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A Letter of Gratitude

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Thank you for your latest posts talking about boy and girl interaction. I am only 14, however, this subject has been the talk between my friends and I as we fight against the demands of this culture. The young women in my church (including myself!) are looking for guidance in this area, and your posts have helped “spread the word”. Just today, my friend was asking if we should pursue “just friends” relationships with young men. I didn’t know, but I asked the Lord for His guidance. Later on, I looked on your website, and right there was the answer for our question. He is faithful! Thank you for all the work you do to build His Kingdom! Your work has changed my life…

In the name of Jesus Christ,

D.

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Mother’s Day Tribute

This Mother’s Day we would like to re-post the tribute that I read aloud to our dear mother Victoria Botkin, a true dominion woman, on my 21st birthday:

I would like to take this opportunity to call to your attention the ones that really deserve the credit for my 21 years of life. I had very little hand in it, I can assure you.

First, my Heavenly Father, Who is the author of my existence and my future – my Sustainer and the Giver of Eternal Life.

And my earthly father, my God-ordained authority and protector.

And the woman that I call “blessed.” A woman who lost her life for His sake and found it, who made her husband great, and was subordinate to him in everything, though inferior to him in nothing.

My mother was God’s instrument to teach me what it meant to be a virtuous woman. Partly through her verbal instruction, but mostly through the silent example of her actions and deeds. Most of all, through the way she executed her duty to complement and complete my father. She is his perfect match and the sine qua non of his greatness. She delights him with her company and conversation, sustains him with her strength, stimulates and sharpens him with her wisdom and intelligence, emboldens him with her praise, bolsters him with her cheerfulness, comforts him with her love, and heartens him with her courage.

Maybe the most significant way that she contributed to his success was by instilling his vision into his children. The things she chose for us to study, the things she taught us were important, the projects she encouraged us to pursue, were all in perfect harmony with his objective for our family.

She is uniquely suited to be the teacher of his children because the qualities that our father wants his family to be known for – dominion focus, ingenuity, creativity, entrepreneurialism, love of learning, a pioneer spirit – are all qualities that our mother models in every thing that she does.

The most important things I learned come from observing her two greatest strengths. First of all, her Humility.

I see her humility in her willingness to be overshadowed by Dad. She prefers to bask in his shadow than to chase after the fame and adulation that could so easily and rightly be hers. I’ve never known a woman who cared about personal glory less, or who deserved it more. She will be remembered with more respect than her contemporaries, who fought with religious zeal for recognition and prestige, and now have no one to rise up and call them “blessed.”

The other strength I would mention is her Courage.

Like a true pioneer, Mother was never affected by the fact that she was often standing alone, being “the only one” faithful in an entire country, and doing things no one else was doing. She never even considered the wave of disapproval that came from all sides for her decision to follow Scripture instead of modern culture.

At the altar, Mother promised to go wherever our father went, and to gratefully share in whatever Providence had in store for him, sometimes respect and appreciation, sometimes persecution and rejection, sometimes a high station, sometimes a low one. It’s her calm and unquenchable energy, her willingness to forego comfort and stability, her ability to adapt gracefully to any situation, that allows my father’s heart to safely trust in her. When a man’s heart can safely trust in his wife, it allows him to be a visionary, an entrepreneur, who can live boldly and dare to do great things.

He knew, as I did, that whenever times were the toughest, that’s when Mother is the strongest. That’s why, seven years ago, Dad was not nervous about asking her to leave her country that she loved, to follow him to the ends of the earth.

Last but not least, I appreciate her courage to go through painful labor to bring me into the world. The fact that I’m here to stand before you now is a testimony to that courage. It’s that courage that I especially would like to honor today.

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Interview with the Botkin Sisters

Stacy McDonald, co-author of Passionate Housewives Desperate for God, recently conducted an interview with us about our book, So Much More, soliciting questions from women all over the blogosphere. We are pleased to be able to post the first Q&As from the interview now: it can also be read on her blog, www.yoursacredcalling.blogspot.com.

