Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Little Celebration: Liebster Award

Dear Friend,

Ruth at A Great Book Study has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award! Thank you so much, Ruth! I love your wise insights about the classics and life and I'm grateful for your friendship and encouragement. 
The Liebster Award is a way of spreading the word about blogs in the vast community of book bloggers. It's somewhat like a chain letter or a slam book, but a lot more fun.
The Rules:
*Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog.
*Display the award somewhere on your blog.
*List 11 facts about yourself.
*Answer 11 questions chosen by the blogger who nominated you.
*Come up with 11 questions to ask your nominees.
*Nominate 5-11 blogs that you think deserve the award and who have less than 1,000 followers.
*You may nominate blogs that have already received the award, but you cannot re-nominate the blog that nominated you.) 
*Go to their blog and inform them that they've been nominated.

 Eleven Random Facts About Me:
(I've tried to list things I've never shared on this blog before.)

1. My middle name is the title of a Beatles song.

2. I can touch the tip of my nose with the tip of my tongue. (Of my five kids, only one has inherited this unique gift. He's very proud of it!)

3. I was a Bicentennial Baby.

4.When I was born lots of friends and family gave me commemorative bicentennial dollars. I cashed them in when I was seven to buy my first piano.

5. One of my dreams is to become a Tricentennial Lady in 2076.

6. I'm an INFP in the Meyers Briggs Personality Indicator. My type is known as "The Idealist" or "The Healer."

7. Many people -- even some people I've known my whole life -- mispronounce my name. This doesn't bother me, though. Here are some of the names I often answer to:  "Andrea," "Andreanna," "Adri-ON-ah," "Yo Adrian!," "A," "Adri," "Adee-anne," "Adranna," "Drannie," and "Miss A."

 Vince Gill gets it right:

8. When I was four I met my great-great-grandmother before she died. She asked me to pray for her, so I knelt beside her chair and said a little prayer.

9. My husband taught me how to change a diaper. (I think I have a little more experience than he does now!)

10. Last summer I found the grave of my mother's mother's mother's mother's mother.

11. Today is my birthday. I'm 38.

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1.  Share a favorite quote from a book or author.
Who is to be feared but God alone?
What can be seized or stolen from His power?
Soft endearments are intended to arouse love.
But there are no caresses tenderer than Your charity,
And no object of love is more healthy than Your truth,
Beautiful and  luminous beyond all things.
~Confessions of St. Augustine

2.  Is there a book you have disliked immensely? 
Which one, and why? 

If you mean titles on the WEM list, then no. I've liked some much more than others, but I haven't felt immense dislike for any of them yet.

How and when I read a classic can affect the enjoyment factor for me. I did not enjoy Don Quixote because I read it before I discovered blogging! I think I might have enjoyed it if I had had some friends to joke about it with. I read it alone during the winter while living in a basement apartment with two babies who were fourteen months apart. It nearly drove me crazy!

Half way through The Book of Margery Kempe, I started feeling exhausted and constantly nauseated. A surprise pregnancy helped me develop a keen sense of empathy for the physical travails of medieval women! 

3.  Why did you start blogging? Has your purpose changed?  How did you come up with the name for your blog? 

I started Classical Quest to help me process life. Writing in a journal is not enough -- I need conversation! I need to take in many perspectives. The blogosphere is my classroom. I get lots of encouragement, accountability, and even some push back now and then. This feeds me.

Has your purpose changed? 

No, but I think my tone has changed! In the beginning, I probably came across as more of a teacher and now I think I sound more like a student. I have less answers and more questions. At the same time blogging is helping me develop the courage to be authentic. I've crossed through some barriers lately by writing about subjects I was too timid to breach previously.

When I was young there were people who warned  me that receiving an education would make me "wishy-washy" and "too broad-minded." Instead I think it's stripping me of pride. Albert Einstein said it best: "The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know." 

How did you come up with the name for your blog? 

I came up with "Classical Quest" in about two minutes. I was shocked it wasn't already taken!

I've always loved the idea of a "quest." When I was a little girl, I had a swing set in my back yard. I would often hop on the two-seated face-to-face glider (sometimes with a friend; sometimes alone) and go on long journeys to far away places.

I really don't like to hurry! I like to spend time savoring things. This blog is all about the journey. I keep making new lists in addition to WEM, so there's really no end in sight for me!

4.  Have you ever counted how many books you own?  If not, estimate.

Estimate??? You mean use math?!

