Reflections on Purity Weekend

It’s over and I survived.   All of my girls know about “the birds and the bees” and I lived to tell the tale.  A few weeks ago, I took my youngest daughter on “Purity Weekend”--my fourth and last.  You’d think I’d have felt relieved, but I found my feelings to be different. When we started the tradition of Purity Weekend with our oldest daughter, I was insecure, uncertain, and fearful.  How will I know when she’s ready?  How will I know when I’m ready?  What if I say something wrong?  What if I forget something?  I recognized the need to inform my daughter about the creation of new life, but I felt completely unprepared.  Since I was raised in a very modest home, this topic wasn’t discussed and the thought of having such personal discussions made me quite uncomfortable.  After much research, I collected some resources and planned the special event.  It was a great success.

As I prepared for our third daughter’s Purity Weekend, God impressed me to write a collection of information and object lessons to help parents inform their daughter about purity, sexuality and courtship.  The Gift of Purity:  Letters to a Daughter About Guarding Her Heart was released in April, 2009.  For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this resource, here is a short diary of how we used The Gift of Purity for Abigail’s Purity Weekend.

The week before the event I made an invitation for Abigail, telling her of the dates of her Purity Weekend and time we would be leaving.  I kept the location, the topics, and my planned activities a surprise.  Although it would’ve been great to mail the invitation, I ended up sliding it under her door.  With tears running down her cheeks she ran down the stairs and hugged me, hardly believing that the day had finally come.

When the big day arrived, Abigail and I loaded the van, said our good-byes.  As we drove, I hinted around a bit and then asked her if she wanted to get her ears pierced—something she had been anxiously awaiting for several years.  She was ecstatic and a little nervous, but so excited when she saw the results.  After dinner we checked into our oceanfront hotel at the beach (a great deal on Expedia).  She was overwhelmed by the ocean view.  We got settled in and then sat outside on the balcony as we completed the first section entitled, “Purity,” defining purity using biblical standards.  Abigail enjoyed the “Purity Point” object lesson demonstrating that you can’t identify pure water by sight alone.  We closed in prayer as together we dedicated each part of our body to our Lord and Savior.

Our Father gave us the beautiful gift of a clear morning and a glorious sunrise.  We completed the second section of letters about God’s creation of intimacy in marriage and the object lesson demonstrating the power of sexual intimacy to tie two people together.  We finished with some warnings of how Satan tries to pervert God’s precious gift.  The sunny day beckoned us out of the hotel room and we walked several blocks to a little restaurant serving a great breakfast buffet and some gigantic chocolate chip pancakes.  As we walked back to the restaurant, we visited a few shops and crossed a few things off our Christmas shopping list.

Back at the hotel, we began the last section of The Gift of Purity, entitled "Courtship."  Abigail was sad when she realized it was the last section.  We talked about the difference between courtship and dating and why her dad and I had chosen courtship as the process to discover her spouse.  The "Purity Point" object lesson reminded her that giving away a kiss is giving away a little of her purity.  When we concluded, she joyfully agreed to abide by the process of courtship and signed the Commitment to Courtship.

Now it was time for some fun!  We drove to a local spa where I had scheduled an appointment for a manicure.  The spa was lovely and her technician made her feel like a pampered princess.  Her first professional manicure, it was a memorable experience for one who wants to study cosmetology.  We returned to our hotel just in time to change our clothes and freshen up before dinner.

Abigail and I decided to take pictures on the boardwalk before going to dinner.  Actually, I decided that because it was a set up for Abigail.  I told her we'd ask someone to take our picture together, so I called to a man nearby, "Sir, could you please take our picture?"  Abigail immediately recognized her father, the would-be photographer.  Surprise and joy in her heart brought tears to her eyes.  For several moments, she was completely still in her daddy’s embrace and then together we drove to our dinner destination.

Over dinner we talked of courtship and the commitment Abigail and I had just signed.  Harold reminded her of her preciousness and presented her with a lovely purity ring.  Again, tears swelled in her eyes as Dad slipped it on her finger.  The three of us continued our celebration.  Abigail repeatedly looked at her manicure and the lovely ring on her finger—I’m not sure which one she liked more!  Dad returned home after dinner while Abigail and I stayed at the hotel one more night.  Neither of us wanted it to end.  Following a relaxing night of sleep, we gathered our belongings, checked out of the hotel, and arrived at home in time for our Saturday morning pancake breakfast.

Purity Weekend is over, but every one of the girls has mentioned that they want to go again.  I’ve told them that there isn’t anything else I have to tell them, but they insist it doesn’t matter.  According to my four delightful daughters, the best part is just being together.  I enjoyed the time as much as they did.  Maybe I’ll start another tradition.

