Above Rubies Magazine: When Bad Things Happen to Quiverfull Moms

Above Rubies Magazine: When Bad Things Happen to Quiverfull Moms August 6, 2010

by Ima Wakenow

When I received my latest issue of Above Rubies I was truly looking forward to it.  Everyone raved about this magazine that has been “Strengthening Families Across the World” for 32 years.  It is a much anticipated event due to the sporadic publishing of the magazine.  You see, AR only publishes when enough donations have come in to make a complete distribution of their full color 32 page periodical.  I never really had the opportunity to read AR consistently but I had picked up an issue here and there.  It was never an earth moving experience. 

Until now.

The entire issue seems to have a common theme running through.  The pages are stuffed full of testimonials about various ailments that had been cured…yes, I said cured, through child bearing.  And I don’t mean your typical child bearing.  I’m speaking of the repeated and continuous Quiverful type child bearing.  We aren’t talking about sciatica pain either.  The ailments include panic attacks, migraines, fatigue, poor marriage, depression, chronic pain (from adhesions), nosebleeds and aging.  And these aren’t just silly little clichés like “Children keep you young.”  These are multi paragraph articles proposing the answer to all your problems is just having more babies.  The second half of the magazine has a large spread on V-BAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) births and how successful they are.   

As I perused the pages of this latest AR installment my eyes settled on an article written by Nancy Campbell’s daughter herself, Serene.  There she is with her beautiful family.  Everyone is smiling.  They look so happy.  I eagerly began reading the article written by Nancy Campbell’s own progeny.  Surely, this serving should be savored morsel by morsel. After all, who else would have a better grip on how to live this Above Rubies life than someone that grew up in it?

Before I finished the first paragraph I found myself forced to go back and reread what was written.  Did she really just say that due to poor plumbing this story is set during a time when she had no running water?  I’m already sympathetic toward her.  Wow, it’s hard to live without running water but to do so with 8 little blessings would be doubly hard.  I’m already looking forward to the happy ending.

Instead I read about how this family, whose oldest child is 12, is first forced to haul water from the stock tank (after breaking the ice), then fetch water down the hill and back up again in 5 gallon buckets, survive in a freezing cold house, then suffer as smoke billowed out of the wood stove, then wear goggles to keep smoke out of their eyes, then lay on the floor while the children opened doors and windows to air out the place.  Finally, to escape the smoke, they went outside in freezing weather to run laps around the house to stay warm.  And poor Serene cried.  

This is not the worst part of the story, nor the reason I felt compelled to write this review.  We all have bad days.  We even might have bad weeks, months or entire years.  I think we can all relate to someone who has had a “smoke billowing into the living room” day even if we have never even seen a wood stove in person.  The part that really had me shaking my head was that throughout the description of this event Serene interjects chastisement for herself.  She cries after finding the only way to breath in her home is by laying with her baby on the floor and she says “I didn’t try to be a big coping girl anymore.”  She expresses displeasure at running laps with a baby in the freezing cold but her reproof to herself is that she “popped their [the children] bubble with my tirade of negativity.” I’m not sure who told Serene that children are brainless idiots but I have no doubt that her little blessings already knew that they were cold and tired.

The answer for Serene, she decides, is to create a mind game to get through future situations.  And I must interject here that it appears there will be many many “future situations” as Serene never mentions fixing any of the problems or how her loving husband is rectifying the mess.  She goes on to explain about her “Inanimate Filter”.  The premise is that if something doesn’t have a “soul or spirit” then it isn’t worth worrying about.  “Don’t waste good energy” her advice goes.  There are several things wrong with this theory.  Sometimes events are important even though they have no soul because they effect someone who does.  Serene is promoting lying.  She is participating in asceticism (the doctrine that a person can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, self-mortification, and the like).  She is being a bad witness for Christ.  And this type of behavior is not sustainable.

Someone that is living in a difficult situation with children can not pretend that the situation isn’t difficult.  There are other people involved and the adults’ primary focus should be on them.  Living in a freezing, smoke filled home with no running water is not what little children deserve.  What kind of example is it to them that their parents choose not to provide basic needs like adequate shelter.  Children need stability and security to grow up healthy.  They need to be shown how to appropriately respond to trials and how to aspire for something better.  Denial doesn’t work and it’s irresponsible for the kids.

When you are in a difficult life sometimes you have to lie to yourself to get through the day.  But then the question becomes “Is lying to yourself and your children still lying?”  We all know it’s a bad idea to lie to other people.  When Serene tells her kids that all is well in spite of their frost bite she loses credibility with them.  And lying to yourself?  That’s not cool either.  When you lie to yourself you are basically saying that what you truly feel, see and hear is wrong.  This leads to more confusion about what is real and soon you end up relying on other people to tell you how to respond in any given situation.  That’s a set up for abuse if I ever saw one.  Lying is unscriptural and I argue that lying to yourself is just as bad as lying to others.  The fall out is worse.  If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

While we will have times that we suffer there are a group of people that believe in suffering for the purpose of being more Godly.  This is called asceticism.  Self denial and martyrdom run rampant in these individuals but only for the purpose of becoming more holy.  While the scriptures tell us that we will suffer for being Christians I would hardly consider living in a run down house a mission field for Christ.  It’s not like she is on the mission field in Africa and has to live in a grass hut to reach the people.  No, Serene is suffering because her husband and family refuse to do the things that would make her life comfortable and Serene herself doesn’t have the power to make it better.  She comforts herself with the idea that she is being “refined” and “sanctified” when in reality she is just being neglected and abused by everyone around her.

