On May 14, 2011, our brother David was wed to our dear friend Nadia Noor, in one of the most blessed days of our family’s lives. (more…)
Twelve years ago, a young man in New Zealand began praying for a godly wife. About four years later, a young girl in New Jersey began praying for a godly husband. Over a few years of tests, changes, and international and cross-country moves, God brought the paths of these two very remarkable people together. This week, they became engaged to be married.
Rejoice with us, as we celebrate the engagement of our dear brother David to our beloved friend Nadia Noor! The Lord has brought our brother his perfect match and complement, his “good thing,” and “helper suitable.” Seeing the Lord’s hand in preparing these two for each other, and leading them to each other, has been an overwhelming reminder of the perfection of His sovereign plan and His wonderful lovingkindness.
David, Nawelle, Nadia, and Anna Sofia butchering chickens. It shouldn’t normally take four people.
This was a relationship forged through blood, sweat, and tears (sometimes literally…) Nadia had become like a sister to us since her family moved to Tennessee last year, and she and David had the opportunity to work on a number of projects together over the last year (see one of them here)
It wasn’t long after David met Nadia that he was struck by her fear of the Lord, her gentle and quiet spirit, her bold and fearless shepherd’s heart, and her devotion to her family. She stood out to him as a woman of unusual thoughtfulness, wisdom, and intelligence, tempered with humility. Most importantly, he saw in Nadia a heart wholly the Lord’s — a hunger and thirst for righteousness, a passion for the Word, and a desire for God that matched the deepest desires of his own heart.
“House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Proverbs 19:14)
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22)
Right after she said yes — Dad, David, and Anna Sofia give thanks to the Lord.
Ben, Audri, and Elizabeth doing the same.
It is a beautiful thing to see a couple fully united in their mutual love of the Lord and His law, their humility, and their tender hearts before God — and in their resolute stands in the battle. We can’t wait to see where God takes this dynamic couple. Our prayers are with them as they prepare to serve Him with the rest of their lives together.
When we Botkin children were little, our mother would read aloud to us for a couple of hours each day. We loved the sound of her voice, and we loved the books she chose to read. She had a knack for finding books that would be both educational and exciting — not the twaddle that insults a child’s intelligence — and dramatizing them in a way that riveted us and imprinted them on our memory.
In the last few years, Mom has had many mothers beg her for tips on good literature for girls, when so much of what’s available is fluffy, saccharine-sweet, or unrealistic — especially, they ask, books with good role models for their daughters. Where are the figures young girls are supposed to be looking to for examples? Though much of it is re-told through a feminist lens, or simply not told at all, America has a history of great stories and great heroines — you just have to know where to look. After years of collecting little-known diaries, memoirs, and letter-books of such American heroines, our mother decided to combine her cache of good stories with her love of reading aloud, in this exciting new audio book series.
Introducing “Voices from the Past”
The Historical Heroines Audio-Book series by Victoria Botkin
This summer, our family dove into making Mom’s idea a reality. She wanted to produce high-quality audio books, drawn straight from the words of the historical heroines themselves, and enhanced with period music and sound effects. We previewed dozens of book options, chose four favorites to begin with, and spent the next couple of months working on researching, editing, recording, editing audio, arranging and composing music, and designing the cover art.
The most fun part was researching the popular tunes of each book’s era, arranging and recording them, and placing them into the most fitting places in the audio books. Our brother Ben, a gifted composer, was too busy preparing for his wedding and working on other projects to do the music, but he let us requisition his composing station for a couple of weeks. You can hear a few of our musical attempts here:
The Old Chisholm Trail
Duke of Kent’s Waltz
Johnny has Gone for a Diplomat
Projects like these always make us reflect on the diversity of opportunities that can be explored by girls that work with their families. Plugging ourselves into our family’s endeavors has opened up many new avenues and interests we’d never dreamed of. It also reminds us that femininity is not limited to the trends of generic “feminine” activities (baking muffins, knitting tea cozies), but can include any manner of activities that help and support one’s family in the context of the home. We’re inspired by our friends who, for instance, help out in the family concrete business, do bookkeeping, help run a family bakery, help research alternative energy solutions, do market gardening, and more. One of our favorite historical examples of this highly competent, dominion-oriented femininity is Eliza Lucas Pinckney, whose story made it into our audio book series (see below.)
