Accomplished Women

Posted By on July 27, 2010

"Young Girl Reading, 1873" Giclee Print

“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.” ~Caroline Bingley

I tend to agree with Elizabeth Bennet in her reaction to Mr. Darcy’s definition of feminine accomplishment. “I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any.”

True enough, Darcy’s definition is a stodgy and prideful as he himself is; however, I much prefer it to the misconception that when I talk about stay-at-home daughters, I’m saying: “Now that you’re done with high school and that boring, bookish stuff, you can devote your time to the really important stuff like making doilies or hand-painting china for your hope chest!”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with making doilies (they’re very pretty, in their place) or hand-painting china, but I truly hope that daughters who want to become the wives and mothers who inspire and equip the next generation to impact the world for the cause of Christ have a vision much bigger than sitting around and learning as many arts and crafts as possible until Prince Charming comes along.

I wanted to take a bit of time to write down some practical steps that young women desiring to live at home until marriage can take that will keep them growing and productive as opposed to stagnating and despondent, and to keep them seeking education even without seeking traditional college experience. My list is a little different from Mr. Darcy’s, but I hope it will be helpful for young women seeking -as I am -to be accomplished in the ways that will please the Lord:

Knowing Your Family’s Vision

A truly accomplished young woman desiring to promote unity in her home cannot do so if she does not know the guiding focus of her home. Before you take any of my advice, seek the advice of your parents: what are some of the things they would like you to learn and do in order to bless them and to bless those around you?

It can be easy -especially with so few examples of stay-at-home daughters to inspire us -to set the most “visionary” families on pedestals. “I could serve the Lord so much better if my dad was so-and-so!” “I could do so many things for the Kingdom if I was in a more high-profile household!”

The Lord put you in your family for a reason. Seek to prize your family as a gift from Him.

Learning his Word

A godly young woman is, first and foremost, a young woman who fears the Lord. (Isaiah 50:10) We live in a generation of apathetic evangelicals: opponents of Christianity know more doctrine than we do, and we become easily confused even by straightforward doctrinal questions (how many of us stutter and stammer when proponents of gay marriage ask us why we condemn homosexual unions based on Levitical law, but eat shellfish?)

Start simple: read the Bible from cover-to-cover (90-day or 365-day programs are helpful when trying to get the bigger picture). Read a systematic theology book -a great place to start is Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology -although no work is perfect, this simple resource will get your mind working and have you asking the right questions. Once you start asking those questions, seek other resources for answer, submitting to your parents’ oversight in your studies, of course, but also learning the value of independent assessments. Allow yourself to be stretched and challenged.

Embracing a Biblical Worldview

A keen knowledge and insight into the Word of God is worth very little to us if we do not apply that knowledge to our lives (John 14:15)

How does what you read in God’s Word and in the myriad of theological books you may have picked up impact the way that you behave? What does God’s Word have to say about the culture around you? Take ever thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) -analyze relentlessly, and check every presupposition.

Once you have a solid biblical foundation, challenge yourself by analyzing the philosophies around you. For instance, what is socialism? Is it wrong? If so, why so? Where did it start? Why did it start? Who were it’s forerunners? What did they write? Most importantly, what does the Bible have to say about it?

Grasping History

A godly woman embraces that the only way to fully understand where we are is to understand where we’ve been; she knows that history is the unfolding story of God’s sovereign plan in creation, and wants to understand how the puzzle-pieces fit together for his glory.

Pick up a Western Civilization curriculum and move through it slowly, from the dawn of time to present day -remember, there’s no rush here. One of the beauties of opting out of a four-year university is learning at your own pace. Take your time fully understanding the events and figures that have shaped history, reading as many primary resources as you possibly can to escape biases (but keeping that biblical bias at the forefront of your mind).