Stacy: You were very young when you wrote this book. Do you have any regrets about anything you said? Have you changed your mind on anything?

Botkin Sisters:
In the two years since So Much More was published, we have had countless emails and numerous conversations with girls all over the world. Though the majority of the response to SMM has been overwhelmingly positive, we have also been berated; we’ve been misrepresented; we’ve been challenged; we’ve been sharpened. During these past years of intense study and travel, we have become very familiar with a litany of positions, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations of Scripture concerning the role of daughters.

Our positions have not changed. They have been strengthened. Now, at ages 22 and 20, we believe more firmly than ever in the positions we took as teenage girls. However, we understand more fully the need to be very, very careful in introducing potentially explosive concepts, ensuring that our wording is theologically precise and unmistakably clear.

Our few regrets about the content in So Much More pertain to weaknesses in wording and our abilities as writers, which we are determined to improve by God’s grace and for His glory.

After almost seven years in New Zealand, we were a bit out of the loop on how some words had become loaded (e.g. patriarchy, headship) and many ideas had taken on negative connotations, and we neglected to use the additional definitions and qualifiers that may have been necessary.

So Much More, like its authors, has flaws. But God has used it in the lives of more young women than we had ever imagined, and we continue to get beautiful testimonies of repentance and renewal, of transformed lives and families. In spite of its failings, we are thankful we went to press with it when we did. Even if the book were perfect, there will always be critics who willfully misunderstand what is written and others who criticize the content without reading it.

Stacy: To some degree, I bet we can all relate to what you’ve said here. I know I’ve said and written things I wish I would have worded a bit differently. Sometimes we don’t realize how someone is going to take something we’ve said until after we’ve said it. It’s all part of the art of good communication, which takes time to master; and which also brings us to our next question.

Q. Are you, as teenage girls, setting yourselves up as teachers of parents?

Botkin Sisters: Not at all. We recognize that we are unqualified to teach those who are in a later season of life than we. Our intention was never to instruct fathers or mothers, husbands or wives, but only single young women in the same stage of life that we find ourselves. We wanted to encourage unmarried young women everywhere to honor their parents and live each day in a way that glorifies God, serves others, and advances the Kingdom.

We have tried to be very careful to not direct any of our teaching to fathers or mothers. When asked by parents for parenting advice, we either direct them to our parents, or address our advice to their daughters instead, for the parents to pass along if appropriate. In our book, we even included in the appendices an interview we conducted with our father, so that any instruction that might be helpful to parents would be coming from him, and not us.

Stacy: Are you ever concerned that by being at home you are potentially missing out on “opportunities” or other “good experiences?”

Botkin Sisters: Not a chance! Now, we should probably state that we did not choose this life based on the “experiences” and “opportunities” it would offer us. It’s bad epistemology to build our orthopraxy (the practical application of our orthodoxy) on the foundation of pragmatism. We must base our decisions on the patterns, principles and precepts we see in Scripture, rather than on how much “fun” or “self-enrichment” they will afford.

That said… no, we never feel like we’re missing out on anything that God wants for us. We have had many other opportunities offered us, but we have foregone them for better things. The way the Lord has blessed our family, and has brought us incredible opportunities to serve Him, leaves us no time to lament that we are not professional concert harpists (for example.) The experiences we are living now fill our lives to overflowing. Our cup runneth over.

Stacy: How did you learn to write? What general methods, philosophy, or curricula did your parents use to teach you the art of writing?

Botkin Sisters: Well… we are by no means great writers. Our medium has always been less important to us than our message. The main thing our parents did was encourage us to have something to say. Teaching us how to think was much more important to them than teaching us how to diagram sentences. Even though our mother did teach us the mechanics of writing, it didn’t make much sense to us until we had something we passionately wanted to say, and knew the importance of saying it well.

They didn’t use a curriculum, but here are a few things our parents did to help us develop our writing skills:

· They both speak very well. They are conscientious about what they say and the way they say it (and are both always working on improving their grammar.)

