A beautiful princess received a priceless gift when she was born—her first kiss. Authors Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson talk about what the princess did with that gift.
A beautiful princess received a priceless gift when she was born—her first kiss. Authors Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson talk about what the princess did with that gift.
Bob: Most of the time today when young people talk about remaining pure until marriage, they are talking about physical purity. Author Jennie Bishop believes there is more to it than just that – there is emotional purity and spiritual purity as well.
Jennie: In today's culture, I think we view all those aspects as not really being worth that much. There is something that you pass around, whether it's your kiss or something else, and I believe that God has a better way. That when we save those things and count them as valuable then we have a beautifully wrapped, unmarred, flawless package to give to the person that we want to spend the rest of our life with.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 9th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today we'll hear about a creative way moms can engage with their elementary-age daughters around the issue of purity. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. When you think about fairy tales, when you think about , I don't know, a princess and a kiss, what fairy tale comes to mind for you?
Dennis: Well, a story, I believe it was George McDonald wrote – was it the "Princess and the Goblin," or something?
Bob: There was a "Princess and the Goblin," yes.
Dennis: That I read a number of years ago. In fact, C.S. Lewis read his work for a number of years and said he was his hero. And I thought if this guy was C.S. Lewis's hero, he ought to have something to say to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed that little book.
Bob: I used to read George McDonald fairy tales to my daughters when they were growing up. We read through "Wee Sir Gibby of the Highlands."
Dennis: Wasn't there an "Underworld," or what was it called?
Bob: Now you're asking for more – this was years ago.
Dennis: Well, I understand it was years ago when I read it, too, Bob, but it is amazing, isn't it, how fairy tales capture our imagination and take us to places in our imagination we'd never go, and paint some pictures that have tremendous spiritual truths to them.
Bob: I just expecting a frog to be around, if you're talking about a princess and a kiss, there's got to be a frog somewhere in the background, shouldn't there?
Dennis: There has to be, there has to be, and when you start talking about a princess and a kiss, I think – well, I immediately think of not a fairy tale but the reality of what's facing our young people today. In fact, Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 5, he said, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
There are a lot of passages in the Bible that could become North Stars for parents. 1 Timothy, chapter 1, verse 5 would be a worthy North Star for raising this generation, because there are a lot of choices before our young people, specifically our daughters, in terms of their kisses that can determine the life that they live.
Bob: Read that again – the "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart."
Dennis: That's right – and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Bob: That is a good one.
Dennis: Now, you think about it, if you could raise a young lady all the way through the elementary years into junior high, high school, and college and see her launched into adulthood to begin her career, her marriage, her family with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith, could you say, as a parent, you had been successful? I think you could.
We've got a real treat for you, as a listener today, because we're going to talk about – not frogs, but princesses and kisses.
Bob: There may be some toads who come along in the equation.
Dennis: Well, you know, there were a few toads who tried to kiss my daughters, not necessarily a frog you'd want to kiss. But, anyway, we'll not go there, either. Jennie Bishop and Susan Henson join us on FamilyLife Today. We'll push aside all of this foolish stuff about toads and frogs. Ladies, welcome to our broadcast.
Susan: Thank you, it's such a privilege to be here.
Jennie: It's an honor to be here.
Dennis: Jennie is the author of the book, and I want to get this right away, because our listeners are going, "So what's up?"
Bob: Why are we talking about fairy tales?
Dennis: Yes, fairy tales. She's written a compelling story, a fairy tale, for girls, what, Jennie, six to 12 or so, in that range?
Jennie: Well, the book was written for 5 to 8-year-olds in the beginning, but now I have teenagers and adults who buy it, because it's such a meaningful parable.
Dennis: It's called "The Princess and the Kiss," and it comes from an experienced author of children's books. Jennie has written a number of them. She is a musician and has two daughters of her own. Susan Henson has co-authored, along with Jennie – well, it's not a sequel, but it's like a workbook called "Life Lessons from the Princess and the Kiss," and I say workbook because – well, it's more than a workbook, isn't it?
Susan: Yes, it's an interactive companion guide to the life lessons.
Dennis: It's called "Life Lessons from the 'Princess and the Kiss,'" and Susan is a mom, a grandmother, and a pastor's wife and lives near Nashville and, frankly, I'm excited about this because I personally believe we are not challenging our young people to a high enough standard, and I personally believe, as well, that it's because we, as parents, are afraid to challenge them.
Now, Jennie, your daughter came back from kindergarten one day, and this is kind of how the book was birthed, right?
