It's (Not That) Complicated by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
Chastity and Androgyny
Posted October 31, 2006
In our recent studies of history, we found two interesting quotes, from two different sources, written in two different centuries. Both timeless.
“Chastity is so essential and natural to your sex, that every declination from it is a proportionable receding from womanhood. An immodest woman is a kind of monster, distorted from its proper form.”
A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady
“Chastitie is a vertue much commended in a souldier, when uncleannesse doth defile body and soule, and make a man stinke in the nostrils of God and man, and laieth him open to the malice and sword of his enemy, for commonly it makes a man effeminate, cowardly, lasie and full of diseases, and surely such who have unlawful women still trudging about with them, or in whom custome hath taken away the sence of offending in that kind, commonly come to dishounorable ends.”
Instructions of the Marshall for the better enabling of a privat soldier to the executing of his duty in this present Glorie — June 22, 1611
[Emphases my own]
In other words, we would draw from these two quotes that lack of chastity in a woman makes her less a woman, and lack of chastity in a man makes him less a man — that chastity is an integral part of womanliness in a woman, and of manliness in a man. This concept is interesting food for thought, especially when we consider that inchastity and androgyny are generally seen together throughout history, and very clearly in our own generation.
A Never-Ending Testimony
Posted October 31, 2006
How My Heart Was Turned To My Father, Family and Home
By Genevieve Smith
I was raised to be independent and career oriented. My schooling included a strong academic program, which left no time for learning domestic skills. You wouldn’t think it now to look at me. I’m 24 and am living at home. I help my father in his ministry and assist my mother at home. But it was not so long ago that my ambition was to be the first woman prime minister of New Zealand. And it was even less time ago that I was working a highly paid legal executive job for a prominent solicitor [lawyer]. The Lord has done quite a work in my life since this time. He has turned my heart to my father, my family and my home.
My story starts a number of years ago when I traveled with my brother to the USA for a lengthy stay. The same day we left New Zealand, the solicitor I was working for sold his practice to study for the ministry. If I’d wondered before, I had no doubt now that I wouldn’t be able to pick my job back up on returning to New Zealand. So began a long period of praying for direction from the Lord and seeking His will for my life. A number of things happened during this time which changed the course of my life.
Firstly, my eyes were opened to some of the sinful practices I’d fallen into at home. I had developed ways of relating to my parents, which were not honouring or respectful to them, and I realized that in many ways I had not been a good example to my younger siblings. This realization of my sin had me stunned for some time since I’d always aspired to be like my father and had always counted the members of my family as my best friends. Nevertheless, it is true that I needed to repent of many wrong actions towards my family.
Secondly, I heard four separate speakers in the space of a short time give a vision for family ministries. In particular, one speaker, Doug Phillips, on his tape entitled, “What’s a Girl To Do?,” revealed the beauty of family ministries by explaining that girls, prior to marriage, could practice for being a helpmate to their husbands by assisting their fathers in their ministries. I was taken by the representation of family unity and strength he described. And it struck me, “My father has a ministry. I could work for him.”
Thirdly, I came across and read some amazing books: The Way Home by Mary Pride; Domestic Tranquility by Carolyn E Graglia; How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macauley; Mother by Kathleen Norris and Home-Making by J R Miller.
Each of these things led to a change of heart and priorities. Though I was raised to be independent, my desire grew strong to be under the roof and protection of my father, to submit to his day-to-day direction and guidance of my life and to work to make his life and ministry a success. And though I had been raised to be career oriented, my desire to work outside of my home dwindled. I became cautious of becoming an employer’s helper and instead wanted to become my father’s helper and prepare for marriage. My relationships with my family became all important, as did my desire to learn how to be a Godly and skillful wife, mother and homemaker.
On a long-distance phone call home to my parents from the USA, I broached the idea of working for my father. They were delighted at the prospect. This delighted me, and I could hardly wait until my trip in the USA was over – but I had another whole year before I was scheduled to go home! It became apparent fairly soon that while my father could give me lots of work to do, his ministry did not have the finances to support another worker. Surprisingly, to me, this did not bother me at all.
I have now been home for quite some time. I have been able to be of help to my father and have thoroughly enjoyed our walks to the post office each morning. My mother has appreciated my help around the house, and I’ve benefited immensely from being able to assist her. She recently had her hip replaced and will have her other hip replaced shortly. Since I’m at home, I was able to take over the managing of the house and also care for her while she was bedridden for several months. I’ve delighted in being able to build friendships with my siblings and have marveled as the Lord has brought another little wee child into our lives – a little sister we take care of and hope to be able to adopt one day. My mother has assigned me to take care of all the budgeting, buying and cooking, and I’ve loved learning these new skills and experimenting with cooking styles and recipes to come up with mouth-watering meals to please my family. I have noticed that my hardness, brusqueness and impatience, which was built into my life as a result of having to protect myself, has given way, as I’ve put myself under the protection of my father, to a newly forming softness, warmth and love.
In the eyes of the world, I’m wasting my life as my old legal cronies take every opportunity to tell me. I’m not earning any money and am not pursuing independence or a career the way I “should be.” But I reject the ways of the world. The Lord has shown me His ways. He has turned my heart towards my father, my family and my home and in following His leading I have come to recognize that I’m taking part in a much more important work with far more lasting consequences and a much higher priority than anything I was doing or pursuing before. God be praised.
Interview with Genevieve Smith
Posted October 30, 2006
Two years after Genevieve Smith wrote her a testimony, “How My Heart was Turned to my Father, Family and Home,” we conducted an interview with Genevieve to see what she has learned about productive, visionary daughterhood since.
A & E: So, Genevieve, are you still as happy about your decision to move home as you were two years ago?
G: When my heart was changed as described in my testimony it caused a pretty big shake-up in my thinking, my motivations, my vision, my understanding…everything! Each new pearl of wisdom or discovery impacted many other issues and practices. As I began to become aware that the Lord wanted me at home I began to be challenged in many different areas of my life. I started to talk with people and ask questions and start discussions. The ramifications of my desire to come home were huge and I sought to, as Doug Phillips puts it, bring my orthopraxy into line with my orthodoxy. This was tricky since my orthodoxy was changing. And sometimes I wasn’t even sure if it really was changing or if maybe it was just that I had always held these beliefs but had simply lived inconsistently with them. Anyway, with all the thinking I was doing on the subject I ended up with a number of things I wanted to do in coming home. You could call them motivations for coming home or goals or things I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to help Dad in his ministry to home educators and help Mum with her work around the home (help to lighten their workloads where I could). I wanted to work on my home-making skills, prepare for marriage and work on building and strengthening family relationships. I wanted to deepen my relationship with God and encourage other girls in virtuous womanhood.
My life since coming home has been a big testimony to the fact that the Lord delights in fulfilling the desires of our hearts. The Lord has brought about many victories in my life and fulfilled many desires in terms of being able to help Dad and Mum and in learning new skills and strengthening relationships, etc.
I’m delighted to be able to do what I’m doing right now. Someone said to me the other day, “You are very blessed, you know Genevieve.” “Yes, I am,” I said, “but what caused you to say that to me just now?” He answered, “It was the thought that you are able to do something that you believe in and enjoy.” This is a real blessing for sure!
A & E: You mentioned a few of the things you do while at home. We know you have taken up a million more projects and responsibilities since. Are there any you wouldn’t mind telling us about?
G: Sure. And in answering this question, perhaps I can tell some stories about how the Lord has fulfilled many of the desires in my heart!