5.  Which author have you read the most?

Laura Ingalls Wilder

6.  Which book have you reread the most?

The Psalms

7.  Do you have a memorable childhood book? 

Yes. I remember being very proud of myself for reading Sam and the Firefly by P.D. Eastman all by myself.

8.  Have you ever imagined an actor/actress to play a character in a book you were reading?  (For example, I always thought Sharon Stone would make a great Dominique Francon in the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.) 

Wow. I don't think I've ever done that! Sounds like a fun idea, though. Off the top of my head, I think George Clooney would make a great Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind.

9.  Is there a book you would like to see in film version, permitting they kept it true to the book. 

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck would make a great family film. 

10.  Name a character from classic lit that you would love to be neighbors with. 

Hester Prynne. We both like needlework; we both like living on the outskirts of town. I admire the way she overcame her social stigma. I think we would benefit from each other's company and perhaps become great friends. Plus, my kids would love to play with her daughter Pearl.

11.  What book are you avoiding, and why? 

The next book on the WEM list, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I'm avoiding it because I've seen the movie (Robert Redford version) and I didn't care for it at all. Plus, I'm a little weary of high-society novels at the moment. A few friends I admire have listed Gatsby as one of their favorites, so I'm sure I'll read it eventually.

While I'm on this subject I might as well tell you, I've decided to take a break from the novel list for a while.  I've come to realize that I really need to be in sync with my friends at A Classic Case of Madness in order to get the most out of my reading. I miss hanging out in the blogosphere with them, making up silly ditties about our reading. So I'm going to coast for a few months -- just read whatever I want and try to write some blog posts about the great books I've read over the past year. When CCOM starts the Autobiography List I'll be leaning forward on the front row with notebook and pencil in hand.

I nominated these great bloggers for the Liebster Award:

Here's my questions for the nominees: 

1. Why did you start your blog? (If your purpose has changed since you started blogging, share how and why.)

2. Which post did you most enjoy writing? Or, what post is your favorite? (Please provide the link)

3. Which post was the most difficult to write and why? (Link, if you wish.)

4. Share a favorite quote from a book or author.

5. Name a character from classic literature that you would love to be neighbors with.

6. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five books would you need?

7. What are you currently reading?

8. Where is your favorite reading place?

9. Can you name a book that you thought you would dislike, but ended up liking?

10. What do you do when you're not reading? 

11. You are on vacation in a foreign country. What do you make sure to fit into your itinerary? 

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Thank you for stopping by for my little celebration today! Please take some time to visit the blogs I've nominated.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Eavesdropping on Bill Gothard

File:Blaas Eugen von The Eavesdropper.jpg
The Eavesdropper, Eugene de Blaas. source.

Dear Friend,

In my last post I told you I would share a bit about my personal encounter with Bill Gothard, the founder of both the Institute in Basic Life Principles and the Advanced Training Institute.

Recently Gothard's name has made headlines  since thirty-five women have alleged that he harassed and abused them. Four women have alleged molestation. These testimonies have been published by Recovering Grace, a website "founded and operated by adults who were raised as children in Bill Gothard's Advanced Training Institute."

In the Spring of 1993 I was in Moscow serving as a volunteer with ATI. For two months our home was a ship on the Moskva River. Bill Gothard's room was located directly across the narrow hall from my room.

Upon arrival I received a list of guidelines. Here's one:
Rule #6: Ladies and fellows will have their own designated floors.
This should have been my first red flag about Mr. Gothard. His room was located on the young women's floor. Perhaps he reasoned he was there to guard the "ladies"?

Here's another one of the guidelines:
Rule #12 Blue and white is the ministry uniform for all school visits, official meetings, seminars, and ministry opportunities. "  . . . For man looketh on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart . . ." I Sam 16:7. Because man looks on the outward appearance we can uphold God's standard of dress by staying as close as possible to blue and white. (No distracting prints, stripes, or different colors.)
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One afternoon while nearly all the other students were in the dining room, I slipped up to my room to retrieve something --breaking Rule #8 to do so.

Rule #8: Be punctual for all meals, and remain until announcements are made.

As I neared my door I overheard Mr. Gothard shaming two young women. 
I couldn't make out what he was saying at first, but I understood his tone: condescending and reproachful. A duo of young women replied in a higher pitch; they sounded penitent.

I quickly gathered up whatever it was I had come after and left my room. I paused for a moment to lock my door and to eavesdrop.

They were nearing his doorway now, because I could hear the conversation more clearly.

