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Ebenezer — A Threepeat

So there I was. A mom of five with only one I had ever seen smile. That youngest one was just a few months old. And God had already taught me through him that He answers prayer, that He loves me a lot, that He parents me in that deep, attached love, and that my loyalty to evangelical ideologies can unfortunately skew my judgment.

But God wasn’t done. ::cue ominous music::

I would often sit and read while nursing that lil’ bundle, and my curiosity got the best of me one day. I thought, “Okay. An Ezzo mom I am not. Why not venture over to the critics of Ezzo and see what they are up to?” These were the people I had consciously avoided in 1999 for my research. A few weeks earlier in Isaac’s life when Ezzo’s prescribed “routine” was failing us, I had tried to find an Ezzo support group, but there were none online. None!

Wow. What I found among the Ezzo critics were not rabid, ugly-spirited, vitriolic bullies. I found godly ladies — kind but firm, gentle and persuasive, logical and fair. I actually, in all my years of studying argumentation, had never seen such skill. These women were gooood. I am blessed to still call these Christian sisters among my closest friends. They are gems.

As I was reading their documentation of the whole controversy, I was shocked. There . . . there in their timeline was one of my interviewees from 1999: Laurie Moody.

Let me brag on Laurie for a second. I met her only because of my project for Orsi’s class, but I did know some of her extended family (everybody knows SOMEbody you’re related to in the BJU “family”). And I was really impressed. I thought, “Wow — I hope I can be a mom like Laurie some day.” She was a fellow alum from my alma mater, she was loving and fair with her kids, smart and well-spoken. When I talked to her in 1999, she was studying to be a lactation consultant for Growing Families International, Ezzo’s parenting business, so she knew her stuff!!

When everything Ezzo was failing me and my son, I thought briefly about Laurie. It worked for her, I told myself, but it wasn’t working for me at all. ::shrug::

But there was her name on the Ezzo timeline as having left GFI. Hmm. Must have been quite an exodus for her. So now she and I both were ex-Ezzoites. Hmmm. . . . interesting.

I sought her out online. And once again, God had gone ahead of me. Laurie’s friendship, her exodus, and her careful exegesis of Scripture — God would use all of that to push us down a road I could have never imagined.

I found her website. On there she had her study of the “rod verses”those (in)famous Proverbs we conservative Evangelicals use to justify our parenting traditions.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I printed it out and carried it around in my purse for weeks.

When we realized that our Isaac was going to be a keeper (just after we had discovered that he was an “Isaac” at 20 weeks in my tummy), I prayed for guidance about how to raise him. The BJU Inservice that semester focused on family issues, and I submitted a few questions to the “gurus” about how to raise this blessing. I got a book recommendation and some generalized responses. But I still wasn’t satisfied. My parents were terrific, but we had chosen a different sort of ministry for our family. How did God want our parenting to look?

I had finally found the answer from my old friend, Laurie. It sounds like a small step now, but it was a huge pivot for us. Through Laurie’s study, the Holy Spirit proved to me that — contrary to every sermon I’d heard and book I’d read on parenting — the Bible never commands parents to spank their children.

Read that carefully. I’m not saying that the Bible forbids spanking. I’m not saying that those who choose differently from me are disobeying Scripture. I’m not saying anything more than the very small statement: spanking is not biblically mandated.

That was a hard pill to swallow. It was so . . . radical. I begged God to move me away from that conclusion. He pushed me further toward it. I read Clay Clarkson’s Heartfelt Discipline (who, in his conservative hermeneutic, also set out to prove that the typical evangelical parenting advice was biblical but was then persuaded from Scripture that the exact opposite is true) and was finally convinced — this was my answer to prayer that I’d prayed when Isaac was still in my tummy. This is how God wanted me to mother this precious bundle.

I don’t expect you who are reading to agree with me. I’m okay with that. I’m actually pretty used to it. I think the best response we ever got to our family’s prayerful and counter-cultural decision was from a dear friend who, although he strongly disagreed with us, very kindly said, “We haven’t found that to be true for our family.” And for that gracious response, he will always have my respect and admiration.

