Archive for January, 2010

Tug-Of-War

January 20, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl –

I know in comparison to many others out there, my problem is small.

Over the past few years, my parents have mellowed. I have been allowed to work outside the home, wear pants, live in an apartment, and most recently my parents graciously gave me permission to acquire a boyfriend.

Here is my problem: My mother and I are in a constant tug-of-war over my clothing. Literally. TUG-OF-WAR.

Imagine this: my boyfriend and I are at my parents for dinner. I am wearing a perfectly modest tank-sweater-jeans combination. Even as my mother is greeting him, she is forcibly pulling on the bottom and top of my shirt. Yank down that tank, yank up that sweater neckline. Even as I mutter “MOM STOP!!!!”, she stage whispers at me “not to let my bottom hang out” or “you had better not ever lean over”. It’s beyond embarrassing. I can’t be comfortable, and my boyfriend just looks on in horror and confusion as my mother attempts to power-staple my shirt to my chest with her eyes.

And it doesn’t stop there. She does it at the grocery store, at church, and in front of my boss. I swear if I ever get married we’ll have to edit the wedding tapes to splice out the part where my mother climbs on-stage and tries to forcibly pull-up my wedding dress.

I dress modestly! I don’t wear pants that look painted on, shop at Wet Seal or attempt to let people know what color my bra is. It really doesn’t even matter what I have on. She will find a place to tug on it.

I really think that my only option is to start wearing spandex bodysuits that are so tight she can’t get a grip on them anywhere.

Please, just tell me I’m not the only one having to live with this.

Yours Truly,

Frustrated in Fairfax

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Carmen, Laura, and Christmas

January 13, 2010

Mother had two good friends: Carmen, her goat whose derriere closely resembled the posterior of the Ford Taurus popular in the mid-nineties, and ate only sweet feed. Laura on the other hand [name has been changed to protect the innocent] was a fellow mother ATIer whose posterior closely resembled the rear of the dodge ram expansion van popular for large families in similar years, and who only ate whole foods bought from Mother’s food co-op (anything but sweets I can assure you).

Both of these friends were the object of many jokes and stories amongst all of us kids.  Sometimes we joked about them separately but every once in a while a Laura/Carmen story would roll around that we could incorporate into the other.  (Like the idea of them both being comparable to cars)  We kids had an intense dislike for Carmen who Mother said was the most beautiful goat we had every owned, but had quite a love-hate relationship with Laura. 

Laura wore pants the first time we met her and had prayer with Mother that God would change her heart and give her the desire to wear the ever-pleasing full skirts that we already wore.  The change took place almost overnight and Laura called claiming she had been awakened in the middle of the night with the desire to dispose of all articles of clothing that contained legs.  Mother rejoiced in her noble decision and we kids made up more Laura jokes to tell at the dinner table for Dad’s benefit. 

Christmas was our favorite Laura time.  Each December she would send out a lengthy, all-informative newsletter containing pictures and details of each family member’s most private happenings, and every large item purchase her family had made during the year.  (Large item purchases consisted of those which cost over $500.) 

Laura’s Christmas letters contained bright and lively worded script to accompany the beautifully landscaped farm her family had bought: the boys were diligently working in the chicken coops with their father; each of their 9 outbuildings was being put to such good use as a school house, guest house, prayer house, etc, after the children had remodeled the insides of the structures themselves.  Laura bragged about her new computers, new flooring, new clothes (or jumper patterns), her ability to take a nap every day, how her children were child Einstein’s, her new van, and her flawless homeschool strategies.  Instead of washing clothes for a family of 9 daily, Laura required all of her children to wear their clothes two days in a row.  Instead of hiring a housekeeper, Laura taught her children good skills by making them sweep the floors around a dozen times a day.  We thought Laura was evil and her kids did too.  And those Christmas letters were so long.