He said they should smile more and wear their hair longer -- in gentle curls. He also said they both were a bit overweight and should focus on losing those extra pounds. "Man looketh on the outward appearance," he said. "Russian dignitaries are observing our every move. We must show that we have the joy of the Lord! We must be energy givers!"

As the door began to open, I moved briskly down the hall toward the dining room, pausing once to look back over my shoulder. I saw the girls emerge from his room in an attitude of repentance. They stood at his doorway for a moment, receiving the last of his reproach with wide, tear-filled eyes. Then they walked away together, wiping their faces.

"Now there is an energy giver!" he called out.
My heart began to pound. No one else was in the hallway. He was talking about me.
"Who is that person walking ahead of me?" Mr. Gothard said.
 I turned to him and introduced myself. He extended his hand to shake mine.
"Are you Russian?" he asked. 
I thought this was funny. Did I sound Russian? 
"No," I smiled, feeling self-conscious suddenly. I was being inspected. 
"You radiate such joy!" He said at last.
I felt more relieved than flattered by this compliment. I certainly didn't want to be the recipient of the lecture I had just overheard.
He went on as we walked side-by-side -- "The Russian people are wonderful -- don't you agree?" 
"Oh, yes," I nodded. "I've enjoyed spending time in their homes. They are very generous and kind to us."

Our conversation ended as we entered the dining room, where a hundred smiling navy and white clad students awaited his usual mealtime exhortations.

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I'll post more memories of ATI experiences as they come to me. Much has been shoved to the corner of my mind! I was content to think of Mr. Gothard as a kindly grandfather until the collective memory of hundreds of former ATI students brought the reality of the situation to light.

I see now that while I was feeling guilty over the fact that I occasionally listened to soft-rock music on my Walkman, Bill Gothard was scarring young women with his words. While I was feeling dirty for sometimes imagining what it would feel like to one day be touched by my husband, Mr. Gothard was playing footsie with 17 year old girls in his sock feet.

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My heart goes out to all young people who are trapped in oppressive systems such as ATI!

With Love,


I wanted to write about "courtship vs dating," but I've deleted several drafts and the topic is wearing me out. The truth is I'm scared to death of both! Maybe once all five of my kids leave the nest I'll have an opinion. I imagine I'll have five stories to share that won't look a bit alike. But if you are interested in what it was like to come face to face with a handsome young man after having made a commitment to courtship, I can paint the picture for you sometime! ;-)

Friday, March 21, 2014

My Trip to Moscow with Bill Gothard

Click here to see what I'm making.

Dear Friend,

Lately I've been writing about the cult which influenced me during my youth. Recent events have prompted me to sift through my memories and decipher to what degree my heart was manipulated during my teen years. You can read my previous posts on this topic here and here.

Do I still carry remnants of the teachings within me? How much of it is good and true? What parts are harmful? I need clarity, so I'm turning to my blog for therapy. It's taking me some time to piece everything together. Today I'll focus on my first ministry excursion.

In the Spring of 1993, when I was sixteen, I spent two months in Moscow, Russia with a team of students who were enrolled in Bill Gothard’s homeschool program, the Advanced Training Institute (ATI). We had been invited by Russian President Boris Yeltzin and Galina Venidictova, a senior member of Moscow's Ministry of Education. We were authorized to implement Gothard's Basic Life Principals program in 2,000 Moscow public schools.

View from the stern of the Nikolai Bauman
When I reflect upon my trip to Moscow I feel a broad spectrum of emotions. I see the faces of Russian children. I smooth my hands over some of their gifts to me -- elaborate drawings of butterflies, tiny plastic trinkets, postcards of icons. The memories of their beaming smiles still fills me with joy.
A performance of Russian school children in Moscow, 1993.

Why was I given this privilege? Was I special in some way? Our invitation to Moscow was historic. I'm mentioned on US Congressional Record as one of 501 "outstanding individuals who have filled a significant role as citizen-ambassadors in developing Russian-American public relations."

I was only sixteen. You might think I was a brilliant scholar -- a promising academic! But Gothard taught that higher learning was a spiritual "high place" to be avoided. Better to be ignorant and humble; better to be pliable. You might think my parents were well-known Institute benefactors with "pull." But no -- my dad worked in a can factory; my mom was a homemaker. When my invitation came in the mail, we were all as astonished as if I had been invited to a royal ball.

I can only think of one reason I received that invite: In the summer of 1992 I made a commitment to "courtship" at the ATI conference in Knoxville, TN. I was urged my Mr. Gothard to sign my name on a courtship commitment card. During a prayerful moment (with every head bowed and every eye closed), I resolutely placed the card in a basket that was passed down the row. Ushers delivered the names of prospective pawns directly to Mr. Gothard.

