The Return of This Daughter
Posted April 21, 2009
Visionary daughter Evangeline McNiel writes an open letter to our readers:
Dear Daughters near or far, at home or abroad,
I want to write to you and share how the simple true message of So Much More changed my life and satisfied my unexplainable longings. A phrase from the book broke my heart and pinpointed my error. The contributor wrote, “I began to understand that my calling was not somewhere out their waiting for me to ‘find it,’ but my calling was to help my dad fulfill his calling.”
As an energetic, go-getter gal, I was always planning projects, taking leadership positions, “making waves” as my seaside university’s motto urged us. But it all left me thinking, “Is this God’s best?”
I come from a homeschool family of six. When my senior year came, our family knew no better course than college. All three of my older siblings attended private Christian colleges, so I when I received an offer for a full-ride scholarship to any university in my state, I counted it a blessing. My father was uneasy, but there was so much hype in the air about my acceptance after months of interviews and essays, I did not seriously consider his premonitions.
My first weeks at the university were fascinating for a people-loving girl who had been homeschooled and homechurched most of her life. Living in the dorms, I had running buddies, surfing friends, a ballroom dance clan, international students—it was exciting. Although many of my friends confessed to be Christians, very few were true followers. I was discouraged by the lack of spiritual and academic seriousness, but I made the best of it. Soon I was class representative, president of the Spanish club, a young women’s Bible study leader, an active member of a local church, part of a Hispanic ministry, a straight A student. It all left me so empty, but the novelty of my new independent life kept me going and my reports home positive. I lived in the “Christian dorm” and had good relationships at church, so I was blind to a lot of what was really going on, until the second year.
My second year I was a house parent (“Resident Assistant”) for 63 students in a co-ed dorm. I am to blame for this ridiculous idea. The summer before, I was doing mission work in Mexico City, so my parents had very little input. My new life was the antithesis of a protected stay-at-home daughter. I had to go on night patrol until 3 o’clock in the morning breaking up drinking parties, and going into the depths of a very dark and depraved world. Around this nightmare of a time, I was chosen to represent the school of education for an “Academic Life” promotional booklet. My plans and smile seem so cool and confident, but behind it all I was the most broken, lost and instable as I have ever been. And it wasn’t just me. I felt it in all the girls — the insecurity…the fruit of an unprotected life. “Her focus is clear,” my bio read. I had no focus. I had no idea how to be a good Christian girl. I was lost.
Meanwhile, I read voraciously in search of a real education and deeper purpose. One day I saw a woman from my church mentoring a friend of mine in a local coffee shop. They were reading So Much More. The attractive cover and the words “Visionary Daughters” caught my eye. I will never forget the night I sat on my bed reading that book until 4 in the morning, weeping over it. My heart had ached for a protected mission, a biblically sound mission, an ancient mission. And here it was! What joy! What relief! I was not designed to be an independent woman, but rather part of a man’s life, a helper. And what better man could I help but my dear father?
That next weekend I drove home to present the idea to my family. At first, my parents were surprised at my desire to move home after recently announcing plans to study abroad in Spain and Chile the next year. But at the end of our few days of sharing and crying and much repentance and prayer, my father would have it no other way. I was to come home as soon as I finished my final exams.
I returned back to school and feared what my scholarship director and friends would think and say. My resolution began to crumble when friends reacted in disapproval and even advised me to see a counselor. One day, I was seriously doubting it all as I drove to class when I spotted two bumper stickers that made me angry. “Nice girls never make history” and “Feminism = No more oppression.” Our cars were on the same road, but I thought, Do I want to be driving the same direction as they?
I have passed a joyous year in my father’s house, and our family of 3 adult children is learning how God can use our unity for his glory. My mother is teaching me how to love our family and make home a wonderful place. I help manage meals and hospitality and am beginning to keep the books for the family. My father sends me out to help homeschool families, mentor young girls and share the Gospel with Hispanic women. Vision Forum’s Father-Daughter Retreat and a recent visit to the —– family’s home and Grace Family Baptist Church in Houston sharpened my vision and joined me to like-minded people. If you are a newly returned daughter or if you want to be but you are afraid—don’t be. Have faith in God; He is able to do exceeding abundantly more than you could ever think or imagine.
Evangeline McNiel (r)
A Wonderful Testimony
Posted April 14, 2009
Dear Anna Sofia & Elizabeth,
I have been greatly blessed through your book, So Much More, and your film, Return of the Daughters. Thank you so much for being willing to combat the evil philosophies of today, and speak to women about their biblical roles.
Here is my story:
I was a rebellious teenager. At ages 13-15, all I could think of was having fun, being cool, and catching boys’ attention. My mother continuously prayed for a change of heart it me, but I was determined to run my own life and do what I pleased. I often got angry with my mother for trying to steer me in the right direction, and would many times try her patience to the limit. I also didn’t have a good relationship with my father. I often mocked him, and pushed him aside. I was always jealous of my two brothers; I would use my jealousy to justify my actions against my family.
Then, the Lord began to work in my heart. My family attended the Jamestown Quadricenntenial put on by Vision Forum in 2007. While there, my father bought me your book, So Much More. I really wasn’t planning on reading it, but on the trip back home, I opened it up and started reading. I couldn’t put it down! I was fascinated by the testimonies of the young women, and the biblical truths in the book. I began to feel convicted by the way I treated my family, especially my father. I started to get things right with my father, my mother and I started having a wonderful relationship, and I stopped being jealous of my brothers. Our family was finally getting along! My parents bought me Return of the Daughters for Christmas that year, and again I was inspired to be the young woman God had created me to be. The Lord was doing a marvelous work in me. Little did I know what blessings He had in store for me in 2008.
