Trim Healthy Mama – Snake in the Grass

by Calulu

This morning as I was playing my morning interesting Russian roulette (dangerous for my cup of coffee!) of reading through the various Quiverfull ministry sites I came across an update for the ladies of “Trim Healthy Mama”. If you haven’t heard of “Trim Healthy Mama” it is a book published by Above Rubies by Nancy Campbell’s daughters, Pearl and Serene. The book is purported to be dieting, exercise and healthy living.

If anyone here has read their book and wants to do a review of it for NLQ that would be most appreciated. Just let me know.

The sisters and friends were writing about the book yet it suddenly devolved into a discussion of snakes. Which made me laugh, but also wonder why all of their solutions to said snakes involved running to the nearest man. Did no one ever teach them to take a hoe and chop the head off or to scoop the snake up in a shovel and carry it outside to safely release?

Since I neglected to post either a Quoting Quiverfull or a Laughter is Good Medicine yesterday I’m posting their snake stories here, part QQ, part Laughter and part wondering about snakes and gender roles.

Yesterday I was stuck in Union Station in Washington, D.C. and various government buildings researching retirement for my spouse with the worlds most limited internet usage. After thirty minutes, McDonalds ran me off, thirty minutes later Starbucks ran me off and I was unable to post much.

Enjoy and tell me what you think. Is it how you handle pests or another example of silly patriarchy?

How are all my THM Sistahs? Is your summer season shaping up well? Yes, the pun was intended… it thrills us to pieces to hear about how far and wide the message in our book is reaching and of the fantastic shape ups that are happening all over THM Nation.

As we mention in the book, Pearl and I live in rural Tennessee. Our children’s summers are all about creek fishing and swimming. Pearl and I take our children to our local fishing/swimming hole and sit in the shade together. We keep busy praising all their aquatic acrobats, (some more graceful than others) and cheer on the fishing experts as they reel their beauties back to shore. In between this wonderful splashing chaos we try to get our noses back down to our research papers and writing material that we bring to the creek to keep all our sisters at THM in the know.


I have to tell on Pearl though. Yesterday a beautiful balmy breeze blew across the bubbling, cool creek. Earthy scents of mossy rocks and wet river grass and the intoxicating, almost magical fragrance of wild honeysuckle and jasmine vines danced around our happy gathering. I could have stayed all day accept for the fact that “Miss Princess prima donna Pearl” didn’t want to go pee in the bushes and had to go home to her civilized toilet.

But, this is just a good example of how it takes all different types to make the world go around.

Trim Healthy Mama embraces all types of Mamas and approaches to food. There are lots of purists like me but plenty of relaxed short cut queens like my sister Pearl. You don’t have to be a “Granola Mom” to be a THM and it is even more an enjoyable and entertaining journey knowing that we are not all cookie cutters of each other. But, sometimes Pearl can drive me a bit nuts when she decides to leave me at the creek alone just for the loo and the way she uses her dreaded microwave! (Hey Pearl… love you heaps, mate!)


However, I have some more news about my yesterday. I was in my room about to start my “Spew Session.” You know, the quick exercise routine I tell you about on page 558 of our book. I cinched up my vibram five finger shoes and checked for my proper form in our bedroom mirror as I began my set of jump squats for my “spew” session. In the upper corner of the mirror I noticed a reflection of the wall right next to me and a shadowy dark apparition that swung back and forth. The head of a huge snake… (did I mention HUGE) jutted back and forth, slithering down the pictures on my wall. Horror movie worthy!

An unconscious surge of adrenaline catapulted me into the air. I have never jumped higher in any of my spew sessions. If I was participating in the Olympic Games as a high jumper I may have brought home a gold medal and a world record jump.

Snakes are my creepy thing. I mean, I hate snakes! I would rather have seen a crocodile or huge guerrilla in my room than a slithering, slippery, SNAKE.

I screamed and shouted for all the children to run outside. I grabbed the baby, dashed outside and did a head count while dialing my husband’s number and sputtering about the snake.

My husband who was working an hour away told me to get my Dad quick (he lives close by), find the snake and kill it, or we would never sleep soundly again. Good news is that after much searching in my bedroom, the snake was found. It had slithered under my bed… Ahhh!

