Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Things That Last

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago, this empty nest thing got the better of me.  Or perhaps it was the fact that I turned 50 that same week.  Either way, I went a little nuts.  

I decided it was time to "de-school" the house.  If you homeschool, please listen to the following piece of advise:  DO NOT wait until all your kids are grown and gone to get rid of all the old school stuff.  It's a REALLY bad idea.  Try to take care of it as you go.

I can give that advise because I did the exact opposite.  I'm pretty sure I hadn't thrown away a single scrap of paper in the 18 years that I spent educating our three kids.  Every math paper, every penmanship paper, every grammar worksheet, every creative writing project, every book, every shred of curriculum, everything.  Everything.  Did I mention everything?

It is not a good idea for a pre-menopausal, recently empty-nested, just turned fifty-year-old woman to be going through the papers that her children's sweet little cherub hands created at five, seven, ten...

These would be the books, curriculum, etc. that were good, but no particular attachment was made and they'll be helpful to some other mom someday, so I'm getting rid of them.  Any takers?
More of the same...
Again, any takers?

Boxes and boxes of books that Brian and I have read, enjoyed and decided (perhaps somewhat reluctantly on his part - but he was a little afraid of me at the time, I think, so he complied) to share with others.


And here's where I learned a little something.  Eighteen years of homeschooling...our blood, sweat and tears.  The blood, sweat and tears of our children... it came down this...

This picture is the blood, sweat and tears part.  The "work".  The part the kids fought me over, that I worried and stressed about, that made me feel like an unfit mother/teacher.  Penmanship, science, history, math, creative writing, blah, blah, blah.  Now?  Now the papers will go up in flames somewhere where I can't watch.  I was reminded often as I sifted through it of this verse in 1 Corinthians 3 :

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,  their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work."

So what's gonna last?

These are the books I was absolutely unable to part with.  Books that one child or another particularly enjoyed reading, that we all loved reading together, that we laughed through, cried through, had some emotional attachment to...
And one day these will burn too, but they'll stay for now because they represent what will not burn.  The love of our family, the love of learning, the joy of discovery, the excitement of "seeing" the lives that have gone before us, getting to know our God better - together.  Those things will last.

I'm thankful that when Erin was in third grade, I put all the "curriculum" away in a box and spent two months getting to know her a little better, investigating how she learned, playing games and adapted "school" to our home instead of forcing someone else's ideas of the best way to learn on to her.  I tried to do that with all three kids. I made plenty of mistakes, forced some stupid curriculum options on them at times, stressed about things I shouldn't have stressed over...  But we'll survive the mistakes, I guess.  We always seem to. :)

What's not gonna burn?  

The relationships;  a life time of memories that we share; the fact that they each, in their own way, love to learn (different things, in different ways, but always growing); character and integrity; a desire in each of them to serve "the least of these".

All of us - those who homeschool and those who send their kids to school, those who teach their own kids at home and those who teach other people's kids, those with no kids at all, but who have a place of influence in another's life - can work on those things.

I've spent a lifetime investing in the education and growth of my children.  I would not trade one second of that time for more money, or things, or fame.  Nothing is more important to me than what we all learned during that time, the relationships built, the time well spent.  I'm so glad I was able to teach them readin', writin', and 'rithmatic - but I'm much more glad that I was able to invest in who they are - in their hearts - in their character - in the "gold, silver and costly stones".

So here's my goal as a pre-menopausal, recently empty-nested, just turned fifty-year-old woman - to find the things that will last and invest in those things in this new chapter of my life.  I'm excited to see where it takes me.

What are you investing in that will last?

And really - I'm searching - I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Thank you for sharing your heart, Sherrie. Your wisdom and honesty have been such an inspiration to me. The deep AND the seemingly simple advice. A wise pastor's wife/fellow homeschooling mom ;)once gave me the best advice I ever received. She told me to "chill out". I can't tell you how much I needed that. And I pass it on often. ♥

  2. Oh my Sherrie thats a lot of books! Well, I am right behind you in age as I turn 50 in December. I wish I could impart some great revelation you should try for this next part of your life... but I just don't have anything. Mainly I am just thankful God seen fit to add another child several years ago to my life to delay what exactly your dealing with. Sooo, when you sort it out and I have the empty nest, then you can be my guiding light!