Preparing To Be A Help Meet: The Prophet Part 4a

Preparing To Be A Help Meet: The Prophet Part 4a July 7, 2014

by Mel cross posted from her blog When Cows and Kids Collide

In this chapter, we get a series of stories and anecdotes about what living with a Prophet/Visionary Man is like.  I am certain 90% of these stories come from Debi’s actual life with Mike Pearl…and that’s depressing.

I’m just going to go sequentially from the beginning of the chapter where Debi has spoken about how an unbalanced Prophet/Visionary Man can get the whole family upset over issues.

“You will hear them going on and on about issues like whether or not we should celebrate Christmas.  Should we accept a license from the state?  Should a Christian opt out of the Social Security system?  Why go to a doctor? No birth control!”

Many opinionated people go through a phase like that.  I remember when I was a new teacher going out to a local watering hole after work with friends and having wonderfully heated arguments about minor life issues.

I still enjoy having conversations like that.

The important bit, though, is that you need to be able to turn off the academic, pedantic arguing side of yourself when it comes to real-life decisions like getting medical care or opting out of Social Security.   When the stakes are high, rhetoric needs to stop.

“If you marry one of these wild-headed fellows, expect to be rich or poor, rarely middle class.”

Another moment of truth from Debi.  Keep that in mind that if you follow her advice, you will be poor.

“He may invest everything in a chance and lose it all, or make a fortune.  He will not do well working 8:00 to 5:00  in the same place for thirty years, then retiring to live the good life.  If he works a regular job, he may either not show up half the time or he will work like a maniac 80 hours a week and love every minute.”

Reality check:

  1. If your spouse is wiling to risk EVERYTHING, be sure YOU are comfortable risking everything.  In Debi’s world, the wife is going to have to pick up the slack – and since women have no real marketable skills in CP/QF, that means you better enjoy grinding poverty that never lets up.
  2. If you work at a “regular” job and only show up half the time, you will not have that job for long.
  3. Question deeply why someone cannot hold a job or is a repeated, epic failure at entrepreneurship.  I dated a man who kept losing jobs – even jobs that “no one had ever gotten fired from before” in the pointed words of a mutual friend.  After a brutal break-up, I realized that I had been deeply in denial about how severe his depression was and was ignoring the fact he was an alcoholic.   That relationship hurt me and I needed to spend a lot of time working on looking for red-flags.  Thank God I didn’t marry him.
  4. Work-life balance is important.  Be sure you understand what an 80-hour work week looks like – and that you can handle being alone much of the time.

Now we get a real-life story that I am sure comes from Debi’s life:

“He may purchase an alligator farm in Florida or a ski resort in Colorado, or he may buy an old house trailer for $150 with hopes of fixing it up and selling it for $10,000, only to find that it is so deteriorated that it can’t be moved.  He will then have his wife and all the kids help him tear off the top and carry the scraps to the dump, saving the appliances in the already crowded garage, so he can make a farm trailer out of the axles.”

*Laughs and laughs and laughs*


If your husband comes home with a plan that nets 6500% profit in real-estate, be sure you have the property appraised before you buy.  Be sure that you can move the house safely before you fork the money over.

Good idea on keeping the appliances – if they work. You might recoup the $150 that way.   I’d have asked if the local fire department wanted to burn the trailer as a practice drill before tearing it apart – you’d save the money on the gasoline used to haul the scraps and the time of ripping it apart.

How exactly is he going to make a farm trailer out of the axles?  My husband and I agree that it is theoretically possible, but you’d need welding equipment and welding skills plus sheet metal.

“Now that he has a farm trailer and no animals, expect him to get a deal on three, old, sick cows and …. he may never be rich in money, but he will be rich in experience.”

*Thumps head against desk repeatedly*

I live on a dairy farm.  Take a wild guess what is the least important piece of equipment on a small farm.  If you guessed “farm trailer”, congratulations!  You are smarter than Mike Pearl!

