A Note To James and Melanie

Dear James and Melanie,

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It strikes me that it is time to have some new family portraits done. I am scouring my database for a picture of the four Franklins and I am having trouble finding one.

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and finding one. of the current James is nigh on impossible. We have to get us some pictures of the whole fam in its currency.

I am so glad that you are here in Winchendon with us now. While it certainly puts you folks farther from your work, seeing your faces in church every week and being able to be together for family events is doing my heart so much good.

I know too Gramma is enjoying having herm great granddaughters around. I know she will probably never admit it but they are one of her few joys remaining.

Honestly I don’t think Gramma would have allowed anyone else to touch her adult coloring pages never mind turn them into a carpet into the kitchen. I am so glad you have chosen this place to live. Thank you for making and old man’s heart so glad.

Love, Dad

A Note To Joe and Kristine 2-5-22

Dear Joe and Kristine,

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You two really amaze me! You have accomplished so much in your very brief time as husband and wife. I am so proud of you! I am also so glad that you are looking into the possibility of moving to the U.S.

God had spoken to me in one of my prayer times last year and told me to start preparing the Vicarage. I am not surer exactly why, but I do think your return is one of the reasons for the preparation.

So I have started to prepare.

The project continues in April with new gutters and the stone porch repairs. We are also going to redo the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms.

I bought a new mailbox yesterday. I am trying to do little steps everyday to make the house ready for your coming.

I am getting Gramma ready for the move to the next door neighbor’s house. We are so blessed that the neighbor has agreed to rent to us for the eight weeks we have to be out. By the time you get here it will be a whole new house.

Love, Dad

A Note To Yve 2-4-22

My Dear Little Yve,

I know almost no one calls you that little one. Most people know you as Abigail.

May be an image of baby and indoor

But that has never stopped our family from coming up with our own names for each other. Most people will probably always call you Abigail. Most people call me Pastor J. Most people call your Aunt Pastor Amanda. But you ‘Lella and Sevy call me “Oz” and you all call your Aunt “Francine” instead of Auntie. So I will call you “Yve”.

I think having secret names for each other is very biblical…..Revelation 2 does say, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

Who knows maybe “Yve” is your secret name from Jesus….probably not….but I could be being prophetic again. It has been known to happen.

I am so glad that your parents have chosen this point of life for you to move here so that I can see you grow, so that I can be part of your lives from such an early time in your growth.

May be an image of baby and indoor

I am so glad you will know me and Francine and Great Gramma. I am so glad you will grow up knowing Winchendon and the Vicarage and especially Cornerstone Church! There is so much living to do yet and we get to do it together.

Love, Oz

Godspeed

FANDANGO ASKED A VERY PROVOCATIVE QUESTION THIS WEEK.

How much have your priorities changed over the past twenty years?

In answering that question I think I have to say the priorities haven’t really changed. The way I go about them has for sure. The main thing is still the main thing. But the way I live out the main thing…that has changed tremendously.

In the “old-timey” days an appropriate farewell as you sent loved ones on their way was “Godspeed” or “Godspeed your journey”. In the ears of a younger J that phrase actually sounded like “May God help you to get things done quickly. May God speed you along and help you get lots done.”

I am guessing that I am not alone in that inaccurate transliteration of the Victorian Good-bye. It actually means “May God prosper you along your way.”

The problem with my interpretation of the phrase is that God doesn’t speed. He’s not fast as some consider fastness and He is not slow as some consider slowness. Speed….for that matter time…. doesn’t really figure into His equations. It’s not that He is not conscious of time. It’s that He is in control of it and so it really doesn’t mean much to Him. What does mean something to Him is purpose. God’s speed is determined by what He needs to accomplish not by how much time He has to do something in.

Twenty years ago I was a young pastor. I had a lot of “ideas”. I was pretty sure that God wanted me to do all of them. It’s not that I actually asked Him about my ideas. It’s just that I was sure my ideas were good ideas and so they must assuredly be God ideas. So I set about serving Him out of my ideas and for good measure I even added in a bunch of ideas other people had (even though they really hadn’t talked to God about their ideas anymore than I had). I loved God so, I got busy. I got distracted. I got lost in the shuffle of good ideas and eventually life hit me with a giant pause button.

