Nitty Gritty Reality Faith

5:20 A.M. get up walk dogs.

6:20 A.M. Pray and prepare for the big day

7:20 A.M. Get mom her breakfast and medications/ Make coffee for household/ Vacuum/ move clothes drying racks/ make beds/ sweep kitchen/ clean bathrooms/ move broken pallets from stone porch to burning pile/ Gather trash for dump run/ light candles to fragrance house (I love fragrance)

9:30 A.M. Meet with contractors and sub contractors to begin getting Nitty Gritty Reality framework into place. Here is where the dream begins to take on earthly shape and all the warts and pimples begin to show. I think this stage of a project is the part that needs the most faith.

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DREAMS ARE GREAT

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AND WHILE JOURNEYS CAN BE BOTH DAUNTING AND EXHAUSTING THE ACTUAL GOING BUILDS MOMENTUM.

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BUT THIS SPACE BETWEEN THE DREAMING AND THE JOURNEY IS THE PLACE WHERE MOST OF MY PLANS COME TO NOTHING. THE “WE’LL SEES” AND “WHAT IFS” BEGIN TO TAKE THEIR TOLL AS MAYBES BECOME NITTY GRITTY REALITIES.

For instance we discovered….Not just new shingles. We will need new windows.

And…Yep…. This old house will need some new electrics.

And before we can even think of beginning the trees must go.

We will have appointments this week with the plumber and the gutter people and get their thoughts on the job.

For me faith in this part of the project is the part that just keeps going, just keeps organizing. This is the part where I just keep telling myself it will be all right and we will handle whatever comes our way and make whatever modifications we have to to get the project done. This is the part where I guard my prayer time. It is in this season I most appreciate the place of quieting the soul.

NITTY GRITTY REALITY FAITH LOOKS LIKE…

11:00 A.M. Dump run and then reviewing the appraisal for the house. Send it off marked “done” to the bank

12:00 P.M. Lunch for me and Mom. Brenda is off to deal with the fact that her furniture in The Netherlands is all gone. Her old landlord decided to remodel and just chucked all her stuff!

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1:00 P.M. Contact one of my old students about the trees (he runs a landscaping and tree service)/ Contact our insurance company to get information the bank needs sent off/ cancel haircut …it just ain’t happening/ send e-mail to personal assistant about a ministry event coming up that we need to coordinate/ field phone calls and messages from church members.

2:00 P.M. Prayer break…I really need to center down

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3:00 P.M. Walk dogs/ Brenda goes to have tire fixed before she heads out for weekend of ministry in Buffalo.

4:00 P.M. Amanda starts supper/ I do daily devotional and start writing.

5:00 P.M. Supper!

And now I am heading back into prayer…

Nitty Gritty Reality Faith is the faith that keeps pace and keeps peace and keeps hope and just keeps going.

DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER NAME FOR NITTY GRITTY REALITY FAITH? WHAT IS IT?

In the Waiting

I called the bank today because we were supposed to get an e-mail confirming the submission of our HELOC application. We did not. Our banker, Deb, is checking on things, and I am in the waiting space.

Not that there is nothing to do in the waiting. Life doesn’t wait for the waiting spaces and even in them there are deadlines to be met as we continue to walk by faith toward our upcoming renovation. Besides the day to day stuff, we have a lot of projects to do before the renovation itself begins. I still have to chop out the rest of the bushes around the stone porch. I am leaving the hundred year old antique hydrangea though. It’s so beautiful and if we can help it I really don’t want to lose it.

Our forest garden is so beautiful this year….and the fragrance! I wish I could bottle it and save it for winter.

I mowed this morning and pulled some more of the gardens away from the house. The yard is full of herbs in the afternoon heat.

For the rest of the day I will work on the gardens to prepare them for the stone porch renovation. I am taking this slight delay as God’s way of blessing me to give me time to get all the work done by schedule.

PDA and HELOC

The last few days have flown by in a flurry of activity. The rains that have come up the East Coast have kept me from doing much outside. But the world here is very green lush and cool, so I will not complain about it at all.

