DEAR FAMILY- MOVES AT THE END OF THE GAME

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Dear Family, When I first moved to The Vicarage there was a lot of work to do. I remember thinking to myself, “I will just do a little at a time and eventually it will all get done.”

A decade after moving there I finally gave into the fact that that strategy was not going to work. All my “nickel-and-diming” of jobs was getting us no closer to completion. Further the house was becoming more and more unlivable with each passing year.

Then the Lord came to me with a word. “You must get The Vicarage ready for use.”

He didn’t tell me what use, just that I had to get it ready.

So we have worked to get it ready. I discarded the little by slow method. It has still taken two years and we aren’t finished yet. But we do have a new roof, new gutters, new insulation, new siding, freshly repaired and painted trim, the asbestos is gone, we have cut down five large trees from the property, we will soon have new bathrooms, and a new entryway into the kitchen, eight new windows, a repaired stone porch, and some new varnish on at least some of the floors. We have also gotten rid of some very old rugs, some very broken furniture and a derelict wood stove. Before it is all said and done we will have removed an old derelict furnace as well.

I am also determined to get rid of a lot more stuff that is serving no other purpose than taking up space in our lives.

That said, I no longer think that changing the building is the primary thing that needed to change to “get the Vicarage ready for use.” There is something much deeper that has been shifting ever since we moved to the Annex.

The Vicarage has been draped for many years in a cloud of seclusion.

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I joked as we put our dishes away before the move that a family that never entertained did not need place settings for forty. One of the things that has changed since moving to the Annex is that I have been taking most of my meetings from home. For the first time in my ministry I am receiving guests regularly. And I am loving it! This is the breaking of a spiritual stronghold that has long held our family in stasis. And we are breathing the free air. I am growing in the gift of hospitality and The Vicarage is being prepared for use.

We are coming to the end of the Church Age and we are getting ready for the Day of the Lord and the Age of Christ’s reign. These are the days of the last moves in a very long game of chess. Our little corner of the world is getting ready to play its most decisive, most historical move. I believe that with all my heart. God is preparing us for that move. He is preparing the Vicarage for its role in that move.

I cannot wait to see what is about to play out.

Be Blessed and Be At Peace,

Oz

DEAR FAMILY SLOW AND STEADY

Dear Family,

I was reminded today in prayer about that old nursery rhyme “The Tortoise and the Hare”

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Life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. While there are always people shouting from the sidelines to “hurry up!”, God has impressed on me that I must not let those voices push me to go any faster than the pace that God has set for me.

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I hear the voices yelling, but I am determined to follow the rhythm He has set for me.

He reminded me yesterday that if I was going to live successfully then everything I do must flow out of the rhythm of prayer rather than prayer being allowed to flow out of the rhythm of my doing.

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Even with all the projects before me: The Vicarage, The Church carpeting project, The Covid Policy publication for the church, helping Mom, helping Grace, meeting with parishioners, I must not do except what flows out of prayer. When I spend the first part of my days in prayer I find that everything else falls into its proper place.

The trim is done now and the rest of the project is moving along nicely. A few more weeks and we will be ready to start washing the floors and walls and uncovering the furniture to get back in! Each day as I pray I am given my own little jobs to do to get The Vicarage ready for rehabilitation.

DEAR FAMILY- ASBESTOS

Dear Family,

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…..

Godspeed

FANDANGO ASKED A VERY PROVOCATIVE QUESTION THIS WEEK.

How much have your priorities changed over the past twenty years?

In answering that question I think I have to say the priorities haven’t really changed. The way I go about them has for sure. The main thing is still the main thing. But the way I live out the main thing…that has changed tremendously.

In the “old-timey” days an appropriate farewell as you sent loved ones on their way was “Godspeed” or “Godspeed your journey”. In the ears of a younger J that phrase actually sounded like “May God help you to get things done quickly. May God speed you along and help you get lots done.”

I am guessing that I am not alone in that inaccurate transliteration of the Victorian Good-bye. It actually means “May God prosper you along your way.”

The problem with my interpretation of the phrase is that God doesn’t speed. He’s not fast as some consider fastness and He is not slow as some consider slowness. Speed….for that matter time…. doesn’t really figure into His equations. It’s not that He is not conscious of time. It’s that He is in control of it and so it really doesn’t mean much to Him. What does mean something to Him is purpose. God’s speed is determined by what He needs to accomplish not by how much time He has to do something in.

Twenty years ago I was a young pastor. I had a lot of “ideas”. I was pretty sure that God wanted me to do all of them. It’s not that I actually asked Him about my ideas. It’s just that I was sure my ideas were good ideas and so they must assuredly be God ideas. So I set about serving Him out of my ideas and for good measure I even added in a bunch of ideas other people had (even though they really hadn’t talked to God about their ideas anymore than I had). I loved God so, I got busy. I got distracted. I got lost in the shuffle of good ideas and eventually life hit me with a giant pause button.

Twenty…plus years out from that young whippersnapper I am older and hopefully wiser. I have learned to wait in prayer over my “good ideas” realizing that most of them are not God ideas. I still love God. I am still busy just with fewer things. I have learned or am learning to clear my plate. I am learning to live by a rhythm of prayer, rest and work. I am learning I can’t do everything. And I am learning that God’s speed is about His purpose not about how fast something gets done.

I am learning that, like our project at The Vicarage: The delays in life are just as important as the forward momentum because in them, we delayed individuals learn how to be human beings rather than human doings; Everything is about seasons that bring change and completion; And that if I wait long enough beauty begins to emerge from the mess, not all at once but piece by piece.

I have also learned that sometimes serving God is as much about taking a small dog on a walk through the leaves as it is about building a house. God speed is about God’s plan not mine, about God’s pace changing mine.

It Has Begun!

We have walked through weather and permitting delays to get to this point. At last the project has begun! Here is one last look at The Vicarage.

Here it is as of today. I am very please by the state of the wood underneath the shingles. We got to it in time.

Most of it is solid like this wood here.

As of today the crew has finished stripping the front and the sides of the house.

The goal is to strip the back tomorrow and then begin reinsulating and weather proofing before beginning the siding. With luck they might be done but the end of next week. Then we can do the trim and the gutters and the stone porch!

Rain, Covid Exposure and the SimplifyingWork of God

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!

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We were stuck waiting for a building permit for two weeks and then of course there was the rain.

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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!

It Begins

Well everything is in place!

The dumpster and port-a-potty hav arrived along with the new gutters and siding.

Now that the rain has stopped, the crew will be arriving today (or maybe tomorrow) to begin peeling off the old shingles. So take one last look.

I have been trying to get my part done for this project which is clearing the porch and the edges of the house so that the crew can get at the shingles.

I have set up a little seating area on the edge of the wood for prayer through the project.

Things Come, Things Go, Nothing Stays the Same.

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.

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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.

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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 
some decisions.
* 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.

The bushes still need to get gone, but I am thinking they will be gone by Friday. Our plan now is to see what we have left after the outside project is finished and then use that money to start the inside projects. I am praying it is enough to at least tackle the bathrooms.
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Multiply and Prosper

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.

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#WeekendCoffeeShare: The Quick March

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.

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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.

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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.

Red Birch Hardwood Flooring

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!

May be an image of 1 person, baby and indoor