DDITW…Well Ok This Actually Came Out Good!

Here is another episode of “Don’t Do It This Way” With Amanda Lillie. She calls it “Without a recipe”, but as one of her watchers I find myself often shouting at the screen, “No! Don’t do it!”

This time however the results were not that bad. We ate all the dip.

Tune in on Monday at 3P.M. Eastern time for the next DDITW or as Amanda calls it “Without a Recipe”.


DDITW With Amanda( Ice Cream Sundaes)

It is time for another episode of “Don’t Do It This Way” or as Amanda calls it “Without A Recipe”. This is one of the ways Amanda is keeping our congregation connected during the pandemic.

This was Amanda’s birthday addition. She made ice cream sundaes this week. While she was doing this, I was home making her cakes. I made her two favorite cakes (lemon and carrot) as a consolation for not being able to go to Pennsylvania (which was the plan pre-Covid-19).

Without A Recipe Is Born

When the shut in was declared we all knew our lives were going to change radically: My life became more cloistered. Brenda was suddenly thrust into the world of Zoom and Facebook meetings. Amanda discovered she was going to be doing a lot of organization, direct ministry and on-line services. She is perhaps the busiest member of the Vicarage now. She still goes into work everyday at the church and she is spending copious amounts of time organizing and administrating long distance ministry.

Every week she creates CD’s for shut ins who do not have on-line access. She planned an Easter Outreach with the help of our Pastor’s wife and then set up the delivery schedule with a team of people from the church. She does daily challenges with her kids to keep them engaged, and every week she also produces two segments for Facebook. Fridays she does her children’s lesson. On Mondays she has begun doing a fun feature called Without a Recipe for kids and parents alike. Here is the first one. I will be posting the others as well, but if you would like to see an episode live you can find her on Facebook live tomorrow at 3 P.M. She will be making Sundaes without a recipe.

Run the Earth and Watch the Sky

The ministers of the Vicarage have definitely been running the Earth this Memorial Day weekend. I cannot speak for Brenda and Amanda, but I think I shirked my responsibility to watch the sky these last few days. That is never a good thing.

Friday began with grocery shopping and then a day of admin work at the church. I got a bit carried away with accomplishing tasks. It felt good to be making headway on paperwork (one of the banes of my existence). I was doing so well I kept putting prayer off until it was too late.

Brenda and I had a 4 P.M. engagement with friends from church to go see Shakespeare.

It was a great night out in Worcester! Thanks Ken and Betty, Brenda and I had such a good time!

By the time we pulled into the Vicarage I was ready to just collapse into bed. I did and then proceeded to sleep through my alarm which was set to give me time to pray before Amanda and I had to hit the softball fields in Baldwinville MA for Cornerstone’s annual softball tourney.

My job at the tournament was to call “Play Ball!” For each game, to keep time and then call end of game. Then I had to collect all the score sheets and fill out the master round-robin double-elimination chart so everyone could see where they stood in the ranks.

Amanda’s job was to stamp the hands of everyone as they got their free ice cream from the concession truck.

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She got a pretty good sun burn during her two hours of duty, even though she was reapplying sun block every 30 minutes.

While we were having a blast at the softball tournament Brenda was driving to Onset MA for the first of three services and a picnic she was attending with The Bridge Onset and The Bridge Carver.

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By the time Amanda and I got home from the softball tournament it was time to walk the dogs and answer all mom’s questions about the family’s coming and going. She was pretty confused about where everyone was and why they had gone.

After supper and walking the dogs for their final time, I was so tired I again just plopped in bed. I awoke at 3:30 A.M. and realized I was not just physically tired. I was spiritually depleted and in deep need of spiritual refreshment. I jumped into 2 and 1/2 hours of prayer which I needed just to get my head on straight before church. Running the Earth can be fun for a time but when it is not coupled with watching the sky it can cause some real internal issues which take time to work through (at least for me by Sunday morning my attitude was pretty bad).

After a few hours of preparatory prayer I was ready to lead worship at Cornerstone. After service Amanda and I paid a visit to one of our parishioners in the hospital. Then we went home so Amanda could finish packing for her trip to South Carolina.

I dropped her at Logan airport this morning at 2 A.M.. She is off on the next adventure!

Brenda’s Memoir Question #1

Brenda and I are working through an artistic reboot. What is that you ask? Well both of us feel a little weathered at the moment and the weathered feelings are stunting our creative energy. We have decided to address this stunted feeling by working through a book on restoring artistic passion in the midst of transition.

One of the exercises is called “Memoir”. We are asked to break down our life into 12 units and to answer a list of questions about that period. This exercise is geared to get us to dig into the wells of our past for the waters of creativity that run like rivers under the surface of our lives. Both Brenda and I have chosen to share our insights here on Notes From the Vicarage.

Here is Brenda’s answer to question 1. I am amazed by the details of the story which I do not have in my memory bank.

Where Did you live?

