Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

If you celebrate Christmas, then I wish you a Merry Christmas.
If you celebrate something else, then Happy Holidays.

I don't have much to do today. I've been invited to a prof's house for dinner but until then I'm just doing dorm stuff. Thank you to the person who suggested I could make a special request to stay over holidays. They're allowing me to in exchange for light housekeeping and maintenence over the break. It is weird not having the dining hall and not having the library open for computer time. I borrowed a laptop from a dorm mate. I wish I had one but that's not in the cards right now. Growing up not believing in Santa, I can't ask him for one. :o)

There were questions in the last two comment posts that I had not got the chance to respond to and wanted to.

@Margaret - The information about obstetrics was fascinating. I would suggest people go read what she has to say about modern fertility and how it applies to the QF movement. If I understand her right, she is suggesting that it's all the modern science that QFers generally speak against that has given them the ability to procreate at Michelle Duggar levels. While, at the same time, they are clinging to fertility dictates from a book written when natural processes kept women from producing such large broods.

ms0tee said...
I'm glad to hear she's doing well. I was wondering why she wasn't named an "R" name though?

I don't think my parents intended to give all of us girls an "r" name. They really liked our names, so I am told, and they were all Biblical. The boys have Biblical names but they're not "r" names. I think they named Blessing what they named her because of the situation. Her first name is a Fruit of the Spirit. (Just a note: since leaving my situation, every time I read "fruit of the spirit", I think of underwear.) Whatever I think of my parents choices, they didn't "pick a letter" and I'm happy for that.

Anonymous said...
Ruth, did you ever consider that your depression could be a result of following the wrong path?

No. My depression stems from living an isolated, controlled lifestyle with a mentally abusive parent, in a community of people who prized obedience over love.

Natalie said...
Josh and Anna's courtship always confused me a tad. I know they met at an ATI conference, but did they ever have a CONVERSATION before Josh asked to court her?

Obviously I don't know the whole story. In 'most' ATI/Gothard influenced families, kids like Josh and Anna would not have spoken alone until they were engaged. The may have spoken on the phone but a chaperone would have been nearby. E-mails aren't usually exhanged and if they are, they are monitored. Most ATI families have one e-mail account and all e-mail to the family, be it personal or not, goes through that account. Anna's family seems a little more liberal so it may have been different for her. I can say with almost 100% certainty that other than a few cursory, surface discussions to make sure their religious views and family views concurred, there wasn't any "alone time" until after the ring was put on her finger by Josh. It doesn't happen. Even after the ring, the conversations were probably limited to the phone because any other time they'd be monitored by family to make sure there was no physical display of affection (except for 'hand sex').

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A new sister

I have a new sister. My depression stemmed from not being contacted until several days after she was born and finding out that mom had some complications. The baby, despite being a little early (33 weeks or so), is remarkably healthy. She was just under five pounds. I guess she has some jaundice but is otherwise perfect. She's the first girl who wasn't named with an R name - but the TWOPers will find it humorous just the same - her middle name is Blessing (which is what I'll call her from here on out for privacy's sake).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I've had a rough day. On days like today, my depression gets the best of me. I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to all of you.

Courtship Company

A reader sent me the link to this site: She asked if I'd heard of people, I assume she meant in the ATI movement, paying a "dowry fee" to match their sons and daughters in courtship. I have, but I'd not heard of this particular ministry and I have some thoughts about it.

However, what caught my eye even more was this article within the site.
It states in part:
I wonder if you know about some of the tactics of Bill Gothard. I was helping a friend who was trying to get her daughter to come home. She was sent on one of the ATI youth centers and just as soon as she got there, her personality completely changed. She said she had read a book that said her family was dysfunctional,and so she would not return home. It is sad to see the anguish in this family. They trusted this ministry and now Bill has gone against them. He has told them that he cannot make her come home because he thinks the family is "abusive." I have written to Jennie about it and we are trying to think of anything we can to get this girl out of there, but Bill is working against us. On the web, there is an article called "Holy Kidnapping" written by a man whose daughter was sent to a ministry and ended up being free labor for the minister and his wife. He said there was a trend of getting these daughters to stay, and when the heat was too much, they would just shift them to another minister somewhere else. Since we have not heard from this daughter for awhile, we suspect she has been sent to another one of Gothard's centers. Do you know that he does things like this? He is also very evasive when the parents talk to him. He would not answer any questions. He claimed that the family didn't have anything going on at home for their daughter and it justified her being away in his center in NZ. We think it is all wierd. Stanley has emailed Bill but just gets evasive answers. I have emailed him and been told that since the parents are "abusive" they won't send the girl home.Lydia

Not knowing how old this 'daughter' (the 'kidnapped') is, I can't say if Bill Gothard is doing anything illegal, but this isn't the first case like this that I know of within his past.

Girls in this movement are taught that men are the ultimate authority on earth. They're taught that obedience is the key to a pleasing countenance. What parents may not realize is that they're setting their daughters up for tragedy! If you tell girls that godly men will take control of a situation and "lovingly" influence them into submission, then you can't be shocked when some men use that control in damaging ways. Parents, you trick yourselves into believing that "the wolves" are "out there" and not in your circle - this is foolish! The worst "wolves" I've experienced were in my own home and our home church. You let the wolves in and trust them completely with your flesh-and-blood. Shame on you! If you want to protect your children - start by loving them! Love them enough to objectively weigh the merits and short-comings of every person in their lives. If your daughter has "spiritual shortcomings" that need addressing, then address them as a family and love her through them. Don't send her off to an abusive charlatan to "fix". Maybe she doesn't need fixing?

