Thursday, July 28, 2011

My History in the Conservative Quiverfull Home Schooling Movement: An Introduction to the Gender and Authority Series

Dear friends,

I've been posting articles and web links for my series on Gender & Authority this past week, and just compiled them all into the July edition of my Hope Chest e-magazine which is sent to about 950 families around the world.  This is the introduction I gave to those who don't know me, and I thought it would serve well as an introduction to the blog series, too...

As most of you know, I am a home schooling mom of 10 children, ages (almost) 6 to 24.  My oldest daughter is married with a one year old son and expecting her second baby in February; she is a writer for Wycliffe Bible Translators.  To care for her son, she works from home two days a week, splits shifts with her husband the other three days, and gets a little extra help from me and a family friend. My second daughter works full time in an office and is engaged to be married this fall; she and her fiance have both been active in mission trips to Bolivia.  My third daughter starts nursing school at UCF next month.  My fourth daughter is a Disney World photographer and a student at Valencia Community College.  Both my third and fourth daughters spent three months in Italy earlier this year helping missionaries with outreach through teaching English in the community.  They are now living at home again while they are in college.  My fifth daughter returns to public high school for her junior year this fall; she had a very successful and happy year there. The younger five children, in first through ninth grades, will continue in our home school; this year we are rejoining the Providence co-op after a year off and I will be teaching 7th-8th grade English (with an strong emphasis on Bible and missions) as I have in the past.  I have been home schooling my children for about 20 years, and learning about it for 25.   (Update in 2014: Two more grandsons on the way. Third daughter is now an RN.  More kids in public school this past year. Teaching in a private Christian school.  One home schooled next year.)

That's because shortly after Thad and I married in the mid 1980’s, we moved to Maryland, where we joined a conservative yet contemporary church that was filled with large home schooling families.  One of my earliest mentors in marriage and motherhood was a sweet lady named Vickie Botkin, whose husband was our home group leader.   Vickie taught me how to make log cabin quilts in her sewing room.  She continually modeled a heart of simplicity and contentment to me.   She is a lot more well known now than then. Victoria (as she is now called) is the wife of Geoff Botkin, and mother of seven young adult children.  The books, audios and DVDs that the Botkin family produces are published by Vision Forum.  Probably the best known of these are the Elizabeth and Anna Sophia Botkin’s book So Much More and their DVD Return of the Daughters. (I own both, read & reviewed the book years ago, and watched the DVD.  I may eventually write more about them, but no promises.)  Back then, one of the books that either Vickie or of our friends introduced me to was The Way Home by Mary Pride.  Then I read the sequel All the Way Home when it came out in 1989.   For about a decade, I subscribed to and wrote articles for Pride’s magazines HELP, Big Happy Family, and Practical Home Schooling.  (For a 2009 update from Mary Pride, please read her article Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy.) About 20 years ago, I also started subscribing to Above Rubies Magazine by Nancy Campbell.  I have attended several three or four of her retreats (and helped organize one of them), written many articles for her magazine, and have had many personal conversations with her either while driving her to the airport or when she would call me on the phone with her delightful New Zealand accent.  I also read and posted on Teri Maxwell's very conservative Titus 2 Mom's web board for quite some time.

All this to say, I was quickly and deeply drawn into the “full quiver” (large family) and home schooling lifestyle that my new friends and Mary Pride’s and Nancy Campbell’s books and magazines espoused. I don’t regret that at all.  I wouldn’t trade any one of my 10 kids for anything!  And I love home schooling them!  I was still in my twenties when my oldest officially started kindergarten and I’ll be nearly 60 when my youngest graduates from high school.  That’s quite an investment in my own family, but I have also written home schooling books and published an e-magazine for the past 13 years.  

My husband Thad is also very involved in our children's educations through working with me on curriculum planning and record keeping, tutoring them, taking them on field trips, chauffeuring them to classes, working out dual enrollment in college, encouraging me to keep going strong, and of course, paying $$$ for everything!  With the older ones who are beyond home schooling, he helps coordinate college and scholarship applications,  overseas travel arrangements, car purchase and maintenance, wedding plans, financial planning and other adult life skills.  :-)  Kudos, Thad!  You are quite the veteran dad!