This summer in our county has been labeled as one of the worst in a long time for snakes. Our children love to run in and out to the trampoline and then in for a snack and then out to play with their puppy and then in again. I suppose with the door left open half the day it was a welcome mat for our snake.

My children who play outdoors so much (we make them wear big leather cowboy boots) and see snakes more than I do, were not as bothered by the whole fiasco. I am still checking behind every door and bed and even behind the toilet before I can relax enough to pee! But all this is just part of the fun of summer in the country and now that the snake is dead I can appreciate the funny side of it.

Love, Serene Allison


Serene does not know this…. but I came home from selling our organic produce at the best Farmer’s Market ever and took the children and cuzzies down to the creek.

Well folks, there swimming in the water over to the rocks where Serene had been was a Copperhead! Being more of a kiwi (New Zealander) than my sisters, I did a “kiwi snake-terror freak-out” and called them all out of the water. The snake went under some rock where most probably millions of them live there!

The children couldn’t care two hoots and went back in after I realized we were not all dead! Now… don’t tell Serene this either, BUT, I just heard from my neighbor down the holler that they released Timber Rattlers into the Natchez Trace–a stone’s throw or two from us!


Once my daughter went to the bathroom with a flashlight and came out saying there was something big and black in there. I went to look and there was this humongous snake doing the dance! Howard was away and I did not know what to do– shoot, stab, or scream! If I shot, I would shoot the plumbing out of the floor, screaming would freak the tiny children all night, and I could only quickly find a broom to hold the thing at bay.

I called Serene’s husband who grew up with snakes and he came a running. He stood there bewildered, as I was, with the huge thing continuing to do its dance.

We decided to stab it with a sword so we would not destroy the plumbing. I held it with the broom and Sam stabbed and stabbed, then I tried stab – stab! Finally, we pierced the thing and I went to sleep safely. But I always, ALWAYS check bathrooms for snakes ever since!

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce


About Suzanne Calulu
  • Nightshade

    How do I handle a stray snake?…first take a step or two back just because of the surprise, and not knowing exactly what kind of reptile I’m dealing with. Then once I’ve determined that it is, in fact, a snake, take a careful look and see if it might be venomous. If not, I might take a picture just for giggles ‘n grins, then finally if in my home find something to carry it outside, if already outside I just leave it alone, it’s not hurting anyone or anything, so why destroy it? It’s an animal, not a demon…oh wait, these people think it IS the devil incarnate, right?

  • Theo Darling

    A huge…guerrilla?

  • brbr2424

    They make their lives sound all rainbows and sunshine. That doesn’t square with article about the family from Mother Jones

  • stairway to heaven

    I love the quote from Mother Jones. One of the adopted children said, ”We went from Africa to Africa, “”

  • 12reasons2run

    First time commenter and long-time lurker. I had to comment on this because my mom absolutely loves the book. I can’t really comment on the content because my version of dieting includes calorie counting and a lot of veggies. Basically from what she’s told me the book is a version of carb cycling with a side dish of stevia, splenda, and a lot of slightly exotic flours. I am much too lazy to go to the bother of buying all that stuff and I”m also slightly skeptical of all that stuff. I’ll just run two miles if I want a cookie and eat one with real sugar, thank-you. Anyway, I did not realize that it was Nancy Campbell’s daughters, now I really have a reason to not buy the book and keep giving my mom a hard time.

  • NeaDods

    Is it usual for there to be so many snakes in houses? Or should I be reading a lot more into the idea of a kid who uses a flashlight to get to the bathroom?

  • The_L1985

    …what is a “five-finger shoe?” Is this one of those weird shoes with the separate sections for each toe?

  • The_L1985

    New Zealand is part of Australia, the continent where everything’s trying to kill you. Yes, there are snakes.

  • NeaDods

    We’ve got snakes in America too, but I don’t hear of so many just wandering into houses. That’s the part that made me go O.o.

  • elanoreirlys

    Yes indeed! Vibram FiveFingers are a barefoot shoe designed for barefoot runners and walkers. Each toe has its own little section for maximum foot-to-ground coverage, so that with lots of training, you can better your posture and your running/walking gait to a more natural, relaxed stance.

    …Ahem. Sorry, I work at a camping/outdoor adventure store! Couldn’t resist!

  • Lyn

    Well in my house it’s my job to dispatch any snakes, my husband dispatches spiders. The difference is the snakes are venomous the spiders aren’t.