What sort of witness is she for Christ?  What do people see when they look at this poor mother of many shivering in the cold?  They see a woman who is denied basic care.  She is not allowed to make her predicament better. Her husband is comfortable forcing her to live in these conditions.  What’s worse, at the Campbell compound a large portion of the family all live on one parcel of land.  So, Serene has family nearby.  What did they do to help in the moment and what ongoing action are they taking to make long term changes for her and the children?  It is disgusting to think that there is a permanent problem with the water pipe and everyone around her just shrugs.  No one takes her husband to task.  These leaders in the patriarchal movement turn the other way when their own daughter is suffering.  How will the unbelievers “know we are Christians by our love” if we eat our own?

This type of avoidance of the truth can only last so long.  When the truth of standing on the snow with 7 children and a baby slaps you in the face for the 5th time in as many seconds it is impossible to forget the “Inanimate” things.  Lies can not stand.  It’s no surprise that her “grumpiest face” kept reappearing.  That is because she was having trouble lying to herself.  God, himself, gave her feeling in her fingers so that she might know when she is cold and have the good sense to go someplace warmer.  What Serene needs is a better answer to her cold, smoky, waterless house.  Something she can hang her hat on like the knowledge that because people care for her they are in the process of fixing her house to make it livable again.  She may still have her bad days but the bad days are so much easier to bear when you know change is coming or at least someone cares!!

In the P.S. to this story Serene adds a little update that since the story of the smoky, freezing house they had some severe flooding that destroyed her downstairs flooring.  She congratulates herself for keeping her “Inanimate Filter” in high gear during this time and she didn’t throw a big fit.  They now live completely upstairs and she feels no occasion to be concerned that her situation is very difficult and may not change.  She has completely disassociated from reality.  What does her future hold?  

The only answers Serene offers are lies, lies and more lies.  Is this the lesson she has learned from the matriarch of self denial and martyrdom?  As I look at the examples presented in the rest of the magazine I see that this is true.  With the exception of 6 pages of ads for the AR products, the entire focus of this piece of literature is to convince you that your horrible situation is ok, fine, comfortable, not as bad as someone else, tolerable, pretend, all your fault and just plain great.  It’s not.  It’s a falsehood to say differently.  Above Rubies applauds women who manage to delude themselves with statements about how they should have tried harder and their feelings are invalid.  Above Rubies is a magazine of lies.  

“Ima Wakenow” is a former Quiverfull mom of many.

Discuss this post on the NLQ forums. Comments are also open below.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Val

    I also read that article in A.R. and it bothered me too. Why didn’t her parents help? You are right – the daughters and their families all live on the same land as her parents. And she has a brother who is a music industry executive (Christian music) who owns a 1.5 MILLION dollar, 8000 square foot home in Nashville. He obviously has the money to help her out but doesn’t. Talk about not helping a sister in need. And at one point a year or two ago Nancy was trying to raise money through donations for surgery for her broken arm. Nancy’s house is also huge and beautiful but apparently her daughters live in squalor and this is o.k.?

  • Donna

    I think that this is representative of the fantasy world that christians have created for themselves. I left the born-again fold in the late 80’s, long before there was a Quiverful, but the thought process illustrated here is eerily familiar. In the mid-80’s, I was a volunteer at a Crisis Pregnancy Center where I resisted giving women “health” information that I knew wasn’t true (I believed, and still believe, that lying is immoral), but the fact that it wasn’t true and that it could actually endanger women was immaterial to the other volunteers and to the director. In their eyes, because abortion is evil, anything that can convince or frighten a women out of that decision was of God. Even when it was a lie. Or might put a woman’s health in peril. This is magical thinking, where reality is malleable and facts are what you want them to be, and it’s not just at Crisis Pregnancy Centers. It’s rampant among the entire born-again movement.

    In terms of the money issue with christians, this was as troubling to me as the lack of honesty. For people who claim to read the Bible, well, religiously, they seem unfamiliar with Jesus’ admonitions about money and the corrupting power of money lust. It was difficult for me to reconcile until I read an article several years ago in Harper’s Magazine about the evangelical roots of the free market. Even from the inception of modern evangelicalism in the early 19th century, financial riches were seen as an outward sign of god’s blessings. The poor are poor because they are lazy/immoral/ungodly/etc. and one has to be careful about helping them because too much charity or charity of the wrong sort could interfere with a poor person’s salvation. Poverty, the thinking went, is sent by god to help a person become more godly. It sounds almost medieval; but listen carefully and you can hear much the same today – although it may be politically incorrect to disparage poor people out loud. Oops! Got that wrong! Disrespectful and repulsive comments about the poor (and unemployed) seem to be gaining traction among the current crop of conservatives.

  • Amy

    As I was reading this, I couldn’t help thinking about Andrea Yates. Her college-educated, well-paid husband expected her to homeschool five children in a 350 square foot converted bus, and ignored multiple warnings about how seriously ill she was.

    I’m not suggesting in any way that Serene would do what Andrea did, but was just struck by the mind-boggling denial of reality in both cases.How can these husbands let their children live in such terrible conditions? It’s one thing to discourage excessive materialism, but to expect your family to live in third-world conditions is bizarre.

  • denelian

    i got say – it took balls for anyone to print this.

    what do i mean? think about it – it is now IN PRINT in a NATIONAL PUBLICATION that Serena’s children are living in conditions that are FAR beyond what are considered “neglectful”. i KNOW PEOPLE who had their kids taken away because, 3 winters ago, their pipes to the water main busted [not the “inside” pipes – these were the pipes that connected the house to public water] in their rented house, their landlord would neither get it fixed until “spring thaw” [which was APRIL and this happened in JANUARY] nor let them out of their lease. they didn’t have running water for TWO WEEKS before CPS showed up and took the kids. granted, they got the kids back as soon as they took their landlord to court and got a new place… but still: *HOW* is anyone in social services justifying letting this continue? just because they’re “Christian”? please – doesn’t matter! take those kids and put them somewhere SAFE if the *PARENTS* won’t do it!!!

