post

Our Egyptian Adventure

Many of you may be waiting to hear an update on our newest book project… and you will… soon. But first we want to tell you about an adventurous endeavor that we undertook with our brother Isaac, and are now ready to unveil.

nhedvd
Navigating History: Egypt — more information here

Several months ago, Isaac (with Dad’s blessing and encouragement) conceived and developed a vision for a six-episode series about Egypt that would take viewers from the top of the mountains surrounding the Valley of the Kings into the tombs under the pyramids. His goal was to take a team with cameras to explore the darkest and most secret parts of Egypt’s history and illuminate them with the light of Scripture.

But Isaac wasn’t about to have all the fun without us. He brought us on board at the beginning to help make his vision a reality. Though we didn’t get to be on the trip this time, this was our part of the adventure: We got to help man Mission Control and the snazzy project website while he and his team were on the ground in Egypt.

nadia-anna-navigating-history1
Anna Sofia and the not-yet-Nadia-Botkin editing B-roll images

No, we didn’t get to have the boots-on-the-ground experience of actually being there and seeing and touching Egypt. But we were enjoying plenty of action on the home-front with our family; doing things we had never done before and had no idea how to do. For example, we had to learn Photoshop and basic HTML, and had to write briefings for the team on subjects like Islamic architecture and ancient Egyptian medicine.

nawelle-elizabeth-botkin-navigating-history
Elizabeth and Nawelle hashing out website details

All of us had to work around the clock, marketing, managing the live broadcasts, writing articles and designing headers. And then, when he got home, the real work began – writing content for the 220-page companion book, on everything from biblical chronology to French mysticism to Shariah law to pagan death rituals to evolutionary history-revision to pyramid-building-theories (in which we discovered that aliens didn’t do it).

anna-sofia-botkin-museum
Anna Sofia does hands-on research on Egyptian heiroglyphs

We didn’t do this because we believed we had a biblical duty to submit to Isaac, or to be his junior helpmeets. We also didn’t do it because we particularly (initially) cared about proving that aliens didn’t build the pyramids. We did this because we particularly cared about Isaac. Isaac was about to take a big step, a bold risk, a fearless stand, and we didn’t want to miss that for the world! If Isaac was going to stand inside a mosque and call Muhammed a false prophet, and denounce Statism in front of the giant pillars at Karnak, we, for one, wanted to be on his home team. It was our way of saying to him, “We think what you’re doing is important – we think it’s important enough to put our money where our mouths are.” And we did it because our time of being with Isaac, and available to help him, won’t last forever.

Saying Goodbye
Sending the Navigating History team off to Egypt with prayer.

It was an experience we wouldn’t have traded for anything. We discovered a whole new world of ideas and broadened our intellectual horizons. We learned that sisterly duties don’t have to be limited to domestic things, far removed from what the boys are doing. We discovered how much fun it is to be part of a man’s world, even if it means taking the plunge into finding world politics as fascinating as they do.

elizabeth-and-isaac-brainstorming
Multi-tasking: Elizabeth compares notes with Isaac on Islam’s view of women over dinner prep.

Most importantly, though, we became much closer to Isaac; and we helped him accomplish his dream, making big strides as a dominion man and disciplemaker.

(And we ended up having enough time left over to still be able to write our upcoming book about relationships with boys. But more news on that soon. Stay tuned!)

Botkin ProjectsWomanhood
post

We’re Writing Another Book

writing-book

It’s been over five years since we released So Much More, and since then, we’ve seen much, heard much, done much, and learned much. And we’ve decided it’s time to write another book. The topic, this time, is relationships with boys. What we need now is for you, dear readers, to give us your feedback! What information would you most like to see in a book on this topic? What questions would you most like answered?

What do you think are the biggest issues girls deal with regarding young men?

Their biggest questions about proper guy-girl interaction?

Their biggest fears regarding relationships, marriage, and singleness?

Things they’ve always wanted to know about the young man’s perspective?

The most complicated relationship situations they face?

What lessons have you learned that you would most like other girls to hear about?

Please send your feedback on any or all of these questions to us at damselsATvisionarydaughtersDOTcom.

We’re eager to hear from you soon! This is an exciting project, and your help with it will be invaluable.

