The Destiny of a Virtuous Daughter ~ Part 2: My New Love

by Starfury

For as much as my parents objected to many worldly things, they gave in on a surprising number of equally worldly things. Most notably, in my case, was the subject of ballet. I had always wanted to dance from a young age, and when I was 8, my parents finally agreed to let me begin to take classes. This was often something I was reminded to be grateful for–they weren’t as conservative as other families, after all.

In truth, I was grateful for it. I loved it with all my heart, and had great dreams of practicing hard and winding up as a prima ballerina for some famous worldwide touring company and performing all the famous ballets. There was only one problem with this idea… I wasn’t sure how I could maintain the necessary strenuous schedule kept by company dancers (classes and rehearsals all day, every day), and still be a loving wife and mother who homeschooled her kids. As the years went on, I slowly began to decide that as much as I loved dance, I probably wasn’t going to end up doing it professionally. After all, I’d wanted to be many other things growing up, including an astronaut and a dolphin trainer, but neither was really compatible with homeschooling 6+ kids (and I didn’t like swimming under water).

Fortunately for my overactive imagination and tendency to jump wholeheartedly into things, ever embracing some new idea for my life that would somehow either be forced to fit the wife and mother mold, or be tossed out the window, my parents decided it was time that my political apathy came to an end. I was summarily informed that I would be participating in a program called TeenPact, which involved me being shipped off to the capital for four days to learn how the government worked. I had always hated politics, but it did offer high school credit, and my parents wanted me to expand my horizons–within the scope they had predetermined, of course.

My first day at the capital had my introversion hitting me full force. I was wearing an ankle-length skirt and my hair was bound up in a snood so I could wear a headcovering, but still seem somewhat “modern.” That was the first time I had ever touched a boy, when one of the boys there came over and shook my hand. There was a brief moment of horror, and wondering if I had just committed a terrible sin, but I decided that it couldn’t have been that bad. Lightning hadn’t struck me, and this was a Christian group, after all.

At the end of the four-day program, I was utterly changed. Politics was my new love, and I wanted nothing more than to go into it myself so I could help make a difference, turn people back toward Christ, and somehow set myself up as an example for how godly women can affect politics. My intentions were never purposefully arrogant–I merely thought that if I want someone to look up to, but the person I wanted didn’t exist, then I should pioneer the way myself. Though my aspirations were gradually turning independent, I realized that I had to keep them quiet… I should be more concerned about how to be a proper senator’s wife, than a proper senator.

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The Beautiful Girlhood Doll ~ Part 5: Home & Hospitality

by Libby Anne

One of the defining qualities of beautiful girlhood is a love for home and hospitality. A young girl watches her mother and looks forward to the day when she, too, will have a family. While other girls are driven by wanderlust, the hospitable girl finds true contentment at home.

I loved being at home, and I never wanted to be anywhere else. My home was my father’s castle, and I loved it. While some of my siblings sometimes chaffed at not being allowed to go out and do things with their friends like other children, it never bothered me one bit. I would have rather stayed home anyway.

We children all had chores – with the amount of work needed to run a household of fourteen people, there was no other option. Besides, my parents believed work was good for children. I don’t mean that we had chores like essentially every other American child does, I mean we had CHORES. For a while, I did all the laundry for the family, and at another time I did all the cooking. Children were given chores starting when they could walk, and they were expected to do their chores each morning before breakfast, or they were not allowed to eat. I actually did not mind having chores one little bit. I had a lot of work to do, of course, but I loved the sense of accomplishment when I completed it.

Chores were segregated by gender. The girls cleaned bathrooms, did laundry, cooked, and cleaned around the house while the boys mowed, cleared brush, fed the animals, and saw to the upkeep of the outdoors. We all worked, but girls did girl chores and boys did boy chores. Within this schema, indoor chores and those involving the upkeep of the house were generally seen as the girls’ natural responsibility.

Caring for the younger children also fell to the girls, and this happened often. My mother had a lot on her plate, teaching high school, middle school, elementary school, and preschool while constantly nursing babies, and she needed my sisters and I to help out. And we did. I remember doing school in my bedroom with little sisters or brothers playing on the floor, or dropping everything to help make lunch or put a little one to bed.