  • Lynn

    It’s amazing what women can be brain-washed to put up with. She needs to rise up, say, “Hell, NO! I will not live this way and neither will my children!” She’d feel much better and authentic. She’d be agreeing with the part of her brain that whispers that this is all nuts.

  • I, too, am appalled that CPS isn’t doing anything for these children. No running water, no heat, the downstairs of the house they live in is actively dangerous, and what are they eating? I assume the kitchen is downstairs.

    It angers me that these children are forced to live this way. If you want to reenact Pioneer America, knock yourself out, but leave your kids out of it.

  • smart princess

    This story needs to be sent to CPS. If this crazy woman wants to live this way, it’s her business. But she should NOT be allowed to raise children in this environment.

  • Gina

    I’m sorry you were in a situation like that with a CPC, Donna, but please don’t think all pro-lifers or even all CPCs are like that. In my experience — and I know a LOT of pro-lifers — the movement as a whole and CPCs in particular are very concerned about giving women only truthful information.

  • Jenny

    Pioneers lived better than this. They did not live in smoke filled rooms. My brother has a friend who survived a house fire as a child. His brother died years later from the lung damage. He just got a lung transplant. Do they understand that they are damaging their children’s bodies? Most definitely CPS needs to become involved.

  • Fjodor

    If you’ve ever withheld information on alternatives, then you’ve committed a lie of omission. If you’ve ever exaggerated horror stories linked to abortion, then you’ve still lied.

  • sqwerlie

    I think that perhaps you all are missing a few things here. First, she doesn’t say the pipes were frozen all winter, just when the temps/wind got the upper hand. Heck, we go through that every winter here for a few days, so do a lot of others. You make do. And they did have heat, but she had trouble getting the wood stove to work properly. In that case, perhaps a family member could have come and helped her get it going when her husband wasn’t home. When we lose electricity due to a winter storm, we have no heat and you make do. As far as having to live upstairs, the flooring downstairs was damaged due to all the flooding in Tenn, lots of homes were. At least they were able to stay in their own home while repairs were being made. I think Serena was pointing out that most of the time we get our undies in a bundle over things that are temporary, and an inconvenience but that we can certainly live through it and maybe even find a way to have fun doing it. Like when my dishwasher flooded the kitchen two weeks ago, it wasn’t that the dishwasher hated me. It’s just a “thing” and it didn’t work right. Why get all worked up and upset and make my family miserable over that? I have lots of other, more important things to spend my energy on. So we sucked up all the water with the wet-vac and cleaned up the mess. And laugh about the fountain in the kitchen that turned it into a wading pool. Jesus wants us to use our energy and passion taking care of things that matter….His people, our children. She is teaching her children that life is full of times you would rather throw a fit, even though it won’t change a darn thing. So be grateful for what you have, fix what you can and know that in the long run, you’ve taught your kids the important stuff.

  • Donna

    Actually, in the 25 or so years since I left the CPC I have recounted my experiences at the center to many, many people who call themselves “pro-life”. They all listen carefully but never condemn the dishonesty. That would include my own parents, who were always quick to condemn all forms of lying, at least when I was growing up. Not one single person has ever said to me that this lying was wrong. Not a one. No one ever admitted that telling women that abortion causes breast cancer is wrong, despite the mountains of evidence that puts the lie to this myth. No one ever thought it was wrong to tell women that their pre-existing medical issues would pose no problem to a full-term pregnancy, but might kill them if they had an abortion. (No one at the CPC where I volunteered had any medical training at all. Being a “christian” was a requirement for the job, actual knowledge was not.) Among those friends, I hasten to add, were directors and volunteers at other CPCs. I’d like to think that what I said gave them pause for thought or maybe even affected their actions, but I doubt it. I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid long ago so nothing I say can be trusted.

    A further note, I worked at the CPC after the birth of my third – and last – child. For a full year after his birth, I was in constant, excruciating pain which was initially thought to be lupus. (Every joint in my body was so inflamed that I could not bend my neck enough to look at him when I nursed him. It hurt to even bend a finger and I had three children under 5 to care for. I was only 25.) It wasn’t lupus and, in fact, was never positively diagnosed. Eventually, it went away on its own and I’ve never had a recurrence. My midwife warned me that if I indeed had lupus, I would want to think long and hard about any more pregnancies, as they could seriously compromise my health. To my co-volunteers at the CPC, however, I needn’t worry about what my (Jewish, therefore non-believing) midwife thought. They didn’t say it, but perhaps they, too, believed that pregnancy cured everything?

  • Jenny Islander

    What strikes me is her terrible isolation.

    When our house filled with smoke because my husband was having trouble getting the new woodstove to cooperate, there was a knock on the door and we looked out to see a fire truck in our driveway. Because our NEIGHBORS had seen the smoke billowing from the house and feared the worst.

    When there were record rains one October that got into the basement, frying the furnace (this was before we got the woodstove) and the electric hot water heater, police officers and firefighters went from house to house to make sure that everybody was OK. Because that’s what you do in a COMMUNITY.

    When a “JOY”ful woman who had been abandoned by her oh-so-manly husband was discovered to be living in a trailer that had water and mold inside all of the walls because she had been brainwashed into believing that complaining about it would be selfish, Habitat for Humanity convinced her to walk out on her lease (and you better believe the lessor was advised NOT to try to enforce it!) and helped her and her son build their first solid home. Because that is how CHRISTIANS are supposed to help the poor.