Now to address the purpose of the linked site's ministry. They define "the problem" as:
The Problem
As we have attended good churches, home education conferences, and met good Christian families, we have noted a serious problem — that is, many young people are prepared for marriage, but have no contacts for good prospects who are equally equipped..

Please excuse my sarcasm = DUH! If you isolate your children from the world and proclaim the keys to the kingdom through your own, home church, then how do you expect the children to meet other people? Look at the Duggars and Bates! Two very well known families with, what some consider, "too much worldly exposure" and yet the choices for "mates" (I hate that word) are skim. They associate with few people in the first place. Take out the people who mommy and daddy would never allow to court their children and you end up with a small pool of possible applicants. Josh and Anna are a great example of how strange the priorities are. They saw each other across a crowded room and both decided to pray about the other. Josh finally decides that Anna is the one God has for him and asks his father to contact her father. Anna, probably figuring that no one else was coming for her, because she can't ask for anyone, says yes to a courtship that isn't really a courtship so much as a pre-marital placement. That's not options!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can men defraud women?

This question was asked via e-mail: Can men defraud women?
Strictly speaking, yes. The definition of "defraud" would be different between men and women. Most ATI/QF believe that men and women respond to different stimulus. When the Duggar girls yell "NIKE", it's to alert their brothers to a female dressed inappropriately. This isn't a two way street. The boys wouldn't yell it out if they saw a man dressed in skimpy clothing. People like the Duggars believe that women are "defrauded" by suggestive words, touching, or contact with a man. They believe that women are "stimulated" by the heart and the body -and men are stimulated by the eyes and ears. The hard part for a girl is that this puts an insane amount of pressure and responsibility on her head. Boys could be defrauded by (this list is not a complete list, just based on my memories): flirtation (looks or speech), the way she acts around a man, the way she dresses, the words she uses (you don't talk about the body because it might make a man think about your body), and the way she carries herself physically. I was accused of defrauding a male in our circle because my dress got hitched on a fence and rose up. I was told that a real woman wouldn't even sit on the fence because the action could cause a man to think sinful thoughts. I am not kidding when I say I was told: "the man could think of himself as the fence with you sitting astride on top of him."

This really can get taken too far. I knew of girls who would do nothing in a male's presence, including sitting down at all. They would stand, legs firmly together, hands sweetly folded in front, for fear of their walk or position defrauding the men in the room. To be fair, I know of boys who would never be caught dead alone in a room with a girl or speaking to a girl.

The funnier aspect is that you can imagine how often people get tossed under the bus to save your reputation. You can always blame someone else for your impure thoughts. There's no personal responsibility and that is contrary to the alleged goals.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Questions and my date

I was wondering, have you been able to adjust to having non-familial relationships (i.e. friendships). I dont mean "dating" necessarily, but have you been able to make friends at your university, to provide you with the emotional support you may not be getting from your family? - Natalie

It's been very hard for me to adjust to non-familial relationships. I am always hesitant to trust (which is why my therapist recommended this blog). After twenty years of being told, daily, that the world was a horrible, sin-filled place with people who "walked with Satan", it's hard to see the world as anything other than that. I am getting better every day, but it takes time. The thing is, within your family, you miss out on introductions. I have the hardest time just walking up to someone and joining a conversation. It's foreign for me. My entire life, I knew everyone in my life (with few exceptions) from birth (theirs or mine). My friends were my siblings and a few others who were in our church. Our conversations with non-family members were closely guarded. As a result, I didn't learn that social thing that kids learn from getting to know complete strangers in school.

Strangers are referenced to as "the wolves". When you hear a fundamental parent say "we're not going to throw our children to the wolves", they're not referring to pedophiles or criminals. They are referring to you,...and me. The wolves are the general public. ATI families, especially, believe that it's the "normal" people you have to fear the most because "they are everywhere" and they "look harmless". It's the influence of normality that they fear because they know (most parents having been "average" themselves at one point), in their hearts, that there's nothing WRONG with being an everyday, non-ATI Christian or family. It's the non-control that they fear. That's why ATI kids don't go anywhere alone. You can be tempted to believe that that girl in line is a nice, normal person if you don't have another ATI kid to keep you focused on "the right".

My date didn't go very well. It was my fault. I'm just not ready for it.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I'm going on my first "date". I'm 25 and I'm going on my first real date.

One weird side-effect of growing up in such a sheltered lifestyle is that I find myself experiencing 'normal' things much later than my peers. It's exciting, no doubt, but I also feel like sort of a reject.

I'll respond to 'anonymous' later.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Baby #19 for the Duggars

I'm sure I'm the last to know that the Duggar family had a baby girl over the weekend. She was incredibly premature. This news makes me very sad for several reasons, chief amongst those reasons is that my mom went through this after Rani. I think I talked about it in the "pregnant" post. I really feel badly about the challenges the Duggars and their baby will face.

Question from a reader: How do Gothard families reconcile a happening such as this with their idea of God's will? Will they stop, do you think?

