Philippines or Bust Pt 1

Waiting to board Boston to New York

All About the People…People…People!

Well this week has been a week of preparation for our 10 day journey to the Philippines for my son’s wedding. It has run like most trip prepapration weeks I have experienced. You know what I mean, I got all the bills paid up to date. I have written the “how to operate the Vicarage manual” for Amanda and Melanie. I have done the grocery shopping for the time I am away. I have made sure Mom’s meds are ready for the time I am gone. I filled the sand bucket in case of snow and bought a new shovel to replace the one I broke. I stocked up on dog food and bird food. I have packed ans repacked for the trip. I schedule blogs ahead for the time I am gone….and…and…and….Anything that is not done at the house at this point is just going to have to wait.

Getting ready for this trip though has been different than prepping for others I have taken. In times past it was all about the jobs I had to get done before I left. This time it has been about the people I had to reach out to before I left.

There were the post Christmas letters I had to write and the thank yous. There was the dinner I had to have with the deacon and the friends I had to have coffee and prayer with before I took off. There was the show I needed to go to and the people of the church I had to enjoy it with. There was the stop off to see my friends at Special Touch Ministries and then of course there was coffee with the staff one last time before I hit the blue skies. Finally just this morning as we went up to Keene to put my son’s wedding money in his account there was the final coffee with my daughter at Starbucks.

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Friends Ray and Deb Parker


Over the last two years something in me has changed. Maybe it’s my age or the time of life I am in. Maybe it is my spiritual growth. I am finding that the jobs I do are not as important as the people I do them with.

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As I head off on this little adventure, it is not the job I am going to miss. It’s the people…people…people. The preparation I have done has helped me to be able to take them with me in my heart.

Rushing Headlong!

Well the count down has begun! We are now just over two days from our trip to The Philippines to take part in Kristine and Joe’s wedding.

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The preparation to leave has our heads spinning. I typed out the list on how to manage the house for Amanda and Melanie who will be caring for Mom Jacopo, Mercedes and the Vicarage while Brenda and I are away. I have sat with the families from the church who will be helping them out during our away time. I picked up Mom’s meds, did some grocery shopping, got money out of the bank for their needs while I am away, bought the dog food and the bird food and the cat food. I still have to clean my car, do the bills, pack and clean my office.

But as the time approaches Brenda and I are reminded that our leaving for there does not mean life stops here. So much is going on this weekend and in our absence.

Brenda’s show debuted last night to rave reviews! It is a powerful show folks. If your church or community would like to book this show you can contact Brenda at Brenda J. Lillie For the Netherlands on Facebook.

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Meanwhile our church is getting ready for 21 days of fasting and prayer. I feel like this is one of the most important moments in our church’s history.

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Today after we open the 24/7 prayer and fasting I am heading off to Special Touch Ministries for our monthly gathering in Westminster. Then I have the 11P.M. – 1A.M. shift at prayer

Tomorrow, Brenda is preaching in Taunton MA and I am leading worship at Cornerstone and then Amanda, my Nephew Tyler and I are heading off on a little journey to wrap things up before Brenda and I take off on Monday for…

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Born And Bred Pt. 2

The Vicarage is what we call our home. We call it that because it is a place where we three ministers of the gospel live. I know…I know…we are not really vicars but I couldn’t bear the thought of calling our little cottage the parsonage. It just doesn’t ring right. It is not just the place where we live though. It is the place where we ministers have grown up. Actually there have been Lillie’s on this block in our tiny town since the year 1940. From my back yard I can see the house where my father grew up.

But the Vicarage is not the Vicarage just because we live there. This old house has housed ministers of three different churches over the course of its life. God keeps putting His men in this house and I have to believe there is a reason for that. We have a purpose here in little Winchendon. We have a job to do which has been assigned by God. He has provided us a space from which to do it. The present troubles facing us do not compare to the power of the promise we have been given.

So no matter what may come, we will carry on.

My Hiding Place

When last we spoke, one of the things I told you was that Brenda was put on sabbatical after her conferences in August. Her leadership told her she needed to take off through the end of October. I was relieved because she was emotionally and spiritually exhausted (and anyone who has ever done the work of full time ministry knows how difficult spiritual exhaustion can be).

During her time away from the itineration trail Brenda sought spiritual guidance and spent a lot of time praying. The Lord led her during that time to write a one woman show based on the life of Corrie TenBoom one of the 20th century’s great heroes of the faith. Corrie Tenboom’s name rises to the level of Graham, Bon Hoeffer, Elliot and Mother Theresa.

That show is almost ready to go up. The first production will be on January 10th. I have sat through two workshops of the play and a few rehersals. It is gripping.

As Brenda once again hits the itineration trail she is offering the show as an outreach to churches and civic groups. Here is a snippet she did for our church during the month of November. She was out of costume but worked it into a presentation she gave to our church. The full production is being hosted at Cornerstone in April.

Brenda is travelling across Southern New England with the show and is also looking at a tour in Michigan. She is wiling to tour your area as well and will come for the cost of travel and a love offering. If you would like to book her contact me in the comments section below.

Shift Focus To Wonder

I spend the last few weeks of every year praying for a future word from God for the next year.

A few years ago the word was “Prepare for change.”. By April our church had lost its Lead Pastor, Children’s Pastor and Youth Pastor. Before the year was out we had welcomed in new people to all three positions.

