Summary provided by: Gardenvarietycitizen
- Extreme sheltering, very limited secular activities
- Family does everything together 24/7
- Scheduling every minute of every day, fun is a waste of time
- Health and exercise obsessed, but not into any specific diet woo
They tour the country in a bus named "Uriah" proselytizing for their scheduling and sheltering lifestyle and selling books they wrote about those same things.
Who they are:
Parents: Steve, Teri
Kids: Nathan, Christopher, Sarah (original kids)
Joseph, John, Anna, Jesse, Mary ("reversal kids")
Steve and Teri met in college (yes, college!).
Steve and Teri had three kids, the youngest a girl named Sarah. Teri had depression. The kids played Little League, Sarah wore pants on occasion, they had friends, back in the mid 80's.
Steve decided he needs to shelter the family more. TV is thrown out, kids quit Little League.
Steve became convicted that he was wrong in limiting their family size by having a vasectomy. So he had it reversed, and they went on to have five more kids, for a total of eight. (Kids born after the vasectomy reversal are often referred to on FJ as the "reversal kids.")
Things steadily get more and more sheltered and we arrive at the present day.
The youngest, Mary, is now 16. She is the only one still homeschooling. Sarah is now 31, and still not courting.
Maxwells, The Next Generation:
The two oldest kids (both sons) are married.
Nathan & Melanie have four kids: Susannah (born very ill, lived only a few days), Abigail, Bethany, Christina
Melanie's family is somewhat local. Her father is a chiropractor.
Christopher and Anna ("non-reversal Anna", "Anna-Marie") have one son, Joshua.
(Note: When Anna showed up, she was called "Anna-Marie" on the blog so as not to be confused with the Maxwell daughter Anna. Some also call her "non-reversal Anna" because of course the Maxwell daughter is one of the "reversal kids.")
Anna's family is from rural Washington. They have a goat farm and make soap.
Joshua and Christina are baby cousins born only a month apart, this year.
Joseph was engaged to be married to Elizabeth Munck in the summer of 2012, but she called it off.
Where they are:
Leavenworth, KS. They previously lived in Washington state when the older kids were little.
The main family, Nathan family, Christopher family, and Teri's parents' family (mother "Gigi") all live right on the same block in various houses.
Joseph owns a house 0.7 miles away (so far!!! so far!!!) from the main family compound, but because his planned marriage didn't happen and it just won't do for a single guy to live in a house by himself (even if he spent all kinds of time remodelling it) it sits empty while he stays living at home and sleeping in a bunk bed in the room he shares with his brothers.
More backstory: Steve served in the Air Force, has a pilot license (which he doesn't currently use), went into engineering, worked in the corporate world, moved back to KS (in corporate jobs) to be near family, eventually was "convicted" to quit his job in 1997 to come home full time to just do ministry stuff - the ministry of touring and selling books.
Interesting mystery: Before quitting his job, he posted that the company was asking him to do something that he personally felt that not only could HE not do, he didn't feel it okay to ask anyone to do it. FJ wonders just what that was? He has posted he was uncomfortable working and having a business lunch with women employees of his company, around that time frame (in the Corners).
What they do:
They have a bunch of businesses all run under the umbrella of "Communication Concepts Inc" also known as "Families for Jesus". If you surf around those websites you can find links to all their stuff, much of which is on dead websites.
So, what do they actually do?
Advice column on their blog.
This is the "Dad's Corner" and "Mom's Corner" series. You can find recent posts on their blog, for older stuff you need the Wayback Machine. The best way to understand all things Maxwell is to read the corners.
Books about how to live a Maxwellian Christian life, with focus on scheduling every minute of every day, Dad leading bible study, sheltering your kids.
The main point of the books is they give Christian scriptural references for everything they recommend, so it's about giving the reader reassurance that living this lifestyle is what God wants you to do.
Moody books for kids - written by Sarah, these are a book series about a family based on the Maxwell family that lives a Maxwellian lifestyle. The goal is to have books that the Maxwell kids would be allowed to read, so they only have TRUTH in them and no bad behavior (see further down.)
