Two years after Genevieve Smith wrote her a testimony, “How My Heart was Turned to my Father, Family and Home,” we conducted an interview with Genevieve to see what she has learned about productive, visionary daughterhood since.
A & E: So, Genevieve, are you still as happy about your decision to move home as you were two years ago?
G: When my heart was changed as described in my testimony it caused a pretty big shake-up in my thinking, my motivations, my vision, my understanding…everything! Each new pearl of wisdom or discovery impacted many other issues and practices. As I began to become aware that the Lord wanted me at home I began to be challenged in many different areas of my life. I started to talk with people and ask questions and start discussions. The ramifications of my desire to come home were huge and I sought to, as Doug Phillips puts it, bring my orthopraxy into line with my orthodoxy. This was tricky since my orthodoxy was changing. And sometimes I wasn’t even sure if it really was changing or if maybe it was just that I had always held these beliefs but had simply lived inconsistently with them. Anyway, with all the thinking I was doing on the subject I ended up with a number of things I wanted to do in coming home. You could call them motivations for coming home or goals or things I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to help Dad in his ministry to home educators and help Mum with her work around the home (help to lighten their workloads where I could). I wanted to work on my home-making skills, prepare for marriage and work on building and strengthening family relationships. I wanted to deepen my relationship with God and encourage other girls in virtuous womanhood.
My life since coming home has been a big testimony to the fact that the Lord delights in fulfilling the desires of our hearts. The Lord has brought about many victories in my life and fulfilled many desires in terms of being able to help Dad and Mum and in learning new skills and strengthening relationships, etc.
I’m delighted to be able to do what I’m doing right now. Someone said to me the other day, “You are very blessed, you know Genevieve.” “Yes, I am,” I said, “but what caused you to say that to me just now?” He answered, “It was the thought that you are able to do something that you believe in and enjoy.” This is a real blessing for sure!
A & E: You mentioned a few of the things you do while at home. We know you have taken up a million more projects and responsibilities since. Are there any you wouldn’t mind telling us about?
G: Sure. And in answering this question, perhaps I can tell some stories about how the Lord has fulfilled many of the desires in my heart!
The “Helping Dad”Project
When I came home at the end of 2002 I really wanted to lighten Dad’s load. He formatted a bi-monthly magazine for home educators called the Keystone Journal and dealt with the mail in and the banking, etc. Dad is one of the wisest people I know and I figured that if I could take over these silly little jobs, I would learn a lot from him in the process and also free him up for more important things – like writing a book! Dad was keen for me to take on these jobs too. However, our situation at home did not allow this to happen. Dad ran the Home Education Foundation and performed all these chores from one computer. He needed his computer and it was not logistically possible for me to be on that computer helping him when he needed to be on that computer doing his stuff. For a long time I just trusted the Lord and figured that He would work it all out in the end. In the meantime we tried to be creative about other ways I could help without having to use his computer. I spent a lot of time with siblings and also nursed Mum since it was during this time that she had her first hip replacement operation. Then a most amazing thing happened! The Home Education Foundation got a new trustee. He looked at Dad and the one computer. He looked at me and Mum and my sister and our desire to help Dad. And then he took action! Next door was an office building. He approached the owner wondering if we could rent it. The owner said, “Rent it? You can have it! I’m about to knock it to the ground. Just get it off my property.” So a large office building was lifted from its foundations and placed on the end of our property. The new trustee then organized for it to be gutted and refurbished on the inside. The end result is that Dad has his own office inside this building and Mum, Charmagne and I all have workstations. We are all networked together so that I have been able to relieve Dad of all those mickey mouse things he was doing before. So now he has time to work on a book! Isn’t the Lord good?
Just quickly then, I help Dad in the Home Education Foundation by answering phones, dealing with the accounts, orders, mail in, formatting of the Keystone Journal and dealing with the orders out. I also help Dad with his ministry, Family Integrity. Family Integrity fights the unjustifiable interference by the government in the family. Through Family Integrity I have designed brochures and stationary, written submissions, accompanied Dad on political marches and to various anti-family and anti-parental authority conferences, debates and forums.
