Nana’s 70th Birthday Celebration

Aug 6, 2017

After MarJean turned twelve there weren’t many birthday celebrations and if there was they were very simple. Maybe a simple cake and a small needed item as a gift. Early in the year, MarJean had started talking about how she would like her funeral to have family members celebrating and showcasing their talent.

Remembering that MarJean hadn’t really had a birthday since she was a child we decided it would be an excellent excuse for the family to perform while she is alive.  We decided we would throw her a mock 16th birthday and have everyone showcase their talents at it. Celebrate instead of wait.

The day of the party MarJean had not been feeling well and had been in bed but her daughter, Lisa said that Karie’s computer wasn’t working so she was at the church library scanning pictures and needed her to identify some of the pictures to use in her book asap.

MarJean agreed to go but was going to go in her pajamas. This family is really easy going and not judgemental so Lisa didn’t think twice about saying ok and letting her go in her pajamas.

MarJean thought better about it knowing they were going to the church so she decided to change. Lisa led her into a darkened gym in the church where she could see people all on one side of the room all quiet and waiting for someone.  A family member happened to notice and inform the family to turn around where we all yelled “Surprise.” It took MarJean a minute to realize the surprise was for her. The surprise was actually on us and her as she had come in the wrong way. But that’s the way we roll.


The family dressed as if in the 50’s and decorated the room to try to simulate what MarJeans 16th birthday may have been like if she had been an average sixteen-year-old growing up in the average American home.

Nanas party

We played all the hits of the 50’s with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny B Good, the hand jiving and all the old time greats.

Here MarJean dancing with a grandson.


We put together a photo booth. Which was real fun to see the kids play around with different poses.

Nanas bday photos
Nanas 70th bday photo booth
Nanas 70th party driving
Nanas kids

The grandkids sang happy birthday to MarJean and then a few shared their talents with tumbling, dancing, and singing.

Talent show nanas 70th

It was a great night of celebrating. It’s always a joy when family get’s together and enjoys each other.

Family Picture Time

Nanas 70th party family pict

You know how hard it is to take a picture of the family? Well, it’s really hard but so worth it!

This is not even half!

Setting MarJeans voice free… and so it begins, life after Polygamy!

                                                                                                         Author: Karie Babbitt; Daughter-in-law

With a New Year comes new beginnings, and nothing is better than starting it off by facing one’s fears head-on. Important factors in overcoming fears are,

  • learning who you are,
  • embracing those experiences that made you who you are,
  • forgiving others and
  • setting your voice free by sharing personal challenges.

For twenty-five years MarJean had been forced to suppress her thoughts and feelings or suffer the damning consequences.  Now it’s time for her to face her fears and share her story.

This horrific journey began when she was eleven years old when her parents dragged her to Mexico to join a polygamous group and to live in mud huts without the modern conveniences of plumbing and electricity. Her parents and other cult members quickly shut down any of her questions. It was made clear to her that she didn’t have a voice. She was to be seen and not heard. She was to blindly obey and not question. Her opinions and feelings were not validated. She was to be nothing more than an instrument in their furthering the kingdom of the cult.

Her story is filled with danger! For over twenty-five years, she lived with a polygamist group, often changing her name in order to receive the necessities of life. After years, she was miraculously able to escape both the evil and deadly polygamist cult which promised to murder anyone who left. Once she escaped, she was put on a hit list of those who would be murdered for choosing to withdraw from the cult.

After escaping the cult and attempting to start a new life, she still must keep quiet regarding her previous whereabouts and feelings. Remaining tight-lipped was not easy as she was a single mother and her six young children were both white and primarily Spanish-speaking. This could arouse many questions. She musn’t draw attention to attract those still out searching for those that left.

Sharing her story would also force her to be vulnerable in a painful and dangerous way to not only to herself but her family members who wanted to abandon their past. Embarrassment and shame would surely follow any divulgence of her previous life.

Fifty years later, the danger has faded and with much encouragement, she has decided, to find her voice and share her story.

Four years ago, MarJean started sorting through the horrific details of how her life had taken a drastic turn. With the equivalent of her fifth-grade education she had received prior to the cult, she jotted down her thoughts to the best of her ability. Often writing late into the night, only to set the few lines of text aside, as she cried her heart out trying to muster the courage to visit that pain again and write more. At last, she handed it over to her family to start the steps of putting her words into a book.

Some of her children and grandchildren took her words and designed a binder with her jotted down elementary stories in an effort to create the first rough draft of her book.

At the 2015 family annual Christmas Eve party, Santa Claus came and presented the binder to MarJean as well as the idea of a monthly date night with Nana so she could further elaborate on her rudimentary stories. This gift of the binder and designated time to share thoughts made the dream of publishing her story become more of a reality.

With support from her family, she is now set to enter into this courageous journey of sifting through her life story.

Come follow us through this process of hope and healing as we help MarJean find her voice!