The “Helping Dad”Project
When I came home at the end of 2002 I really wanted to lighten Dad’s load. He formatted a bi-monthly magazine for home educators called the Keystone Journal and dealt with the mail in and the banking, etc. Dad is one of the wisest people I know and I figured that if I could take over these silly little jobs, I would learn a lot from him in the process and also free him up for more important things – like writing a book! Dad was keen for me to take on these jobs too. However, our situation at home did not allow this to happen. Dad ran the Home Education Foundation and performed all these chores from one computer. He needed his computer and it was not logistically possible for me to be on that computer helping him when he needed to be on that computer doing his stuff. For a long time I just trusted the Lord and figured that He would work it all out in the end. In the meantime we tried to be creative about other ways I could help without having to use his computer. I spent a lot of time with siblings and also nursed Mum since it was during this time that she had her first hip replacement operation. Then a most amazing thing happened! The Home Education Foundation got a new trustee. He looked at Dad and the one computer. He looked at me and Mum and my sister and our desire to help Dad. And then he took action! Next door was an office building. He approached the owner wondering if we could rent it. The owner said, “Rent it? You can have it! I’m about to knock it to the ground. Just get it off my property.” So a large office building was lifted from its foundations and placed on the end of our property. The new trustee then organized for it to be gutted and refurbished on the inside. The end result is that Dad has his own office inside this building and Mum, Charmagne and I all have workstations. We are all networked together so that I have been able to relieve Dad of all those mickey mouse things he was doing before. So now he has time to work on a book! Isn’t the Lord good?
Just quickly then, I help Dad in the Home Education Foundation by answering phones, dealing with the accounts, orders, mail in, formatting of the Keystone Journal and dealing with the orders out. I also help Dad with his ministry, Family Integrity. Family Integrity fights the unjustifiable interference by the government in the family. Through Family Integrity I have designed brochures and stationary, written submissions, accompanied Dad on political marches and to various anti-family and anti-parental authority conferences, debates and forums.
The “Sister” Responsibility
Since I wrote my testimony we have been told that we can adopt the little girl I wrote about. She is five years old now! And we are looking after a little six-month-old baby that we also hope to adopt! My whole family has always desired to have a larger family and having these two girls in our home is such a blessing. Mum sometimes expresses, what with her age and health, that if my 18-year-old sister and I weren’t at home we would not have been able to take on these two little ones. This seems to me like the blessing that comes from obedience. And that is an awesome thought.
The “Titus 2” Project
Titus 2 states that the older women are to teach the younger women. It occurs to me that perhaps there is an unspoken onus within this passage for the younger women to invite the teaching of the older women. If there is an onus on young women to invite teaching, this onus must be greater today in our society where youth is glorified and the grey-headed and wise are sidelined. Regardless, I have a longing to hear the instruction of older women and have met many other younger women who feel similarly. As a result, I have begun to organise what I privately call my “Titus 2 parties.” Willing older women are invited to come and teach on a topic listed in Titus 2. At one party it might be discretion, at another, purity. Younger women are invited to come with questions. This has been a blessing particularly in allowing relationships to develop between older and younger women so that real Titus 2 mentoring could develop.
The “University Hospitality” Project
We live in a university city and appreciate the opportunity this gives to us to open our home to young women away from home, befriend them and allow them the chance to experience a little bit of home life, home cooking and family worship under Dad’s leadership. In some cases it has been so good because it brings evangelism opportunities right into our home and makes it a family project rather than exposing any one of us to a variety of evils by spending a lot of time on campus or in university dorms ourselves. Giving other girls the opportunity to witness and be a part of a family unit under strong male leadership has been a great thing too, especially for girls heavily influenced by feminism and even for girls who dislike/distrust or hate men in general. Letting them see Dad in action and observe the family’s relationship with him has given them hope.
A & E: You are one of the most academic and intellectually “turned-on” girls we know. You have decided not to go to university. Do you find enough that is mentally challenging at home to keep you intellectually stimulated?
G: Thank you for the kind compliment. If true it can only be because the majority of my education was simply discussing things with Dad. I’ve benefited greatly from being able to sit at his feet as it were.
My parents home educated me which allowed them to mentor and disciple me as I was growing up. We would (and still do) gather together for meals three times a day and have such marvellous discussions. Often, we have visitors join us for meals. They add a great dimension to our mealtime conversation. There is nothing quite like it. It is partly because of the intellectual stimulation I get at home that I find it unnecessary to attend university.
At home my routine is varied. I spend time doing a multitude of things such as teaching, accounting, chefing, seamstressing, etc. My sister does a lot of interior decorating and costume designing. People notice this and kindly suggest, “You should have a career as a chef.” “You should have a career doing movie wardrobes.” What people don’t seem to realize is that their suggestion is limiting to us. If I used up all my time cooking or making clothes I couldn’t do all the other things I’m doing now. I’d be limiting my intellectual stimulation to just one pursuit.
A & E: How are you continuing to educate yourself at home?
G: One of the joys of my life has been in learning. My mother always said, “Teach a child to learn to read so that the child can then read to learn.” My parents taught me to read but they didn’t stop there! They amassed a huge library which is now at my disposal! Thousands and thousands of books! My course of study presently includes a little bit of Dabney, John Bunyan, Rushdoony and Bill Watterson (!). Besides books, there are people to learn from: my parents, their friends, Church folks, new immigrants, etc. Some of the ways I have continued to be educated include:
1. Taking night classes at the local night school or Continuing Education Provider. These are typically 2 hours a night, one night a week for 6 or 8 or 16 weeks. The cost is minimal and other students tend to be about twice my age! Some of the topics I have taken with the night school include: ball gown construction, pattern drafting, healthy cooking, herbs, Spanish and photography.
2. Taking cooking classes from a woman at Church. We had a couple move to New Zealand from India and settle in our Church. They had us over for a meal which the wife cooked in a traditional Indian manner. I asked her if I could visit her once a week to watch her and help her cook her evening meal. She agreed and the arrangement was a great one for both of us. I learned a lot about how to cook Indian food and we became friends.
A & E: Many girls think living at home will limit their opportunities to minister to others outside the family. Can you tell us a little about ways you’ve worked in your local church, in the wider church (Christians throughout the world), in your community, and even to help the political state of your country?
G: This time of life we have prior to marriage is a delightful period for ministry. The Lord has allowed me marvellous opportunities to serve in various ways outside of my home. Every time, however, it just re-emphasised to me that ministry begins in the home. There may be opportunities to minister in all sorts of fantastic and fabulous ways here and there but none of those opportunities compare with simple ministry opportunities at home or will make up for neglect at home.
Having said that, let me share a few things:
1. I first began meditating on Titus 2v3-5 seriously in 2002 when I read this passage and it struck a cord with me. I have been meditating on this passage and applying it to my life ever since. One thing that struck me was that one day I would be an older woman and so I should prepare for that by starting to develop relationships with younger women now. Over the past three years I have invited the younger girls from Church over many times in order to befriend them and to prepare for my Titus 2 role. Together we have done scrapbooking, made feminine hair accessories, polished our father’s shoes and tied his ties, discussed how we can be a comfort and a blessing to our fathers and brothers, talked about spiritual journaling and made journals and flower pens, attended a French Fair, supped together and gone on photographic shoots dressed as Victorian High Society Women, buried time capsules, danced English Country Dances, discussed Christian Fashion and Style, drafted skirt patterns and discussed dying to self. The time spent with these girls has been wonderful, especially when I hear them discussing plans for doing things with the girls even younger than them!
2. On returning home from the USA in 2002 I began to import books into New Zealand and began a hobby/business called Issacharian Books. In 2004 I was invited to speak at a conference for girls. It was an opportunity to deliver messages close to my heart on helping to make parents successful and on virtuous womanhood. It was also an opportunity to continue to apply Titus 2 by sitting under the instruction of older women, developing relationships with younger women around the country and by extending Issacharian Books through publishing my messages as Bible Studies.