Interesting fact: “Old, sick cows” don’t live long enough to be sold – even to your gullible neighbor.   Once a cow is “old” (which is usually after her 3rd lactation or 6 years of age), an illness will kill the cow in really short order.  The older cows just don’t have that much metabolic reserve left.

So how did the Pearls end up with three “old, sick cows”?  I have a theory.  Their oldest daughter, Rebekah, recounts:

When my family first moved near the Amish community in TN, I was 14 years old. The first winter we had cabbage, wheat, raw milk, and canned cat food or poor quality tuna (the cans were missing labels when we bought them and we couldn’t tell for sure if it was cat food or tuna.) 

Imagine you are the neighbor of this new family.  A family of 7 move in nearby and are clearly in bad financial straits.  They’ve got nothing and the kids are looking too skinny already.   The husband is a jerk, but the wife seems reasonably intelligent and you remember what it was like being a hungry child.  You have a good size dairy herd and had a few low producing cows that you were planning to sell out of the herd once their milk production dropped anyways.  (A low-producing cow can still easily produce plenty of milk for family use for really long periods of time.) The wife could probably figure out how to sell some of the extra milk or make cheese or something.  The family could graze the cows on their land during the warm months and you can find something for the kids to do on your farm to ‘earn’ enough to cover forage during the cold months.  All you need to do now is figure out a way to get the family the cows without hurting their pride because pride might be the only thing they have left right now.  You offer the jerk of a husband a deal on your ‘old, sick cows” and drop off food when you can.

Why didn’t the neighbors call CPS?  I don’t know.  If they were Amish, they may not have known about CPS.  Even the “English” neighbors may not have known that not having food for your children is neglect…I don’t know.  I wish they had called CPS.  But I am glad that the Pearl kids got that milk.


A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.

Richard Whately


 Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | 

Part 7 |  Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

Read everything by Mel!

Mel is a science teacher who works with at-risk teens and lives on a dairy farm with her husband. She blogs at When Cows and Kids Collide

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  • Nea

    In Debi’s world, the wife is going to have to pick up the slack – and
    since women have no real marketable skills in CP/QF, that means you
    better enjoy grinding poverty that never lets up.

    I’m glad you mention the infamous animal food incident in Debi’s life. I think it’s also worthwhile to point out that one of their “successful” children in her “successful” marriage is living without benefit of marriage license, electricity, running water, or a husband who’s willing to work, as God has called him to read the Bible 24/7, leaving her to support their growing family on whatever she can make peddling herbs over the Internet.

    Also, note that Michael both brags about how many copies of his books he’s sold but at the same time does not have the money to get Debi necessary neck surgery.

    When you look at it objectively, the Pearl family “success” includes not just unending grinding poverty, but lack of medical care, lack of food… oh, and being cited as a primary cause in three child abuse deaths. Thanks, I’ll pass on that kind of success!

  • Joy

    I’d heard mention that the Pearls ate pet food at one point, but this is the first I’ve really heard the story. Wow. I’m glad they at least had that, but a REAL provider would provide something other than pet food for his family! If the husband is to serve and love his family the way Christ loved the church, well, I can’t imagine Christ serving the church pet food!

    (To be clear, I think two partners should work together to provide the necessities for their kids, I don’t think it rests all on the husband.)

  • Saraquill

    Debi Pearl continues to make a compelling case for singlehood.

  • Anonyme

    Cat food is disgusting.
    What? Stop giving me funny looks 😉

  • Trollface McGee

    Yeesh, yes – I wouldn’t feed that to my cat(nor would he eat it). One time I bought “tuna for cats” which I thought was good because it had vitamins, it was so gross that both the cat and I gave it our utmost yuck-face.

  • ILoveJellybeans

    In real life this is not called being a command man.
    I think anyone who consistently makes such dumb, irresponsible decisions and fails to maintain an adult life and all of the responsibilities that entails probably has some sort of mental illness.

  • teaisbetterthanthis


  • teaisbetterthanthis

    It amazes me that Mikey and Debi are such terrible people and others think they’re good examples of Christian marriage and parenting.

