Have you ever grown a garden and found yourself amazed to see what can come from a simple seed?
Well, whether you have or not, I can say confidently that every military parent can call themselves a gardener. They time and time again are uprooted and begin new gardens wherever they find themselves.
Military parents understand that when the soil washes away with the hard rains, it is how deep the roots are that will matter. This unprecedented time of COVID-19 is no different. It is a time of hard rain and winds that has exposed the roots of our gardens. We have instantly been given the name “Quarantined Military Parent” and we are proud.
During this time of unknowns, uncertainties, anxieties, fears, and change, as military parents, we can consider ourselves equipped. We have been equipped to understand that there is no greater place to be, than within our four walls with our offspring and those we call our own. We understand that “bunkering down” is just another word for appreciating the love that runs deep in our families. Even on the darkest days we never give up. We will not let our spouses fight in vain. They fight for families like our own. They fight for love and hope, and all we have have to do is live it.
So during these days when we can’t plan like we are used to, be free like we want to, and predict like we always hope to, we can choose to live like we ought to. A time of appreciation, gratitude, thankfulness, and a slowing down of time. These are the days of planting, growing, and harvesting all at once. A time to plant new seeds into our children, a time to appreciate the growth that is happening in them as we speak, and a time to enjoy them, the fruit of our labor.
If I have learned anything from military parents, it is the need to see the best in every moment. For time is fleeting and life is short, therefore we must live life it to the fullest, and love it to its greatest.
Our children are growing, and they are growing fast. Let us take this time as quarantined military parents, and just admire them as we shower them with water.
I asked my 7 year old son, Micah, what he wants most out of this time that he has out of school and at home with the family, and to relate it to a garden. This is what he said:
“I want to be allowed to grow. People should stop looking to get more and instead spend time thanking God for what they already have. If you pull a plant out too soon, it won’t be able to grow bigger, and the more time it has its roots, the bigger the roots can be.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have tried to check off the list every possible children’s activity, craft, workout, and project I can find during this time of COVID Quarantine. What I have found to be the most impactful and meaningful thing though, is when I have conversations with my three children. That is when I realized, to slow down, you really have to slow down. What is different from rushing around out on the streets than rushing around within the four walls of our homes? So here’s to slowing down, tending to our gardens, and appreciating what already is.
“Plants are happiest when they are in the soil.”Micah Chelanga
Cerra Sampson is a military mom of three, that has literally taken to her garden during these weeks of quarantine due to COVID-19. Currently stationed in Columbia, SC, she has been serving with her husband and children Lilyana (7), Owen (5) and Luke (3) in the military for the past eight years.
Cerra has a passion for food and bringing it to the table straight from the soil. She loves the experience of cooking and sharing it with her family, friends, and strangers. In 2019 she launched her business, CS Culinary, cooking for clients, creating new recipes, teaching classes and selling bread at local farmer’s markets. Cerra began her first garden when she and her family were stationed in Vicenza, Italy.
“Italians LOVE their gardens, and it doesn’t matter the space they have, they will have a garden somehow. I learned that we can often really complicate having a garden, and there it was so simple. Prep the land, nourish the soil with compost from the previous year, plant, water, tend. It was SO SIMPLE. Sometimes we juts have to let nature do its thing and we just need to help a little.”
MS: Why do you love to garden?
CS: “Gardening is calming and stills me. I’ve always liked gardening, and I truly believe it is just something that God has placed in me, really in all of us, to enjoy the beauties and marvels of his creation and nature in its true form. I remember always being in awe and intrigued at different family friends’ gardens as a young child and in my teenage years. That feeling has stuck with me, I am still in awe of the power of a seed and of nature.”
MS: Do your children enjoy it as well?
CS: “ALL the kids love to water, because it usually ends up with multiple people getting sprayed. Lilyana loves to help collect and harvest the produce, she also loves to share it and deliver extra produce to the neighbors. Owen loves to sow the seeds and tend the baby plants. He also enjoys checking on the progress of the seedlings and telling them he loves them and showing off his sowing skills. Luke, oh Luke, is still young, so he likes to pull up any stakes I have secured to the plants and use them as swords or he likes to dig in the garden and uprooting the plants, LOL!! They do enjoy digging in other parts of the yard to find worms to put in the garden.”
MS: What do you think being in the military has taught you about motherhood?
CS: “Fortunately, I have met some really, and I mean REALLY, wonderful and seasoned military wives and spiritual mothers who have helped me see the beauty in mil-life. I have learned to be strong, resilient, wear 19 hats at once, be completely flexible, understanding, show grace, and not allow the world of frustrations that military life brings seep into my marriage or parenting. I’ve learned how to build strong children, how to talk to them and equip them for tough times, how to find joy in the midst of trial, suffering and uncertainty, how to make new friends and be a go-getter.
I have learned how to love my family more, because we get to experience this life TOGETHER. I’ve also learned how to love my husband more and be there for him in each circumstance. I have learned that sacrificing sleep so you can make your husband a breakfast sandwich or burritos for a long day is completely priceless and strengthening in a marriage. I’ve learned that dropping everything to tend to the children or husband is necessary in many situations. I have been taught so much and have learned so much. God has put us in this lifestyle for a very specific reason, and I am so incredibly grateful for each season and the struggles and joys they bring.”
MS: How is your family adjusting to this crazy time of self-quarantine amidst COVID-19?
CS: “Under the very, very unfortunate circumstance we are really enjoying being together. Even though the situation isn’t ideal, we are looking for the good in it. I get time back with my children, I get to have deeper conversations with them and listen to what is on their mind, we get to have table and study time together, all 5 of us. Which is so cool…listening to music, each working on something to keep their concentration. My husband and I get to feed into their interests and listen to their creativity. We get to slow down and refocus and get back to a simplistic way of living.”
MS: Anything else you’d like to share to our readers?
CS: “Friends, be grace-filled. Be still and don’t rush through this life. Through the trials that this military lifestyle brings, find the good in it, reflect on the past and see how it has strengthened you. And love…love your neighbors as you love yourself. Jump into community with both feet and build others up around you. Remember, bring a meal to the “new family in town”…It is one of the greatest and most powerful acts you could imagine.”