It's (Not That) Complicated by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
All I Want for Valentine’s Day
Posted February 13, 2013
Valentine’s Day may be a happy time for couples, but it’s often a painful reminder for single Christian women of what they’re still praying for, hoping for, and – sigh – waiting for. Many of us don’t have a valentine this year because we’ve been holding out for someone special. We have high standards, and we’ve stuck to them, and now we’re having to eat the fruits of this resolve (instead of Godiva chocolates).
High standards and faithful perseverance are noble things. But sometimes we need to re-examine the honesty of our standards, and the whole spirit in which we devise them. Some of us, whether we know it or not, have made lists of suitor-requirements that look like this:
I have been very good this year, and I would really like it if you would bring me a husband who:
Is working to become just like Christ
Will love me just the way I am
Speaks several languages and plays several instruments
Will look past my inadequacies to see only my inner qualities
Will not be so carnally minded that he will care about the way I look
Isn’t interested in money
Can support me in the style I would like to be accustomed to
Is completely sold out for God
Will let me be myself
I know these are very righteous things to desire, and I have been patiently waiting and have not compromised my standards, so can you please reward my faithfulness now? Thank you.
It’s good to develop noble standards for the kind of man we want to marry, but simply having a preference for good men doesn’t make us worthy of them. We often have lofty demands for suitors (well, not that lofty – just that they have Jim Elliot’s heart, C. S. Lewis’s mind, William Wallace’s courage, Clark Gable’s face, Cary Grant’s clothes, Josh Groban’s voice…), but we want them to love us just the way we are. So the men we want to marry often don’t really exist – and if they did… well… why would they want to marry us?
Janey apparently hopes that her paragon of glowing character and accomplishments won’t mind that she is (apparently) shallow and materialistic, has qualities buried so deep there’s no danger of anyone ever finding them, is not-quite-sold-out for Christ herself… and is not interested in changing. But then, we don’t really want what we deserve, do we?
So, we make our wish lists and pray that we get Missionary Martyr Malibu Ken for Christmas. But what will we have to offer him? How are we preparing to be what he might need in a wife? How long are our lists of standards and requirements for ourselves?
Our aspirations to be married to fine husbands are good; but then, that’s an aspiration that the Cinderellas and the ugly stepsisters of the world have always had in common. We need to step outside of our imaginary roles as the heroines of our own personal fairy tales, and ask ourselves: Which one am I? Why would the prince choose me?
The bad news is, none of us are naturally likeable, desirable, or eligible. Because of sin, we all start out as ugly stepsisters, and we don’t automatically become Cinderella upon reaching marriageable age. The good news is, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pet. 2:24) And the rest of the good news is, if you find yourself Valentine-less this Valentine’s Day, that means the Lord is giving you more time to die to sin and live to righteousness, more time to make yourself ready, more time to become a better gift.
Ladies, let’s decide to do our (future) husbands good on this day (Prov. 31:12), instead of moping about the good they’re not here to do for us. On a day when women all over the world will be thinking about what they want to get from a man, let’s think instead about we’re preparing to give to one.
(With excerpts from It’s (Not That) Complicated)
Our Favorite Married Couples Speak On Marrying Well
Posted June 28, 2011
Over the past year and a half we have had the privilege of watching two of our brothers humbly and prayerfully consider the decision to marry their future brides. Their examples have taught us a lot about discerning the Lord’s will and studying Scripture for answers to the many questions that surface along the way. We’re excited to announce that our father, Geoffrey Botkin, and our dear mother Victoria will be joining David & Nadia and Ben & Audri for a five-week webinar discussing marriage–and the challenges and joys of getting there. Find out more at westernconservatory.com!
Posted October 24, 2010
By Anna Sofia Botkin
I just turned 25. Oddly, it seems a lot more than one year older than 24. The realization that I have lived a quarter of a century brings new awareness of the preciousness of time, the reality of aging and death, and the fact that life unfolds at a speed and in a way that I can’t control. I’m past feeling like my life is stretching out endlessly before me — I’m a good third of the way into it (Lord willing) and the ticking of the clock seems to grows louder.
I think these feelings are normal; observation has taught me that it’s at some point around a young woman’s twenty fifth revolution around the sun that she experiences a messy head-on collision with certain rock-hard facts of reality. Often it’s her point of disillusionment – the point when she finds out that the world is not what she thought. That life did not deliver what she expected. That things didn’t happen according to her plans. That she didn’t get her way and that her dreams didn’t come true. And to cap it off… she doesn’t get another shot. This is the big moral test in every girl’s life, and I am no exception.
It’s at this crisis point that a young woman’s true faith and motivations emerge, sometimes in ways that surprise everyone; over the years I‘ve seen many whom I counted as friends and allies change course dramatically and walk away from the principles that they fought alongside me to defend — namely, the tenets of biblical daughterhood.
The reasons are many and varied:
It got too hard. The level of self-sacrifice turned out to be more than they bargained for.
It did not produce the desired result (a husband).
The stigma of being an adult daughter who still lives at home with Mommy and Daddy became too much to bear.
The barrage of probing questions about why they were so “different” became too wearisome.
There really was no vision for life at home. For them, home was never really home, just a port to be stranded in, waiting for the soonest ship.
The feeling that God did not hold up His half of the bargain – He didn’t deliver what they assumed was coming to them for their good deeds.
Rarely do the reasons spring from an honest reexamination of their convictions on biblical womanhood, but rather a disappointment with what those “convictions” yielded.