But back to the theme of this month's e-magazine... As the years have rolled by and I have closely observed the full quiver / home schooling movement and where it’s gone, I’ve seen some disturbing out workings in certain segments of it, especially relating to gender and authority.  Anything good can be distorted, sometimes very badly.  The ones who seem to suffer most are the moms and the daughters.  I’m certainly not the only one who has taken notice, hence the Manifesto and three book reviews I will share in this issue.   A little later, in the second review, I will share more on why I wrote this blog series. 

The other recent posts in this series, which I included in the e-magazine, are:

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Leave me a comment on this blog post or any of the others, or feel free to send me an e-mail!  Please note that I do not have the time or inclination for extended debates.  :-)

Virginia Knowles

Monday, July 25, 2011

Web Links about Parenting with Grace Instead of Authoritarian Legalism

"Maternal Kiss" by Mary Cassatt, 1896
This post is part of my new series on Gender & Authority.  Most of these links to other web sites are not gender-based, but they all talk about raising children with grace and love instead of authoritarian legalism or emotional abuse.  Some of them also address the problems with the patriarchal (aka patriocentric or father-centered family) edge of the home schooling movement, as well as related marriage issues.  

So far, my other posts in the Gender & Authority series are:

My other related posts on this blog:

    The rest of these links are for other web sites that I have found helpful.  I do not endorse everything you may find on these sites or even in the linked posts.  I trust that you will read with your own discernment.  I recommend that if you plan to visit several of these sites that you open each one in a separate tab and then read them in turn.

    Recovering Grace - I can't tell you how delighted I am to see this new web site!  I had wanted to address the legalism and subsequent emotional damage within Bill Gothard's Institute of Basic Life Principles and Advanced Training Institutes organizations.  I have seen a lot written about it here and there on the web, but I knew it would take too much research and time for me to round all of it up!  Now I can just give you a link where "a Gothard generation shines light on the teachings of IBLP and ATI" and gives "personal testimonies of finding true freedom through God's matchless grace." As a personal note, Thad and I attending an IBYC conference (name changed later to IBLP) before we got married, and maybe once afterward.  We still have the big red book and some of the other resources around here, and though we never really attempted to implement them specifically, I think the concepts did influence our thinking. 

    Finding Healing from Disillusionment by Elizabeth Wyse Cook (guest post on -- life after working for Bill Gothard 

    Resolved2Worship  At age 19, she married a man (ten years older) who was raised in an authoritarian home that was heavily influenced by a legalistic organization which is not named on the blog but I suspect is Gothard's ATI program.  It took many years for them to establish a healthy family life due to his parents' interference.   Now with several children of their own, their testimony in the "Our Love Story" series is one of God's grace and sovereignty through it all.  Besides that, her photos of her children and nature are absolutely gorgeous and fun.

    Two sites dedicated to addressing problems with the BabyWise and Growing Kids God's Way resources by the Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.  I remember taking issue with this stuff about 15 years ago since it seemed so rigid.  In the case of young babies and feeding on schedule, the program came under fire from medical professionals for causing Failure to Thrive in infants.  There is a ton of info at these web sites...
    Tulip Girl also has a series on the serious problems in Michael and Debi Pearl's To Train Up a Child and No Greater Joy resources.  

    • Tulip Girl's Pearl/TTUOC Posts

    (As you may remember, it was a Pearl "discipline" related child death that caused me to write Child Discipline or Child Abuse? last year.)

    I Take Joy with Sally Clarkson

    ThatMom with Karen Campbell

    And an encouraging and balanced word from Mary Pride in 2009 as a follow up to her books The Way Home and All the Way Home:
    Patriarchy, Meet Matriarchy

    Please let me know which of these links and sites are most useful for you!  If any don't work, please tell me that, too, so I can fix or delete them as necessary.

    If you have any links that you would like to consider adding to this post, please send them along.  And check back for updates!