3. Dad is a political watchdog and mover and shaker. I have mentioned how I help him with Family Integrity. Our big political project at the moment is helping to protect the institution of corporal correction here in New Zealand. Actually, the project is bigger than that. Family Integrity is on the coalface fighting for the preservation of parental authority and the very core of the institution of the family. Sometimes this work can be too intellectually stimulating! We meet the enemy face to face constantly. It is an ugly thing. It has been good for our family to be reminded over and over of the battle that we are in, the war that is waging between the seed of the serpent and the seed of Eve. Every aspect of home-life either has its part in preparing us for the battle or engaging us with the enemy. Life is exciting.
It is frankly, hard for me to imagine having a larger sphere of opportunity doing anything else than what I’m doing right now. If I were to engage in fulltime study or work all it would do is limit my abilities and my opportunities. More importantly, it would hurt my family. There is a strength that comes when we are together – parents and children – working towards a shared vision and goal.
This is perhaps the key. We can think about ministry in terms of “my ministry” instead of in terms of “our family’s ministry” or “Dad’s vision for our family.” We can be ministering in an area and doing great things and at the same time we might be weakening our family or neglecting our real duties and priorities.
In terms of the opportunities I might have to minister in my family, Church, in the wider church, community and politically, I like to think of them like this: I am a daughter who wishes to be a part of her father’s expanding vision. If I am engaged in service here or there it is because my father, like a mighty warrior, has taken me as his arrow and has aimed and shot me thither in order to accomplish some great work. This brings my ambitions and projects under his authority, protection and watchful eye: a safe and comforting place for a daughter!
I mentioned above that ministry starts in the home. I’m inclined to think it finishes in the home too. None of the political work, none of the broad or far-reaching ministry opportunities come close to the glamour of wiping my baby sister’s nose or helping my brother dry the dishes or rising early to get breakfast ready for the family. This is not to minimize the glory of dominion work at all, just to remind us of the duties of home.
A & E: We know you are eager to seize the opportunity you have been given with your younger brothers and sisters, to have a good impact on them while you are still with them. Can you tell us some of the things you are doing to invest in their educations?
G: I recently invested in a book called How to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music in 52 Easy Lessons. I’m going through this book with Jedediah who is eight and Kaitlyn who is five years old. Music is not something which is my forte and not something I have had a lot of interest in, in the past. I do think however that if I’m going to try to create a home which is a bastion of Christian culture and Godly aesthetics (which Lord-willing I’d like to do) then I’m going to need to know a bit about music since music can play such a powerful part in the atmosphere of a home. So, I’m hoping that this book will introduce me to a thing or two about classical music as well as Jedediah and Kaitlyn!
On a regular basis the three of us scour the library for books on orchestras and the various instruments. We have been listening to different orchestral and piano pieces each week such as Peter and the Wolf and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Planets. Slowly we have been learning the sounds of the different instruments and really loving our study of the composers and their lives. Before Christmas we even went to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah. Jedediah loved seeing the timpanis. They played the part of the hunters in Peter and the Wolf. “The hunters! The hunters!” He kept saying when the drums sounded out.
We are all learning to love these different pieces. Can you imagine? Me, who has little interest in music helping to instill a love for it in my siblings! This can only be the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in my life!
A & E: We’ve noticed you are very gung-ho about everything you do. When given the responsibility of managing the grocery shopping and cooking the meals, you don’t just slap together something edible every day – you take gourmet and ethnic cooking lessons, and experiment, and make what some girls consider a daily chore, a form of high art and adventure! You do everything with gusto. Whence comes this enthusiasm? Why don’t you just trudge around like a martyr?
G: I wrote an article which explains this in part. It is called “Homemaking” and answers the question, “What Homemaking Skills Do You Think Are Important to Learn?” Apart from that, let me outline some other factors and motivators for me:
1. I have a gung-ho father! Not only that, but my gung-ho father enjoys a hearty laugh.
2. Following in my father’s footsteps, it is my own secret desire to bring jolliness back into vogue.
3. The work of the Lord, His blessings, His direction, His oversight and tender love are so evident to me in my life that I can’t help but seek to serve Him joyfully. This is not to say that I serve Him perfectly. Far, far, far from it. But my heart’s desire is to try; to work at it through the strength of the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of the type of little blessing from the Lord that puts a grin on my face to be serving such a loving Father! It was between Christmas and New Year and I had already gone over my weekly grocery-shopping budget. We were to be entertaining some friends who ate within a strict diet. These friends of ours, on inquiry, did say that they would eat bacon which I was considering doing with the meal. However we had no bacon and bacon had been very expensive. Nevertheless, I set off to the store and asked the Lord if it would be possible for the bacon to be on special at $4.98 for 900gms (less than half of what it normally is). When I got to the store you’ll never believe it! Bacon was $4.98 for 900gms. And the sour cream, which I also needed, was on a ridiculously low special too – a blessing I hadn’t even asked the Lord for! I beamed my way out of the store. The Lord is good!
4. It may also have something to do with repentance. I used to have the attitude about cooking and various other household duties that I could learn all that once I was married. It was a shocker to me to realise one day what an absolutely appalling attitude that was for me to have towards marriage and my future husband (Deo Volente). The Lord was very, very good to open my eyes to my sinful attitude in this area of my life, especially while still unmarried. Now I prepare for marriage and learn these skills out of gratefulness to the Lord.
5. Possibly the biggest motivator in my life for doing and learning various things is my growing vision and understanding for the type of home and family life I would like for my own family one day (DV). For example, it is the realization that I wanted my girls to be feminine which causes me to try to figure out how to set a good example in this area whether I’m doing quiet work or heavy work. And it was the realization that I wanted to encourage my little girls to delight in being mothers and homemakers through playing with baby dolls and tea sets and the like that caused me to get rid of my Barbie doll collection. I was amazed at how cheerfully I could see it go!
A & E: What kind of encouragement can you offer girls who are feeling alone in their convictions?
G: Remember my testimony? I was in the USA preparing myself for coming home to New Zealand. I was not aware of a single soul in that country who shared my newly found desires, motivations or convictions.
And then I came home to New Zealand and met the two of you. Or rather, we were re-acquainted! And yet, even though we were in the same country we were at opposite ends!
Besides the two of you I was very much alone in my convictions. And you know what? That makes me a pioneer! There is a huge amount of excitement and adventure and challenge in being a pioneer. Sure a pioneer has to do a huge amount of work. It can often be lonely. Pioneers have to forge ahead and cut their own path. And all this gives them the opportunity to do some very exciting things:
· Learn to rely on the Lord
· Be trendsetters rather than trend followers
· Be independent or family and God dependant rather than peer dependant
· Be influencers
· Make things happen rather than watch things happen or wake up one day and ask, “What happened?”
It is a privileged position to be a pioneer. We may not be surrounded by a lot of likeminded folks but unlike those who are, we do not face their temptation to fall into apathy and to become comfortable. We are very aware of the battle around us between those who serve God and those who serve the devil.
Since I’ve come home the Lord has given me the delight and the privilege of watching and influencing other girls move home from university and the workforce. He is working in the hearts of girls throughout this small nation. I love being able to take part in His work here.