Our favorite was the year that Laura’s family had the flu, bought a new farm, and a new computer all within a period of 12 months.  The letter opened with how many gigabytes the computer housed, how many bodies of water (“clean, clear, beautiful water”) the farm owned, and ended with what kind of loose bowels each member of the family had suffered from in the past month.  We kids, who never shied away from crude discussion, were proud and pleased with Laura’s ability to translate a real-life experience – such as the runs – into the context of a Christmas newsletter.  We considered this to be a skill that most ATI mothers were sadly unable to do.  The computer and farm each had pictures to prove their existence, but I guess Laura thought that words were ample enough to prove the sickness.

The Christmas that Laura’s first and only daughter was born, she wrote of the reason behind her naming the poor little girl Alleluia and why she would call the child Luia for short.  Such explanation was not really needed since anyone who knew Laura could think of numerous reasons to name a child in such a manner…

When her first born began dating his first girlfriend, Laura blissfully declared  in print – much to his horror – that they would undoubtedly be engaged before the next Christmas letter.  Since Peter had only been dating her a month and the girlfriend was terrified of Laura, we all doubted a Laura-positive outcome.  We were never sure if he married the same girl Laura wrote of or if he hurriedly found another before his mother could stamp the next news fest; regardless, Peter did indeed get engaged before the annual cards could be sent.

I guess Laura never caught on to our dislike of her ways even though we always tried to go out of our way to show our displeasure.  One month we hid in the trees leading to our driveway with high powered water guns and blasted Laura’s newly bought, newly waxed conversion van as it entered the property.  Laura was furious as her short frame wiggled down from the driver’s seat.  We all put on our most righteous attitudes while we welcomed her to Grace Brooks Farm and thanked her for her order.   

The next Christmas when she called, we all answered the phone “Happy Hanukkah, this is child’s name.”  Somehow it made us feel better.

Let’s Clear Up A Few Things…

January 12, 2010

Dear Readers,

After many emails, comments, and blog traffic over the past few days, we feel as if there are a few things we should clear up in case anyone should wonder:

1. We are X-ATI. 

2. There is more than one X-ATI girl behind this blog, but fewer than 5. 

3.We are all females {obviously}.

4. In answer to our most frequent and common question, YES, these stories are all real.  Take a breath, it’s true.  While we put these stories into a format that is reader friendly and somewhat therapeutic, all of these stories are true and we provide the details as accurately as possible.

5. A very few of you have responded that this blog discourages you.  It probably should.  This is real, it does go on, and this blog is a very honest, though satirical, portrayal of our lives.

6. One of us, while at University, researched the subject of Bill Gothard, ATI, and the social effects of this group.  The study encompassed consultations with medical professionals as well as in-depth interviews with those currently in actual treatment programs as a result of this lifestyle.  We write about this research, the research of the medical professionals who now specialize in this area, as well as our own experiences.

7. The purpose of this blog is so that we can look back at where we were, where we have come, and find the humor and sheer ridiculousness in some of it.  {Let’s not play the glad game.}  Also, we were among the first joiners of the ATI program, very involved in all parts of the ministry, and think it beneficial for others to know that yes, their experiences resound with many and they are not alone.  (In fact, one of us this week realized that her picture is still being used as Gothard clip art, much to her chagrin.  Don’t worry, one of us is a certified Character Coach, well versed in the strongholds diagram, and is working with her to tear down any towers of bitterness that still linger.)

8. To the parents, read this blog to know what your children are more than likely feeling but not saying.

9. To us kids, know that you are not alone.  We know you didn’t like reading a Pearls article {what a shocker, huh?} but it rang true with us which is why we posted it.

We would like to take this opportunity to apologize that all of these points did not start with the same letter of the alphabet.

How, oh how to sign this?  ‘It will be worth it all’?  ‘There is morning in my heart’?  ‘Blessings’?

Nah, peace out, girl scouts!

The X-ATI Girl{s}

Forbidden Treasures

January 11, 2010

I remember clearly the day it was discovered. That sinful thing I kept hidden in my room.

My mother practically wept when she confronted me over it. It was shameful, SHAMEFUL. Where had she gone wrong? How could she have raised a daughter who would have purchased such a carnal and lewd object? Why was God punishing her?