Sometimes before we start to question what we believe, we should question why we believe – is it because it’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s socially acceptable to the crowd we’re in, it’s eventually going to pay… or because we know it’s true? If we believe something because we know it’s true, then we will keep believing — even when it becomes hard, inconvenient, socially unacceptable, and appears to be costing, not paying. It’s good to stop and question why we believe – yes, even if those beliefs have been in a published form for five years, permanently set into the stones that make up the bedrock of a so-called “movement.”
This month is also the fifth anniversary of the release of my sister’s and my first book, So Much More. Many speculated that time and experience would dampen our idealistic notions, and change our convictions. Some have asked if I still agreed with the naive 17-year-old me who started that book eight years ago. After all, haven’t I changed?
Well, yes, I have: By God’s grace, my grasp of the Scriptures and the issues is firmer, my communication skills have been sharpened through combat with an onslaught of criticism, and an acquaintance with hundreds of young woman and their unique situations from around the world has broadened the scope of my vision and taught me to have more compassion. But one thing I hope never changes — that I never grow out of — is a child-like faith in the plain teachings of Scripture and youthful zeal in proclaiming them.
I have changed, but the Bible hasn’t, and I still believe it means what it says. Time and experience have further proved to me that God is a much better Author of a woman’s destiny than she is. Her plans will go awry. His can’t.
This week I have been reflecting back on the expectations I had for my life: my goals, my plans, my hopes and my dreams. I don’t know if it’s possible for my present reality to have deviated more from my past fantasies. As a teenager, I projected for myself an early marriage (at say, 18) and a quiet, private life, as my three biggest fears were writing, public speaking, and being on camera – in short, anything that would expose me to public scrutiny. So, how do I feel about the fact that seven years have elapsed since my speculated marriage date, that my little brother, four years my junior, just got married, to a good friend of mine five years my junior, and that my life has been characterized by the three things I used to dread above all?
First of all, my feelings have nothing to do with it. Gratitude or bitterness are not really feelings but decisions, decisions that have nothing to do with the circumstances themselves, but with how we choose to perceive to them.
For example, let’s do a retake:
How do I feel about the fact that God has given me seven more precious years to spend with my family and prepare for the future; that I have been able to play a part in my little brother’s transition into adult life which culminated in his marriage to a dear friend of mine (now a dear sister of mine); and that God has brought me many unsolicited opportunities to serve Him that have stretched me and helped me overcome my horror of vulnerability? I should be on my face before God, thanking Him for His overwhelming goodness to me.
God did not give me what I expected – He gave me far more. He has blessed me above and beyond what my little human mind could have imagined.
This year my heart is overflowing with gratitude that my plans didn’t work out, that I didn’t get my way, and that my little dreams never came true.
Maybe when we ruminate over life’s unfulfilled expectations we should stop and consider that God’s “withheld” blessings might not have been withheld at all – just presented in a way we did not expect. Let’s hope that we’re not so fixated on what we had on our wish-lists that we scorn the better gift.
My desires to one day be a wife and mother are still alive and well, but they must bow to God’s will. They may be fulfilled soon, or much later on… or they may not be fulfilled at all. If our desire to be placed in marriages really springs from the belief that we will be more useful to God thus, then we won’t feel let down if He decides to deploy us somewhere else. He knows where we will be the most useful to Him.
At 25, I’m reminded of the bigger picture: marriage is just one front in the context of a much larger war. Whether I get married or not, the war goes on. My life is defined by the fact that I am God’s soldier, not by the fact that I am 25 AND STILL NOT MARRIED.
I’m grateful for another year to stand by my post as a daughter at home, to:
Build strength into my family and make them as powerful as possible
Invest into the relationships that God has put into my life right now: my brothers, my sister, my parents, and others in the community.
Prepare my heart and attitude for the greater sacrifices that marriage and motherhood might bring
To learn new skills to add to my armory
To read more books
To explore more fields of learning
To have more of God’s word written on my heart, imprinted on my mind, and ready on my tongue
To be more joyful and optimistic
To be more like the unmarried woman in 1 Cor. 7:34, who is “…anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.”
To be an even stronger witness as an adult daughter who still lives at home with Mommy and Daddy
Standing at the threshold of my 26th year, God has given me the grace to repeat the hardest statement ever made by any woman:
“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Luke 1:38
Is It My Fault That I’m Not Married?
Posted July 28, 2010
Our last article, “Why Am I Not Married?!?” has brought in our most diverse range of feedback yet. We’ve received some of the most grateful, convicted, excited letters ever (with the strongest support and thanks coming from young men, interestingly, though we didn’t write it for them). We’ve also had a couple of angry or tearful reactions. Mostly, though, we’ve been sent a wide range of questions, from how to become more eligible, practically, to how to deal with unrequited love, to how to react, emotionally, to the engagements and marriages of friends, while we remain unmarried. We hope to address each of these on Visionary Daughters soon. Today, however, we would like to answer this one.
Are you saying that if I’m not married yet, it’s my fault?
This is called a loaded question. There is much more to this question than the question on the surface, which would be impossible to answer accurately on its face. (Where would you start? “Yes, No, Maybe, It Depends, All of the Above…”)
To unload this question and answer it properly, we need to see that there are five faulty presuppositions behind it.
1. We can “earn” or deserve marriage by our own good deeds. — (Wrong)
God’s plan for our lives began before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and cannot be thwarted or altered by us. God is not a cosmic vending machine to be manipulated by our good deed coins. We pointed out in our article that there is a correlation between God’s sovereignty and our duty to action; “good deeds” are always our duty, and we should be striving to be worthy of marriage; but at the end of the day, He may still have other plans for us.