Proclaiming the Truth

A godly young woman also realizes the point of gathering this knowledge: it isn’t to be able to prove her mettle among her college counterparts (although she may be able to if she truly applies herself) -it isn’t to be able to raise children who are smarter than their public schooled counterparts (although it is of note that we who desire to be the educators of our future children should be pouring all of the time we can into becoming as well-educated as possible, Luke 6:40) -it isn’t so we can have something to do while we’re waiting on Prince Charming (although I am sure your future husband will enjoy having a wife who is his intellectual counterpart -so much more than a live-in maid and nanny!)…

We learn so that we can proclaim the gospel (Matthew 28:19ff). Learning how to articulate your beliefs graciously, unapologetically, and accurately takes a lot of practice! Pick up books on public speaking and writing, and strive to become proficient at both. Learn to express yourself well: you are an ambassador of a living King. Write reports for the books you are reading (the benefit here is two-fold: you will be able to keep a record of what you’re learning and getting valuable practice in sharing that knowledge).

Home-Keeping

Next, but certainly not least -in fact, most associated with staying home -a godly woman knows how to manage her home (Proverbs 31:10-31). Watch your mom carefully -what are some things you need to learn in order to run a home as smoothly as she does? What are some ideas you can implement that will help your family? How can you plan to run your future home efficiently? What are some ideas you have that will help you when you have your own family?

Home-keeping has so much more to do than simply learning to juggle laundry and meal planning: do you promote harmony in your home? Do you contribute to a joyful atmosphere? Is your attitude one that pleases the Lord and blesses your family? Rather than rushing ahead of ourselves (I can already scrub a toilet to my satisfaction), let’s constantly be on the lookout for more ways to serve in our homes.

Culture-Changing

A godly young woman isn’t only focused on herself; she can turn that vision outward: what are 5 ways you can impact your community? Bump hospitality to the top and get started by talking to your parents about beginning to have your unchurched neighbors in your home on a regular basis to minister to them and to serve them. Care to start a home-business? Be creative! All of my friends were beginning Etsy shops or teaching piano, but I decided to be an English tutor: what are your gifts? How will your current pursuits change once you’re married? Are you devoting your time now to sucking the industry out of these single years?

Present-Dwelling

A godly young woman smiles at the future -she does not dread it (Proverbs 31:25). As our years in our father’s homes stretch ahead of us -whether they stretch for six months, six years, or sixteen years -our focus should always be to bring glory to the Lord in our current sphere, never doubting that he has a purpose for every season he ordains in our lives.

I want to see the next generation of young women turning their hearts towards their homes, applying their hands to good works, and applying their minds to knowledge and truth that will edify them and will, by extension, edify others as they proclaim it. I want to see young women capable of educating a generation of Christians who are passionate about cultural reformation. I want to see godly marriages taking place between couples who are equally equipped to engage culture in their respective spheres.

Maybe you thought staying at home was the easy choice, but I want to challenge you to be a little bit harder on yourself: bump up your expectations and buck the stereotypes. Serve God full-heartedly during your at-home years, realizing that every moment he has given you is a blessing not to be taken for granted, but used, to the utmost, for his glory.

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About The Author

Jasmine is the oldest of Voddie and Bridget Baucham's seven children. She is a homeschool graduate who enjoys studying and writing about areas as varied as theology, philosophy, political science, art, film and culture. She is also an aspiring author who currently lives at home where she continues to assist her father in his research, is completing a degree in English literature, has written a book called, Joyfully at Home based on her old blog by the same title and is blessed to assist her mother with the care of her younger siblings. You can now find her rambling occasionally at All She Has to Say

Comments

8 Responses to “Accomplished Women”

  1. Tess Bomac says:

    You are such a testament to homeschooling! I know there’s a lot more going on to your formation, but nobody reading your writing could argue that you were not well formed at home. :)

    Side note (feel free to delete this): It is Miss Bennett’s standard of female accomplishment, not Mr. Darcy’s.

    Do you tutor in your home, or in students’ homes?

  2. Hi, Tess!

    Thank you. :)

    I could be mistaken, but I do believe the quote at the beginning of the article is stated by Caroline Bingley to articulate Mr. Darcy’s standards:

    http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/ppv1n08.html

    I tutor from my home, once a week!

