Coaching and Grace

Last night I attended the last corporate prayer meeting of our 21 Days of Fasting and Prayer, hosted at The Worship Room. I am so thankful for all the hard work the staff of The Worship Room did to bring our church together for this season. Some very deep things were shifted in my heart.

Last night I heard the Lord say, “Your new rhythm is set and begins.”

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I can really feel this new rhythm today as I walk through the motions and meetings of the day. Something has indeed shifted. I am feeling slow, constant and intentional which is not new, but it feels like I’ve gone deeper in the slowing, in the constancy and in the seeking for intentionality.

This morning our church hosted a leadership training on the subject of coaching.

About thirty of us gathered to open the discussion around “coaching the person not the problem”. Our goal is to complete this course in 6 months (meeting once a month). We finished 6 pages of 147 and got our text books, but the conversation was so rich as we began to grapple with the idea of changing out methods of Christian work and what that looks like for us as we move onto the next step of our church mission which is : WHILE DONG LIFE TOGETHER, WE WILL REACH THE LOST BY SENDING THE FOUND. WE WILL DISCOVER OUR GIFTS AND CHANGE THE WORLD.

If today was any indication there is much to grapple with. And that grappling is a wonderful and painful process.

God has been talking to us for three years about ‘THE NEW WINE SKIN”. It’s a biblical reference to a spiritual change in a person’s life that causes them to approach life from a different perspective using different methods. It’s not that the thing believed changes, at all. It is the way the thing believed is approached, that changes.

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As a long time Christian I realize one of the tendencies I struggle with is becoming dogmatic about my methods. I have realized I begin thinking, the way I do faith is as sacred as the faith itself. When that is allowed to go on for too long traditions become as, or more important than the relationship I have with my Living God.

One thing I know about God is He does not like it when things that are not Him take precedence over Him. He tends to shake those things up, and for those of us caught in the shaking it can be very disconcerting.

After training I went home to do the other work I had scheduled. One bit of that work was to call my friend Grace. She is going through a host of changes that are far more difficult than the changes I am walking through with my “NEW WINE SKIN”. Over the course of the last month she has lost the ability to walk, and to even get herself in and out of bed. She has had to change units in the nursing home as her medical condition is now more severe. She also recognizes that her level of confusion has increased.

Today as we spoke on the phone she said, “I am not really concerned about my legs. It’s the confusion that is hard to deal with. But I am trying hard not to fuss about it.”

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Grace is trying to practice living one day at a time. It’s a good lesson for me as I face the challenge of my “NEW WINESKIN”. I am realizing that taking the time I need to figure out each step of this change is necessary. I don’t need to have it all figured out today. I just have to take it one day at a time.



The Nexus Of a New Day

I started “Notes From the Vicarage” over two years ago just as Brenda was coming home from her mission in The Netherlands for the regular furlough required by our fellowship. The blog was supposed to help her with connection and fundraising as well as giving our readers a glimpse into life at a vicarage full of ministers. In that endeavor I failed.

I wasn’t prepared for the fact that Brenda and Amanda were not really ready to launch into the world of regular blogging on the scale I was used to.

I wasn’t prepared for how difficult the transition back into American life would be for Brenda.

I wasn’t prepared for how my life was about to change professionally.

And none of us were prepared for a pandemic that would stall the world and missions fundraising efforts for more than a year.

We have come full circle. Brenda will be returning to The Netherlands tomorrow.

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So much has changed in two years:

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Brenda’s new dining room.

She is returning, not to her farm on the edge of the Jagersfeld, but to a new row house in the midst of a newly formed artistic district.

She is returning under the umbrella of a new missions agency….Artists for Community Transformation.

I am now lead pastor of Cornerstone Church.

Amanda holds the post of youth and children’s pastor.

The whole world is living under the cloud of what we are calling our new normal, which I think is not actually going to settle into any kind of normal from here on until the age changes.

And on top of that The Vicarage is about to undergo some necessary surgery.

The front gardens of The Vicarage at dusk last night

It is the end of one day.

the forest garden of The Vicarage by first light.

And the beginning of another.

Each new day is a nexus, a connector of past present and future. I am learning to celebrate what was. Hope for what is to come, and concentrate on what is.

The last two years have taught us God is able to bring the best out of even the worst circumstances. He is truly able to make beauty out of ashes.

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Pandemic gave Brenda time to further her calling and connect to her new missions organization which is built for artist/ missionaries.

Pandemic prepared me for the work of being a lead pastor, by helping me to discover what my real ministry gift was.

Pandemic prepared our church for the move of God which is now beginning to take place.

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As we approach this nexus of a new day I am looking forward to the story that is about to unfold before us. I realize that my role in this unfolding it to be the teller of the story. This time I am determined to make time to tell it.


A Professional Meetinger No More

Photo of Man Leaning on Wooden Table

So I spent 19 of the last 36 hours in meetings of one kind or another. It feels like every last ounce of glory and strength has been drained out of my body. Amanda and Brenda are no better off. Brenda was out even longer than I was by about 6 hours.

When people used to ask me what I did I used to tell them I was a “professional meetinger”. That period of my life was annotated by a long series of meeting minutes and action items I had to get done in order to build the Kingdom of God.

The last 36 hours has made me realize that I am not a “professional meetinger” anymore. I still have a deep passion for the Kingdom of God but I realize my job is not to “meeting” the Kingdom into existence any more (if it ever was). I am going to try really hard not to meeting myself into a stupor ever again.

Today when people ask me what I do for work. I am not exactly sure what my answer will be…artist, prophet, pastor, caregiver? What I do know is that I will never again tell people I am a “professional meetinger”. That is a part of my past. It doesn’t fit me anymore.