The “Sister” Responsibility
Since I wrote my testimony we have been told that we can adopt the little girl I wrote about. She is five years old now! And we are looking after a little six-month-old baby that we also hope to adopt! My whole family has always desired to have a larger family and having these two girls in our home is such a blessing. Mum sometimes expresses, what with her age and health, that if my 18-year-old sister and I weren’t at home we would not have been able to take on these two little ones. This seems to me like the blessing that comes from obedience. And that is an awesome thought.
The “Titus 2” Project
Titus 2 states that the older women are to teach the younger women. It occurs to me that perhaps there is an unspoken onus within this passage for the younger women to invite the teaching of the older women. If there is an onus on young women to invite teaching, this onus must be greater today in our society where youth is glorified and the grey-headed and wise are sidelined. Regardless, I have a longing to hear the instruction of older women and have met many other younger women who feel similarly. As a result, I have begun to organise what I privately call my “Titus 2 parties.” Willing older women are invited to come and teach on a topic listed in Titus 2. At one party it might be discretion, at another, purity. Younger women are invited to come with questions. This has been a blessing particularly in allowing relationships to develop between older and younger women so that real Titus 2 mentoring could develop.
The “University Hospitality” Project
We live in a university city and appreciate the opportunity this gives to us to open our home to young women away from home, befriend them and allow them the chance to experience a little bit of home life, home cooking and family worship under Dad’s leadership. In some cases it has been so good because it brings evangelism opportunities right into our home and makes it a family project rather than exposing any one of us to a variety of evils by spending a lot of time on campus or in university dorms ourselves. Giving other girls the opportunity to witness and be a part of a family unit under strong male leadership has been a great thing too, especially for girls heavily influenced by feminism and even for girls who dislike/distrust or hate men in general. Letting them see Dad in action and observe the family’s relationship with him has given them hope.
A & E: You are one of the most academic and intellectually “turned-on” girls we know. You have decided not to go to university. Do you find enough that is mentally challenging at home to keep you intellectually stimulated?
G: Thank you for the kind compliment. If true it can only be because the majority of my education was simply discussing things with Dad. I’ve benefited greatly from being able to sit at his feet as it were.
My parents home educated me which allowed them to mentor and disciple me as I was growing up. We would (and still do) gather together for meals three times a day and have such marvellous discussions. Often, we have visitors join us for meals. They add a great dimension to our mealtime conversation. There is nothing quite like it. It is partly because of the intellectual stimulation I get at home that I find it unnecessary to attend university.
At home my routine is varied. I spend time doing a multitude of things such as teaching, accounting, chefing, seamstressing, etc. My sister does a lot of interior decorating and costume designing. People notice this and kindly suggest, “You should have a career as a chef.” “You should have a career doing movie wardrobes.” What people don’t seem to realize is that their suggestion is limiting to us. If I used up all my time cooking or making clothes I couldn’t do all the other things I’m doing now. I’d be limiting my intellectual stimulation to just one pursuit.
A & E: How are you continuing to educate yourself at home?
G: One of the joys of my life has been in learning. My mother always said, “Teach a child to learn to read so that the child can then read to learn.” My parents taught me to read but they didn’t stop there! They amassed a huge library which is now at my disposal! Thousands and thousands of books! My course of study presently includes a little bit of Dabney, John Bunyan, Rushdoony and Bill Watterson (!). Besides books, there are people to learn from: my parents, their friends, Church folks, new immigrants, etc. Some of the ways I have continued to be educated include:
1. Taking night classes at the local night school or Continuing Education Provider. These are typically 2 hours a night, one night a week for 6 or 8 or 16 weeks. The cost is minimal and other students tend to be about twice my age! Some of the topics I have taken with the night school include: ball gown construction, pattern drafting, healthy cooking, herbs, Spanish and photography.