    What does Serene have? A worthless, unlivable house in a so-called family compound that is filled with relatives right out of a Shirley Jackson manuscript.

    As for living in such a crap-pile teaching kids “the important stuff,” I grew up in a house that was just about as bad. I had nightmares about it for years and I hated the people who had me trapped there for a very long time. “The important stuff” is a house that has windowsills I can’t put my fingers through, doors that really shut, toilets that flush, showers that work, ceilings that do not bulge, and air that is not actually visible. At that age, you don’t give a damn about the higher reasons. You just want a door on your room and no spiders on your face in the morning.

  • Ebeth

    I have to say, I don’t think this *is* a reenactment of pioneer America. At least, not with pioneers who survived. If you want to reenact Pioneer America by going out in the untamed wilderness and making the best life possible for yourself and your family, be my guest. Pioneers who ignored fundamentals like heat, food, home repair, and building on flood plains died.

    Honestly, the description of the article reads like a Shirley Jackson story – next, Serene will be confined to the attic, lowering her children out the window in the bucket that they use to carry water, but still keeping her happiest face.

  • Ebeth

    My pipes have never frozen. Not when the temps reached -40 and stayed there for days. Frozen pipes burst, that would be a PITA to repair, and we can’t afford to let it happen. All of the installed plumbing runs along the chimney stack, up the center of the house, and exposed pipes in the basement are coated with foam insulation. THe need to keep the pipes clear dictates the lower limit on how cold we can let the house get (and we’ve been darn broke sometimes – there have been years when I would drop the heat to 50 if I could). In a pinch, we’ll leave all the faucets dripping so that the water moves and doesn’t freeze.

    Which is to say, I disagree with you: people do not just “make do” with pipes that freeze every winter. There are many, simple steps that can be taken to prevent that.

    When I and my children are cold, I do not put on a happy face while running laps around the house. I find ways to make things better – more clothes and blankets, a space heater, hot food and drinks, visits to friends and family who have figured out how to get their wood stoves going, help figuring out the flues on the chimney. My children bear up better because I let them know that I understand that the situation is unacceptable, and that I am working to make things better.

    Serene isn’t fixing things without throwing a fit. She’s keeping a happy face on while letting things rot. Not the same at all.

  • HeathenMama

    How this could be published and nobody finds out where this woman lives and calls Child Protective Services is completely beyond me.

  • I was once rejected as a volunteer at a CPC because “vegetarians aren’t Christians.” And, “You worship the creature not the Creator.” I thought it meant that I respect life, but okay, whatever, lady.

    I would love to see “well woman” clinics instead of CPC’s. It would be a great alternative to what Planned Parenthood offers, and would provide real care delivered with accountability.

    Before my local CPC turned down my services, I was clued in to some of their policies. One of the most shocking was the birth control advice…they refused to give any. They referred married women “to their pastor.” Yikes. Here’s my take on that: It would be perfectly appropriate to approach your minister for counseling if you are deciding whether or not to have children, or another child, etc. However, unless your minister is also a doctor or nurse or midwife, or even a lactation consultant, why would you approach him or her for what basically amounts to issues involving your plumbing?

    I admit to being lucky with the above – my best friend is a pastor AND a nurse (R.N.) – I pester her with all my health concerns. 🙂

  • Donna

    Thanks for recounting your experiences! I’m not at all surprised to hear that vegetarians would be unwelcome.

    I’m wondering, though, about your take on Planned Parenthood. When I found out I was pregnant for the first time in 1979, I was 20 and uninsured. I got a complete checkup at PP, a referral to a clinic for prenatal care (PP didn’t offer that then), and I was charged $3.00 for the whole thing. Not a single word about abortion. I told the case worker that I was expecting to be pressured into an abortion – that’s what I’d heard PP did. She looked incredulous and said that they never recommended abortion to any woman who didn’t come seeking one. Over the following decade, as I was sucked further into fundamentalism, I railed against PP, although my own experience contradicted the born-again “conventional wisdom” about PP.
    I am once again uninsured and I’ve gone back to PP for my annual exams. The medical people are top-notch and answer all of my questions – and give me more time than my expensive private ob-gyn ever offered. All this for $25.00. Sure, it would be great to have more clinics available for women who cannot afford a private physician, but Planned Parenthood offers terrific services, no judgment or guilt trip, either. Try to get that at a CPC.

  • The L (Visitor)

    The more I hear about the Quiverfull movement, the more I wonder how women can possibly delude themselves into thinking that such misery is “God’s plan.” Worse, I can’t help wondering why an entire magazine would devote itself to promoting this sort of lifestyle, as if a house that is literally falling apart is any place to raise ONE child, much less a dozen.

    If you cannot afford to meet the needs of the children you have, then continuing to have more is cruelty. If can clearly see your neighbor’s children freezing or starving, every day that rolls, and you do absolutely nothing to help out, you are as guilty of abuse as any child-beater or child-molester, because your refusal to act is taken by those suffering children as a way of saying “It is good and right for you to suffer.” Doubly so if those neighbors are your family!

    I thought AR was supposed to be about “strengthening families,” not promoting child abuse and self-abuse.

  • mamawama

    I am confused why people on this website would even pick up above rubies magazine since it is all about QF, and being Christian. I think maybe some people are just looking for things to be critical about?
    If a person no longer agrees with a way of life, why not just walk away? Set your time and attention on something else?
    Why would a person spend so much time researching, reading, and blogging about a way of life they don’t even like?
    I don’t know much about Serene, but I do know that her husband had just installed beautiful wood floors in their home when the flood happened. And they have been planning on moving to another country as missionaries. They also dug for a new well and they dug very deep but still didnt’ hit water. It doesn’t sound like people who don’t care, it sounds like a season of ” when it rains it pours” to me.