And so — after a couple of rigorous months of family teamwork — here are the finished products.
Abigail Adams: Her Letters
The letters of Abigail Adams bear faithful and moving witness to one of the greatest epochs of world history: the American War for Independence. They also attest to the remarkable life of a wise and witty New England woman who was her husband’s chief adviser and war correspondent, who raised and educated four children, managed a farm on a war-time budget, and served her country as its ambassadress and First Lady. This spell-binding narrative takes the listener from the bustling hub of Boston, to Penn’s Hill, where Abigail stood with her son and watched the slaughter of her people and Charleston going up in flames, to the glittering courts of Europe, where she came face to face with the perpetrator of these crimes, King George III himself.
A Bride Goes West
A well-bred West Virginia bride begins the adventure of her life when she marries a young Montana rancher, who takes her back with him to share his life among the cowboys. Follow Nannie’s adventures in adapting, with grace and pluck, to her new life in the Wild West — one of the few white women there, trying to bring civilization to the range, amidst a host of rowdy cowboys, Indians, and outlaws. Colorful and unforgettable characters, cattle roundups, bucking broncos, Indian attacks, and pioneer spirit, make this a thrilling Wild-West-show of a story. Nannie T. Alderson’s tale is a true story of honor, courage, resourcefulness, and faith, on the range.
The Letters of Eliza Lucas Pinckney
When 16-year-old Eliza Lucas’s father was deployed to Antigua in 1740, he left the management of his household and three plantations in Eliza’s capable hands. In these lively letters, she describes her adventures handling her father’s affairs, cultivating and exporting indigo, educating her sister and the black children on the plantations, and helping to build up the economy of her fledgling colony through her many business schemes. Hear her words of encouragement and exhortation to four generations of men in her family, including her two sons, both Revolutionary War heroes, over the full and fruitful lifetime of this great mother of our country.
An English Family in the American Wilderness
In 1831, Rebecca Burlend, with her husband and five small children, said goodbye to their homeland of Yorkshire, England after years of struggle to survive as tenant farmers, and emigrated to America. Through her first-hand account of moving to a new country, we can feel the anguish of standing on the deck of a ship, watching one’s homeland disappear into the distance, the experience of traveling steerage on an Atlantic voyage, and then of the pioneer’s experience in what was truly a New World — the virgin wilderness of the interior of the continent — and their family’s struggle, ultimately, to prosperity. A true picture of the stark beauty, hard work, and hope of the pioneer adventure.
We are having a 20% introductory sale on the individual audio books and a 30% sale on the entire series. Go here for more information.
We’re proud to introduce an excellent new CD message by our brothers Isaac, David, and recently-engaged Benjamin.
What Our Father Taught Us About Girls
How to Relate to Sisters in Christ: A Practical Guide — by Isaac, David, and Benjamin Botkin
You can tell a lot about a nation by the boys are trained to treat girls. Will boys grow up with the ability to respect, cherish, and lead women into the future, or will young men continue to exploit and degrade women? Is it possible for American boys to rediscover the ways men were created to honor women the ways God intends for women to be honored?
This message reveals the attitudes three young men learned to cultivate as they listened to their father’s instruction, studied Scripture on their own, and then interacted with the fair sex with confidence, gallantry, and manliness. Get practical advice on how to obey the command to treat young women “as sisters, with all purity”: how to view girls; how to interact with girls; how to protect girls; how to handle flirtatious girls; and how to encourage and edify your sisters in Christ. Gain a vision for how to have meaningful and edifying friendships with those who are “heirs together of the grace of life.”