Jennie: Yes, sir. I had a daughter in kindergarten who came home and said, "Mom, all my girlfriends have boyfriends, and I need to have a boyfriend. And one of my girlfriends had someone steal her boyfriend," and during that conversation I recognized very clearly that I had been thinking I would wait until the teen years to talk to her about these kinds of subjects, and I realized that I couldn't wait, and that very night I got on my knees next to my daughters' beds and said, "Lord, I have got to find a way to do this now. Will you please help me?"
And this story came out of that prayer, and at that time I had no idea that mothers everywhere were searching for a similar tool. But since the book's inception and since it's been introduced, I have had so many incredible reports from moms who say "Thank you so much. I needed something just like this for my daughter. I knew I couldn't wait to tell her the story of why it's important to save your kiss."
Dennis: And undoubtedly, Bob, right now we have a ton of young listeners, because we get letters from them – some of the coolest letters I've ever received from FamilyLife Today listeners have been from some of the young people who listen to our broadcast. I want you to know if we have some young ladies listening, we're going to let you hear a sample of this story in just a moment, but, Jennie, what is this story all about? Just share with our listeners a little bit of what "The Princess and the Kiss" – well, what it challenges young people with?
Jennie: Well, in the story, the princess is given a gift, when she is born, from her mother and father – a gift that was given to them by God. It is her first kiss. And her mom and dad save it for her until she comes of age, and then she is given the choice to keep the kiss or to give it away. And so the story reflects how our young people have a decision to keep their purity, to keep themselves whole, or to give a little piece of themselves away.
Now, in the book that's shown as a kiss. We have a lot of discussion on what the kiss actually stands for. I would say that it's more an issue of wholeness in keeping yourself whole for the person that you want to give yourself totally to. And in today's culture, I think we view all those aspects as not really being worth that much. There is something that you pass around, whether it's your kiss or something else, you pass them around to many individuals. You take turns with many individuals. You might share your kiss or your emotional intimacy with many people before you get to the point of making a marriage commitment, and I believe that God has a better way – that when we save those things and count them as valuable and hold them dear, until that day when we stand at the altar, then we have a beautifully wrapped, unmarred, flawless package to give to the person that we want to spend the rest of our life with.
Dennis: And I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to preserve that package.
Jennie: No, sir, neither do I …
Dennis: … for that day. I think the culture wears us down and wears us out, and I think wears down our conscience. But every one of us – and I'm talking about listeners as well as those of us in the studio – can remember our first kiss. It was a profound moment, and I wish, frankly, I would have saved that kiss for my wife Barbara. But, frankly, no one ever challenged me to consider that.
Bob: And that was, again, so counter-cultural that to – I remember back when I was in college hearing Elizabeth Elliott with that challenge – save your kiss – and I thought, "This lady's out of her mind." It was so far out that nobody seemed to be considering it. Well, look at the legacy of a generation that didn't consider that, and let's ask the question – should we set a higher standard and challenge kids to something better? And that's what you've done in the book, "The Princess and the Kiss." You mentioned hearing a portion of it. We had somebody read through it, and it's beautifully done. Let's let our listeners hear just a sample of Jennie's story from "The Princess and the Kiss."
[audio clip from "Princess and the Kiss"]
Reader: But use wisdom, my daughter, warned the king, and save your kiss for the man you will marry. Never part with it for the sake of a stranger.
The wise little princess took her father's words to heart and kept the kiss safe in the castle tower. But there were many days when she went to gaze at her precious possession. She wondered how she could ever give it up.
Finally, there came a day when suitors began to appear, asking for the princess's hand in marriage. The first man who came to court her was Prince Peacock. "See the great muscles I have, Princess?" he said. "I would always be able to save you from danger. I can run faster and jump higher than any other prince in the world. I am mighty. Marry me, for I am a man among men."
The princess watched Prince Peacock lift heavy boulders and run the length of the castle wall. His strength was impressive, but the wise princess saw that his heart was full of himself. She knew there would be no room for her kiss there. So the princess sent Prince Peacock away.
Bob: That sounds cool, doesn't it?
Dennis: I like her accent better than yours, Bob. Well, it's a compelling story, though. You can just feel yourself falling into this story, and I can picture a mom reading to her daughter, maybe a dad. I think that would be cool to read to your daughter.
Bob: Well, and what about Grandma? Susan, you're a grandmother. You came across this book as a grandmother, right?
Bob: How did you even hear about it, do you remember?
Susan: Well, I was with Nancy Leigh DeMoss at a "Revive our Hearts" prayer summit, and a friend of ours was telling us about the story, and we were – Nancy and I had been talking about being counter-cultural women and what that means, and we were talking about products that are on the market that would be counter-cultural, and this book was mentioned and immediately when I left there, I purchased the book and read it to my grandchildren, and it was just an incredible opportunity when I read it with them.