Twenty…plus years out from that young whippersnapper I am older and hopefully wiser. I have learned to wait in prayer over my “good ideas” realizing that most of them are not God ideas. I still love God. I am still busy just with fewer things. I have learned or am learning to clear my plate. I am learning to live by a rhythm of prayer, rest and work. I am learning I can’t do everything. And I am learning that God’s speed is about His purpose not about how fast something gets done.

I am learning that, like our project at The Vicarage: The delays in life are just as important as the forward momentum because in them, we delayed individuals learn how to be human beings rather than human doings; Everything is about seasons that bring change and completion; And that if I wait long enough beauty begins to emerge from the mess, not all at once but piece by piece.

I have also learned that sometimes serving God is as much about taking a small dog on a walk through the leaves as it is about building a house. God speed is about God’s plan not mine, about God’s pace changing mine.

It Has Begun!

We have walked through weather and permitting delays to get to this point. At last the project has begun! Here is one last look at The Vicarage.

Here it is as of today. I am very please by the state of the wood underneath the shingles. We got to it in time.

Most of it is solid like this wood here.

As of today the crew has finished stripping the front and the sides of the house.

The goal is to strip the back tomorrow and then begin reinsulating and weather proofing before beginning the siding. With luck they might be done but the end of next week. Then we can do the trim and the gutters and the stone porch!

Of Irons and Fires, Of Pots and Burners and the Peace Of God

These last several weeks have been full of living. The Vicarage project has been delayed by permits and weather, but that is probably a good thing. I have been so busy with God’s work these last weeks I am not sure how I would have handled the pace if we had the house project in full swing.

God really does know what He is doing! I am coming to accept that His timing is perfect and waiting is a good thing

There are lots of irons in the fire…..lots of pots on burners….and yet the peace of God is what is controlling me these days. I guess I have come to the realization I am not supposed to put all the irons in the fire at once. I am not responsible for all the pots on all the burners. I am one guy. I am one part of the body of Christ here in little Winchendon MA. The body is responsible for the irons and the pots. I am responsible to equip the body to handle all those irons and pots (well maybe not all of them but the ones we are called to).

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

This week as I was in prayer God told me He was going to show me many things that were to go on in the world but that I needed to be careful not to allow what He showed me to distract me from what He had told me to do……otherwise……

Photo by Titus Pop on Pexels.com

He has called me to lead the church to Doing Life Together and to discover our gifts. He has promised that if we did those two things He would help us to reach the lost, send the found and change the world!

I have come to it over the last several weeks that there are several pots I have been trying to get on the burners….several irons I have been hoping to put in the fire that for the moment will just have to wait so that I can fulfill the current call of God.

My book is one of those irons or pots. I am realizing that I will not have the time to finish it and do the work set before me. So….for the moment I am putting this pot back in the fridge….this iron back beside the fireplace. Maybe someday, but not today.

I am also realizing that the delays in the Vicarage project are giving me a better pace. These projects have to happen, but the idea that I was going to get all the work done in these few short months….well that just doesn’t seem to be in the proverbial cards and maybe that is in keeping with the plans and purposes of God.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PLANS YOU HAVE THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN OFF THE BURNER AND PUT BACK IN THE FRIDGE FOR THE MOMENT?

Delays and Mushrooms

Cee has challenged us with A MIDWEEK MADNESS CHALLENGE FOR OCTOBER ON THE TOPIC OF CLOSEUPS OR MACROS.

Since I have nothing to report on the Vicarage building project I thought I would show you these mushrooms that have sprung up at the edge of Boat Garden.

Everything is in readiness for the project to begin but the town building inspector is on a two week vacation and so our building permit is stuck in committee somewhere until he returns on the 18th of October….Ah yes it is the double edged sword of living in a small town. It is easy to know all of the town officials if you want to, but that is because there are not a lot of them, and no one to replace them when they are gone. Delays and mushrooms that is what we have here right now, but that is how God works. There is purpose in all things. Yes even in delays…and yes even in mushrooms.

It Begins

Well everything is in place!

The dumpster and port-a-potty hav arrived along with the new gutters and siding.

