This Day At the Vicarage 10-5-20

It would seem I have lost ten days of events to the pace of life…or at least I’ve lost the telling about those ten days worth of events . The pace has not been unmanageable, but I have not learned fully how to work with slow, constant, intentionality and still get everything on my bloated list done. Maybe that’s the point, eh?

Tonight I sit listening to an Epic Playlist On Youtube.

I am contemplating several words I have received from the Lord recently, and one I received at the beginning of the year when I was attending my son’s wedding in The Philippines.

At that time God told me that I had entered a new season of life. He told me the year would be divided into four parts. The first quarter would be about me entering the new phase of life. The second quarter was about settling into the new rhythm of life. The third would be about accomplishing the new phase, and the final quarter would be about finishing the work of the new phase.

This has been a unique year for all of the obvious reasons. It would have been a new season simply because the whole world has changed. In that respect, 2020 is a whole new ball game for everyone. In addition, the Lord told me I was to embrace a lifestyle of living by faith financially for this year. It has been an amazing journey. While I know no one can do this without God’s command behind them, I wish everyone had the opportunity. I have been so liberated by God being my paycheck for the last ten months.

Beyond that I thought the new was going to be about me finishing my book and becoming a full time writer. As it turns out I will finish my book by year’s end and I may just end up becoming a full time writer, but the change has not been primarily about that either. Writing, living by faith financially these are all just parts of the season which I expect will fade as seasons do. The permanent change has been to this rhythm of slow, constant, intentionality. It is something I have been working on for twenty years, and God has used this year to complete the work of transitioning to this rhythm even as the world continues to increase its speed of living..

We are in October now. The beginning of the finishing of this permanent change. I do believe I am carrying this with me into eternity….slow, constant, intentional. I have entered it. I have settled into nicely. I have spent the last three months practicing the form. Now these three months are about perfecting the skills I have learned and applying them to every area of my life. Here we go!

This Day At the Vicarage 9-25-20

In July and August I participated in a two month experiment called “The Celtic Spiritual Journey” with a group of people from several different churches through the region. The goal was to experiment with the lifestyle many Celtic monks used in ages past. The disciplines we attempted were three times of daily Scripture reading and prayer as well intentional commitment to one of seven daily disciplines.Sunday: Sabbath Monday: Study/learn something new; Tuesday: Work; Wednesday: Silence/Solitude; Thursday: hospitality; Friday: Pilgrimage; Saturday: Artistic expression.

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I found the actual devotional aspect of the journey easy to incorporate into my lifestyle. I have lived by bells on my phone for several years. In fact I am doing it right now. As I write this piece I have my timer going for a thirty minute writing session. My day is divided into: Prayer, exercise, rest, work, writing, studying and relationship.All of those things are ordered according to the ringing of bells set into my phone.

The journey simply helped me to orchestrate my day into three blocks, starting with morning prayer I would follow the pathway through trying to divide the morning up into blocks so that I would have time to spend in each of the seven goals up until lunch. Then after lunch would come Mid Afternoon prayer and that would lead into an afternoon session of the goals until supper and then evening prayer and so on.

What I discovered is that the final time of devotion in the evenings and the final turn around the seven goals was very hard to bring myself to because I really just wanted my evening to myself to watch TV.

Photo by Ian Panelo on Pexels.comI

I also discovered that if I was to do the daily disciplines outside of the prayer and Scripture reading, they almost always called me away from the life of devotion I have come to call slow, constant and intentional living.

I write all this to say, this week has been busy. Finally today I got to simply pull back from all the doings outside the Vicarage and have a day that did not fight the bells. I have been able to get a lot of prayind and writing and studying done. It has felt good to be able to spend the time at my desk I need to in order to accomplish my writing and studying and praying tasks. It has been nice to be able to take breaks to do some household chores but to know I didn’t have to rush in order to get them and my writing done before having to run out of the house.

I really do think I would have made a good monk. Well except for the TV thing. and wanting my evenings to myself….Yeah I think I would have struggled with that…..

Well I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends.

Pastor J

THIS DAY AT THE VICARAGE 9-20-20

The weekend is finally winding down and returning to a rhythm I can recognize and move with easily. The last two days have been wonderful and busy! But I am glad to be returning to something like slow, constant and intentional as the new week blossoms.

Yesterday’s pace picked up with coffee at Identity Coffee Shop in Rindge New Hampshire at 8:30 A.M.

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This is sort of my new go to place for meeting with congregants when I am not visiting in their homes. I met with one of my friends and we chatted about God and grandchildren. Then we both headed off to the rest of our day.