2. Taking cooking classes from a woman at Church. We had a couple move to New Zealand from India and settle in our Church. They had us over for a meal which the wife cooked in a traditional Indian manner. I asked her if I could visit her once a week to watch her and help her cook her evening meal. She agreed and the arrangement was a great one for both of us. I learned a lot about how to cook Indian food and we became friends.
A & E: Many girls think living at home will limit their opportunities to minister to others outside the family. Can you tell us a little about ways you’ve worked in your local church, in the wider church (Christians throughout the world), in your community, and even to help the political state of your country?
G: This time of life we have prior to marriage is a delightful period for ministry. The Lord has allowed me marvellous opportunities to serve in various ways outside of my home. Every time, however, it just re-emphasised to me that ministry begins in the home. There may be opportunities to minister in all sorts of fantastic and fabulous ways here and there but none of those opportunities compare with simple ministry opportunities at home or will make up for neglect at home.
Having said that, let me share a few things:
1. I first began meditating on Titus 2v3-5 seriously in 2002 when I read this passage and it struck a cord with me. I have been meditating on this passage and applying it to my life ever since. One thing that struck me was that one day I would be an older woman and so I should prepare for that by starting to develop relationships with younger women now. Over the past three years I have invited the younger girls from Church over many times in order to befriend them and to prepare for my Titus 2 role. Together we have done scrapbooking, made feminine hair accessories, polished our father’s shoes and tied his ties, discussed how we can be a comfort and a blessing to our fathers and brothers, talked about spiritual journaling and made journals and flower pens, attended a French Fair, supped together and gone on photographic shoots dressed as Victorian High Society Women, buried time capsules, danced English Country Dances, discussed Christian Fashion and Style, drafted skirt patterns and discussed dying to self. The time spent with these girls has been wonderful, especially when I hear them discussing plans for doing things with the girls even younger than them!
2. On returning home from the USA in 2002 I began to import books into New Zealand and began a hobby/business called Issacharian Books. In 2004 I was invited to speak at a conference for girls. It was an opportunity to deliver messages close to my heart on helping to make parents successful and on virtuous womanhood. It was also an opportunity to continue to apply Titus 2 by sitting under the instruction of older women, developing relationships with younger women around the country and by extending Issacharian Books through publishing my messages as Bible Studies.
3. Dad is a political watchdog and mover and shaker. I have mentioned how I help him with Family Integrity. Our big political project at the moment is helping to protect the institution of corporal correction here in New Zealand. Actually, the project is bigger than that. Family Integrity is on the coalface fighting for the preservation of parental authority and the very core of the institution of the family. Sometimes this work can be too intellectually stimulating! We meet the enemy face to face constantly. It is an ugly thing. It has been good for our family to be reminded over and over of the battle that we are in, the war that is waging between the seed of the serpent and the seed of Eve. Every aspect of home-life either has its part in preparing us for the battle or engaging us with the enemy. Life is exciting.
It is frankly, hard for me to imagine having a larger sphere of opportunity doing anything else than what I’m doing right now. If I were to engage in fulltime study or work all it would do is limit my abilities and my opportunities. More importantly, it would hurt my family. There is a strength that comes when we are together – parents and children – working towards a shared vision and goal.
This is perhaps the key. We can think about ministry in terms of “my ministry” instead of in terms of “our family’s ministry” or “Dad’s vision for our family.” We can be ministering in an area and doing great things and at the same time we might be weakening our family or neglecting our real duties and priorities.
In terms of the opportunities I might have to minister in my family, Church, in the wider church, community and politically, I like to think of them like this: I am a daughter who wishes to be a part of her father’s expanding vision. If I am engaged in service here or there it is because my father, like a mighty warrior, has taken me as his arrow and has aimed and shot me thither in order to accomplish some great work. This brings my ambitions and projects under his authority, protection and watchful eye: a safe and comforting place for a daughter!
