Dear Family, It strikes me that I have not spoken much about the incredible blessing that God has given us during this season of The Vicarage’s rehab. In the midst of all this work God has given us a miraculous provision of a house that meets absolutely every one of our needs. The Annex is a Victorian duplex located directly next door to The Vicarage! The only thing separating us from our house is the field which we own. I can literally see The Vicarage from there sun porch in my room which most of you will recognize as the place I am using to do my daily video devotion, Digging Deeper. The location was important to Mom who insisted she wasn’t going to leave the neighborhood. And it keeps me close to the project.
The place has four bedrooms and more importantly a comfortable couch because Mom will not sleep in a bed having not slept in one since my father died in 1990. It came completely furnished. We didn’t;t even need to bring dishes or a coffee maker!
The place has plenty of places to meet. Which is important because with Mom’s dementia being in an unfamiliar place means we are sticking at home. So I am working remotely as much as possible and we are staffing any amount of time longer than hour. The room below I use for those meetings which are more sensitive in nature.
It is right at the top of the blue stairs.
But I am also doing fellowship meeting in the kitchen.
And I am doing staff meetings at the conference/ dining table which seats 10.
Normally I would not be writing on Wednesday as it is one of the busier days in my week, but as yesterday was awash with work I did not have time to get to my posts for the day.
Yesterday was a constant pace through most of the daytime hours and by night my brain was mush and the rainy weather made me a candidate for Motrin therapy. I got a lot done for sure. The house got cleaned. Paperwork got done (well at least some of it…I am amazed at how much paperwork there is for a lead pastor to do and I am minimizing my paperwork compared to my predecessors). The weekly staff meeting was finished. Grocery shopping and library run was finished. I even had time to do my daily devotional for the church before I had to go off to a hospital visit.
I did not complete my prayer regimen yesterday, but today is another day and so I am getting off to a good start finishing up this work and a few other bits before my my senior staff meeting. I will also fit in at least 45 minutes of prayer before that meeting happens and then I have to go into the church to get a check signed for one of the two funerals I planned this week and then I need to get a court waiver filled out and sent for one of our widows who the church is helping with guardianship proceedings. All that will be accomplished before our prayer meeting tonight.
It is a season full of ministry. And I am learning that in all things…like Dory…I need to just keep swimming.
It has been a busy two weeks. We are now 21 days in The Vicarage Annex. We have gotten used to this place. It is wonderful. It is comfortable. I am so thankful to God for this place. It is everything we need. Except it is not home.
I am quickly realizing that what we are going through is more than a temporary change. We are being launched by this renovation into a new season. I guess I didn’t anticipate that. I thought we would get the necessary job done and we would go back to our same old patterns.
But I am now realizing that our old patterns will not fit into what we are going back too. We are changing. We will have changed and The Vicarage will be a new home for a new people.
I have heard from many of you since yesterday asking me how I am doing with the whole “asbestos thing”. Really I am fine. The asbestos in the upstairs bathroom is not even really dangerous to remove. It just can’t be torn up like normal linoleum, and it must be disposed of properly. It is just another delay. One thing I know is my times are in God’s hands. One thing I am learning is that I need to relax into that.
The Vicarage project is going to be perfectly in keeping with God’s timing and plan. While we are waiting on it life keeps on with ministry. Most of my meetings now are at The Vicarage Annex and I am finding that I am able to keep a pretty full schedule thanks to my assistant Carrie who is organizing my schedule so well.
Mom has not smoked a single cigarette since we moved to The Annex. So any lengthening of time here I realize might just be to cement this new habit. It all has a purpose and I am learning the joy in finding that purpose.
The blue flooring we have been walking on since I was 10 is apparently asbestos. So the contractors have a bit more to remediate than I originally thought…or hoped. Bringing things back to the studs seems to be a theme for the adventure of life these last few years.
Wendy, our church secretary, has likened the events in our church to exactly that (taking everything back to the studs). Now what we have spent the last few years doing in the spiritual we are doing in the natural at the Vicarage. Themes repeating themselves continually…..
I have to admit I am feeling more stress about this move than I thought and truthfully I thought there would be a lot. It is different than I thought it would be though. I expected to feel constantly overwhelmed. I don’t feel that. I just feel tired.
The truth is there is so much going on not just with the house but with the church that I have little time to dwell on my anxieties. I am in a constant mode of response and each response seems to create a new set of realities with their own sets of responses which require more thought and more work.
In the last three years our church has been through a breaking down. Like our bathrooms we have been taken back to the studs.
It has been hard work and it has been good work. But the breaking down of our church….going from 350 to 120 has only caused me to realize how much more work there is underneath to do. The stress is not manifesting in feeling overwhelmed or like I don’t know what to do. I am just tired and I realize we are just at the beginning of a long journey. Here I am talking about bathrooms and churches like they are the same thing. Principles hold true for all forms of reconstruction I guess. The first step is the breaking down. The next step is the rebuild. It’s all good.
I am so looking forward to you and your parents moving here to Winchendon. I am hoping you make it for the fall. It’s one of the most beautiful times of the year here in New England.
I do often wonder what you will really find when you get here. I remind your father often that The United States is not the country he lived in six years ago. So much has shifted. So much has changed. It has been even longer since he lived in Winchendon or New England for that matter. I think it is 13 years since he has attended Cornerstone Church. And we have changed.
We are smaller now than when he left.
We are also more relational.
When you come Sevy you will find us a people of the Word.
A people of much prayer.
In this regard I am not even the man your father knew when he lived with me. I crave the prayer space now. I am often afraid people around me find my lifestyle boring. I hope you don’t find me so when you get to know me.
We are also learning hospitality as a community.
We are a people of deepening relationships.
Maybe it won’t matter what is happening in the big wide country so much. Maybe the real beauty here has nothing to do with our seasons or even our culture at large. Maybe the real beauty and what you and your parents will find attractive about this place is the love our community has for itself and the people around us.
If you have been following along, you know that we have been planning a big home renovation project for the Vicarage for the last several months.
The supplies for the shingle project, the gutter project and the painting project all arrived a few weeks ago.
The windows are 4-5 weeks out…I imagine they are stuck on some boat off the Pacific coast right about now along with so many other folks stuff. Supply chain problems…Yay!
We were stuck waiting for a building permit for two weeks and then of course there was the rain.
Things were supposed to start on Monday, and then Tuesday and then Wednesday…but RAIN! The rain stopped yesterday and so the construction team was finally ready to go for today and of course this was my day of big meetings. Then I got a call from a pastor I went to dinner with on Monday and found out…yep I have been exposed to COVID….No symptoms, but my doctor suggested that because of the closeness of the contact I self quarantine until I can get a test. That cannot happen until Friday afternoon
Here’s the thing God knew in advance that all this would happen. The product delivery….the permit delays….the rain delays…and the COVID exposure. As I look at it these next two to three days are perfect days for me to be forcibly stuck inside to help Mom as the construction crew tears the outside of our house off.
THIS WHOLE THING is God simplifying my choices.
Here’s the question I have to ask myself. Why does God not trust me to simplify things for myself? OUCH!
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).
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……
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?