So in essence, I won the lottery! I had dreamed of traveling to Europe since I first saw it on a map in grade school. Mr. Gothard was going to take me there.

Trying my best to communicate on the street in Moscow.

I've kept all the gifts which were given to me by my Russian friends -- even the icons, though we were instructed not to keep them. When I first arrived at the Nikolai Bauman, our floating home on the Moskva River, I found a list of guidelines in my room.

Rule # 14: Many times you will receive gifts such as pictures of icons. (Accept these graciously, but please do not keep them.) Give them to your team leader to dispose of. Do not throw them away in the garbage can in your room, as this might offend some of the Russian crew members who clean the rooms.

I'm have a post card icon next to my laptop right now. It is "The Savior Wearing a Crown of Thorns"  by Vassili Poznanzky, 1682.

There's writing on the back: "To my dear dear Adriana -- Thank you for being my friend and sister in Christ. I Love you. Your, Helen."

How could I ever hand that over for a team leader to dispose of?

I wonder what Father Gleb Yakunin, Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Standing Committee on Freedom of Religion and Conscience, would have thought of the command to destroy icons. He had been instrumental in getting us in the door. Would Bill Gothard have been sent packing?

Russian Christians were weary from years of persecution. There were an estimated 12-20 million victims of Soviet state atheist policies in the years preceding our visit. I had no idea how grave the situation had been. I passed toppled statues of Vladimir Lenin on the streets. What did it all mean?  I was naive. I can only imagine how precious religious icons were to Russian Christians during the dark years. For many, printing icons on postcards was their first taste of religious freedom! -- So precious they gave them as gifts.

Perhaps the moment I tucked the icon inside my suitcase was the moment I began to drift from Gothard's fold.

Hope you are enjoying these first days of spring!
Next time I'll attempt to explain the whole "courtship" thing as I understood it at the time. Also I'll tell you about my one private face to face encounter with Bill Gothard.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Want to See You Be Brave

Dear Friend,

I've only got a moment, but I want to share a song with you that my friend Krista Bjorn (another former ATI student) shared with me.

We all have portions of our lives that are hard to discuss publicly. This isn't always because of some dark personal wound (though often it is). Sometimes it's simply hard to admit that we've come to see things differently from people we love. By speaking up, we risk ostracizing ourselves from vital ties we need to thrive.

But what if your voice could help free another person whose pain is far deeper than your own?

The moment you realize your life experience may help another soul find freedom its time to rise up and speak out.

I feel a special kinship with all my friends who were once a part of the Advanced Training Institute. Each of our post- ATI journeys looks different, but our support for one another is strong!

My heart is with the Recovering Grace team and all who have been hurt by Bill Gothard's ministry.

Love and prayers!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My Experience with Bill Gothard's Cult

Click here to see what I'm making. 
Dear Friend,

I feel lighter after mentioning the cult I was brought up with in yesterday's post. I've known for a while I would start discussing it in the blogosphere eventually -- but as the saying goes, "The dread is worse than the doing." 

Half way through writing that post I thought, "It's time. Spit it out now!" 

It matters to me how I phrase things. I've tried to say, "I was raised in a cult," and that's not right. I was raised in a home -- a loving home. My spirit and creativity was mostly encouraged. I was rarely depressed as a young person. I was protected. My parents were not abusive. For the most part they used Bill Gothard's material as a tool. Whenever we had disagreements, we would come together and try to find the "root cause" of our conflicts as Gothard had showed us to do. None of this was harmful.

I was influenced by a cult leader for many of my formative years -- I'll put it that way.

You might think of the Duggar family when you read about ATI homeschooling, but that wasn't us. I was the oldest of four. We dressed in our long skirts for the big Knoxville conference in the early 90s, but at home I was allowed to wear pants. Rock music and most movies were not allowed, but I had plenty of aunts and uncles who occasionally let me break a few rules when I visited their homes. I wasn't completely culturally illiterate! 

Classical music was allowed, though my parents and siblings didn't have a taste for it. Oddly, I turned to our local classical radio station as a way to assert my independence. Beethoven, Mozart, and Chopin were my teenage heartthrobs! Even now I have to be in the mood for music with a back beat. It's not my native sound.

Though my parents attended Gothard's seminars 13 times, I was only homeschooled for the last three years of high school. Before that I attended public grade school and a private middle school. Once we started homeschooling, most of my education became self-directed. I went to one Basic Seminar. I never attended an Advanced Seminar.

