liking of those with whom we share commonalities. Consider again the effect of celebrity and notoriety and its effect on sales and behavior.

Shadowing. Skilled manipulators can mimic the non-verbal behaviors and body language of their target (using the same language or descriptors, matching posture, deliberately breathing at the same rate, etc.). This sends subtle cues to the target or 'mark' which causes them to think that they have more in common with the manipulator than they actually do. They give the appearance that they are in sync with the manipulator.

Social Influences (Social Proof)
Depending on the context of a situation, we often observe others first and listen to their opinions before we before we behave freely as a shortcut to help us learn acceptable behavior within a group. Groups may have a written curriculum or a formally written set of beliefs and practices. But they might not tell you anything about the unwritten rules and beliefs in a group – those informal, unspoken and just somehow understood rules. This is called the hidden curriculum. And as a general rule, we human beings tend to go with the flow.

What makes it worse?

Some factors can enhance the likelihood that a person will mirror a group. No Ease of Exit, Unanimous Compliance,  Modeling by Notable Persons, and Ambiguity.

No Ease of Exit. Philip Zimbardo talks about how situations from which you cannot easily remove or excuse yourself has a significant effect on whether or not you will mirror the behavior of a group. In Christian churches, you are not held captive or prevented from leaving a sanctuary in the middle of a service, but to do so would draw attention to yourself, and those around you would likely be displeased. Most people will try to just go through the motions to conform with the group (as the Asch Experiment demonstrates). Behavioral compliance like this has a subtle but powerful influence because it 'greases the wheels,; and you have a higher likelihood of complying with subsequent requests. Gradually over time, the nature of seemingly insignificant requests escalate without notice. This weapon of influence plays a major factor in many domestic abuse situations. (No one joins a cult. No one knowingly marries an abuser.)

Unanimous Compliance. When in a group setting when all others follow the hidden curriculum, that behavioral 'procedure' essentially equalizes behavioral standards. Couple this with a situation that is hard to exit, and non-conformity becomes very difficult.

Modeling by Notable Persons. As we noted in a previous post, people who are famous or are seen as experts or authorities seem to carry more influence with others. They're seen as successful and accomplished in an area unrelated to their work, yet without any real cause, we infer that they are specially qualified to recommend a product or a practice. It's like the behavioral version of physical attractiveness heightening likability.

The informal logical fallacy of the Appeal to Authority overlaps here a bit, too – when something is believed to be true because an authority believes it or asserts it. Group leaders may also model behavior that they find acceptable and wish to encourage among followers. (I just thought of CJ Mahaney's wife saying that she preferred to have her countertops completely clear including things like the coffee pot. It became vogue among women at Covenant Life Church/Sovereign Grace Ministries for wives in the church to do likewise.) Follow the leader.

People will also be more compliant with someone who has an authoritarian style and tends to find their way into situations where they direct others' activities. Command presence, personal power, and confidence help bolster this effect. Compliance with authority stands alone as an influence, but make note of it here because it intensifies social proof.

Ambiguity. When we are a bit off balance and are unsure of what to do or what outcomes to expect, we become more vulnerable to social pressures. If we relocate and start a new job in a new place, social pressures have more of a punch. Many elements of life become much more ambiguous after such major life changes. We only have so much energy, and we cannot be vigilant about everything all the time. We will go along with the crowd, just because of decision-making fatigue.

There are also some personalities and people who have a very low tolerance for ambiguity. There are many things in life that are not sure, and this type of stress intensifies the amount of influence that the actions of others have with us. High demand groups reduce and simplify the complexities of life into a landscape of black and white, providing a sure answer to every question and a solution to every problem.

More to come on more cognitive biases
in which liking and social proof play a role.