· Our mother read to us a couple of hours each day when we were little, and our father always read aloud to us at the dinner table – Scripture, and also other books, articles, letters, news items, etc.

· They encouraged us to read extensively from the best writers.

· They taught us to recognize and appreciate what makes some writing good, and some poor.

· They had us practice. Each day we would synopsize what we had read in our history, theology, science or literature reading (which had the added purpose of forcing us to pay attention, understand, process, and remember what we learned in our reading).

· They are both excellent and ruthless editors. Thanks to the high standards they held us to, we rewrote So Much More over nine times.

Incidentally, neither of us ever wanted to be writers, or, for that matter, filmmakers. We only wrote our book because we saw that there was a need for it. After it was published, we saw a need for a documentary, so our family created “The Return of the Daughters.” Both projects had the blessing of our father.

Stacy: There was a rumor circulating that your book says that girls who go to college are harlots. Did you say this or is this what you believe?

Botkin Sisters: Of course not and of course not. We are astonished that anyone would circulate such a false and destructive accusation. No, we do not believe that Scripture teaches that a woman who goes to college is a harlot. To read what we actually said and what we actually believe, click here, where we have posted our answer to this rumor in full.

Stacy: Will your own homemaking, when the time comes that you marry, be less exciting and stimulating to you than your present life? Is the life that you’re living now really going to prepare you for the roles of wife and mother?

Botkin Sisters: Those who know us only by our public appearances see only a tiny part of our life, and can’t know how much we enjoy doing the “unglamorous” work that makes a family thrive. We have laundry to wash, hungry people to feed, floors to mop, families to reach out to through hospitality, and men in the family who can always use an organizer, stenographer, editor, or someone to iron their shirts. This is our real life, and we prefer it. A few times a year we have opportunity to, in a sense, reap the harvest we have sown by writing, and it often involves going public, but to us it’s just another privilege of service, like taking a meal to a needy family. We and our parents believe this is the kind of life that will best prepare us for marriage to any kind of man.

Certainly, in several ways marriage will still be a transition, but that’s exactly what we’ve been trained to deal with. Our life has been a roller coaster of transitions from one season to another. Our parents wanted to give us an education that would prepare us for any position of service in the real world, and our life experiences have ranged from composing an orchestral score for a WWII documentary to milking cows in the mud. We don’t really see some tasks as more “glamorous” than others. All work is noble, and with the right attitude, all work is fun. We look forward to the season of morning sickness and changing diapers, as another avenue of service to God.

Our mother’s example, and the example of the Proverbs 31 woman, teaches that being an excellent helpmeet, mother, and homemaker requires training and expertise in countless different fields. Our mother excels in all the arts of homemaking, but she is so much more than a housekeeper. In order to be a real helpmeet to her husband, she needed to be ready for anything he would need her to do to help him govern their estate and disciple the nations. The Proverbs 31 woman is the model example of a woman whose activities were much broader than housekeeping – she did many works from home that praised her in the gates, in addition to keeping the house and training her children. This is the balance we are trying to strike now, to prepare us for our future roles, Lord willing, as helpmeets.

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Announcing the Return of the Daughters Soundtrack

Return of the Daughters Soundtrack

A musical celebration of vibrant family culture, this energetic soundtrack takes you through the messages of the film in a sweeping panorama of emotions, themes and ethnic flavors. Composed and arranged by our 18-year-old brother, Benjamin, an essential part of our team.

The soundtrack is available for sale here, in both CD and Mp3 download format. You can listen to samples of the music here.

Botkin musicians

Ben is entirely self-taught, grounding his philosophy of music in his personal study of Scripture.

Piano Improv x3

Three Botkins improvising in harmony. One piano, six hands.

Botkin Projects
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Thanks for Return of the Daughters

Here are one couple’s thoughts on our documentary. Camelia, from Romania, has the unique perspective of having been raised in a communist country, and has an interesting insight into how American culture has confused the concepts of liberty and oppression.

