Today’s Chat is with a Charlotte Mason military mom. This gal is an incredibly sweet mom who I met through our Facebook group. When we decided to have a special July 4th edition of the Chat, I knew I wanted to interview a military mom. For safety reasons, I won’t be sharing her name, but I’m so proud to be able to share some of her story! You’re sure to be blessed by it!
First of all, THANK YOU for what you and your family do in serving our country and thank you for chatting with me today! Will you tell us a bit about your family?
It is a treat to chat with you. I feel like a regular family most of the time until I realize a lot of families have not moved 9 times in 17 years. We are a regular family of five. My kids are ages 9, 7 and 4.
How long have y’all been a military family and what is the longest time that you’ve been stationed in one place?
We have been a military family for 17 years. My husband and I were married for 8 years before our first child came on the scene. We have since been a military family for nine years. Of those nine years, seven of them have been spent bouncing around in Virginia.
Tell me about your most favorite place to have been stationed and why it was your favorite.
My favorite place we were stationed was Sicily, Italy. I mean, it comes with all the history, delicious and fresh food and sweet hospitality that Italy is famous for.
We traveled quite a bit. I dove right in and learned the language and we started hitting up historical and archeological sites with the strategic precision befitting of any 4-star admiral. But that was not the main reason I loved Sicily. I was poised to be a career woman with a brief stint of time off if God happened to bless us with children. I have always been a “busy bee” type of person, working, volunteering, etc. I really disliked being home and shrugged off all things domestic, except for cleaning and laundry. Cooking, decorating, crafts, gardening- I was clueless about that whole lot of domestic activities. Over a year into our time in Sicily, I had a job I enjoyed in my field, a steady stream of 5k runs on base and I was in my church praise team, which would frequently go out in town and sing at Sicilian events. I met beautiful people and someone always had something going on to which we were invited, in addition to our extensive list of dozens of must-see Sicilian sites of interest. The flurry of activity was delightful to my activity-loving self. One evening, I was driving to rehearsal, having left my husband, as usual, to fend for himself at scrapping a meal together. I liked to pray as I drove around. I remember asking God to help me love the unlovely and find a way to bless others and do His Will and reach the world for His glory. As I approached a stop sign, I stopped my car and heard a voice say, “Look at your home.”
I quickly thought, “There’s nothing there, just my husband.” I heard not one more word on my whole drive that day. That was not the “Preach to all the nations” message I was expecting. That night on my way home, I made up my mind to just obey and “look” at my home. When I walked in, I saw a delicious meal he had made and, for the first time, felt a pang of guilt for not putting any forethought into dinners or food in my home. I was determined to be obedient to the Lord and pretty quickly I realized that our marriage needed some strengthening. I started declining outside commitments left and right, even offers to join and play guitar for a new choir forming on base. My husband eventually asked why I was home so much. That further confirmed that I was doing the right thing. Over the next 2.5 years, I was home ALOT and we grew close and I started developing a heart for my home. I didn’t transform into a Martha Stewart or anything. I struggled in the kitchen to just serve up “food”, if you could call my first horrible dishes food. The walls were still bare and undecorated but something inside me felt comfortable and at peace in the four walls of my house for the first time ever. I look back and in Sicily the Lord laid the necessary groundwork in my heart for my homeschooling years. I acquired a mindset that if my house is not right, I have no business pouring myself out elsewhere. This may not be an appropriate mindset for other people’s walk with Christ but was essential for mine.
What led your family to homeschooling and then to Charlotte Mason?
I read a thick book on how to get started homeschooling by Mary Pride. She has a quiz at the very beginning that helps you narrow down your choices. It came up with unit studies and Charlotte Mason. I remember thinking, “That looks kind of like Charles Manson, if you read it over quickly. Gotta look into this.”
What are some of the unique challenges you’ve experienced as a military homeschooling family and how have those challenges helped you grow in your faith?
The first thing I think of is that my husband is away a lot and we have no extended family nearby. Creating a home that feels full of love with my kids has been a challenge to me. My husband has missed more birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases, Thanksgivings, etc than I care to mention.