In families like the Duggars, God's will and timing is perfect. The Duggar family is probably sad and confused about this birth, but they won't show it like you'd think they might. It's not as much a Gothard-family trait as a devout Christian, conservative-Baptist approach: You don't question what God puts before you and you make the best of it. It's considered a test of character and worthiness to face situations like these with a positive spin and complete faith. They'll see Josie as a blessing, sent to teach them patience and possibly humility. I've alluded to it before but never really said it outright, but there are some families in the ATI circle that see the Duggars as prideful. I'm sure everyone is praying for them but there are feelings of this being a "moment of choice" for the Duggars. My own parents told my brother that the Duggars would be judged by God for their reaction to this and in how they react to this. It's sick, but some people will want them to stop the show now because this would be God's...not God's punishment, but his message for them to reevaluate the important things and maybe not see the show as their "mission". Alot of ATI see them as falling away from the mission to serve God and evangelize to a selfish mission. I'm not saying they're right or wrong.

I feel bad for the older Duggar kids. Little Jordyn has lost her mom for a while, at a time when she needs her very much. Why didn't the Duggars and why don't QFers in general think of the suffering that occurs in cases like this for the children they've already had? It's an oversight. The focus is so much on a PREGNANCY being a NEW blessing that the blessings they've already received get shorted. I'll just say it- I don't think my dad even thinks about my mom's health and what losing her would mean for us kids. I'm not sure Jim Bob and Michelle get it either. If they got it, why would they risk it? They have eighteen healthy, adorable babies, but it wasn't enough for them. When is it enough? Unless Michelle had a hysterectomy, this won't stop them. They'll have more if she can, you can bet on that. It doesn't matter if a doctor tells them no. They'll find a new doctor. They've done it before. It's what my mom did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Email questions

How is your mom doing?
From what I've been told, she is progressing as expected. She did an amnio but I haven't been told what the results were. She's having trouble with her blood pressure plus being very fatigued but at her age that's not a shock. My dad has been listening in on our conversations so it's hard to say.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What do you want to be?

From what I've been told, the question of what a child wants to be "when (they) grow up" is a common one in most households. It wasn't that way in mine. In ATI, kids just aren't asked this in the way that most kids are outside of ATI. I may stumble explaining it but I'll give it a try. For one, the question never came from my parents. If my parents talked to us about our future, it was always laced with directed suggestions about the biblical role we were to fulfill. I'll give you an example:
Normal house: What do you want to be when you grow up?
ATI house/My house: Do you understand and accept God's commandment to be fruitful and multiply? Do you accept His plan for you as a wife and mother? What talents do you think God has given you to help you meet this commandment? Will it serve God?
Boys were given slightly more leeway because they could use their "talents" to provide for their family financially.

I have always loved reading and before I knew what a librarian was, I would "play" with my books. I would line up our books in alphabetical order and suggest titles to family and friends. Then, one day, we went to the library for some reason. This normally wasn't allowed because not all the books in the public library were "approved" and might contain inappropriate materials. This one day, though, we were there and I saw a librarian doing what I had been "playing" all my life. It was a lightbulb moment for me. This was what I wanted to do and it had a place in society. Not too long afterward, a nighttime conversation in the family turned to our goals in "serving" the Lord and I said I wanted to be a librarian. You really could've heard a pin drop. I may as well have said that I wanted to enter a prostitution ring. I was asked how that vocation would serve the Lord in "our purpose" to raise up a righteous army. At eleven, I couldn't think of a good answer, so my father told me that if I felt a calling to books, I should consider being a missionary because there I could give the Word of the Lord to those in need.

I'm hoping to be a librarian. If I can stick to this, then it might come to pass.

I posted this topic since I received an e-mail question about why I thought a certain QF family's son didn't go to law school. I don't know the answer to that. I only know that a child's future goals aren't as open, in ATI families, as they might be in a regular family. A child can express their desire but it will be held up to a different set of criteria. A "normal" parent might ask the child if the occupation would support their family or fit the child's personality. Would it be attainable given circumstances or talents? An ATI family asks if it takes too much time away from baby making. An ATI parent would ask if working for someone else is really following God's commandments. If the child is a female, the ATI parent would remind her that God made her for a purpose and to deny that purpose by having a conflicting career would put your eternal future in question. It's a different set of rules.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I'm not going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I'm trying to figure out what to do for that month between finals and the next quarter. I can't go home and I have little funds for travel but I'm open to ideas. I know I'm not the first to be in this position (far from home with limited means). My roommate is going home to New Jersey so I can't go with her.

This is what isn't said by ATI families. When you leave, you leave for good. It's worse than shunning in Amish traditions. An Amish adult can choose to go a different way, as long as they weren't baptized into the Amish Church, and they can still go home to visit. They're not banned or cut off. I was banned and cut off because I didn't want to be my mom or marry someone like my father. There's no autonomy. WE needs to do a special on kids who were QF or ATI and left. I have a paper to write so I can't take long on the blog but I will answer the questions I've received soon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Purity Rings

18 Kids and Counting has presented a highly sanitized version of what many ATI kids go through in the movement (as regarding purity rings and courting). As I'm sure most of my two or three readers can imagine, I have some insights that I'd like to share about the reality of this system.