Bob: Well, tell us about that. When you sat down to read it with your grandchildren for the first – and you'd read through it before – before you read it to your grandchildren, right?
Bob: So you knew what the concept was. You were excited to share it with them?
Susan: Yes. They were three and five at the time – Leah was three and Wesley was five, and we were just cuddled up in the bed together reading, and as we were about halfway through the book, and I was stopping along the way and explaining it, and my grandson, who was five, he sat up in the bed and had the most serious look on his face, and he looked at me, and he says, "But, Mawmaw, Anna, who is in my K5 class, she didn't save her kiss. She gave it to me." And I just immediately shot up a prayer, and I go, "Lord, how do I answer this one?"
And so I just asked Wesley, I said, "Wesley, did you kiss her back?" And he goes, "No, Mawmaw, I don't want to marry her." But it really put a seriousness in my heart at that moment that – of realizing that he understood, just by reading the book, that he needed to save his kiss for the one that he would marry, too, and this little girl had given something away that was precious that she wasn't supposed to. And it was actually reading that book that just put such a burden upon my heart, realizing what my grandchildren were going to be growing up and facing in their teen years, and I needed to start now planting the seeds of purity at a young age.
Bob: Susan, are you concerned at all to hold up this kind of a standard with your grandchildren? They're going to get into their teenage years, they're going to look around, they're going to feel, "Man, I'm out of place if I hold onto this standard. Everybody else isn't holding onto this standard." They're either going to be social misfits or if they blow it, if they kiss somebody before they get married, then, all of a sudden, they have guilt that maybe they shouldn't have because, after all, all I did was kiss somebody. Have you thought about those kinds of issues?
Susan: Oh, definitely, and I think we are swimming upstream in a counter-cultural way by presenting these special truths, but my feeling is if we do not use the voice and the love and the tools and resources that God has given us, then we are, in a sense, allowing the MTV and their peers and the culture at large at raising their children, and we've got to address these issues. It's really not an option for us.
Dennis: Jennie, you wrote the book. You've undoubtedly had to struggle with this, because as I challenged all six of our children, I was really concerned that I not put a standard on top of them that would crush them. I tried to let them know that if that did not become their conviction in terms of saving their first kiss that their mom and I would still love them every bit as much.
Jennie: That's so important.
Dennis: We even tried to make the point where giving your kiss away was not wrong.
Bob: It's not a sin. The Bible doesn't say don't kiss somebody else and yet, at the same time, you want to try to challenge them to something that's …
Dennis: Well, you want to protect their innocence.
Jennie: So we're the ideal.
Dennis: It is. Have you worried about it, though, with your daughters?
Jennie: Well, I was going to say, I have proof, by experience, that it is a difficult path to follow. I have an 11-year-old who carries the title with her of "Purity Queen," in her sixth-grade class, and the reason is because she constantly challenges her classmates saying, "How can you go out when you don't have a car? You're not really going out." And then talking to them about the fact that, "You don't need a boyfriend, because you're fine without a boyfriend. Why do you need a boyfriend right now?"
And we constantly talk with her about the issues at school because some days she is very discouraged, coming home and saying, "I'm so different from everybody else. Nobody else feels this way." She wears a bracelet on her arm that says, "God is my boyfriend," and she kind of uses it to fend off boys who come and say, "Will you go out with me?" In fact, in her first experience where someone came and asked her, "Well, this other boy likes you, and I think he'd like to date you. What do you say?" She said, "Well, let me tell you, if I had the choice between date and die, I'd pick die, because then I'd go and be with Jesus." She came home, and we said that might be a little harsh, honey, but that's the idea, okay.
Bob: The poor young man who now knows that if the choice was going out with him or dying, she'd rather die.
Jennie: Oh, my goodness.
Dennis: I was rejected a number of times by girls that I tried to take out …
Bob: But nobody said I'd rather die than go out with you?
Dennis: That young man probably needs some therapy right now, I'm telling you. But, you know, the point is a good one, though. It's interesting – your daughter, however, and I don't want to minimize this, because parents who get this book and the life lessons where you connect the truths from the story to your child's heart, you'd better be ready to help your child navigate the junior high, high school, and, most certainly, the college years, because from a counter-cultural standpoint, your daughter might as well have a target.
Jennie: That's right, and the only way for her to hold up that standard is to understand very, very deeply how valuable that kiss is; how valuable that purity is, and in that way, you know, it wasn't so hard to hear her say, "Well, I told him I'd rather die." Maybe that was hard on him, but in her heart she is saying, "This is how valuable this is to me. Don't even come near it, because I am saving it for somebody very special."