    Virginia Knowles

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    Manifesto of Liberty and Responsibility in Christian Families

    Manifesto of Liberty & Responsibility 
    in Christian Families
    by Virginia Knowles

    Each person, male or female, young or old, is uniquely created by God and as such, possesses inherent personal dignity. With this God-given dignity comes both liberty of conscience and responsibility in interacting with others. As Christians, we are called to live in grace and understanding with each other, not controlling others with manipulation or legalism.

    There is only one mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ, who laid his life down in humble sacrifice. Though we are to encourage and teach one another according to Scripture, none of us serves as the intermediary between God and anyone else.  Each of us is responsible directly before God.

    As Christian parents, we are called to train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our goal should be to continually equip and empower them so that they are not dependent upon us but upon God. This includes modeling for them how to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance in life decisions. As our children reach their teen and young adult years, our role gradually transitions into coaching and encouraging rather than directing or commanding. Adults are called to respect and honor their parents, but not to obey them.

    Men and women are equal in dignity and worth in the sight of God, even though there may be different emphases in their roles and responsibilities at various seasons in their lives. Husbands and wives, along with the rest of the body of Christ, are called to mutual submission and respect out of reverence for God. A wife has complete liberty of conscience and responsibility before God for her own thoughts, speech, and behavior. She is not in any way required to go against that, even at her husband’s insistence. A husband’s attitude should be that of a servant, not a tyrant. He is called to live with his wife in an understanding way as a co-heir in Christ, carefully considering her concerns and counsel, rather than lording it over her. Violence has no rightful place in a marriage relationship.

    A young woman should be given the opportunities to obtain marketable job skills and college education so that she can support herself during her years of singleness or, after marriage, help provide income for her family as may be necessary. A young man, likewise, should become proficient enough in household tasks so that he can run his own home during his years of singleness, and assist his wife in this as may be necessary. Parents launch both their sons and daughters toward adulthood by encouraging a responsive personal relationship with God, teaching practical life skills, releasing them to learn from other mentors and teachers, and equipping them to make their own reasonable choices.

    Marriage is to be entered into by two spiritually and emotionally responsible adults, and is to be based on mutual respect, affection, and attraction. During the years before marriage, it is wise for young people to seek the guidance and support of their parents and other trustworthy counselors. However, the final decisions must be made by the people who are planning to get married. If they haven’t established enough healthy independence to do that, then they aren’t sufficiently prepared to be married at all. After a couple marries, there needs to be an appropriate “leaving and cleaving” from their parents so that the new family can be established. While new couples are wise to ask for advice, their parents should not pressure married children to conform to their own expectations.

    Each parent is responsible before God for the decisions they make on behalf of their own children. We are called to study the whole counsel of Scripture, devote ourselves to prayer, and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit for our families. Each family is different, so we must grant one another the liberty to make decisions as seems best, within the reasonable limits of law. 

    The choice to educate children at home, in a private school, in a public school, or in any combination of these, is one for the parents to make with the guidance of God, based on their evaluation on what would be appropriate for each one. Likewise, in a church, the decision to have their children participate in an available nursery, Sunday School, or youth group belongs to the parents. Children’s ministry can be an honorable and edifying pursuit in the life of a church, not necessarily an abdication of parental responsibility. Family-integrated church can also be a tool for unity and discipleship, but is not a Biblical mandate.

    Each child is a precious gift from God. As parents, we do not own our children, but we are stewards on their behalf.  We are called to cherish and lovingly train them, not to abuse them emotionally, physically or spiritually. Their perception of God as a Heavenly Father is largely shaped by their relationship with us as their earthly parents. We can not reflect God's character if we are harsh, demanding, tyrannical, manipulative, selfish, self-righteous, inconsistent, dismissive, or overly concerned with personal reputation. We must learn to model parenthood that is gentle, respectable, respectful, patient, humble, sacrificial, firm, equipping, encouraging, and faithful. Safety and well-being of the children must be a top priority for family life. 