Why is it hard for girls to find the balance between flirting and shunning? How can girls keep their hearts pure? What responsibilities do they have toward young men? Is it possible to be “just friends”? Hear practical advice from Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin on navigating the tricky waters of relationships with boys, and how these relationships, properly conducted, can be edifying and strengthening.
[I] highly recommend it for parents striving to help their daughters navigate what can be (but certainly don’t always have to be) the tricky waters of boy-girl friendships and young women who are seeking biblical encouragement and advice on the subject. . . . a very important disclaimer: if you’re not ready to be convicted, to alter your perception of the young men in our life, and, by extension, to alter your behavior . . . don’t purchase it. — Jasmine Baucham
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.”
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!
For years our dear mother has been a faithful (but mostly behind the scenes) exhorter in the forgotten principles of biblical wifehood and motherhood. So far, she has preferred to remain in the background as the secret bulwark supporting all that our family does, but after so many years of keeping our mother and her wisdom (and her delightful personality) to ourselves, we have finally persuaded her to extend her ministry to young wives into the public realm.
Our father’s online mentoring series has been so well received that, by popular request, it will immediately be followed by a series by our mother, “Evenings with Victoria Botkin,” every Monday evening for 9 weeks. We are very excited that our mother is doing this, and encourage as many of you as possible to listen to her insights drawn from 30 years of applying Scripture to her marriage and family.
“Victoria is my beloved friend, my trusted mentor, and my wise counselor! Every young woman and mother would be wise to set aside the time to hear godly instruction from this precious woman of God. I treasure every conversation with her. . .and so should you. . .”
Beall Phillips, wife to Doug Phillips
“I recommend everyone to sit under Victoria Botkin’s instruction. She is real, practical, biblical and refreshingly frank. It was easier for me to have my daughter Kelly so far away from me during her first year of marriage because Victoria was there and she understood her role in Kelly’s life as an older woman. The same kind of life giving counsel Kelly received at that time, you will receive during these sessions.”
Deborah Brown, wife to Scott Brown
“Victoria is not just wise and kind — she is fun! Her gentle sense of humor always comes in at just the right moment to remind us not to take ourselves too seriously even as we focus on the important work at hand. I know that listening to Victoria teach online is going to be a marvelous experience. You won’t get to enjoy her delicious bread, but the savory goodness of her words and the kindness of her voice will surely bring a smile to your face and encourage your heart. I look forward to these sessions as a way to renew my own vision and learn new ways to bless my family. What a delight!”
Jennie Chancey, wife to Matt Chancey
How to Relate to Brothers in Christ: A Practical Guide
Our father started teaching us about boys when we were still in our highchairs. Understanding that girls are practically born with an awareness of boys, romance and marriage, our parents figured they couldn’t start too early, teaching us the right perspectives before we eagerly absorbed all of the wrong ones. This message is a collection of the most helpful things our father ever taught us about romance, friendships, flirting, shyness, cyber-relationships, emotional purity, romance novels, and how boys’ minds really work.
Why is it hard for girls to find the balance between flirting and shunning? How can girls keep their hearts pure? What responsibilities do they have toward young men? Is it possible to be “just friends”? Hear practical advice on navigating the tricky waters of relationships with boys, and how these relationships, properly conducted, can be edifying and strengthening.
Our family is pleased to announce the release of our newest documentary, Homeschool Dropouts: Why the Second Generation is Now Headed for a Spiritual Wasteland.