I mentioned above that ministry starts in the home. I’m inclined to think it finishes in the home too. None of the political work, none of the broad or far-reaching ministry opportunities come close to the glamour of wiping my baby sister’s nose or helping my brother dry the dishes or rising early to get breakfast ready for the family. This is not to minimize the glory of dominion work at all, just to remind us of the duties of home.
A & E: We know you are eager to seize the opportunity you have been given with your younger brothers and sisters, to have a good impact on them while you are still with them. Can you tell us some of the things you are doing to invest in their educations?
G: I recently invested in a book called How to Introduce Your Child to Classical Music in 52 Easy Lessons. I’m going through this book with Jedediah who is eight and Kaitlyn who is five years old. Music is not something which is my forte and not something I have had a lot of interest in, in the past. I do think however that if I’m going to try to create a home which is a bastion of Christian culture and Godly aesthetics (which Lord-willing I’d like to do) then I’m going to need to know a bit about music since music can play such a powerful part in the atmosphere of a home. So, I’m hoping that this book will introduce me to a thing or two about classical music as well as Jedediah and Kaitlyn!
On a regular basis the three of us scour the library for books on orchestras and the various instruments. We have been listening to different orchestral and piano pieces each week such as Peter and the Wolf and The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Planets. Slowly we have been learning the sounds of the different instruments and really loving our study of the composers and their lives. Before Christmas we even went to a live performance of Handel’s Messiah. Jedediah loved seeing the timpanis. They played the part of the hunters in Peter and the Wolf. “The hunters! The hunters!” He kept saying when the drums sounded out.
We are all learning to love these different pieces. Can you imagine? Me, who has little interest in music helping to instill a love for it in my siblings! This can only be the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in my life!
A & E: We’ve noticed you are very gung-ho about everything you do. When given the responsibility of managing the grocery shopping and cooking the meals, you don’t just slap together something edible every day – you take gourmet and ethnic cooking lessons, and experiment, and make what some girls consider a daily chore, a form of high art and adventure! You do everything with gusto. Whence comes this enthusiasm? Why don’t you just trudge around like a martyr?
G: I wrote an article which explains this in part. It is called “Homemaking” and answers the question, “What Homemaking Skills Do You Think Are Important to Learn?” Apart from that, let me outline some other factors and motivators for me:
1. I have a gung-ho father! Not only that, but my gung-ho father enjoys a hearty laugh.
2. Following in my father’s footsteps, it is my own secret desire to bring jolliness back into vogue.
3. The work of the Lord, His blessings, His direction, His oversight and tender love are so evident to me in my life that I can’t help but seek to serve Him joyfully. This is not to say that I serve Him perfectly. Far, far, far from it. But my heart’s desire is to try; to work at it through the strength of the Holy Spirit. Here is an example of the type of little blessing from the Lord that puts a grin on my face to be serving such a loving Father! It was between Christmas and New Year and I had already gone over my weekly grocery-shopping budget. We were to be entertaining some friends who ate within a strict diet. These friends of ours, on inquiry, did say that they would eat bacon which I was considering doing with the meal. However we had no bacon and bacon had been very expensive. Nevertheless, I set off to the store and asked the Lord if it would be possible for the bacon to be on special at $4.98 for 900gms (less than half of what it normally is). When I got to the store you’ll never believe it! Bacon was $4.98 for 900gms. And the sour cream, which I also needed, was on a ridiculously low special too – a blessing I hadn’t even asked the Lord for! I beamed my way out of the store. The Lord is good!
4. It may also have something to do with repentance. I used to have the attitude about cooking and various other household duties that I could learn all that once I was married. It was a shocker to me to realise one day what an absolutely appalling attitude that was for me to have towards marriage and my future husband (Deo Volente). The Lord was very, very good to open my eyes to my sinful attitude in this area of my life, especially while still unmarried. Now I prepare for marriage and learn these skills out of gratefulness to the Lord.