I sat, my fifteen-year-old eyes downcast, while she berated me for twenty minutes, gnashing her teeth over this scandalous and disgraceful object she had uncovered.

And then, she threw it into the trash.

I’m not surprised that she didn’t burn it – after all, to burn it she would have had to carry it from my bedroom, and heaven forbid any of my siblings should see it and know of my disgrace.

Once she left me to reflect upon my sins (without dinner), I sat and sadly stared into my small garbage can, at a pair of flowered cotton underwear with delicate pink ribbon around the top.

Because clearly, the only reason I would ever want to own something so abominably pretty, is because I intended for people to see them.

Yielding Personal Rights

January 11, 2010

I received a short email from a girl inquiring about The Pineapple Story.  Until I can post the entire letter, let’s all be reminded:

“As you read this first-hand account, you will discover that it is a classic example of the kinds of struggles which each of us faces until we learn and apply the principle of yielding personal rights.”

[emphasis by X-ATI Girl]

Please feel free to join me in passing on wisdom that you have received from this book.

* This book is eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on amazon.com just in case you’ve lost or misplaced your copy.

The List

January 11, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl, 

I started writing The List when I was around six years old.  It has now grown to 240 items representing the man that I (and my mother and father) believe will be only God’s best for me.  My mother has told me that I should settle for no less than everything on the list.  If “broccoli lover” is present, broccoli lover God will provide.  After all, there really should be no exceptions to the list if you remain in God’s constant will and under your father’s guidance and protection. 

 I have met a few nice men in the past year during which my family was attending a home church hosted by a fellow Gothard disciple.  All of these men come from ATI families.  I met one very nice young man 11 months ago who constantly shows humility before God and our church by confessing his sins before the congregation.   I am moved by his obedience to the Lord and his parents.  I rush home from church every Sunday afternoon, excitedly pull The List from my hope chest, and begin to examine whether this could the man that God has sent to ask my father for courtship.  

  1. Male – yes! CHECK!
  2. Humble – yes! Check again!
  3. Compassionate – oh yes
  4. Strong – we’re on a roll
  5. Under his parent’s authority – definitely
  6. Building a barn – wow, I’ve never gotten this far before
  7. Pure –there is no way that this man could be anything but pure
  8. Respectful to his mother – he was holding her hand when they walked in!
  9. Wants kids – already overheard his dreams of raising mighty sons
  10. Respects me – of course!  He hasn’t even looked at me yet!
  11. Respects my father – he didn’t even shake his hand he is so scared of him
  12. Goes to church – faithfully 

And so down the list my pen has flown, checking off each ever-so-important item, and getting more and more confident that God has given me the willingness to be his wife.  The young man did ask my father for permission to court me!  My father prayed about this matter for 4 months before telling me (and the young man) that while the answer is not a decided ‘no,’ it is a definite ‘not at this time.’  This is item 57 on my list – I know that God will send me a young man who my father will immediately love and I should not accept a waiting period. 

I knew I should have used a pencil this time when marking off my list, but it just seemed so very sure.  X-ATI Girl, have you had a similar experience?  An older woman in our church suggested that I stop my list at 200 items, what are your thoughts on that?  Would that be settling for something that is less than God’s will? 

May you find a rhema this very day,

Waiting in Wisconsin

Don’t snicker. A lot of kids are hurting.

January 9, 2010

It’s unusual, difficult, and downright weird for the X-ATI girl to stray in any way from satire and/or humor. 

It’s important to do so every once in a while even if it’s out of my comfort zone.  {Thank you Chantelle for posting this.}

Many thanks to Michael and Debi Pearl for an article so well written that it tells the story of almost every X-ATIer’s life.

The good news?  Most of us have been disowned, denied, or distanced by the family cloister and were forced to go out on our own because of their disappointment and disapproval.  Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gifts.  We survived.  In fact, we did quite well.  Maybe our parents don’t like us, but today we are successful, intelligent, educated, and normal people who live very regular lives.  We have left it behind us.  We can begin to laugh now.