  • I remember seeing those pages of “testimonials” before, but it never it hope the irony of it all. Good post, btw.

  • Sandy

    Above Rubies is quickly losing credibility. Their Liberian adopted children have been taken away ( Serenes AND Nancys) & they have not told their magazine base. But the Liberian teenagers are on Facebook telling all.

  • nolongerquivering

    Sandy ~ I tried to send an email, but it didn’t go through. Could you please send me a note: http://kontactr.com/user/vyckie ~ with more info about the Liberian teens sharing their experiences on Facebook? Thanks.


  • R-Tam

    If a person no longer agrees with a way of life, why not just walk away? Set your time and attention on something else?
    Why would a person spend so much time researching, reading, and blogging about a way of life they don’t even like?”

    BECAUSE one does not like it? BECAUSE one walked away? Quiverful is a very destructive ideology that needs to be exposed and I salute Vickie for trying to help and warn others instead of, as you say, just walking away.

  • perdita

    Is there an on-line source for this article?

  • Joyce

    So I actually haven’t even read the article yet, but maybe people aren’t helping because this kind of thing is ALWAYS happening to these people? Or because they don’t even realize they (both outsiders & insiders) need help anymore? I can say as a long time AR reader and I have been to one retreat that while I really do agree with everything you said we should take care of the ‘church body’ I have to say God allows us to function in our ministries/gifts even when our lives are falling apart. I have been so blessed by their Bibical teachings even though their lives are far from perfect. I never had passion about or even knew what God said about what a mother should be and healthy eating for my family, etc until AR. And mind you I am torn on how many children it is wise to have and we are not popping out kids like rabbits (personally), but there are many depths to these people’s ministry beyond the magazine itself. So please consider that as well. I have come across other ministries since reading AR that have some ideals I absolutely would not adobt, but have taken away many tools that I have implemented into our version of things that have been very helpful (Pearls). So I think what I am saying you have to be able to sift what you read and study to find what God is saying to you. I doubt there is any one band-wagon out there that is worth completely jumping on other than Christ’s. So we have to ask for discernemnt and wisdom for ourselves. Thank him that we are not dillusional and blinded and pray that these people have a paradigm/heart change. How much greater would their ministry be if these things were in order!! (beyond having tons of kids)

    On that note I find your blog very interesting and look forward to reading it more indepth.

  • Joyce

    I want to clarify that I was not saying Serene was dillusional/blinded. But that no one is perfect and I think she was trying to make the best of a situation that she would of been justified in falling apart and rolling into a ball on the floor. I think not knowing the people and just reading an article snap shot (which I know read grim) isn’t justification to bash someone. IF we are truly Christians would it not be better to take our concern to Christ instead of wasting our time gossiping. And on that note I appologize for even posting on this site it was not wise. I do hope you find healing for the obvious hurt you have experienced.

  • Cari

    I used PPH last year to confirm my pregnancy with my youngest. After it was confirmed, I was asked once “you are planning on keeping this baby, correct?” I was told during conversation that they generally offer abortion as a last alternative, offering info on state assistance and asking about adoption first, but if someone is still set on abortion, they offer it after a full disclosure of (real) potential complications. Of course, this could vary depending on the clinic.

    The health department never asked me about keeping the baby, they simply asked if I had a doctor picked out for prenatal care.

  • Meg

    This is not the only publication where Serene has been without running water.
    Last summer or before they were hauling water and living in a treehouse.

  • K. Williams

    attack. attack. attack. I don’t hear much compassion person here. Has any one of you considered seeing what YOU could do to HELP the situation instead of critizing? (There are always more details to a story, and seldom room to print them all in one article.) Serene is easily contacted, I believe. Give her a call and see if there’s something you can help with… plumbing, fire-building lessons, something…


  • *CK*

    I’ve rarely seen such judgment and ugliness as I’ve seen here. There’s nothing wrong with families living without running water. There’s nothing wrong with hauling water from your spring. There’s nothing wrong with only using wood heat to heat your house. Your kids aren’t “abused” because you have to use wood or stay in one section of the house in the winter because it’s warmer. There’s nothing wrong with a flood ruining your downstairs and learning to be content and happy as you work on fixing it. I guarantee you that hundreds of people are living in less than ideal situations after the Nashville flood. There’s nothing wrong with building your house yourself and working on it slowly as you go so you don’t have to go into debt. There’s nothing wrong with NOT having your rich brother swoop in an rescue you every time life gets hard. There’s nothing wrong with living a life outside the norm and being happy about it. Before the flood they had a REALLY nice house. Hardwood floors throughout. Many bedrooms. A kitchen downstairs and upstairs. Her husband built them a beautiful home. And it flooded and ruined the downstairs and people are talking about he’s abusing her by making her live in these insane conditions. What a bunch of ugly gossip! They don’t even live on the Campbell’s property anymore. You guys have NO idea what you’re talking about. You’re just gossiping and judging and spewing hatred to boost your own egos. I’ve rarely been more disgusted than this.

  • A.Roddy

    The more we find out about this movement the more we can educate others about the truth that some refuse to see.Quiverfull is a step back not forward.Regardless of who you are or how many kids you have make sure you can adequately care for them before bringing them into this world.