  • The_L1985

    From what I hear, Aussies have more snakes per capita to worry about.

  • aim2misbehave

    I actually snorted when I read that, because the mental image… lol!

  • Laura

    Um. I’m from New Zealand. We are a separate country, about 3 hours flight from Australia, and have no snakes at all, even in zoos. I was 25 when I saw my first snake (in Japan). Honestly, as a Kiwi, I completely understood the reactions of these women – I get people actually familiar with snakes to help me too (not defending anything else though)

  • The_L1985

    I meant the continent of Australia, not the country of Australia. ;) I probably should have made that more clear, since the continent and the country have the same name but rather different borders.

  • Laura

    Not meaning to be rude, but I think you’re thinking of Australasia. New Zealand isn’t part of any continent, and is quite far from Australia. Our wildlife is completely different – there’s 4000 km of ocean between us.

  • Anita

    The country of Australia is the only thing on the continent of Australia. They have exactly the same borders. Check an atlas :-).

  • The_L1985

    The way I was taught, all landmasses were part of the 7 continents, including all of the islands. NZ and Tasmania were treated as part of the continent of Australia, just like Madagascar = Africa and Greenland = Europe. The various Pacific Islands (except those owned/part of countries in other continents, like Hawaii and Guam) were considered part of Asia.

    …Damn you, A Beka, you’ve screwed up my perceptions of geography, too.

  • The_L1985

    Ah. I could never get past the “it looks kinda funny” part. But then, to me, “barefoot” always meant you were in your home or yard, or on the beach. The idea of running in one’s bare feet on anything other than one’s own driveway is a foreign concept. :)

  • ssohara

    I have not read THM but I have a neighbor who is following it so I did some research… I am big into health eating and exercise, etc. My personal story – I had a type IV cancer 8 years ago, the doctors gave me 6 months, but I did a ton of research, my husband and I changed our lives, we prayed and had our church pray for us and here I am today. I give God the glory for healing me and also give my husband credit for the hard work he did preparing healthy meals for me and being incredibly supportive and nurturing, and to myself for doing a lot of research. I don’t think I could have done it without God, but I also know it was a partnership and my husband and I had to do our part.

    Anyway, I certainly don’t know everything and I make mistakes, but I do know a lot about healthy eating, and from what I’ve seen – THM includes a lot of the marks of a fad. They claim it’s not fad diet, but anything with that many rules… my neighbor lost a LOT of weight following the diet, but here’s the thing – her face AGED. She has wrinkles which I’d never seen before – and she’s only in her mid 30s! A woman that age should NOT have that kind of stress appearing in her face.

    The thing is, the program, from what I know about it, DOES help you lose weight, but I am thinking it’s at the expense of good health.
    The thing is – God made us and loves us, right? I mean Serene and Pearl should believe that, being Christians. My thought is – God didn’t create us all to be the same. Two people who are both perfectly healthy might have different body types. Not everyone might be designed to be slim.

    I remember back in grad school days, I lived in Colorado and I loved to hike. I use to hike 14′ers – 14,000 foot mountains – and I could hike for 8 hours a day and not be sore the next day. I loved being outdoors and I was in good shape. Yet, I was “fat”. I had plenty of muscle, but despite eating moderately, I was also about 30 pounds over my “ideal weight”. Yet I had tons of energy, felt mentally sharp, strong, had great stamina, etc. Yet, I had a roommate who was physically ideal – tall, slender, etc., yet she was always getting sick. I never got so much as a cold, she’d get one at least once a month. I took her hiking with me once, she barely made a half mile before needing to turn back

    That taught me something – if you view “skinny” as equivalent to healthy, which is what our society tends to do, you may be missing something important.

    Unfortunately I bought into the social pressure a few years later, gave up good habits and tried a variety of fad diets including Atkins in a vain attempt to lose weight. Well, I lost weight but I also started breaking out (whereas before I never had so much as a pimple), my hair was greasy, my energy levels were low, etc. And then I got cancer and that was an incredible wake up call.

    Now, I eat well, exercise wisely and am clear eyed, have soft, glowing skin, strong hair, energy, etc. AND, I’m twenty pounds “overweight”. But you know, I’ve learned to accept that. I’ve accepted that perhaps the weight God designed me to be is not the weight society thinks is best, but maybe God knows more than our media, society, etc.