A Walk on the Beach

A few weeks ago, I chose to spend some time sitting still and enjoying God’s presence--not reading, not singing, not praying, only being.  It’s not easy for a type-A person like me to depart from my “To Do List” and just “do nothing.”  Our time together is so sweet and most always leaves me feeling refreshed and recharged.  This time was no different. In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus walking on the beach with me.  I saw only our backs.  Every so often, I would stop and write in the sand why I was unworthy—unworthy of His love, unworthy of His attention, and unworthy to be in such a close relationship with Him.  Jesus didn’t stop to wait for me as I wrote, He just kept slowly walking.  As soon as I’d finish writing or sometimes before I even finished, a wave would come and wash away my excuses.  I ran ahead catching up to Jesus so I could walk beside him and hold His hands.  Several times I stopped to write but each time His response was the same and the waves erased my list of faults.  When I finally gave up writing and focused on walking with him, He turned to face me looking into my eyes with a smiling face of radiance and eyes of love.

Even as I’m writing this, I realize that He is teaching me what it means to be a daughter.  A daddy (a healthy and whole one) loves to hold his daughter’s hand and spend time with her.  A daddy already knows many of his daughter’s weaknesses, but his love for her keeps him from always focusing on the negative and breaking her spirit.  Certainly part of his job is bringing correction, but He patiently waits for the right time and then he gently guides.  Their relationship is more important than correcting her faults.

Thank You, God, that you desire a relationship with me more than you desire perfection.  Thank You for seeing beyond my faults, especially when I keep reminding You about them.  Thank You for accepting me and loving me just the way I am and for patiently guiding my path and forming my character.  I know that the more time we spend together, the more I become like You.

I Call You My Daughter

A few weeks ago during my quiet time, I heard God’s voice say, “I call you my daughter.”  It didn’t sound like a great revelation.   I thought I was pretty familiar with the concept of “daughter.”  I knew I was a daughter of my Heavenly Father.  I am a daughter of my earthly parents.  I have daughters.  The word “daughter” is in the name of our ministry.  But God wanted to show me more. I call you daughter.  That name carries blessings:

Love— I don’t give you just any love, but I give you My sacrificial and unconditional love. Intimacy— I know your strengths and weaknesses.  I long to spend time with you. Access— You have access to Me—anytime, anywhere.  I choose to be available for you. Pleasure— Just looking at you brings a smile to My face.  You’re a delight to Me. Inheritance— Whatever I have is yours.  You may choose not to accept the inheritance, but I offer it to you. Belonging— No matter how alone you feel, you belong to Me and to My family. Blessing— It is My design that daughters—and sons—be blessed by their parents, affirmed and confident because of their family connection.

On paper, the concepts weren’t new, but somehow the simple truth touched my heart.  I felt as if I had been given a million dollars!  In that moment, I felt the enormous privilege and honor of being a daughter to my beloved Father.  It spoke deep into my being.  I was also inspired to pass on my revelation to my own daughters, so that they will always remember who they are and what it means to be a daughter.  Today, I share it with you in hopes that God will use these simple words to reveal to your heart what it means to be a daughter—or son—of our Heavenly Father.

I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.  Isaiah 43:1b

A Father's Love (By: Harold Moore)

By: Harold Moore February – the month of love.  At least that is what we are told.  Funny how one day of the year, February 14th, can become a reason to buy cards, candy, flowers, etc., to show how much we love those in our lives.  Shouldn’t we have a life-style of showing love throughout the year?  The obvious answer is, “Yes!”  The way we show true love must go way beyond the purchasing and giving of “things” on a special day.

As a father I’m often challenged as to what to give my wife and daughters on Valentine’s Day to express how much I truly love them.  I will again this year give the ladies of my life cards, candy, and maybe a little gift for my wife.  But all of those gifts are meaningless and futile in expressing love if my wife and daughters do not know in their hearts the love I have for them throughout the year.  I believe they know in their hearts how much I do love them, but it didn’t just happen by accident.  I was intentional.

How can a father intentionally express his love to his family in ways that reach the heart?  I asked God that question one morning and I believe He answered my questions with a very simple acrostic of “FATHER.”

F:  Faithful

A father’s love is shown in faithfulness.  Romans 5:8 tells us that God, our Heavenly Father, shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still in our sin, He died for us.  A father is faithful to show love no matter what.  His love is not conditional or provisional, nor is it based on the performance of those whom he is called to love.  A father is faithful to provide for the needs of his family.  He provides security.  He is faithful to provide appropriate affection to his wife and children so that they have no need to search for it from any other source.  A father is faithful to keep the covenants and commitments to his wife and family so that his word is true and dependable.

A:  Accessible

A father’s love is shown in accessibility.  Hebrews 4:15-16 tells of our Heavenly Father who understands us and cares for us, even in our weaknesses and vulnerability to temptation.  He bids us to fearlessly and confidently draw near to Him and find help for every need.  A loving father is accessible to his wife and children.  He makes time for them and gives his time to them.  He creates an atmosphere of accessibility and openness.  He loves them; therefore he is accessible to them.