5. Possibly the biggest motivator in my life for doing and learning various things is my growing vision and understanding for the type of home and family life I would like for my own family one day (DV). For example, it is the realization that I wanted my girls to be feminine which causes me to try to figure out how to set a good example in this area whether I’m doing quiet work or heavy work. And it was the realization that I wanted to encourage my little girls to delight in being mothers and homemakers through playing with baby dolls and tea sets and the like that caused me to get rid of my Barbie doll collection. I was amazed at how cheerfully I could see it go!
A & E: What kind of encouragement can you offer girls who are feeling alone in their convictions?
G: Remember my testimony? I was in the USA preparing myself for coming home to New Zealand. I was not aware of a single soul in that country who shared my newly found desires, motivations or convictions.
And then I came home to New Zealand and met the two of you. Or rather, we were re-acquainted! And yet, even though we were in the same country we were at opposite ends!
Besides the two of you I was very much alone in my convictions. And you know what? That makes me a pioneer! There is a huge amount of excitement and adventure and challenge in being a pioneer. Sure a pioneer has to do a huge amount of work. It can often be lonely. Pioneers have to forge ahead and cut their own path. And all this gives them the opportunity to do some very exciting things:
· Learn to rely on the Lord
· Be trendsetters rather than trend followers
· Be independent or family and God dependant rather than peer dependant
· Be influencers
· Make things happen rather than watch things happen or wake up one day and ask, “What happened?”
It is a privileged position to be a pioneer. We may not be surrounded by a lot of likeminded folks but unlike those who are, we do not face their temptation to fall into apathy and to become comfortable. We are very aware of the battle around us between those who serve God and those who serve the devil.
Since I’ve come home the Lord has given me the delight and the privilege of watching and influencing other girls move home from university and the workforce. He is working in the hearts of girls throughout this small nation. I love being able to take part in His work here.
Now while all this pioneering work can be romantic and exhilarating there are times when it can be hard too. My parents began homeschooling me when homeschooling was something very few people knew anything about here in New Zealand. As a result, Dad prepared me for a life of pioneer work. He warned that life would be difficult at times. He warned me that I’d be different and that people might think I’m weird. He warned me that I would be often misunderstood and that people would question my motives and objectives. He warned me that people might scorn me, that I might never fit in and that I would see things that others around me simply wouldn’t see! He warned me that I would probably not see the fruit of my labor; that I would work for those coming after me in the hopes that it will benefit them! He warned me that I might face persecution and that people might give me a hard time for doing what I knew was right. And then he did three things. Firstly he read to me Matthew 5:10-11 which says:
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Then he told us a story about a little old lady who loved the Lord. Some people would make fun of this lady and curse at her and spit at her for her faith. Every time she would smile joyfully at them and thank them for their words and actions. “Thank you!” She would say, “You’ve just caused me to be blessed by God!”
Through this story Dad taught us to rejoice in persecution just like the old lady and to be thrilled at the opportunity to be persecuted in order to receive God’s blessing.
And lastly, Dad’s life testified to the fact that he counted it a blessing to be persecuted for doing what was right. He waged war and fought battles that many man wouldn’t dare to fight. He wasn’t afraid of persecution.
May I encourage all the girls who read this to think about their children and grandchildren as my Dad thought about me. Remain faithful. We might feel lonely and odd now, but with the strengthening help of the Holy Spirit we can strive forward and live consistently with our convictions. We can build a testimony of faithfulness in our lives for the coming generations.
Tell ye your children of it,
and [let] your children [tell] their children,
and their children another generation. ~ Joel 1:3
And remember the girls I said who I had watched or influenced to come home and walk this same path? Many of these have become dear friends and co-labourers in this pioneering work we have to do here in New Zealand. In little over three years I have come to know many, many girls here in New Zealand who share my convictions. What with these newfound friends, my family and the Lord Himself, Who is always with me, I need never feel as though I am alone. The Lord has richly blessed me.
So, forge ahead! Don’t look back. Don’t grieve over the state of things now. Look to the future and the glorious work the Lord has for you to do today!
God bless you!