2. Marriage is a reward, singleness is a punishment. — (Wrong)
This is a warped view of both marriage and singleness. Marriage is an instrument God uses for His glory — but so is singleness, whether for a season or for a lifetime (1 Corinthians 7). We believe Scripture teaches that marriage is the normative calling for most believers, and that God created marriage to be a beautiful picture of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:23-32); a means of creating a godly seed (Malachi 2:15); and a more effective tool for dominion, forging the strengths of two people into a more powerful weapon for His glory (Genesis 2:18).
Marriage is a glorious opportunity, and we believe girls should be working towards marriage as much as is in their power. However, we should be motivated chiefly by one reason. Our interest in marriage should be a hope that we can serve God more effectively married than single. But God is the One who will decide that — if God still has us unmarried, obviously He has determined otherwise, at least for a season.
This means we can be encouraged in our singleness. The single state is not a penalty box, and we are not second-class citizens, and God is not dooming us to a purgatory of ineffectual puttering. He wants us, and has big plans for us, right where we are. We can be used mightily, right now. Our fruit can be significant, today.
On the other hand, if our days now are introspectively focused on our own personal issues and needs and interests, what makes us think we will suddenly become outward-focused and kingdom-focused when we marry?
3. We can reach a level of eligible perfection. — (Wrong)
To ask, in effect, “Are you saying there’s something wrong with me?” presupposes that we could get to a point where there isn’t anything wrong with us. We’ll never reach a point where we’re “fine just the way we are.” That said, a girl can certainly “buffet her body” (and mind, and heart, and character) to a point of being ready for marriage. She just shouldn’t stop there.
We’ve been privileged to know many exemplary young women who were ready for marriage in every way anyone could see, but yet remained unmarried until their late twenties or early thirties. (God’s ways are not our ways… see point 1.) Though each of these girls was already very eligible, none of them waited out her remaining term of singleness in impatience, or stagnation, or bitterness. None of them thought, “I can’t think of any ways to improve on myself, so I must be one of those girls who’s ready already. I’ll just sit here and fold my hands until I get what’s coming to me.” Each one continued to grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Each one remained humble about where she was, and about how much further she could go. They inspired everyone around them, and were a wonderful testimony to the community — to see the humility and growth of these stellar young women, and to see how seriously they took the opportunity of the single season. To the watching outside world, unfamiliar with the picture of an adult daughter serving her family, they were radiant lights and powerful ambassadors of biblical femininity (and God may have partly extended that season for this very reason).
4. Our own eligibility is the sole issue, regardless of the young man’s state. — (Wrong)
One of the big mistakes we often make is to look only at our side of the picture, forgetting that there is another person involved with his own set of situations and issues. A God-ordained marriage involves the preparation of two people, not just one. Remember the girls we mentioned who had been extremely ready and eligible for years before the Lord brought them their husbands? In each case, the Lord was also bringing the young man along on a journey. In one case, the young lady was 31 when her 23-year-old suitor came onto the scene — she laughs to think that, when she became “ready,” he would have been only ten.
In every story, once He brought the pieces together, everyone could see why it was His plan for her to remain unmarried for so long — as they say, hindsight is 20/20. We would be a lot happier in the interim if we would recognize His sovereignty before we see His plan revealed, not just after. And let’s remember that we’re not the only person in this.
5. Something is somebody’s fault. — (Well, that depends…)
This is always likely, in a fallen world — but not necessarily the case in your situation. Sometimes there are other factors involved in God’s timing. See points 1 through 4.
We can reasonably expect everyone involved to have failings — the fathers, mothers, young men, pastors, leaders, etc. — but it’s simply not our place as young women to make them shape up. When we step outside our feminine jurisdiction by trying to tell the men how to do their job, we make the problem worse. Helpful hint: henpecking and scolding men doesn’t help them grow up (and, interestingly, doesn’t make them want to marry us either). In these articles, we’re focusing on our faults as young ladies because they’re the only ones we can fix. They’re also the only ones we authors, as fellow young women, have the authority to address. Sorry, girls, but on Visionary Daughters… everything is your fault.
Why Am I Not Married?!?
Posted July 1, 2010
Responding to “The Marriage Crisis”
We were recently sent the link to a very humorous satirical website: No Girl Left Behind (The Solution to the Marriage Crisis). Though the website is a farce, it plays on a very real panic we have encountered: an anxiety that not enough homeschooled young people are getting married these days.
The panic is summed up in the words of the site, “There are young people of both genders who wish to be married and are not.”
This is a True Statement. However, true observations can get blown out of proportion and trigger false alarm; fed with fear, emotionalism, bitterness, gossip and rumors, they can easily become a monster. Perspective is lost, objectivity destroyed, and it becomes hard for us to detach ourselves from our own personal concerns.
Looking realistically at the big picture, the existence of young people wishing to be married and having a hard time going about it is hardly a new phenomenon. Many of civilization’s most familiar literary classics revolve around this theme (Shakespeare or Austen, anyone?)
Nor is this “problem” a product of the courtship movement. Our whole generation is seeing an unusually prolonged season of singleness, from the secular crowd that intentionally puts off marriage, to the Christian singles-group dating scene that has created a minefield of thirty-something singles. Inside the courtship camp, marriage rates are in fact higher than for those outside. However, we’re still inhaling the fumes of the culture that has caused the general marriage delay, and some of this second-hand smoke is affecting our own matrimonial condition. In this article, we would like to examine three questions:
Is there a problem?
If so, who is to blame?
How can we fix it?
Is There a Problem?
If there is a problem, we believe it’s not that so many young people are not married – it’s that so many young people are not ready to be married. The capper is that we have such low standards for ourselves that we don’t even realize it.