T:  Tender

A father’s love is show in tenderness.  Isaiah 40:11 and other scriptures give us a picture of how tenderly the Lord cares for his own.  Jesus looked over unfaithful Jerusalem and spoke of a tender desire to “gather her under his wings”.  He wept.  He had compassion over the sick, broken, and hurt.  A father who truly loves his family will be known by his tenderness toward his loved one’s emotions, hearts and spirits.  He will be tender with them physically, particularly his wife and daughters, and not treat them as “one of the boys.”

H:  Honoring

A father’s love is shown in the honor and value he gives to his family.  They are not just his; they are daughters and sons of God.  He treats his family with respect and honors their thoughts and feelings because they are created and valued by God.

E:  Excited

A father’s love is shown in an excitement about the things that are important and exciting to his family.  In Zephaniah 3 there is a wonderful picture of God dancing and singing over you with joy and excitement.  What an awesome picture of God and his delight over His children!  A loving father shows an excitement and enthusiasm over the things that are exciting and valuable to his family.  He celebrates and shows excitement about their life and their destiny.

R:  Relational

A father’s love is shown through an abiding relationship with his family.  We were created by God to be in relationship with Him – to be His sons and daughters – so that He could bestow on us the inheritance of His Kingdom.  God’s greatest desire was to show His love toward us by giving us a relationship with Him, not just gifts and pleasures.  Sin separated us from that relationship but God’s love for us was so great that He gave Jesus to restore that relationship with Him.  A father who truly loves his wife and children loves them through relationship.  It is relationship that wraps it all together.  Love must be given through relationship and not just an event or a check mark on “to do” list.

FATHER

In looking at this acrostic I realize that this doesn’t just apply to fathers but to all who call themselves Christians.  I also realize the many times that I fall short of these ideals.  Only our Heavenly Father fulfills these attributes perfectly and constantly.  Yet even in our weaknesses and shortcomings, He still calls us to show acts of love beyond a card or gift on a special day.

My prayer for you is that in this month, and the months that follow, that you will be filled with both giving and receiving love.  I pray that you reach the hearts of those you love with your faithfulness, accessibility, tenderness, honor, excitement, through genuine relationship with you.  And the card and candy are a nice touch.  =)

On the Road Again

We’ve just returned from a great weekend at MACHE—Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators.  It is a curriculum fair of 4 buildings worth of vendors for all things homeschooling—curriculum for every subject, dissection specimens, microscopes,  colleges, summer camps, support organizations, and even small appliances for cooking.  This was our third year there and it is like “old home week.”  We see other vendors from past years and meet new vendors, as well.  We talk with friends from previous years, though I’m not great at remembering all their names from year to year, catching up with where our lives are a year later.  Here are a couple of pictures from the weekend: Our family inside the D4G booth, A little girl and her Mom with matching D4G bracelets and mother/daughter charms, Abigail with a new friend who is wearing the same shirt, and Abigail having fun with Daddy on the handcart.

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I talked with several ladies who had experienced great loss over the last year—the death of a loved one, two second-trimester miscarriages, a child ill with cancer.  It reminded me how fleeting life is and how miniscule the frustrations in my own life really are.  I also thought of the constancy and sufficiency of our God.  In the midst of these very challenging experiences, these ladies were smiling and telling of God’s faithfulness in the midst of the storm.  I am so grateful I serve a God who is bigger than any circumstance in life, a God who is more than enough.

--Joy

Inside Tips on Using Passport2Purity

motherdaughterinred1
motherdaughterinred1

Joy's Inside Tips on Using Passport2Purity

You think it's time to "have the talk", but you aren't sure and you don't know what to say. That's how I felt when my first daughter was approaching puberty. I had already written Lady Day, but I began to search for something to help me know what to say and when to say it.  I hadn't yet written The Gift of Purity, so I used Passport2Purity.

This is an excellent tool with detailed instructions and teaching to help you plan an overnight for you and your daughter. It includes:

  • A planning guide with two sections
  • The first section is a planner for you with a detailed schedule of the weekend.The second section is identical to your daughter's. It includes fill in the blank outlines of each discussion on CD.
  • A student's guide
  • 5 audio CD's of teachings by Dennis and Barbara Rainey

Timing

How do you know when it's time to have "the talk?" Each child and each family is different. Some children ask lots of direct questions; some ask none at all. Some families are comfortable with lots of information; some give very little information. Passport2Purity was designed for 10-13 year old girls (and boys). We planned our time according to our daughter's physical and emotional development and questions she was asking. We wanted to make sure that she would understand the information presented and treasure the purity ring and what it represented.

