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.

Identity Coffee Lab - 32 Photos - Cafes - 1090 Nh Route 119, Rindge, NH -  Restaurant Reviews - Phone Number - Yelp

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 9-15-20

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.

Frowning Face Emoji (U+2639, U+FE0F)

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.

Living Word New Testament - Posts | Facebook

The Lord is doing good things!

I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings Dear Friends.

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 9-2-20

It rained this morning. I left the laundry out last night. Go me!

Laundry on line in rain Stock Photo: 4551198 - Alamy

Oh well. Little foxes may try to spoil the vine, but I am not letting a few wet tee shirts ruin my victory over my schedule.

Back in January, God told me I was walking through a brand new door into a place I had never been before. He told me that I would be “entering” in January, February and March. He said I would be “Settling in” in April, May and June. He told me I would “begin accomplishing” in July August and September. Then He said I would “Be finishing” in October, November and December.

I naively thought this was all about my book. I think I may have alluded to that fact here on “Notes From the Vicarage”. I realize now it was bigger than that. It was about a radical change coming to my life. The first quarter was revealing the scope of that change. The second quarter saw me accepting and settling into that change. God used the pandemic to create my new life-rhythm, but by June I realized I had accepted the change and I was determined not to go back to the old rhythm of life, even if the rest of the world did. These last few months I have been learning how to become accomplished in the new rhythm of slow, constant, intentionality (the words aren’t new to me but the practice has taken on a much deeper meaning).

I have kept a schedule for years. I have modified it into my own secret shorthand.Here is what I have done this week. As I look at these tick marks and numbers I am realizing a huge difference in what I am accomplishing.Here is what my schedule looked like in January when I was just beginning.

You might not see much of a difference, but as I have been working with this schedule over these months I see a marked change in how I am utilizing my time. Just look at the first number on my agenda (that is the physical activity goal). Back in January I was lucky if I was doing thirty minutes of physical activity a day and that included walking the dogs. Today I am generally hitting the goal and going over my physical activity number.

Part of that success has to do with me being home more. As Mom’s need for me here at home grows, I am finding that I am actually gaining control of my schedule even as I become more housebound. I am not yet what I shall be, but I am surely more than I was.

Well I have blathered on long enough….

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends…

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-31-20

Yesterday I preached at Cornerstone Church in WInchendon, A message called “A Message For the Moment.” After church one of our parishioniers came over to the Vicarage to look at the dormers atop the house to see if he might be able to fix them for me before winter. The meeting took all of 15 minutes making me right on time to fix lunch for Mom.

After lunch the sabbath slump hit me. It came as it always does, a sudden rush of weariness that left me able to do almost nothing but lay on the couch sliding in and out of sleep. At three I walked the dogs and then took a short ride with Amanda around the area to see sites. We stopped by the mountain to take a few pics.

When we got back I had just enough energy to make supper before my body crashed once again. The rest of the night was spent watching TV on the couch. I rested. I practiced sabbath.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have long had a love/hate relationship with this discipline called sabbath. I think I have struggled with it because of what sabbathing requires of me….because of what resting requires of me. Most of the people around me approach the Sabbath and the act of sabbathing as a day off, a day to have fun. They get to their day off. They go to the beach. They rake the lawn. They have friends over for a barbecue. They go and visit gramma. They go to Maine for the afternoon…..Meanwhile I crawl into bed and sleep for twelve hours. A really active sabbath for me is to lay on the couch and watch TV for eight hours after my nap, like I did yesterday.

Now there is a piece of me that is good with this. That piece of me knows I need this if I am to function the rest of the week like a normal human being. But there is a piece of me that really struggles to be like all the people around me. I want to be the guy who gets out of church and drives to Lynn to have lunch with my daughter and her family. I want to be like my sister who got done with her responsibilities at church yesterday and then drove to her friend’s house forty five minutes away and then painted canvas until after dark.

Here’s the thing. I can do all those things on Sunday. I can push off the Sabbath slump for a bit as long as I am prepared to slump on Monday. I cannot escape it. If I schedule myself so busy that I can’t Sabbath one day a week, I become this crabby Zombie monster who cannot function in any form of godliness. I revert to my old sinful self.

History of Zombies - HISTORY

I watch other people and think how weak I am because I can’t seem to do what everyone else does. Then I think maybe their not really doing it either. Maybe they really are just better at hiding their sinful zombie monster selves than I am.

Let me ask you dear friends….HOW DOES REST LOOK IN YOUR LIFE? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DON’T REST THE RIGHT WAY?

