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Quiverfull Daughters | Praise

Aside from God and my husband, the best gifts I've ever received have been from my mom and dad. There is so much I appreciate from the sacrifices they made for us, from the life we lived. Obviously, the scope of Quivering Daughters encompasses many controversial, painful, and largely unaddressed elements of a deeply conservative life and their effects on women.* This doesn't mean that every feature, in and of itself, is negative or generates negative ramifications ~ but the daughters of patriarchy find little Bible-based encouragement for the struggles they face. As God laid on my heart to write, study, and delve into these matters, I sorrowed to discover that the depth of these things is much worse than I expected. Therefore, it may appear that all we ever discuss on Quivering Daughters is the "bad stuff"; and while I believe it's essential to raise awareness and search the Scriptures regarding these things, today I want to step aside for a few moments and muse upon the good.

For there is much good. 
There is so much for which I give thanks,
which lifts my heart to God with praise.



Stories of Thanksgiving

Special note: I hope that you will leave your own stories of thanksgiving in the comments, so that I and others can rejoice with you!


THINGS MY PARENTS GAVE ME

~ trees to climb in, a forest to hide in, fields to get lost in, a creek to splash in, a garden to plant in, arms to hug in.

~ my first-ever sewing kit, and after I deemed my first-ever floppy dolly too ugly to survive, my mom fished her and her pink-crayoned cheeks out of the trash and tucked her away in that "special drawer" moms always have.

~ They gave me a family. They gave me each and every one of my ten sisters and brothers, who became new heads to kiss, new fingers to curl around my own, new little warm bodies to nestle in my arms . . . and who amaze me with sharp, creative minds, generous hearts, quick wits, forgiving spirits, welcoming, happy faces.

~ a real, live, adult Bible for my 7th birthday, with a leather cover, soft satin ribbon marker, and words of Christ in red. That Bible I've carefully packed away, for it is loose-leaf now, and almost every page is colored, underlined, noted, and fingermarked by an eager child. I think I almost cried when I realized I needed to get a new one, after years and years of love. There is something so friendly, so familiar, so comforting about the words which grew up with me, even as binding faded and the brilliant gold letters slowly flaked off.

~ rich knowledge of Scripture. After the near-mental-breakdown I experienced and the necessity to stop everything for a time, the word was waiting, living and powerful. What a blessing for which I am eternally, humbly grateful, for had I not this foundation, to start from "scratch" would have overwhelmed me completely.

~ life. As full moon coated earth with silver,
firstborn drew firstbreath.
 
~ Ahh, now this, this I think is the best thing EVER, and from my dad when I was 12 . . . to him I owe a thousand-thousand thanks for my first journal. That wonderful black book with its pristine white pages begging to be filled ~ it might as well been handed to me from God Himself. If I could offer praise for only one thing, ever, it would be to my father for this journal. His sister gave it to him when he was 16, he told me. And he'd carried it, for years and years. And something told him the Holy Spirit prompted him to give it to me. For God knew that journaling would essentially save my life.

~This one makes me smile. I don't think my parents ever knew, but when I was a teenager and Focus on the Family became heavily involved with True Love Waits, I wanted desperately to have the "key to my heart" ring and identify with the campaign. I tried to hint, I think . . . but to no avail. This thanks is two-fold: they did give me a ring I wanted. It made me think of Ireland; very celtic, this band, with a tourmaline stone and delicate knot work on the sides.  And I am thankful I never became swept away in the True Love Waits crusade. My true love did wait, but without the flair, without the drama, and without the austerity of a "movement".

~ in similar vein, neither did we subscribe to the teachings of Gothard. I give praise for this, for my parents saw wisdom in refraining from the legalistic nature of his training.

~ my parents gave their lives. Wholeheartedly. They believe strongly and live unwaveringly. No sacrifice is too great for the convictions they hold close, and they demonstrate this everyday.

~ freshly-squeezed lemonade from my mom after hard work in the sun. Just for me. I'm sure you can imagine the implications of this.

~ home-education. I so appreciate learning at home in an environment tailored to the pace I needed. And what fun, to crack open those fresh new books from Rod and Staff! It didn't hurt, either, that we were "done with school" hours before "real school" was through for the day.

~ encouragement: a dress form upon completion of my home education. A capo, when I [unsuccessfully] attempted to learn to play guitar. And mom's words when I, overwhelmed from feeling I wasn't the kind daughter they wanted: "At least you love the Lord," she said. "That's what's important." And ohhhh . . . I do. So very, very much.

Thank you for introducing us.

_____________________________________________________

*I write about and for women because I am a woman, not because these things aren't equally as devastating on men.

Love Song, III—Death

 . . . continued from Love Song, II
God, why did I have to be born? I just want to die . . . 

