Teaching Good Things

Practical Skills for Real Life

Teaching Good Things - Practical Skills for Real Life

Does Abuse and Neglect REALLY Happen in Homeschool Families?

Does Abuse and Neglect REALLY Happen in Homeschool Families

This week’s post, From a Homeschool Victim Who Obviously Survived, written by our adult daughter about her homeschool years has caused quite a stir. It has been shared 35,000 times on Facebook and been the center of some heated conversations and also been the source of great encouragement to parents to keep doing the tough job of parenting. There was MUCH more positive feedback  than negative.

I would like to address some of the negative comments. And just for the record, I did not publish the comments that were hostile. Those who were dissenting and yet respectful were published.

One other thing, this website/blog is run by me, it is run as a business and ministry. Occasionally, Olivia will post, although I wish she’d post more because she is a gifted writer. BUT she works 3 jobs and has very little time for writing and debating in the comment section. This is why you will see me answer some of the comments for her.  It’s called working together, we do a lot of that as a family! There are some comments I am saving for her to address.

The following is a comment that I did publish, it was on the nicer side:

This article is full of it lol I was homeschooled all 12 years and I will never advocate it. I understand results may very, and if you have the right parents then heck you might survive! But what about the homeschoolers I knew who were so sheltered and unsocialized they became mentally unstable? What about the ones like me who struggle with depression because I was not allowed to have my own opinions or choices? What about all the brainwashing that goes on? Did you ever stop to think about your own life choices? About the real world? Or is your life a cookie cutter of your parents? Like I said, results may very… I will be fair and say I knew homeschoolers who were fine because their parents did it right. But I also knew parents who used it to hide physical abuse.. I knew homeschoolers who had no social functions and will pretty much be a waste in society. It shouldn’t be allowed because some parents REALLY don’t know what to teach their kids and they end up not knowing the simplest of things. As for myself, well I like to think I did survive. I’m doing good. But I struggle with depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other problems. But I can function in the real world. Unfortunately, I can’t say that for the rest of the ppl I knew. ~Bekah


Does abuse and neglect really happen in homeschool families?

I’m sure it does, although I don’t know anyone personally and we live in a very large homeschooling community. I’d be foolish to say there is none.  There is abuse/neglect in every segment of life.  Does that mean we should just accept it? No!  It should be dealt with legally and spiritually.

The problem is not homeschooling, and to say that it “should not be allowed” because some parents may hide behind it is ludicrous. What is the other option? Turn the children over to the power-driven, money-hungry government and strangers? We know how well they handle the national budget and foreign affairs.

Let’s think this through and be consistent.

Are there law enforcement officers that abuse their positions? Should we do away with them because of the few abusive ones?

Are there public school teachers and bus drivers who abuse their students? Should we do away with all of them?

Are there therapist that abuse their clients? Should we shut them all down because no one can be trusted?

There are those in ministry that hide behind their pulpit only to abuse the weak and seeking? Should we close all churches and ministries down because of the wicked ones?

Are there husbands who abuse their wives? And wives that break trust with adultery. Should we do away with marriage?

Are there parents who send their kids to public school who abuse and neglect their children? Should we allow no one to be a parent?

The problem with those who attack homeschooling because of a few parents who have been abusive or neglectful don’t understand that it is not an issue of homeschooling, it is an issue of abuse.

We are all anti-abuse no matter what the offender hides behind. But to go on the warpath to label and discredit homeschoolers, or law enforcement officers, or bus drivers, etc…  as a whole is a form of abuse itself.

About Abuse and Being a Victim 

Abuse and neglect does happen.  We all know this.  There needs to be a voice for the victim, if not their own voice someone needs to be heard for them. There needs to be punishment for the offender. But more than that, there needs to be healing and repentance. If there is no healing, even if the offender does not repent, there will be no moving forward. You are just stuck, dying a slow death with no joy, no peace, no life!

I am no stranger to abuse. Although I have never been physically beaten I have endured my own nightmares, some of which I will never speak to another soul about, not even my husband. I also know the pain of never being able to measure up, of words that cut deep and being abandoned by a parent.  I know that pain is real, the hurt is deep.

One of my dearest real life friends endured a hell of a childhood. Her own father even tried to run her over with a car. She knows pain, she knows rejection. Her scars are deep. But she is one of the most grace-filled people I have ever met. As an emotionally and spiritually healthy adult in her 40’s, she sat at her father’s bedside while he was dying and he still spewed words of bitterness and abuse towards her, yet, she had compassion on him.   This same friend has done more to reach out to the unloved and unlovable than anyone I know personally. Does she struggle with that hurt? Does that pain rear it’s ugly head from time to time? Sure! But through Christ she is an over-comer. She will rarely talk of her abuse because that is not her identity. She lives a full life of victory.