I do a lot of pastoral visitation now. Visitation has always been a part of my ministry, but now aside from prayer this is my ministry. I pray. I write and I meet with people on-line or in person. I am enjoying it even if sometimes I seem to have a hard time keeping it all straight in my head, where I need to be and when I need to be there.

My daughter, Amanda, and I talked about that on the way to pick up my grand-daughter in Lynn MA yesterday. Amanda has this amazing ability to organize and keep things in order. I have trouble wearing the same color socks on any given day (especially if they are colored which is why I usually wear white). Amanda always knows where she needs to be and when she needs to be there. She plans travel time and she plans cushion into all of her work. She reads and retains instructions from instruction manuals and can keep guidelines in her head. I usually end up losing the English directions to things and end up trying to build things from pictures using the Chinese directions five minutes before they have to be assembled. It was a nice ride, and I really got to affirm Amanda in her gifts. She doesn’t often consider what she does as being supernaturally gifted, but she really is.

We got to Lynn and picked up my grand-daughter Dani. I really thought getting her to come with us back to the Vicarage would be harder but she hopped right in the car, kissed her mother good bye and we were on our way with nary a tear.

We stopped at Wendy’s for a late lunch. After that, Dani colored with my mother for a bit. Then we went to pick some flowers and for a walk in the park. We ate pizza for supper and then Dani was pretty well done for the night.

Today was church. Melanie and James came to pick Dani up there and then we celebrated Amanda receiving her license to preach. She is now a fully licensed minister of the Assemblies of God! We had lunch and then the Franklin family got back on the road. A very busy and very wonderful day.

Well tomorrow starts a deep housecleaning because I sensed in prayer this afternoon that The Vicarage has visitors coming…..I have no idea what that means, but I know it is time to prepare.

I am looking forward to tomorrow dear friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 9-18-20

I have come to call my position of prayer the Sage’s Cave. It is not so much a place or even a position but a state of mind.

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I started my prayer life (forty years ago now) like I imagine everyone does, with a list of things I hoped to get God to do. This kind of prayer is called petition/ intercession. Petitions are prayers for yourself (God heal my heart, God give me a new job). Intercession is prayer offered for others (God heal Sally’s heart, God give Sally a new job).

As I have grown into the Sage’s Cave I have found that the petition/intercession part of prayer has taken a very back seat in a rather large bus. It is not that there is anything wrong with petitions or intercessions. I still petition God for things. I still intercede for others. It is just that for me petitions and intercessions are the least relational prayers and I am very much more interested in knowing God and knowing what is on His mind than I am in getting stuff or things from Him.

I have somehow come to the position of seeking His face more than His hand as the song by Paul Wilbur says,

I do really struggle with this sometimes, because my prayer life is a lot of waiting and listening now. It feels like I am doing even less than I used to do in prayer and I know most people think prayer is useless unless it leads to an action of some kind.

I am learning to be content in the waiting. I am finding that is where the weight of God’s glory resides. Something inside of me tells me that waiting for His glory is my most important ministry now.

Sometimes as I am waiting. God gives me little things to do. Sometimes I see visions of things coming or of things already happening. Sometimes I get understanding of some Scriptural principle. Sometimes I get whole sermons. And then sometimes I just sit and hear nothing but the sound of my own breathing and the music or Scripture playing in the back ground.

Today I am moving towards three hours of waiting in a lot of sweet silence.

This Day At the Vicarage 9-17-20

I started the day hemming my Mother’s new pants for her Drs. appointment. No, I didn’t sew them. I cheated and used hem tape. Even knowing what hem tape was made me feel positively domestic.

Do you use hem tape or is that too much of a short cut for you?

If you read yesterday’s “Day At the Vicarage Post”, you will remember that today Mom had a cardiologist appointment which she was pretty nervous about. This morning I helped her get dressed and then we took off for the Dr’s. office. It’s in our local hospital building over in Gardner MA.

History

Mom now uses a wheel chair to get around the hospital for appointments. She tried to walk the first time we had an appointment here and that didn’t go so well. So now I have a system:

I drive her to the front of the building and help her get seated on one of the front benches. We have to have the mask conversation every time as she gets out of the car….

Mom: Why do I need this.

Me: Because of Covid.

Mom: Oh! Is that still a thing?

Me: Yep.

Mom (puts on the mask.) Wow! The world has really changed!

Me: It sure has.

After this I park the car in clergy parking….because I’m clergy….to which Mom responds “You have your own parking space at the hospital? Impressive.”

I go to the little check in tent next and requisition a wheelchair which means I ask the super bored door monitors where the wheel chairs are. They point. I go and get one.

