Chelsea Noble is a homeschooling mom, former model/actress, and wife of actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron. She was born as Nancy Mueller on December 4, 1964, in Cheektowaga, New York (a suburb of Buffalo). As an adopted child herself, Chelsea has a passion for adoption and a love of children. “I love being a mother,” Chelsea told the AFA Journal. “It’s the most fulfilling thing.”
Chelsea graduated from Maryvale High School in Cheektowaga and attended SUNY Geneseo from 1983 to 1987, where she was a member of Phi Kappa Pi sorority and played women's rugby. After relocating to Los Angeles, she first met Kirk in 1989 on the set of Full House which starred Kirk's younger sister, Candace. Kirk was 18 at the time, and Chelsea was 24. Soon after, they met again on the TV sitcom Growing Pains which starred Kirk as Mike Seaver. Chelsea was cast to play the role of his girlfriend Kate MacDonald.
Kirk and Chelsea began dating in real life and were married on July 20, 1991. The couple wanted a small private ceremony, not a big Hollywood-style gala. Kirk didn't even tell any of his Growing Pains co-workers what they were planning. Chelsea and Kirk sneaked into a small historic chapel in Chelsea’s hometown. At the altar, the bride and groom recited the wedding vows they had written and exchanged rings. Chelsea's brother, David Mueller, was the best man and his wife Heidi was the maid of honor. The reception was held at a small country club, and the newlyweds honeymooned in Vermont.
Chelsea told People magazine that her father, Fred Mueller (who died in 1990) and her mother, Irene, laid forth a vision of matrimony that she hopes to duplicate. “They were married 36 years,” Chelsea said, “and Kirk and I know that we can get through anything with our foundation of faith and family.” The Camerons credit the Bible for the health and happiness of their 22-year marriage, along with the fact that they are committed to raising their children as a team which “strengthens our bond as parents and keeps us together as a family.”
“We work on spending time together,” Kirk said, explaining that's one reason he has limited his time away from home to one weekend a month. Now that the kids are older, he can also bring one or more of them with him on business trips. And since they homeschool, the family often travels together. They visit Chelsea’s relatives in Western New York, and every summer the Camerons head to Georgia where they run Camp Firefly, which provides a week’s free vacation for terminally ill children and their families.
Chelsea and her husband both share a strong love for children, and were devoted to the idea of parenthood from the beginning. The couple decided “to adopt our first ones so they would always know they were our first choice – that they were our first babies,” Chelsea explained. She and Kirk have four adopted children of mixed races: Jack (b. 1996), Isabella (b. 1997), Anna (b. 1998), and Luke (b. 2000); and two biological children: Olivia Rose (b. July 18, 2001) and James Thomas (b. April 13, 2003).
The Cameron family lives in Agoura Hills, California, north of metropolitan Los Angeles. They purchased their 4-bedroom, 4-bath, 2,980 square-foot ranch home in June of 1998 for $645,000. “There's kind of a country feel to it,” said Kirk. “You're not in the heart of the city, in the rat race. It's close to the beach. It's in the mountains. It's just kind of away from the Hollywood scene.” Kirk wrote in his autobiography, "Our house is a home – a haven of safety and family. There's almost always laundry on the kitchen table, or crafts, paper and paints. There are kids constantly calling, talking, shrieking, playing." In the backyard they have a trampoline, tire swing, campfire pit, chicken coop, and even a creek where they can go fishing.
According to the AFA Journal, Chelsea and Kirk “run a tight ship when it comes to the structure and function of their family. But this tight ship sails on a sea of unconditional love as seen through prayer time, family devotions, family hikes, beach trips, free-for-alls in the yard, times of jubilant worship through dancing and singing, and Sunday visits with Grandma.” Like many homeschool families, their children have delved into everything from ballet, music, and books to LEGOs, cars, and power tools.
In a Christian Post interview, Kirk said: “We sort of invented the term life schooling because if anyone knows us, they would know that the last thing I think my wife and I would ever want to do is try to turn our house into a school room. We have discovered the advantages of homeschooling our kids but we do it in a way where we’re teaching them how to live and love life. And so incorporating science and philosophy, economics and geography, and mathematics to…interning at Joni & Friends disability ministry and starting a family business, really turns the whole world into a classroom and they learn how to love and live life. So we call it life schooling.”
Kirk later declared, “Boy, am I glad we decided to homeschool our children! As my wife said to me, ‘Who has time for school when we're getting an educational experience like this?’” The Camerons also realize the great responsibilities that come with parenting, which is why they seek God’s wisdom on a daily basis. Chelsea and Kirk are both conservative Christians. While they attend a small community church of about 100 people, the kids’ spiritual education, Kirk explained, comes from him and his wife. They hope that these Christian teachings will have a lasting impact.
One book that Kirk and Chelsea use as a parenting tool in addition to the Bible is Shepherding a Child's Heart by Dr. Ted Tripp. “It lifts the wisdom of parenting out of the Bible and is the most amazing tool about godly parenting, godly discipline, getting to the heart of a child and not the behavior, [and] teaching the heart of your child,” Chelsea explained. “I want a child whose heart understands their need for God and understands God’s ways.” Chelsea has taught parenting classes for young mothers in which she shares Pastor Tripp's insights as well as the Cameron family's values: 1. Love God; 2. Family First; 3. Work Hard; 4. Tell the Truth; 5. Be Kind.
Chelsea also values the leadership that Kirk provides as a father and a husband, realizing that it doesn’t lessen her role as mother but rather “makes my job as a mom so much more wonderful because I can rely on him to lead.” Early in their marriage Kirk made a vow to his wife that he would never kiss another woman on or off-screen, so Chelsea stood in for the romantic scene when Kirk portrayed Fire Captain Caleb Holt in the 2008 movie, Fireproof. As Kirk described it, “My wife came to the set, and she put on the dress the actress was wearing, and we shot the scene in silhouette. It gave us the ability to make a movie about honoring marriage above all things, and then be able to honor my marriage personally.”
Other than that one brief stand-in role, Chelsea hasn’t worked as an actress since the early 2000’s when she played Hattie Durham in the Left Behind trilogy alongside her husband. Chelsea is content to stay out of the limelight, truly enjoying being a stay-at-home mom to her six children. “I am always with them, so I want to get to the heart of my kids,” she said. Chelsea drives them around in a 15-passenger van, and even though she can certainly afford it, she has never hired a nanny to help with the children. “The gift of motherhood is so huge,” Chelsea emphasized. “I want to be in the trenches,” she added. “I want to know that I’ve been there, and I’ve experienced all aspects of being a mom. There’s just nothing like it!”
Still Growing: An Autobiography, by Kirk Cameron with Lissa Halls Johnson.
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