So our children have never been spanked or hit or even, to be honest, punished. The oldest is only four, I understand. We have only two, I admit. And of course, they are far from perfect. But they, like their parents, get forgiveness for sin not from a purgative pain, but through the same Person and His gracious sacrifice. We are, in God’s grace, trying to parent these charges just like God parents us — loving and teaching and correcting and always pointing to Christ.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

[tags]Gary Ezzo, Grace-Based Parenting, Laurie Moody, William Sears, Positive Discipline[/tags]

13 thoughts on “Ebenezer — A Threepeat

  1. I really enjoyed reading about how you’ve grown! It makes me think about how I’ve grown and what God has done in my life.


  2. “But they, like their parents, get forgiveness for sin not from a purgative pain, but through the same Person and His gracious sacrifice. We are, in God’s grace, trying to parent these charges just like God parents us — loving and teaching and correcting and always pointing to Christ.”

    And now I’m humming and starting to tear up because that hymn reaches my heart in a way. . . that I need. . . that reminds me of my Christ and my Father in heaven.

  3. Hey Camille! Surfin’ while it’s snowin’! Stephen is now 4 months old – I feel like I’m slowly revving up and getting into the swing of life, ha,ha! Your articles keep bringing to my mind (and I talk out loud to the screen) where’s the, “Your not the boss of me” and “Say’s who?”, “Scripture and verse?”, and picture Duane with his lip hooked up like Elvis, “Askmeifahcare!”
    Isn’t it goofy how in so many areas people will bristle and will sneer at the few, real authorities in their lives, but fall down and yessir about authorities they chose to put themselves under? This Ezzo character sounds like a real winner, ha! God spared me the thrill of his “wisdom”. My spanked children are happily not on their way to heaven because of the times that they were swatted – they are all at different phases of learning what God’s Word says (and doesn’t say). Context! They are scarred by abnormal parents and an abnormal church setting we have – no tithes and offerings taken up; no alter call – just available people who know Who their Redeemer is and enjoy getting to participate in the “awakening”; no nursery workers – just a nursery with crib, toys, books and a rocker for nursing; no programs – just a class for little kiddos if they want and a how to study the Bible class for teen boys if they want, it’s all as we need or want we’ll start it situation; questions, comments and smart remarks are all enjoyed together during Sunday School and morning service with Don leading the studies. We “rushed” through Romans in four years, ha,ha! We expect Hebrews to take about ten years? I’m babbling, maybe I’m not really in the swing yet?? I was going through pictures and memorabilia – oooh! I found the letter you wrote hoping with all hope that Grant would ask you to marry him at Christmas time! Don’t you just feel so spoiled sometimes when you think of God’s blessing he’s given us in our husbands!! Every good and every perfect gift…!
    This blogging new fangled thing is a great tool (I’m speaking with my AMA degree – advanced maternal age, don’tchaloveit ha,ha,ha,ha! 35 and older…I think I might have an honorary doc.?)
    I’ll yap later – if I put a few minutes together and my mind is somewhat together, ha,ha! Love ya! Tammy

  4. Thanks Camille for filling it out a bit 🙂 I am still learning…
    So, you decided that they moms you first interviewed were wrong because of the spanking thing? And the strict feeding thing? Did you decide it was all rubbish, or just some of those big things 😉
    Sorry for these questions… just interested to see why you seemed so positive on one side of the fence, and then so negative on the other! Mulling it over, and checking in when I can get some computer time!!

  5. Hi Camille,

    You don’t know me very well, but I was one of the other dr. lewis’ students at BJ. For some reason, I am only now discovering your blog, and voraciously reading through your Ebenezer…you and i are kindred spirits, and much of what you have learned so far in your early parenting almost EXACTLY mirrors my story. thank you for being brave enough to share it. We went through this exact journey from Ezzo (before baby arrived) to Sears (co-sleeping, babywearing, extended bf’ing…ya know, all that “AP stuff”!), not by reading it, but through instinct. Okay, I’ll stop now, but am looking forward to reading the rest of your journey.