Purity Rings. The formal party line is that the girl should be given her ring at the age of twelve or her first menstrual period (whichever comes first). However, the build-up starts much earlier. I was six when my mom started telling me about the pledge of purity and how I was god's special flower and He had already chose the gardener for my flower. All of my sisters got the same talk at age six so I'm pretty confidant that this speech is handed out with the first grade ATI curriculum. At six, I was given a formal lesson on 'defrauding' men. Only, back then, I don't think it was labeled as 'defrauding'. My mom showed me pictures from a magazine (It was a copy of LIFE magazine) that had "pornography". The pictures were of Madonna. She told me that people who wore immodest or "gender confusing" clothes were "destroying men". In her own words, she taught me that when a man sees a woman wearing men's clothes, he feels threatened and unsure of his own responsibilities. When a woman wears immodest or revealing clothes, it tempts the man and causes him to betray his promises to his Creator just as Eve tempted Adam with the apple. There's no discussion about a man's accountability or responsibilty to use self-control. I think they get that talk from their fathers but, as girls, we weren't told that men should or could control themselves. If they sinned, it was our fault for causing them to sin with our immodesty. I thought it made men sound very weak and my mother actually winked at me in a conspiratorial fashion. There's a lot of that happening too, within the patriarchy movement. Women tell themselves that they let the men think they are in control whenever they're feeling really out of control. I'll explain that more another time but back to the rings.

When I received me ring, my father told me my sexuality was under God's authority. Only God could decide when I should give that gift away, to the man He had for me. Of course my dad would help me find that Knight in Shining Armor and let me know he was THE Knight. The Duggars are up-front with that part. The part they don't share is that Gothard tells fathers to make the daughters accountable to them. Yes, that's right. If a girl commits a sexual sin, she's not supposed to go to her mother or her sisters. If a girl has a sexual sin committed upon her, she doesn't go to her mother or her sisters or anyone but her father. If you have a good father, which I think Jim Bob is, then that works out fine, but what if you have a father who is more concerned about his image than his daughters. I've seen fathers marrying daughters to the highest bidder in this movement for their own gain. It's a dirty little secret in the movement but it does happen. Some fathers may really mean to be looking for the best place for their girls by choosing men with better homes and means. Few will admit that that's not always the best way to find a match. What about personalities or goals? It's not even the best system for the boys! One of my brothers was told he was marrying a certain girl. They were pushed together because it was a mutually beneficial situation for the futures of both families. A business deal, in reality, but oh hey look, these adorable kids of ours are only six months apart in age and of course they both want to live this lifestyle! They were tossed together for courting to begin, under the watchful eye of the parents, where they could never speek freely or engage in deep conversation. They married and were unhappy for the first year. They didn't even consumate the marriage for six months because they didn't know one another and my brother was too nice to "collect his prize". They had nothing in common except their faith. When my brother brought this up to someone in our church circle, he and his wife were sent on a retreat. They came back defeated and resigned to staying together "until they fell in love" with the commandment to start having children. It makes me so angry to think that any Christian advisor would tell a young couple who were so unsuited to start having children because there was no way to go back and undo their marriage vows. My brother and his wife had a child and found a way to like each other, but love took another four years and two children. They're still together and both families see them as a "success" story. They're even asked to share their testimony with other couples in the same situation. It's wrong! This is what happens when you take these choices away from young men and women. It's fine to have morals and convictions. If you want to wait for sex, then wait for sex. All I'm saying is it's wrong for parents to choose these convictions for you and a twelve year old is in no position to choose to let the parents have the authority on this for the rest of their lives. It would be okay if it were a "we'll help you save yourself until you're an adult and then it's your choice". That's not what is being said with a purity ring and courtship promise. What's being said is, "You will give the authority for these decisions to your father." until you are married (at which point it is too late to go back).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My e-mail questions

Some folks have figured out my e-mail ( or I gave it to them. They have good questions but they have many of them and they repeat. I think it would be easier to answer them all in one reply here since they are so similar.

Where did you go when you left your family?
I'd answer that question with a question- which time? In my family, you were never supposed to leave the unit unless you had permission from my dad. That was one of the things I struggled with very early on. Even routine things like a trip to the store had to be with a member of the family and cleared by my mom or my father. It was hard to get time to yourself, outside of the house. Alot of times, I would just go to libraries or school playgrounds to sit and think. The night I ran from my "beloved", I ran to a sympathetic neighbor. When I left for good, I went to family outside the movement. They are still conservative Christian but not ATI or QF. They graciously allowed me to stay with them for a year while I adapted to society. This flows into the next question I get.

Were you prepared for "normal" life?
That's a big, fat NO. Other than being trotted out for working on "our mission" (which was to evangelize and save souls by getting them to follow our beliefs), my entire life was centered around our house. I didn't have outside friends. I wasn't allowed to socialize with the neighborhood kids. We only got to know our neighbors to one side because they were elderly and by my father's estimation "harmless". We didn't do public school or sports and we didn't work outside the home. TV and radio were forbidden. We had Sunday School and that was our "socializing". I do have close friendships with my closest siblings, or I did before leaving. The main problem as I see it is that I'm really easy to take advantage of and I have to be careful with my "servant's heart". I was trained to serve and give which is great if you're surrouded by people who have an interest in your outcome, but it's not so great in "the world". It took me a long time before I could say "no" to anyone and feel not guilty. I was also not prepared for managing my own money or knowing how much it cost to live in "the real world". My health suffered for a while because I had been so sheltered that I didn't have a healthy immune system. My parents were non-immunizers (very common in ATI families) so I had to get those shots to get into school. I am terrified of men because I was taught that men outside ATI were no good and that's hard to shake off. Friendships with boys feels dirty even though I consciously know it's not and that limits me. It may be a good thing study wise. haha I struggle to do what I'm doing and make it work.