Warning: this is long.  It is well worth the read.

Cloistered Homeschool Syndrome

 Article by Michael & Debi Pearl, August 2008

The Foger family came to stay with us one spring about 12 years ago while they were on furlough from Mozambique.

Their eighth child was soon to be delivered. Although I had just met the family, I was highly impressed by them. The oldest daughter, 19 years old, was a joyful, hardworking, energetic, blue-eyed beauty. The next, a 17 year old son, was cut in the mold of his father, dedicated, reserved, and very mission-minded. The five other children were 13 years old and younger. The family sang together with strong, forceful voices, no bashfulness among them. The two oldest children provided the instrumental accompaniment. It was an experience just listening to such a group.

They all understood and spoke two languages. The oldest two children spoke three languages. The father had left South America after ten years of mission service to move to another country, which meant learning another language. The parents still stumbled around slowly learning the Portuguese language. The two oldest children were invaluable in the new ministry, which was already showing promise.

While we sat around one evening, the mother casually asked us to pray that their daughter find a husband before they left for Mozambique in the Fall. I asked in a shocked manner, “Why on earth would you want her to marry now? She is such a blessing to you and knows the language. Surely you need her to help you with the other children.” The mother lifted her arched brows as she pondered how she would answer me. Her look conveyed her surprise at my lack of understanding. “We will be in a foreign country for the next 4 years. All that time she will be at the prime of her marriageable age. We feel it is best for her to marry an American. God called my husband to Mozambique as a missionary…not our adult children. We have obeyed God and raised them up to serve HIM…not US. We don’t add; we multiply. It is time for her to live her life.”
That next year we received a mission card with their picture. There were only six children in the picture. The mission letter briefly stated that the oldest son was in Bible school and the daughter was married.

Over the years I received their missions update. I noted that the parents were growing fatter and grayer. The children disappeared from the picture, one or two every year or so. It was sad to see the diminishing of such a magnificent family. The mission letters were filled with gospel film presentations to prisoners and villagers, church camps, protracted meetings, people getting saved, and only a brief mention of their now grown children. They would write something like, “Joshua and his wife are in Romania serving as missionaries; Peter and his wife are in Russia working with the something ministry; Sara married this year. Her husband is the pastor of a church.” And so it went.

Today we receive mission letters from their now grown and ministering children. I see their families expanding. Their joyful, energetic, blue-eyed beauty of a daughter is now the mother of six children. Her family is growing up in Cajun country. I know if I meet them I will be very impressed. I heard that they sing like soldiers…with power and command.

I am thankful for the testimony of the Foger family as well as other families that have come into our lives. They are a prototype to help us understand the problems that are arising among some older homeschooling families. We call it by different names. Today it is the Cloistered Homeschooled Syndrome. Briefly, it is the failure of the parents to understand, appreciate, and respect the individuality of their adult children. They sacrifice the individual identities of their children on the altar of their own emotional needs, making them nurse when they should be killing and dressing their own food, making them obey when they should be learning to command. They seem to think that grown children are God’s gift to them rather than their gift to God. Through letters and personal contact, we see more and more of this cult-like isolationism, parents demanding absolute allegiance to the family group, and fearing outside contact might break up their “fellowship.” Adult kids who want to launch out on their own are told that they are rebellious and disloyal and are causing grief to those who have nurtured them. Emotionally needy parents manipulate their grown children into remaining loyal to the unit. Thirty-year-old daughters sit at home acting as surrogate mothers, watching their prospects to ever be a mother dwindle.

You cannot stop a tree from growing without killing it or deforming it. Likewise, every year of one’s life up until about the age of twenty-one or twenty-two is a year of radical change and development. Some parents are trying to stop that development, clinging to their teenagers like they were six years old. We have observed the victims many times. They either flee their chains in anger, or they are slowly smothered into inordinate submission, and their personalities die as they merge into the ego of their dependent parents.