  • Astrin Ymris

    I’ve NEVER had a cat who’d eat canned cat food. Mice, squirrels, and the occasional bird, but not canned cat food. They ate Purina Cat Chow, or Meow Mix.

    I feel funny realizing that my not-particularly-well-off family fed our CATS better than Michael and Debi fed their children.

  • B.E. Miller

    Or becoming a lesbian! Because if this is what ‘all men’ are like, we’re better off without them.

    (I’m just joking. I know not all men are like Michael Pearl.)

    And now I’m thinking of that episode where Mrs Miggins tells Blackadder that she’s been wanting to start a family with him (the slither of tiny adders) and Blackadder replies that if it was a choice between her and Baldrick, he would be trying to start a family with Baldrick.

  • B.E. Miller


  • B.E. Miller

    I keep wondering if Michael is an untreated bi-polar. (Not that I’m any sort of expert.) But he admits to having depression in his teens, Debi thinks that all men fly into rages, then she mentions these sort of things.

    My cousin is married to an unmedicated bi-polar man, and he can spend the entire family savings/paycheck on something like ridiculous, and later he’s regretful. When you ask him why he did it, he’ll say that it seemed like a good idea at the time. Both my aunts have seen him have ragefits. My cousin’s mom actually smacked him once, because she felt he was being disrespectful to her daughter.

    He doesn’t take meds because the ones the doctor gave him made him feel funny. My sis and I urged him to go back and bug the doctor for something else or try another doctor. He was in the military (they diagnosed him) but was kicked out (honorable discharge) due to the bi-polar diagnosis. Which my family could understand, but he’s still sore over it.

    A co-worker has a nephew who was diagnosed as bi-polar at 3 years of age. She said that the doc said impulsiveness is a big problem with bi-polar, they’ll do things without thinking about it.

  • Nea

    Considering that Michael’s philosophy denies the existence of such things, it wouldn’t be surprising if he had one or more untreated mental illnesses.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Depends on whether the person has been diagnosed as bipolar I, or II. The first has had a full blown manic episode and at least one depressive episode; the second has had at least one depressive episode, and hypo-manic episodes with the regularly occurring depressive periods often why the condition is mistaken for major depression because hypomania may or may not be quite as noticeable to other people but the person experiencing them tends to enjoy when they occur.

    There are many jobs which someone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, even when taking medication, is unlikely to be hired for and will be let go from if they get the diagnosis while employed; 911 dispatchers, preschool and k-12 teachers, military, etc. Basically anything that requires a person to deal with high stress or children, and being able to quickly respond appropriately in high-stakes situations. All meds will make someone with mental illness “feel funny”, and many with bipolar stop taking them not because they “feel better so they’re cured” necessarily, but because they miss the intensity of feeling and many meds in sizable dosages (which is often the case) leaves them feeling like zombies or numb. Personally, meds give me the ability to “self-censor” so that I’m not saying the first thing that comes to mind or so high intensity it freaks people out, rationally handle situations, evaluate options carefully before making decisions, and not get so deeply depressed that for weeks at a time I more or less cannot get out of bed but at the same time can’t identify a reason for being depressed. It doesn’t completely eliminate the mood shifts being on meds, but meds make it possible to handle things during the shifts in the appropriate way.

    The symptoms that may present in child/teen bipolar disorder and used when giving the diagnosis are different than the symptoms for adults. However, I know many adults with other issues and no bipolar who have poor impulse control, cannot manage finances or control their spending, and fly into rages. But it ticks me off when I’ve read in various places on the web where they tell people with mental illness that it’s demons, or they can pray their illness away. And I can’t help but think of how people within the groups who believe those things are true and tell them they don’t need medication must suffer and unnecessarily so!

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    My cat likes it, the vet says it’s because wet food is very very stinky, and he recommends it when a cat is sick to give them the extra moisture and it’s easier for their body to digest and get the most nutrients out of it.

  • ILoveJellybeans

    I would be very surprised if he doesn’t have something. The way he talks about people and animals who he sees as lesser are disturbing, and shows a lack of empathy.