A deeply Christian, teenage girl who wants to die is not a simple soul to explain. As a little girl, I was relatively "good" in the sense that I yearned to please and could not bear to be in the wrong, to be guilty. My sensitive nature sent me to tell my parents when I needed a spanking. As a young woman, I was not "rebellious" as many define typical teenage angst; I struggled with things like being patient and sweet to my younger siblings, trying to say and do all the right things, and with severe depression because no matter what, I felt as though I never measured up to what my parents wanted—I was too artistic, too dreamy, too worldly in their eyes. But, “I don’t know why you are so depressed," they said. "You shouldn’t feel that way. You are just reacting from the flesh.” 

The flesh, which we were to crucify with all its desires. The flesh, which made it impossible to please God.  The flesh, the old man which needed to die.

I blamed only myself for not meeting the implied ideal, and cursed the stupid "flesh" which haunted every moment of  living. I was the one who "had different values", who was "going a different direction". I felt like a failure, a disappointment as I set a "bad example" for those who looked up to me in all things. My years became an endless cycle of trying, failing, religious effort, and trying again. I grew weary while life dimmed.

Dreamy and emotional, my artistic little girl soul craved life—but even more so, the assurance of love.
I’m trying to think of something I can do to make dad love me for reasons other than the fact that I’m just his daughter. There is nothing about me, other than me being his child, that he would love me more than say, if Jane Doe was his daughter. It’d be the same. I wish I could make him proud of me, something other than being his daughter. What I’m saying probably doesn’t make sense. I can’t describe it. But there’s nothing extraordinary or uniquely lovable about me, his daughter, that anyone else wouldn’t get just the same if I was non-existent, and someone else was his 1st daughter.


But lately I’ve caused too much stress. Like the mistake I made the other day . . . that was the pits, and dad admitted that he was disappointed in me and I should know better than that. I am so immature, I stink. I want to do better. I pray and pray but I don’t change. It’s frustrating. I better change the subject before I start to cry. I’m so fat. I’m so immature. There’s nothing outstanding about me. I’m so ugly inside. At least God loves me. And I know mom and dad do, it’s just that other than the fact I’m their daughter, I haven’t given them any reason to love me. I’m trying to think of something.

Love Song, II—Shadows

 . . . continued from Love Song, I
"We ought to obey God, rather than men. Even when He hands us the crucifix and bids us Come. 
And so we come, and die."

People always asked me if I wanted a large family. “You gonna have ten kids too?” A relevant question—falling on shadowed heart. “Well, probably not ten . . . ” I let trail off with a smile. I used to say I'd done everything a mother has, except give birth. While I’m sure that’s not the case, living in close quarters with several younger siblings afforded me much practice for mothering. I tried not to complain, but it left me exhausted. At sixteen, I wrote in my journal:
I hate myself. I am a jerk. Mom acts as though I hate the kids. I am such a rotten person. Mom told me how I have lost all my patience with the kids, that I am not patient anymore. I try so hard. What will it take? I try and pray and instead of improving, get told I have gotten worse! I’m so discouraged. I hate being impatient with them. I know I am sometimes. But it must be all the time, because mom says what she said. I’ll never become better. It’s so frustrating and it hurts. I wish I was so gentle and sweet and mom never had a reason to say anything like that. I hope God can use me. Use me, this clump of imperfection! This mess of impatience! This blob of sin!
As a perfectionist first born, my perceived failures as a sister and daughter, as “Happy Helping Hillary” fueled intense depression. Name-calling was not allowed, of course, yet subtle labels stung worse than petty words. Bossy. Impatient. Frivolous. Worldly. Dreamy. Impractical. All were bad. “You aren’t good enough,” messages sneered. The harder I tried to measure up, the louder they shrilled.

Sanctuary


We lived in a land far away, my sisters, brothers and I. At least it seemed so; surrounded by acres of field and wood, we scoured every inch of ground and knew every rut forged by deer. In spring, we exulted upon the Bridal Path—a dark, verdant knoll plush with ferns waist-high, fringed by Dogwoods dripping white blossoms. In summer our feet sank into gripping sands of the Sunny Meadow, which we raced across to pet horses who eyeballed us from neighbor’s pasture.

When we discovered a steep, long hill perfect for flying down on bikes, we rose at dawn and fought dewy webs of spiders who wove all through the night a mystical corridor, which caught our faces as we rode through. And after we dashed back to the frantic calls of parents who woke to find us vanished, the spiders sighed and shook their heads in despair, rolled up their sleeves, and set to work again.

Years and years we dwelt there, a sanctuary with shadows.


I knew where to go, when shadows lengthened, and darkness ached. You could always find me within the pine. Warm, fragrant silence emanated from serene timbers which anchored our land. We swayed in unison with summer, these trees and I, sharing a common bond, with our heads in the clouds. Lush branches with flowing green tresses hid me lovingly, inviting me to stay for long, lazy moments and dream, unrestrained. Home to a billion cicadas and the mournful cry of the whippoorwill, they regally presided while my child-fingers scrawled thousands of pages in my little books. They asked no questions, kept all secrets glimpsed over my shoulder.

I turned and returned to that safe place; I lay on soft, velvety needles while catching twinkles of sapphire sky. It winked at me and gently teased, spurring jealousy—for that great blue expanse did not know her fortune, to live next to God.

