Going to Second Grade – Again . . .

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Baking brownies. This is a chemical change = science.

This has been quite the year hasn’t it?

Our challenges have been as unique as we and our life circumstances are. For some of us it has been the loneliness. For others it has been a bit too much togetherness.

For some of us it has been busyness. Others have struggled with boredom.

For all of us there has been so very much change! Most of us are change-resistant in the best of times.   And these are not the best of times!

Change is unsettling and exhausting. Change is just plain hard.

Even now – almost a year into this pandemic – the changes keep coming.

I too have struggled. Wow have I been busy and popular! Some days this has been challenging.

I am not really an early morning person – but these days I get up at 5:00 AM or occasionally 4:30 AM. Because I crave quiet. I need time to think and write (without interruptions) and to reflect. So I get up early-ish 7 days a week. I love these early morning hours when it is just me – a cup of coffee and my thoughts. I think this change is here to stay.

Once the McFarland men descend the stairs the juggling – the bustling and the chattering ensue. My life is blessed – but it is intense.

This is our igloo.

Our home is spacious – but there are 4 of us working and going to school here these days. It often gets VERY busy! Our home is currently a second grade classroom – a computer programmer’s office – a high school – and a pastor’s study. Plus – in the evenings it is our home . . .

Once upon a time – (2019) I thought I was busy. I was so wrong. I was not busy then. Back then I only had one full-time job. Not so anymore. Now I am a pastor and a teacher.

Now I write sermons and go to second grade. I return emails and listen to chatter about warships – submarines and nuclear bombs. (Will’s interests of the week.)

I write blog posts and get updates on the Manual science fair and AP something or other. I do know all of the classes Jack is taking – but he abbreviates the class titles into a shorthand intentionally meant to befuddle and confuse me! I defy you to discern that “a push” is actually advanced placement United States history. . . while you are also listening to an 8 year old chatter about nuclear submarines and you are trying to finish a thought . . . (The aforementioned 8 year old should probably be doing his math assignment and not be talking about nuclear bombs.)

This year has been intense and exhausting and stressful.

We read a story about snowmen and then had to build our own.

To counter some of this stress I am focusing on the things that matter to me and to our family. My floors are not as clean as they once were. There are actual weeds in my flower beds and I love weeding. (Yes – I know I am a freak . . .) But something (well actually somethings) had to give. I am letting those things go for now.

Our sons don’t mind a few dust bunnies. Nor do a few weeds in the flower beds bother them. What they do need is to chat about “a push” and the complexities of learning multiplication. They do need me to be a bit more present and engaged in their lives and their educations than they did 12 months ago.

This year of togetherness has been intense. It has also been filled with incredible blessings.

I know so much more about our sons’ educations – because I see them in class. I watch them interact with their teachers and classmates. I get far more updates from them than I ever have before.

I spend time helping Will with his class work. (Jack doesn’t need my help. But he does chat with us about what he is learning which is amazing and delightful.)

The Cat in the Hat celebrating Dr. Suess.

I know this pandemic is far from over. But one year in I have been doing some reflecting on what I have learned and on how I have been changed and shaped by the experience. I have been thinking about what I will remember from this past year.

One of the blessings of this year for me has been the opportunity to go to 2nd grade (again). It hasn’t always been easy. Some days – some hours have been stressful and hard. Right now Will is jumping on our trampoline because the poor little guy was just too full of energy to focus on yet another writing assignment. And I didn’t want to reprimand him AGAIN.   Hopefully after he burns off some of his glorious 8 year old energy he will be more able to focus on school work.

Yes there has been stress – pressure and exhaustion – but there have been so many blessings. I have witnessed Will’s reading improve dramatically this year. He has gone from simple addition to multiplication in less than 7 months (seriously cool). We have learned about Native Americans – the abolition of slavery – and women’s suffrage together. We have read stories – made crafts and done amazing science experiments.

His very own – pop-up card made for art class.

Yes – we have been busy. Sometimes I get impatient and annoyed by all of the interruptions and busyness and noise and demands on my time and energy. My floors don’t look their best nor do my weedy flower beds.   Some things have had to give.

But we have laughed and learned and grown (all of us)! We have been blessed.

I know this year has been and continues to be challenging. But there has been more to this year than that.   How have you been blessed? Where have the blessings been? Have there been surprises? What has brought you joy this year? What have you learned? Have you grown?

You are all in my heart – thoughts – and prayers.

In Christ and with Love –

Pastor Kerri

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