Archive for the ‘Lessons Learned’ Category

Timothy saw this on my other blog and enjoyed it so I decided to put it here for you all.

Is Lewis promoting Hierarchy in his “Chronicles of Narnia”?

Not the hierarchy of age, class, gender, power, etc. etc. etc. . .

We have a VERY dog-eared fat copy which contains the entire series. I have read through the entire series out loud twice with different groups of my 8 children when they were in the 8-12 year old range. And several of them have re-read the series on their own.

I don’t find the hierarchy of which Robin Phillips speaks. Quite the opposite. In a prologue to the book “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”, Lewis’ intended audience is quite clear: his young Goddaughter, Lucy Barfield.

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather, C. S. Lewis.

— C.S. Lewis to Lucy Barfield (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe)

Not coincidentally, in the story, the character Lucy is the youngest of four children, the lowest in the “hierarchy” so to speak.

Yet she is the one who first experiences the Kingdom of Narnia, and she is the one who sees Aslan with the most clarity. And she is also the one who is disbelieved, dismissed, and chastised by the hierarchy of older brothers and sisters,

not to mention betrayed by older brother Edmund who is captivated by the White Witch and his lust for the magical Turkish Delight which never satisfies.

In the final story “The Last Battle”, three of the Pevensie children of the Wardrobe adventure meet the children of other Chronicle adventures in “Aslan’s country” (heaven). One of the four children is not there. Here is what Lewis writes about that:

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”
. . .

“Oh, Susan!” said Jill. “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up, indeed,” said the Lady Polly. “I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

The “hierarchy” of Lewis’ Chronicles is one where children are powerful in the kingdom of Narnia; a kingdom which they can no longer visit once they are past a certain age- until the final journey which has no return. Narnia is a kingdom where children have inspiring, courageous faith and wisdom which- at least in Susan’s case- does not endure into “adulthood”.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words “”Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” Luke 18:17 and “behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.” Luke 13:30. In Narnia, “hierarchy” is upside-down just like it is in the Kingdom of heaven. We must all become as children.


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Since coming out of the fog in 2004  some things have become clearer and clearer to me so I want to set the record straight.  When I wrote this apology letter to you, my children, there is still an element of “blaming” the woman for provoking male lust via “immodest dress”.

Nowadays, I think that a Christ-like man should be able to see a woman in the most provocative dress and seductive expression or even in erotic nude porn and not feel lust, but feel sad for her captivity and pain.

And nowadays, I think that girls and women should be able towear a tank top and shorts, or a lovely little evening gown guilt free.  For more on enjoying God’s creation without crossing the line see http://mychainsaregone.org/

Some of my daughters went with me to a “Purity’s Power” seminar by Lisa Bevere on dvd.  She spoke of the “packaging” and had a liberating message against the legalism of hard and fast “clothing rules”.

As I was contemplating this update about how my views have changed since 2004, I also thought of one of my daughters’ favorite books “Redeeming Love”, and how Angel was dressed up like a harlot and paraded in front of a leering crowd, but her modest spirit rose above it and shone with a heavenly glow to that lost crowd.

In “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers, Jonathan escorts Angel and two captive children out of the brothel where the chief pimp had forced her onstage:

“I really must ask, Jonathan.  What were you doing in a place like that?”

He laughed softly and kissed her forehead.  “I don’t really know, my love. . .  It was a strange day, Priss.  Something gnawed at me from noon on.  I couldn’t put my finger on it. . . I simply felt the need to walk. . . I was passing by that place and heard that devil making a speech.  The place was such a ruckus, I went in to hear what he was saying.”

“But why?  You loathe him.”

“I don’t know why.  I just felt compelled.  He was introducing Angel.  It was obscene.  It wasn’t his exact words.  It was his manner, the insinuation.  I can’t explain.  I felt like I was standing in a pagan temple and he was the priest introducing a new temple prostitute.”

“Why didn’t you leave?”

“I thought of it, but every time I did, something told me to wait. Then Angel came out.”

“She is very beautiful,” Priscilla said quietly.

“It wasn’t her beauty that held me, my love.  She was so young, and she walked to the center of that stage with such quiet dignity.  You can’t even imagine it, Priss.  Those men, they were like all the hounds of hell baying at her.  And then she sang.  She was so quiet at first, no one could hear her.  Then the noise died down until the place was silent except for her.”

He felt his throat constrict and tears burned.  “She was singing ‘Rock of Ages'”

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Some formerly QF Mom’s have compiled their apologies to QF Daughters. I am not sure that any of my daughters or sons would identify with those apologies or not? But it reminded me that I wanted to post this here for you? I don’t know if you will remember when I gave this to you or not, but I post it here for you with much love. I do not consider myself among the “formerly QF”. I remained QF in the sense that I had as many children as my body could bear and I have no regrets for that. Each one of you are priceless. (Just pray for Daddy and I to get a second wind so we can be good parents to the younger ones!)

Summer 2004

Dear H, D, J, and K (teens at the time of this writing)

I need to tell you about something that my counseling has turned up because it has affected you too.

I knew my mother was pretty non-functional. She spent the year, just before her pregnancy with me, institutionalized for psychosis. She recovered enough to be back in reality to some extent, but wasn’t nurturing. She is attached to things, not people. Last time we visited, I spent a portion of our “vacation” cleaning her house because the social worker said she can’t get around the clutter with the walker. I snuck 10 garbage bags full of mildewed old clothes, some from when I was a teenager, out the window. She was mad at me cause she knew some things were missing..