  • quietglow

    This part in particular:

    “If he works a regular job, he may either not show up half the time
    or he will work like a maniac 80 hours a week and love every minute.”

    That’s a nearly stereotypical picture of bipolar disorder. I’m not an expert either. But if someone told me that one about their loved one I’d wonder about bipolar or drug abuse.

  • gimpi1

    My husband’s ex-wife is diagnosed bipolar. She also quit taking her meds because they made her feel “funny.” She also “got” religion, in her case, Mormonism, and is waiting for God to heal her. An unpleasant situation all-around.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    To put it plainly, I know I wouldn’t have finished my bachelors much less finish law school and pass the bar exam without medication. I was still in the process of working with a doctor to find the right meds, had barely begun doing that, when I enrolled in a POST dispatcher certification program only to find out that if I chose to complete it there was next to no chance of getting a job in the field. It devastated me, and my parents’ (like all parents who find out that they have a child with a mental illness, impairment, or other life-long condition) had their own road to travel. I was diagnosed in 1999, more or less complied with taking the meds that the first doctor spun the wheel and prescribed the ones it stopped at for me – when I changed to another doctor who I went to for 10 years until her health forced her to retire, that’s when things really changed. I credit her for getting me on the right meds, the way she was towards her patients was one of the reasons I stuck with them and to this day the only time I’ve not taken my meds is because there was an insurance problem that had to be straightened out by the pharmacy. I know they’re not a total cure, though I’ve had to explain that to my mom a couple of times. They just make it easier to get through things, including the mood swings, which don’t last as long as they once did. That’s the healing part that my parents and I prayed for – and my relationship with my parents has improved beyond all my expectations; their road led them to a place of acceptance and understanding after seeing I’d been able to get there first. I very much doubt things would be as positive as they are today if praying was the only prescription I’d gotten.

  • gimpi1

    I can relate, Concepcion. I don’t take any psychiatric meds, but I do take meds to control rheumatoid arthritis. The meds are a control-tool to manage the condition, very much like the meds that help manage bipolar disorder. Without them, I’d be confined to a wheelchair by now. I’ve also had to explain to people that I’m not “cured” and that there is no “cure” for this disease, only meds that tamp it down, slow or stop the joint-damage it causes, and allow me to function OK. I still get flares. I still battle with fatigue and pain. I still have damage. In that way, I think it’s similar to bipolar. Both conditions are treatable but not curable, and both are misunderstood.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    It’s been difficult trying to explain to other people I know who have bipolar disorder why I choose to be consistent with taking my medication, and haven’t had periods of time where I stopped taking them. They have the condition and yet, the idea of my wanting to give myself the best chance possible for living a ‘normal’ life of an independent adult is viewed as a bad thing, and they prefer the times when they’re manic or hypomanic. In my experience, the hypomanic periods were happening less often and for shorter durations as time went on, while the depression sucked me down deeper while lasting for what seemed like an endless span of time. To me, their preference for those random and varying durations where they were hyper-productive, energetic, and excited about everything even if what they were excited about kind of annoyed or freaked out others around them, never knowing when they would be hospitalized next not *if*, that was what I didn’t “get”. I was lucky that my one experience being hospitalized was for less than 72 hours because they couldn’t keep me till the next time the doctor would be there since it would have passed the 72 hour point. As a note, if someone has been admitted to the psych ward, they should NOT refuse to eat and they should not refuse to get out of bed and go to the day room if they don’t want to be stuck there against their wishes until they stop that behavior. I know a few people who have actually been involuntarily, and plenty others who have made regular 2-4 week hospital stays a habit. The former are facing challenges with finding medication that will be effective due to the constant on and off patterns leading to fewer options and it’s usually the older medications that newer psycho-pharmacological therapies have replaced which these people are left with taking. Lithium used to be the go-to, now it’s mostly used in difficult to treat patients or by “old school” doctors. The ones who routinely end up spending a couple of weeks in the hospital often wind up there because they need a place to stay, struggle with keeping employment, and their family relationships if they exist are strained at best. Why would I want to trade my life which involves sticking with medication for the kind of life I see people who don’t take any or take it inconsistently with long stretches without them??