Do you miss your family?
Every day.

Are you still Christian?
I think so but I'm trying to figure out what that means to me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Was I QF?

My therapist asked me a question that I had trouble answering. It was an easy question, or at least it should've been an easy question. "Were you QF?"

Was I? My parents were, but was I? How much of myself should be defined by my parents' choices? It's like that show Big Love, where Sara says she's not a polygamist and her friend says she is because she lives with them. Is she a polygamist because her parents chose polygamy and she's living it? In the same vein, would the Duggar children or Bates children be Quiverfullers because their parents are famously QF?

When I was a child, I didn't know if I would let God decide my family size or if I would trust in him to determine that. My parents told me I was but I didn't make a conscious decision to do that. I'm sure I've always been Christian but I don't know if I've always been or still am a literalist and conservative Christian. My parents chose our clothing because what four year old "purposes" to wear modest clothing? You're dressed in what's made available to you because you can't do your own shopping or sewing. That drives me crazy when certain parents say, "they have a conviction to dress this way" or act a certain way. It's not a choice if it's all you know to be. I didn't know pants were really an option. I knew they were for people "of the world" but I was never asked if I wanted to wear them. Just like I was never asked if I believed in God or how I believed in Him or what I believed of the Bible. It was assumed for me. Now that I'm an adult, part of this journey is deciding what is really "my" belief and what is my history. How much of who I am is defined by who my father is? I need to be careful about also running from things because they remind me of what was because it doesn't have to stay that way.

It's hard because I wasn't taught to think about what *I* wanted.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I was reading TWOP this morning and saw something that caused a mini-melt down. There's a picture of Jana Duggar being "blessed" by Bill Gothard, followed by a podcast with four of the Duggar girls.

If you're disturbed by the things you heard on that tape, you aint' heard nothing yet. That's the tip of the iceberg. I've been to those Gothard camps and what's publicly disclosed in materials previews and things like that podcast is only the beginning. You go in to these camps, if you had never been before, thinking that you'll enjoy fellowship with girls who live the same way you do and you are scared. Why should any girl be scared to go to camp with other girls, you might ask? It's simple. IBLP or ATI girls are supposed to be perfectly sweet, perfectly virginal, and perfectly submissive to higher authority and any normal person knows that this is an impossibility. Despite the sickeningly sweet voices and doey eyes: girls are girls. Since leaving, I've seen depressed, self-mutilating anorexics who have more self-esteem and senses of self-worth than girls I went to camp with. Take a girl from birth and tell her that she's inherantly sinful and worthless unless she is a "jewel in the crown of her father" (heavenly and earthly father). They don't say, "Be good because being good leads to better choices." or "Be careful about who you love because those choices are important." They say, "You were born with sin. If you don't fight the sin that lives inside you, then you will not be worthy of God's love and you'll end up in hell." They say, "If a man looks at you with lust, it's your fault. Ask yourself what you did to cause him to look in such a way." I have a study guide from one of those camps and I want to share what's on one of the worksheets.
Ask yourself the following questions...
1. Have I ever attracted the attention of a man and felt good about it?
2. Have I ever encouraged a man to look at you by styling your hair or face enticingly?
3. Have I ever worn an immodest style of dress to be noticed?
4. Have I ever returned the advances of a man knowingly or unknowlingly by my words or actions?
5. Have I ever wished to have a man's touch?
6. Have I ever wished a man would be tempted by my beauty, intelligence, or countenance?

It continues until you reach question twenty. It concludes with this...
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you have allowed yourself to be manipulated by Satan. Satan has entered your heart and mind to entrap you and the person you sullied with your selfish, foolish vanity and pride...

Those camps taught me that women were the cause of all that was bad with the world. The only way to redeem our souls was to completely subjugate ourselves to God. In lieu or God, the men in our lives would fill God's role. Having children was another way to begin balancing your spiritual checkbook. By having children, you were fulfilling God's command and adding warriors to the "most righteous army of God".

It doesn't matter if Jim Bob doesn't allign himself with the Quiverful "movement". He's ATI, Gothard, and IBLP. Here is what a man within that movement believes.
He believes a woman's body is not her own. It belongs to the Lord for His purposes. They frequently site the book "Our Bodies, Our Selves" as a Satanic tool because it gave women the belief that they had control over their fertility and a right to do to their bodies what they desired.
He believes children are a blessing because they can serve God. He believes he should have at least six children to fill his quiver.
He believes his wife and children should be obedient and that he is obedient to the Lord. He believes the commandment of children to obey their parents, but most fled the beliefs of their own parents.
He believes in restoring "Christian principles" to the United States and the World through any means necessary.

Where is the reality in 18 kids and Counting?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Explaining some things

I want to say thanks to the people who offered me prayers and peace in my last entry. I know that the way my father lives his QF, ATI, Gothard missionary life isn't what most people would see as "Christian". I know Jesus' love is different than that for so many Christians that I've met.