I am looking forward to tomorrow dear friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-29-20

I awoke this morning with one of those leg cramps that make you scream yourself awake. You know the kind I mean, the kind where you are mindful enough to know that if you could just get to your feet the pain would stop, the kind which is so painful you cannot move out of the position you have contorted into.

What are Muscle Cramps and How Can They be Treated Naturally

After a minute of deep breathing through the worst of the pain, I swung my feet off the bed. I realized the day was dark and rainy, a reminder from God that I was in my current situation probably because I had let myself get dehydrated yesterday.

I pushed myself off of the bed. I thought back to yesterday and remembered that the Lord had changed up my sermon for Sunday on me. I was working in Psalm 84. Then, in my afternoon devotion the Lord had pushed me into Isaiah 8:11-20. When one sermon supplants another the sensation can be sort of like an emotional earthquake, especially when the supplanting comes on Friday afternoon. My new sermon prep got as far as reading the new verses to my sister after an evening ride around the area. Then I settled into an evening of wrestling internally with what I was to make out of the new passage given me. I went to bed with no more idea of what I was going to preach than when I first got the new verses in the afternoon.

This morning, as I paced about my bedroom trying to get my right calf muscle to release, the brain fog of sleep dissipated and I began to realize God had downloaded all the points of my new sermon while I was sleeping.

HAS ANYTHING LIKE THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?

MIND BLOWN - Imgur

Well you know I hobbled to my computer, and set the new outline down. I sent it off to my technical director so he could create the powerpoint. Then I heard the Lord say. “I have given you rain. Allow it to pace you. Allow it to slow you down to the place of prayer you need to be ready.”

So I have slowed down. I have hydrated. I have stretched. Most importantly, I have prayed and now I can say.

I am excited to see what tomorrow brings dear friends.

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-27-20

My sister read something on the internet that said there would be two moons tonight, or that Mars would be as big as the moon, or some such nonsense. For just a moment I got really excited. I thought perhaps we would see something no other mortal had experienced for hundreds of years.

I grabbed my phone, as she put on her shoes, and out we went, two amateur astronomers ready to view history.

Sadly there was, as usual, just one moon. We had been hoaxed.

“Hoax” is a word that gets tossed around a lot these days. One would think by the amount of hoaxing being reported that the whole world is under the influence of a powerful hoax or something…..Wait a minute! It seems I’ve read something about that somewhere…… Yes this is it…

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. 2 Thess 2:5-11

In today’s polarized society I do not think there are many people bringing us news, who are being totally honest about anything. I am taking everything that comes to me with just a little more than a grain of salt.

mountains of salt - Picture of Salinas d'Es Trenc, Campos - Tripadvisor

I have to admit I like to listen to certain storytellers (aka liars) more than others. With me it is more about form than substance. I like my news to sound like a news report, not like an episode of Jerry Springer. And I also like to listen to a new-person who sounds like a news person rather than someone who trained under Steve Erkel.

Image tagged in steve urkel - Imgflip

All this to say, there is precious little in the world I am trusting right now and that even seems to include the Constitutional Republic I grew up in. BUT each day I become more certain than ever that there is ONE I can trust in. The promises of JESUS CHRIST are sure and immovable.

While the powerful delusion seems to be breaking our society apart, while it seems to be causing certain people a great deal of consternation, it is driving me deeper into the ONE I can trust. Further, what is going on in the world is driving me further into a place of peace, a place of abiding in Christ. It turns out, that is where I was supposed to be all along.

If you are finding yourself anxious about what is going on in the world try pulling back a little. Try forgetting about the world and its promises and problems for a moment and just press into Jesus. He is the only one who can save us now. In His presence alone is fullness of joy and only at His right hand are pleasures evermore. I’m sorry….If you thought you could find peace, joy, or pleasure in someone else, you’ve been hoaxed.

OK that wasn’t exactly what I planned to say tonight, but it will have to do for now.

I am looking forward to tomorrow, my Dear Friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-22-20

Well, my migraine left after a good night’s sleep. Thank goodness!

Photo by Marcin Dampc on Pexels.com

It left a lot to clean up today. Taking almost a full day off yesterday put me a bit behind on the plans I had for housework and volunteer work today. I take comfort in the fact that God wasn’t surprised by it at all. He knew it was coming. He planned for it, even if I did not.

This morning as I woke up He reminded me that in spite of the rather large to do list screaming inside my head I needed to remain slow, constant and intentional. The day had to start in the Sage’s Cave.