    "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

    Submission Is Not Silence by Elisabeth Julin (A Review)

    Dear friends,

    Submission Is Not Silence by Elisabeth Julin
    My ears perked up when my friend Tonya Travelstead told me about a blog written by her friend Lizzie Julin.  On our early morning walks, we had been discussing the topic of how many in the home school movement think and speak about gender and authority.  She knows that I have done a lot of research into that edge of the movement that goes way beyond the normal, Biblical “men should lovingly lead their families” into an unhealthy authoritarian position.  So, was there really a blog for wives called “Submission is Not Silence”?   Sounded interesting! 

    What is funny is that I didn’t realize I had already met Lizzie the previous year at a reunion for members of a church we both attended long ago.  I had even taken a picture of Lizzie with her husband Eric in the background (see left) and had posted it on Facebook – without a tag because I couldn’t remember their names.  And that picture, which I stumbled on later, is actually how I eventually realized the connection.  I also went to church with her brother Tim for a while in the late 1990's, and met her sister Connie about 27 years ago, too.

    And I still have not told you about the book, Submission Is Not Silence: Boldness from a Quiet Spirit, have I?  Well, I always like to give the back story.  Long story made even longer, I started reading Lizzie’s blog and began corresponding with her.  When she finally published the same-named book, she graciously sent me a copy!

    Now for Lizzie’s back story!  If you’ve ever read a Vision Forum catalog, you may have seen a book called Ten P’s in a Pod by Lizzie’s brother Arnold Pent. Their father, Dr. Pent, was a traveling evangelist, and the family traveled with him giving concerts and Scripture memory recitations all around the country.  The eight children, of whom Lizzie was the fourth, were home schooled on the road.  Raised in this very conservative family, they were taught that good Christian women were to be so quiet-spirited that they never fully expressed their opinions or desires or especially their disagreements to their husbands. That was considered being unsubmissive. When Lizzie married Eric a week before her 30th birthday, that is the model of communication that she took with her.  Eric, who had not been raised this way, did not understand why she was being so silent.  Lizzie, full of repressed feelings and emotions, resented Eric for not instinctively knowing what was bothering her.  It nearly destroyed their marriage.  Let Lizzie tell a bit of what saved them… 
    “Fifteen years into our marriage, I had a nagging fear that Eric would leave if I ever countered his strong opinions.  As it turned out, I was the one who left him for four days.  Taking Isaiah 58 in my head, I drove north to the hometown of friends to quietly pray for my marriage.  When I returned, Eric and I looked at each other soberly over coffee in a downtown restaurant.  This was when I had my epiphany.  Our failures were destroying what we wanted more than anything else, which was a loving, peaceful relationship.  After that day of enlightenment, I began to understand my true value to him.  I saw his good intentions, commitment to God, character, and determination to stay in our marriage. “Even if you leave, I will stay committed to the marriage and the children,” he told me. 
    I thought love had died in me, but it soon resonated again.  The crises in our marriage accomplished what my silence never could have.  I began this journey of many years trying to find wholeness.  Our marriage then became more like a game than a war.  How simple my part became, and how well it fit, like a perfectly crafted piece of a puzzle among the other pieces of my life; my relationship with God, my husband, and our children.”

    What Lizzie learned is that a woman needs to offer her whole self to her husband: all her gifts, her thoughts, her feelings, her opinions.  He needs her female perspective.  Marriages thrive with mutual respect, not a rigid hierarchy.  As she wrote later in the book: 
    “A free, wise, strong female comes up with a bold plan as she seeks the welfare of her husband, her children, and herself.  She is what every man longs for (even when he doesn’t know it).  He will love ever more fervently the woman who has a mind of her own, who gives to him from her own initiative and female genre of wisdom, and who loves him back because she is free and chooses to.  Love that is coerced is not real, and neither is submission that is coerced.  Personal dominance, dictatorships in marriage and other forms of mind control that are camouflaged by religion are all unbiblical.  No religion or denomination has permission from Scripture to control a woman.  Some try hard, but they have to violate Scripture in the process.  The biblical truth is that no human being is justified coming between you and God.  In the end of time, when it is your turn to stand before God, you will face Him alone. 
    Marriage is an institution created by God to be the very foundation of the happiness and personal growth of a man and woman.  United to “the head,” she as the “body” builds her house.  She is his closest confidante, counselor and friend.  Women who fulfill their key roles on the stage of life will move an entire culture closer to God.” 
    Reading this book, which is 275 pages long, I was at first put off a little by the repetition.  It seemed like I was reading the same concepts over and over again.  Then I realized that this was actually a (perhaps unintended) strength of the book.  Many women reading it have been beaten down emotionally in their marriages and need this constant stream of affirmation about their significance.  Just like a flower needs watering day after day, some women need to read these concepts over and over to counter the skewed ideas about “Biblical womanhood” that they may have been told all along.   