In addition, while we never had a permanent buddy system, I have to admit that I did play favorites, and was especially close to one specific little sister. She was born at the moment I became a teenager, and it was almost like she was my own baby. When she was hurt or upset, she would come to me rather than to my mother. I saw this same pattern play out again several years later when one of my middle sisters, who was about six at the time, practically adopted the newest baby, getting her dressed in the morning, feeding her, carrying her around, and putting her down for naps. This sort of attachment was encouraged.

In addition to learning to care for children, I also learned how to run a house. When it came time for me to study economics in (homeschool) high school, my parents found a course that taught home economics, including things like balancing a checkbook and creating a budget. I learned from my mother how to shop for a large family, how to find clothes on a small budget, and how to make ends meet. As I watched my mother running the household, I was inwardly preparing myself to do the same. I am very much an organizer and a manager, and I could not wait to practice these talents in a home of my own.

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The Beautiful Girlhood Doll ~ Part 4: Enthusiasm & Industry

by Liberty
Proverbs tells us that a virtuous woman “works with her hands with delight,” and “does not eat the bread of idleness.” The truly beautiful girl is one who sees her life as a mission of service. What others view as a burden, she views as a blessing and opportunity.

I was nothing if not hard working. In fact, I often got up early in order to complete all of my school work before lunch, so that I could then turn to reading, sewing, or any of a number of other hobbies. School was something I excelled at, and my parents were proud of me. I studied advanced science and math and loved learning languages. In fact, I wanted to be able to read the Bible in its original languages, so I studied Greek and Hebrew. And I loved it, and my parents couldn’t have approved more.

Of course, as much as my parents valued academics, I knew there were other areas a young woman must excel in if she wants to attract a proper husband. I therefore learned to cook, both from my mother or from simple experimentation. I prided myself on my pies, and even made noodles from scratch. Even though my mother did not can, she had the proper tools necessary, so I taught myself how to can vegetables. I knew that this skill was needed in a proper wife.

I also enjoyed gardening. We always had large gardens, and we children did a great deal of the tending and weeding, sometimes waking at dawn in the summer months to weed before the summer heat. In addition to learning to garden, I found books at a homeschool convention about edible plants and medicinal herbs and set out to teach myself these important skills. I learned that dandelions could be eaten in salads, that plantain was good for mosquito bites, and that raspberry leaves made an excellent tea for pregnant women (such as my mother). I even tried to make flour out of clover. I loved walking through marshy areas or abandoned lots looking for plants that matched the pictures in my books, becoming excited at each new find. I knew that a proper wife should be able to forage for food and prepare herbal remedies, especially if the government collapsed and the country descended into anarchy as we always feared it would.

In addition to cooking and gardening, I knew a proper wife must know how to sew. This was no problem for me as I sewed clothing for myself and my younger siblings and crocheted sweaters for whichever child was the baby at the moment. At one point, the Lord of the Rings became a bit of a fad in our circle of friends, and I quickly outfitted everyone in homemade costumes. I also sewed a quilt, because I knew a proper wife must fill her hope chest with homemade quilts. I cross-stitched several samplers as well, ever proud of my growing accomplishments. I would be ready, I knew, for that moment when a godly man would seek my hand in marriage.

I also spent a good deal of time teaching my younger siblings and other homeschoolers we knew. I taught languages and math, eager to help my mom out by taking some of the load off her shoulders while at the same time practicing for when I would someday homeschool my own children.

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The Beautiful Girlhood Doll ~ Part 3: Femininity & Grace

by Libby Anne

The truly beautiful girl is one who radiates that inner grace which only comes from the confidence in being a woman of God. She enjoys dressing like a lady and being about the business of women. Because of this, others think of her with respect. Her very comportment communicates a gentle, gracious spirit.

My siblings and I learned early on that boys and girls had separate roles in life. Boys were to be protectors and providers and girls were to be mothers and homemakers. Mom taught my sisters and me that women might work outside the home before marriage, but not afterwards. Mom told us the story of how when she was in elementary school, she was asked by a teacher what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she answered, “a mommy.” Her teacher told her that she could be a mommy, but that she could be something else as well. Mom said that was the lie of feminism – that girls could be mothers and have careers. We knew better than that.