We received our copy of “The Return of the Daughters” this week and took the first opportunity to watch the film as a family! How encouraging and provoking! I highly recommend this documentary not just to young ladies who desire to understand what God requires of them, but to families as well, who struggle with developing a Christ centered vision for their daughters presently and in the future. The content is true to the Scripture and demonstrates the blessings that come from a biblical model of womanhood and from fathers who love their daughters too much to allow them to drink the stagnant waters of egalitarianism.

For the first 10 years of my life I was raised in a communist country by parents who had been born and lived all of their lives under communism. “College and career” was one of my first goals in life because I remember thinking about a career from a very early age. I did not grow up thinking I would marry, raise godly children and be a keeper at home. Under communism women were forced into egalitarianism to be instruments of the “Mother State for the common good”. I knew I had two options: study very hard to have a good career or end up working in one of the factories. There was never an alternative presented to me. Socialist governments want women in the work force as much as men and the family is a tool of production. Fathers do not provide vision for their children, but rather leave it up to the State. I am often times shocked to see that what was seen as oppression in the Socialist Republic of Romania is called liberty here in America (even among Christians). What really hit home was a comment made by Voddie Baucham. He said, “I don’t know why we allow ourselves to be poured into the world’s mold that somehow says to go out and pour your life into a stranger in order to build the ministry or the business of a stranger, equals freedom, equals liberty, equals fulfillment; but to do so with the man whom God has entrusted you as your father is a waste.” As stated in the documentary we do live in times of transition and God has been faithful bringing me through that transition. At 19, while in college, God sent a wonderful man to me from the other side of the world. We were married when I was 20. I left college, in pursuit of my husband and have never felt that I somehow missed something or settled for less. Looking back I am thankful that God has given me a purpose so much greater than the vanity of that first pursuit. Now, with three girls and one baby boy in the way I am so thankful that, by God’s grace, our family will be the transition point to many generations to come. -Camelia

“The Return of the Daughters” provides such a timely message to a culture that has made it popular to force our daughters into an ungodly egalitarianism, thereby robbing so many of their God given liberty and purpose in our homes. This film is salt and light to an unlit Christian culture that has lost its savor. The Botkin family has done a wonderful job of bringing families together to provide a rich and powerful testament of Biblical womanhood in the Christian home! May God give an increase beyond measure. It will be a family favorite for generations to come. –Elijah

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Interview with the Botkin sisters

Stacy McDonald, author of Raising Maidens of Virtue, will be conducting an interview with us in a few weeks, and is soliciting suggestions for questions from her readers.

From her blog, “Your Sacred Calling”:

Several weeks from now, I will be interviewing the Botkin sisters; and in a way, so will you! Starting today, I’m inviting my readers to send in their questions regarding the Botkins’ book, So Much More. In addition, if you have questions regarding the everyday lives or beliefs of Anna Sofia or Elizabeth, this is your time to ask them!

All questions should be sent to me at Botkin Interview Questions by October 23rd. Please note, questions will be compiled, integrated, and edited as needed for space and brevity. Please keep your questions direct, brief, and gracious. Questions will not be accepted during or after the interview. Please send your questions on or before the aforementioned date.

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Return of the Daughters: Update #2

While on the subject of the training of young women, here is another controversial video clip, delivered this time by our dear friend Jennie Chancey.

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Men O’ War

Men O' War

For those of you who have asked about what kinds of things Anna and I do while at home, click here to see a short film our brothers and we put together as a teaching tool for the 2006 Christian Film Academy. If you’re interested in seeing how this short film was made, be sure to check out our oldest brother Isaac’s blog, www.outside-hollywood.com.

The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival and the Christian Film Academy demonstrated that when a family is unified, it can be a powerhouse of creativity and ingenuity. When they find their exhilaration in dominion projects for equipping the saints, they will never lack for “fun” and stimulating things to do.

