Never Alone . . .Really I am NEVER alone Anymore!

A Monday morning gift of beauty.

I work on Sundays.  Shocking – I know – that a pastor would work on Sundays.  Since I work on Sundays – my weekend is Friday and Saturday. 

This has upsides and downsides.  The biggest downside is that our family only gets a “real” weekend off together when I am on vacation – because during half of my weekend they are still hard at work.  We don’t get as much time together as we would like to go adventuring and hiking and exploring (but honestly who does?).  And I knew that pastors work on Sundays when I went to seminary.  Pastors also work all of the major Christian holidays when everyone else is off (I knew this too)! 

Our family has adjusted.  Our family’s traditions probably look a bit different than yours do.  For us – Easter dinner is almost always pizza delivered by a very nice delivery person who gets a very nice tip for working on Easter!  Your kids have ham served on china . . . my kids have pepperoni from a box! 

Christmas Eve means that Jason, Jack, and I pile into the car following the late service.  Jason drives and I talk and knit and we listen to a riveting Audible book while we make our way through the night to the family we love and long to be with for Christmas Day.   We can’t leave earlier, because I love my vocation and being a pastor on Christmas Eve is seriously cool.  We can’t leave a even minute later, because our sweet Will and his presents from Santa are waiting with Auntie, Uncle, Mimi, Papa, Nic, and Bella at our home away from home in the Tennessee mountains. 

A mountain sunset!

You may nap on Christmas day by the Christmas tree – because naps are cozy.  Jason and I simply lose consciousness for a few hours!

Life is full of compromises and adjustments. 

Before Covid-19 Fridays were my quiet days.  Unless the McFarland sons were on break from school – I would have Fridays all to myself.  My Fridays were quiet.

For years I used Friday mornings to run errands.  I would drop Will off at elementary school and then I was off to the bank and the grocery store and the pharmacy and the big box store(s) and the allergy doctor and wherever else my to do list led me that particular Friday. 

Running errands by myself is so much faster.  And soooooooo much cheaper – because no one adds anything to my cart that I don’t want to be in my cart if I go alone.  No – “Hey Mom doesn’t this look cool – delicious – fun – awesome – magically nutritious????”  No guilt about the fact that the “ALL of the other (much nicer – cooler – more awesome) moms are allowing their beloved children to consume this product that has absolutely NO nutritional value at all!”  Nope – just me and my to do list and all of the retired people hanging out together.

And then I would head home – quickly put everything away.  Do a zippy house cleaning and then I would read and knit and read and knit for a few blessedly quiet and peaceful hours almost every single Friday.  It was AMAZING!  Amazing – I tell you – really and truly awesomely amazing.  I read not just whole sentences and paragraphs without interruption – but actual chapters!  ALL BY MYSELF with just my thoughts and my yarn for company!!!

Mimi’s shawl.

But now – life is different.  Covid-19 means that I am never – ever – ever alone!  Well – actually that isn’t true.  If I go into the laundry room – I usually don’t have much company there.  Oddly enough – I seem to be the only McFarland who feels drawn to spend any time in our laundry room.  I also still try to run most of my errands alone for the sake of the family budget and to limit our family’s exposure to Covid -19.  But otherwise – Covid-19 means lots of family togetherness at our house.  LOTS AND LOTS of family togetherness!  LOTS and lots and LOTS and lots and LOTS of family togetherness!

I am not complaining.  Really I am not.  I love these three men more than words can say.  But – oh my – WOW – to the family togetherness!

We are certainly rocking the family togetherness these days. 

I spend my Fridays hunting for snakes now . . .

And I know that we are not alone in this.  We are not unique.  Covid-19 and quarantine and staying safe at home and NTI and working from home and all of this isolation means that we are all seeing a lot fewer people than we used to.  And for some of us – we are seeing a lot more of the same people!

This can be stressful for everyone.  And now more than ever – I think that self-care is incredibly important.  It is so very easy to get in a rut and to forget to take care of yourself – especially when we are all feeling so stressed out!

Taking care of yourself is going to look different for everyone.  But I think that it is incredibly important for all of us to continue to make time for the things and the people we love.  And no one really wants to hang out with the mean lady who is ranting and raving about laundry and dishes and NTI and never – ever – ever – ever getting a moment alone anyway!

This flower greeted me this morning as I wandered around our yard as the sun rose.

I encourage you to take time to spend with your Lord and with yourself (you are really excellent company after all). 

Take time for yourself.  Make time for nurturing your relationship with your Lord.  Go for a walk or a run or a ride or a stroll or a sit or a scooter and enjoy the sun on your face and the cooler fall temperatures.  Pull out your Bible and spend some time actually discovering what is there!  Make your favorite beverage and make a list of God’s blessings to you.  Dig into that hobby that you haven’t done in ages.  Get creative.  Think about everything that God created and is still creating!  Take 20 minutes and don’t do anything at all . . . just be thankful to be here – now.  Look at the massive mess that is your home and be glad that there are people to trash your house.  Or give thanks that your home is just the way you like it – because you are the one who makes the messes or not!  Call someone you love.  Listen to the sound of your precious person’s voice.  Try to burn it into your memory! 

Give thanks for what we do have instead of longing for what we can’t have right now.  I am focusing on this right now!  Some days are easier than others.  But I like having a goal and a focus.  Mine is to seek the good and to give thanks for this moment.

Sunrise on Monday at our house . . . it was lovely and peaceful and quiet!

These are incredibly stressful times.  Our lives have changed and will likely continue to change and change some more.  And yet our God reminds us that we are not in this alone.  Really – we aren’t.  God promises us that he neither slumbers nor sleeps!  That he holds us in the palm of his hand!

Psalm 46 is one of my favorites.  It also challenges me – every single time that I read it!  It also offers me incredible comfort.

The clouds are rolling in . . .but it is still beautiful.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
   God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.
          
Come, behold the works of the Lord;
   see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
   he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
   he burns the shields with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God!
   I am exalted among the nations,
   I am exalted in the earth.’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our refuge.

You are in my heart – thoughts – and prayers. 

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

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