My kids usually start the year asking if Daddy will be here for their birthdays that year. It’s not something they can count on and they know it.
The challenge in that has been becoming a tight-knit family that still feels completely loved even when there’s a consistently empty seat at the dinner table, at birthdays and all special occasions. This had made me hone in on the quality of our relationships at home. When my kids were little I was so concentrated on the logistics of running a house but now my formerly high-esteemed to-do lists have taken a lower priority than sitting down with my kids and hugging them daily as we read our family read-aloud or connecting over great conversations in our living room. I have to resist the push to be busy and over-commit us to social activities. I always make sure we leave time to connect and that I leave lots of time for my kids to free play together so they maintain their relationship strong as well. I guard against becoming a Martha in my home and try to stay focused on being a Mary that concentrates on relationships and showing love. Yes, my floor doesn’t get vacuumed as often as it used to but it does see a vacuum regularly as well as lots of tickle matches and pretend tea parties, of which I partake in 🙂
As for how this has helped me in my walk, I am a recovering Martha who was busy, busy, busy in “wholesome and godly things” and neglected what was most needed in my marriage and relationship with Christ- intimacy and Holy-Spirit-led sacrifice. I am much more clear that I have to be connected to the Father daily and that is what it needed above all else. Luke 10:41 sums it up best, “And Jesus answered and said unto her Martha, Martha thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
I was always so busy, but I never asked God if he wanted me doing most of these things. What can be so bad about joining a worship team, or a co-op, going for a Masters degree, etc.? Nothing is wrong with them inherently but, as a child of God, who desires to do his will, when I commit to doing something he hasn’t asked me to do, I have realized that I may be forfeiting the time and energy to do what I need to do.
In this season of life, the Lord has placed me mostly at home and I am done wrestling with the Holy Spirit about it. My oldest just got baptized and all but one of kids has accepted Christ, all with no prompting from me. We have had so many small victories at home in their habits, and we sincerely enjoy each other’s presence. Mine is a life blessed and I thank the Lord for asking me to get my eyes on my home and set my heart there, too. This is just a season but I am starting to see fruit that will outlive me in their lives.
How have those challenges helped your family grow closer?
Having my husband around so little has made me focus on the quality of the love and care in our home and my role in providing it. With only one parent in the home, I am 100% responsible for the environment and atmosphere in it. That’s where getting on my knees and asking for the Lord for help is essential. Then I realize that I am not alone and my kids are just on loan and He will strengthen and guide me to do what is truly needed that day.
If you had unlimited funds to travel with your family, where would you travel to and what would you plan to do?
I would travel to Latin America so they can meet all of their extended family on both sides and hear Spanish in a natural context of a complete culture. I hope that they would see love and feel loved in another language and culture. That was a very powerful childhood experience for me that made the traveling life very easy as a military wife: love is a universal language. I would especially love to have us all there to see my grandmother on her 100th birthday soon. Her whole life will soon fill one century chart!
Tell me about a book or two you’ve read within the last year and what did you like most about it?
Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour. It’s a biography of a man who used to write western novels. His focus is not his writing but on his life. His story is that of a young man so bored with school that he left it and educated himself with anything in print he could get his hands on. He etched out a living but his comfort in life was books, whether at a campfire, on a boat, in Asia, or on a train. He life so beautifully embodies the aspirations of a true CM education- a spirit that continually seeks to learn. It was an unexpected surprise.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color are you and why?
Burgundy. A rich, intensely-passionate burgundy color may be first confused as red (which I see as a highly-extroverted color) but has deep tones of warmth and comfort.
What a powerful message…look at your home. So often it’s easier for me to look outside my home (such as this blog and the Facebook group, which is a ministry, and other CMS projects in the pipeline) because those things outside my home are more easily measureable. When I can measure something, it makes me feel that I’ve accomplished something or succeeded in checking off a box. Relationships and things inside my home are not quite so measurable. But aren’t they MUCH more valuable?! I definitely want to do a better job at not putting the more valuable things on the backburner!
What about you? Have you become more self-disciplined to look at your home and find peace in doing work that is not measurable, or are you like me and still working on that?