Just last week I met a man who was raised in a Russian orphanage. An orphanage with no love, no nurturing, no “real life” outside those prison walls. He grew up enduring abuse and neglect. This man, now almost 40, will light up a room with his love for God and for people!  He is using his life to minister to those who are aging out of the orphanages in Russia. This man, through the grace of God, is an over-comer. He will not sit and constantly talk to you of the abuses he endured, but he’d rather tell you about freedom, and healing… and LIFE! He would call himself a victor, not a victim.

Three years ago we were asked to take in three children, a sibling group (they were public schooled but it really doesn’t matter in this situation). These three were 2, 6 and 8. These children were neglected, they have seen and heard things no child should know. These three have been rejected and abandoned my their mother and their fathers, along with the rejection of their extended family. These three know abuse and they know pain.  By-the-way, they were “helped/rescued” not because they were in public school, but because there was a drug bust after previous offenses by the adults in their lives. The “safety net of public school” was not their salvation.

As we are slowly teaching these children to trust and love (which is a very long, bumpy road) we are equipping them with a worldview to allow them to heal, to let go of bitterness, to forgive. We are not there yet, but we are working on it slowly, and I am sure there will always be an inner struggle (just as I have), but they can be over-comers. We are very open with them and they are free to talk about their past and we listen, usually without comments, but just let them talk. The thing is, they don’t really relish in their abuse and as time goes on they talk less and less about it. This I give glory to God for.

We are encouraging them to have forgiveness and compassion towards their birth parents. We pray for the salvation of their mother, who is now in prison. We are also teaching them HOW to break the cycle of abuse and neglect even with the simplest things such as playing baby-dolls and sweetly talking about how good mommies take care of their babies.

Just yesterday I had Aaron, my now 9 year old snuggle with me while we rocked, he says his is too big to snuggle, but I know he really wants to. :)  I softly asked him. “Do you know I prayed for you before you were even born?” He was puzzled. I said, “Yes! I was asking God 12 years ago to bring us more children. It took Him a little while, but He brought me YOU!  God has been so good to me and you!”  I hope He will use their pain to help others, but only if they move past the bitterness and self-pity.

Then there is Joseph. His bothers threw him in a pit, they sold him into slavery and he ended up in prison!  God used that hard providence to bring provision, to bring LIFE  to so many. Was Joseph angry? Was he filled with self-pity?  I wonder if he would have written dozens of blog posts about his abuse? Most likely not, because Joseph was filled with wisdom and compassion, even for those that abused him.

And we save the best for last, Jesus! No one has endured what He has, yet even at the moment of His death He was moved with compassion and asked God to forgive them.

Is there abuse in the homeschool movement? Sure.

Are there some leaders that are corrupt?  No doubt!

Should there be accountability and punishment? YES!

Is there abuse in other segments of life? Be honest and be consistent!

Does that give us a right to lament every little detail publicly about how we’ve been wronged?  At what point do we seek forgiveness, whether giving it or receiving it? When can we thank God for His mercy and use those horrible things for good?

Because I have been abandoned I will fight to be by the side of my husband and children.  I WILL break the cycle of broken families by the grace of God.

Where is the victory?

You will never find it as long as you gather with others , physically or virtually, who want to keep digging that scab off and oozing out bitterness.

One of the very first things we taught our youngest three was that God was merciful and that He directs their footsteps, but how they choose to respond was up to them. We don’t know why it had to be a hard journey for them but we trust that God is working a bigger plan.  If they choose to live a life of self-pity then they will never have peace and joy.  God gives grace to those who ask for it.

My point is, quit blaming blaming homeschooling because some abusive parents hide behind it.

The majority of homeschool parents are laying down their lives to give their kids the best they have, even if it is not perfect, even if they wear thrift store clothes and don’t study higher math.  And if you believe every public school teacher, in every classroom across this nation will give your child a top-notch education, which would in-turn will guarantee them a happy, well-rounded, successful life, you are delusional.

Lastly, let us be very careful what we classify as abuse and neglect, and be careful of the friends we choose to keep.

What is the answer?

Those of us with a voice lets encourage, educate and equip good parenting, whether it be face to face, through books or virtual relationships.