Last year my word was directly from Scripture, Psalm 144:1 to be exact,

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;

The year turned out to be one of the most difficult our church has faced.

This year the words came about two weeks before Christmas, “Shift your focus to wonder.”.

So much has changed, there has been so much battle these last few years and yet I know there has been purpose in all of it. God has been doing a remarkable work of restoration in my life which I was unaware I needed. God has been doing a wonderful work of restoration in our church which we were likewise unaware we needed. But the temptation to get our eyes focused on the spiritual pruning, which happens through difficulty, is great.

I believe the time has come to shift our eyes away from all the turmoil which has gone on among us. I believe God is about to do something great in my life and in our little church and that means the time has come to shift our focus to wonder.

As the year closed out the ministers of the Vicarage were honored to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of our longest tenured staff member, Wendy Brouillet.

Wendy has been the main desk receptionist at Cornerstone for more than half her marriage to Roger! Both of those things are amazing feats!

In a few week’s time Brenda and I will head to the Philippines to attend the wedding of my son Joe and his fiance Kristine.

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My daughters will be staying with my mother during that time and the church will embark on what I am believing is going to be one of its greatest spiritual adventures. Cornerstone will be hosting 21 days of 24/7 prayer and fasting.

Our times are perilous and yet full of the greatest wonder. We all get to choose what we look at. What will you focus on this year?

Born and Bred Pt. 1

I was looking at my feed history just a few minutes ago and it strikes me that I haven’t really updated you on life at the Vicarage since August. So much water under the bridge since then!

Brenda and I went to Florida where she attended General Council and the World Missions Summit, while I vacationed.

Then Brenda went on a brief Sabbatical, for her health, in the fall. During that time things began to change for my mother. Dementia has taken a much stronger hand in her life and we have had to make some choices as a family.

I am working more from home now and shifting focus of ministry. Even the church has entered a new phase of its life and the leadership of the church has had to embrace the idea of reinvention to move into the future. That has caused much consternation among the old guard of the church. As one of the few originals of the church left ( I have been there since the founding) I know that the choices we are making are the right ones for the church, but it is still painful saying good-bye to old friends.

I have my marching orders from the Lord and I am determined to see them through…No matter what.

In the midst of all the changes and all the happenings stands this old homestead, The Vicarage. It has stood for a hundred and thirty odd years and has stood a silent witness to this little town through many more changes than I am facing right now.

Somehow that knowledge is comforting. There are things that stand the test of time. Things that are not as easily shaken as the moment. And there is ONE who will never be shaken by anything at all. I am reminded as I write tonight that He is my foundation. I shall not be! I shall not be moved!

Christmas At the Vicarage 2019

My dreams for Notes From the Vicarage were so big when I started. I had this vision of giving the blogosphere a glimpse into the life of a ministry family that is unique in its makeup and experience (at least it seems that way to me). One of the drawbacks of ministerial life however has gotten in the way. BUSYNESS!

So much has happened since August and contending with all of it has taken up so much time that there was little time left over to write about it. But now that the holidays are over…or almost over, I am coming back to this template to try again to open a portal into our world.

Christmas at the Vicarage was a small affair. That is Christmas Day was a small affair. The Christmas season was as big as ever. We had several parties to attend. There was Christmas shopping and wrapping. My sister attended an annual cookie bake. We decorated two trees at our house and of course the church had its own decorating day right after Thanksgiving. Our artist’s community had two caroling opportunities one at the town’s annual historic Christmas house tour and the other as we went to several elderly complexes to share the joy of the season. It all culminated in our church’s annual Christmas Eve candlelight service which was absolutely wonderful.

So a quiet Christmas Day was well in order. We had 7 to Christmas brunch. That may not seem small to you but when you compare it to our church receptionist Wendy’s gathering of 35 or our Board secretaries gathering of 64 well…I’ll take 7!

James, Melanie and Daniella arrived at about 9:30 in the morning. That was perfect timing. It gave Mom time to wake up and prepare herself but not enough time to fall into her usual doldrums over the holidays. Daniella has this magical power to lift my mother’s spirits.

I made stuffed French toast, turnovers, sausages, a pasta dish, a fritata and cole slaw. We broke out the egg nog, wassail and apple cider. Then after we had brunch we opened gifts.

Amanda made this stuffed Yoda. It was Melanie’s gift to her husband James. I have such talented daughters.

James had to be to work so the Franklin family left at about 1:30 in the afternoon and then it was naps all around and then the traditional evening at the movies. We saw Jumanji II!

Does it seem odd to you that a ministry family would go to the movies on Christmas Day?

Winter At the Vicarage

Winter has come to the Vicarage for the holidays. As Thanksgiving closed out the storms came in. We have had about 28 inches dumped on us over the last week. For those of you who use the metric system that is 71 centimeters. Most of that came in one storm or set of storms depending on how you look at it.

As you can see, the new fallen snow has melted back a bit after a few days of warm weather and it is truly beautiful now.

From here through the end of March we will be in a weather pattern of alternating snow and rain if the trend from the last couple of years holds. Last night it poured and this brook flooded as it has been doing the last few years filling the back yard.

When I awoke this morning that little fire pit was submerged in the water up to its base.

Tell me what it looks like where you live.