  6. Hey Camille, I’m reading your wonderful Ebenezers again. You’re so honest. You do inspire me. Your experience with the Ezzo character, reminds me of a special grace moment in my early mothering life, for which I have been ‘very’ grateful. Somehow God protected me from’using’ some questionable ‘custodial mummy’ type material, about parenting, especially for new babies, that would have really harmed my babies and my relationship with them when they were so little, had I swallowed these boks strange contents, hook, line and sinker. My mother dropped an encyclopedia set off at the apartment, of ‘how to’ ‘books. They were pretty dated, probably came out during the twenties, and they were ‘not’ people friendy. Such material could never have encouraged warm human love and affection in parenting. and I believe they came out of the ‘dark ages’ of children should be seen and not heard! All but one volume was in the set. Mother assumed that what ‘she’ had used would also ‘work’ for me too. Uh Uh. ‘I’ was going to love and raise my babies the way I decided to. I opened one volume, and looked at a few pages. Do’s and don’ts. ‘Don’t sing to your baby!!! Don’t pick them up when they cry!!! ‘Don’t’ Hug and comfort them!!! I’m exaggerating a bit here. But, when I saw those do’s and don’t words, about what ‘I’ should and should not do with my little one, I saw red!!!! It took me less than ten minutes to throw the entire collection out in the garbage! And I sang to my little ones all I wanted to. And they’re all musical today too! And even normal! I really admire you for your courage to desire to do the right and best thing as a new mom. God saw your heart, that you wanted to do the right thing. And then He gave you lots of slack with time to find the answers.It’s takes a lot of honesty and humility to acknowledge how you erred in trusting something,such as Ezzo’s very questionble material, because as a good person you trusted what other people were saying about it. But look how God gave you an early mid- course correction about it all! One site I read about baby rearing course in this ‘strange culture’ of guru experts, said that seminar students were ‘not allowed to ask qustions’ of the instructor,in the classroom ,and ‘not allowed to discuss anything about the seminar’ to people not taking the course outside the classroom.! Sounds like these strange ‘false teachers’ have something to hide, doesn’t it! It’s a sad, sad commentary on evangelical christianity in America, when self-appointed experts child rearing guru experts, who don’t know didly squat about what they’re talking about, are being followed in droves by new parents who so want to be good parents! This movement I think is called, “The Conservative Parenting Movement.” And it has already been crossing the ocean to the shores of Britain. I sure hope the British Child Welfare Services will be ready when the child neglect and abuse cases start piling up! I never thought about it before, that the Bible never instructs parents to actually spank! That it does not promote corporal punishment at all! It was only in the past couple of years that, I found out that Dr. so and so of Focus on the Family, taught parents in his book to spank their kids so that they feel pain and will be afraid of their parents! You see I had never read the book ‘Dare To Discipline” and I just assumed it was sensible and fair. Boy was I wrong about that one! I wonder what kid of a mean angry, harsh father dr. so and so had, when he was a little boy being disciplined? I looked up all the ex ezzo moms sites and posts,and articles, and was shocked to find out that Pediatricians would ‘never’ give such questionably advice lacking in common sense to new moms with new borns. And that babies were going into hospital underweight and depressed! Thank God that He helped us when he did to avoid using such baby raising rubbish! Aren’t you glad your little ones ‘wanted’ to be attached to you, their wonderful’attachment’ mommy, one of the two most important people in their life? Paul and I have remarked many grateful times, that, without our having had our children, with all of the blessings that God brought into our lives through them, that our lives would just not be what they are today, so fulfilled and so blessed. Children are such a gift from God. Thank you Jesus.

    1. Not sing to them! Awful!! just awful!! . . .

      I think I remember reading about that movement though. In the history books. I’ll find it again one of these days. . . .

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