All the paperwork for the Home Equity Line Of Credit is filed now and we signed the Project Development Document with the contractors. So things are rolling along.

The project is tentatively slated to begin Sept. 1st and will go on for 12-16 weeks depending on what the contractors find as they begin working on this old house.

In the mean time we have a boatload of trimming and chopping and throwing away to do before the project begins. My brush pile is about to grow.

Pathways At the Vicarage

Today was mowing day at the Vicarage. I love the smell of the forest garden when it is freshly mowed. There is one place where the mix of Bishops weed, wild carrot and goldenrod mixes to smell like cilantro. In one corner of the yard, the mown clover smells a little bit like what I imagine Heaven must smell like. When I mow the catywhompus garden the chives and oregano start to smell a little bit like the North End in Boston. Fragrance in a garden is probably more important to me than the look of it.

If I am being authentic, transparent and vulnerable, I have to admit that I enjoy sitting and gazing out at the forest garden almost more than anything else in the world. I love to breathe in the fragrance and listen to the animals chirp and twitter. I especially love in that symphony of nature, to listen for the deeper and quieter voice of God.

One of my side dreams is that the Vicarage would become a destination for people desiring to seek the voice of God for their lives. I can envision holding small prayer and meditation retreats or even hosting individuals who just desire to sit in the gardens to pray.

The Vicarage is not a very big piece of property but pieces of the forest garden are thick enough that a person can go into it and be completely sealed away from the sight of others.

Right now. I have two prayer spots on the property and a bunch of paths that go nowhere. But this renovation has me thinking that

these paths could be cultivated to twist and turn deep into the forest garden, leading listeners to sacred spaces that could open the very heart of God to them. I think that beginning this renovation process has awakened some dreams in me that must become part of the purpose and vision for the Vicarage.

The Pruning Begins

Everyone who knows me knows I love my little forest garden in the center of town. I love the wild look and as we do this renovation to house and property I want to keep it. But even I realize the yard has gotten severely out of control. Our prospective contractors, some of my congregants and even a few of my dear blogging friends have encouraged me to get the forest away from the house.

Most of the work that has to be done at the Vicarage I can’t do….but this I can. So the pruning begins here.

And here

And here.

And here.

had to do this pruning in three stages. The bush honey suckle was easy enough to tackle but the heat of the afternoon sun chased me indoors.

Once the sun was a little lower on the horizon I got back at it. This Barbary thorn bush was mixed in with a bridal wreath and a tiny juniper bush.

The Barbary thorn bush was so thorny I couldn’t drag it like I did the honey suckle. A tarp and a garden rake made the job doable.

Evidently I have some burning to do.

I have some roots to dig, but at least I can get at them now.

Moving In

So much is changing in Vicarage life.There’s: my new role as lead pastor, Amanda’s new role as youth and next generation pastor, Brenda’s work with this new missions sending agency A.C.T., The vicarage facelift….and my son-in-law, daughter and granddaughters are moving back to WInchendon!

Melanie and Abigail in the new apartment.

Yesterday a team of us braved the July 4th traffic to pack up the apartment in Lynn and drive all their furniture back to WInchendon. We finished up about 10 P.M. last night…..

Map from Lynn, Massachusetts to Winchendon, Massachusetts

And restarted at about 9 A.M. this morning.

Breakfast and a move
Jody
The moving crew

Thank you to everyone from our Cornerstone family who made this move happen! Amanda, Art, Kaden, Ray, Christian,Dan, Jim, Toni (James’ parents from CT) Juan James, Melanie (so nice to have you and the girls in Winchendon). Curt, Tyler, Ken, Betty, Brenda, Jody,Ezra and Josh (our visiting missionaries from Rotterdam) and Pastor David and Emily (pastors from East Coast International who helped us in Lynn.

This is what doing life together means!