Bob: Let me tell you one of the ways that moms are accomplishing what you're taking about, Dennis, is they're not just doing it alone. They're getting together with other moms and other daughters, and they're making this a group project. They're going through the book with their own daughters, but there have been ceremonies where moms have given daughters a princess necklace that's been designed out of "The Princess and the Kiss." It's an opportunity to create some positive peer pressure and to let girls know, "I'm not the only one who is being challenged to this standard, and I'm not the only one who is trying to hold up this standard. There are some other people like me, and there is strength in numbers."
Dennis: I'm glad that's occurring, because just to teach this to your children is very noble, but if you've got a group of other mothers and daughters, other families who embrace this standard with you, then, all of a sudden, it seems more achievable in terms of being able to withstand the cultural pressure.
Bob: And the book and the workbook are here to help you in that regard as tools. The book is "The Princess and the Kiss." It's the story of the princess who is challenged to save her kiss until she meets her prince, and the workbook has 21 life lessons that – well, that give a mom or a grandma an opportunity to challenge a young girl with the concepts that are found in the storybook.
Dennis: And I just want to say a word to aunts and uncles, because there are a number of single people who listen to this broadcast – several hundred thousand singles, we get letters from you – you know what? You could get this book – if you're looking for something to do for a niece, this would be a great gift. Don't buy it and give it; buy it and read it. Sit them on your lap and read this book and invest in their lives.
Bob: We have the book available in our FamilyLife Resource Center along with the companion Life Lessons workbook. Go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and the information you need about both of these resources is available right there. In fact, when you get the book and the workbook together, we're going to send you a CD that has the audio not only of our conversation with Jennie and Susan but also has the complete story of "The Princess and the Kiss" in a dramatized version so you can listen to it, or your child can listen to it again and again.
Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com. There is information there about the children's book, "The Princess and the Kiss," the companion Life Lesson workbook, and the dramatized audio version of "The Princess and the Kiss." Again, the website, FamilyLifeToday.com, or 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you contact us, someone on our team can let you know you can all of these resources sent to you.
And I should also mention, and we're going to talk about this more this week, there is now a companion book for boys called "The Squire and the Scroll." And there is a dramatized version of that story as well. So if you have nephews instead of nieces or grandsons instead of granddaughters or boys instead of girls at home, you might want information about the "The Squire and the Scroll" book, the Life Lessons book that goes with that, and the companion audio for that as well.
This theme of purity is something that I just saw you addressed recently in a letter that we sent out to many of the folks who help support this ministry, addressing the issue of modesty, which is another aspect of the whole idea of remaining pure in an impure culture. And our goal here at FamilyLife is to provide helpful, practical, biblical resources for husbands and wives, moms and dads, to address these critical issues that we face as parents and as married couples.
Let me also mention, when you go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, there is information available there about the upcoming Bible Bee. In the fall of 2009, FamilyLife is helping to sponsor a national event for students all around the country – elementary, middle school, and high school students, that will culminate in 100 of those students going to Washington, D.C. for a national Bible Bee. And the winner of the high school division in the Bible Bee competition is going to receive $100,000 gift that can be used as a scholarship or it can be used for whatever expenses the parents want to apply it to.
Now, in order to participate in the Bible Bee, you need to sign up, and the sign-up period is going on right now. There is information about how to sign up on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and I hope you'll stop by and get more information, and I hope you'll plan to participate in the Bible Bee when the regional competitions are held in September, and then the national competition in November. Again, all the details are on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com.
Let me add a quick word of thanks to those of you who support the ministry of FamilyLife Today with donations to keep us on the air on this station and on other stations all across the country. This month, if you are able to make a donation of any amount for the ministry of FamilyLife Today, we'd love to send you "The Jesus Film" on DVD. It also includes a feature, "The Story of Jesus for Children." It's a look at the life of Jesus through the eyes of children, and the DVD is our gift to you when you make a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.
If you would like to receive the Jesus film on DVD, when you make your donation, as you are filling out your donation form online, you will come to a keycode box. Just type "JesusDVD" in that keycode box, and we'll know to send it to you. Or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, ask for the Jesus film on DVD when you make your donation of any amount and, again, it's our way of saying thank you for your generous support of this ministry. We do appreciate those of you who are standing with us, particularly in these very challenging economic times.
Now, tomorrow we're going to be back to hear the complete story of "The Princess and the Kiss" done in dramatic fashion. So make sure you have the kids tuned in tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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