Botkin Projects
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A Never-Ending Testimony

How My Heart Was Turned To My Father, Family and Home
By Genevieve Smith

I was raised to be independent and career oriented. My schooling included a strong academic program, which left no time for learning domestic skills. You wouldn’t think it now to look at me. I’m 24 and am living at home. I help my father in his ministry and assist my mother at home. But it was not so long ago that my ambition was to be the first woman prime minister of New Zealand. And it was even less time ago that I was working a highly paid legal executive job for a prominent solicitor [lawyer]. The Lord has done quite a work in my life since this time. He has turned my heart to my father, my family and my home.

My story starts a number of years ago when I traveled with my brother to the USA for a lengthy stay. The same day we left New Zealand, the solicitor I was working for sold his practice to study for the ministry. If I’d wondered before, I had no doubt now that I wouldn’t be able to pick my job back up on returning to New Zealand. So began a long period of praying for direction from the Lord and seeking His will for my life. A number of things happened during this time which changed the course of my life.

Firstly, my eyes were opened to some of the sinful practices I’d fallen into at home. I had developed ways of relating to my parents, which were not honouring or respectful to them, and I realized that in many ways I had not been a good example to my younger siblings. This realization of my sin had me stunned for some time since I’d always aspired to be like my father and had always counted the members of my family as my best friends. Nevertheless, it is true that I needed to repent of many wrong actions towards my family.

Secondly, I heard four separate speakers in the space of a short time give a vision for family ministries. In particular, one speaker, Doug Phillips, on his tape entitled, “What’s a Girl To Do?,” revealed the beauty of family ministries by explaining that girls, prior to marriage, could practice for being a helpmate to their husbands by assisting their fathers in their ministries. I was taken by the representation of family unity and strength he described. And it struck me, “My father has a ministry. I could work for him.”

Thirdly, I came across and read some amazing books: The Way Home by Mary Pride; Domestic Tranquility by Carolyn E Graglia; How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig by Susan Schaeffer Macauley; Mother by Kathleen Norris and Home-Making by J R Miller.

Each of these things led to a change of heart and priorities. Though I was raised to be independent, my desire grew strong to be under the roof and protection of my father, to submit to his day-to-day direction and guidance of my life and to work to make his life and ministry a success. And though I had been raised to be career oriented, my desire to work outside of my home dwindled. I became cautious of becoming an employer’s helper and instead wanted to become my father’s helper and prepare for marriage. My relationships with my family became all important, as did my desire to learn how to be a Godly and skillful wife, mother and homemaker.

On a long-distance phone call home to my parents from the USA, I broached the idea of working for my father. They were delighted at the prospect. This delighted me, and I could hardly wait until my trip in the USA was over – but I had another whole year before I was scheduled to go home! It became apparent fairly soon that while my father could give me lots of work to do, his ministry did not have the finances to support another worker. Surprisingly, to me, this did not bother me at all.

I have now been home for quite some time. I have been able to be of help to my father and have thoroughly enjoyed our walks to the post office each morning. My mother has appreciated my help around the house, and I’ve benefited immensely from being able to assist her. She recently had her hip replaced and will have her other hip replaced shortly. Since I’m at home, I was able to take over the managing of the house and also care for her while she was bedridden for several months. I’ve delighted in being able to build friendships with my siblings and have marveled as the Lord has brought another little wee child into our lives – a little sister we take care of and hope to be able to adopt one day. My mother has assigned me to take care of all the budgeting, buying and cooking, and I’ve loved learning these new skills and experimenting with cooking styles and recipes to come up with mouth-watering meals to please my family. I have noticed that my hardness, brusqueness and impatience, which was built into my life as a result of having to protect myself, has given way, as I’ve put myself under the protection of my father, to a newly forming softness, warmth and love.

In the eyes of the world, I’m wasting my life as my old legal cronies take every opportunity to tell me. I’m not earning any money and am not pursuing independence or a career the way I “should be.” But I reject the ways of the world. The Lord has shown me His ways. He has turned my heart towards my father, my family and my home and in following His leading I have come to recognize that I’m taking part in a much more important work with far more lasting consequences and a much higher priority than anything I was doing or pursuing before. God be praised.

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