Dance Your Rhythm

What do you do when life shifts from march time to a waltz? What do you do when the rest of the world is still marching and you’re waltzing? What do you do when the rest of the world starts noticing that you aren’t marching to their rhythm anymore?

Since returning from The Philippines, my life rhythm has changed radically. There are days when the world still pulls at me and I am tempted to march again. But, most days I am pretty much settled into the slower waltz rhythm that was put on me by God at the end of 2019.

The rhythm is pretty repetitive: My morning’s go one way. My afternoons go another and my nights…well they are still a work in progress but even they have done some major shifting. The framework around all of it seems to be breakfast, lunch and supper.

I am not good at the waltz rhythm yet. I haven’t got all the nuance down, but clunky as I might look, I have changed pace. What I know is that I will not be going back to marching for a while.

People are starting to notice that I am not on the same foot as them anymore. I am OK with that. Everyone else may need to march. I need to dance in order to accomplish what God needs me to do at Cornerstone.

I was praying about it this morning and I felt impressed by the Lord that much of what I am waltzing through is preparation and discovery for the next phase of ministry.

No I am not leaving Cornerstone, people, so don’t worry. God has made it clear that I have work to do in this city still.

But God is changing the nature of the ministry I do. I have known that for a while and have been very open with the whole church about this. He started changing me three years ago and He isn’t finished yet. The change is going at His pace. As with everything else at the church, God has it firmly in hand and He is in charge of the results.

Woman and man dancer latino international dancing

So…What do you do when life shifts from march time to a waltz? What do you do when the rest of the world is still marching and you’re waltzing? What do you do when the rest of the world starts noticing that you aren’t marching to their rhythm anymore?

You figure out how to be the best dancer you can be …and brother you dance!

Man Doing Airborne Stunt

A Time To Chat.

The Bible says there is a time to every purpose under Heaven. I know you thought it was The Byrds, but actually ….no… The Byrds liberated it from King Solomon and his book of Ecclesiastes.

For all those who follow this blog, you know that God has been changing up my schedule rather severely over the last few months. He’s been causing me to ask what it’s time for in my life. He’s been asking me to discover what is important to me at this stage..and what is not. It’s been harder than I thought it would be. I thought I would just easily slide from one gear into the next, but this has not been so much a shifting as it has been a process.

Part of that process has been an evaluation of what my life is supposed to become. I said yesterday that I knew my life was supposed to include both more prayer and more creative connections with art. I also know that this time with my mother, as her health declines, is something that I will value forever, Her situation is the fulcrum which gives power to this whole movement of life. As I press into the situation with my mother, I am also discovering I do really value time spent relating with people.

Over my many years of ministry I have gotten so involved in the act of ministering to people and being an event coordinator to bring people together for the act of relating that at times I found myself loving people but being really sick of being with them…Too much of a good thing I guess.

Now as I am being pulled out of the middle of everything I am finding that I really do crave relationship with people. I so enjoy just being with the staff on Tuesdays. I love seeing the congregation on Sundays. I love sitting with people one on one just having a good chat. And I love having to go home to Mom so I can resume the quiet lifestyle I need to process all that comes out of those times of relation.

There is a time to every purpose under Heaven: A time to write, a time to draw, a time to take photos, a time to do house work, a time to take care of Mom and a time to be with people for a good chat.

I feel like I am becoming more balanced than I have ever been!


My motto for this year is SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO WONDER. In sharing that with my artist’s group back in January one of our artists wondered what God meant by wonder… that is, was I supposed to shift my focus towards looking at awe-inspiring things? Or was I supposed to shift my focus to ponder things more?

Now that I am in my third month of “SHIFTING”, I think God meant a little of both. On January 13th my sister and I embarked on a 10 day journey to The Philippines to attend my son’s marriage to Kristine Bernadette Causing Barrameda.

Those 10 days filled me with awe for sure.

I was awestruck by the fact that I was being privileged to witness such a sacred moment in the life of someone I had actually helped bring into the world.

I could not be prouder of the man he has become. I could not be more honored that a family a world away has entrusted us with the care of their beautiful daughter. I am awestruck that God has chosen to add another godly young woman full of talent and power to our family.

During that time I was often struck dumb by the overwhelming beauty of my daughter-in-law’s homeland. And I was floored by the total otherness of this place called The Philippines. Kristine said in the wedding video that she and Joe were from different worlds and she was completely truthful when she said it.

But during those 10 days in the developing nation that is The Philippines I was more than awestruck. I was left to ponder what God was and is DEVELOPING in me. Honestly, to my way of thinking what is transpiring inside of me is as foreign to my knowing as The Philippines was to my experience.

I am daily aware of the fact that my current spiritual reality is new ground for me. I have no memory of this place and precious little context to explain it.

I have often said to my boss that what God is going to do in our church may leave us looking somewhat unchurchy. If that is so for our congregation, it means that as individuals we are going to experience things that take us out of our understandings of who and what we have been. That is certainly something that might require some wondering.

I am mindful that historically, most powerful moves of God leave the people involved scratching their heads. As those moves DEVELOP people are left to fall back on the only thing that doesn’t change in the midst of life-altering change. That would be the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Well I am wondering at what God is doing in my life this year and I am wondering what to do about it. In all the wondering I am securing myself to God who is showing me through prayer, through the solid ground of His Word, the Bible and through the fellowship of believers. In that security I am DEVELOPING into the new thing that God wants me to be, in order to do the new thing that He expects from me as a part of Cornerstone Church.

Now what has God shown me in the midst of all this wondering……