  • A.Roddy

    I live in tennsessee too and yes I find it deplorable a rich brother doesn’t help. Most home owners have something called insurance.Her shamefull excuse for a husband needs to get off his hind end and fix these problems And K it isn’t hate CHILDREN SHOULD NOT BE IN THESE CONDITIONS

  • Synesthesia

    Uh, there is something wrong with all of that WHEN YOU HAVE CHILDREN. Including a young baby.
    Plus they were running laps to keep warm. I’m sorry, but when you have several small children and a baby, it shouldn’t be like that… If they were my friends I’d give them some of my limited money and let them stay at my place for a while, but no one wants to stay here but me because it’s messy, but yeah, if I was their rich brother I’d help out.
    It’s not right to not help out your sister.

  • Kim

    What’s really sad is that the husband’s are completely missing the “love you wife as your own flesh” portion of Scripture. Part of that means providing an adequate home, food, necessities, etc. for your wife and children. A husband who allows this kind of thing to go on in their home, unless there is some worldwide catastophe, which requires living this way, should be ashamed of himself.

  • Aria

    It is smart to educate oneself before making a decision one way or another, and smarter still to continue gleaning education when possible. I’ve read the bible cover to cover three times before deciding I didn’t believe it. I can quote the bible better than most Christians because I’ve studied it to determine my beliefs. It’s stupid to dislike something without first learning about it in depth.

  • I wondered myself if anyone had considered sending a copy of the article to CPS? I mean really, it isn’t like most CPS workers know about, let alone read the Above Rubies newsletter, and with as isolated as they likely keep themselves. their neighbors may know nothing about it.

  • Pipes may freeze routinely in Minnesota or other “northern” areas…but Tennessee??? I live in Pennsylvania, and have only had pipes freeze once–and that situation was the pipes to my kitchen sink that were running in a crawl space under the kitchen. The rest of the house was fine, and we learned in the future to leave the sink dripping (like Ebeth mentions).

  • pwe

    Yes they are no longer in the home thank God!! I’m in contact with the Liberian children.They finally got brave enough to talk and get away from worse conditions than they came from at the orphanage. Wonderful, smart teens who didn’t deserve the the abuse they received in their home in. Just a front for them to make money off of the selling whatever! Pray for the two young ones that are still there. Or report your concerns to the Hickman Co. juvenille court judge by way of letter.

  • Uly

    “I am confused why people on this website would even pick up above rubies magazine since it is all about QF, and being Christian. I think maybe some people are just looking for things to be critical about?”

    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe for the lulz? Why are you here, btw?

  • Katlyn

    I agree with Kim and this breaks my heart! How can a “godly” man let his family go through those things and not do anything? He is suppsed to love his wife as his ownself, I guess he skips that part.

  • Rachel

    I consider myself QF but please don’t think all people who leave their family size up to God/nature are silly enough to run outside in the snow and not fix a problem that’s affecting their children. Nor do I consider myself brainwashed. I want lots of children and consider myself already very blessed with three. But I’d do whatever I had to do to help my husband provide for any and all children we have. If I have to sell candles, cookies, books, baby-sit, tutor, give singing lessons, – whatever I can do I’d do to make sure my children were provided for. If I truly couldn’t do anything and was just stuck in some dire situation I’d be crying out to God to provide not telling myself it’s okay when it wasn’t. I haven’t read the article mentioned from AR but I hope it’s not really as silly as it’s made out to be. I hope this lady was simply trying to not whine and cry and make things worse than they already were and I hope they are working to repair the problems in their home and/or seek help from family and friends for the childrens’ sake.

  • thesedays

    What kind of clientele did you see at the CPC? Someone on another website who was a CPC worker in more recent years said it was mostly teenage girls who came there for the free pregnancy test, hoping it was positive. She had had to file a CPS report more than once because the girl was underage; she had seen such deliberate pregnancies in girls as young as 13. This was actually the main reason she left.

  • Emma

    I completely agree with C.K. Disgusted with the bile on this thread.

  • formerquiverfull

    This totally describes what my mindset used to be. I was so great at ignoring my feelings and telling myself that any desire I might have to improve anything for myself was invalid. I was such a great christian woman. I’m so glad my husband was too much of a crazy sex-addict to stick around me and my delusion. I don’t know if I would have ever woken up.

  • Christie

    You know I read this article and the impression I got was that sometimes the sky falls and falls hard. Yall who are saying how deplorable it is and that they should have had homeowners insurance and the like must not have ever had a pipe burst and have an insurance company deal with it. I have, and I live in VA in a middle class neighborhood with a house that was built 5 years ago. Guess what, when that happens it take WEEKS at least even with insurance to get everything put back together–if you are lucky and your husband is handy.

    Sure the stove smoking was not the best and she should have called for help afterall that is what church/families are for, but that was not the point of the article. The point of the article was that even in hard times, you can choose joy. I stumbled upon this article, and I don’t plan to come back. Take this as you will. If you don’t like Above Rubies shake the dust from your feet and move on. But anger and threats (call CPS) have no place in Christian discourse.

  • Asha

    I agree. I stumbled upon this site and have just read down to the end of the thread. I am disgusted at the hate and unchristrian feelings displayed here. (especially the threats to call child protection seeing as anyone with half a brain – certainly in australia anyway but from what i have seen, in other countries as well – should know how very damaging ‘child protection’ is to children. my own younger two were sexually mollested by one of their female workers.) i have found the magazine very helpful and encouraging in a world that discourages mothers from wanting to actually be mothers!!

