Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding Hope in the Home School Empty Nest

I was encouraged after reading the blog post "Is There Life After Homeschooling" on the Tea Time With Annie Kate blog. She tells about a woman she met who had gone through a terrible time of depression when her homeschooling abruptly ended when her children went to high school.

I am right there when it comes to the empty nest. We graduated our youngest in 2010, but our last one at home just got married in May of last year (2014). I thought I would be useful in caring for my aging mother who moved in with us the year before our daughter's marriage, but then Mother passed away five months before the wedding, only making my empty nest more grievous.

Our beautiful children (youngest to oldest):
Andrew, Lydia, Sam, and Jonathan
So, here I am alone. It's been very hard. It doesn't help that three of our four children now live a thousand miles away. Thankfully, our oldest son and his family are close. But the absence of people who were not only my family but also some of my dearest friends, has left a gaping hole in my heart. The quiet is sometimes deafening.

However, in my loneliness and grief, I have found the time to actually think about who I am and what I am made to do. I've been studying the concept of vocation these past few months, and it has given me a hope beyond what I have already accomplished.

Vocation is not necessarily what you do for money. It is more an expression of your God-given gifts and talents -- your own personal calling -- for the blessing of others.

Therefore, just because I home educated our children it doesn't mean that is my life's calling. For some, homeschooling may only be a conviction which leads them to invest their lives in education only for that time. For instance, the woman mentioned in the blog post I gave above who was excited to be free of the obligations of homeschooling in order to begin a crafting business is most likely called to do that work. She just didn't have the time to do it until her children were grown. There's nothing wrong with that. In this way, each must discern what her next contribution will be through discovering her calling.

Then, how do you discern your calling? It has been suggested to begin by trying to recall what you enjoyed doing when you were a small child, perhaps even before you went to grade school. My earliest memories are of writing books and being The Teacher over my younger siblings playing school.

I may conclude then that my calling runs along the lines of one who informs or teaches. I have always loved reading and learning and sharing what I've read and learned. Therefore, I hope to spend at least some portion of what life is left in me to doing something along those lines. Knowing my calling gives me hope and helps me not to wallow in self-pity.

If you are in the empty nest or heading into it, let me encourage you to begin to prayerfully contemplate your calling. As long as you are living, there is some contribution you can make to the Kingdom of Christ, both in your own family, among God's people, and perhaps even out into the greater community.

We must not let this rich chapter of our lives go to waste for one moment in self-pity or despair. God is able to make all grace abound as we seek His face for the guidance in every step of our life's journey for the glory of God and for the good of others.

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." ~ Proverbs 3:6