This medieval hierarchy is preached as Bible doctrine. Father and Mother as King and Queen of their little kingdom preach the divine right of Kings and parents—“Obey me without question, for it is your manifest destiny.” Their “patriarchal” status is the only expression of their significance in an otherwise disconnected world, and they milk it until their children are dry and lifeless in spirit, or until they fly away to breathe fresh air.

For over a year we have been discussing this subject, thinking about how to address it. We have talked with many young adults who are, or were, held captive, the rebellious and the subdued, those who are disciples of Christ and those who are worldly and lost. We have spoken with families who lost their children early, in their teens, and families who lost a child to the world in their twenties or later.

How did this happen? It is the old pendulum at work. Thirty to forty years ago Christian parents were losing their children to the world through public schools, public churches, and public play. The family was disconnected and dating was the norm. We rebelled against the soul eating monster and took charge of our lives. Our children would not be raised on the TV. They would not lose their virginity in a school bathroom or under the stairwell. No more evolutionary philosophy and godless history and science. We took our children home and taught them from used books and the Bible. We created culture anew, abstaining from mega churches with their youth groups and revolving boy-girl relationships. We parents became the principle influence in our children’s lives, selecting their friends and ours with care. No overnight sleeps or backyard playhouses with closing doors. Family worship and Bible study took the place of Television. Once again parents were in charge and there was hope.
It felt good to be in control of our own destiny, to not be a victim, to know that our children would escape the sin and shame that some of us had to go through before we came to Christ.

There was a vacuum, a need for leaders to arise and define what had become a movement, to clarify our journey and give us direction through uncharted waters. First, curriculum was written, then seminars. Sub-movements arose to flesh out the new culture, specialists addressing every conceivable issue—head coverings, dress, doctrine, spanking, scheduled nursing, Kosher foods and Jewish practices, and the list goes on. Books were written, some good, some not so good. Then someone pulled from ancient Chaldean and Sumerian culture, also practiced by Jews of that day as reflected in Scripture, a system of Patriarchal rule. It was the way nomadic clans were held together, a necessity of the times, but never taught by Moses, the prophets, or Christ as God’s divine plan.

I laughed the first time I hear of the Patriarchal Movement. “It will never fly,” I said, “People are not that gullible.” But they were. Daddies who were never in charge of anything, maybe not even their wives, were finally given justification for assuming the throne. Yippee!

It is now become a disease of epic proportions. We call them PDFs, Patriarchal Dysfunctional Families. The children are treated as permanent property of the parents. If they don’t marry, and many of them never have the opportunity, they remain at home as a sort of indentured servant, never rising to the status of an adult, always under authority of the head of the clan, the Patriarch Daddy. Don’t snicker. A lot of kids are hurting. And if you want to see something scary, try to conduct a betrothal with two patriarchal mothers involved. It is uggggly.
Daughter sits at home serving the younger children and doing Mama’s chores—waiting for God’s choice. Daddy and Mama hold their merchandise guardedly, waiting for a buyer who never comes.

What is pitiful is the whole process is done in hopes of getting the perfect will of God, but one vital ingredient is missing—encouraging your children to become responsible, autonomous, well educated, and experienced adults as soon as possible. You should have trained your sons to be men by the time they are fifteen, independent by the time they are eighteen. Your daughters should be capable of living apart from the family by the time they are eighteen and should be allowed to make their own life’s decisions somewhere between the ages of eighteen and twenty. Unmarried, grown (18 years old) children may remain at home; it is good if they do; but the parent-child relationship should evolve into an adult-adult relationship by the time they are sixteen to eighteen years old. Parents should have earned the right to give advice, and kids should have grown in wisdom enough to ask for it. But a parent should never invoke his parental authority on a grown kid. It is demeaning to both and akin to not being potty trained.

To teach a student to drive or fly a plane and then always make him be in the company of his parents is degrading. You teach them so they can become independent of you. Whose need is being met when a Father treats a 22-year-old girl like a child, dictating the parameters of her choices?
 The glory of a parent is to work himself out of a job, to stand back and see his kids fly solo. I expected to have supplanted myself by the time my kids were eighteen. And so it was. Long before that, I began to confer with them adult to adult. I have stepped back and allowed them to make decisions that I knew were not the best choices, and sometimes I was wrong; they were wiser than I.

