Chapter One.

“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.  When you read you begin with A,B,C.  When you sing you begin with do re mi…”

The beginning is indeed a very good place to start.  Though with life as the story line, there isn’t always such a cut and dried beginning.  Or ending for that matter.  But a good choice for the beginning of the story of this particular family and for this particular journal is when The Pilot and I met.  That’s my husband.  It’s a good name for him since he is, in fact, a pilot.  So, many years ago in a little town called Montgomery, Alabama, The Pilot and I met while suffering through US Air Force Officer Training.  We met on Easter Sunday morning, though according to him, he’d noticed me long before that.  I can’t believe that to be true:  camouflage and combat boots are not how we women typically set about getting ourselves noticed.  But that’s his story.  Anyway, it was Easter Sunday morning, and in a moment of deep spirituality I decided to attend the sunrise service because of the free breakfast afterwards.  And there, between me and my second helping of biscuits, was The Pilot.  He tried to talk to me.  I said,  “Excuse me.  I’m trying to get some more biscuits.”  And I walked off  and that was that.

Thank goodness he kept trying.  We proceeded to date each other, from afar, for the next several years (the US Air Force is unconcerned with matters of the heart.  We never lived near each other till we got married, and even then we didn’t live with each other for a while).  We often made a mess of things- dating someone is hard enough WITHOUT a 1000-mile separation between you, but we muddled through and followed our hearts and what we believed God had for us, and here we are now, 2 kids and 13 years of marriage later.  Living proof that God uses even the biggest of messes to do His work!

As you could figure out from where we met, in my previous life I was in the military, and I loved my job.  I joined, among many other reasons, because I love to travel. And lucky me, I got to do lots of it.  Not as much as The Pilot, but we’ll get to him in a bit.  Of course, even before I joined the military I loved to travel and got to do my fair share of it.  My mother took me to Paris and London when I was 16, and that was it:  I was hooked.  I got to go to Austria and Germany with my college choir, and then when I was about 20, I got to go to Russia and Kazakhstan.  I decided that I wanted to learn to speak Russian after visiting the country, so Russian school came after that. It was in Vermont, and believe me, for someone born and raised in Texas, Vermont seemed like a foreign country.  After I finished college, I moved to New England for a year and then even further north for a year after that to Montreal.  In Montreal, though I was studying Russian, I picked up French on the side.  Which was enough to get me a fabulous job once I was in the military:  a temporary gig as a French interpreter working in the south of France.  Ha.  What an amazing deal that was- I’m still not sure how I pulled THAT one off…

As for The Pilot, he’s a very interesting guy.  He was born in Africa to missionary parents, and upon their return grew up mostly in the mountains of Colorado.  You’d be hard pressed to name a place in the world that he hasn’t been to or at least flown over.  When we first met (after initial training, of course) he was flying airplanes into hurricanes.  Yes, indeed.  Into hurricanes.  For purposes of weather research, you see.  Look up the Air Force Hurricane Hunters sometime and see what those crazy guys do.  They are saving lives, and it takes an impressive amount of bravery and skill, or insanity, or maybe all of those things.  When our daughter was born, he decided to do something safer, so we moved to California so he could fly U-2s.  Look that one up too.  Safer?  Hmmm.  Oh yes- and he likes to do survival training in the wilderness, especially the Arctic, and works out physics equations to relax.  See?  I told you he was an interesting guy.

And now he flies an airliner, which is a beautiful thing because it helps to feed our travel addiction.  

Life is a Story. Here is ours.

“I had always felt life first as a story:  and if there is a story there is a story-teller.”- G.K. Chesterton

I came across that quote in my son’s brand new copy of “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  It’s a beautifully written and illustrated collection of stories from, you guessed it, the Bible, and I can’t wait to start reading it with him!  It starts out like this:  “God wrote, “I love you”- he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea…”  Wow.  What a beautiful way to look at this world we live in… What a beautiful story!

But I digress.  What I really want to share is the reason that we are reading this book together:  we are a homeschooling family who follow, perhaps rather loosely, the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our approach.  We are new to it all, but it has been so, so right for our family.  We came to homeschooling our 8 year old son because the world (okay, the school, but it felt like the world) wanted to label him- just pick from the selection of current favorite diagnoses and you’ll guess it.  They wanted to put a label on him and then give him a little pill, and then maybe shove him off into another sort of classroom along with his label and bottle of meds.  Everyone is different and everyone’s kids are different, I know- we’re all just trying to do our best by our kids and for those who have gone this route, I understand.  No judgment here.  But after much prayer and much discussion, and much wringing of hands and praying some more (and yes, worrying), we decided that we would rather just take it on ourselves.  After all, who has a greater interest in his happiness and success than we?

And so, we made the leap.  Of course, we quickly found that it wasn’t the big, scary, terrifying leap at all.  It was actually more like relaxing into where we were supposed to be.  Shortly after we began, I came across this quote:  “The Lord works from the inside out.  The world works from the outside in… The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human behavior” (Benson).  I’m holding on to that.

Now, we start every morning sitting at our kitchen table and reading our devotionals together.  Then we read from one of our “kid” Bibles, the ones with the colorfully illustrated stories like the one I already mentioned, before starting our academics.  And we pray.  Lots.  And you know what?  It’s working.

This is only the beginning of our life as a story, or should I say, only the beginning of this particular chapter.  There will be many more.  I’ll be the storyteller- after all, I’m the mom around here, and I’m pretty sure that’s part of the job description anyway.  And I think we’re about to start getting to a really good part…