pdf of Issacharian Daughters – ID063 – click on link below for correct layout and photos
Monday, 5 November 2007Dear Girls,
The Courting Chair?? Part 3
Amy I brought home with me one final costume project. It took me a few days to finish this up and mail it back to South Dakota, but I knew as soon as it arrived. Zach e-mailed to let me know. He also asked a few questions. I replied, answering his questions. He e-mailed me back. I told Daddy about the e-mails, and he gave his blessing to our correspondence, so long as I kept him involved and aware of what was going on. I began forwarding all e-mails to him for review.
Knowing that Dad, and usually Mom as well, were reading all the e-mails we exchanged was great. It was both a check on what I wrote, and a protection for my heart. It required me to be open with my parents, and in so doing, gave me the wonderful blessing of having them on my side. As I got to know Zach, they did too. They liked him almost as much as I did.
The e-mails continued. We passed from costumes to daily life, the development of the Fiddlers Three’s summer music show, political campaigns we were both involved in, heady intangibles like goodness, truth, and beauty, and all sorts of things. Sometimes e-mails passed back and forth on a daily basis. Sometimes several days elapsed in between. I enjoyed the correspondence immensely, but there were challenges too. I still didn’t know quite what Zach’s intentions were. I tried to guard my heart and maintain a friendship-type relationship. As I got to know Zach better and better, that was harder to do. I could see we fit well together, and I found myself looking for signs he agreed.
I remember an interchange of e-mails that was particularly significant. The Fiddlers Three were performing The Great American Adventure show five nights a week in Keystone, South Dakota, right in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore. The show was organized around the four presidents depicted on the mountain. Even though the show had begun, it was still being developed and perfected. One night Zach e-mailed me excitedly, telling me that a member of that night’s audience had suggested a quote of Teddy Roosevelt’s to use in his closing remarks. He didn’t have the quote yet, but he remembered the gist of it, and thought it would be perfect! A few days later, on July 3rd, he e-mailed the quote and asked my opinion. I read it, and my heart sank. I didn’t like it a bit. It sounded grand and glorious, and taken in its context, it may have been. But taken alone, the quote sounded as if he expected America to take the role of God and save the world.
I didn’t want to tell Zach I didn’t like this??perfect ?? quote from one of his heroes, but he had asked for my honest opinion. So, I prayed for grace to put it well, and told him what I thought. As I sent that e-mail, I prayed he would not be offended?? that he would see what I saw in the quote. Then, I waited. Zach’s next e-mail relieved and delighted me. He told me on reading that??perfect ?? quote, he had found it disappointing and uncomfortable. He knew it wasn’t right, but had sent it to me to see what I thought. And then I told him why he didn’t like it. I was so thankful?? and there was something more. Somehow, at that point, I was sure. This was The Man.
Zach This email exchange was the turning point in the way I saw Amy, too. We had corresponded regularly throughout the spring and early summer, and I had been further delighted with her femininity, her love for God and her quick mind. During this time I was laboring to hone and perfect the Great American Adventure show. As my conversations with Amy progressed, I began to see how instrumental she was in shaping the story we were trying to tell on stage. She eagerly dived into deep discussions about the concepts that would drive our message and brought ideas to me that were right along the lines I was looking for, but that I would never have seen on my own.
When I got Teddy’s quote mentioned above, I knew it wasn’t right; I knew I couldn’t use it. While I was trying to articulate my thoughts, I sent the quote to Amy. When her email returned, I found she was able to put into words the very things I saw in the quote and didn’t like. And she told me in such a delightful way: very quiet and unassuming, yet completely frank and straightforward. As I sat contemplating her response, I realized Amy was proving she really did know how to be my help-meet. I was not yet sure she was God’s will for me, but could see that she was for real.
This began the most challenging season of our relationship, as I started wrestling with the appropriate time to begin our courtship. It was plain Amy and I were becoming more and more attached. On the one hand, I wanted very much to speak with Jack about my intentions, declaring that I was deeply interested in Amy and was seeking God’s will in the matter. On the other hand, I knew this would inevitably cause an even deeper attachment between us that could end in much deeper hurt if we did not end up getting married.