Lets be involved to help bring healing and meeting needs of the victims like my Russian friend. Move forward with purpose and love, be strong and courageous.

There is adoption and the breaking of cycles. You can’t save them all, but you can save one and you have no idea what that one will do!

Be involved and connected with those around you, it’s called living in community. When people are involved it gives layers of accountability.

I can tell you I am a MUCH better parent with my younger kids than I was with my older ones. I have learned so much by the example and teachings of others and by my own mistakes!  My husband I choose our friends very carefully.


Beautiful Eyes






How to Make Quilted Pumpkin Potholders

pumpkin potholders

You will need:
small amount of green fabric
small amount of orange, maybe 1/4 of a yard
scraps of batting
(I always save my quilting scraps of fabric and batting)
Sewing Machine

Cut a strip of green fabric about 1  1/2 – 2 inches wide and 12 inches or so long.
Just estimate and using scraps,
it does not need to be exact.

Fold the strip in half and press it;
fold both sides in and press it;
then in half again, press it, like a double bias tape.

Sew a zig zag all the way down. The purpose is to hide your raw edges.

Cut your orange fabric to look like a pumpkin.
I folded my fabric 4 times to get 4 pumpkins pieces, I cut all 4 at one time.
The fabric was right sides together twice so that they would be the same shape.

Be sure to make the bottom of the pumpkin flat so that it will be easy to stitch up.

Cut 2 layers of batting, place it under the pumpkin.

(I have also used batting and a layer of denim from old jeans.)

Place wrong sides (non-printed side) of pumpkin together; put them on top of the batting.

Place your stem inside as a loop.

Gently lay the top layer of pumpkin down,
making sure it is even with the other pumpkin.

Pin your stem and pumpkin in place.

Starting a couple of inches over from the center bottom,

stitch around the pumpkin;

remove your pin when you come to it.

Leave a 3-4 inch opening at the bottom.

Trim off excess fabric, batting and stem that is sticking out.

Carefully turn pumpkin right side out.

You may want to trim a little of the batting off at the bottom here.

Then fold your opening under, making a small seam, you can press it if it helps.
As closely to the fold as you can, sew the opening closed.
Be sure to backstitch to hold it secure.

Starting at the top center, sew half circles to make it look like a pumpkin. When you get to the bottom center, while your needle in down in the fabric, lift your presser foot up, turn your pumpkin in the opposite direction, put foot down and sew upward. Continue this until you have enough lines sewn.

From a Homeschool Victim Who Obviously Survived

Edit: The previous image used in this post was without permission and was removed.

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to discredit real abuse. Real abuse happens within all walks of life. It does need to be addressed and dealt with – with punishment for the offender and healing for the very real victim.  But this post is a satire about a life that often seems hard and unfair. What child does not think life is unfair at times?  :)

Beautiful Eyes

Six years have passed since I graduated from what I have been trained to call formal education. I was taught that education was about more than the books and grades, so we called our curriculum, our scheduled learning, “formal education”. It is all documented in those records we kept, just in case anyone accused us of not doing real school.

It took me most of the last six years to really understand what was done to me during those years of home schooling. Firstly, and most importantly, I was never allowed to stop learning. How cruel is that? I was never allowed to shut the book, drop the pencil, pack it up and go home because I’d served my time for the day. We, my siblings and I,  were “encouraged” to be always learning, to find the “why” for everything. Even now as an adult, my mind seeks out reason for everything.

That said, when it was decent weather, we were forced outside. We had to go find leaves or bugs for a unit study, (what’s up with home schooling” and unit studies? As if everything is connected… gah.) Oh, and if the old lady who lived up the street needed help carrying in her groceries, we were forced to stop doing math and go help her. Math! We stopped math class to help people.

One of the very worst things about “home schooling” was the socialization. Surprisingly enough. Most people assume because “home schoolers” school at home there isn’t any opportunity to interact with other people. I wish that were true.

You see, I’m an introvert. I HATE talking to new people, I HATE HATE HATE speaking in front of  a crowd.  I loath the thought of small talk. But when you homeschool you have to interact with everybody, your family, the other families in your co-op, the people at soccer practice, your voice teacher, your piano teacher, the people at the gym and Wal-Mart; you are almost always surrounded by people of varying ages and ethnicities.

My Mom was a special kind of cruel, you see, she MADE me take public speaking, knowing I hated it! She signed me up for speech classes and public speaking competitions. Do you know what that did to me as an adult? It removed every excuse my introverted-self had for shying away from leadership responsibilities in business, in charity work, even in sports. Now when the need arises for a speaker, for a leader, my training, my conditioning kicks in and because I’m able, it’s expected that I contribute.