Let’s be honest with ourselves about the ways we’ve been compromised by our society, usually without knowing it. We are still swaying to the beat of our culture’s drum, in many of our attitudes, our affections, our expectations, and our actions. Many of us have picked up Hollywood ideas about what men should be like, and what makes a good match. We’re often double-minded, with our convictions and our affections running in two different directions, looking for a man that will somehow gratify both. Many of us claim to be preparing for godly wifehood, but actually are doing so with a narcissistic and feministic self-focus. We often have lofty demands for suitors (well, not that lofty – just that they be Jonathan Edwards in Edward Cullen’s body), but love ourselves just the way we are. So the men we want to marry often don’t really exist – and if they did… well… why would they want to marry us?
Now that we’ve drunk from our culture’s well, we shouldn’t be surprised to be feeling some of the same symptoms. Thanks to cultural confusion, personal baggage, or pendulum swings, guys and girls are can have a hard time knowing how to have relationships with each other. Some of us girls still have weak relationships and poor communication with our fathers, which makes everything surrounding courtship difficult. Some of us still have traces of our feminist culture or our Barbie culture in our personalities and character, which make us unappealing to young men who share our convictions on biblical femininity. Fear of responsibility, confusion about love and attraction, selfish attitudes towards relationships, entitlement syndrome – we’re as likely to pick these up from Hollywood as the girl next door… and they’re just as likely to affect our matrimonial futures.
There are, by the way, plenty of people who have maturely avoided these mistakes, or repented of them. Among our friends, they are getting married. (If panicky singles would start looking outside of their own situations, they might notice all of the wonderful marriages taking place.)
But insofar as a problem exists, it should be identified as a maturity crisis – not a marriage crisis.
Who is to Blame?
The easiest and most common response is to point our fingers – at the young men, for not getting their act together, or for not being proactive about asking; at our fathers, for being too intimidating or too picky; or at leadership, for not doing something.
Whether or not the young men, fathers, and leadership involved have behaved infallibly is not our place to say; we are here to point out that we girls have no business fixating on anyone’s faults but our own. This is partly a point of Christian charity and proper jurisdiction. It’s also a point of having to be honest with ourselves. After all, in any one of our individual cases, the problem just might be: Us.
Our aspirations to be married to fine husbands are good; but then, that’s an aspiration that the Cinderellas and the ugly stepsisters of the world have always had in common. We need to step outside of our imaginary roles as the heroines of our own personal fairy tales, and ask ourselves: which one am I? Why would the prince choose me?
One of the hallmark verses of waiting daughters is “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is above rubies.” We all love to claim the “above rubies” appellation and the idea that we’re a great prize for a young man to find – but Proverbs 31 places that price tag on a very specific description of a woman, and we all know that it doesn’t describe us. So why do we demand to be treated, and eventually chosen, as though we were that Proverbs 31 woman?
For every girl we know asking why so few young men are “ready,” we know a young man asking where the ready and eligible girls are. Our brothers and their friends have told us that many of the qualities girls have cultivated to make themselves “eligible” are things that won’t come up on young men’s radar screens, and the qualities the young men are most looking for have been neglected.
For example, though many may have mastered skills like sewing and music, they often seem to be living in a hobby world, removed from the concerns of the real world, and lacking a basic understanding of what’s going on. Some may have learned to be “content,” but haven’t learned to be joyful. Some may be sweet girls, but they often communicate stiffness, timidity, aloofness, or coldness in public. Others may be popular and socially active, but haven’t built real relationships with their own family. Some may feel ready to be loved and romanced, but not ready to love sacrificially. Others may be very accomplished in “feminine arts” (cake decorating, flower arranging, scrapbooking), but lacking in practical skills that will recommend them as capable helpers (the kind of skills that would be required to start a business, manage finances, help run a ministry, etc.)
There are many girls who look prepared to be good mothers and good housekeepers, but not to be capable helpmeets. Our brothers and their friends have told us that they’re not looking for mere live-in maids and nannies; they want wives who would be capable of coming alongside them in the rigors of their lives; being engaging, iron-sharpening companions; and assisting them in business, ministry, adventure, risk, conquest, and uncertainty. The young men we know are asking, “Where are those girls?”
What is the Solution?
There is no quick fix for a problem that has taken generations of cultural immaturity and compromise to create. For starters, let’s stop looking at external problems and external solutions; we’re not going to fix a maturity crisis by calling in other people to make getting married easy for us.
As we’re sure our readers already understand, God is in complete control of who gets married when. There is nothing people can do to make the right marriages happen before God intends them to, and there is no use crusading or going on witch-hunts when it’s God’s sovereign plan we’re up against. This should be a great relief to us: “Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail, who will never allow us to perish even in the midst of shipwrecks, there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear and overcome with weariness.” (John Calvin)
But resting in God’s sovereignty doesn’t mean resigning from action, expecting Him to reward our laziness. Whatever He has in store for us, we still bear our responsibility to do our duty – to, in the words of the hymn, trust and obey. He tells us to “be faithful with little” before He will entrust us with much. He also promises, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)
We cannot, by good behavior (or bad), will ourselves into the right marriages, or manipulate Him into making them happen faster. However, there is plenty we can and must be doing to make ourselves more ready and worthy for marriage. We would like to offer four suggestions:
Correct your thinking
Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh; our attitudes betray themselves in our actions.
There are several damaging streams of thought polluting our perceptions and eventually our actions. We need to sort through and evaluate all of our presuppositions about marriage, and correct the false ones. A few examples:
The idea that we are entitled to marriage – wrong.
The idea that every marriage-eager person over age 20 is ready – wrong.
The idea that we can blame “the problem” on a system or a demographic – wrong.
The idea that things need to be “fair” and leveled – wrong.
The idea that getting married should be easy – wrong.
The idea that life won’t start until marriage – wrong.