My father and I had many long discussions. His counsel was invaluable. He liked Amy very much, too, and was able to see many things about how the relationship should proceed. We knew courtship must not be entered into lightly, and should only be brought to a close for two reasons: either something serious comes up to show that the couple is not compatible, or it is decided that marriage is God’s will and engagement is the next step. Thus, a courtship should be begun only when the couple is sure that they can accept and love each others’ quirks and idiosyncrasies. When they begin courting, they give up the right to end their relationship over small matters.
As I considered my relationship with Amy, I had to admit that we didn’t know one another all that well. All told, we had spent a little less than a month together. I didn’t really know what her quirks were, nor even if she had any! (Since then I’ve come to know and love these distinct aspects of her personality. The way God has made this to work is delightful.)
I decided to wait and watch a little longer. During this period, Jack mentioned he was reading our emails. I was delighted. 1 Timothy 5:2 exhorts young men:??Treat older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. ?? 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7 commands us not to defraud one another in the guy-girl relationship. It requires of us the most honorable conduct. Thus it was my responsibility to love Amy as a sister, to help her guard her heart and to guard my own. To have Jack involved in all our conversations would help ensure that our relationship stayed within the bounds of friendship.
Several weeks passed. I became more aware of Amy’s excellent qualities, and I loved her for them. I still wasn’t sure I knew much about the smaller things, but I was sure that there couldn’t be very many that could cause me to give her up.
Amy As our correspondence continued through the summer, and into the fall, I was not always as sure about where our relationship would end up as I had been on that July day when we exchanged our thoughts on Teddy’s quote. Was Zach really interested in something more than friendship? He spent a lot of time e-mailing me and I was not blind to the fact that he often sent me e-mails late at night?? though he was not a late night person. Other things encouraged me too?? like when he used the birth of his best friend’s baby as a springboard to ask me what I thought about home vs. hospital births, or when he asked me what sort of home decorating I liked, or told me that I reminded him of Betsy Ross because of my sewing skills, and proceeded to call me??Betsy. ?? What I found less encouraging was the fact that he continued not to make any intentions he had clear.
One of the challenges of this thing we call??courtship ?? is that there are many different nuances of meaning to the word. Different families and individuals mean different things by it. In my family, courtship is viewed as something to be entered into when a man sees in a lady the indications that she has the qualities he is looking for in a wife. The purpose of the relationship is then to get to know each other better, with her father’s help and blessing, to see if the potential is reality. Do they fit together? Can they agree on important issues? Can he lead her? Can she follow and help him? Is there mutual attraction? The way Zach and his family viewed courtship had similarities, but it was more serious. He would not enter into courtship until he was much more sure. Of course I did not know this. As the summer waned, and fall began, Zach was waiting to be sure, and I was still wondering if he was interested.
This is one of the places that my parents’ involvement proved such a blessing. I knew that, try as I might, I could not guard my heart completely. Having their help, support, love, prayers, and counsel, was a great blessing. They knew I wanted Zach, and they wanted him, too. They were getting to know him better right along with me, and they saw what I saw?? what a good, faithful godly man he was, how we fit together in calling, interests, personalities, and talents. They prayed with and for me that God would lead and guide, that, if it was His will, He’d bring to pass what appeared to us such a good thing. I know my daddy thought long about going to Zach and asking him point blank what his intentions towards me were. When he talked about it with me, I didn’t say much. I wanted to know where Zach stood too, but I didn’t want to pursue him?? even through my father. I wanted my daddy to do what he thought was best in order to protect me, but I wanted my man to be a man, to stand up and pursue me without the nudging of my dad.
As e-mails continued and our friendship grew in the autumn months, I became more and more convinced this path was leading to marriage. I could see God’s hand so very present in the details?? from broken RV generators and costume projects, to the striking similarity of our goals and interests. During my years of waiting I had often wished I knew who my man was, and what he was called to. Then, I felt, I would be better able to prepare myself to help him. Time and again when this burden pressed upon me, God would reassure my heart,??You do not have to know. I know, and I can prepare you just as easily whether you know his calling or not. ?? Now, as I was getting to know Zach better, I was seeing that I was formed to help him. I could not have prepared myself better if I had known him for years. Only God could have made us fit so well, and allowed us to meet across so many miles. I could see His hand bringing us together, and a peace settled in my heart.