Homeschooling forced me to become a well rounded and thoughtful adult. It stole from me the typical teen experiences. I was never bullied, which from what I’ve gathered is a character building experience. I never had the opportunity to spend hours (weeks, months, years) crushing on a guy I’d never really end up with. I never had the chance to get caught up in high school drama or participate in trivial gossip like a normal girl. Instead my time was spent taking care of people, of learning practical boring things like cooking and quilting. So now as an adult I can feed you and keep you warm, but I’m a little awkward around shallow people.

I have my mother to thank for every twang of guilt when I don’t do a job completely, I mean, who does everything completely anyway?

I have no idea how I survived the mental trauma of being raised by two people who honestly thought it best for me to pursue a few deep relationships versus having a ton of friends. Like, totally not cool.  

We had “free time” in the afternoons. I remember being kinda lost during that time. We could go do whatever we wanted. How does anyone think that is healthy? Shouldn’t kids be micro managed? I mean, do you have any idea the mischief we got into? We built ti-pis in the woods (where we could have gotten bit by a tick and contracted Lyme disease!) and rode our bikes without helmets.

We were forced to work. Physically. This is a dark part of my sordid tale. We were forced to help with family business. When the family catered an event, we kids were right there, cutting vegetables and  washing dishes. When my father needed an extra hand on a home improvement job we were there to hand him tools, load and unload the truck, sweep floors, etc… see physical work I tell ya!

Sure, I learned a lot and by the time I applied for my first job. I was hired the next day because my resume (which learning how to write a resume was a mandatory part of high school) looked fantastic. But what my resume doesn’t tell you is that my parents saw through every detail of my work. They started me on chores when I was tall enough to reach the sink, with the help of a stool.   As a 6 year old I had to do extra chores for any sort of extra cash. Allowance? Oh no, we were told that, “you work, you eat”.  I don’t know where they found such capitalistic propaganda. I don’t care that that is how the real world operates, I was just a kid. I would rather have thought that everything would come to me because I was special and unique. I think I could have coped with the harsh realities of life if I had been sheltered from them till I was an adult.

Oh, and I never go to eat cafeteria food. Ever. I had to eat things like salads and homemade bread with strawberry preserves. To this day I’m a food snob and it’s “home schooling” to blame.

So what does a “home school” survivor look like? In my case it looks like a 23 year old with a plan to build a cooking school for kids who age out of foster care. It looks like a girl who loves her parents, who finds her worth in Christ, not fashion or fads and whose best friend is her sister. It looks like a girl who shows up early and stays late for both of her jobs. It looks like a young adult who doesn’t disdain authority. It looks like a happy, healthy, hard working, humorous, semi-normal woman. Which, I guess isn’t so terrible.

olivia brodock

Written by Olivia Brodock, author of No More Wasted Years, and is a chef, peer counselor and board member at a local crisis pregnancy center, writer, missionary and visionary. She lives on beautiful Straight Mountain in North Alabama, where she attempts to carry out the Great Commission with her family.

How to Make an Alabama Football Elephant Cake

Its fall and we live in Alabama. Everyone here eats, breaths and lives football, but not us).

This week I had an order for an Alabama football cake and some specialty cookies.  This one feeds about 40-50.


Dirty iced with buttercream.

Covered with 2 pieces of fondant.

I used foam poster board for the ears and covered them with fondant. They wedged nicely into the two rounds.

Added a tail with fondant.

Cut two holes for the eyes which allowed the white of the buttercream to show. Used black fondant for the eyeballs.


I used a small plastic deli container for the hat and covered with with some buttercream and fondant. Placed it on the head before it dries.

These were made for the same party! They are VERY time consuming…very!

how to make an elephant cake

This is another one I made a couple months ago.

Memorizing 1 Corinthians 13 – Let Love Abide (video)

There are 3 things I want my kids to know more than anything:

1. Who God is and what He really said.

Which is why we read and memorize Scripture. As we read, study and memorize the Holy Spirit will reveal more and more truth to us. You can’t really grow in truth if you only hear a sermon once a week. As we learn whole chapters at a time we are learning verses in context. This makes it easier when we do hear preaching or teaching on a verse to have discernment whether or not it is being taught in the context of all of God’s word, and it also gives us a deeper understanding for the groundwork already laid.

