Dear Family,

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.

The downstairs bathroom.
he upstairs bathroom.

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.


Pastor Oz


A Note To Joe and Kristine 2-5-22

Dear Joe and Kristine,

No description available.

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 Sevy 2-1-22

Dear Sevy,

We have not met in person yet, but I hope that is soon remedied. I love seeing your little face on Messenger every time I talk with your parents and I am amazed at how fast you are growing. It is hard to believe you are almost 5 months old now. Time really does go faster the older you get and compared to you I am OLD. Time is moving really fast for me.

May be an image of 1 person, child and standing
Joseph Elon Lillie VI, Joseph Elon Lillie VII (Sevy), and Kristine Barrameda Lillie

You know, I have not written a note on the Vicarage since you were born. For a while I thought I might close this site down as my time became so limited with this new position as lead pastor of Cornerstone. It has taken me a long time to figure out how to carve out even a little time to get back to writing (which is one of my great loves).

Even though I love writing I have found that this last season of life has been so full of wonderful things (your birth is one of those wonderful things) I just couldn’t pull myself away to write even a few words. But then in prayer this idea came to me.

One of the reasons I write is to create a legacy of words which will carry our family into the future. I want you and your cousins, your parents and your aunts and uncles and I guess the whole world to understand how we got here and what I think this whole thing called life is all about.

Sevy, I hope we get to meet in the next few months. I know your parents are working hard to try and get back here to the United States. If all works according to plan you will be staying here at The Vicarage by next fall. By then we should even have fully functioning bathrooms that do not leak every time you turn on the water. That will be nice! So far the project is going exactly to plan.

he Old Vicarage
The new Vicarage

Love, Oz

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

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

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.


In the Constant…I Am Full

I have to say, this has been an amazing summer! So much has begun! So much is happening! Life is a constant! And that means much is changing….because…..

Constant Change | Change quotes, Words quotes, Life quotes

We heard back from the bank. Brenda and I have more signing to do, but we are closer to the beginning of The Great Vicarage Project!

Meanwhile the gardens continue to mark the passing of this summer season.

As I sat to pray on the front porch this afternoon I heard the crickets for the first time, the sure sign that we are moving from Midsummer to late summer.

Midsummer brings a certain little girl’s birthday.

It is so nice having the kids living near us now. The birthday party this weekend will be at their new apartment which is five minutes away. One big change their nearness has brought is Sunday Dinners after church.

I haven’t tried anything fancy yet, but I am really enjoying the opportunity to do a traditional family dinner every week.

Meanwhile things at the church are moving forward as our DLT philosophy (Doing Life Together) becomes a DLT experience. People are joining groups and we are beginning to grow together in relationship.

As I said, a lot going on…that said, I am no longer using the word busy….busy means stress to me. I am not stressed. I am full…full of life!

Photo by Vlad Cheu021ban on

What does the word busy mean to you?

My Interdependence Day

Today, July 4th, our church launched its new DLT (doing life together) initiative. We turned Independence Day into Interdependence Day.

We are learning by steps to share our lives intentionally.

Look who came to dinner after.

Lella and Mom spent some time playing together

Then we went picking flowers in our forest garden

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
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 8-18-20

Since March the world has settled into a new rhythm.

Photo by Movidagrafica Barcelona on

Five and a half months in, I have grown use to the new pace. I do wonder how much of my old routine I will even want back when the pandemic is over.

Photo by Svanur Gabriele on

Tuesdays is staff meeting day. Since our offices at the church are still not officially open, we meet by Zoom. A few staff members, including my daughter, vid in from the church office. I work from home.

So the rhythm for this day is: rise by 6 or 7, walk the dogs, pray, write the morning blogs, exercise, go to the store for mom’s daily supplies (papers, scratchies and cigs), then it is back home and with any time left before staff meeting I study and pray a bit more.


In answer to the question you may have asked in the last paragraph, yes Mom smokes. She has for almost 60 years. Stopping at 85 would probably kill her. She has no wish to stop and I really have no wish to fight that battle.