As a child, my mom didn’t have friends and I was her best friend and confidante, her emotional crutch. She often cried and it was my responsibility to comfort her. She even shared details of her and my dad’s intimacy problems which were beyond my innocent comprehension.

My mother is so profoundly mentally ill that I could be compassionate.

At S* [missionary candidate interview], the psychologist kept pressing me about whether I had been sexually abused and I said no. Now I know that something in my testing was telling him differently. A week or two later, I was talking to my sister on the phone and she told me that in processing through her own recovery, she was troubled about something. She said she used to feel so sorry for me because Mom was so jealous and hostile when Dad would dress me up and take me out as if I was his date.

I developed early and was often taken for 16 when I was 12. My dad bought me a new, immodest wardrobe, dressed me up with makeup and hairdo and took me on dates. He used to go to his condo in Puerto Rico alone for awhile every year. When I was 13, he took only me (and my wardrobe). I was supposed to be there alone with him for a month. He took me to an R-rated movie with full frontal nudity. I was very uncomfortable because I had never seen any woman except my mother. He had pop fiction novels with sexually explicit passages. As an avid reader, naturally I picked up what was there. I was not very happy or cooperative and somehow I made my dad mad and he sent me home after a week.

When I was 14 my dad shipped me to an all girl’s Catholic boarding school.

When I was 18, he married a 22 year old.

During my teenage years, I dressed immodestly and was molested on dozens of occasions by boys and men groping at my private parts.

I told Sandy about my Dad’s treatment and said, “But he never DID anything”. She said, looking a bit angry, “He DID do something.” What my mother and father each did to me is a form of emotional abuse which profoundly affected me.

I immediately realized how it has influenced me with my teens. I wounded all of you by expressing hatred for teenagers. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I love all of you and regret wounding you. It was my own teenage experience for which I was expressing hatred.

Because my boundaries were violated by others, I felt an overwhelming burden to protect you and was exceedingly harsh and controlling when it came to boundary issues.

I have been so intense and harsh about modesty (right standards but bad delivery). I have ranted and raved about R-rated movies. If it had been up to me, we never would have had them in the house. I am still very uncomfortable about it so I struggle, fight, and yell when R-movies are present. I think my behavior may have affected Joanne the most because she is considered “hot” and took an interest in boys so early. I am NOT sorry for setting boundaries which protect you, it would be a failure on my part not to set boundaries. But I have done so in a harsh, angry way and I am so sorry. Because I was so hurt by boys and men as a teen, I think I have subconsciously viewed any boy who approaches Joanne as a threat. For this reason I have failed to embrace Rob and make him feel welcome.

For all of this and whatever other negative impact this may have had on you, I am sorry. And I pray that you will be able to forgive me and not carry hurt in your spirits. May the chains of the sins of the parents be broken!

Much Love,


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Grown daughters of QuiverFull families are also known as “Quivering Daughters” in some circles. My daughters and sons grew up with fundamentalist, patriarchal, homeschooling parents. But I wouldn’t describe them as “quivering”. They are arrows going forth into the future, sharp, straight, and true.

Four of the eight children of my Full Quiver are majors (over 18) and this post is dedicated to them. In some respects, I have grown up with them because I have learned so much from them: by their character, by the ways in which they challenged me to re-think my theology.


My firstborn, Hannah, went away to a conservative Christian college down south. I remember when she came back for her first Christmas break at age 18 with so many opinions, so outspoken, I thought they had turned her into a “feminist”. Even as I corrected her for “disrespecting her father”, for “questioning authority”, something deep inside me admired that she had such freedom and assertiveness.

During her senior year, Hannah took a semester off to participate in medical missions. Nowadays, she is married and in her third year of medical school.


Daniel is gifted in carpentry and participated in two building related mission trips. He went to Alaska at age 13 with a group of mainly adults and senior citizens and helped build a house for a pastor. And he built a play structure for a Christian school in Nicaragua. Nowadays, Daniel is married and walks in Jesus footsteps in a myriad of ways including working in the carpentry field.




Joanne had her own opinion about fashion since she was 3 .

When she was a young teen, I was very harsh with her. Used to search her drawers and confiscate forbidden tank tops. She also broke all my dating rules. She started sneaking around with a 17 year old boy when she was 14. No matter how much I grounded her, she went right back to it again.

Nowadays, Joanne wears tank tops without condemnation and is happily married to her high school sweetheart (whom I love dearly. He has forgiven me for being “the gestapo”) . She has served on two medical missions in the DR and is finishing up her PA.


Karen was world class opinionated in High School. When she got accepted to world class Harvard, some homeschooling friends (whose son she liked) spoke to me of their concern that the liberal climate of Harvard would corrupt her. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the most heated discussions around our dinner table involved her political clashes with her conservative parents. She supported Obama (though she wasn’t old enough to vote for him). And I know Karen. Some people would call her a “rebel”. If anyone tells her what to think, she is likely to think the opposite. Her first time home from college, she said “Mom, you are not going to believe it but since I’ve been at Harvard, I’ve become more conservative.”

Karen has expressed a desire for ministry in Asia. Here she is- looking right at home- during a CCC summer leadership training program.

As a YoungLife volunteer in an ethnically diverse school district, here is Karen as camp counselor.







I’m excited that all four flying arrows will be headed this way for Thanksgiving. The married three will be accompanied by their spouses.

Although known as “minors”, rest assured that my younger four are not “minor” to me. Pray for me and my husband, that we may receive a second wind and an abundance of God’s grace and mercy so that they can be well launched.


Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows
are the children of a vigorous youth.
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
with your quivers full of children!
Ps 127:5 (The Message)


Indeed, I am blessed!

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