I was 4. I remember we lived in Uncle Dick and Aunt Lore’s house while they were away. There was a swing set out back, and woods to go explore. My cousin Mike, my brother Jay and I were outside playing. I was swinging. I loved swinging. The swings were right next to the woods. I heard something come up behind me, and it was a cute little bear cub. I wanted to pat it and play with it (What 4 year old with teddy bears wouldn’t?)

I began to go over to it, and my brother and Mike said I shouldn’t, which frankly made me want to do it more. They were always telling me what to do and what not to do. The little cub growled at me and I giggled and talked to it. I asked it if it wanted to play, and then His momma came out of the woods GROWLING AND HUFFING and Jay and Mike started to scream to get away. I backed away slowly, Jay and Mike ran in the house. And when I got far enough away I bolted and Momma gave chase….I got up on the porch and to the door with that big bear right behind me, her cub screaming at her “OH MOM STOP IT…She is my friend!” At least that is what I imagine that cub was saying.

Mike had locked me out…I pounded on the door…the bear was at the step. Mike let me in, and the Momma bear took her cub back into the woods talking at him the whole way. I’m not sure but I think we all decided it would be best not to tell the adults what happened that afternoon, or we would get talked at just like that cub and perhaps be sent to bed with out supper. And supper was important after being chased by a bear!

Flirken and the Night the Lights Went Out At the Vicarage

Cue stirring music:

I, the mighty Flirken, have been off world for the last several weeks fighting the loathsome Kree.

It was the night of May 6th, 2019 of the Gregorian calendar ( I knew Gregory . Actually it was I who suggested that the Julian calendar was wrong because it miscalculated the length of the solar year, but that is another story).

At any rate, I sensed that there was trouble back on Earth. So after I had dispatched the Kree war ship that was threatening those poor refugees from Stellus VII, I folded myself into my pocket dimension and quick like a kitty made my way back to Earth

It was a good thing I did too because as I returned to my room I realized all the power was out in the house. As I extended mt Flirken senses into the realm of Winchendon I noted that the power was out all over.

The Three White Wickednesses were making a terrible ruckus…. TheGuardians of EIEIO are such sissies.

Matriarch of the Ages was in a terrible tizzy because humans cannot see much without light. I of course have my cat senses and so am perfectly comfortable with the dark, but Matriarch of the ages was rushing about the house pulling the fire sticks out of drawers and shoving them into coffee cups because she could not find her holders.

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I thought surely she would burn down the house and so I was just about to swallow her into my pocket dimension when The She…

started going behind her and putting the candles into candle holders.

Then He Who Wears Stupid Hats…

Came Home and found some more holders and the world was saved. Once again I did not have to eat one human! My humans are true warriors!

J: What Being A Minister Means To Me

One of the things I hope our little family experiment at the Vicarage reveals is what life is like for ministerial families. I hope we get to give you a glimpse behind the curtain to show you that we are just a real family with all the same struggles everyone else has. Being ministers does not exempt us in any way from the normal trials and tribulations of life. Being a minister doesn’t come with a magic “bless you stick” that makes our trials go away on Sundays.

Being ministers though does indicate that we have embraced a lifestyle that is a bit different from the one most people experience. Our lives as ministers are governed by a call from God through which every job, relationship and schedule gets run. That call often leads us into unique situations like the one above where I had to dress up in this costume and go on stage in front of 1100 teen-agers to help teach a Gospel message.

As ministers we live our lives (or at least are supposed to) by prayer and we walk through our lives by faith (or at least are supposed to). Pastors live in the prophetic realm and are called to listen for the internal spiritual witness of God. That witness, that call can lead us into some crazy, exciting even at times harrowing situations.

The title Prophet has been bandied around about me a lot lately. I am not really big into titles but I know God has been doing something in me for a long time that is definitely prophetic. I feel like this family blog is a part of that prophetic call and I am hoping over the course of the next year to acquaint you more with it. Maybe at the end of this time I will understand more about who I am made to be by God. Maybe at the end of this time you will have come away with a better understanding of ministers, prophets, their lives and maybe even a little bit more of an understanding of who God made you to be.

Amanda: I’m Coming Home

I’m  Coming HOME!!

Today is the day I will be home and we will all be under one roof…

In my mind I keep seeing montages of families coming back together after a long time apart and they all give each other hugs and there are big smiles and laughter. (Yes I’ve only been gone 2 weeks and Yes that is a little far fetched.) But that is what it feels like is happening.

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When in reality I will get home tonight and Grandma will be laying on the couch and probably say something like , “It’s about time you came home you dirty stay out” With a laugh in her voice and a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.

Aunt Brenda will be on the other couch or chair, we have a lot of furniture, and will probably say something like “Welcome back Mandy Mandy”

And Daddy, well he won’t even be there hahaha.

Is it the montage in my brain?


But would I have it any other way?

Absolutely not.

I love how my family works and how we interact and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve come to the conclusion that God knew what He was doing when He put me in this family and every time I get frustrated overwhelmed with it all, my family is their to say just the right thing.

Whether its Grandma with her crazy comments, or Aunt Brenda with a smile and greeting, or Dad with giving me space, God knew these were the people I needed to make this journey called life a success.