The real danger for me was how I was indoctrinated by Gothard's ideology when I was old enough to leave my family and go away for short jaunts to serve in his ministry. I was coaxed into making commitments I didn't fully understand. I took his teachings to heart and became quite prideful about what I considered to be my superior spiritual understanding. 

So that's where I'll try to pick up next time -- my first trip abroad with 100 other students and Bill Gothard.

Hope you are well!


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Can We Talk While I Make Soup?

Dear Friend, 

A couple weeks ago I stood in the produce section of the grocery store with cotton balls in my throbbing ears. 

What meals will I make?  I scanned the room, then meandered over to the organic section and began to analyze the offerings. 

Soup. Just soup until I feel like eating something else!

I selected ingredients for five batches of my current favorites: Borscht, Seafood Chowder, Bean with Bacon, Beef and Barley, and Thai Chicken with Rice.

I love the entire soup-making process. You could say it's my thing. I usually listen to an audio book while I chop vegetables. Sometimes I let my little ones help me with the peeling. 

Last time I wrote a post I believe I promised you an update on my ear issue -- I'm feeling much better and I can hear! I honestly didn't mind having the volume turned down a bit for a little while, but the ear infection was pesky, painful and persistent. I had to go to the doctor five times! I'm grateful to have that behind me.

A couple of my friends are on my heart right now  -- Heidi lost her eleven year old son recently; Tracey has Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome and is fighting for her life in ICU. Now and then as I'm going about my normal daily tasks, I suddenly feel a jab of sorrow and pray: God, help my friends! 

Seafood Chowder
I finished the House of Mirth by Edith Wharton a few days ago. I was relieved to be done with it. I found the main character, Lily Bart, nearly as exasperating as Flaubert's Madame Bovary. If anything moved me about the book it was Lily's vision on her deathbed of an infant sleeping beside her. All five of my babies slept with me until they were weaned. Nothing I've experienced in life has been sweeter. In fact, most of what I understand about God and love and worship came to me while nursing my little ones during those quiet night hours.

Bean with Bacon
I once saw Edith Wharton's signature in the guest book at Biltmore House.  That's the only thing I knew about Wharton until I read her book. 

Something else has been on my mind, something hard for me to spit out. Maybe I'll just bury it here in this unassuming post until I know how to say more . . .

I've recently come to the startling realization that for most of my formative years I was influenced by a cult leader.

This information feels both painful and liberating. It's taking me some time to sort things out.

I used to be so sure about every facet of life: what I should and should not wear, listen to, say, believe, be, do. Looking back I can see that gradually through the years I've shed many things -- like a reptile shedding scales. Some ideas have dropped off almost without my notice, others have been painfully removed, as if a scale has been ripped out leaving a raw bleeding spot in its place.

Up until recent news made me face the full reality, I viewed the cult leader as a distant grandfather figure -- someone I didn't agree with on every point, but someone safe and well-meaning -- certainly not what he was. Like many people, I didn't see the obvious. 

Beef and Barley
My Mimi was right about the cult leader's way of life when she said, "It's not for everybody."

Now I'd even go so far to say it's not for anybody!

I keep having this sensation like I'm skydiving. It's both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.

"The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know." 
~Albert Einstein 

Thai Chicken with Rice

Ann Voskamp's blog has been helping me a lot lately.

This post by Keri Wyatt Kent has also helped. I love the line she has said to her kids through the years: "I love the person you are becoming." I've made a point of saying that to each of my kids lately. It's good for them and cathartic for me. I don't have to be afraid; I don't have to micromanage your soul. I love the person you are becoming!
These words imply that the future is bright—that I have great hope that they will grow into themselves. It says: you haven’t arrived yet, but I’m trusting the process. It reminds them that they are growing up and they are not you—that crucial process of differentiation that is essential for maturity. It also tells them that they don’t have to be just like mom or dad, or just like their older sibling. It simply says, You are becoming your own person, and that’s a good thing. It’s a way of telling them, “I believe in you!” without sounding quite so cheesy. I think it’s a phrase that instills confidence. And makes me feel more confident as a parent–even when it’s hard to let go.
Well now, I've got a lot off my chest today, haven't I!
Thanks for being there to help me process stuff. 



Friday, March 14, 2014

Testing 1-2-3

Hi, Everyone!

I just got my computer out of the shop and I'm learning about some new features. Hope to update the blog soon!