For Further Reading:

Friday, October 27, 2017

Liking and Liked: More Attribution Biases that Merge Liking and Social Proof

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 a bit lighter, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

The previous post detailed a few Attribution Biases that cause us to make errors based on our feelings more than sound reasoning, and we human beings naturally show a prejudice for those things that we already like. If we are good people who seek out other good people to accomplish good things, we don't tend to anticipate certain problems. This expectation intensifies when considering a religious leader because they should be experts in and practitioners of good ethics and morals. And if we seek them out, even apart from any kind of considerations of hierarchy or authority that might influence how we relate to them, we're likely to take for granted that they are ethical. We certainly would not seek out a person whom we didn't like.

Add to the power of liking the power of social interaction and social proof among a group of people who gather to socialize as they contribute to a common goal – and you have a double whammy of an influence. This is critical to understanding spiritual abuse, because thought reform exploits these good traits, especially in really compassionate and trustworthy people. Understanding these tendencies helps us to resist the pitfalls of these traits when we encounter situations that challenge our own sense of appropriate assertiveness and personal power. They make us particularly vulnerable to many attribution errors.

We are predictable creatures who look for patterns in the things that happen around us. As the Cheerleader Effect notes, we have ingrained tendencies that show our anticipation and liking of faces. In our search for these patterns, we are given to create them if they're not apparent, misconceiving and misinterpreting random things as part of a pattern when there likely is none at all.

We also don't like unanswered questions or enigmas, because we rely on answers and clear understanding to develop a safe and proper understanding of the world around us. To give us some structure and ease, we are prone to that self-serving tendency to pay more attention to the the data that helps support to the conclusions that we find most comfortable and are more accepting of it, even if it is ambiguous. And we're generally happy to conveniently forget that data that challenges what we like and would like to think. We will take an incomplete perspective and weave it into meaning that is consistent with what we already believe, and we'll be critical of that which challenges that web of meaning we've created. In a nutshell, that process of following bliss without enough good cause describes Attribution Errors.

Phenomenology or Pattern?

One of my soapbox pet peeves at work has always been the tendency of physicians to draw conclusions about the whole population based on the last half dozen of people who sought them out for a similar problem. It's not representative of liking and social proof, so I think that it makes a good starting point example of just considering the simple attribution error of the availability bias.

The physician who projects what has affected a number of patients with whom they've come into contact more likely owes to the nature of their practice and the types of patients they see. A family doctor who practices near a high school with the largest and most accomplished track team may end up treating lots of sports injuries. Without taking the close proximity into account, it can trick them into believing that the nature of those injuries also occur at the same rate everywhere. A physician across town near a golf course may see none of those injuries or see them among an older population, as golf course condos for older individuals surround his office.

Truth and Consequences

When we mix all of that together, we fall into common related pitfalls. We've already considered many of them, but there are few more related ones that are significant to this convergence of how well we like a person, how we are connected to them socially, and their collective effect on us when we're with them.

More to come on
the Truth Effect, F.O.M.O., the Bandwagon,
and how individual survivors and survivorship itself
can fast-track us into faulty reasoning.

For Further Reading:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

When the Attribution Bias Makes Things Seem More Desirable

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 a bit lighter, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

In the context of spiritual abuse and how biases effect us, I thought of other instances that strike me as similar to the Cheerleader Effect but involve more of what is actually a type of Attribution Bias. (There's more to come about that bias in posts to come.) There are several subtypes of this type, but I see the effects of what we see, believe is available, and find desirable as a consequence as similar to some of the factors that may be in play in the Cheerleader Bias. We also can tend to be more open to considering owning the same things that they do because the association connotes the idea that those things are somehow better than equally good alternatives.

Monday, October 23, 2017

If I'm Never Ready, I Can at Least be Wise

I waited seven years after I walked away from my spiritually abusive Gothard/Quiverfull/Shepherding church before I wrote my first article, and it didn't name names. I started working on one about a year after I'd walked away, but I wasn't ready for the challenge yet. And let me tell you: naming names becomes much more intense and feels far more threatening. When the time came for me to name names, I did it, but I did so with knocking knees.