Now while all this pioneering work can be romantic and exhilarating there are times when it can be hard too. My parents began homeschooling me when homeschooling was something very few people knew anything about here in New Zealand. As a result, Dad prepared me for a life of pioneer work. He warned that life would be difficult at times. He warned me that I’d be different and that people might think I’m weird. He warned me that I would be often misunderstood and that people would question my motives and objectives. He warned me that people might scorn me, that I might never fit in and that I would see things that others around me simply wouldn’t see! He warned me that I would probably not see the fruit of my labor; that I would work for those coming after me in the hopes that it will benefit them! He warned me that I might face persecution and that people might give me a hard time for doing what I knew was right. And then he did three things. Firstly he read to me Matthew 5:10-11 which says:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Then he told us a story about a little old lady who loved the Lord. Some people would make fun of this lady and curse at her and spit at her for her faith. Every time she would smile joyfully at them and thank them for their words and actions. “Thank you!” She would say, “You’ve just caused me to be blessed by God!”
Through this story Dad taught us to rejoice in persecution just like the old lady and to be thrilled at the opportunity to be persecuted in order to receive God’s blessing.
And lastly, Dad’s life testified to the fact that he counted it a blessing to be persecuted for doing what was right. He waged war and fought battles that many man wouldn’t dare to fight. He wasn’t afraid of persecution.
May I encourage all the girls who read this to think about their children and grandchildren as my Dad thought about me. Remain faithful. We might feel lonely and odd now, but with the strengthening help of the Holy Spirit we can strive forward and live consistently with our convictions. We can build a testimony of faithfulness in our lives for the coming generations.
Tell ye your children of it,
and [let] your children [tell] their children,
and their children another generation. ~ Joel 1:3
And remember the girls I said who I had watched or influenced to come home and walk this same path? Many of these have become dear friends and co-labourers in this pioneering work we have to do here in New Zealand. In little over three years I have come to know many, many girls here in New Zealand who share my convictions. What with these newfound friends, my family and the Lord Himself, Who is always with me, I need never feel as though I am alone. The Lord has richly blessed me.
So, forge ahead! Don’t look back. Don’t grieve over the state of things now. Look to the future and the glorious work the Lord has for you to do today!
God bless you!
Patrick Henry’s Letter to His Daughter
Posted October 28, 2006
Visionary daughters can smile at the future when they pray for the future, prepare for the future, and trust in the sovereignty of God. Though this letter was written to a girl on the event of her marriage, the advice it contains will be invaluable now to any girl who hopes to help a husband someday, or desires to strengthen and support the men already in her life, whether they be fathers or brothers.
Patrick Henry to his Daughter, Annie
My Dear Daughter,
You have just entered into the state which is replete with happiness or misery. The issue depends upon that prudent, amiable, uniform conduct which wisdom and virtue so strongly recommend on the one hand, or on that imprudence which a want of reflection or passion may prompt on the other. You are allied to a man of honor, of talents, and of an open, generous disposition. You have, therefore, in your power all the essential ingredients of that system of conduct which you ought invariably to pursue if you will now see clearly the path from which you will resolve never to deviate. Our conduct is often the result of whim or caprice-often such as will give us many a pang, unless we see beforehand what is always the most praiseworthy, and the most essential to happiness. The first maxim which you should impress upon your mind is never to control your husband, by opposition, by displeasure, or any other work of anger. A man of sense, of prudence, of warm feelings, cannot, and will not, bear an opposition of any kind which is attended with an angry look or expression. The current of his affection is suddenly stopped; his attachment is weakened, he begins to feel mortification the most pungent; he is belittled in his own eyes; and be assured that the wife who once excites those sentiments in the breast of a husband will never regain the high ground which she might and ought to have retained. When he marries her, if he be a good man, he expects from her smiles, not frowns; he expects to find her one who is not to control him-not to take from him the freedom of acting as his own judgment shall direct, but one who will place such confidence in him as to believe that his prudence is his best guide. Little things that in reality are mere trifles in themselves often produce bickering and even quarrels. Never permit them to be a subject of dispute; yield them with pleasure, with a smile of affection. Be assured, one difference outweighs them all a thousand, or ten thousand times. A difference with your husband ought to be considered as the greatest calamity-as one that is to be studiously guarded against; it is a demon which must never be permitted to enter a habitation where all should be peace, unimpaired confidence, and heartfelt affection. Besides what can a woman gain by her opposition or her indifference? Nothing! But she loses everything; she loses her husband’s respect for her virtues, she loses his love, and with that, all prospect of future happiness. She creates her own misery, and then utters idle and silly complaints, but utters them all in vain. The love of a husband can be retained only by the high opinion which he entertains his wife’s goodness of heart, of her amiable disposition, of the sweetness of her temper, of her prudence, of her devotion to him. Let nothing upon any occasion ever lessen that opinion. On the contrary, it should augment every day; he should have much more reason to admire her for those excellent qualities which will cast lustre over a virtuous woman whose personal attractions are no more. Cultivate your mind by the perusal of books which instruct while they amuse. Do not devote much of your time to novels, history, geography…poetry, moral essays, biography, travels, sermons, and other well written religious productions will not fail to enlarge your understanding, to render you a more agreeable companion, and to exalt your virtue. Mutual politeness between the most intimate friends is essential to that harmony which should never be broken or interrupted. How important, then, it is between man and wife!… I will add that matrimonial happiness does not to be found in wealth, but in minds properly tempered and united to our respective situations. Competency is necessary. All beyond that is ideal. In the management of your domestic concerns let prudence and wise economy prevail. Let neatness, order and judgment be seen in all your different departments. Unite liberality with a just frugality; always reserve something for the hand of charity; and never let your door be closed to the voice of suffering humanity”.
Thanks For So Much More
Posted October 28, 2006
One of the most exhilarating rewards of having published a book is receiving letters of encouragement and thanks, and testimonies of hearts turned toward home and family. Below is one of the letters we’ve received lately.
Dear Anna Sofia and Elizabeth,
I am a fifteen-year-old girl from _____, and I have your book “So Much More.” I have read it, and I enjoyed every minute of it! It helped my vision as a daughter and a sister of five (and soon to be six!), and it taught me so much.
All my life my mother has taught me and my sisters to be keepers of the home for God’s glory. I was always fine with the idea until I turned twelve and started to get my own opinions. I slowly began to stray from my mother’s and father’s vision for me and my sisters. I began to pursue my own ideas. I was plain sick of staying at home, tending the house, caring for the children, and doing school work. Every day it became more and more burdensome for me. Every day was more of a drudge then the day before. At last, I purposed in my heart that I would never be a homemaker when I had my own children. I was set on working outside the home just like a “normal” person. (Which was the way I put it then, even though now I know I meant “worldly”) I grieved my parents greatly as I became defiant of what they told me. Frankly, I couldn’t have cared less. I was looking to the world for my peace and happiness. I was straying from my parents, just like the prodigal son.
Then, about nine months or so into twelve years of age, I was gloriously saved. Christ turned my life around. The change was dramatic, and I was no longer the same rebellious brat that I used to be. I desired to please my parents in every aspect, henceforth pleasing my Father in Heaven. The vision that my mother had put before me suddenly burst forth in a new light. The ways of the world around me no longer appealed to me, and I was set on refusing them.
When I read your book “So Much More,” it restored my vision even more. I was so touched and convicted as I read about building up my dad (Something I never really thought about before), and helping him in every way possible to be a stronger man for God. (Also with that would come a respect for my Mom, and my trying to build her up in every way possible.)
I can truly say that now I am happier than I ever was trying to find peace in the world. God’s plan is always the best plan, and it will always bring peace and joy. I have found that the fleshly ways of the world may appeal to man’s sinful nature, but to turn to them will only result in emptiness and anguish. I have no qualms about keeping the house, tending to the children, and cleaning up after all the messes that the day brings. All of this is to my Savior’s glory.
Thank you so much for your book, “So Much More.” It has helped me in many ways. It has restored my vision, given me many good ideas, and helped me better see the light in all I have been taught.