Mrs S said...
I sincerely hope you do not think all conservative, dress wearing large families are like that, Ruth. We have 6 children, wear skirts, don't cut our hair, etc. But we would *never* betroth our daughters to someone without telling her, nor would we ever allow someone to shove our daughters or call them property. I do believe in submission, and raise my children much like the Duggars, but what you're describing here does not seem like what our family does or believes, nor is it what the Duggars do or believe (and yes, I know them)Mrs S

I know, Mrs. S. I think it's possible to have large families and do it right. I think it's hard but it can be done and I'm sure you're one of those people who knows how to do it. However from what I have lived and witnessed, patriarchy can lead to situations like mine and my sisters and it's more common than I ever wanted to believe. Another thing I learned is how every family is different so what I say shouldn't be equated with how you practice or the Duggars practice their version of Christianity. I'm sorry if you feel I'm giving that feeling.

I'm tatortotcassie from the TWOP boards and I had a question about courtship I know the Duggars would never answer. I know you endured a terrible farce of a courtship but I didn't know who else to ask:If "you give pieces of your heart away" when you date, doesn't that imply love is finite and in limited supply? And if love is finite, then won't you eventually run out of love if you keep having more and more children? It just seems like a such a contradictory theory.

It's pretty complicated. I had the same question after I started pulling away because it seems like a contradiction doesn't it. My mother always explained it, as her belief, that there were two different kinds of love. Love you have for a child which can be infinite and love you have to give a sexual partner, your spouse. People in the movement will argue (and maybe they are right to a degree) that it's unquestionable that you don't love your children the same way you love your spouse so that line is easy to draw and seperate the types of love being finite or infinite. That gets rid of the quandry for them. I see it that way a bit but I also see where you're coming from as love being love and just because you love one potential lover doesn't always mean you're going to love the one you end up marrying any less. My questions were about that particular example. My "betrothed" went on to have numerous engagements and no one ever suggested to him that he loved the next betrothed less because he was supposed to have loved the others with the same amount of love. There is a double standard that I see clearly now. I was very much seen as damaged goods when I refused my intended. My father and brothers were vocal about it. Girls can (not always as Mrs. S points out) be labeled as "that girl who DIDN'T MARRY" or "that girl who's still not married and WANTS TO GO TO SCHOOL", where a boy is "taking his time", "preparing for a family", "that boy who courted that girl and then SHE backed out". I may have too much anger in me to be objective for now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's get real

A member of my family found my blog and raised some questions in comments about a part of my life that is very painful. I want this to be honest and sometimes the truth hurts but it might help me to "let this go" by writing it all down. Please don't judge me.

Father, I know "In Spiritual Communion" is you. Or it could be Joseph. I am airing this here because I have been in pain. I started seeing a therapist who told me that writing down what happened in my life could help me work through who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. I'm sorry that you can't understand how much it means for me to answer these questions. Before you start in on me, I tried "giving it to God" and earnest prayer. That didn't work for me and this course of therapy and writing seems to be working. It doesn't have to work for you. This isn't about you anymore. I wish it was the case that our happiness was more important to you than your reputation within the movement. As far as that goes, why would anyone in the movement be reading my blog? It's not faith promoting or ATI approved so stop being a hypocrite!

You left your family, Ruth Mary, as sure as you left your Lord and Savior by not following His WORD. You cut your hair and dress immodestly. You disobey your parents in direct opposition to the WORD.
I didn't leave my family. I still talk to and visit my family. I still pray for you and wish for your health and happiness. You left me. Maybe not physically, but when I started having doubts about the way you raised me being the best way for me and when I was so unhappy, you turned your back on me. Do you know how much that hurt me for you to act that way? Your approval was all I wanted and you yanked it out from under me and for what reason? I just wanted to do something more than what mom was doing because she was so unhappy. I know you don't believe that but she was and I have never been more sure of anything in my life but that mom was struggling to hold it together for you. How I dress doesn't change who I am. That's an excuse to make you feel better I think. The Bible doesn't say we're supposed to dress one way over another. That's your reading of a passage that most people read differently. It's about control more than you think it is.

Why have not you shared about your relationship with these adoring fans of yours? You are impure in thought and I can imagine in your actions.
I don't have fans. I don't even have that many friends thanks to the way I was raised. You taught me to distrust the world for eighteen years. Did you ever think about how that would make me relate to the world outside your cocoon?

I was sixteen when you promised me to him. You didn't ask me if I liked him or even wanted to think about getting betrothed. You announced it in bible study like it was the next day's menu. How could giving your daughter to a man she didn't know be such a lazy event for you and mom? Why didn't you care what I wanted? What choice did I have but to go along with it while I lived under your roof because the consequences were severe and I knew it. You have said I should not have accepted the offer but you did the accepting not me. I wasn't asked. You go and have camps where you tell fathers to protect their daughters' hearts but you don't teach them to know their daughters' hearts. Why do you lie to the people you teach? I heard you tell fathers to respect the right of the daughter to choose who she will accept as a marriage proposal but that's not what you did for me or the girls. Samuel was engaged three times dad. Was that God's plan?