Now that the rain has stopped, the crew will be arriving today (or maybe tomorrow) to begin peeling off the old shingles. So take one last look.

I have been trying to get my part done for this project which is clearing the porch and the edges of the house so that the crew can get at the shingles.

I have set up a little seating area on the edge of the wood for prayer through the project.

Things Come, Things Go, Nothing Stays the Same.

I am in the middle of two very full, very wonderful weeks. Two weeks ago. I peached a message on the call to ministry and five people from our congregation were touched by the call.

Photo by Vlad Cheu021ban on Pexels.com

I have had the wonderful privilege of meeting with each of them personally and affirming the call and speaking with them about next steps.

I made reference last week to the fact that the Vicarage project had met its first snag. The outside budget was outstripping the inside project and it was looking like the inside project may not happen at all.

Photo by John Guccione http://www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

So Brenda and I asked a few questions and our contractors, wonderful men of God, got back to us with the answers and a detailed budget with the cost overruns included. Brenda and I took a night to pray about it and then had a Zoom conversation about what we were sensing from the Lord.

To us it made no sense to tackle the inside if the outside of the building was just going to fall down around our ears. Here is what I wrote to our contractors…

Good Afternoon Gentlemen,

Brenda and I met this morning by Messenger Call. After a night of prayer we have come to 
some decisions.
* Honestly we cannot go above the $205,000.00 quotes at this time. That is our all in 
budget so the price of 234,000.00 is out of our reach.

* Getting a new kitchen and a new downstairs bathroom while not fixing the leaks in the 
upstairs bathroom is counterproductive (It would only destroy the new work).

* Redoing the inside of the house but not addressing the structural issues on the outside 
is also counterproductive.

* We realize that the pricing for the outside projects absolutely needs "Uh-Oh" 
money and that the  quoted $68,000.00 may not actually be enough.

* So we have agreed that while all of the issues need addressing eventually and sooner 
rather than later we need to prioritize now.

* We feel we need to fix the outside to keep the house from falling down.  So we would 
like to do the structural repairs and siding at this point.

Since then things have moved pretty quickly. It looks like the outside project will start next week and be done within the month of October. The port-a-potty arrived today (for the work crew).LAte this afternoon I signed the application for the construction permit.

The bushes still need to get gone, but I am thinking they will be gone by Friday. Our plan now is to see what we have left after the outside project is finished and then use that money to start the inside projects. I am praying it is enough to at least tackle the bathrooms.
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

Cleaning Out Clearing My Head

I said yesterday that there was a lot of news to share about the Vicarage. To do that I am going take part in another challenge hosted by Cee. This is the CMMC CHALLENGE (CEE’S MIDWEEK MADNESS CHALLENGE). THIS PHOTO CHALLENGE REQUIRES ME TO POST PICTURES AROUND MY STORY THAT HAVE THE LETTER “O” IN THE MIDDLE.

THE BATHROOM CUPBOARD.

The project at the Vicarage has hit its first snag. The cost of supplies has driven the price of the project beyond our budget, and so we are looking at what we can cut out.

CLOSET

We know that while all the work is important, keeping the house from falling down is the first priority. So we are going to focus on the outside and then see what we have left to give to the inside projects. I don’t know if this closet will ever become the new doorway to the kitchen. I don’t know if we will have money to refinish the bathrooms. By faith though, I am preparing these spaces for the work. I am emptying and cleaning these space to get ready for…something to happen.

SUPPORT MAN

But the Vicarage is not the only place where projects are happening. We just had an annual church clean up day out at Cornerstone. Amanda, Jody, Joe (pictured here), Ken and I lugged logs from trees our maintenance man, John, cut down in front of the church. Meanwhile others tended the garden beds which had not really been tended since last year.

JODY SHOVELLING A ROOT.

We got a lot done in the three hours we had. But there is much more to do; So John is compiling a list of jobs and will farm that out to our DLT (Doing Life Together) groups to see if we can’t get some help with these jobs before winter sets in.

Tonight we have a ZOOM meeting to make some plans for the altar space repairs inside the church we are hoping to do in November.

Life is full! And I am finding that cleaning things out is clearing my head.