Rejoicing in my Savior,
Posted October 27, 2006
A lack of burning enthusiasm in the hearts of young women for their role is a sad thing. The number of women who are turning their hearts to their fathers, families and homes is exciting. And yet many of these girls lack zeal as they do their duty. Some are apologetic and timid about dressing femininely and modestly, because “public opinion is so strong.” Some look on sadly and a bit martyrishly as their friends go off to “do exciting things,” while they themselves remain with their families. Some feel they are missing out on excitement because they have chosen God’s design for womanhood over the glitzy allure of feminism or the crushing tyranny of social expectations.
Genevieve Smith, our beloved buddy and a role model in Godly gusto, has discovered in her journey from feminism to femininity that zeal is vital.
By Genevieve Smith
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines zeal primarily in Biblical terms: “denoting ardent feeling (taking the form of love, wrath, ‘jealousy’ or righteous indignation).” It also defines it as “Ardour in the pursuit of an end or in favour of a person or cause; active enthusiasm.”
Have you seen a zealous person before? Someone who emanated zeal? Wasn’t it electrifying? Didn’t you just want to follow along behind? Didn’t you just hope that some of their enthusiasm would rub off onto you? Didn’t you want to be around them? Didn’t you want to be just like them?
And yet have you witnessed misdirected zeal? The type of zeal that takes a person and others down the wrong track? Which makes mountains out of molehills? Which detracts from life’s goal and purpose? This sort of zeal is pointless and dangerous.
Zeal/enthusiasm/ardour are all very attractive to us when we observe them in others. If we are zealous or enthusiastic, we soon learn that we can use our passions to influence others mightily. Our influence could be in something small, such as a decision over whether to drink Coca-Cola or Pepsi, or it could be in something bigger, such as a decision to purchase a Holden or a Ford. And it could even be over the direction of a person’s life, ambitions, and purpose.
As Christians, our purpose in life is to apply our zeal towards bringing glory to God and (this is pretty exciting to me) enjoying Him forever! We are to be actively enthusiastic in the pursuit of obeying God in order to bring Him glory. Wow!
If we could be zealous about obeying God, what would that mean? It’d mean we’d enjoy obeying God. We’d like it. We’d love it. We’d want to do it always. We’d be visionary about it. It would give us purpose. We’d never want to stop obeying Him! We would be enthusiastic it about it. We’d want to tell everyone else around us, “Hey, y’all, this is the way to go!” We would be like bright lights burning on a hill. Our zeal would attract others.
Of course, our responsibility as Christians is to ensure that our zeal is not misapplied and that we are actually being obedient to God in our enthusiasm.
Whether we are being obedient should be easy for us to determine. Rather than relying on extra revelation from God to help us figure out what God wants us to do, we should be guided by His Word as revealed in Scripture.
This is where our subject of zeal becomes real exciting for us girls (guys too, but I’m writing for us girls)! God tells us what He wants us to do (how we can be obedient) in Scripture. He tells us for what reason(s) He has created us. He tells us what our purpose is. He tells us what we need to learn and know. He tells us what our duties are. He has been, in fact, perfectly merciful and kind to us girls in spelling out in Scripture exactly what He wants us to do, for we can be hopelessly befuddled at times.
Mind you, it is not surprising that we would be hopelessly befuddled at times, or that we would misdirect our zeal more often than not, since it is the stated ambition of our enemy, the devil, to turn us girls from God and cause us to disobey His commandments.
And to what is it that God wants us to direct our zeal, as women?
“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” ~ Genesis 2:18
God wants us to be zealous about helping our future husbands (and in the absence of husbands, our fathers).
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” ~ Genesis 1:26-28
Here God elaborates on how we are to help our husbands. He wants us to be enthusiastic about having children. He wants us to love and to be jealous of the children that He gives to us. And He wants us to have an ardent enthusiasm for working alongside our husbands in raising our children and in assisting them as they seek to fulfil the mandate to take dominion.
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the LORD your God.” ~ Deuteronomy 22:5
God wants us to be zealous about being women, about being feminine. He wants us to embrace the role He has for us as women and glory in it!
“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things–that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” ~ Titus 2:3-5
This could be the passage that makes me the most enthusiastic about where God wants us to direct our zeal! He wants us to love our husbands. If it does not excite you that the Lord wants us to love our husbands, I don’t know what will! The Lord wants us to have zeal in loving our children! Wow. He wants us to be zealous in being discreet! He wants us to have zeal for chastity! He wants us to be zealous for our purity. He wants us to be zealous in being homemakers! He wants us to have zeal for cooking and cleaning and keeping house! He wants us to have zeal in being good and in obeying our husbands!
This passage is not just for the married women. Unmarried women can be zealous in learning how to love husbands and children. Unmarried women can have great zeal in learning to be discreet and chaste and pure and good. In fact, there is nothing quite like an unmarried girl pursuing and learning these things to give hope back to a community and to warm the hearts of older folks. And God has given unmarried women fathers so that they can learn to love and be obedient to their future husbands by learning to love and be obedient to their fathers. And He has given them siblings so that they can learn to love their future children by learning to love their siblings.
In the face of how the devil has convinced our culture to believe things contrary to each of these passages, can we be zealous for the things of God? Can we do this girls? Can we bring glory to God by obeying Him in the things He wants us to be obedient in? Can we be feminine with glorious zeal? Can we learn how to be chaste and how to pursue purity with zealous abandon?
Of all the things in life we could have zeal for-–money, friendships, makeup, jewelery, cars, music, clothing, entertainment, books, politics or whatever-–I pray that we can all develop a zeal for obeying God in the things, in the role, and through the duties He has for us.
May He give us all such a zeal!
Genevieve Smith is the eldest daughter of Craig and Barbara Smith. Her Dad is the National Director of the Home Education Foundation in New Zealand. She enjoys assisting him in his ministry as well as working with her Mum in their home and playing with her younger siblings.
What About Mom?
Posted October 26, 2006
Why did So Much More focus on fathers, not mothers?
A few people have noted, with some concern, that our book placed a great emphasis on the father-daughter relationship, without much mention of mothers. They are worried that So Much More was off-balance in this regard. If by “off-balance,” they mean we talked more about fathers than mothers, they are absolutely right. If when they say “off-balance,” they think we believe fathers are important and mothers aren’t, they missed the point of the book.
One theme subtly directing the whole book is that mothers who mother according to biblical patterns are of inestimable value and incomprehensible influence. Our goal in writing this book was to equip the young woman to become this kind of wife and mother.
The Bible places stress on the importance of both parents, commanding children to honor and obey both father and mother (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:1).So Much More‘s emphasis on the father doesn’t preclude the importance of the mother, any more than the existence of a book on mathematics proves the author thinks biology is less important. Obviously, to have a balanced, thorough understanding, we need books on both.
Our intention was to focus, in this book, on fathers and daughters, based on a need we were personally seeing in the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. This need was a serious lack of teaching about the role a father should play in his daughter’s life. We thought that need was screaming to be addressed for a number of reasons. Here is one of them, quoted verbatim from So Much More.
In this generation, girls are facing a lot of problems. In fact, this year young women are facing a lot more problems than they did a century ago. Some of these are novel problems invented by modern times. We know more than we wish to know about the problems troubling young women, because ever since we were little girls young women have been coming to our home to get a taste of functional family life and pour out their troubled hearts.
They are facing all kinds of complications, conundrums, cynicism and confusion over where they’re headed in life. They struggle with a proper idea of femininity and masculinity, a healthy view of authority and submission, a sense of direction and priority, the concept of protection and security, and an elementary understanding of what it means to be daughters of God.