Our dear friend Jasmine Baucham just wrote an excellent, very practical answer to the question, “How can I help my father without stepping on the toes of my mother, his one true helpmeet?” (our paraphrase — read the entire question here)
There is a reason we usually emphasize fathers in our writings (actually, there are six reasons), but it’s not because we think mothers are less important. (This is why one of the first articles we wrote up for Visionary Daughters was “What About Mom?“, one of the most foundational articles on our website.) The glorious importance of wifehood and motherhood is the subterranean theme that runs through our whole ministry. The role of the wife, the helpmeet, is also the thing that puts the daughter’s role in context, and gives us a vision for the future. This is why we devoted so much space in our book to the wife’s role. And this is why, when seeking to help our fathers, we should look to and defer to our fathers’ helpmeets — our mothers. We won’t understand where we fit into the family as daughters unless we can see:
Without that understanding, the role of the daughter doesn’t make sense. What is she? A deputy/rival helpmeet? A second-rate son? A pampered pet? An unpaid maid? A child? A sponge? An autonomous individual just rooming in her parents’ house (or not)? If we don’t have the right biblical presuppositions, we might look at the blueprint and interpret the daughter’s role any of these ways. And believe me, we’ve heard them all. But if we can see the whole picture, it becomes clear that a daughter is none of these things.
This is important to understand. A family of helpmeet hopefuls jockeying for the position of Daddy’s “primary helpmeet” is not a healthy family. And a daughter causing friction in the household is not helping her father or anyone else. The antidote is very simple. Many thanks to Jasmine for this very helpful article.
A (Lengthy) Reply to Kelsey’s Inquiry
by Jasmine Baucham (more…)
We think it is important for us to study the great women of the past — to be inspired by their examples, to learn from their mistakes, to study how God uses people for His glory.
For the Reformation 500 Celebration in Boston two weeks ago, we were given the opportunity to come as historical reenactors — a new experience for both of us, but one we’re very grateful for.
I [Elizabeth] chose to portray Anne Boleyn, surely one of the most maligned and misrepresented women in history, for the chance to tell her true story.
Anne Boleyn was not only the catalyst for England’s break with Rome but one of the most active and influential reformers in England during her three years as queen. As a child, Anne was diligent to cultivate her mind and abilities, so that she became exceptionally well prepared for the role God had in store for her:
“Certain this was, that for the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed, and given toward God, with such a fervent desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with like gentleness, modesty, and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England. Principally this one commendation she left behind her, that during her life, the religion of Christ most happily flourished, and had a right prosperous course.” – John Foxe, author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
During her years of education in France, through exposure to men such as Jacques LeFevre and Guillaume Farel, Anne’s love for the pure gospel was fanned into flame, and she returned to England an ardent reformer during a time when England was violently persecuting its Protestants.
Upon being crowned queen, Anne used her position to promote and defend reformers such as William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Matthew Parker, and Miles Coverdale, to encourage the translation and dissemination of Scripture into English, and to make England a refuge for persecuted Protestants from around Europe. The martyrologist John Foxe called Anne “a special comforter and aider of all the professors of Christ’s gospel… What a zealous defender she was of Christ’s gospel all the world doth know, and her acts do and will declare to the world’s end.”
Brought down by a conspiracy of her papist enemies, who called her “the principle cause of the spread of Lutheranism in this country,” Anne was beheaded on false charges of adultery, incest, witchcraft, and “high treason against the King’s person.”
The power of reenacting took me by surprise. I felt overwhelmed as as one small boy suddenly realized that his religious freedom he was describing to me was due to “people like you!” …as I watched children’s eyes grow large as they realize the implications of “losing their lives for His sake;” …as young ladies told me they had been inspired to begin studying the world-changing works of the reformers… as I watched people’s eyes fill with tears as they heard my character’s own words of her courage and joy in the face of death.
As Anne Boleyn, I could look these children in the eye and tell them what it means to sacrifice your life for Christ, living or dying, and challenge them to consider how much they are willing to sacrifice for Him. I could tell them how I watched a small group of my contemporaries challenge the world’s strongest religious bureaucracy and turn the world upside-down for the Kingdom. I pray that those children who met Anne Boleyn will be inspired by her urging to pick up the work “we” had begun, where we left off, and continue the world-wide reformation that was never finished.