My father and I became really close in the early months of ’08. We’d go for hour long walks and just enjoy time spent together. My mom and I were becoming friends, and my brothers and I were getting along splendidly. Then, in May, our pastor’s eldest son asked my father for permission to court me. My father “grilled” him intensely, and gave his permission. We both knew that the Lord was bringing us together, so B. wasted no time in getting my dad’s blessing to marry me! (We courted for 23 days before B. asked me to marry him!) We were married on August 23, 2008, under a tent in my parents’ backyard, surrounded by family and friends.
As of now, we have been happily married for about 8 months, and we are expecting our first child in July! The Lord has showered His blessings on me! If He hadn’t prompted me to read your book, I probably wouldn’t have started to change. The clear message of embracing my God-given role as a daughter, then as a wife and mother, tugged at my heart. I turned from the world and returned to my Savior.
Thank you, again, for your book and film. I look forward to teaching my daughters about their roles, and watching them go from our home to their husbands’ homes.
May the Lord God bless you both for your faithfulness to Him.
How (Not) To Heat Your Veins and Fire your Brains
Posted April 7, 2009
Many girls have told us they struggle with keeping their hearts and minds pure for their future husbands. It is a difficult task, as God has wired the sexes to be attracted to one another, but also commanded “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
We’ve been asked so often for advice on this that we briefly addressed it in our message “What Our Father Taught Us About Boys,” last week at the Vision Forum 2009 Father-Daughter Retreat. Below are some of my remarks from the message.
Our travels, our work, and especially the fact that we have five brothers and a father who loves to disciple young men, has pushed us into company that is often male-dominant. Here are some practical things our father has taught us to keep our hearts secure and our focus on the things of the Lord.
1. Pray for the young men… and their future wives.
This really helps keep relationships in perspective and facilitates the right kind of sisterly interest in them. We need to look past this season of singleness and see the eternal perspective. We need to see the young men as more than “marriage material,” but as comrades and co-laborers in Christ’s Kingdom, and we need to pursue the kind of friendships that will outlast this season of “singleness” and continue into eternity.
2. Don’t assume that every attention paid you by a young man is a mark of intention.
If a young man looks at you, opens a door for you, greets you, smiles at you, etc., it might have just been a brotherly gesture. Not only is fantasizing and speculating dangerous, reading too much into young men’s kind deeds also is a great way to discourage gentlemanly conduct.
3. Avoid influences that stir the heart prematurely and tempt you to fantasize over men who are not and will not be your husband.
Music, movies, novels, or just our own sinful imaginations can be dangerous. Robert Burns wrote a great poem about this:
Oh, leave novels, ye Mauchline belles.
Ye’re safer at your spinning wheel;
Such witching books are baited hooks
For rakish rooks, like Rob Mossgiel.
Your fine Tom Jones and Grandisons,
They make your youthful fancies reel;
They heat your veins, and fire your brains.
An’ then ye’re prey for Rob Mossgiel.
I am not issuing an ultimatum here banning all movies, music and literature. You know down inside what influences arouse your passions, tempt you build false expectations, and make you feel discontent. Matthew 5:29 warns, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
4. Keep interaction with young men within a family context. Avoid private or very personal interaction (this includes online!).
This is something you need to talk to your parents about and ask them to make guidelines for you.
5. Last but not least, keep the lines of communication with your parents wide-open.
Notice that I said “parents”. Elizabeth and I have put a special emphasis on the father-daughter relationship because this is a father-daughter conference, but most if not all of these principles apply to your mother as well. We have made a habit of sharing everything with our parents, and this includes personal struggles, concerns, and our personal observations and opinions of the young men we know. We have discovered that the more faithfully we do this, the easier it becomes — it can really be the best way of relieving the burden of pent-up anxieties and fears that many girls feel during their singleness.
A lot of girls have confessed to us that they have a really hard time talking to their dads about personal things. Sometimes they complain that their dads don’t come and talk to them enough. We can’t always wait for our fathers to initiate and draw us out — men are never going to be as good at this as we would like them to be. Sometimes we need to take the initiative and start the conversation. Deuteronomy 32:7 says, “Ask your father and he will show you, the elders and they will tell you…” It doesn’t say “Wait for your father to remember to come talk to you.” Fathers need to tell, but daughters need to ask, and demonstrate to their fathers that they want their council and wisdom.
Some girls confess to us that whenever they try to go to their fathers to unburden their anxieties or concerns they always end up dissolving into a puddle of tears on the floor before they can get to what they wanted to say. What makes it worse is that most dads really don’t appreciate this. When girls tell me this, I have a pretty good guess what the problem is — it’s that they wait until there is an emotional crisis to talk to their fathers, instead of making a habit of talking to them often, about everything that is in their hearts. Some of you younger girls might feel like you are too young to be having these serious discussions about young men and marriage with your dad, but I would like to personally implore you to start talking to your father now, about everything that is on your heart, laying the foundation for your relationship, and establish good habits of communication, so that when you are my age (23), and things are more complicated, it will be a whole lot easier.
Are You a Fool?
Posted April 1, 2009
This is not a “Test your knowledge” quiz, nor a “See if you can score higher than your friends” quiz. This test was made as a tool to help us “examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the LORD.” (Lam. 3:40, see also 2 Cor. 13:5). It will be most helpful to you if you answer honestly and humbly, and then carefully study all the verses after each question.