We’ve found that these girls all have one more thing in common: they are missing a functional, confiding, loving relationship with their fathers.
Oh sure, they have happy, casual buddy relationships with their dads, but this is not a substitute for a strong, biblical relationship that edifies, inspires and strengthens both the father and the daughter.
Is their missing relationship with their fathers the root of all their other problems? No, not the only root. But we believe, after years of studying both God’s Word and modern times, that the forgotten principles of fatherly protection and daughterly honor are the missing dynamic girls need in leading fruitful, stable, happy lives which will give honor to God. We do not believe that the father-daughter relationship is somehow more important or special than the mother-daughter relationship, or the father-son relationship, nor do we mean to breath into this relationship a kind of super-special, mystical quality never seen in the Bible. But we do believe the father-daughter relationship is one of those being more ignored and abused this generation than others, with distastrous and heartbreaking repercussions. Girls are hurting from the absence of strong, biblical relationships with their fathers, and repairing these should be a priority for the young women of our generation. (Chapter 2, pp 15,16)
In other words, one of the reasons we chose this angle was because the father-daughter relationship was being neglected. As we were researching what teaching is available to daughters, we were delighted that girls have access to such resources as Stacy McDonald’s wonderful Raising Maidens of Virtue, as well as one of our childhood favorites, Beautiful Girlhood by Karen Andreola, and numerous others which by no means ignore the father but place special focus on the relationship between the mother and the daughter. Anna and I have talked about writing a book about mothers and daughters someday. Maybe we will wait until, if the Lord wills, we are mothers ourselves. Maybe we will leave it to women who are better writers and can explain themselves without causing confusion.
But fathers are more than “the missing part of the puzzle.” There are other reasons we think teaching about the father-daughter relationship is particularly important.
#2. Because if girls don’t have good relationships with their fathers, there will be vitally important things they fail to learn about their Heavenly Father and their future husbands. Here is another excert from So Much More:
The fact that God describes himself as a Father to us shows that the position of earthly father is like an earthly reflection of God. To understand God’s nature as our “Father,” we need to understand what a father is for and how we are supposed to relate to our fathers. This is why it’s so important to God that we show our fathers love, honor and obedience. … The virtues we learn by being good daughters to our fathers on earth help us in being good daughters to the King, and prepare us for this life and the life to come. Being protected by our fathers teaches us how to be protected, loved, and cherished, and the responsibilities that go with this blessing — how to be faithful, how to be trusting and how to have a yielded heart. Learning how to relate this way to our earthly fathers will teach us to relate this way to our Heavenly Father.
#3. Because, notwithstanding its teaching on the importance of mothers, the Bible places special emphasis on fathers as the heads of their households. The theme of Scripture is patriarchal, not matriarchal. The father is given special responsibility for the rest of his family. It seemed logical, in a book primarily about familial relationships, to point readers chiefly to the headship of their fathers.
#4. Because the state of relationships with fathers can determine the quality of all other familial relationships. As the head of the family, his strong connection with everyone else is the root of family unity and harmony.
It’s not just daughters who are suffering from solid relationships with their fathers.
When a father doesn’t have his daughter’s heart, her respect, her support and her help, he is weakened. And when the head of the family is weakened, the whole family is weakened. This generation in particular is marked by weak familial relationships, we believe because of a lack of recognition of the father’s headship. The poorness of his relationship with his wife, his sons and his daughters, we think, is the root of the rest of the relationship problems. As young women striving to “teach the [even] younger women,” we can’t exhort sons to strengthen their relationships with their fathers, or wives to submit to their husbands. But we can, and will, encourage girls to fight with all their might against the inherently anti-Christian, marxist stereotype of “dopey dad,” and build their fathers up to be greater men.
#5. Because, thanks to the homeschooling movement, most homeschooled children have pretty strong relationships with their mothers. Homeschooling started out as primarily a mothers’ movement, and though many fathers approved the decision to homeschool, often they gave most the responsibility of raising and educating the children to the mother. Hence, a strong bond between children and mothers, but a weak one between children and fathers. What should give us great cause to rejoice is that in this generation, we are finally seeing fathers turn their hearts to their children, and the homeschooling movement is becoming the biblically balanced movement it should be.
#6. Because disconnection between fathers and children is an interestingly serious greivance to God, and invokes peculiarly severe judgment. In the very last verse of the Old Testament, we read of the mission of John the Baptist. “”…And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6) Bad relationships with fathers (note: not mothers!) incur national judgment!
We read of John’s mission again in Luke 1:16,17: “And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias [Elijah], to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” This is amazing! “Turn[ing] the hearts of the fathers to the children” is compared with turning the disobedient to righteousness, and prepares the people for the Lord!
This was our mission in writing So Much More — to turn the hearts of the daughters to their fathers. From the start, that was the goal of the project and the main theme of the book.
By the way, So Much More was nearly named “The Forgotten Dynamics of the Father-Daughter Relationship,” or something similar. But everyone whose opinion we asked immediately responded, “Oh, but your book is about so much more!” Which is a rather broad topic… but we took the hint and adopted the title.
Though we tried to pack in as much information as we could, So Much More needs more. It is by no means complete, and even though many people have kindly called it “comprehensive,” it really isn’t. Every day we think of more that should have gone into it. Does anybody want to volunteer to write Even More?
What’s a Single Woman to Do?
Posted October 26, 2006
Here is an excellent article by our friend Jennie Chancey.
“Thus goes everyone to the world but I, and I am sunburnt. I may sit in a corner and cry, ‘Heigh-ho for a husband!’”
~ Beatrice in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (Act II, scene i.)
Today’s single Christian woman is often made to feel that she should be just like Beatrice, sitting quietly in her corner and waiting for “Mr. Right.” I know; I used to be in that corner. An “old maid” at 23, I watched dozens of friends get married and start families and felt sometimes like a second-class citizen among all the blushing brides. I had been brought up on the principles of courtship and maidenly virtues and really wondered if there was a role open to me in the Church and in society as a single woman. After all, the Bible clearly tells us that “The woman was made for the man” (I Cor. 11:9) and is intended to be his helper (Gen. 2:18). Throughout the Bible, the woman’s orientation is geared toward the men in her life, whether a father, a respected elder, a husband or a protective brother.
I bounced back and forth between contentment as a single woman and frustration with my desire to be a wife and mother. I finally told my parents that I’d decided not to marry at all, since, apparently, no good men were forthcoming, and I was tired of just waiting around, crying “Heigh-ho for a husband” (not aloud, grant you!). My parents had always encouraged me to be content in whatever state the Lord put me, but they had also spent years equipping me to be a capable wife and mother. I could cook, keep house, sew, decorate, paint and organize to beat the band. I loved children and babysat all I could. But I still felt like my life was in “limbo” compared to my married friends. Little did I realize how many single friends felt they were in the same boat.
“Singles Enter Here”
There are thousands of single women of all ages in the Church today who feel like they are stuffed into odd corners or categorized into “support groups” for other singles. Unfortunately, this only adds to the feeling that there is no role for the single woman other than that of waiting for The Man to come along. Granted, marriage is “honourable in all” (Heb. 13:4) and definitely a calling for which God will equip the majority of us, but there must be something better to do than twiddling one’s thumbs before marriage. What if Mr. Right doesn’t come along for twenty years? Or forty?