Each of these ideas has dangerous implications – try carrying out any of them to their logical conclusions, and you end up with…well… the No Girl Left Behind website.
Become a girl that a godly man will want to marry.
The bad news is, none of us is naturally likeable, desirable or eligible. Because of sin, we all start out as ugly stepsisters; and we don’t naturally become Cinderella upon turning 18. Put yourself in a young man’s shoes, and ask yourself what he might want and need. You might be surprised by how you measure up. If all the good young men you know aren’t interested in you, who are you going to blame?
View your single years as a time to prepare, not wait.
The good news is, most of us were given several single years to prepare and become truly eligible. As long as we don’t spend those years feeling like we’ve arrived, and like there’s something wrong with all the guys that haven’t noticed us yet, becoming more bitter with every wasted year, there’s a lot of progress that can be made, and much that could be accomplished. Make the most of your time!
Some of the girls most frantic to get married admit to us that they’re listless and unengaged at home, and that their relationships with their siblings are a mess. They don’t know it, but what they’re desperate for is a new home to be bored in, a new relationship to neglect, a new person to be crabby to, new circumstances to complain about, and a new life to make the least of.
Girls, if we’re failing where we are now, our propensity for failure will follow us wherever we go. Our bad character, bad attitudes and bad habits will blight our future lives as much as they are our current ones. Ask yourself: How well are you doing with the life you’re in the middle of right now? How well are you doing with the relationships God has put into your family right now? How well are you using your time? How well are you fighting the fight of faith?
“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the last is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10)
God is in control of your future, and His plan is being worked out day by day. The marriages that He has ordained to happen right now are happening, despite the fears of a “marriage crisis.”
In reality, dying an old maid is not the fate most to be feared. The consequences of acting in panic, desperation and fear, or of being poisoned by bitterness, can much more effectively ruin a woman’s life. We have seen this marriage-panic drive young women to destroy their most important relationships, marry recklessly, launch accusation-campaigns and witch-hunts that destroy communities and split churches, devastate their families, create miserable homes for their future children, and poison everyone they know.
Let’s look at the big picture again. Our chief end is not marriage. If attracting a nice Christian guy is the motivating force of your life, you might need to seriously examine the integrity of your faith. If the nonappearance of Prince Charming is making you question God, you may be facing a more serious fate than dying an old maid. Being in this for the husband is just riding to hell in a hopechest.
People sometimes ask why we, at the ages of 22 and 24, are not yet married. The only answer we can give is that God has not ordained for us to be married yet, and that is, like all His other works, “very good”; we are enjoying the extra time to labor with our family, to prepare ourselves more fully, and to “occupy until ‘he’ comes.” As much as we pray for godly marriages, there is much to rejoice about in the calling of visionary daughterhood.
So smile at the future. Think about something other than marriage. And don’t forget to write to your congressman.
Coming Soon… A New Botkin Girl
Posted June 15, 2010
As the only two girls in our family, surrounded by five extremely manly brothers, we always dreamed of having another sister. On June 11th, 2010, our prayers were answered: our younger brother Benjamin became engaged to be married to Miss Audri Vernier. At 20 and 19 years of age, respectively, they are making big plans for all that they want to accomplish for the Lord during the rest of their lives together.
Ben and Audri are one of the most inspiring couples we know. Though their abundant talents have opened up many tempting opportunities to them, they’re both passionate about surrendering everything to “seek first the kingdom of God.” They’re united by a desire to lose their lives in order to find them. Ferociously devoted to the Word, they fell in love with the fear of the Lord that they saw in each other.
As we were getting to know Audri, the two things that struck Ben (and us) most deeply were her humility and fear of the Lord, which shone so brightly that they actually outshone the qualities closer to the surface — her exceptional musical talent, her mature intelligence, and her delightfully sincere personality. You can hear the moving testimony of the Lord’s work in her life in our recent documentary “Homeschool Dropouts.”
Flash 10 is required to view this file
You can hear their musical talents coming together in this “Pavanne for Cello,” composed by Ben and performed by Audri.
Join us in praising the Lord for this union!
But What If…?
Posted July 31, 2009
Hello Anna and Elizabeth,
…I have one question concerning your book and the mindset my father has raised me and my siblings on. My father believes that it is right to send me and my sister to college to develop skills in our area of interest (like, for me, it is music) so that we have a degree and real-world skills to fall back on just in case something may happen in the future and we need to work. …My father is extremely practical and wants to prepare us for the real world well enough because he knows he won’t be around forever. He wants to prepare us for every circumstance and that means even the thought of 1. never getting married or 2. perhaps our father might die early or, if we marry, our husbands might die early. Is it right to dwell on the worse case scenario and prepare for it?
This world isn’t stable and with the new president in office, times are going to get tough. Life as we know it might change forever and many of the luxuries and ease we’ve experienced may not always be here. So, how does one go about this? I don’t know how to reconcile your writings on preparing at home now and my dad’s wish that we get “real-world” skills to equip ourselves for the future to be able to get a stable job if need be. Our dad would certainly love for us to get married and have families and homes of our own. But he does not believe life will be easy and allow for many of the comforts that many of us once enjoyed. While he is all for preparing ourselves as women at home now, he is also pushing us towards college and being able to fall back on a real job in case everything fails.
Just In Case…
This letter represents most of the “what if” questions nagging at girls who choose to live at home, or are considering doing so. Is living at home and forgoing college and workplace a realistic and sensible decision in our economy? Will we be prepared for “real-world” scenarios and crises, “just in case”?