That being said, I will be honest with you. Our family does not do near as much reading and memorizing as we should, but we are consistent in moving forward little by little. Sometimes we get very busy with things such as weddings, grand-babies, a heavy work load or whatever, but the important thing is that we get back on track and move forward. It has taken us two years to learn three chapters of Scripture, the 10 Commandments and the Apostle’s Creed

We are a family of doers, only a couple of us are readers (read because we love it and can’t get enough). And while quantity is important, quality is even more important.  Most times while others are studying how to put their hand to the plow you’ll find us out behind the plow.  The world needs both kinds of people.

The point is, don’t set unrealistic standards for your family and then give up because you are discouraged. Don’t compare yourself to others.  If it takes you a three years to read through the Bible you’ve already done more than most people. If it takes a year to memorize one chapter you are WAY ahead of the majority.

2. They are loved and wanted by us and their Heavenly Father.

Everyone wants to be loved, and especially loved by their parents. If you know your parents love you and want you, then that sets a security in you that can not be shaken. A LOT of people do not have this security.

And if you are given a hard providence in life such as your parents rejecting you, as our three youngest have experienced, then it is even more important to know that your Heavenly Father loves you and desires fellowship with you. Once you have that security you can face anything!

3. How to serve others through love (even if it has to be tough love).

In our day of self-esteem and feel-good theology we need to know how God said we should live. We need to know HOW to love others, HOW to serve others, HOW to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. If we are not denying ourselves and loving/serving others then we do not know the Gospel.

It took us about 8 months to learn this, but they have it now and all three of them know it from start to finish! We have had MANY great object lessons as we’ve worked to memorize this.

They also know Proverbs 3 and Romans 12. :)

Make Your Own Masterpiece with No Skills and Under $20

Make your own masterpiece
I want our home to reflect me and Jeff, not what a designer or a company that sells interiors says I should have on my walls and beds.  I would rather make something, if I can, than buy it such as curtains, quilts, artwork, doilies, etc…

Now I am no artist but I can snap a picture and play on the computer a bit. :)

I’ve been looking for something like this to hang in our dining area but didn’t want to spend the money.

Jeff had this old frame given to him. It was falling apart but I just love it so I knew that was the size of artwork I wanted.  He re-enforced it for me and I added a couple of coats of white paint that I had in the bottom a of wall and trim paint can. I didn’t do a great job on it because I wanted it to look distressed. :)

I decided I wanted a picture that reflected our home.  I love my crocheted table cloth that I use when we are having company or a special occasions.

I had this white pitcher I picked up from the thrift store a couple months ago for $3.

I had a few silk peonies (my favorite flower) in an arrangement in my bedroom so I took those out and put them in this pitcher and stuck in a few real roses.

I added a set of salt and pepper shakers I never use but love none the less to give it a bit of an old-world look.


I snapped a bunch of pictures as the afternoon light was shining in and then edited them in Picmonkey. I cloned out a lot of the background to make it darker, then played around with the lighting and color settings until it was how I wanted it. This does not take skill, it’s kind of like coloring, you just need a little practice. ;)


I saved it at full resolution, but because it was being enlarged so much it lost a lot of its clarity, which I think makes it look much more like an old painting.

I went to Wal Mart and had a 16×20 poster made with a mat finish, that was about $12. Picked up a small bottle of Mod Podge (mat finish) while I was there, that was about $3 (it doesn’t take much).

I already had a piece of foam board (kind of like poster board but ticker) at home so that didn’t cost me anything. You could use a thick piece of cardboard or even a piece of thin wood such as plywood. If you want the canvas look it doesn’t have to be a super smooth surface, just make sure there are no huge gaps in the grain.  Cut the board the same size as your photo/poster.

I used a 2″ paint brush to apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the foam board (the Mod Podge will wash out of the brush when you are done).

I let it air dry for a minute so it would stick better. Then I laid the picture on top carefully, smoothed it out and then added a layer of Mod Podge to the top of the picture.

I did all the brush strokes in one direction (from side to side),  let it dry for 20 minutes and then added a second coat of Mod Podge brushing from top to bottom and then letting it dry for another 20 minutes.

The brush marks show a little when the light hits it just right which is what gives it a canvas look. You could use a paint roller if you don’t want brush marks.

There is no glass in the frame.

I used my hot glue gun to seal the picture in the frame.

Maybe next summer when the roses are in bloom I may try to re-do this and make it look a little  more like this color scheme!

Sevryukov Dmitry - 'White Roses'

I really want to use a picture of my grandmother’s farm for a nice piece of  canvas-looking artwork. That would be something special to hand down to the children one day… when I get time. :)