    The other people I end up explaining a lot with are those who are family/friends of someone with bipolar or don’t know anyone with the illness at all but think they’re qualified to tell me what people with bipolar are like. I can be patient to a point with the first group, but I refuse to be with the 2nd. Even family and friends can never know what it’s like for *me* and others with the condition. And no amount of explaining can convey the experience fully.

  • gimpi1

    My husband’s ex complained about not having the “highs” and cited that as one reason for refusing to take her meds, along with her, “If God wanted me different, that’s how I’d be,” rationalization. I don’t think she really accepted that the “lows” would always come back. She seemed to regard being “up” as what it should be like all the time. Unfortunately, her “up” times led her to make some pretty profound mistakes, both financially and personally. She would never accept that in her “up” cycle, her judgement was suspect.

    I’m glad you’ve found your meds helpful. Good luck.

  • Astrin Ymris

    Have you talked with your doctor about trying some dietary changes to see if they reduce your symptoms even further? My sister says gluten makes her ADD symptoms worse, even on top of her meds, so she avoids it.

    NOTE: I’m not saying go off your meds! Just see if maybe there’s something low risk you can do to help damp out the remaining mood swings.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You have to be proactive about your health and meds. My multiple chemical sensitivities, allergies, severe asthma and new diagnosis vocal cord movement syndrome, have meant I’ve had to stay on top of the drugs and supplements I take, especially the bad reactions. Over three months ago I started trying to wean off 7 years of taking Lexapro for my IBS without it helping the IBS and I had the roughest time. I started to think I was losing my mind and having hard physical symptoms like you’d expect a heroin addict to have upon withdrawal. I’m still dealing with some slight symptoms even with using other meds to help deal with getting off. Getting help and knowing you must stay on meds for the rest of your life to control a health condition is wise in my opinion. I know I’ll be using my nebulizer and asthma meds and a boatload of freaking benadryl for the rest of my days and I’m okay with that because instead of being a complete shut in these things allows me to function enough to do the things I must do.

  • Nightshade

    ‘I choose to be consistent with taking my medication, and haven’t had periods of time where I stopped taking them.’ Smart thinking IMO. The experience of another person, even one with similar problems, may not be helpful for your situation, and just because someone else goes off their meds and is OK doesn’t mean that’s what you should do.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    Most doctors won’t come out and admit it but do when asked, to tell a patient that no matter what medication they take, it won’t completely eliminate mood swings and nor will diet, talk therapy, and prayer. I have essentially gotten things to where they impact my life in problematic ways as little as I can expect to reasonably achieve.

    I limit interaction with certain relatives who are too easily offended by my bluntness and occasional swearing. When I do spend time around them, my meds keep me from acting on the wish I could shove them out of a window. Sometimes, family would ask in the early days after my diagnosis, if I’d taken my meds. At that point I was still sorting out what worked and what didn’t, so it was just about all I could do to refrain from launching into a loud rant about not being a child, but an adult going through an already difficult process and that kind of question WASN’T HELPING. etc…meds that are at the optimal balance in symptom treatment merely allow more control over behaviors, more rational thinking.

  • ConcepcionImmaculadaPantalones

    I’m the kind of person who enjoys research and learning new things or more about things that I’ve learned a bit about already. My reaction to being diagnosed with bipolar was to go out to find and then read everything there was about the disorder. It ranged from the medical/scientific study aspect to personal stories such as the books by Dr. Kay Redfield Jameson (who is bipolar herself). I try to stay updated on new discoveries relevant to bipolar and its treatment – I’m stuck with it the rest of my life, I can at least take an active role in my treatment instead of expecting other people will tell me if anything I need to know comes along. If I want to be treated like an adult I have to handle my responsibilities like one. During times when I’m..less than rational and reasonable…I can still remind myself that sticking with meds is the only option, and if I feel that they’re not working optimally then I need to talk with my doctor, not stop taking them.