“But if you have already determined of me, and that not only my death, but an infamous slander must bring you the joying of your desired happiness, then I desire of God that he will pardon your great sin herein, and likewise my enemies, the instruments thereof; and that he will not call you to a strait account for your unprincely and cruel usage of me at his general judgment-seat, where both you and myself must shortly appear; and in whose just judgment, I doubt not (Whatsoever the world may think of me), mine innocency shall be openly known and sufficiently cleared.”
– From the last letter Anne wrote to her husband Henry VIII, while imprisoned in the Tower. This letter was recently found among the personal papers of Thomas Cromwell, likely to have never reached Henry.
“We have come to the determination to die, all of us, rather than abandon our God, and our religion, the which we cannot maintain unless permitted to worship publicly, any more than a human body can live without meat or drink… “ ~From a letter by Jeanne to Catherine De Medici dated 1570 (two years before the St. Batholomew’s Day Massacre)
I [Anna Sofia] was excited to play the part of the brave Huguenot queen Jeanne D’Albret, whose incredible royal life was characterized by sacrifice, self denial and extreme hardship — themes that stand in stark contrast to modern notions of royalty and privilege and the glittery pink princess culture of Disney.
Jeanne D’ Albret was born a princess, the only child of Henri and Marguerite of Navarre, and was raised in all the luxury and grandeur of the French court by her uncle Francis I, from whom she received the nickname “La Mignonne des Rois” (the darling of the king).
In 1560 she surrendered her famously strong will to Christ and took action to manifest His reign over her entire kingdom of Navarre. Thanks to the efforts of Jeanne’s devout mother, Queen Marguerite, Navarre had become known all over Europe as a safe harbor for reformers, but Jeanne took her mother’s work a step further by reforming its legal system, abolishing Catholic ritual, commissioning a translation of the New Testament into Basque and Bearnese, and strengthening its borders against its vehemently Catholic neighbors, France and Spain.
Many of her contemporaries made special note of her strength through adversity; she defied popes, kings and queens to defend the faith and protect her people, and the threats of assassination, kidnapping and invasion were constant, but perhaps the most painful was the sting of betrayal and slander by childhood friends, family members and even her husband.
In a peace treaty that was meant to unite the kingdoms of France and Navarre and end the persecution of the Huguenots, Jeanne betrothed her son Henri to Catherine de Medici’s daughter Marguerite de Valois. Jeanne died mysteriously in Paris during the heat of the marriage negotiations with Catherine and did not live to see the conclusion of the wedding plans — now remembered as the St. Batholomew’s Day Massacre, in which an estimated 50,000 Huguenots were brutally slaughtered.
Upon her conversion, John Calvin sent her a letter of warm congratulations and a charge to take even more seriously her position as queen.
“Having then received so great and inestimable a benefit, you have reason to be so much the more zealous to dedicate yourself (as you do) entirely to Him, who has bound you so closely to Himself. And whereas kings and princes would often wish to be exempted from subjection to Jesus Christ, and are accustomed to make a buckler of their privileges under pretense of their greatness, being ashamed even to belong to the fold of this great Shepherd, do you, madame, bethink you that the dignity and grandeur in which this God of goodness has brought you up, should be in you esteem a double tie to bind you to obedience to Him, seeing that it is from Him that you hold everything, and that according to the measure which each one has received, he shall have to render a stricter account.”
~John Calvin Geneva, 16th January, 1561
I was very grateful for the opportunity to “resurrect” one of those heroines of the Reformation who sacrificed all for a generation of people she would never know and that has all but forgotten her. I was very humbled to portray a woman who was no doubt watching me from the cloud of witnesses, and also honored to be able to (in a sense) bring together two generations who will never meet on this earth. It gave me new realization of the huge debt of gratitude I owe to the past which has caused me to further consider the part I will play in history, and the sacrifices I will make for the future.
One of the most humbling things we see in history is how God chooses to work through imperfect people and the mistakes they make. Though they were both greater women than we, Anne Boleyn and Jeanne D’Albret were flawed — as are we — and we pray that God will use us for His purposes as He did them, imperfect though we are.