These are responsible questions to ask, and we commend this young woman for being practical about the vicissitudes of real life and the economy. We believe the Proverbs 31 woman was able to smile at the future (v. 25) not only because she trusted in the sovereignty of God, but also because she made herself ready for it. A sensible education for a girl should prepare her for the most likely scenarios she may face. Of course, if we spend more of our time and money preparing for worst-case scenario than working toward best-case scenario, we may not be ready for God’s best. So how should a girl prepare to be ready for anything, while working toward the ideal? Let’s start by remembering this: The best defense is a good offense.
Strengthening Our Arms… For Work.
Widowhood, never marrying, being orphaned, etc. are very real possibilities. But even in a happy and stable marriage, economic hard times, lay-offs, pay-cuts, etc. are even more real possibilities. Is there a point where a girl may have to set aside her aspirations of being at home “to be practical” — to give up “luxury and ease” to work for money?
Here’s the forgotten principle that made home-working womanhood economically viable once, in good times and bad. Industry is a fundamental feminine virtue. Biblical womanhood has never been about luxury and ease. Biblical womanhood is diligent, resourceful and fruitful, and its axiom is “no lack of gain.”
Work — even paid work — is not something a biblical woman resorts to just when times get tough. Let’s go back to our Proverbs 31 woman. By all measures today, her situation was perfect — successful husband (v23), disposable income (v16) — even maidservants! (v15). Yet what do we see her doing from the darkness of the early morning through the night? Laboring. Producing. Earning. Increasing. Even in her comfortable circumstances, she embraced the privilege of productive work, the holy dignity in labor that the Lord first demonstrated Himself. Of all her virtues (generosity, kindness, wisdom, etc.), this chapter spotlights one virtue more than any other: her industry.
Regardless of our times or circumstances, Christians need to labor; not just to earn money, to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads, but to take dominion of the world under Christ — to increase, to spread civilization, to make disciples of all the nations. The goal isn’t only to sustain ourselves, or to pay for our play, but to increase and multiply. R.J. Rushdoony observes, “In any society where work is seen simply as an economic necessity and fact, there will be a decline in productivity towards the subsistence level. If men only work to eat (or to play) the meaning and the goal of work soon fades away.” (R.J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology)
But we must define our terms. “Working” does not necessarily mean holding down a steady, paying job in the workforce. Though working is, we believe, a duty for all Christians, men and women alike, we also see in Scripture that God assigns different arenas of work for both. As the “Tenets of Biblical Patriarchy” summarizes it:
13. Since the woman was created as a helper to her husband, the bearer of children, and a “keeper at home,” the God-ordained and proper sphere of dominion for a wife is the household and that which is connected with the home, although her domestic calling, as a representative of and helper to her husband, may well involve activity in the marketplace and larger community. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Prov. 31:10-31; Tit. 2:4-5)
14. While unmarried women may have more flexibility in applying the principle that women were created for a domestic calling, it is not the ordinary and fitting role of women to work alongside men as their functional equals in public spheres of dominion (industry, commerce, civil government, the military, etc.). The exceptional circumstance (singleness) ought not redefine the ordinary, God-ordained social roles of men and women as created. (Gen. 2:18ff.; Josh. 1:14; Jdg. 4; Acts 16:14)
In the Garden of Eden, the curse God gave to the man was that he would have difficulty in providing, while for the woman it was difficulty in bearing children. Man’s duty to provide for his family was affirmed in 1 Timothy 5:8, while the Bible’s instruction to women never indicates that they are to go out to support themselves. Scripture goes into detail about how women without fathers or husbands are to be provided for, and both Old and New Testaments are filled with exhortations to protect and provide for the widows and fatherless. In other words: no matter how strained the circumstances, women should not have to become the vocational helpers of men other than their husbands and fathers for a paycheck.
But this does not mean that women can’t look for creative ways to augment the family income through entrepreneurial endeavors from home.  Though it is a man’s duty to provide, providing doesn’t mean creating a luxurious atmosphere where his wife and daughters don’t have to labor or do anything hard. Though we can safely assume the well-respected Mr. Proverbs 31 was a good provider, his wife nonetheless worked with her hands to enrich the lives of others, and increased their income at the same time — from home.
This used to be a mainstay of biblical economics. In times when women used to turn to their spindles and looms rather than to novels and soap operas, they didn’t have to feel financially helpless or useless. Production, rather than consumption and entertainment, was their way of life, and thus their way of life was never in jeopardy. Nor were “real-world skills” something they kept stored away “to fall back on” — “just in case” they lost their life of luxury and ease — they were developing and using them every day.
We believe it would be wise for every young lady to amass a number of skills that could be used to generate income. Business, in its most basic sense, involves exchanging goods or services for money. Successful entrepreneurs are the ones who figure out what services are in demand, or needed. They develop marketable skills. We see that the Proverbs 31 woman had multiple marketable skills, and there was a demand for her services: her fine linen sold, and merchants bought her belts (v24). People will always have needs, and any smart girl should be able to spot one and find a way to meet it.
The tricky thing about marketable skills, though, is that they have to be actually marketable. Demands change: what was needed a hundred years ago may be useless to people now, and hand-crocheted doilies cannot compete with web-design today. When considering mastering any skill, we should ask, do people really need this? Our own hobbies, interests and fancies should come in second-place to what people around us need. Girls who learn to think outside of themselves and take responsibility for others will be well-armed to navigate the real world, not only as adults, but as leaders.