THIS DAY AT THE VICARAGE 11-11-20

As the holidays approach this year our state, Massachusetts, is preparing to face what may be its greatest days of challenge since the pandemic began.We received new protocols last week which include mask wearing in all public spaces including outdoors and even when you can socially distance, a 9:30 P.M. curfew, and a suggestion that families should not unite over the holidays and that no gathering over 10 people may be had in private homes. The buzz today is that governor is getting ready to reactivate the field hospitals in MA as our hospitals in the state are reaching capacity.

The gathering thing is not a hardship for us at the Vicarage our whole family together is 7 people, but I know many families for whom the gathering rule is going to be massively difficult come the holidays. I have now been wearing a mask so long in public the idea of not wearing one is almost uncomfortable…and please the idea of having to be in by 9:30 is a super-blessing for our family.

That said a pall has been laid over the holidays and everyone is feeling it. Everything is changing, including the way we are used to celebrating. We have to find new ways, new methods, new opportunities and we have to try them.

We were at Hobby Lobby the other day and my sister bought this urn. Now all four of us are dropping in a note about something we are thankful for every day. We will empty it and read our thanksgivings on Nov. 26th. As we eat our turkey pot pie…. I think the idea is that we have to figure out how to be thankful even when we cannot be traditional.

What creative thing are you doing to face the challenge of this year’s holiday season?

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-8-20

The sky has been really stunning the last few days. Sunrises and sunsets come seemingly to remind me that there is a large part of life that simply transcends the everyday trials of this world.

No matter how crazy things get there is always the sky to look to.

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;

26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:25-28

Today was church day. So I had to make sure most of my extra work was done before I left the house for the morning. Sundays can end up being mostly a wash once church time comes so I try to make sure I have a jump on things before I head out for the day. To that end I spent an hour this morning writing. I exercised. I got a little housework done and then it was off to the races.

Pastor Dan and Pastor Jen preached a great message today on celebrating in every season of life. And then we practiced celebrating as a church at the end (socially distanced of course and with masks). This is a lesson then church needs to take to heart. It is a message I need to take to heart. We are the people of God. Of all people on the planet we have a reason to celebrate which trumps every difficulty.

If nothing else there is always the sky to look to…so let’s celebrate!

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-4-20

I need a hair cut.

These days you can’t just walk into your barber and sit down in the chair. You have to make an appointment. Apparently I keep calling at the wrong time. I tried again last night and no answer. Today she is closed. So I wait and of course slather back my hair with lots of product before I go out the door.

Of one thing I am sure. Some day soon I will get a hair cut. I just have to keep trying and stay patient.

I suppose some people would chide my lack of persistence or tell me to just go to another barber. But you know in the grand scheme of things how important is a hair cut?

I guess that is a question I am asking about a lot of things in this world right now. Getting the yard set for the winter seems more important than a hair cut right now. Getting my book finished seems more important than a hair cut right now. And spending the appropriate amount of time in prayer ( what I call the Sage’s Cave) is more important than all of it right now.

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I know that other people think the amount of time I spend in prayer is foolish even wasteful. I am pretty much OK with that. This is my call not theirs and I am learning that others not called to carry this ministry really don’t understand it. Their lack of understanding does not release me from God’s command…..So I move forward in prayer and wait for everything else to come at its proper time. Even my hair cut.

See you all tomorrow!

PJ

This Day At the Vicarage 11-2-20

Lillie-Put

4 A.M. comes early even after you turn the clocks back. This has been my normal time of rising for the last several months. I usually start my morning with what I call basking prayer. I sit with the Lord and just listen and I let the Spirit within lead me to truth and to petition.

This morning I keep hearing that God is moving to extinguish pride, luxury, and extravagance in me and in US and in the U.S. Maybe it has something to do with the Bible reading I am doing this week (The Book of Revelation today I started with chapter 17-19). Maybe it has more to do with the fact I am becoming increasingly disenchanted with worldliness I see around me. Something in me longs for a simpler way of life.

I’m not talking about a return to the good old days. I am talking about…

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