Fortunately, there are some folks out there these days who are starting to rethink the single woman’s role and find inspiration in the very passages usually held apart for married ladies. One such person is Jennifer Lamp, whose book, His Chosen Bride (available from GraceWorks), takes the Proverbs 31 woman as a role model for the single lady, applying each verse beautifully and aptly. Lamp points out that single women are united to their Heavenly Bridegroom and should consider Proverbs 31 in that light. Seen this way, the passage offers great scope for the single woman, showing her that her services are needed in her own family, in the Church and in society. As St. Paul writes, “There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband” (I Cor. 7:34). This doesn’t mean that married people cannot focus on God’s work, but their orientation is going to be different because of the many duties they have toward their spouses, children and in-laws. The single woman is “free” in this sense to concentrate on many families and give of her time more liberally than the married woman often can.
The “Ministry” Mindset
Naturally, when we talk about the single woman’s “ministry,” thoughts of grand missionary trips overseas pop into mind. While mission work is definitely important, the Bible shows that the woman’s “mission” is primarily oriented toward others in her own immediate community and radiates from the home. Think of Dorcas, who sewed garments for the poor (Acts 9:36-40) and Lydia, who invited the entire church to meet in her home (Acts 16:14,15). Unfortunately, our culture worships high-profile, “glamorous” jobs and looks askance at anything that might be construed “mundane,” “demeaning” or “lowly.” But this thinking is contrary to what Scripture clearly teaches us. Jesus said over and over again that “whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26b,27). And His example was so clear as He washed His disciples’ feet, touched lepers and reached out to the lowest social strata all around Him. The Lord of the Universe washing feet! And we think that the only “real” ministries in the Church are teaching, traveling to foreign lands and converting massive numbers of people to Christ. I think it’s time to reconsider that notion.
Most of the time, single women are urged to go out and get a regular job, since there is obviously “nothing else” for them to do. This could not be more false! When I used to read the Proverbs 31 woman passage with my mother, I’d ask, “Mom, where does she get all those ‘maidens’ to help her out?” Today we have thousands of “maidens” who are at a loss for what they can do as a ministry. Ladies, here is one that is crying out to be filled! I’ve known large families who have unmarried women come and live with them for weeks, months or even a year at a time to help out with homemaking, cooking, daily organization and more. Freed up from such tasks, stay-at-home moms are better able to concentrate on their primary ministry to their husbands, children and younger women. And what a training opportunity for the women who live with them! Hands-on, daily work in the home among likeminded people is ideal. I only wish I had thought of doing this when I was a teenager. The young women who have performed this ministry tell me it has blessed them and enriched them in ways they could never have imagined. Today, stay-at-home moms are made to feel guilty if they cannot “do it all,” but you’ll find that the Proverbs 31 woman was great at delegating tasks. To whom will the Proverbs 31 women of today delegate tasks if all the single women are running away from home-based ministry to seek “more worthy” occupations? I wish I had asked myself that question ten years ago.
Scripture also holds midwives in very high esteem (Ex. 1:17-20) and shows what a wonderful ministry they have to the women around them. Many women are gifted in this area and called to medical ministry. It is my personal belief that women are best suited to serve as birth attendants and to take care of “women’s health” issues. I know of one godly elderly woman who was not called to marry and has served a small rural community as a nurse practicioner for over fifty years. She is a gentle, kind and wise lady who truly loves the women and children she serves. Her outreach to the poor has been especially helpful where she lives, and she has shown the love of Christ to countless people. Nursing is something toward which women are often naturally oriented. Keeping order and cleanliness in the sickroom is an honored “profession” that goes back hundreds upon hundreds of years. I know of several young women who have apprenticed with midwives or served as birth attendants in the home and in the hospital, bringing comfort to women and skill to the tasks at hand. Helping to usher life into the world or to care for women’s health needs is something that will always be necessary. A woman who has a specific gift for or interest in medicine may certainly want to consider this avenue of ministry.
Yet another important “job” often overlooked is the command to “Honor thy father and thy mother” (Ex. 20:12). The single woman has a very unique opportunity to make this commandment especially beautiful for her parents. One thing I loved doing while I was at home was working with my father as his research assistant (he was a historian and author). I was able to help him build his own business while sharpening skills that he desired to teach me (thorough research, writing, editing and more). The daughter at home has a fantastic opportunity to honor her father by supporting what he does. If she cannot offer that support directly, she can do it by showing him respect for his job as breadwinner and teaching younger siblings to respect and honor their father as well. The same is true when it comes to honoring mothers. Learning alongside her mother, the single daughter can (and should) eventually take tasks completely off her mother’s hands (as should other siblings). My mother trained her children to do the laundry by the time they could stand on a stepstool and reach the knobs on the machine. She taught all of us to vacuum, mop and dust at an early age. By the time I was eight and my brother was six, Mom really didn’t have to do laundry or much of the housework any longer. She was able to focus her time on teaching us at home and creating fun projects for interested little minds. Single women have a great opportunity to bless their own families in this way, and this ministry is every bit as important as preaching to crowds of people. In fact, it is what makes preaching possible. Christianity lived beautifully is what makes the message appealing and draws the crowds. When the family is going in ten different directions and each member isn’t oriented toward the others, the world sees chaos and disorder. It doesn’t make for much of a message.
Questions Single Women Can Ask Themselves
As the single woman looks around for ways she can minister to her family and to the Body of Christ, she should keep several things in mind. First of all, “Is what I am doing honoring the Lord, specifically in the way He wishes women to honor Him?” The best way to ascertain this is to make a thorough study of the women of the Bible and see how God used their femininity for His glory. The unique role of the woman isn’t less important than the man’s, but it is different. Next, “Is this work going to call for me to do things that should really be done by a man?” We honor men when we step aside and let them do the jobs for which they are best suited. Our egalitarian culture would have us believe that men and women can do the exact same jobs equally. Plain old common sense, backed by good research, shows that this just isn’t true. Women firefighters struggle to lift hoses and ladders or pull dead weights from burning buildings while men (with their God-given upper body strength), can undertake these tasks with apparent ease. This kind of work is not safe for the women involved or for the people who need the help of able firemen. Our post-modern culture wants to emasculate men and masculinize women. Go against this folly by undertaking a ministry that is distinctly feminine. Finally, “How can I use my time as a single woman to the greatest advantage for God’s kingdom?” The answers to this question are many. For starters, the single woman has more time for reading and study. A broad liberal arts education and in-depth Bible study should be available to every woman. A good education, based upon a Christian worldview, builds a woman in her God-given calling and makes her even more effective. That doesn’t mean you need to go off to college, either. I did, but I wouldn’t repeat it. Four years away from home and real ministry is a waste of time and money if you can read, find godly mentors and follow a regular course of study on your own. There’s no excuse for stupidity in our day of 24-hour internet access and live tutors available around the globe on any topic. I’ve learned more and read more since I graduated from college than I ever learned there. And I’ve been able to go deeply into areas of study which were only touched upon in my major classes. A good education is one that builds the mind without building the ego. Besides study, the single woman has time to teach young girls (perhaps mentoring a few if she has special skills or talents). She can run a home business as well, concentrating on an area of talent or specialization. Many times, a friend will say, “You’d really be good at…”. Why not see if that talent might be one the Lord could use to bless others? There are single women running a variety of excellent home-based businesses, including sewing for others, cooking and delivering entire meals to customers, baking pastries and/or decorating cakes, arranging flowers, coordinating weddings, running weekly “mother’s day out” programs, hostessing fancy teas for ladies’ groups, catering, writing, editing, designing websites and more. The opportunities are boundless when you really start looking!