Scheduling how-to and kits:
MOTH ("Managers of Their Homes")
[*] Bus tours to give conferences about the content in the above stuff,
and bluegrass concerts.
They tour in a converted band tour bus, which they named "Uriah." Uriah is very nice inside, has a kitchen, bathroom with shower, bunks, bedroom for the parents. (I would love to travel in a bus like that.) They did all the work, and it's very nice.
They sing with very nasal voices. This gets snarked as "Trust Eeen Obey."
[*] IT consulting.
IT On Ramp, the logo is hard to read so it gets teased as "one ton ramp."
It's online classes to get your A+ certification. Hard to tell how well it's doing. Got snarked because it's "Jesus centered" (they won't make you confront any heathen ideas like evolution) and they will only let women advise women and men advise men.
regular IT consulting for businesses
Hard to tell what's going on, they allude to it in posts but no real web presence. Probably Nathan's "regular job."
They have a dead website for "Maxwell and Sons Construction" so it's hard to tell what that is doing, but when they post about fixing up their own property, they do quite nice work. They could probably easily get jobs rehabbing houses.
- Books about how to live a Maxwellian Christian life, with focus on scheduling every minute of every day, Dad leading bible study, sheltering your kids.
Their big thing is "where will you go when you die?" and Ray Comfort's "Good Person Test." They hand out tracts with this message, they ask it of everyone they meet. Accept Jesus, go to heaven. Live correctly. Are you sure?
Famously, during Christopher's wedding to Anna (which was streamed online and spawned a huge thread on Yuku) Steve gave a long sermon on DEATH. Because where will you go when you die?
They hold church in a nursing home, Steve is the pastor. They make frequent references to "the elderly" which get snarked here.
- Lots of bible reading. They wake up to read the Bible individually while all sitting together at 6AM or so every morning, and then have family bible time actually led by Steve with everyone on the same page every night.
Christmas? Yes, but without a tree. They have plain evergreen garlands and a nativity, they go caroling (and hand out tracts, of course).
Easter? "Resurrection Sunday," and no bunny stuff. Steve has a brother into "bunny stuff" (they had an Easter egg hunt!!!) and that was given as example of relatives they should shun for having "different goals."
- Halloween? Hell no.
Beliefs that make them interesting:
SHELTERING.The main theme of the Maxwells is sheltering. One of their best selling books "Keeping Our Children's Hearts" is all about this.
Main themes are:
- kids are never alone, family does absolutely everything together 24/7.
- kids do not have (or need) friends, they are isolated even from other extended family members if Steve doesn't think the family is like-minded enough.
- don't blacklist individual activities. Instead, ban everything, and then only WHITELIST specific activities that will actively help kids achieve their "goals" (in their case, worshiping Jesus 24/7)
- "appetites" are dangerous!!! If you let a kid get an "appetite" for something that doesn't help them toward their goals, they will run with that appetite and waste time and generally fall down. Don't give your kid an "appetite" for sports lest he end up watching football on the tube (er, "The Beast") 24/7 and neglecting his family. Etc.
forbid all secular influence.
- Anything read (or watched) must be TRUE. Misbehaving characters are not permitted even if they are portrayed as wrong and get a comeuppance. Portrayals of non-Christian religion are not allowed. Result: No reading except the Bible, Moody books (Little House on the Prairie is right out), and various Christian biographies.
- Secular music lyrics just waste space in the brain. Result: they white out the lyrics to "row row row your boat" and similar in the kids' music books.
- No news. The entire FAMILY does not take a paper, does not watch TV (which they refer to as "The Beast"), does not listen to the radio, because they don't want the kids hearing about the terrible things that go on in the world.
Everyone should be on a schedule 24/7, including babies. Time is blocked out in 30 minute increments. Selling scheduling is one of the main business ventures for the family.
Kids should be doing chores early, their play should be mimicking chores. The thing is to learn to enjoy working, all the time.
NO FUN. Fun is a waste of time. You should find enjoyment in working and serving the Lord. Period.
They homeschool, with textbooks. This was controversial among some religious homeschoolers (who lean more toward Charlotte Mason) and so Teri wrote a book giving the message that it's okay to do that, that's "Managers Of Their Schools."