Some question that girls who have only lived at home will really be prepared for the “real world.” A real woman should already be living in the real world, whether orphaned, abandoned, widowed, or part of a loving family. Those of us blessed with happy families and comfortable homes shouldn’t use them as a buffer zone from the concerns of the real world, any more than as an excuse to be lazy and incompetent. It would be great if every girl knew how to manage a schedule, plan meetings, buy groceries, pay the bills, defend her faith to antagonists, balance the check-book, take a plane, start a business, give a presentation, change a tire, buy a house, make clothes, deal with emergencies, butcher a chicken, write a book, and learn any new thing as she needs to know it. Living in the real world is actually a great way to learn these real-world skills. Families do these kinds of things all the time, and girls who are very involved in their families’ affairs should get a lot of experience navigating the world the way real people do — even more than those who pay an exorbitant sum of money to learn so-called real-world skills in the artificial, insulated environment of a college campus.
But Don’t I Need a Degree?
That depends on what you want it for. You don’t need a degree to make money, as Bill Gates has sufficiently demonstrated for us. You don’t need a degree to handle or use money, to start a business, to buy low and sell high, to exchange goods and services, to prove that you have a skill, or to produce things people need.
If you want to impress a bureaucratic hiring agency and get a job in the workplace, a degree will likely help; but then, if you are a good businesswoman, you must consider whether this privilege is worth the $100,000+ it generally costs (not counting the time involved) and whether your earnings would equal your investment. One thing that will not help your husband is bringing a mountain of school debt into your marriage. This has happened to many of our friends — some even felt they had to put their dream of motherhood and homemaking on the shelf, even after marriage, so they could work long enough to pay off their degrees.
But even a degree will not guarantee security, any more than not owning a degree will guarantee poverty.
Appealing To Fathers
One thing we appreciated about the letter above is the way the writer demonstrated a respect for her father’s wishes, as a daughter should. We also have a lot of respect for fathers who want their daughters to be well-prepared and capable, ready to take on the world. (We have a father like this ourselves.) If your father loves you enough to care about your future, be especially grateful for him, and do not despair if his methods seem different than yours. A father who has his daughter’s best interests at heart is generally open to sensible, rational and humble suggestions from her — especially if his daughter has established a good rapport with him, and he knows he can trust her to be working with him and not against him. If a daughter thinks she may have discovered a better way, she should be able to appeal to him respectfully from Scripture, and able to suggest solid alternatives. Moreover, she must be able to diligently follow through with those alternatives. Often fathers send their daughters off to college because they know their daughters are not diligent or motivated enough to educate themselves or be productive at home.
The times certainly are uncertain, and more may be required of us as things become more unstable. Three things, however, remain certain:
1. We cannot rely on earthly promises of security (degrees, “stable” jobs) — only on biblical promises of security (the blessings of God upon obedience and diligence). In these unstable times, we will need to rely less on those things that will change and more on the things that will never change. The benefits of government accreditation, paychecks, personal peace and affluence, and the illusion of stability could pass away; the value of hard work, ingenuity, and faith will not.
2. Faithfulness is blessed; compromise is not. We will not deserve the blessing of God if we we respond to calamity by compromising our principles, disregarding gender roles, or acting out of desperation instead of faith.
3. Work is noble, and required of every person — “Not having to work,” or eating the bread of idleness, are not for Christian women. Every girl in every situation should strive after the example of the fruitful Proverbs 31 woman.
Both those who put their trust in a comfortable, easy lifestyle and those who put their trust in worldly pragmatism have reason to fear “what ifs”; but a productive, creative woman full of faith will have no lack of gain. Let us then strengthen our arms, work willingly with our hands, and smile at the future.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33
1. When we use the word “home,” we are referring to the borders of the family estate and endeavors. The Proverbs 31 woman’s family was clearly her first priority, and her work was in the context of her family, though it sometimes took her outside her “house.” We believe the principle here is that a woman works with and for her family, within the jurisdiction of her father/husband — whether her family works at home, on the road, in an office, in a family store, or in the fields.
2. This was more true in cultures where the society and economy were established according to biblical principles, such as colonial and pioneer America. In countries where work was despised, and woman’s function and value was primarily a decorative one, women were in a very vulnerable position. In feudal Europe, for example, a young gentlewoman without a wealthy father or large dowry often had to resort to either a mercenary marriage, becoming a spinster governess, relying on the charity of unpleasant wealthy relatives, or “falling into ruin.”
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.
The Adventures of a Pioneer Bride Down Under
Posted August 28, 2008
Genevieve Smith, our beloved friend and co-laborer, and one of the most visionary and devoted daughters we know, was given in marriage to Pete de Deugd of Ballarat, Australia, earlier this year.
As an unmarried girl, Genevieve was a sterling example of a joyful, creative, gung-ho girl who threw her whole heart into serving her family in their mission. Now that she’s married, she is an example of an intrepid, stalwart, and resourceful pioneer bride.
At age 20 Genevieve left her family, but after a change of heart returned home to help her family in pioneering the homeschool movement in New Zealand. (You can read her testimony here.) She is now tremendously grateful for the ways she prepared for marriage during those years at home — preparing her heart, improving her mind, and strengthening her arms for the adventure of wifehood and motherhood.
Here is a report from Genevieve on these first few months of marriage.
Learning how to use the metal lathe.
Putting away Pete’s tools
Assisting Pete with his welding.
My first stove: two gas rings. We were almost sad to say goodbye
to them when we bought a stove
Pete bought me some Plymouth Rock chickens for my birthday. They represent pioneering and coming to a new land. They are part of his vision for fruitfulness in the savings they will
We build a chicken house together.
Pete has been a marvel in building our home. We only have weatherboards to put on two more walls now and then we’ll begin working on the interior: lining, decorating, electricity and plumbing.
Pete introduced me to a machinery junk yard. Not only did it have the fans, engines and hydraulic pumps Pete was looking for, for his business, but it also had this laundry tub in
Work. Good, honest work.
