I am in the middle of two very full, very wonderful weeks. Two weeks ago. I peached a message on the call to ministry and five people from our congregation were touched by the call.
I have had the wonderful privilege of meeting with each of them personally and affirming the call and speaking with them about next steps.
I made reference last week to the fact that the Vicarage project had met its first snag. The outside budget was outstripping the inside project and it was looking like the inside project may not happen at all.
So Brenda and I asked a few questions and our contractors, wonderful men of God, got back to us with the answers and a detailed budget with the cost overruns included. Brenda and I took a night to pray about it and then had a Zoom conversation about what we were sensing from the Lord.
To us it made no sense to tackle the inside if the outside of the building was just going to fall down around our ears. Here is what I wrote to our contractors…
Good Afternoon Gentlemen,
Brenda and I met this morning by Messenger Call. After a night of prayer we have come to
* Honestly we cannot go above the $205,000.00 quotes at this time. That is our all in
budget so the price of 234,000.00 is out of our reach.
* Getting a new kitchen and a new downstairs bathroom while not fixing the leaks in the
upstairs bathroom is counterproductive (It would only destroy the new work).
* Redoing the inside of the house but not addressing the structural issues on the outside
is also counterproductive.
* We realize that the pricing for the outside projects absolutely needs "Uh-Oh"
money and that the quoted $68,000.00 may not actually be enough.
* So we have agreed that while all of the issues need addressing eventually and sooner
rather than later we need to prioritize now.
* We feel we need to fix the outside to keep the house from falling down. So we would
like to do the structural repairs and siding at this point.
Since then things have moved pretty quickly. It looks like the outside project will start next week and be done within the month of October. The port-a-potty arrived today (for the work crew).LAte this afternoon I signed the application for the construction permit.
Everyone has heard the phrase “divide and conquer”. I am not so sure I like when it comes to succeeding in life. I much prefer the phrase “multiply and prosper”. We did a lot of multiplying and prospering at The Vicarage this weekend.
On Friday Mom had as Drs. appointment and someone had to be in Wilmington MA at the Granite place to choose the countertops for our renovation project.
So Amanda and I multiplied our efforts. I took mom to the doctor and Amanda kept our appointment with Clarissa at The Granite Place. She only had five counters to choose from in our price point. I think she did a great job. I cannot wait to see it in our new kitchen.
On Friday night we had a gathering of current and prospective church leaders at one of the homes of our congregants. God is getting ready to multiply growth at the church and we need to begin preparing for that growth by multiplying our leadership team.
This was a great first step with many more to take.
Saturday a group of men gathered for breakfast at a local coffee shop. This is all part of our DLT (Doing life together) initiative.
On Sunday I led my first annual business meeting as lead pastor. I made it through without breaking too many of Robert’s Rules.
We are ready now for the next step. The journey of the Vicarage lies open before us.
If we were having coffee or tea or whatever today, I would tell you that this week feels like fall is rushing towards us.
Even as the garden remains in full bloom I am watching as the trees in the neighborhood take on the faintest tint of their autumn colors. But this year fall is about more than the shift of seasons, it is the changing of a host of things here at The Vicarage.
Brenda is packed and ready to leave on Wednesday for her new home in Zaandam. Her team brought in her dining set today.
Those of you who have been following “Notes From the Vicarage” know that Brenda’s old landlord had gotten rid of almost all of her furniture from her old apartment without telling her. He has made amends and God has given Brenda almost a whole new House of furniture (new to her anyway) for a total cost of less than $100.00 Euro. She still needs to buy new mattresses, linens, curtains and towels but her furniture is all set.
She is still dealing with a heavy heart over the knowledge that her dog Snug will not be able to join her on this trip. COVID has made the veterinarians who deal with oversea pet travel very busy and she could not get an appointment before October. So the Vicarage is becoming a 3 dog, 1 cat household.
Snug being dubious.
If we were having coffee I would tell you that the renovation for the Vicarage is moving forward quickly now. The floor guys came forward this morning and said that our floors can be refinished rather than replaced! That is good because apparently our floors are made of red birch which is super pricy if not impossible to replace.
I would also tell you that this week we picked out our new bathroom fixtures and cabinets. This week I have to make appointments to decide on countertops and bathroom tiles.
Finally, if we were having coffee I would tell you that tomorrow I am hosting the second children’s dedication of my lead pastorate at Cornerstone Church. I have the privilege of dedicating my grand daughters!
The summer has passed so quickly. Like the seasons everything is changing.
Brenda spent the week packing and doing last minute tasks that have to get done before she heads to her new home in The Netherlands.
Things like signing the loan paperwork this week so the Vicarage project can move forward. Yay! We have the money to fix this old house.
AfterI finished signing yesterday, one of my friends from church, came over to help me move some more brush.
Joe has come twice to take brush. I figure he has saved me about two days of brush burning. He was even able to fit a few of the pallets from the pile.
I am pretty excited about where we are going with the Vicarage project. I am also reminded that I have a whole life outside of the project. After moving brush I got ready for my evening meeting, a meet-n-greet for a town project called Heal Winchendon.
Having been through many other building projects in my life I am aware how all consuming they can be especially when they are this big. Balancing ministry and living the building project is going to be tricky. God keeps reminding me that prayer is the key.
HAVE YOU DONE BUILDING PROJECTS BEFORE? WHAT WAS THE KEY TO KEEPING YOUR SANITY?
A few weeks ago I said I was no longer using the word “busy” because busy carried the connotation of stress. Instead I had determined to use the word “full” for the life I was living because full speaks of abundance and prosperity…..Yeah…..I got back to busy today.
Today is writing day. The normal course of writing day is full….prayer-pastoral reading- Digging Deeper Devo- sermon- Prayer meeting planning- scheduling the week- prepping for staff meeting and other meetings- 5 Star Man Group. Adding to that just pushed the day from “full” to “busy” for me.
When the e-mails started rolling from the insurance company and the bank doing the HELOC for us about missing paperwork that was scanned to them last week I got just a little edgy.
A thirty minute call to our insurers…most of which I spent on hold…got the issue resolved and then a quick trip to the bank with some more necessary paperwork for the signing finished that part, and I thought the stress was over…..I was wrong.
As I got back to The Vicarage, I noted Brenda was working in the yard with the clippers. She was clipping down the Japapnese knot weed that was overhanging the sidewalk. I thought about helping, but I had a sermon to write. I had almost hit my rhythm when Brenda called m,y cell and asked me to come and help her. Did I mention I was wrong about being over my stress?
Stress is not about what is going on outside of us anymore than busy is. Busy and stress are all about what is going on inside. Shifting the interior world is what shifts busyness to fullness.
I realized it was time for more prayer.
Silencing the inner turmoil with centering prayer is an effective way to shift me from busy to full, from negative to positive.
The second step for me to shift from busy to full is to realize all that has gotten done this week…to count my many blessings so to speak.
We got the trees down around the Vicarage so the project can begin.
The paperwork is now complete for the HELOC.
Brenda’s team in the Netherlands continues to replace her furniture with deals they are finding with God’s help, and one of her Bridge M.A. Team has started a Gofund me page to help with the costs.
And I just found out that my friend Joe is coming to take another load of brush away for us on Thursday!!!!
And the final step toward shifting my mindset is to envision the possibilities before me.
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.
DREAMS ARE GREAT
AND WHILE JOURNEYS CAN BE BOTH DAUNTING AND EXHAUSTING THE ACTUAL GOING BUILDS MOMENTUM.
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!
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
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?
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!