On this day, wind blew softly, warmly. My elbows bore tell-tale crisscross from leaning on the ground when I rolled to my stomach and picked up my journal. My eyes drifted “up there” while I scribbled. God, why did I have to be born? I just want to die . . .

 . . . to be continued.

Love Song, I — Calling

Iam the oldest of eleven children. Ten siblings ~ all of whom I love with every breath, every prayer, every passing day.

Boxes stuffed with letters line closet shelves; photos surround me when arms cannot. They are so precious, these little souls, cast from Emmanuel's image and walking, living, running along the crust of earth. But all the little heads outgrow kisses I've planted. Time snatches youth and etches years into face. Hearts shift, thoughts change.

"Why are you doing this?" asks fear. Anger. Uncertainty. They lash out, indignant, afraid.

The most painful place of all lifts broken eyes to hills. There is only one answer, really. "Because He said."

Because He said.

This holy tragedy 

"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." 

In his book "The Cost of Discipleship", so writes one of my favorite martyrs, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A preacher and theologian executed  for resistance against National Socialism, his prison writings and books linger still, preaching grace and the calling of God ~ a calling which consumes all, a great, refining, jealous fire.

It is the calling of the cross. 

How do I respond? I wring my hands with tears. Obedience hurts. It breaks hearts; it divides. It endures accusation, misunderstanding, exile. Sometimes it kills. It willingly bears torture in faith that better things will come. Obedience requires us to wait in the pain and darkness, to weep and ache with the unknown while feet tread the faithful, steady path carved for us on Golgotha.

"Follow Me."

We ought to obey God, rather than men. Even when He hands us the crucifix and bids us Come. 

And so we come, and die.

to be continued . . .

Saturday Evening Blog Post



Join us once more for a gathering at Elizabeth Esther's! Link a blogpost of yours from October in her little McLinky and then write a new post and link to her blog, explaining why you chose the article you selected.

I am choosing to refresh the subject of Bounded Choice. It is a powerful tactic of control used by many within family, church, and culture ~ and we need to be aware of its forms and effects.

Enjoy making new blogger-friends and reading thought-provoking, inspiring material!

Sparrows Flutter



Sparrows flutter, falling
And the King of Heaven sees.

 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, 
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading
of it?”
  So he answered and said, “
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  

And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” Luke 10

We cover our heads according to first Corinthians eleven.”

I gazed at this solemn young woman, who eyed my bare locks with mournful conviction. She shifted the baby on her hip and spoke again. “I have a book you can read if you want to. It explains why people who are obedient to God cover, and God blesses them.”

I hesitated. At 12, I had only a vague concept of head-covering; most of what I'd seen was pictured in our Mennonite home-schooling curriculum. But the veiling on this new friend was very different; it reminded me of the illustrations of Mary in my mother’s King James Bible.

“Okay . . .” I said.

She sensed my hesitation. “I didn’t want to at first either.” Her voice gained strength. “But then I realized it was only my flesh, and we are called to deny ourselves. I promise you—it's worth it. I feel so much closer to God now, knowing that I am in His will and following the Bible. And knowing I'm protected helps even more.”

We stopped going to traditional church when I was eleven or so, for even they were rampant with worldliness and error. We began meeting with other families at home, and gradually moved from Sunday to Saturday as our Sabbath fellowship grew increasingly conservative.

During these gatherings, forty or fifty people milled about our modest house—not hard with all of the little ones in attendance—or ran around the farmyard. Early in the morning, my sisters and I gathered our biggest pots, monstrous cauldrons capable of bathing small children, and tediously picked through gallons of dried pinto beans to boil with onions, garlic, and spices. As people arrived, gigantic yellow bags of chips and huge blocks of cheese piled on the table. Over time, other families appeared and the studies, topics, and discussions centered more and more around Mosaic requirements, the keeping of feasts, or other traditions which encouraged biblical living. This time of fellowship was fun and enlightening, providing a break from routine; but looking back reveals how easily roots of legalism become twisted around vulnerable elements of the heart.

I both admired and envied that gentle, quiet, covered young woman. She'd married young, and secretly I wondered if she truly did have God’s special blessing for her simple dress and hidden curls. Surely He must love her more, I reasoned, since she faithfully demonstrated self-denial and unworldliness—the absolute pinnacle of virtue.

Godly—everything she was . . .
. . . and it seemed to me, everything I was not.

Link to Grace

In the Roman world of Jesus’ time, there were many moral problems.  There were famines, wars, diseases.  There was harsh poverty and decadent luxury. There was political corruption, intrigue, abuse of authority.  There was embezzlement, treason, armed insurgents who plotted to overthrow the government.  There was pornography, homosexuality, promiscuity, bestiality, and pederasty.  There was legalized prostitution, infanticide, and a corrupt system of entertainment that glorified gratuitous violence.
But when God Himself came to earth as a Man, he chose to vent the brunt of his moral outrage at one specific class of people:
Upstanding religious people who lived moral lives and had good Biblical theology.

Read the rest of the article here!