When Pete and I finished our honeymoon we were both looking forward to getting back to Australia and working together. We knew that working together on projects and in Pete’s sawmilling/woodworking business would add another dimension to our relationship, strengthen our marriage, grow our friendship and be a whole lot of fun!
The first couple of months were full from morning to night. We were settling into married life, Pete was teaching me about his machinery and I was learning how to be a helpmeet to my new husband.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…” Genesis 1v28
We thanked the Lord often for the work that He had given us to do. It was a desire we discussed during our courtship that we could be fruitful for the Lord in business, in our personal lives, in every way we could (for example by running a successful and growing business, by assisting other believers and by seeking to grow in character and faith). Pete would set the vision; he would follow the calling God had for him and seek to be fruitful in the areas God wanted him to take dominion. And I would help him to be successful in being fruitful. I would help him to see his vision to completion.
In the Issacharian Daughters newsletter 076 dated 4 February 2008 I said that Pete and I thought it would be prudent for me to take a break from sending out the newsletter for a period while Pete and I got married and established ourselves as a family and while I learned how to help Pete in his work. We hoped Lord willing that I could resume the newsletters four months later.
This break was a wonderful thing and has allowed me to concentrate fully on my wifely role. And it has been a necessity and a delight to be able to dedicate all my time and energy to this—my priority. Being a daughter in my father’s home and helping him was predominantly an intellectual and sedentary lifestyle. Being a wife in my husband’s home and helping him involves a lot of manual work and is a very active lifestyle. I’ve had a lot to learn. And on top of this, have gone through a very interesting process: the process of leaving behind my father’s vision and taking onboard my husband’s vision.
Before I was married, much of who I was, what I believed and understood was wrapped up in my father’s vision. Since marrying I’ve undergone a surgery of sorts to replace Dad’s vision with Pete’s.
My loyalties had to undergo a change. I was used to thinking that Dad knew best. Now I needed to learn to think that Pete knows best. I used to do things and invest my time in projects according to what I knew Dad would want me to do. Now I needed to be guided by what Pete wanted me to do. When faced with a problem or an option I couldn’t think, “What would Dad have done in this situation?” Now I had to think, “What would Pete do in this situation?” These were exciting times and difficult as during this state of flux—learning to replace one man’s vision with another—the devil would come around and say, “But what about what you want? What about what you think?”
Ephesians 6v14 talks about girding oneself with truth as a spiritual weapon which will help one stand fast against the temptations and lies of the devil. Once again on this journey from Maidenhood to Mrshood I find myself ever so grateful to the Lord for how He brought me home and prodded me to prepare for marriage. The Lord was girding me with truth through the things He was teaching me and the books I was reading so that I could easily bring the truth to mind when presented with the devil’s lies. God is good!
Taking on Pete’s vision is a very exciting thing. Studying him, learning more and more about his vision, his convictions, his desires for our family, our time, our money, our spiritual walk has been, well, romantic! Like RC Sproul Jr says, “the most romantic thing in the world is when a man shares his vision with his wife.”
And this process of becoming more and more one with Pete will continue (!!!) every day I’m sure and as a result our love for one another will grow and our ability to be fruitful for the Lord will increase.
This break from the ID newsletter has not only been wonderful, but more recently proved to be rather necessary too—and this is a big reason why four months came and went and still no newsletters were sent out.
The Lord decided to open up a new area of fruitfulness to us—through multiplying us. He has blessed my womb and is knitting together within a precious child. He is giving Pete an arrow for his quiver, an olive plant for around his table, a blessing to bring up in the fear and nurture of the Lord. This little one is due on 28 December 2008.
When that four month mark drew up and passed I was taking a lesson on morning sickness and nausea! Pete was being my knight in shining armour. Like the thorough gentleman he is, he was changing my sick bowl, putting me to bed with hot water bottles at night, checking on me and leaving me with a walkie talkie so that I could call him if I needed him. One day Pete saw me struggling to do the dishes. My energy was evaporating. He told me to go and lie down and said that he would finish them up after work. Work that day finished at 2am for him. He was overhauling a boiler to heat his kiln to dry out his wood using equipment which needed to be returned the next day so he had to keep working on it until the job was done. When he came in, he saw the dishes and remembering that he said to me that he would do them after work he finished them off before coming to bed close to 3am. That is my husband—my hero—a man described by Psalm 15, “He who swears to his own hurt and does not change…shall never be moved.”
As I am learning about how to help my husband to be fruitful, may I encourage you as you do this too. Perhaps you too are married and learning the best ways you can be a help to your husband. Or perhaps you are learning how you can bless and support your father. Or perhaps you are preparing for marriage and God’s calling to be fruitful within this state by learning new skills now which may be of use to a husband in the future such as accounting, stewardship of money, home maintenance (painting, wallpapering, etc) and decorating, child raising, cooking and more. May God be with us all as we seek to be obedient to Him in this area. May He give us abundant joy in real, God-glorifying fruitfulness.
For the Greater Glory of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Genevieve de Deugd
This is from Genevieve’s email newsletter, Issacharian Daughters. Go here to see archived newsletters, to sign up for future newsletters.
The Marriage of Melissa Keen
Posted April 8, 2008
One of the featured daughters in our documentary, The Return of the Daughters, has made the transition from a daughter in her father’s house to a bride in her husband’s house.
Melissa Keen’s example of devotion to her family and service to the church inspired girls around the world.
Now we’re excited to see how she will transfer her passion for the biblical home and family life into her new role as a wife, and we’re excited about seeing generations of kingdom advancement arising from her union with Justin Turley.
Their wedding alone was a time of great celebration, vision-casting, and victory. God bless Justin and Melissa Turley!
« Previous entriesNext Page »Next Page »