Shift To So Small

Dear Evan Hansen is one of my favorite musicals. It’s a modern day commentary on: family, peer pressure, truth telling, rejection, fatherlessness, and well so many other things.

A few days ago I was working on the church’s prophecy board (more on that another time) when I just felt I had to listen to the music from the musical again. I knew as I did, it was God telling me He was going to reveal emotions I was not being honest about.

So many of the songs resonate with me even as a pastor/prophet. This time, though, the songs that hit me hard were “So Big So Small” and “Does Anybody Have a Map”, which are the mother’s songs from the musical.

In the middle of both songs I began to cry. SUPER UNEXPECTED! I actually closed up shop and went home because I couldn’t take it anymore and I couldn’t figure out why. The next day I told Amanda about it and then I played the songs again for her and… Yep!…. You guessed it. I started crying again. I realized I had work to do.

I have spent many hours in prayer over this and I think I have a bit of revelation. I am relating with this lady…not because my son is in trouble but because Brenda, Amanda and I are becoming parents by increments to my mom.

It has hit me that Brenda will soon be heading back to her mission, I think I am afraid of this. When Brenda goes back to The Netherlands I will be a “single parent” : I will make the meals. I will pay the bills. I will make sure Mom takes her showers. I will do the doctors and the dentist appointments. I will do the laundry and…. and….and….and … this house seems so big and I feel so small.

Does Anybody Have a Map?

GOD Showed Me Something About Beauty / Christian Mystic Quote #38

These thoughts came during my time of prayer and meditation in the Philippines. I thought I would share them with you as a way to help you understand a bit more about what God is working in me as my life goes enters into this new phase of life. During this season I feel like God would have me reorient my life towards recognizing the beauty in the world.

Beauty is one of the distilled essences of love. Where love abounds the aroma of beauty is present. Where love is confronted by hatred beauty is suppressed, but because love can never be eradicated, beauty will always be sensed, even if only in the smallest way.

In the end, judgment is God’s radical work to restore beauty when all other methods fail. JE LILLIE

Updating Youse Guys

It’s been a busy week! Brenda booked three more shows fo “My Hiding Place”. This means she will be here in The U.Ss. through the beginning of July at least.

Reviews have been so exciting and have affirmed that God is really anointing this project.

Here are some things people are saying;

“I WAS SHOCKED TODAY…stunned…wowed! I cried…I almost sobbed! I had Missionary Brenda J. Lillie in today for our Sunday morning service to do her dramatic performance of “My Hiding Place: Recollections from Corrie Ten Boom”. It was AMAZING.”- Pastor Dan Peloquin

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

“You nailed it! An amazing story told by an amazing storyteller!” – Wendy Brouliette

“Such a wonderful roller coaster of emotion; delivered by a truly talented woman. Bravo!”- Michael Murphy

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

“Beautiful ministry performance of The Hiding Place by Brenda J. Lillie. This power packed rendition of the story of Corrie Ten Boom is wonderful for any size church due to the conscious, minimalistic approach to props and technology. We could have been her toughest critics being well acquainted with the Ten Boom story from my own missionary service in Holland and my wife being Dutch (and her grandmother knowing Corrie from Haarlem). However, my wife and I were greatly touched by the legacy of the Ten Boom Family accurately portrayed through this 2-part dramatization. Bravo!!!”- Pastor Eric Capelli

Image may contain: indoor

“My Hiding Place” is the compelling true story of Corrie ten Boom. Written, produced, designed, and portrayed by the talented Brenda J. Lillie, Missionary to the Netherlands. This powerful, passionate, and inspiring production is more than an outstanding play – it is an experience! It’s a story of love and forgiveness. God is truly present in this amazing performance! A must see! – Pastor Robin Di Prima Koroskenyi

If you would like to book her for a show she is opening tours.

YOU CAN FIND CONTACT INFO IN THIS NEWSLETTER

While Brenda has been ministering in this show, Jesus has been rewriting my schedule. Ministry has become much about prayer and caregiving for me. I have been meeting with people all week, praying with people all week, meeting practical and emotional needs all week. In between have been great swaths of prayer lasting 2 hours or more at a whack. It has been amazing!

God has also been allowing me to figure in several hours of writing a day. While I miss the office and the constant contact with leadership I feel like these adjustments have opened up avenues of ministry I have not explored for years. It has been so good.

In the Wondering

Two days before Brenda and I left for The Philippines, Cornerstone Church (the church where Amanda and I serve) began 21 days of 24/7 prayer. While I could not be with the congregation during much of this season of prayer, I did spend a good deal of time in the presence of the Lord. I sat for many hours WONDERING about the new direction my life is taking and the new direction the church is taking. Here are some of the things which came to mind in my WONDERING:

In order for me to discover the things which are going to be really important to me on this new path, I must reduce my life in its complexity. I must embrace the things which are truly important to my nature and do those things. Further I must begin to encourage others to learn what is important to their natures and do those things. ” Pondered 1-20-20

As I think about this I realize it flows out of something I have discovered about myself. I entered the ministry out of a great desire to connect with God and to help others do the same. I am now and have always been a contemplative. Prayer, worship, meditation and study are sort of my jam. I also realize the place of contemplation is where my greatest power resides to make a change in the world.