Photo by Brady Knoll on Pexels.com

During that first hour of prayer He settled me into my daily rhythm and warned me not to rush or depart from it. He reminded me that I had to walk the day’s cycle and keep coming back to prayer if the day was going to be a success. So I have done that: pray, exercise, write, read, chores, family time, study and then back to prayer time.

I got a call at around 7:30 A.M. from one of our elderly parishioners who was being transported by the ambulance to the hospital in Keene NH. I hung up and clocked the fact that I was at perfect peace even though I knew I was going to have to take the hour and a half drive to be my dear friend’s ride home in a few hours (she is often transported and after getting a good dose of medicine is almost always discharged within a few hours). I felt the Spirit urge me to just keep moving on with my schedule.

So I did. My study today was the second half of a video by artist Makoto Fujimura on the love of God.

After study and prayer, I felt like I needed to get ready to go. Just as I was finishing brushing my teeth the call came in to take my ride to Keene.

Parking Services | City of Keene

When I finished helping my friend I came home and after lunch I took a walk with Brenda around the D.A.R. Park.

The rhythm has repeated all day: Prayer, exercise, writing, reading, chores, family time, study and back to prayer…

Tonight, I feel very peaceful and fairly accomplished. I think I am going to go sit with Mom for a bit now. Maybe we will watch some more of the History Channel tonight. She seemed to like that the other night and it is a welcome break from Hallmark.

It is time now to sign off here and to say…

I am looking forward to tomorrow Dear Friends!

Pastor J

This Day At the Vicarage 8-17-20

I started “Notes From the Vicarage” a little over a year and a half ago. My intention then was to give you all a glimpse into the life of our family of pastors.

Things have gone a little sideways since then and… well this blog hasn’t become all that I hoped it would be. I like what it is….but it needs something. It needs the curtain pulled back a bit so that you all get a better glimpse of what life for us is really like here at the Vicarage.

So I am going to try, as many times a week as I can, to do a new type of post. “This Day At the Vicarage” will be more of a journaling experiment than anything and I hope that you will enjoy the read.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

HERE WE GO.

Today would traditionally be my day off, but since pandemic started days off don’t mean the same thing. I got up at 4:30 A.M. to walk the dogs and then went back to bed until 9 A.M.

Mom, Brenda and I watched Perry Mason until 11 A.M. while Amanda drove to Lynn to watch Daniella (my grandaughter)

so that Melanie and James (my daughter and son-in-law) could go to Melanie’s baby appointment. YES MELANIE IS GOING TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY!!!! Today was the day they found out the baby’s gender.

Melanie and James have picked out one boy name and one girl name. They have kept the names top secret until today and as a reveal they gave us the name of the baby according to his or her gender. Here’s the fun part…they gave us the name jumbled up and then told us that in order to find out the sex of the baby we would have unjumble the name.

Here is what they gave us: “Gybiavienaial”

SEE IF YOU CAN FIGURE IT OUT. LEAVE YOUR ANSWER DOWN IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.

Brenda and I went to a local eatery to try and figure out the name over sandwiches and sodas.

Then we took a ride down Rte. 124 into Fitzwilliam NH and then back into Winchendon MA to The Vicarage so we could take our precious little dogs for their afternoon walk.

We pulled in the drive to see this little guy. He was injured somehow and couldn’t fly. I was able to get him to take some water, but before I could get a box to put him in, he jumped away into the deep bushes at the end of the garden. 😦

In between all these goings on I managed to write my daily blogs and spend a few hours in prayer. I have been a feeling a bit out of balance these last few weeks. I think I am letting the world get to me. I know I am letting myself feel the expectations of the world around me a bit too much. Prayer is as always, for me, the answer.

After dinner which tonight was leftovers (DO YOU LIKE LEFTOVER NIGHT?) Brenda and I walked the dogs and spent about an hour on the porch in the gloaming. It was a great conversation regarding personalities and mental health. Yes that is the kind of stuff we sometimes discuss on our front porch.

The rain has come in at last and so I am finishing up for the night and heading off to bed.

Visitors To the Vicarage- The Franklins

This is a busy week at the Vicarage. Today started with some special visitors.

We hadn’t had the Franklin family out to the Vicarage since Christmas
Daniella really enjoyed walking the grounds and watching the animals.
Daniella loved playing with Francine‘s cat.
Francine is what she calls Amanda.
Since we probably won’t see her again before her second birthday, we decided to hold her birthday party today. She and great grandma even sat together for a little bit.