You didn't ask me why I ran from home the night after he gave me the ring. He threatened me, father, did you know that? He told me God told him I was his property dad. Then he shoved me away when I told him that that wasn't a word I wanted my husband to be to use. He pushed me on the ground and said I had better get use to being sweet or else. I didn't want to know what or else was. That's why I ran. I'm not ashamed of what I did. I want to be happy and you know what? That's not sinful. I don't think God created me to suffer and that's what I would have been in constant suffering with him.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Out of the closet

I "came out" to my roommate. She and I haven't gone into details about our families until today. Finally, she was looking at the pictures I have on my wall and she said, "Wow! Was that a family reunion or something?" Ha, no. That was dinner.

In other news I heard that one of my brothers wants to go to school and my father is furious. He blamed me for being a bad influence which brings me to this comment in my last post.

Brenna G said...
I couldn't read and not comment. I can't help you let the guilt go, but know that you cannot control the actions of other adults. You can only control how you deal with them. I can only imagine how hard it must be to be dealing with this. I'll keep you in my prayers

Thanks, Brenna, I appreciate that. I don't feel responsible for my mom's choices. Rather I know that my father blames me for anything that goes wrong in our family and it bothers me. If my mom has her baby early, it's not that I think I caused it or it's my fault. I just know that my father will use any excuse possible other than the real problem which is my mom shouldn't be having children at her age.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I'm sorry I took a break from blogging. School has resumed and I am swamped with classes this quarter. Then there is my mother. She's pregnant again. My sister is also pregnant. Yes sirree, we have a Duggar thing going on.

I'm not happy about this. To start with, my mom said nothing to me when I was home a few weeks back. She did look tired but after living her life I'd look tired too. I'm really worried about her. My mom's first pregnancy was in 1980. That's over 29 years ago. My eldest brother is 29, people! Rani (the youngest until now) is 13. When Rani was nine, my mom had a baby born early that passed away. That doctor told my mom not to get pregnant ever again because her uterus couldn't hold the pregnancy. She and dad stopped having sex. I guess they cheated because here she is. My mom is in her fifties. This just isn't right. She's due in three months so now of course we're in danger zone for preterm labor and delivery. Luckily there are just the four at home and one leaving soon to be married, but what is my mom going to do with one child? She won't know what to do or how to cope and she's not as young as she used to be. Because this was my worry for so many years ("Mom's having another baby for me to take care of."), I know she won't know what to do with it. True to form, this is a blessing (according to father), but it will be my fault if my mom delivers early because I should be living the lifestyle that would give my mom less stress and I'm not. When will that sort of logic stop bothering me?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I saw my therapist today and 9/11 came up. I was seventeen on that morning. We had one television in our house and it was never on. I think because of that and the imposed isolation we grew up in, I didn't hear about the hijackings until three o'clock that afternoon. I was starting to prepare dinner with my sister when my older brother walked in the door with his wife. They're weren't tearful or upset. They matter-of-factly said that "Muslims were killing Americans." My mom hustled my younger siblings into the basement like we were personally under attack. Today that seems absurd to me. He didn't say that the World Trade Center or Pentagon had been hit or that hijackers took over planes and flew them into strategic locations. He said that we (meaning white Christians) were under attack by "Muslims"...and we believed him. There was a family in town that was Persian, but probably Christian, and my other brother said "we should watch out for the Xs". As if this family we'd known all our lives was suddenly going to burst through our front door with guns. My father was typically fired up about what had happened even with his lack of correct information. He made us all gather to pray (in the basement). He asked God to forgive his family for being so sinful and forgiveness for the world's tolerance which led to "this deed". We prayed for an hour with dinner forgotten until one of my sisters started whining in hunger. My father was on the phone the rest of the night. He didn't talk about solidarity as a nation of people that were hurting. No, the message was about how great the need was for things like ATI and ALERT-like training. He was convinced this was the beginning of the end.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Blanket training

TWOP has been discussing blanket training lately. My mom didn't do it with me or my older siblings but she did it with my younger siblings. I remember Luke and Matt having an especially rough time of it. In my house, it worked the way I'm about to describe it but this varies household-to-household. I think it probably depends on how quick the parents are to adopt the "spare the rod" ethic.

Matt and Luke were placed on their own blankets. One thing people don't hear is that those blankets aren't big. They're not supposed to be bigger than a bath towel or crib quilt. Each child had their own to reduce the temptation to play together. I was told that playing together during blanket time wouldn't encourage self control and I never understood that because that's when we exercise the most self-control (in dealing with others, right?). If the boys went off the blanket, they were slapped on the hands or feet. Whatever body part went off first. If they cried they had to sit for added minutes on the blanket. My mom started when the kids were starting to crawl so ages depended on how mobile the child was. Matt was very mobile so he got the worst in blanket training. We also weren't supposed to talk to the child who was in training.

What is worse than the child's experience is the mother has to deny impulses that I think come naturally. If the child cries to be comforted during training time there's no out to pick him up because "you're giving in" to the child's lack of self control. Moms turn off the natural instinct which leads to more problems and disconnects between mother and child. It also encourages leaving your child alone more often than not. I can't explain how but it does. I've seen moms forget about the baby on the blanket.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Questions from TWOP PMs

Do QF families name their kids all the same letter most of the time? What is the age spread in your family?

Us girls all start with "R". My parents were a little more creative than the Duggars. We are, in birth order (nicknames); Eli, Sam, Joe-Jay, Ruth, Caleb, Matt, Luke, Becca, Rachel, and Rani. There's 16 years between Eli and Rani. She's turning 13 in two weeks.