This season is a gift from God allowing these strengths of mine to have more room to grow. This season is also balancing/ limiting the activities which distract me from the contemplation which is mine by nature.

Finally as I embrace my thing it gets me out of the way so other people can do their thing. Then if they will simplify their lives they will be able to embrace whatever their jam is like I am now embracing mine!

Developing

My motto for this year is SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO WONDER. In sharing that with my artist’s group back in January one of our artists wondered what God meant by wonder… that is, was I supposed to shift my focus towards looking at awe-inspiring things? Or was I supposed to shift my focus to ponder things more?

Now that I am in my third month of “SHIFTING”, I think God meant a little of both. On January 13th my sister and I embarked on a 10 day journey to The Philippines to attend my son’s marriage to Kristine Bernadette Causing Barrameda.

Those 10 days filled me with awe for sure.

I was awestruck by the fact that I was being privileged to witness such a sacred moment in the life of someone I had actually helped bring into the world.

I could not be prouder of the man he has become. I could not be more honored that a family a world away has entrusted us with the care of their beautiful daughter. I am awestruck that God has chosen to add another godly young woman full of talent and power to our family.

During that time I was often struck dumb by the overwhelming beauty of my daughter-in-law’s homeland. And I was floored by the total otherness of this place called The Philippines. Kristine said in the wedding video that she and Joe were from different worlds and she was completely truthful when she said it.

But during those 10 days in the developing nation that is The Philippines I was more than awestruck. I was left to ponder what God was and is DEVELOPING in me. Honestly, to my way of thinking what is transpiring inside of me is as foreign to my knowing as The Philippines was to my experience.

I am daily aware of the fact that my current spiritual reality is new ground for me. I have no memory of this place and precious little context to explain it.

I have often said to my boss that what God is going to do in our church may leave us looking somewhat unchurchy. If that is so for our congregation, it means that as individuals we are going to experience things that take us out of our understandings of who and what we have been. That is certainly something that might require some wondering.

I am mindful that historically, most powerful moves of God leave the people involved scratching their heads. As those moves DEVELOP people are left to fall back on the only thing that doesn’t change in the midst of life-altering change. That would be the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Well I am wondering at what God is doing in my life this year and I am wondering what to do about it. In all the wondering I am securing myself to God who is showing me through prayer, through the solid ground of His Word, the Bible and through the fellowship of believers. In that security I am DEVELOPING into the new thing that God wants me to be, in order to do the new thing that He expects from me as a part of Cornerstone Church.

Now what has God shown me in the midst of all this wondering……

A New Way

Our fellowship has a very structured method for our member missionaries to raise funds. When Brenda came home last April she jumped right into using that method and following the rules to the “T”. While not great rule lovers we Lillies tend to be pretty stringent rule followers in most things.

Sadly the rules which are set up and which work for many of our member missionaries do not work well for all and they didn’t work at all for Brenda. She was actually losing money and driving herself nuts (literally) in the process.

Come October she was emotionally and spiritually exhausted and everyone who knew her understood that she could not go on with the process as it stood. Brenda’s leadership gave her three months sabbatical. Brenda used that time to pray and recuperate.

During that time God gave her an idea for a new play called “My Hiding Place.” The play is about a real life Christian heroine of the twentieth century, Corrie TenBoom. Brenda got permission from the TenBoom museum to write and perform the piece and began setting up shows for her return to ministry.

The show has made all the difference. It has activated Brenda’s creative bent and hitched it to the fundraising need. Bookings have begun to come in and the show is a roaring success. I have seen it three times now and each time I am moved to tears. Further the anointing is on this thing. 14 people have received Christ since the beginning of the year and Brenda has prayed with a host of people who profess Christianity but continue to walk in bitterness and unforgiveness.

Image may contain: text
Image may contain: 1 person, standing
Image may contain: 1 person, standing

Here is Brenda’s booking schedule. She is currently looking at breaking out of New England she is currently working on a tour of some Southern States and Pennsylvania. Anyone interested?

Image may contain: text

The Skinny

So I haven’t posted here in a while. The skinny is that I have been keeping myself busy with distractions. Well, at least they are distractions now. You know how it is. Yesterday’s priorities can easily become today’s distractions.

A few months ago God told me He was going to be shifting my focus and that I would be entering a new season of life. In December He clarified that a bit with these words which have become my words for the year :“Shift focus to wonder.”

I guess I didn’t anticipate how hard it was going to be to shift my focus and to begin to concentrate on the new priorities God has given me. I also didn’t realize how much I have allowed other people to make decisions about what the important things in my life are. God warned me that people wouldn’t understand.