  3. Jasmine, dear, you did a beautiful job in this article! You made fantastic points that have desperately needed to be made. The same sort of thoughts have been tumbling around in my head as well for some time now.

    I think that the case with many daughters is that, once the Lord opens their eyes to the beauty of His design for daughterhood and family and the evils of feminism, daughters are so desperate to get as far away from any sort of feministic mindset, lifestyle, or pursuit as they can. This is a wonderful mission, but in so doing, I think many young women go all the way to the other extreme, spending their time in little to nothing besides baking cookies, sewing aprons, crocheting baby blankets, and playing the piano. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things (they are all wonderful, feminine pursuits). But when they become our only focus to the neglect of serious thinking on current events and worldviews affecting our world today, serving others, highly educating ourselves, etc., then there is a serious problem. While feminism is highly detrimental to the strength of the Church, so is a generation of young women who are not adequately educated in the things of God and events of the day in order to further Christ’s Kingdom. As much as godly, visionary young men want feminine wives who can cook well and keep a home clean, they also want (and need!) helpmeets that are competent, intelligent, dutiful, and educated to fight for the truths of the Word along side them.

    Well, that’s enough from me. :) Anyway, just wanted to tell you how impressed I was to read your article and how refreshing it was!

    Keep up the great work (I’m very much looking forward to your book!).

    Blessings,
    Rebekah

    http://www.byhisgraceandforhisglory.blogspot.com

  4. In Pilgrim’s Progress 2, John Bunyan stated one of the virtues of a young lady preparing for her future home were the skills in “crafts”. In times past a young man looked for a young lady who could show her skills in the home of her father with samplers, etc. Today the demand for crafts is high. One organization needs homemade handmade cards for soldiers overseas to be able to use to write home with because this is not available in the area they must serve.

    The Salvation Army and prenatal hospital units need blankets, hats, gloves, etc. There is a list on some crochet and knitting sites of a lot more charities that need handmade items. Growing up the more skills a young lady had to make a home the desirable she was as a wife and mothers. Craft teach a lot of skill other than the product they product. If one is researching they learn a lot about society and what caused the changes in crafts.

    Craft is a multi-billion dollar business and we have been able to share the gospel a lot during craft shows, at craft stores, etc. God is abundantly able to equip through His Word alone if that is what a young lady chooses, if she focus on her skills as a homemaker, it is an honorable career, crafts and all.

    Growing up the craft of crocheting doilies were to cover up the worn out sofa, and the stains from the farm life. They adorned dresses worn to pieces and prolonged the life. The crafts of a homemaker were a sign of an accomplish lady and now it is distain.

    Many young ladies who come to me find their family’s vision is for them to become independent career women, self-sufficient. They want to learn the advanced skills of homemaking and their family would rather spend the money for them to learn this in college than seek out an elder woman who can teach the skills. I was pushed into a career and never learned the advance skills of homemaking. My daughter is the one who is teaching me such things in my later 50’s because I never learned them.

    We study the Word of God daily and learn from Him. My daughter is feeling the constant pressure from other young ladies expounding the accomplished standard to improve their minds over their skills. I have been on a lot of debate teams and I will tell you it won few over to the gospel. It was the quiet life and the being home that caused more to question their own lives than all the debate teams I was ever on.

    Christ fulfilled the Levitical laws, the fathers of our faith were not able to keep them and in the book of Acts the list of what the gentiles were suppose to adhered to is made very plain. Paul warned the Jews of his day to not put that burden upon the gentiles because the Jew were did not receive salvation from it, but from Christ. The law is to point to our sin and the need of salvation and practicing some of the old laws are beneficial but not a case for losing salvation.

    We have to be able to administer the Word of God rightly, what is to show a principle with biblical autonomy and what is to be for our daily lives. A contrite heart serves the Lord, not the amount of knowledge we possess.

    This is not a competition between the “educated” secular individual full of knowledge that puffs them up and the ignorant stay-at-home wife. More times than not I have heard some great speakers state it was the simply minded child-like faith of what some would call ignorant that taught them more than all the Christian college, commentaries, etc they had.