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Once I get Mom comfortable seated in the chair we go through the check in procedure….the questions….the responses…..the washing of hands….the directions to the particular office….the reminder that we cannot wander around the hospital…the giving of our little tag which tells the hospital staff where we are supposed to be.

Today we got to the office just in time to fill out the forms needed and then we were off to the races. Weight, height, medicine list, EKG and then the big wait for the Dr.

“I hope he’s nice.” Mom said. “How’s my hair?”

Then the Dr. came in. It all went better than expected. The Dr. said her results showed normal calcification of the heart valves for someone her age and since she is not displaying adverse symptoms and is already on all the meds he would recommend he saw no reason Mom had to come back to him.

Here is our parting salvo with the Dr.

Dr. Gibson: Of course you know they pay me to tell people to quit smoking.

Mom has a pack a day habit.

Misty Blue 120's, Box

Mom: And how much do they pay you to do that Dr.?

Dr. Gibson: Not enough!

Mom: That’s probably because you are not very good at it.

Shocked-Face - ChangingLives2Pure - Healthy Living Inside & Out

Well that about sums up the day.

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends.

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 9-16-20

Mom has a Drs. appointment tomorrow with a cardiac specialist.

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She is actually pretty nervous. Though of course, she would deny that if you asked her. I can tell she is nervous because today was the day we had to try on her new “Dr’s. Office Clothes”.

Mom hates to wear anything new. I have bought her several new pairs of pants. She likes her old ones. I have bought her several new shirts. She hates them. The problem is, her old clothes have holes in them. They are just worn out. I do not mind her wearing them around the house but I am not letting her out the front door in them. I am certainly not taking her to the Dr’s. in them.

Today I wanted her to try on the new shirt and pants I had for her. The string of obscenities launched at me for that infraction is what let me know she is nervous about the consult. She doesn’t want to hear what she already knows. She doesn’t want to have said to her what she says to us everyday. That is, “She is dying by inches.”

She can confess it she just doesn’t want to have it said back to her. It is that way with a lot of things around here: If we deny the roof is 50 years old maybe it won’t leak; If we don’t go out on the stone porch maybe it will stop crumbling; If we don’t look out the back windows maybe the giant dead maples won’t fall on our house.

Are you in denial? Read about how to get over being in denial.

I like denial as much as the next guy, but it is no solution to real life problems. Mom is not at a place where she can face the problems on her own. So I am going with her into those problems.

Goodbye Denial… we'll miss you! - Horses for Sources

I called the roofers and they fixed the roof. I called the tree guy. Our dead trees are stuck in some town committee, but at least we are in process. There are a bunch of other things to do, but it is not denial that is stopping them from getting done now just a lack of time and cash.

The Dr. may give us a bad report tomorrow. At least we will know what we are dealing with. Then again maybe we will get a line on some treatment for her circulation no one has thought of yet.

This Day At the Vicarage 9-15-20

It has been a busy week at the Vicarage. I guess the pace really picked up last Friday. As Brenda had her first full day at the apple orchard, I performed a funeral and then mowed the lawn at our local art gallery. Meanwhile, Amanda did her on-line children’s church lesson and prepped for Sunday.

Saturday was church clean up day. About twenty of us raked leaves, pulled weeds, dug up saplings and cut down a few bigger trees.

By the time Amanda and I got home from this we both needed Motrin and a nap.

Sunday of course was church. After service one of our congregants had a medical emergency. Thankfully a family from church was able to get her to urgent care. Afterwards, while the family got the lady settled back into her home, Amanda, Brenda and I took a trip to the pharmacy to pick up the meds she needed and brought them to her house.

The last two days I have been out to this dear lady’s home to help her with groceries and banking. Today we went for a follow up to the Dr. The report was that the Dr. wants to check in with her again in another week so…..

Cheshire Medical Center | D-HH Locations | Dartmouth-Hitchcock

I have a feeling a few of us are probably going to be spending a lot of time here in the next few weeks.

In the middle of this time several of my posts have begun to require a bit more time to create. It’s a good thing, but I am finding I am falling behind in my reading of other blogs.

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Oh well….Life is all about the seasons. God is the author of each one and we must accept them as they come. It is our job to learn how to utilize the different blessings each season of life provides.

This season is really changing how our church operates as a body. We are deepening the sense of family we have. We are becoming more important to each other. We are learning to be together in new and deeper ways. We are learning what it means to be a people of faith, hope and love.

It seems these lessons should have been learned a long time ago. Maybe the theory has always been there. Now we are being forced to put the theory into practice. It feel like the New TEstament is becoming very real to us right now.

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The Lord is doing good things!

I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings Dear Friends.

Pastor J