  • Gal_6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
    ar_12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
    Mar_12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
    Mat_18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

  • Coloratura

    Not having read the actual article straight from Above Rubies, I cannot give an opinion firsthand. However, I agree with all the other posters above me who have said the situation is ridiculous. If her parents owns such a large compound, then could they not have at least offered her and her children refuge from the cold as their stove or pipes got repaired? Bear with my diatribe for just a second, if you would. I don’t understand how and why it is many Christians condemn others for pronouncing judgment, declaring it to be ungodly and ungracious, while they themselves pronounce judgments on matters far less trivial. These matters include, but are not limited to, sexual orientation, the right of homosexual couples to marry, and the belief, or lack thereof, in a god. I speak as a person who was an Evangelical Christian for quite some time and know he exhortation well of needing to stand up for my beliefs in the infallible and inerrant word of God. I was told many times I must make a judgment call, even if it flies in the face of what everyone else wants to hear. Yet, the tables are turned now, and we find ourselves making a judgment call on values many hold dear. In response to a poster above, there is nothing wong with wanting to liv outside the norm, if that is what bings you happiness. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to haul water out of a spring for daily use. There is, however, something wrong when these problems keep resurfacing, forcing young children and the infant to live in such squalor. There is something wrong when one’s parents live nearby but refuse to help.
    All right. I’m off my soap box now.

  • Ashley V.

    Actually, during “hard times” that involve freezing and breathing smoke and running around in the snow to stay warm, I think chosing logic trumps “choosing joy” (aka, choosing to pretend like a small child and not recognize . When our power was knocked out by tornadoes this summer, I did not chose to swelter in the southern summer heat without running water with my children while having a happy face slapped on. I chose to put on my *adult human* panties, drive to somewhere with electricity, charge my cell phone, packed my kids and their clothes into the car, and drive us through the clearings in the disaster zone to safety at a relative’s home. I came back when we had water and it wasn’t 98 degrees indoors. That’s what an adult does. An infantalized girl stays there and pretends that grown women just smile and make believe that things are cheerful, and chides herself for being “grumpy”.

    I don’t want to attack anyone; I feel *grieved* for people who have been tricked and badgered and guilted into shutting off entire parts of their God-given brains that control honest evaluation of a situation and mature decision-making. That’s not blast-worthy, it’s heartbreaking. I’m angry…at the teaching that enables women to be entrapped and dis-empowered from being the grown women they were created to be.

  • Kate Thompson

    Yes, I have two of them. One was actually sent back to Liberia from where we rescued him. He was never educated and has had a long struggle but is making it at last. Both of these children have been in our family now for about two and half years.

  • Charlene

    Whoa, wake up folks! This post has no credibility and subsequently this whole site. To be credible you need real facts from primary sources–and scripture to back it up if you profess to be a Christian. I thought I would read a fair, level-headed, loving, Scripture-backed crItique of the QF movement here. Instead, I learn that AR is a dangerous magazine because it contains testimonies from women who truly believe their pregnancies had a positive effect on their health. And because they promote the idea that VBACs can be successful. Oh, and because it features women who are smiling and appear happy when they couldn’t possibly be happy because some plumbing wasn’t working correctly and some smoke filled their home from a wood stove.

    Really? I mean, really? The author posts on a site that claims to want to help women out of this movement yet the best she can come up with is to slander fellow mothers who are allegedly her sisters in Christ? Yikes! It seems to be a pattern that women who claim they want to help other women are often the first ones in line to cut them down. The author of this post does so anonymously while she calls out Serene and Nancy by name. At least have the courage and decency to put your real name on it. And unlike some people here who commented, I actually READ this AR article. Lies? Hmmm, I’m thinking a pot and a kettle right now. The original article in AR has been terribly exaggerated by the author of this post which could also be seen as a form of lying. Her descriptive word choice is inflammatory. She has born a false witness to the simple contents of an article which described a particularly bad winter day in rural TN and how one mom chose to respond to it. It was not about denying the reality of the situation but about not wanting to drag children through every peak and valley of a mother’s own emotions.

    This exaggerated description of Serene’s article has stirred up hatred and anger against someone none of you even knows. Would anyone here like someone to take a bad moment they had with their children and run to CPS with it? Threatening CPS is a sure way to harm children who love their mother. Hello, somehow human civilization survived thousands of years without electricity and running water. Romans 3:23 says that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death–not a nice house with things that never break down. Some have decided that everyone “deserves” these things because they are lovers of themselves, having elevated their own opinions above scripture and brotherly love.

    There is a difference between believing everyone “deserves” these things and desiring that everyone have these things. The former is Biblically incorrect because it involves entitlement but the latter is loving our neighbor. Because some believe that her children are entitled to a certain standard of living, they are willing to destroy the entire family to make sure they get it. Bravo. I’m sure the children would be so thankful to be without a mom so they could have a nicer house. Who’s next? Should we call CPS on parents who raise their voices or whose children have to wear clothes from thrift stores? I know some who deem used clothing to be utterly disgusting for a child to have to wear.

    Take a good, hard look at yourself, your own shortcomings as a mother, and your own need for forgiveness of sins and then perhaps you will find the grace to give Serene and others in the QF movement. If you want to call out the QF movement, offer a mature discussion of the topic that doesn’t involve tearing down another sister in Christ. Bring Scriptures to back up your opinion. This post was not a true “review” or critique, just a childish chance to vent some bitterness. And while there’s no “you” in Quivering, it looks like there is no love or grace in No Longer Quivering. Just hateful, mocking gossip. These women have issues and struggles like we all do. If you really want to “help”, then please get over your bitterness and speak the truth with the Word of God in love.

  • Domy

    I don’t condemn this poor mom at all. It sounds like she found herself in an overwhelming situation with small children. However, if you are an adult and you have children, no matter how scary it is, or how much disapproval you think you may meet, you have an obligation as a parent to provide a safe environment for your children.

