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Life and Sparrows

by Hillary McFarland

“Remember, Miranda, ‘rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.’”
—From When Sparrows Fall, by Meg Moseley

Releasing May 3rd from Multnomah.
I haven't been writing as prolifically here at Quivering Daughters the past few months. Sometimes I click on my link and just stare, asking in silence,"Do You have anything for me, Lord?" And with my main topics, at least, there hasn't been much in the way of newness or inspiration. I remember when it wouldn't stop coming, flowing out, and I had dozens of sticky notes scattered across my desk with hasty phrases and references scrawled across so I wouldn't forget an idea or a point or something I believed God wanted me to share.
     Now these notes are few and far between. And as I click through my archives, I realize: I've said what I believe God has asked me to say, and I hope ~ pray ~ that He is glorified through words found here.  
     In November I shared how I want to be grace-with-skin and am desperately still learning how. In part this means continuing to pour myself out to Him and for Him as He calls. To immerse myself in community with others ~ writers and readers, online, in daily life, and wherever He leads. I love how the Lord continues to give beautiful, tender examples for me to follow through His own grace towards me!

     The past several days I've worked with guest writers preparing some fantastic articles to come over the next few months and am really encouraged by their voices and viewpoints. If you have an article you believe would be a good fit for Quivering Daughters, please email me. If you are a woman who would like to share your heart or your story, anonymously or using your real identity, for the blog or even privately, please email me. I believe it's important for voices to speak up, for stories to be told and lives shared, so that we as the body of Christ can learn from each other and about each other.
    In fact, story can accomplish through simple illustration what fact and reason and thesis and exegesis cannot. Jesus used story to communicate profound truth ~ revealing hearts, transforming lives, opening eyes. And in a soon-to-be released novel about a mother's experience with spiritual abuse, author Meg Moseley follows suit. 
     Although the perspective is slightly different, it's a little uncanny to see familiar life experiences through someone else's eyes. When Sparrows Fall features mature elements like coercion and emotional manipulation, but also describes the everyday homeschooling life as only one with experience knows how.
     A former homeschooling mother ~ her children are now grown ~ Moseley is careful to distinguish between "normal homeschoolers" and ... the others, bringing to life Miranda, widow and mother of six, ensnared by a spiritually abusive church while yearning to keep her children sheltered from the world. It's a tale that will resonate with anyone familiar with the dynamics of spiritual abuse, but especially for women with a more austere experience within homeschooling circles.
     I deeply appreciate Meg's gift to the evangelical community, which largely remains unfamiliar with the intimate nuances of deeply conservative lifestyles. In addition her words validate the sacrifices and love of mothers everywhere who only want the best for their children. Despite accurately portraying the bitter fruits that can arise from white-washed idolatry, this book offers messages of redemption and hope.
    To read an excerpt of When Sparrows Fall, please visit Meg Moseley's website. 
    While this book is a work of fiction, there are so many reflections throughout the pages that echo things I've seen, heard, or experienced throughout my own life. Stories like this are important because they educate and inform while also giving us the opportunity to see life through eyes that might be shrouded otherwise. To hear voices that might be silenced, or hearts snuffed. Please, whomever you are and wherever you are, please tell your story. I think you might be surprised at what comes next. 
     You never know who might be listening.
Question for those who grew up home-schooled: What do you want others to know about your experience?  What did you appreciate and what would you have done differently? What would you tell a parent who is thinking about homeschooling their child? Feel free to comment anonymously if you wish.


  1. I felt like my parents primarily home schooled me so that they could do what they wanted. They even said that they did not want the state to see bruises on us and start asking questions. We were told that we should not talk about bruises if someone did see them.

    I also felt like my parents STOLE friends and STOLE an education from me. I felt like they wanted me to be trapped in my own little world, but if I stayed in my own little world, I got into trouble there, too. We were trained so spout off how much we loved home schooling (my sisters still claim they liked it, maybe they did).

    What we are doing differently is to NOT home school. My husband hated his experience too and his mom was a perfectionist.

  2. I went to a private school for the first several years of my education. I didn't like it there at all. I felt institutionalized (although I did not have words for this feeling at the time) and longed to be home with my mother.

    After about a year of begging, my parents agreed to home school me starting at the age of ten. My mother is a very intelligent woman and she worked hard to give me an excellent education. This is a lifelong blessing for which I will always be grateful!

    Because I am an introvert by nature and have always done well as an independent learner, I do not think I would have thrived academically or socially in a school environment as much as I did at home.

    At the same time, there *were* problems in my family, ones that I am still grappling with to this day. Guilt, fear, and religion were used to manipulate us for the sake of the family image. My father seldom really spoke with me unless it was to criticize me or tell me what to do. I grew up feeling that my value to my parents depended on how well I fulfilled their expectations of what a daughter should be. These things did hurt me, badly.

    However, I believe these problems would have been present in my family whatever educational model had been followed. People from all different kinds of backgrounds and religions (or from entirely secular homes) complain of the exact same things. I can't, and don't, blame home education for these parenting flaws and the pain they caused.

    What would I do differently? Well, I do plan on homeschooling my daughter someday, but want ti raise her with much more grace, love, and acceptance.

    My advice to other future home schoolers is simply to be as close as you can to Jesus. All the rest will follow from that.


  3. Hi Hillary,
    I have really been out of touch, I know. I just read the excerpt from When Sparrows Fall and it was beautiful. Can't wait to read the whole book. You have done so much through your blog and your book. And I agree with you wholeheartedly about story. My next novel has been tumbling around inside my head. I think it may include some spiritual abuse and may even answer the question you posed in a roundabout way . . . I still have to finish revising my first ms, though. Wish I could answer that question, but it would take me hours. I'd just tell a parent considering homeschooling to be very, very careful and weigh everything they're told to see if it really is from God. Hugs to you, dear.

  4. I will not homeschool my daughter! im not sure if anyone else raised by Gothards rules felt a deeply uncomfortable sexual tension between her self her father and basically any one with a penis. i remember being told at 16 i couldnt give a 5 year old boy a piggyback ride because he would want me sexually. or that because i had breasts my father would no longer hug me. the pain is imense and i am almost incapable of viewing men as human.basically i feel that i have no value except as a sexual object.please help me. sorry for going off but my deepest desire for my daughter is that she values herself and sees herself as worthy of love.


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