Books to Feed Your Spirit

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My History in the Conservative Quiverfull Home Schooling Movement: An Introduction to the Gender and Authority Series



Dear friends,


I've been posting articles and web links for my series on Gender & Authority this past week, and just compiled them all into the July edition of my Hope Chest e-magazine which is sent to about 950 families around the world.  This is the introduction I gave to those who don't know me, and I thought it would serve well as an introduction to the blog series, too...





As most of you know, I am a home schooling mom of 10 children, ages (almost) 6 to 24.  My oldest daughter is married with a one year old son and expecting her second baby in February. She works part-time as a writer, splitting shifts with her husband.  My second daughter works full time in an office and is engaged to be married in October; she and her fiance have both been active in mission trips to Bolivia.  My third daughter starts nursing school at UCF next month.  My fourth daughter is a Disney World photographer and a student at Valencia Community College.  Both my third and fourth daughters spent three months in Italy earlier this year helping missionaries with outreach through teaching English in the community.  They are now living at home again while they are in college.  My fifth daughter returns to public high school for her junior year this fall; she had a very successful and happy year there. The younger five children, in first through ninth grades, will continue in our home school; this year we are rejoining the Providence co-op after a year off and I will be teaching 7th-8th grade English (with an strong emphasis on Bible and missions) as I have in the past.  I have been home schooling my children for about 20 years, and learning about it for 25.   

That's because shortly after Thad and I married in the mid 1980’s, we moved to Maryland, where we joined a conservative yet contemporary church that was filled with large home schooling families.  One of my earliest mentors in marriage and motherhood was a sweet lady named Vickie Botkin, whose husband was our home group leader.   Vickie taught me how to make log cabin quilts in her sewing room.  She continually modeled a heart of simplicity and contentment to me.   She is a lot more well known now than then. Victoria (as she is now called) is the wife of Geoff Botkin, and mother of seven young adult children.  The books, audios and DVDs that the Botkin family produces are published by Vision Forum.  Probably the best known of these are the Elizabeth and Anna Sophia Botkin’s book So Much More and their DVD Return of the Daughters. (I own both, read & reviewed the book years ago, and watched the DVD.  I may eventually write more about them, but no promises.)  Back then, one of the books that either Vickie or of our friends introduced me to was The Way Home by Mary Pride.  Then I read the sequel All the Way Home when it came out in 1989.   For about a decade, I subscribed to and wrote articles for Pride’s magazines HELP, Big Happy Family, and Practical Home Schooling.  (For a 2009 update from Mary Pride, please read her article Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy.) About 20 years ago, I also started subscribing to Above Rubies Magazine by Nancy Campbell.  I have attended several three or four of her retreats (and helped organize one of them), written many articles for her magazine, and have had many personal conversations with her either while driving her to the airport or when she would call me on the phone with her delightful New Zealand accent.  I also read and posted on Teri Maxwell's very conservative Titus 2 Mom's web board for quite some time.


All this to say, I was quickly and deeply drawn into the “full quiver” (large family) and home schooling lifestyle that my new friends and Mary Pride’s and Nancy Campbell’s books and magazines espoused. I don’t regret that at all.  I wouldn’t trade any one of my 10 kids for anything!  And I love home schooling them!  I was still in my twenties when my oldest officially started kindergarten and I’ll be nearly 60 when my youngest graduates from high school.  That’s quite an investment in my own family, but I have also written home schooling books and published an e-magazine for the past 13 years.  I’m in deep and I’m in for the long haul.  


My husband Thad is also very involved in our children's educations through working with me on curriculum planning and record keeping, tutoring them, taking them on field trips, chauffeuring them to classes, working out dual enrollment in college, encouraging me to keep going strong, and of course, paying $$$ for everything!  With the older ones who are beyond home schooling, he helps coordinate college and scholarship applications,  overseas travel arrangements, car purchase and maintenance, wedding plans, financial planning and other adult life skills.  :-)  Kudos, Thad!  You are quite the veteran dad!

But back to the theme of this month's e-magazine... As the years have rolled by and I have closely observed the full quiver / home schooling movement and where it’s gone, I’ve seen some disturbing out workings in certain segments of it, especially relating to gender and authority.  Anything good can be distorted, sometimes very badly.  The ones who seem to suffer most are the moms and the daughters.  I’m certainly not the only one who has taken notice, hence the Manifesto and three book reviews I will share in this issue.   A little later, in the second review, I will share more on why I wrote this blog series. 

The other recent posts in this series, which I included in the e-magazine, are:

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Leave me a comment on this blog post or any of the others, or feel free to send me an e-mail!  Please note that I do not have the time or inclination for extended debates.  :-)

Blessings,
Virginia Knowles

1 comment:

  1. You are right...there are many weary moms in the QF movement and my heart goes out to them. I am sure endless dirty diapers, midnight cries, kids to homeschool, making meals, a husband giving more commands than a Marine sgt. and lack lack of funds all contribute to their plight.

    I have read of moms so weary and abused in the QF movement have left and become atheist. How sad and what a shameful testimony for what "God promised them" if they followed QF. They are blamed by other QF for being selfish and prideful and accused of all sorts of sin. They were beat daily with a teddy bear full of razorblades. (my definition of legalism) Their needs were not met and yet they had to give up all to meet the needs of "raising God's army." (where is that in the Bible?) Somehow grace was fed to them laced with the poison of man's rules made to God's rules. No wonder their spirits gag and choke.

    How do you think the world will see us when these women tell their stories? "Just another reason not to become christian." "How can a loving God allow women to be so downtrodden."

    Hey, here is a novel idea for christians. How about if we love one another? I know that is in the Bible. Jesus said it just before He went back to heaven. Even unbelievers know that one and boy do they use it against us when they see how we mistreat each other.

    When the ladies in our church were having baby after baby (as women are wont to do, it is their nature) I was finding lost kitten after kitten. (as God made me to be.) In the eyes of QF I would have been judged as sinning. Was I really doing something wrong or is it that God does not make cookie cutter christians? His plan for each of us is unique. Some women may be meant to have lots of kids, but some may be teachers, lawyers, doctors, or, just about anything God calls them to do.

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