When Mom’s health took a turn, I understood that as the gateway to the changes. Everyone has been so supportive. It has been arranged that I should work more from home. Things have been put in place to make all that possible. Everything should be going so smoothly but I can’t seem to adjust to this new rhythm I am called to. The problem is me you see. I am finding it hard to say “No” to the things I used to say “Yes” to. I am having trouble giving up my freedom to use my time however I want to.

I was chatting with my boss the other day and telling him how I would love to join a certain committee in town, but that I really need to be careful of my commitments now. It made me kind of sad and yet at the same time felt like destiny was being unleashed.

I understand this is an exercise in crucifixion, a dying of a part of me that has to die. Yet I miss this free part of myself everyday and so I keep resurrecting it.

I know I must decrease so that He might increase. I must surrender my plans so that His plans might be accomplished, but honestly I really loved my plans. And here’s the other thing. People don’t understand. They have gotten used to me following a certain pathway and being a certain way and pursuing life a certain way. I have revealed to them intrinsically over years…even decades that I consider my ministry to be a certain way and they don’t yet know that the ministry plan has changed. The world around me can do nothing else but encourage me to keep going after the same old plan. They don’t fully see that God has made a change and that a new plan exists for me…for the church.

My sister asked me the other day how she could help me make this adjustment and I honestly don’t know. I have to get the new rhythm myself before I can play it for others. I think my time with my Son and Daughter-in-law in the Philippines really began to clarify for me the size of the change which was upon me. I understand now it is going to take me a little while to figure it all out. I think I am becoming better every day with understanding and implementing the changes.

Here are two things I know:

  1. My changes are just a part of a much larger change God is bringing to our church.
  2. Watch out world! Once I figure out this new rhythm I feel like a new level of effectiveness and achievement is going to kick in quickly, not just for me but for all the people God is moving me out of the way to release into their proper places.

QUESTIONS?

A Very Busy Weekend.

It was such a busy weekend at the Vicarage, I haven’t finished all the work it created yet…and it is almost Thursday. Part of that work is this post which I started writing on Monday morning and had to keep putting off until now.

The sad thing about getting behind like this is that life events don’t just stop so you can catch up. Oh no! They just keep rolling in so the work you didn’t get done when it was supposed to be done, keeps getting pushed back behind the work that you have to do today until saying things like “It was a very busy weekend”, really don’t matter because it is almost next weekend.

But I really want to tell you about the weekend we had here at the Vicarage.

Amanda started the weekend off when one of her friends who works at an adult dayhab in our area was burned out of her home. Amanda put out the call for clothing and essentials and spent a good deal of time gathering those items for delivery this week.

In the meantime Brenda left for a weekend tour of Connecticut. She performed her show, My Hiding Place, in Bristol on Friday night, taught a teen seminar in Greenwich on Saturday, and then preached twice on Sunday in Farmington.

Image may contain: text

Monday she started jury duty and got selected for a case she has been sitting panel for since.

For myself, I have been holding down the home front. Saturday our artist’s community set up an art show at one of the local libraries.

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor
Image may contain: indoor
Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

Image may contain: indoor

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor


Sunday of course was church and then housework. I think I did something like nine loads of laundry this week! Of course none of us including the people who stayed here in Massachusetts have yet recovered fully from our trip to the Philippines. Some things have changed with Mom since we left and that leaves us all a little worried about her health.

So we watch and wait and work and wonder what is coming next for the ministers of the Vicarage. In the end, we can only deal with things as they come along. All of us are learning to just live in the moment and rejoice in the busyness and the blessedness of serving God in it.

In a Haze

I awoke again this morning at 2 A.M. and finally rolled out of bed at 3. The dogs yawned sleepily as I rousted them from bed. Mercedes snorted at me with disdain as I put her in her crate so I could get ready for the day. Her white fur stuck out at indignant angles and she glared at me with the one eye which was not blocked by her wiry hair.

I filled the food bowl, got dressed and shuffled downstairs to finish getting the dogs’ breakfast and mine made. As I spooned the wet food into the dog dish and popped it into the microwave to warm (my dogs like a warm breakfast) I found myself wondering if I was ever going to get over jet lag.

It’s a week today and my days and nights are still reversed. I kind of thought I had it licked the other day when I stayed up until 1 A.M. to pray and then slept until 6:30 A.M. That is until noon rolled around and my body once again spontaneously shut down. It doesn’t really matter where I am when that happens. I just fall alseep!

That all said, this has been really good for me concerning this season of prayer we are having at the church. I have been able to go in at 11 at night and pray through until 1 A.M. without a problem. This morning I am in the church by 4 A.M. catching up on some writing until 5 and then I will pray until 7. No worries folks I imagine I will be taking a nap by 1 this afternoon anyway. Maybe this is my new normal.