Because they don't do higher math and they don't read literature, they don't need much time for school. Some critics of their homeschooling schedule have pointed this out, it works for the Maxwells partly because they just have less material to cover than most families do.
No college for anyone. Period. Boys will get jobs that allow them to support a family on one income without debt not needing college (they put out a book on this) and girls will get married. (Well, ideally. So far Sarah is still single at 31.)
They are big into exercise. Push-up challenges, doing lunges in the parking lot next to the bus on trips, taking long walks (in the very early morning, in long skirts) to stay fit.
They are somewhat into health food, but nothing crazy, they're not into any specific dietary weirdness.
They do seem to eat very little and portion control. There was a post about having two animal crackers on a birthday which lives on in snark here.
The Maxwells used to be Frumper Ground Zero. The family all wore homemade matching jumpers (in the American sense) with no waist and ankle length hems.
Currently they wear "regular" skirts and shirts. Hems must be ankle length, but they are okay with short sleeves. They do the "t shirt under a regular shirt" thing often. The skirts are homemade, they buy the shirts and sweaters.
They exercise in skirts. They hike in skirts. They go kayaking in skirts.
The men of course wear business casual - khakis and polos.
They have written about being against swimming (because in their area it's necessarily "mixed swimming") but haven't posted anything about strange bathing suits or bathing in business casual (for THAT, you need to check out the BuckHales - don't mean to derail here but you really do!!)
They have a big thing about each (male) child buying a house in cash debt-free to live in after marriage.
Recently Joseph bought a house (0.7 miles away from Steve, which might as well be on Mars) and rehabbed it (wonderfully, I'll say!), but when his marriage was called off, he did not move into it. Presumably until he marries, he will continue to share a room with his brothers and sleep on his bunk bed.
Teri likes Pepsi. She wrote a long post about her addiction to Pepsi in such a way that you would be certain that Pepsi was a stand-in for some hard drugs or at least alcohol, but nope, it was just Pepsi.
[*]BLATANT EDITING OF COMMENTS.
The Maxwells have run various forums about their products over the years (MOTH boards) and currently accept comments on their blog.
They have three controversial policies:
no identifying information
Last names are removed, so you'll see lots of "the L family" and "Mrs. P" commenting, or just "Julia" and the like. They do not want commenters identifying each other or able to contact each other offline.
no off topic talk
This was mostly about the MOTH boards, but any non-on-topic content would be removed (from individual posts, see below). This included any content remotely critical of Maxwell products, as well as any mention of "I love it but I also use this other thing in parallel" type comments. Also any mention of "my other contact is..." (see above).
editing of comments
They (lately 100% Steve) will edit the content of submitted comments to remove offending material, and leave the signatures on! So "you" end up posting something with your name on it but the thrust of your message is all changed.
If he wants to reply, he doesn't make a new comment to his own blog, either - he just edits YOUR comment to add his response in it.
The Maxwell blog has photos of the family doing various things (cooking! fixing the bus! dusting the ceiling fans!) daily. The interesting thing about all this though is that Every. Single. Picture. Is. Posed. That's right, no candids here.
They go to Costco (often!) and take pictures of themselves, POSED and smiling, putting food in the cart, looking at the eggs, goodness even knows what, boring minutiae of life, but POSED!! and HAPPY!!
In fact it's an interesting web scavenger hunt to search for photos of the family that were NOT taken by them. Occasionally attendees at their conferences take pics, and it's interesting to see how different they look when they are not obviously posing.
Incidentally, often the boy and girl children pair up, and when a niece is also there, if you didn't know who was in the picture you'd think it was a normal young married couple with a kid. But no, it's just brother and sister, yet again, posing in the family compound expansive kitchen.
Ties to other families:
They knew the Buckingham half of the family when they were stationed at Ft. Leavenworth (before they moved to AK).
They travelled to meet the Duggars for one of the kids' graduations. The Duggars are MOTH customers, you can see the chart on the wall in their TV show.
Joseph was engaged to the oldest daughter, Elizabeth, before she called it off this past summer.