After that first year or so after leaving, I wrote out an outline for that first dream of an article and left it sit. A few weeks later, I saw that the folks at Wellspring had addressed all of the points that I intended to make – and I was pretty much on par with them. That encouraged me, because it showed me that my perspective was sound, and that I hadn't lost the ability to think. Paul Martin told me years later that I should still write and publish my own version of it, though I thought it redundant to reinvent the wheel. I wish I had seen his face and heard his encouragement in '98 on the day that I opened the Cultic Studies Journal to find his article. It was much needed, and I'm glad that the world didn't have to wait to read what it declared.

CranioRectal Inversions Cheering Us On (The Cheerleader Effect)

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 a bit lighter, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Another very human trait with which perspective can trick us is most commonly known as the Cheerleader Effect. Some of it owes to the way that we process visual information against contrasting elements in a field of view, but we also have deep psychological wiring that also affects how we interpret what we see. Some of that might also involve the suggestion that if a person is photographed with other people, they must have relationships which include activities that are enjoyable enough to wish to photograph. At the most simplistic level, people look more attractive to us when they are in a group with others. No one seems to know exactly why, but ongoing research continues to validate that the Cheerleader Effect influences all of us.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Misogynist Man from Mars on Patheos

I'm grateful for my relationship with No Longer Quivering (NLQ), a website founded by Vyckie Garrison and now overseen by Suzanne Titkemeyer and their support of Hillary McFarland's book, Quivering Daughters. A few years ago, NLQ joined the bloggers at Patheos, an interfaith website that features material that considers all sorts of belief systems including the non-religious. (I'm especially grateful for Richard Wade's thoughtful and respectful approach to his beliefs on his Patheos blog, the Friendly Atheist. He isn't what I consider a zealot who wants to make sport of others who disagree with him, and I find that refreshing.)

I've been through thick and thin with No Longer Quivering dating back to near its inception, and I'm honored to be a part of their Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network. Very much like Patheos itself, it provides a forum for those with many religious perspectives, most of whom have been adversely affected by the Patriarchy/Quiverfull Movement. Though it's faced many challenges, the participants have worked through them which is often difficult considering that most everyone also grapples with personal recovery from the resulting spiritual abuse. As I've once heard someone say, it's like trying to hug porcupines because of the hypervigilance that follows religious abuse. (Many people just trade up and shift their cult life over into “activism” instead of doing their own hard work of healing.)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Optimism, Hardship, and Pathways to Peace

Continuing the consideration of cognitive bias of optimism as a coping mechanism, this installment continues from this most recent one, and the whole series of posts can be found HERE. It explores how I am reconsidering optimism to make it my friend as opposed to my foe by finding a healthy balance between too much optimism and a life only half lived. It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships.

The Serenity Prayer encourages us to sort out what we can realistically change from that over which we have no power to change. Critical to serenity, however, is acceptance of those things which we don't really like all that much. It confronts our tendency to create unrealistic fantasies about what we want the world to be – “how I would have it” – and encourages us to focus on those things that are well within our grasp to change for the better. Wasting hope and energy in exercises of futility do no good for anyone, and they drain us of the energy we need for more reasonable, achievable aspirations.

As I noted regarding the use of the cognitive bias of halos (idealization) to cope with horns (objectification/vilification), such a strategy may work in our emotional survival in the short term, but we can find far better alternatives. In revisiting the Serenity Prayer this week, I saw anew the web of toxic thoughts that “the world as I would have it” created for me and the chain of consequences that resulted from a skewed view of life. Standing up for myself is contingent upon my own sense of worth, but the web doesn't stop with just assertiveness which stems from value.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Getting Back to Biases (Self-Worth's Role in Optimism)

When I started this series of posts, I knew that it would be a deeply personal journey. I aspire to live up to and be accountable for what I learn, and I didn't think that I could take much more thought about optimism specifically, though I apparently think about it more often than not. For months, I've been ruminating on just how often I use a too glowing view of people and the world as a means of coping with the unpleasant aspects of life. I took some time off from the subject to do some soul searching, and I started to see many themes come together.
This post discusses the use of the cognitive bias of optimism as a coping mechanism, continued from Part I here. A whole series of posts continues HERE, exploring how I've aspired to make optimism my friend and not my foe. It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships.