My mother wanted my sisters and I to learn to be graceful and gracious. Unfortunately, I was an extremely awkward child and was given to talking loudly. Mom had me take ballet for a year in order to learn to be graceful, and she led my sisters and I through a program called A Christian Charm Course for Girls, where we learned what kinds of clothing clashed, how we should carry ourselves, and the importance of understanding body language. These things didn’t completely cure me of my awkwardness and suddenly make me into a lady, but my mother was definitely trying.

My siblings and I loved Vision Forum’s American Boys Adventure catalogue and Beautiful Girlhood catalogue, and scarce a Christmas went by without presents from Vision Forum. From wrist rockets to crochet samplers, we had it all. While I dutifully stitched several samplers, something my mom said every good lady must do, I also enjoyed making turning our backyard into a pirate’s cove and sticks into swords with my brothers. We children were very creative and imaginative in our play, and we lived in the country and had plenty of space to roam. We had many adventures, aided by our Vision Forum wrist rockets and our healthy imaginations. It was out there in the wilds that the distinctions between boys and girls seemed to ease and we were all just children climbing trees and having adventures together.

As time went on, though, I stopped playing with my brothers as much and turned to more feminine pursuits. I still remember the day my dad told me that I was too old to wrestle with my brothers. To me, that signaled something. I was no longer a child – I was turning into a young woman. I read a lot, and I also learned to sew, crochet, and knit. My brothers resented me for not playing with them, but I saw it as part of growing up. I tried to please them by sewing them a variety of capes and costumes. Meanwhile, when I got together with my girlfriends we had tea parties, played with dollhouses, and watched our younger siblings.

Tea parties were a big event among my friends. We would plan them well in advance, and then dress for the occasion and cook old fashioned food, such as scones or tarts. We would sit up straight, sip tea, and talk about the latest books we were reading, or what we wanted to name our future children. We also spent a great deal of time making furniture and food for our dollhouses. Dollhouses were something of a fad among my girlfriends, and we never ceased to enjoy setting them up just so.

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The Beautiful Girlhood Doll ~ Part 2: Purity & Contentment

by Libby Anne
To be pure in body, mind, and spirit is more precious than all the promises the world offers. Young ladies who experience a beautiful girlhood guard their hearts against anything that would rob them of purity and are content to wait upon the Lord and trust the leadership of Mom and Dad.

My mother taught us when we were little that prostitutes are women who sell their kisses. We, in contrast, were to be pure and save our kisses for our wedding day.

I am not sure when I learned that my dad would give me a purity ring the day I turned thirteen, but it must have been fairly early on because I remember thinking “I’m only seven and it will be six more years until I get my purity ring! How am I going to wait that long?” And indeed, I couldn’t wait. Finally, on my thirteenth birthday, mom and dad took me out to eat and gave me the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. It was love at first sight, and from that point on, I wore my purity ring constantly.

When I was around twelve, I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris, and loved it. Next I read Jeff McLean’s Courtship. There was a lot of other literature too, most of it from No Greater Joy and Vision Forum. My parents read the literature too, though I am not sure when. What I do know is that I cannot remember a time when courtship was not the expectation. I embraced the idea of courtship as wholeheartedly as my parents, and used to daydream about young men asking my father’s permission to court me.

I never found not dating as a teenager odd, and I think that this was for two reasons. First, I did not meet many boys my age. In fact, I did not have a single male friend. Sure, I saw my brothers’ friends, but they were significantly younger than I and thus not marriage material. Through some strange coincidence, all of the families my family associated with had only girls my age, and their brothers were all younger. So in other words, I never had a guy that I was close to, or even really knew at all, so there was never any desire to date anyone, or even any opportunity to court. But then, I knew that would come eventually. The second reason not dating didn’t seem odd was that none of my friends dated either.

While I knew I believed in courtship, I had very little idea about how it would unfold in practice. I guess I figured that my father would handle it when the time came. Every time I saw an article on courtship in No Greater Joy magazine, I hoped my dad would read it and take notes. At some point, dad gave me a list of requirements that a candidate for my hand would have to pass. While his list was not very long, it did include the basics. My list, in contrast, was much longer.

When I was sixteen, my dad made me a hope chest. I was thrilled. I proceeded to fill it with a variety of items, including linens, kitchenware, and books on homemaking. I was very proud of my hope chest, and I could hardly wait to be a wife. I would open my hope chest and smell the cedar, and just know that my future would bring me much joy. I could hardly wait.
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