    Lizzie and coffeeSubmission Is Not Silence isn’t a difficult book to read; it is more like a warm, friendly chat over coffee with a wise older Titus 2 mentor.  She understands the realities and challenges because she has lived through them.  Lizzie and Eric, the parents of three grown sons, have now been married for over 37 years -- and they are best friends!  Wow!  In this day and age, that’s quite something!

    I highly recommend this book!  Read a little each day and be blessed!  To give you a taste for what you’ll see, the chapter titles are: 
    • Remember Who You Are!  In God’s Image, Yet Unique
    • A Resemblance of the Holy Spirit: Assuming Your Powerful, Positive Role
    • The Science of You: Knowledge is Power
    • God Honors You: The Bible Speaking Directly to You
    • Totally Unique: Created for Such a Time as This
    • Equal Opposites: Both in the Image of God
    • A Calling: Thriving in Your Dominion
    • Keep Your Heart There: The Center of Every Universe
    • Counterparts: A “Threefold Cord”’
    • On Stage: The Female Lead
    • The Power of Influence: To the Ends of the Earth
    • The Head: His Logic and Strength on Your Side
    • The Race: Finishing the Course
    Take a peek at the Submission Is Not Silence blog, web site, and Facebook page.  (Please note that the web site might have some down time on Saturday, July 23, 2011 for maintenance!) Her first post on the blog is one of my favorites: Ponder It, Then Speak the Truth in Love.

    You can order the book, in print or digital version, here:

    This blog post is part of my series on gender and authority.  You can read the other posts here: 

    You may also wish to read: 

    Help for Hurting Marriages

    Honesty, Respect, Leadership, and Academic Success

    Virginia Knowles
    (Wife of 1, mother of 10, grandma to soon-to-be 2)

    P.S. This review first appeared on my blog of inspiration and practical tips for mothers,  If you are a mom, come visit me there!

    Ten Things I Appreciate About Metro Life Church

    Dear friends,

    Thad and I were members of Metro Life Church for 8 years until we left last summer.  When I was sharing my thoughts about Metro Life and Sovereign Grace Ministries in the past two weeks (My Thoughts on CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries and My Recommendations for CJ Mahaney and SGM (From the Cheap Seats!), I was remiss for not focusing more on the positive aspects of our experience.  I apologize.

    About two years ago, I wrote a post about what I appreciate about the pastors there.  You can see it here: Appreciating the Pastors at Metro Life Church.  Today, I would like to recount ten things I appreciate about the rest of Metro Life Church.  If you have ever been a part of Metro Life, I invite you to share your own list in the comment section!