˜ ??During the fall I began to work on a project inspired by Zach. His love of American history, and nickname for me of Betsy Ross inspired my dad to suggest that I make him a flag. At first I thought such a gift might be a little presumptuous. But as time passed, and I became more and more sure that Zach was the man I had been created for, I liked the flag idea better and better. I searched on-line to find as much information as possible on the Betsy Ross flag. Then I found wool bunting?? the proper fabric to make an authentic Colonial flag. I began work on the flag in September?? not sure at that point if it would be appropriate for me to give a gift with such obvious significance to Zach. I thought of making it a Lautenschlager family gift, perhaps. But as I sewed thirteen red and white stripes together by hand, and double-appliquéd thirteen stars onto the blue canton, it was for Zach most especially that I was sewing. And as I sewed for him, I prayed for him too, through many hours.
I talked with my parents about my quandary. Would it be too forward to give Zach such a gift? Daddy said he would think about it. One morning, several days later, he came to wake me up and told me that he thought it would be okay for me to give the flag to Zach for his birthday. I lay in bed for several minutes very happy?? knowing that I could trust God to lead through my father. If he said it was okay, then it was. I found a box and folded the flag?? perhaps fifty hours of work and prayers. Never had I been so eager to give a gift.
˜ ?? Zach That flag flies on the wall above my desk as I write. It is a constant reminder of the wonderful woman God has given me, despite my lack of experience in trying to win her.
By early fall, I had decided Amy had the qualities I was looking for. I knew I wanted to court her, and if it was God’s will, to marry her. Around this same time, the Bentleys decided to return to South Dakota for a visit. I counseled with my father, my grandfather, and a trusted friend on whether I should call Jack and discuss courtship on the phone, or wait until they arrived to begin things in person. All three counseled me to wait to discuss this serious subject face to face. At that time it did seem the most prudent.
But after several more weeks, I began to see that Jack needed to know what to expect when they arrived at the Lautenschlager home. It was time, past time to declare my intentions. About three weeks before the Bentleys were to leave Mobile, and with my father’s full blessing, I called Jack. I told him I was very interested in his daughter and asked his permission to court her with the purpose of seeking God’s will for marriage.
The first thing he said was,??Zach, you have excellent taste. ?? He granted his permission and we discussed the meaning of the word courtship and found complete agreement with the following statement:
Courtship is the period of time in which the couple and their families seek God’s will concerning marriage to each other. The commitment level during this time is greater than before a courtship is begun, but not as great as the betrothal (or engagement), when the couple has covenanted to be married. The entire courtship period is couched in the context of marriage, and marriage is the stated goal unless God gives clear direction to the contrary. Each side is free to end the courtship if they believe marriage truly is not God’s will, but it is the prayer of all that in that case, God will give clear direction early in the relationship and that all involved will agree.
He asked me if I had my parents consent and blessing to seek Amy as my wife, and I had the joy of telling him that not only my parents, but even my grandparents were with us 100%. We also discussed how I would ask Amy. As we would all be together soon, I decided to speak to her in person, and Jack gave his blessing.
Looking back, I believe a better course would have been to speak with Jack several weeks earlier, as soon as I was sure Amy was the one. To wait any longer was not fair to Amy or her family. But God is so good. Amy has explained how He used my blunder to build her trust in Him and speak peace into her heart. (…To be Continued! ??)
For the Greater Glory of God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Genevieve SmithIssacharian Daughter
Notes: I have sent this email to girls who have embraced a vision of victorious daughterhood as well as those who may be thinking about doing so (and even to some girls who may just like some encouragement regarding different areas of home life). Some of the girls are in the USA, UK, Australia and other parts of the world. Most are in New Zealand. You are welcome to forward this email on to others so long as you do so in its entirety. If you do not want to receive these emails please just send a return email to me stating that fact. If you know of other girls who would be encouraged by receiving these emails, feel free to forward the email to them or send me their email address.