To be honest smoking is one of the few things Mom enjoys now. Dementia has stolen from her the ability to be comfortable away from the house. She gets very nervous even going outside now because it is too confusing.

She likes her living room, her TV (The Hallmark channel almost exclusively), her newspapers with the crosswords, and suduko (which amazingly she can still do), the daily comics, which after she has read, she likes to color…AND she likes her cigarettes.

Her doctor has tried to get her to quit, even using the argument that it will lengthen her life. That argument does not work because Mom has no wish to lengthen her life here, She is beyond ready to move beyond and is, as the saying goes, “Waiting on God”.

I have to say being the child of a parent who is fighting the battle with dementia can be confusing and difficult. As we lose mom…as she loses herself by inches to this disease we are caught between the two ideas of losing her to death or losing her to dementia. Part of me wants to have her stay with us in any condition because I do not want her to go. Another part of me doesn’t want her to suffer the ravages of this horrible disease. Both mindsets come and go, and both of them feel selfish in turn.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

one of the reasons I love the pandemic rhythm is it has given all of us here at The Vicarage precious time to be together. To sit together. To watch TV together…. and it has given us time to talk, even if we do answer the same questions over and over, even if some of what is said is just silly.

Tonight after I had finished a remote sustainability seminar put on by a local resource group, I came down to sit with Mom, Brenda and Amanda. We were having a discussion about gall bladders….yes…. gall bladders.

Here is how it went in my daughter’s words

Convo with grandma…
Me: grandma do you still have your gallbladder?
Grandma: nope
Aunt Brenda: when did you lose your gallbladder
Grandma: I didn’t lose it…
Aunt Brenda: what do you…
Grandma: *interrupting aunt Brenda*… it got cut out
Everyone silent for a beat…then busts out laughing.

Photo by Gustavo Fring on

This new rhythm is perhaps the most massive lifestyle change I have experienced since my divorce. It has been hard and uncomfortable Honestly, though, I never want to go back to normal if I can keep having conversations with Mom about gall bladders.

Well i have blathered on long enough tonight. So I will sign off here saying….

I am looking forward to tomorrow dear friends

Pastor J

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.


Those who follow “Notes” regularly know that Brenda, Amanda and I are living in our ancestral home while caring for our Mother, Nancy (Amanda’s grandmother), who struggles with dementia.

In many ways this disease ( at least the stage we are in) reminds me of raising teen-agers. Mom has gotten very cheeky, and that leads to some very funny conversations.

One of the things we are working on with Mom is her diet. She does not eat very well, partly because of her teeth (the repairs to which are put on hold for the moment due to Covid) and partly because she has a sweet tooth that never quits. the 3P.M.-5P.M. hour is reminiscent of when my kids were teens. They would come in from the day and start snacking, to which this parent would say, “Don’t eat too many snacks. You will ruin your dinner.”

I don’t know if you have ever tried that line with someone over 80 but if you do you are likely to get a response like I got yetserday….

Scene is the Vicarage Kitchen and living room.

Mom eats a Swiss roll at three.

At four she eats an ice cream sandwich

J. Says- Supper is in a little while Mom. Don’t spoil your dinner.

Mom says- I won’t. I am just really hungry now.

J says- Do you want me to fix you a sandwich or something now?

Mom says- This is a sandwich.

J rolls his eyes.

Clipart Eye Roll

After her ice cream sandwich Mom takes a brief nap and wakes up around 5P.M.

J says- Would you like me to fix you something for dinner?

Mom says- No. I am not hungry.

J says- OK, let me know when you are hungry ,and I can fix you a plate.

20 minutes later Mom comes out of the kitchen with A NUTTY BUDDY!

J says- Mom would you like me to fix you something for dinner before you eat that?

Mom says- No. I want this.

J says ( a little exasperated)- Mom you need to eat something more than sugar. You have been eating sugar all afternoon.

Mom says- Apparently it’s what my body needs.

J says- Apparently…..

Frustrated again