    1. The first one, hands down, is the love and devotion of the people there.  They love God, they are serious about their faith, and they lovingly serve other people.  We are grateful for our many friends there.  I have often commented to my children over the years how much I love their friends from church, too.  It is like a family.  It is sweet to see you at the events we still attend there, and nice to know we are always welcome.
    2. Home groups are a big part of life of Metro.  We nearly always had a place to go on Wednesday evenings for more personal fellowship and discussion.  And if anyone needed a meal, or help with a household project, or someone to watch the kids for a few hours, the home groups were excellent at practical caring.
    3. The generosity among members has been another sweet thing to watch.  So many people were so kind to our large family at times, whether it was passing along extra food after events, or paying our registration to a Celebration conference or to Camp Destiny for our kids.  I know that other people in the church have been blessed by this kind of generosity, too, whether it was through the church benevolence fund or just someone noticing a need and quietly filling it.
    4. As a home school mom, I have always appreciated the support that Metro offered to families who were teaching their own kids.  I particularly wish to commend Benny Phillips, a pastor at MLC who is also the principal of the church’s home school enrollment program, The Regent Academy.  I am so thankful for the parent training sessions, the weekly tutoring and enrichment classes, the record keeping, the guidance counseling, the general supportive atmosphere, and so much more.  I am also grateful that they allow the Providence Home Educators co-op, which is an independent program not affiliated with MLC, to take over the building every Monday during the school year for a reasonable rate.  This is big for me.  :-)
    5. Folks at Metro Life have been quite active in community service and outreach projects, such as the middle school youth in the Neighbor to Neighbor program which helped the elderly with household projects and yard work, the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Fry, holiday food and gift drives for disadvantaged families, the work day to help single moms, the homeless outreaches, and so many more that I can’t think of right now.  The Conversation program for introducing newcomers to the Christian faith is noteworthy, too. These people take the initiative!
    6. On a global scale, I am thankful for Metro Life’s leadership in the Mission:X program which has taken so many of the young people to serve others away from home.   My own daughters have traveled to Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, and the Florida panhandle.  The trips have been life changing.
    7. I have always loved the music at MLC, whether it is from Sovereign Grace Music or songs by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Hillsong, Sara Groves, or others.  The talented musicians do a fantastic job every week leading the congregation in worship to God.  Dancers and actors enliven holiday programs and occasionally Sunday services.  
    8. I also admire the gifted visual artists who adorn the Sunday School room walls with colorful murals, build imaginative sets for Kid’s Night Out and dramatic productions, and decorate beautifully for other events.  Beauty reflects the heart of God.
    9. I always enjoyed attending the Mom’s brunches when I could make it.  Great food, great friends, great childcare, great presentation on motherhood or homemaking, and then a great small group discussion… Who could ask for more? Oh, and great book giveaways! Great job, Sheree and company!
    10. I know some people wouldn’t think this is important, but for our family, the sports program has been a big blessing.  One of my daughters made some of her closest friends while playing Wolverine basketball during her high school years.  The younger kids all loved the Saturday morning soccer, and I think we’re going back for that this fall!  The sports program honors the fact that our bodies are important to God, and that fun and teamwork are important components of fellowship.  I like that.
    There you have it!  Now it’s your turn!  What do you most appreciate about Metro Life church?

    Grace and peace,
    Virginia Knowles

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley (A Review)

    Dear friends,

    I am jealous.  I can’t write long fiction.  Sure, I’ve written two non-fiction books, but the most fiction I can concoct is a short story.  It boggles me how anyone can craft an entire novel out of a story, weaving the plot in and out, this way and that.  It's like creating ex nihilo, out of nothing. How can they take a twisted and tragic tale and turn it on its tail into redemption and hope?  How can they get me to suck in my breath like that, or coax my tears to dribble down?  And keep doing it for 337 pages?  I just can’t do it.   Meg Moseley can.  And Meg Moseley is now the object of my envy.

    Actually, I was guilty of coveting before I even read Meg Moseley’s novel When Sparrows Fall.  It was on my wish list, waiting for me to buy it, waiting for some extra book money.  My sister, well, she already had it on her Nook.   Hmmph.  But my sister is kind, and decided to buy me a copy, too, because she believes in its message and wanted to share it with me.  We’re very different, but in this we are alike.  Sisters are like that sometimes.  Oh, and I should say my sister is an aspiring novel writer, too, with a few full length manuscripts to her credit.  Pffft.   I can’t do it.  I’ll stick to non-fiction.  Like this little book review.

    By now you’re wondering when I’ll actually tell you more about Meg’s book, other than to hint about tragedy and redemption.  We’re getting there, honey!  Hang on!