Space does not allow us to say more at this time. More will come later. Sit down and talk with your nearly grown kids. Ask them what they want, feel, aspire to. Don’t express hurt, and don’t emotionally manipulate them. Encourage them to pursue their dreams and support them in their effort.

In 1996, our daughter Rebekah Joy, then a 20-year-old in training to be a linguist, wrote this poem. At the time, the poem was the future; it was full of promise and hope.
There is a mighty army
Being trained to stand and fight.
A Battlefield of soldiers
Learning what is right.
A Company of warriors
That will boldly take the Word
To every tribe and nation
Til every soul has heard.
There is a mighty army,
I’ve seen them everywhere.
Most are wearing diapers
And dragging Teddy Bears.
Infants in the training
Drilled in right and wrong.
Mom and Dad are making
Soldiers brave and strong.
There is a mighty army

Trained in righteous war.
Cheer them on to victory,
Children of the Lord!

At 22 years old, Rebekah went into a remote mountain range of Papua New Guinea to study the language of a tribe who had never even seen a white person. Her 19-year-old brother, Gabriel, went for a few months, then was replaced by Nathan, her 17-year-old brother. Nathan stayed for a few months until he believed that she would be safe. She was left alone on that mountain with the unreached tribe. After two years, others came to help, and she came home.

It was her understanding of languages that gave us the information needed to pass on to veteran missionary Tom Gaudet. He is a publisher of Bibles into obscure languages. He sent out an appeal on the web for any translator that might have been working on a common language of that area. He received 14 replies. One was from a missionary who had spent 35 years translating the Bible, but when he went home he couldn’t raise the money to get it printed. Tom pulled together all the translators, had them correct each other’s work and settle on a finished manuscript. We raised the money to get 20,000 printed and shipped.

Sending a beautiful, unassertive, young woman is not God’s usual way. He was proving a point. He was making a statement to her, to us and to you. “If I can protect and use this young girl to win a remote tribal people, then I can do the same for you.”

Rebekah kept a diary of those years, which we read when she came home. We wept at her courage and resolve. We wept that we had the honor of being her parents. We published Rebekah’s Diary in 1997. She was such a regular, normal girl until God gave her the vision of reaching a tribe. A few years ago, missionaries contacted us and told us that there are now seven strong villages of believers on that mountain and that the village men proudly carry their Bibles under their arms.
Because a young girl went willingly…
Because we, HER PARENTS, didn’t say no.
Because she would have obeyed us and stayed home.
But we cheered her on to victory…
There are new names written down in glory.

The Spirit of Bitterness and Rebellion

January 9, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

I have just given birth to our eleventh child, our seventh son Jedidiah.  Since Jedidiah’s birth, I have had very little strength to do anything other than being able to spend time on my knees in prayer.  I rise at 7:00am and immediately go to my prayer closet and spend three hours praying for the lives of my children, my husband’s business, and that I will be able to be a submissive wife with a gentle spirit.  My prayer time grows with each day and I am prayerfully considering beginning the use of a headcoverings for my daughters and I so that we can publicly testify of our submission to my husband and their father.

My children arise at 5:30am to milk the goats before the girls prepare breakfast and feed their siblings.  My dear daughters are preparing for being wives and mothers by caring for their siblings and truly find so much joy in taking on this responsibility.  They diligently make all of our household clothes and linens.  When my dear sons shear the sheep, the girls spin the wool to create beautiful blankets which are on every bed of our home.  Because my dear husband and I believe that refined sugar is an addiction that Satan would wish to allow into our lives, my daughters also have the responsibility of grinding the wheat we get from a co-op each month, and making our bread daily. 