Planning

I am a big fan of making detailed plans in advance, however I am flexible enough to throw the plans out the window if something changes, if something better comes up, or if God leads me otherwise. A plan is a tool to help you make decisions in advance, allowing you to have a more enjoyable time.

Making a budget

You don't have to spend a lot of money, but you want to communicate how special this time is. Depending on location, you should be able to find a nice hotel with a free breakfast for around $75.00 per night, less on the off season. If your budget won't allow that much, maybe you know someone who would let you stay in their cabin in the mountains or their house at the beach.

As far as meals, you'll be eating dinner the first day, and three meals on the second day. Since we ate a big breakfast, we saved some money by eating snacks for lunch. We splurged on a nice dinner.

Finally, you'll have expenses for gas, expense for a ring or other token and entertainment expenses. Don't worry about how much money you have, or don't have! It's not about how much money you spend; it's about the time you invest in building a relationship with your daughter.

Choosing a destination

When choosing a destination, you need to take several things into account: your daughter's interests, the time of year, your geographic location, and your budget. What would your daughter like to do during your free time? Will it be swimming weather or skiing weather? How far are you willing to drive? How much are you willing to spend? Since dad was joining us for a special dinner, we didn't want to drive too far from home. In the end, we chose a destination about one hour away.

Choosing a hotel

Most girls like nice things and atmosphere is very important. On both occasions, we chose a nice hotel during the off-season which gave us lovely accommodations for about half of the price. Many hotels include a free breakfast or have a hotel restaurant. Having breakfast at the hotel is not necessary, but is very convenient.

Also, we spent two nights. We didn't want to pack up and check out in the morning and we wanted to be dressed nicely for dinner and needed a room to get ready.

Sending an invitation

Make an invitation and send it to your daughter through the mail. What girl doesn't like to get mail? I name the time "Purity Weekend" and I listed the departuretime, and an RSVP name and phone number, but the destination was a secret.

Choosing puzzles

Each girl has her own interests. Choose a puzzle that would interest her. For my oldest daughter I chose Thomas Kinkade paintings, for my second daughter, I chose horse puzzles. On both occasions, we worked the puzzle during our free time. After the weekend, the puzzle was her gift to remember our time together.

Preparing the object lessons

As I prepared the object lessons, I bought solid colored gift bags from a discount retailer, each bag a different color, and marked them by number for each of the object lessons. All supplies for that object lesson were placed in the bag so that I was prepared when we stopped the tape. I transported all of the bags in a large department store shopping bag so my daughter didn't see them. I kept the bags to be used with the next daughter.

Listening to the teachings

The first CD teaching you listen to is while you're traveling. I made sure that she had control of the buttons. I gave them permission to stop the teaching any time they had a question or didn't understand the concept. When we listened in the hotel room, she was on one bed with the portable CD player, and I was on the other bed. Sometimes I stopped the teaching just to clarify that she understood. Usually when I stopped the CD to ask a question, she had more to ask me.

Planning afternoon activities

I tailored the afternoon activities to my daughter's interests and desires, and my budget! I wanted to find a "grown up" activity that reaffirmed her femininity. The oldest daughter wanted to get her ears pierced. We spent the day perusing bookstores and finally ended up at Claire's to get her ears pierced. For the second daughter, I scheduled an appointment to get her hair cut at a nice salon - her first visit to a salon. Later, she also got her ears pierced.

There are many things you could do together: seeing a symphony, a ballet, touring a historic site, going to a museum, going horseback riding, painting a piece of pottery, walking on the beach, swimming, or hiking.

Dinner

I felt the weekend was too special and too important not to include Dad in some way. We planned that he would join us for dinner on the second evening. I searched in advance to find a nice restaurant nearby and my daughter and I dressed up in our very best dresses. I wanted her to know that this was a special time. When we entered the hotel lobby on our way to the restaurant, Dad was waiting in his best suit. Both girls were so emotionally moved that they cried. We took lots of pictures and headed to dinner.

My husband treated our daughter with honor, opened the car door for her, pulled back her chair at dinner and showed by example how a future husband should treat her. During dinner our daughter told her dad about what she had learned and what we had done during the weekend without the interruption of siblings. Including dad at this point was crucial because it established that all of these topics were open for discussion with Mom or Dad. Were the girls embarrassed? Not at all. At this age, most are still very open and uninhibited about discussing such issues.

After dinner, we returned back to the hotel and dad presented his princess with a lovely purity ring, symbolizing her commitment to purity. We found a ring at a local jeweler which was within our budget and looked grown up enough for a young adult to wear.

Concluding the weekend

After Dad left, my daughter and I spent a second night at the hotel and had a final breakfast together. We drove home with a closeness we had never before experienced - it was a heart-to-heart experience. I can't say that everything was perfect after that, but I can say that it was a very important foundational weekend in our relationship and that it opened the door to communication. I am still reaping the benefits today.