    Smoke in the lungs can do serious damage, especially to children’s tiny lungs. My grandparents lived safely with no running water and a wood stove, but their house was warm. There isn’t an option for responsible childraising that involves frostbite or hypothermia. Little ones could get pneumonia and die. They can’t hold body heat as well as an adult.

    This woman absolutely should not be facing this situation without help. Where is her husband? Where are her parents? Where is her pastor? Does nobody know, or care, what happens to her and her family? Where’s the husband while this is going on? In a warm office? How can he live with himself? What Christian can accept that no family member or friend comes forward and presses help upon her, even if she doesn’t ask, if they know? Her family is nearby and surely they know. The children’s welfare comes above all things.

    I don’t apologize for caring about helpless children’s welfare more than adults’ pride or ignorance. If she feels she must obey her husband’s wishes by staying home and freezing to death, rather than seeking shelter elsewhere, please send the kids to Grandma’s. They deserve better.

  • Kiwiaussie

    Ok, so this is a few months old now, but I was a long time follower of AR, attending their retreats for many years. The last one I went to was a few months after my 7th daughter was born with Down Syndrome. Nothing was directly said, but I felt like her disability was frowned upon as a sign I had done something wrong. That was 3 years ago this month. When 60 minutes did a show on them here in Australia, I watched with the idea that I would be able to write to 60 minutes in support of them. Instead, I watched the show, which included seeing several long-term friends on it, and just wanted to cry for them.

    I am interested in the Liberyian orphan angle, as the Lydia Schaefer case was one of the catalysts in my deconversion from To Train Up a Child.

    It has only been a year since then, so I guess you could say I am still processing everything, and this is the first time I have read anything about AR’s roll in all this.

  • Alison G

    YOu know, I have gotten AR for years, even attended a few retreats. On of may friends is ‘really into them’ Our family is built through adoption. I was wondering where the Liberian kids were. What in the world happened? Where have I been?

  • sandra levitt

    thank you. this is exactly what i got out of serene’s article!

  • kisekileia

    I know this comment is way late, but that is a REALLY REALLY good idea and someone needs to do it. Does anyone still have a copy of this Above Rubies magazine?

  • Mori

    My wife loves reading Above Rubies and apart from some rather quaint notions we feel that it is a wonderful Christian publication. Her message of encouragement for motherhood and giving love to children is just so important in today’s society. As one of 10 children I almost feel that I am eligible to be part of the AR inner circle! We should not criticize Serene for the way she handled here basement flood emergency, it was wonderful positive thinking. The only issue I have with Above Rubies is it’s promotion of 3rd world adoptions, particularly from Africa, they just do not work and cause heartache and misery for all parties. My message to all Christians out there, please do not criticize a wonderful ministry such as Above Rubies.

  • Straight after reading your entry ” Above Rubies Magazine: When Bad Things Happen to Quiverfull Moms “, I finally resolved to share it on Yahoo. This is certainly a great info to talk about with my friends

  • JB

    A lot of us have walked away for a very long time. It’s time to speak up. AR is part of the fabric of a blanket of patriarchy that has been smothering Christian women for decades. THIS is the time and place to speak up, and share our stories, and vent our feelings. Walk away if you don’t like it. It’s not like we have a voice in the mainstream church that suckles on fundamentalism.

  • Mamaof4

    I read that same article and came away feeling totally different.
    I have been in ugly situations like that and had a choice I could make the best of it or I could choose to be whiny, complaining and miserable. I see it as she chose to lead her family with a good choice. whining and complaining is never a good choice… look at what happened to the Israelites when they constantly conplained. The Bible tells us to rejoice ALWAYS not just when life is peachy.
    Maybe she is an optimist and chooses to see the good in things, quite frankly the world needs more people to see the good.
    As for her husband… I personally saw and heard that Nancy does not agree with how he handles most things. But she also realizes that prayer is the best way to change a bad situation. Would you respond well if you MIL was always interfering and telling you what to do? I know I wouldn’t, I’d be hurt and frustrated and probably dig my heels in.
    Before you go around judging what you read in a small article that probably didn’t tell everything just highlighted what she wanted to share you should stop and think it through.

  • Erin G.

    I’m grateful I found this review of Above Rubies & related ideas. I’m already well aware and appropriately wary of the QF / Pearls / Gothard movements, and although I felt slightly concerned when a friend recently started talking about AR, I had nothing to base it on other than a feminist Christian concern that it was a Christian women’s group that twisted Proverbs 31 into a rigid set of rules for homemakers. Turns out I was (unfortunately) right… and now I’m trying to figure out if I should say something to her, or wait until she brings it up again (she’s mentioned it twice in the past week, and has started saying things like “I feel guilty for the short time I used birth control…” and “I’m not going to do anything to prevent having children ever again”. (The guilt factor concerns me, but I don’t have anything against having oodles of children if it’s genuinely a desire of a woman AND her husband BOTH – in this case I feel like my friend is overstepping or projecting a little when it comes to the latter!) She’s always been one who wanted a larger family (5 kids or so) but now it sounds like that number isn’t it for her any more. She’s a natural/crunchy type, and a lot of her values (extended breastfeeding, homebirthing, etc) are espoused in far less creepy/dangerous/cult-ish ways in other Christian circles. THANK YOU for posting this review and linking up to other helpful sources.

  • Persephone

    Truth is what is valued here, not lies.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    THANK YOU! I’d been getting tired of the “babies cure cancer and everything else” thrust of Above Rubies.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    My, my, someone is definitely very defensive. Unclutch those pearls before you have a stroke.