Rebecca is a frequent commenter and Maxwell fan. She lives and blogs with her family near St. Louis, using plenty of exclamation marks because she actually has FUN and enjoys life. She seems like a nice enough sincere girl, and usually people discuss how she can do SO much better than the Maxwells. Don't fall in the trap, Rebecca!!
The main website is titus2.com . From there go to "Articles" to read the Mom and Dad's Corners, but be aware that to find the full archive you will need the Internet Wayback Machine. Teh Internets Never Forgets!
On 7/8/2020 at 9:05 PM, Angelface said:
Chelsy looks tired in the photos which is very much a new mum with a new baby look. I wonder how much help she is getting.
Who can help her? Anna and Mary are full time dedicated at Chris' kids, and also babysit Nathan's ones. Sarah and Teri do not help. I think Elissa and Chelsy are on their own way. Apart from that, Chelsy explained how her mom had many children in a few years, which wasn't a big deal because her hard schedule and training. Axton may be too scared to be naughty and Elliot will be trained soon.
Smells like a baby boy is coming (and they already know it's a boy). BUT it's also easier to keep the 3 girls in a room: Allie will put the others in their pyjamas, dress in the morning, take them to the toilet at night if needed...
Alysa and John have graduated, don't they? It's like they are done with parenting and they are clearly focused in themselves. If at least "themselves" meant something interesting... but it's just fast food, make up and no-children time.
It's kind of funny, but it looks like Elliot has some baby acne going and they've photoshopped it away in some of the pics (not all, like that black and white pic towards the end). I'd roll my eyes at it, but then I remember how bothered I was by my eldest son's very bad baby acne when he was born. Marred all his pics, but he was a cutie.Edited by anjulibai
7 minutes ago, daisyjane1234 said:
While there's a great deal of Maxewll life and theology I find toxic, what they're doing with Chris' family is lovely.
Yes, the schedule is needlessly convoluted, and yes, the division of labour is blatantly sexist - but what did you expect.
Living through a very serious, ongoing health crisis is traumatic. Been there. Done that. Family roles and responsibilities get completely disrupted. Anything that keeps those kids in a stable, familiar routine (even a convoluted one) is a good thing - particularly since this is a family where mental health (depression) is a concern, and often poorly addressed.
Like most here I juggled kids, and responsibilities, and jobs, even when I had a kid in the ICU. But, I also know that the juggling act came with a serious cost, and at times it wasn't pretty. I would have been wildly grateful to have people in my family and/or community to step in and offer even a fraction of the support the Maxwell women provide. While I am only speculating, perhaps the overabundance of support allows Chris to engage in self care (exercise, sleep, chat with his male friends-aka brothers), talk to his wife, spend time with one or two kids individually, whatever - these are all good things and something most people in a health crisis don't get to do. If A and M's support allows Chris the emotional reserves to be available to his wife and kids in a meaningful, vs frazzled, way then I think it's a good thing for this family. Families in crisis, particularly a crisis that could go on for a while, need real, sustained, and practical support, and the Chris Maxwell family is getting it.
There is tons to snark about with respect to Maxwellian theology and life. But I have always admired how they support family in a practical and meaningful way. And I would argue that the time a family is living through a serious health crisis is probably a time to cut them some slack.
While I agree with your thoughts here, I also feel the need to temper/balance it by considering who we are talking about. I don’t find the Maxwells approach to life altogether functional or healthy. I could easily see Teri becoming resentful and overwhelmed and taking it out on the kids. So, while I agree it’s nice to have help, the kind of help given is very important. FWIW, this is a situation that many older folks, myself included, would find overwhelming. 5 young kids and an extra household is a lot for 70 YOs (or near) to manage. I truly hope Chris is doing his share.
No daily devos since the 8th but there is this sweet Pro Ana message on FB:Spoiler
Self-denial feels amazing! The victory from overcoming is priceless. Today, worry more about missing an opportunity to deny yourself than you do about getting to the food. See how God blesses it! You will be amazed!
Worry about missing an opportunity to starve yourself! It feels amazing not to eat! God will bless you if you punish yourself!