My oldest daughter, Sara (28), is beginning the midwifery program offered by IBLP [Institute in Basic Life Principles], while she faithfully asks God to provide a fellow who would be her husband.  My dear husband only allows our daughters to court and carefully discerns which men are sent from God and which would be a wolf in disguise to steal our daughters’ virtue.  None of my dear daughters are currently courting gentlemen, and none of them ever have.  I am blessed to have a daughter like Sara who understands her role in life as being a keeper at home.

In the past year, my children have developed a spirit of bitterness and rebellion. I do not understand how this can be the case.  There is no rock music in our home.  We do not have a television.  They do occasionally listen to the radio, but only when it is closely supervised by either me or my husband.  We have Character Link internet so I am able to view everything that my children see online.  My dear husband and I diligently search their rooms to ensure that there are no evil influences that enter into our home.  Even with all of this, my children are choosing anger, and the light in their once bright eyes has begun to dim.

Please, X-ATI Girl, help me.  I am told that you have had experience in all of these areas and can give me advice on how to regain control of my home and my children’s spirits.  Since Jedidiah has been born, I have required much more encouragement from other mothers and the teachings of the older women in our home church.  Because of this, our long distance was at a rate which we could no longer afford and our phones have been cut off.  Although we will be unable to speak to each other, I would ask that you write me a letter. 

Many blessings to you,

Gentleness in Greenville

Dear XATIGirlToo {aka DragonKat}

January 9, 2010

Your comments are light, refreshing, and right on course.  Would you consider being a guest blogger for the X-ATI Girl?

xoxo,

X-ATI Girl{s}

Umbrella of Authority

January 8, 2010

Dear X-ATI Girl,

At the beginning of the summer, I did something that I am still ashamed of.  I rebelled against my parents and wore a bathing suit that my grandparents had given to me.  My parents did not know of the suit, and I wore it only while at my grandparent’s home.  I had worn the suit only three times when my parents discovered it during a routine sweep of my dresser drawers. 

My mother was mortified and immediately called our family coordinator to see when she could speak to Mr. Gothard about my willingness to dress in such an immodest, defiling fashion which would so clearly cause men to stumble.  We had just finished Wisdom Booklet #57 and had studied extensively the section on modesty.  I did take the modesty exam, and I passed with flying colors.  My decision to wear the bathing suit clearly had a deeper root cause.  I was seen by my parents as being rebellious against their authority.  The family coordinator called Headquarters on my parents’ behalf and returned to my mother with the serious request that I be sent to Eagle Springs Training Center immediately for an in depth study on the Umbrella of Authority.

This is what I learned while at Eagle Springs:

When the sky grows dark and the thunder roars,

When the strong winds blow and the cloud bursts pour,

I know I’m safe as I can be when I’m under the umbrella that God places over me.

{escalating effects: duh duh duh duh duh}

For instruction so I know when I am wrong,

For correction so I know that I belong,

For provision for the things I need,

And protection that is guaranteed.

{Here’s my problem: I cannot really remember the second line to the second verse.  What comes after correction?  And what was the correction for?  I don’t understand.}

At Eagle Springs I studied the Umbrella of Authority every day.  Daily forecasts: cloudy with a chance of lust, showers of rebellion, golf ball sized temptation, as well as storms of disobedience all raining down from above.  I learned how my father is the Umbrella of Protection in my family, my mother is submissive to his authority, and all 7 of us children are directly underneath them, always honoring our parents.   Every day I constructed a flannel graph.  I laboriously cut out all of the shapes: the umbrella, my parents, siblings, and hundreds of dangerous raindrops which were labeled with each of my sins.  Through this process I truly learned how helpless I am without the Umbrella and how if I ever venture out from underneath Father’s authority, spiritual and physical death will inevitably be the result. 

So, X-ATI Girl, this is what I need your help with:

1. I am too scared to leave the house now.  I truly have nightmares about severe weather conditions and how they relate to sins in my life.

2. If my father were to ever leave, are we all just left out in the rain and storms of life?  What will we do without a man’s authority?

3. Does this mean that I will have to live in my parent’s home forever?  My mother says yes because when a lady is removed from a man’s authority, she will surely lose all virtue and honor. 

Blessings,

Drenched in Dakota