Botkin ProjectsGirl-Guy Relationships
post

Our Favorite Married Couples Speak On Marrying Well

marryingwell_5002

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!

Botkin ProjectsGirl-Guy Relationships
post

Introducing “Voices From the Past”

VoiecsofthePast

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.voices_220

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.

Anna Sofia edits the letters of Abigail Adams, and adds historical commentary.
Anna Sofia edits the letters of Abigail Adams, and adds historical commentary.
Research.
Research.
The Voice, at work.
The Voice, at work.
17-year old Lucas placing the sound effects.
17-year old Lucas placing the sound effects.
Elizabeth takes the maestro's chair.
Elizabeth takes the maestro’s chair.

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


British Grenadiers


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

abigail

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

bride

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

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

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.

Botkin ProjectsEducationWomanhood
post

From the Botkin Boys…

We’re proud to introduce an excellent new CD message by our brothers Isaac, David, and recently-engaged Benjamin.aboutgirls_vd1

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.”

“About Girls” can be purchased here. Get a discount when you buy the bundle, including the companion CD:

aboutboys_vd1
What Our Father Taught Us About Boys
How to Relate to Brothers in Christ: A Practical Guide — By Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin

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

Botkin ProjectsGirl-Guy Relationships
post

First Session of “Evenings with Victoria Botkin” a Great Success

icanhazeveningwithvictoriabotkintoo
Mother preparing her notes for next Monday’s session, with some unsolicited help

Last Monday evening our mother opened her online Titus 2 series, “Evenings with Victoria Botkin.” Women tuned in from computers all over the world, getting up to listen at 3AM in some times zones. Feedback is still pouring in. A few of the notes we’ve received on last session:

“I just want to say thank you so much for making this series available to me. This morning’s session was so edifying — a perfect reminder, and so worth getting up at 3:30 a.m. to prepare! I only wish that I could get more ladies to join us.” – D

“Last night was like OUCH! Very good, very convicting, and wish it had all been shared earlier in my life. Better late than never. Thank you for opening up your life with us.” – S

“I just listened to the first session and am so grateful. I needed to hear it, and so many of the questions I’d been crying out to God were answered.” – J

“As one of the ladies mentioned in her question at the end of the session, sometimes it is nearly impossible to find godly, older women who are “qualified” to give you the Scriptural counsel and encouragement you need as you struggle through the daily issues of raising young ones. Your willingness to be used by God to teach us younger wives and mothers around the globe how to love our husbands and children the way God wants us to is a blessing that I am already treasuring. Thank you, thank you, thank you…” – S

We have decided to make the Q&A time from that session available for free download. Listen to it here.

If you haven’t already registered, we’d love to have you join us for the remaining eight sessions, plus you’ll get full mp3s of any sessions you missed. Go here to sign up!

Botkin Projects
post

Evenings with Victoria Botkin

eveningswithvb_5001
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.

Go here for more information. You can also become a fan on Facebook, and invite your friends to to seize this opportunity.

“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

Botkin Projects
post

A Review of “Homeschool Dropouts”

A very kind review of our family’s latest documentary:

For Christmas 2009, I asked for the new DVD Homeschool Dropouts: Why The Second Generation is now Headed for a Spiritual Wasteland. And I got it! I was so excited to receive this DVD and I watched it that day. I was shocked, convicted, humbled, pricked, challenged, filled with despair, brought to tears, filled with hope, and awakened to a growing movement: Homeschool dropouts.

Why write a review of this product?

First off, I want to say that this DVD will anger and possibly cause division among those who view it. Certainly one of the purposes behind this project was to call the second generation of home educators to a renewed sense of duty and fulfillment. This film is not for the faint hearted.

I believe that this is a much-needed message that is not being widely circulated among the homeschool movement. As I have been a part of this movement for nearly two decades, I have seen major changes in the way people are “doing homeschool” and some of these changes are frankly, frightening!

The time to act is now, the time to keep silent has passed. The Botkin siblings do a gracious job of communicating hard truths to my generation (the second generation) of homeschoolers. A message long overdue.

Botkin Projects
post

Resurrecting Two Great Queens

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.

Anne Boleyn

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.

anne_boleyn

“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.

Jeanne D’Albret


“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.

200px-jeanne-albret

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.

Note:

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.

Botkin LifeBotkin Projects