    Not all of us can write novels, but we each have a story.  Miranda, the protagonist of When Sparrows Fall, certainly has one, but she’s not owning up to all of it.   Maybe that’s because she doesn’t feel she even owns her own life.   In her adult years, her decisions have all been made for her either by her late husband or her pastor, both domineering men who use fear and legalistic religion to control others.  The outside world has always been painted as ungodly and dangerous, so her family has lived in near isolation, like birds in a glass cage.   Now she’s a widow left with six young children, a log cabin in the woods, archaic books for home schooling, and her faithful old camera.  She wants to rebuild her life, but where to start?  And what happens when she suddenly can’t do anything for her children or herself, and she has to depend on the kindness of a stranger?  How can she trust this half-brother-in-law Jack Hanford, whom she has only met once and whose life is so worldly compared to her own?   How can she counter the spiritual abuse of Mason Chandler?  And how can she keep her secrets buried, her children protected, her sanity intact?

    This is not just the story of Miranda.  It is the story of countless hidden women and children who are held in spiritual and emotional bondage by those who claim to have their best interests at heart.  This is the story of coming into one’s own, of finding the life of liberty, truth, grace, beauty, and love that we are all meant to enjoy.  That is a story we all share.

    God sees when sparrows fall.  And in this case, he gently picks one up, puts a song in its heart, touches its wings with strength, and releases it into the glories of flight.


    bioWho is Meg Moseley?  You can read more about her at her web site, and her blog,,but for starters, she was a home school mom for over 20 years.  She has three grown children and lives in Georgia.  She once worked in a candle factory.  She rides motorcycles. That’s another thing I don’t do, but I don’t envy that one.   Meg wants you to understand the importance of fairy tales in a child’s life. And she wants you to think deeply enough to care about women who are oppressed in the name of religion.  If you’re of the mind to share books and thoughts with ones you love, Meg included a Reader’s Guide of 14 thought-provoking questions at the end.   My question for you fellow mommies is, “Who you can reach out to with a helping hand and words of truth and grace?” Because sometimes, you’re the one he uses to tend to his wee sparrows.


    “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

    “How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.  Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”  Psalm 84:1-7

    You might also like to read my 2008 blog post, His Eye is on the SparrowIt’s not fiction, but it is my story of a little bird.  Oh, and some music, too: a contemporary rendition by CeCe Winans and Lauryn Hill of the grand old spiritual “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”   Go ahead!  Click it!


    This review is my second in a series on gender, authority, and abuse. You can read the first one at Quivering Daughters by Hilary McFarland (A Review)

    Why this series?  The theme of emotional, spiritual and physical abuse has ranked really high on my radar in the past few years.  I wish I could say this is just because I read a lot, but unfortunately, I have known far too many dear people who are painfully affected by these problems in their own homes and churches. Their stories haunt me.  At times, there is really not much I can do for them but to encourage them, offer resources, and pray.  But there is something more I can do to keep it from happening to other families.  I can write.  Maybe not fiction, but I can write!  So I have joined a growing cadre of bloggers who are addressing this issue, especially as it relates to home schooling, parenting, marriage, and church.  I have written a number of articles touching lightly on aspects of these subjects, such as Help for Hurting Marriages.  However, my first major direct foray into this realm was my article Child Discipline or Child Abuse? which I wrote last year after Lydia Schatz, an adopted child, was beat to death by her home schooling parents who had been reading child discipline books by Michael Pearl.  That post received thousands of page hits in the first few weeks, and nearly 18 months later it is still getting daily visitors.  However, just this past week, it was time for another heart-rending post, this time about Sovereign Grace Ministries, our former church denomination, in the wake of its current turmoil about abuse of authority.  You can read it here: My Thoughts on CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. That blog post, like the other, has received thousands of visitors from all over the world.   It’s been a really long and wearying week for me, rethinking and responding and rewriting.  Much praying, too.  I posted the sequel this morning here: My Recommendations for CJ Mahaney and SGM (From the Cheap Seats!) 


    Please pray for the writers and speakers addressing abuse issues wherever they are found.   I can’t go into all the details of the challenges we face, but this is a critical time for us.  We are just ordinary people, seeking to be used by God “for such as time as this.”

    Virginia Knowles