    The problem is, some want to analyze everything and other prefer the simplicity of life. An accomplished life is in the product that produces faithfulness, obedience and humility. An accomplished life can be a very simple one and no one has a right to say to those who choose the simplicity of life they are not accomplished.

    The Bible said it is for equipping the saint it is enough for some. You know evil by knowing the righteousness of God; to know your enemy you only have to know God’s Word, the enemy is the opposite. We so often hear, “Did God really say.” It is that simple, man likes to make it more so. The Bible was so that the simplest minded could understand it but it can drown a theologian. Neither has the right to put down the other.

    As a writer you have a desire to probe, this is not the talent or mindset of other talents. Can the hand say to the eye I have no need of your, or your mindset. The only thing we have learned from studying history is that man never learns from it. It is again the fear of God that changes lives and the future. Scriptures gives enough history of the depravity of humanity to warrant enough wisdom to form a worldview.

    The trick of the enemy is to get off on long philosophies so that the basic salvation message is lost. You will find that all arguments can be stopped by the salvation message alone, for if an individual accepts the authority of the Word they will accept the gospel. No amount of facts ever changed the minds of so many atheist or agnostic that I have encountered. It was their association and interaction with my life that changed them. They witness the constant faith unwavering even in the midst of trials, not without complaint but raw “naked” faith.

    Managing a home is full of demand to make an accomplished young lady, crafts and all. If it is enough for God it is enough for the body of Christ.
    Mrs. J.

  5. Mrs. J,

    I’d like to point out, first of all, that I did not say anything was wrong with crafting (quite the contrary, actually -I said “nothing” was wrong with it). However, in your very lengthy response to this article, you actually proved my point:

    You know your family’s vision

    My daughter is feeling the constant pressure from other young ladies expounding the accomplished standard to improve their minds over their skills. I have been on a lot of debate teams and I will tell you it won few over to the gospel. It was the quiet life and the being home that caused more to question their own lives than all the debate teams I was ever on.

    You have taken the time to learn the Word in order to defend your opinion of crafting:

    The trick of the enemy is to get off on long philosophies so that the basic salvation message is lost. You will find that all arguments can be stopped by the salvation message alone, for if an individual accepts the authority of the Word they will accept the gospel. No amount of facts ever changed the minds of so many atheist or agnostic that I have encountered.

    You have a worldview you are defending

    The problem is, some want to analyze everything and other prefer the simplicity of life. An accomplished life is in the product that produces faithfulness, obedience and humility. An accomplished life can be a very simple one and no one has a right to say to those who choose the simplicity of life they are not accomplished.

    You have a grasp of history

    In times past a young man looked for a young lady who could show her skills in the home of her father with samplers, etc. Today the demand for crafts is high. One organization needs homemade handmade cards for soldiers overseas to be able to use to write home with because this is not available in the area they must serve.

    You are here, proclaiming truth as you understand it (although you seem vehemently opposed to debate, you are debating with a very small portion of what I said):

    This is not a competition between the “educated” secular individual full of knowledge that puffs them up and the ignorant stay-at-home wife. More times than not I have heard some great speakers state it was the simply minded child-like faith of what some would call ignorant that taught them more than all the Christian college, commentaries, etc they had.

    You are proclaiming the virtues of homekeeping

    Many young ladies who come to me find their family’s vision is for them to become independent career women, self-sufficient. They want to learn the advanced skills of homemaking and their family would rather spend the money for them to learn this in college than seek out an elder woman who can teach the skills. I was pushed into a career and never learned the advance skills of homemaking. My daughter is the one who is teaching me such things in my later 50’s because I never learned them.

    You talk about culture changing

    We have to be able to administer the Word of God rightly, what is to show a principle with biblical autonomy and what is to be for our daily lives. A contrite heart serves the Lord, not the amount of knowledge we possess.