Some women reading this might be older widows who are now wondering what they are supposed to do. When life has been oriented around the husband’s calling for many years, it can be hard to feel out a new direction. St. Paul clearly teaches that the older women are to “train the younger women …” (Titus 2:4). One cry I hear constantly from young women around me is, “Where are the godly older women who should be teaching us?” Sometimes they are busy with their own families, but often we find that they are sitting quietly, feeling unneeded in Christ’s Body. How many churches shuffle their “seniors” into classes for the “old folks” and segregate them from the young people they should be mentoring? Sadly, the majority of churches do this. While older ladies and gentlemen should have ample opportunities to fellowship with one another, they certainly shouldn’t be placed where they are unable to train those who are coming up after them. What a fountain of wisdom we have within the Church if we’d only tap into it! Older single women (even those who have never been married) have much to offer us. They are often the best ones to teach us contentment and patience.
There are ample opportunities for ministry for single women of every age and station in the Church, the family and society. While the vast majority of us will go on to marriage and families of our own, there are some who will not and who are called to remain single for life (I Cor. 7:7-10). Even if she is preparing and hoping for marriage, the single woman should not feel that she needs to be watching and waiting for Mr. Right while the world goes by. The principles of courtship are excellent and do prepare women for godly unions, but they should not cause us to lose our focus on what God would have us do today. Josh Harris makes this point beautifully in many of his talks and in his books. The whole point of rethinking our approach to male-female relationships is to get us to focus on something other than male-female relationships — namely, to focus upon the Lord’s unique calling for singlehood. Look around you. There are needy people right there within your own families, in your church and among friends and strangers. What can you do as a single woman to glorify God and serve Him right now? How can you honor and obey your Heavenly Bridegroom and bring “him good, not harm, all the days of [your] life?” (Prov. 31:12). Instead of crying “Heigh-ho for a husband,” consider crying out to your Heavenly Husband, Who knows your needs and has wonderful work for you to accomplish!
Mrs. M. L. Chancey
Top 10 New Years Resolutions for young Christian Women
Posted October 26, 2006
#1. Resolve to use the Bible alone as a blueprint for thinking and living, rather than culture, feminist progaganda, or peer pressure. Look to the Bible alone to dictate the role of young women. Resolve to study your Bible faithfully each day with the goal of being edified, instructed and challenged. Keeping a journal of the things you learn in the Word each day will help you be more focused and aggressive in actively searching for hard truths to apply.
#2. Resolve to remove from yourself friends who are a negative influence on you, and surround yourself more with friends who will edify you and encourage you in godliness. Resolve to cast from you any outside influence which is unedifying and unsanctifying (e.g. TV show, film, magazine, associates, activities)
#3. Resolve to build stronger relationships with your family members. The state of these relationships should be the most important to you of all, save your relationship with the Lord. Make the most of the time that the Lord has given you to be with your family members by making them your best friends. Resolve to set an inspiring, encouraging example to your brothers and sisters. Resolve to be more respectful to and honoring of your parents, so that it may be well with you.
#4. Resolve to cultivate a deeper, closer, more honoring relationship with your father, which will edify you both. Give him your heart, talk to him, confide in him, pray for him, ask him questions, and let him know that you are behind him and want to build him up to be an even greater man. Search your heart to see if you have committed a greviance against your father in the past which is now an impediment to your relationship with him. Now is an opportune time to ask forgiveness from those you have wronged.
#5. Resolve to do your husband (current or future) good and not evil every day of this year. (Proverbs 31:12) One of the ways we can do our future husbands good right now, even if we don’t know who they are, is to actively preserve and prepare ourselves for them. Preserve yourself by remaining pure physically, emotionally and mentally. Prepare yourself by becoming a worthy bride for a godly man. Develop all the character and skills that a righteous young man will need in a wife.
#6. Resolve to treat and think of other young men as brothers in Christ. Dress and act modestly, in a way that shows consideration for their future wives. Treat young men (including younger brothers) in a way that will build them up rather than tear them down, with respect rather than scorn.
#7. Resolve to clothe yourself with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. Make it start in the inside and shine through to the outside. Resolve to act more gracious, more like a lady. Make “strength and dignity” your clothing. Stand up straight! Smile more. Work on developing a gentle and quiet voice and manner.
#8. Resolve to equip yourself for the Spiritual battle that is taking place. Resolve to work on spiritual disciplines (e.g. prayer, Scripture memorization, in-depth Bible study). Resolve to train your mind (e.g. read many hard books, write, study theology).
#9. Resolve to be a missionary right where you are. Resolve to serve and encourage the people in your congregation. Resolve to develop the character and the messages necessary to disciple the younger women of our generation.
#10. Resolve to not be a compromiser or syncretist. Remember, we are in the midst of a war. As soon as you compromise on a moral issue, you have lost the battle. Win victories for Christ by fighting His battles His way.
Calling All Visionary Daughters!
Posted October 26, 2006
We, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, believe that today’s unmarried daughters have the potential to change history.
In this new website, we would like to present a brave new vision for daughterhood. In light of the two views of womanhood subduing young Christian women — womanhood dedicated to useless ambition, and womanhood dedicated to useless langour — both leading girls to squander their youth — we would like to recall to daughters’ minds one of the defining aspects of biblical womanhood: useful womanhood.
The purpose of this site is to condone practical, purposeful, productive, dominion-oriented femininity.
Young ladies need to understand the significance of these years before marriage, because this unique season of life is a special gift from God.
You have but one lifetime to spend in our Lord’s service. How you spend these years of your life will touch the course of history and change it forever. We hope this site will give practical advice on how to be good stewards of these very important years.
So Much More was not a survival guide, and this site is not a service to provide survival tips to teenage girls. Visionary Daughters.com is dedicated to helping young unmarried women understand how they can wage war with the world and win.
We want to provide resources that will encourage and equip young women to do God’s work God’s way; in particular, to become greater blessings to their families, more effective arrows in the hands of their fathers, and better ambassadors for Christ.
We would like our site to be a treasure trove of fascinating, informative, thoroughly useful articles from girls all over the world. In this vein, we would like to welcome you all to contribute to our site. We will consider for acceptance:
Stories of how you applied something you learned about righteous womanhood, the effect it had on your family and those around you, and the blessings you are now receiving.
Book and film reviews
If you have discovered a very valuable resource — be it a book, tape, DVD, on-line course, class, or anything in that vein — please let us know about it, what makes it helpful, and how you have benefited from it.
What we are primarily looking for is articles about the practical concerns of righteous daughterhood, such as education, business, ministry, higher homemaking, family relationships, character lessons we can learn from women in history, explicitly biblical commentary on current events, and anything else which could prove helpful in equipping young women for the spiritual battle taking place.
Below are listed some random examples the kind of articles we would love to have on Visionary Daughters.
Ten practical things young women can do to serve the local church
The 20+ best books a young woman can read to improve her mind and usefulness
From an older woman: Five mistakes young women commonly make, and how to avoid them
A biblical approach to health, nutrition and fitness for young women
Developing good relationships with and instructing little sisters
The dangers of Christian romance novels
Ways I help my father with his business
Ways I help my father with his ministry
Ten ways that Hollywood has tried to destroy me
How to encourage and show respect to your brother
The ten traps young Christian women can fall into on the internet
From a father: ten things a daughter can do to encourage and delight her father
Tips on giving yourself a higher education (recommendations on alternatives to college, from on-line studies to independent classes to good books and resources)
Why I think all Christian girls should know a little about ______ and where to start
These were thought up on the spur of the moment; they are only ideas and we hope they will give you some inspiration for articles you could write and share.
We also ask for wisdom from older women. We younger women could really benefit from the things you older and wiser ladies could teach us. We will be happy to post articles from men as well!
Please understand that we will not be able to post every article we receive.
Please send all content you would like to submit to damsels AT visionarydaughters DOT com . We would also be delighted to have your questions and comments regarding So Much More and Visionary Daughters.
God bless you all.
For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,
Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
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