Have any of your other siblings left that life like you?
Yes. Two have left (me included) and one is very close to it.


Father refused to speak to me today. When I went to visit them last month, I took a People magazine for the plane. I guess I left it in the schoolroom. When my mom pulled out the materials for homeschooling to start this week, she found the People magazine. My father accused me of bringing "indecent" materials and "sin" into the house.

This really hurts my feelings because I was very careful not to offend him and he knew it. I wore a skirt everyday and didn't talk to the little kids about why I left. I kept any talk of school to the bare minimum. I participated in Bible study and fellowship (even though it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do). I kept my mouth shut when Mr. X (a member of their fellowship) gave my a lecture about my sinful ways! I guess nothing I do is good enough and never will be again. It's the most grating feeling to go from being the cherished, loved, "example of womanhood" to being the outcast.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Answers for the TWOP folks

Did you stop wearing dresses all at once?
No, it took me a while to get out of the habit. The thing is, dresses are very comfortable most of the time. I still enjoy wearing them but in moderation. When I left the movement, I still believed what the Bible said about women dressing like women and men dressing like men so I stuck to dresses for several months. My first time wearing pants was a pair of capris that I borrowed from a room mate. It felt strange having my legs covered with such tight fabric that wasn't lycra or tights. :o)
I've concluded that it's not the dresses that are the limiting agent. The attitude behind wearing them is the problem. That group wears dresses because they don't want to defraud men or show immodesty before the Lord. What never occurred to me was to wonder how even the tiniest girl could "defraud" a grown man? The attitude puts the blame on a woman for having a body a man might find attractive and that is wrong! It's no different from the burkas of Islamic fundamentalists or the prairie style of FLDS.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bill Gothard

"What did Bill Gothard do to you?"
I hear that question al the time from my family and people who associate with my family. When I left that world behind, I discovered that people weren't angry about my disloyalty to the Lord so much as they were angry at my disloyalty to their infatuation with Mr. Gothard. I have been reading about the cult mentality and Quiverful, ATI, literalism as per Gothard is infused with similarities.

Bill Gothard has never done anything to me on a personal level. I have met him. My father worked for him. ATI folks are known to have this conversation...

Kid: What's the big deal. I'm not harming anyone by doing x!
ATI: If I do something dangerous and die, am I hurting my mother?
Kid: Well, yeah.
ATI: Then you are hurting someone.

They don't turn this around. Bill Gothard doesn't have to physically beat someone to knock them out. He teaches others how to do it for him. Patriarchy, QF, militant Christianity, purity aren't bad things if they're not abused. In my experience, no one of those things hurt me more than other ideals. But wrapped together and tied with the bow of perfection made them a devestating bomb of abuses.

Don't dress that way, you'll cause men to sin.
Don't sit that way, you'll give the boys ideas they can't control.
Don't say that, it displeases the Lord.
Don't think that, it displeases the Lord.
Don't wear your hair that way, it displeases the Lord.
Don't, don't, don't...

DO have a servant's heart.
DO prize modesty and virtue, even if it means accepting responsibility for a man's lack of self-control.
DO consider yourself subject to a man's rule, God wants you to submit.
DO speak meekly and think purely.
DO give up individuality for the herd.

Amazing how many of those examples fit if you substitute God for Gothard. Gothard is dangerous because people are more than willing to make that substitution.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Who is Ruth?

I've never had a blog before.
Who is Ruth? I hope when I'm done with the blog someday I'll be able to answer that question. I'm blogging for therapy's sake. (If my dad new I was in therapy he'd disown me all over again!) I'm new to the internet.
I was homeschooled for ten years giving me my primary education. I am in school now doing what I always wanted to do. It was the school therapist that told me I should write this journal. I am rambling. Like almost all QF families, my family homeschooled their kids. I have many feelings about this. I got a better education that some I know in that lifestyle. My mom taught junior high school math before father and she became Gothardites. My father was in Campus Teams, which is now the IBLP, that Gothard founded. In 1980 my older brother (A) was born. His Irish twin came ten months later (this is brother B). Father and Mom waited a grand 13 months before welcoming the next blessing (brother C). I was born in 1984. I was the first girl obviously. I was followed by brothers D to F and they were followed by sisters A, B, and C. If you're counting, that made me one of ten for most of my life. When sister C was nine, my parents had one last child that was born prematurely and passed away.

My mom's family wasn't fundamentalist or literalist. They went to a nondenominational church for holidays. Mom said she never read the Bible until she met my father. My father's family were methodists. My father's history would identify him and my family and I'm not ready for that.

I am the oldest sister which meant I helped raise my siblings. My first memory is my mom lecturing me to always put others first. I think I wanted to be playing with my brothers outside and she had needed help with my little brothers. I was only four years old but I remember it in detail. She called me in from outside and told me I was getting "too big to play with the boys". She handed me a dirty diaper to throw away and I gagged. That made me cry. Crying was unacceptable in that house. Crying meant a lecture from mother or a spanking from father. My mother never did the spankings. You didn't cry because it wasn't appropriate worship of your Creator to frown upon your life by crying. I was taught that life was a precious gift and work was how you repaid our Father for blessing you with your life. Jesus first. Others second. Yourself last. JOY. I hate that word now. I know you're saying I'm ungrateful but I don't think I am. That word has been tainted and I hate it. JOY meant never having any for your self. That could be an entry of its own.