    I think the huge problem I saw with THM was that it emphasized being trim instead of being healthy. So it advised using stuff with no nutritional value, like gluccomann. And weird food combining – you can’t eat carbs and fats at the same meal. Which makes it harder to function in society and cook healthy meals that are truly satisfying and based on whole, natural ingredients instead of crap like gluccomann.

    The thing is, THM also has some legitimate and good advice from what I’ve seen. But it mixes up the really good stuff with stuff that is probably harmful. For example, the diet encourages people not to eat starches. And of course, eating huge amounts of processed white breads, cakes, etc., is really bad for you. BUT… starches like potatoes, beans, oatmeal, etc., are nutritious in moderation. Plus, if you follow THM hard core and strictly restrict carbs you will end up stressing your adrenals. Short term you’ll get weight loss VERY FAST and you’ll think, Wow, this is great. But for man people, long term, you’ll kill your adrenals which will result in all sorts of long term health issues including perhaps weight gain. The thing is, not everyone is sensitive to this to the same degree so some people will only see the positive stuff, perhaps for years or forever. But YOU CAN’T KNOW AHEAD OF TIME!

    Do you want to play Russian roulette?
    Other things they tell people not to do – eat bananas, eat honey, etc. But, bananas can be great in moderation. And honey is BIBLICAL!!!!! Plus if you have allergies, you need a tablespoon or more of raw honey a day to do any good. Instead of natural GOD CREATED things like raw honey, they suggest you use a brand of liquid stevia that has xylitol in it – and xylitol is BAD for you! Plus, liquid of powdered stevia is a processed food (the leaves are an herb and fine.) So they tell you to eat a processed food instead of a natural, healthy food? Does that make sense?

    Looking at my friend, I can’t say to her “yes you’re slender now, but your face has aged 20 years” – that would just be cruel and I can’t do that. I HAVE tried to point her to research that contradicts what Serene and Pearl teach in their book… but she refuses to read it and I don’t want to be pushy. Each person has to make his or her own decisions.

    I would advise anyone who wants to be healthy, however, to do a few simple things. Go to local farmer’s markets. Shop around the edges of your supermarket. Eat more veggies. Have something raw every day – fruit, salad, fresh squeezed juice – whatever you find delicious. Enjoy starches like potatoes, yams, oatmeal, rice, etc., in moderation. Include healthy protein and fat with each meal. Eat less processed junk and more whole foods. Cook more, eat out less. Eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you’re not. And don’t stress if you occasionally have a pizza with friends – part of having a healthy lifestyle is not beating yourself up when you “cheat”.

    Also, find exercise you enjoy doing and do it instead of stressing about what exercise is the best. The exercise you love is the best, because it is the one you will do. If that means you go on long slow walks through the park with your honey or friends – great! If that means you do triathalons, or play Frisbee with the dog, or dance around the house or play paintball with your kids – it’s all good. Just make sure it’s something you enjoy enough so you’ll do it consistently and regularly – at least 3 times a week.
    Aside from that – get enough sleep, drink 8 glasses of water, remove the sources of stress from your life if you can. If you find yourself eating in response to stress, etc., then you may have some emotional eating going on. Instead of beating yourself up for not having enough discipline, you need to figure out the root cause and heal. Sometimes prayer and self examination can find the solutions, but you may need to involve professional help. If so – pay for it. You are worth it.

  • Lolly

    Thanks so much for writing this, it’s so interesting, and your advice is excellent, you do not have to go into contortions with pairing food in order to lose weight, and the getting a good night’s sleep part. People snort at sleep as a waste of time, but sleeping well is extremely important as sleep apnea, things like that, can contribute to weight gain.

    I always have to chime in with my 2 cents, welcome or not, whenever healthy eating and feeling good is discussed and mention Braggs all natural Apple Cider Vinegar, as a useful dietary addition that helps with so many health issues, sleeping, weight loss, I’m finally about to get my DH to try it for his cholesterol. He spent the summer eating twigs and berries and the needle didn’t budge but he lost 15 pounds. I started taking ACV for eczema, and I was miserable with a capital M, and ACV is the only thing that keeps it under control. Anyhoo, I always hope to help out someone else the way I was helped, and a Google for Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits will list all the ways it’s good for you.