1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family, and what your husband does (if he’s allowed to share that).
We came to Camp Pendleton 3 ½ years ago. Prior to that, Camp Lejune in North Carolina. Andre has been in the Marines for 16 years. We got married 8 years ago so I’ve shared half that time with him. For the last couple years, he was instructor. Now he’s back in what we call the “fleet”. He’s a reconnaissance Marine. We have our four kids, Royce is seven, Ruthie is four, Ben is two and Rebekah is about to be one month. We homeschool, Royce is in second grade and Ruthie is in Pre-K. Part of our existence is our school. We have been members of RBC for two years. We came before Ben was even born. RBC has been a huge landmark in both of our lives. This is the first time we have actually been members of a local church, due to Andre’s deployment. Prior to that in North Carolina, we would just visit churches, but we would be “long-term visitors”. We would know everyone, but never go through the membership process. We weren’t thinking long term. Me and the kids would go back to stay with my family during his deployments. But coming here, God has really showed us biblical Christianity and how the local body looks. It’s not something you do, isolated with your family and how you need to be shepherd and cared for by others. That’s been a huge component of my walk and Andre’s walk as well.
2. How did you come to know the Lord?
I was raised in a culturally Catholic family. I had most of my knowledge from my childhood. I knew who the Holy Spirit and who God was intellectually, but I never had a familiarity over God’s word. He had no authority over my life. I believed in Him and knew He was real. I even believed He was sovereign and over my life but I didn’t have any kind of interest in Him. When I was a junior in college, I was struggling with really intense anxiety and panic attacks. My family dropped me off for an internship in DC, and it started to really peak since I was in a new city all by myself, and being in a new city knowing nobody sent me into a tailspin. I tried to find some stability. My heart cried out for stability in anything, in my family, friends, or schoolwork. I had a roommate who invited me to Bible study consistently, and I finally went. Hearing the gospel outside of a Catholic environment and in a more authoritative relevant way with people my age, it came alive to me. Not only [did He] reveal to me he was real, but also that He was the answer and that my stability was in Christ. Then I thought “I thought I knew Him, but I don’t know Him, so I’m gonna get to know Him” and that I needed to get my own Bible. I look back on this time with joy, because it was when I started taking ownership actually and I was choosing to purse this. At that point, I continued to pursue Bible Study-type material, but it was a long time before I finally left the Catholic environment. Ever since then, He has drawn me closer to Him.
3. What are two of the biggest challenges you have faced as a Christian wife and mother in the military?
For me, its the obvious larger workload, both physically and emotionally which comes with parenting and the missing of your husband. I felt that more acutely before I had kids, since now I have needs to meet. It’s a new dimension, where the kids miss him too. It’s hard to be both mom and dad to them when he’s gone. Andre and I have discussed this before and ways to mitigate that. But of course, neither of us are enough for their hearts. They need the Good Shepherd.
2. Negativity in spouses
More often than not, there is a lot of resentment in the spouses when their spouses are deployed. It can be tempting to succumb to the complaining culture. We’ve tried to teach our kids that this is a cool, important job that their Dad has and that we are proud to serve our country. As with everything, we can choose to complain or we can choose to thank God and rejoice.
4. How has Christ helped you in specific ways in this role?
He allows this overwhelming need as a platform to see his sufficiency and His glory. I look through His word as a precedent where others in the Bible are so needy, such as Gideon and the widow who provided for Elijah. Sometimes, when it feels as if there’s not enough of me to go around when Andre is gone, and when there are people who have needs and I’m either physically or emotionally tired, Christ feeds and nourishes me through His word and provides the time and ability for me to do so, even with four kids. He fills my heart and shows me the way forward by reminding me to pray and stay close to the body. His ministry to me through His word is my 24/7 sustenance. Through Home Fellowship Group and Discipleship with the Dacostas, it really sustains us when Andre is away and here. Sometimes this calling is overwhelming, especially during COVID as there are less distractions. Through the local body, He helps us to reach out to brothers and sisters whose circumstances and trials to remind us that we are not alone. It helps point the kids to other saints as examples as families who are depending on the Lord no matter what circumstance. He is glorified by allowing us to see how He is taking care of other saints. We all have ongoing battles and we all have a Christ who will help us fight.
5. What are some pieces of Biblical advice would you give to new young CWMM (Christian Wives and Mothers in the Military)?
There are a lot of times where God speaks to people as a husband addresses his wife. Knowing that Christ is the bridegroom gives peace to our womanly hearts and fulfills that aching desire during the absences. He created us to find that satisfaction in Himself. There is no earthly romantic relationship that could ever compare to the bridegroom. Keeping this in mind reminds us that all marriages are to be a picture of the Lord. I remind my kids often, and I would remind other military wives as well, to view this or any hardship as a custom made gift and platform for God to act in our lives so that we can see His faithfulness and His glory. If our life was problem free and comfortable, you will never get to see the Lord’s goodness by how He brings you through this trial. If you can view it that way, you can embrace this calling God has given you and you can do good for others while embracing the goodness Christ has done for you.
6. What important lessons have you learned regarding local church life and its relation to spiritual growth and joy?
We need shepherding in the mundane aspects of our life. Prior to coming to RBC, we were often clueless about what we should do and often viewed these decisions as something we needed to deal with in our own family. However, at RBC, God has shown us that these questions can be answered and He provides oversight for us not only through His written word, but also through eldership and the body. You should depend on the body when you are in trouble. You shouldn’t try to go through your trials alone. I still need to remind myself of that when I get thrown for a loop and I just get stuck in my head with my problems and try to solve them for myself. The Bible says to bear one another’s burdens, but how can we do that if they don’t know what they are?
7. We understand that being a military family requires that you and your family move around a lot. Yet God has called you to be part of a local church. How have those two things been reconciled for you in your life and lived out at RBC?
When we were interested in membership, Angelo gave us a book on membership and this situation is addressed. In it, it stated that God’s calling is the same. We are called to be committed to our brothers and sisters when we are in each other’s lives consistently. Wherever we are, we would seek for a like-minded church and ask the eldership for guidance. The military is a mission field, and its exciting to see where God could bring us.
8. What have you learned about the importance of fellowship in our HFG (Home Fellowship Groups)?
It has been an amazing sustenance and provision. It is good to be reminded to be faithful in our walk and that the world around us isn’t telling us the truth. Being with the saints helps us see this reality taught and lived out. We see His word made alive through the saints. He has encouraged me through my sisters in Christ. Once, during a situation I had never encountered, Bonnie and Jeremy took me aside and explained to me biblically what church discipline is and how to deal with it in a godly manner. I hadn’t been exposed to church discipline, but they sat down with me and showed me how to make the person’s soul the most important aspect.
9. Any other thoughts?
Praise the Lord for being sufficient and being everything He says He is. When I hold onto His word and He proves His faithfulness, my understanding of Him continually grows. He will be more than sufficient in all of our struggles.