    Ma’am, I contend that you have read far too much into a few sentences of a much broader picture. And I further contend that anyone who can argue for her particular creative bent over my own with such vehemence while simultaneously bemoaning the ridiculous nature of debating, defending, and contending in general… is not a debate partner I wish to spar with.

    Blessings on your day, and blessing on your family -it is an honor to be a co-laborer with you in the very diverse body of Christ, and it is an honor to walk in the paths that he has set before me.

  6. Oh my dear young lady, it is no desire of mine to spar with you for one thing young lady I am your elder and it requires respect according to Scriptures and common etiquette. If you believe I made your point than you read into my post what was not said.

    The question was not about “my” family vision, but of a young lady whose family vision is opposed to Scriptures calling and to the calling of your standards of what is an accomplished young lady is. What concerns me most of all are the young ladies who are repackaging feminism under the guise of the modern accomplished Christian young lady.

    The worldview I am trying to help you understand is not about a worldview of faith but the talents and the personalities required for such talents. What you are espousing are the virtues of your view of an accomplished lady by your standards for a writer. A young lady with another desire would access accomplishment of different qualities. It is your opinion under the guise of advice that concerns me when it is taken as a matter of a requirement to achieve accomplishment.

    Mrs. J.

  7. From my article:

    All of my friends were beginning Etsy shops or teaching piano, but I decided to be an English tutor: what are your gifts? How will your current pursuits change once you’re married? Are you devoting your time now to sucking the industry out of these single years?

    A: Be industrious.

    B: Be industrious in the way that best suits you (whether it be starting an Etsy shop or tutoring form your home)

    C: But above all, be industrious.

    It was not my intent to elevate my particular bent above others. I believe you are confusing perspective (I am a writer with advice (I am not advising that all girls should be writers, but I am advising that there are some helpful milestones in growth and ministry).

    I think you might be getting hung-up on the fact that I’m a writer who is interested in academia -please don’t hold it against me. :) While writing is one of my biggest passions, I’m also a big sister to five younger siblings six and under. No, I can’t crochet a single thread, but I child-rangle and keep house in the way that my mother has diligently instructed me to. One of my passions is to show young women that biblical womanhood does not have to fit into a box. If I have appeared to advocate a “repackaging {of} feminism under the guise of the modern accomplished Christian young lady,” that was not my intent.

    I believe you do desire, as I do, to see Christian young women freed from the bondage of extra-biblical standard. My focus on this article was the standard that we must all be creative in the same way -your focus seems to be the standard that we must all be intellectual in the same way. Perhaps we may both want the same thing but be looking at it from two different perspectives. While I do still believe that you may have misconstrued the spirit of my post, I am very grateful for an opportunity to clarify my meaning. While I do respect you as an older woman, this is my article, and I do believe I have the right to speak up. Since I believe further comment will be fruitless, you will please, feel free to email me, but I will no longer be responding to you here.

    If we are still at an impasse, I do want to leave with the point that a competent, intelligent woman (whether she is at the helm of a home-crafting industry, or the author of numerous titles) does not automatically a feminist make (a feminist is a woman who does not understand the beauty and symmetry of God’s complimentary design for men and women and seeks to prove that women and men are not only equal, but interchangeable). I believe that those adjectives -intelligent, competent -are words that need to be reclaimed by Christ-centered young women bent on cultural change in and through the home. Above all, whatever our creative bent, the focus should be not on advancing our own agenda -I no more want to see all young ladies becoming writers and teachers than I assume you want to see all of them becoming crafters -but advancing the gospel of Christ in word and deed.

  8. Jess says:

    Jasmine,

    I am new to this site, and your article was the first one I read. I must say that I truly enjoyed it, and I am delighted to know that there are other young women out there, like myself, that still believe in the now “old fashioned” view of what a woman should strive to be. My friends always laugh and call me the anti-feminist. I laugh along with them, but I truly believe that a woman’s place is in the home serving her husband and serving God.

    Congratulations on your accomplisments thus far–you seem like you will be an excellent wife and mother some day.

    Jess

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