Finding Serenity

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Many people are familiar with the first line of the Serenity Prayer, but fewer go on to read and consider the whole passage that the author wrote. It addresses the difficulties of figuring out personal responsibility, things that fall outside of one's sphere of control, and how to make peace with what is as opposed to the often fruitless effort of trying to control that which we cannot. I memorized it in my early twenties, and I found the latter elements of it to be just as helpful as the more commonly known, shorter version.

Why was too much optimism a problem for me? I grew up with the belief that my parents demanded: that I was somehow at fault for whatever it was that went wrong. That required me to be just a little less capable, honest, and aware than every other creature on the planet. My parents reduced all of my mistakes or allegedly “bad” outcomes into a moral failing on my part. I was so blind and “proud” and self-seeking in their estimation that if I couldn't remedy a relationship or mitigate an outcome, it had to be due to a moral moral failure.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Driving through the Gateways of the Mental Burqa

A few years ago, I wrote a post about the surreptitiously misogynistic film, Courageous. It was popular and hated, depending on whether you know anything about the Evangelical Christian subculture's cultic fringe movement that prompted it. The Baptist church that produced the film had an earlier success with a film called Fireproof, and a now defunct 'ministry to families' called Vision Forum tried to cash in and ride along with them. They used these and other films to sell a lifestyle – primarily to Christians who wanted to homeschool. Homeschooling became a gateway for this evolving, anachronistic belief system to introduce a host of other beliefs which weren't quite as wholesome as they appeared on screen. (Read more HERE.)

Most Christians who knew nothing about the subculture found the film to be encouraging and read into it their own interpretation of what seemed like a message of self-sacrifice. (Who would dream that the producers of such a heartwarming film actually promoted men as demigods and women as their ontological lessers, created for birthing and domestic support?) That film became a gateway for the acceptance of this subculture and film genre – and luckily, most people will remain free of its burdens and abuses. To me, it just feeds the monster of the ideology that tries to pass itself off as a healthy approach to family and faith. I have seen the dark side – and it's more akin to the kinder, kuche, and kirche. It was that then unrecognized dark side that prompted the establishment of this blog ten years ago.

Gary Demar, My Confirmation Bias, and the Learning Curve

Below is a post that I wrote in January 2010. At the time, I was chewing on my own questions about whether I only saw what I wanted to see in some of the religious oriented organizations that we supported. Finding these discrepancies in the mission of Gary DeMar's American Vision published in the early 1990s and what it claimed in 2010 helped me put much of that into perspective. It wasn't just me.

Some say that this subculture fringe went berserk when Y2K didn't result in a shut down of society. (Many who followed Theonomy – the idea that God's laws should be our civil law – believed that if they stored enough gold, guns, and preserved food, they'd get to take over the country when computers failed.) It was about that time that they became more open about their more questionable teachings and behaviors, and some say that it resulted from their angst of frustration. If Y2K was a factor, it's all the more ironic that Demar became caught up in the aftermath. He wrote a very good book about Last Days Madness. For all his effort, he may have fallen into millennial madness anyway.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Don't Let Nashville Tell You Who You Are

(Disclaimer: I am already an outspoken critic of CBMW and the Danvers Statement. I wish that there had been this much of a response to this as there has been to the new Nashville Statement. Please visit the FreeCWC Channel on Vimeo or YouTube for more. CBMW sows the ideological seeds that foster domestic abuse of women. What will the Nashville Statement foster?)

There's a great phrase in the first Matrix film when the protagonist ponders his life before he figured out what the real world looked like. He asks what it means if he liked the noodles at a restaurant that was only computer code in a program that created a dream. His companion says that it means that he still had a unique identity, and even the deception of a dream could not tell him or make him who he really was. It was the part of himself that was wholly his own.

I love that phrase, because I grew up thinking that I had to live out a life script written by another. Though shaped by the script in both positive and negative ways, what others expected of me or how others defined me didn't make me who I am. “The Matrix cannot tell you who you are.”

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.