Dear Family, We have successfully moved out of the Annex and back into The Vicarage.
Good bye Annex! You were a wonderful place to rest our heads for the nine weeks we could not be at home! Thank you Webster and Li for opening your home to us!
It’s funny. I thought we would just walk back in and settle right into our old routines. I don’t know what made me think that, but it is definitely not a truth.
Mom has gone through transition anxiety in a big way. The house is not the same and she knows it. Lots of confusion. Little sleeping and lots of psychosomatic pains. While she did not need anxiety meds when we left The Vicarage and moved to the Annex, she has definitely needed them on the return from the Annex to The Vicarage. Sometimes she is not even sure where we are.
Then of course we are also not done the project. There are still little things inside that need to be done: a shower nozzle to be installed, a glass surround still on order, window locks that never got put back on after painting and a few outlets that still need to be replaced and turned on.
And then there is the last big job of the moment.
It was a bit noisy on Saturday and will be for the next four days I am afraid. But at least we are back in and working through our transition anxieties. We are home.
Dear Family, Since completing the class on Appreciative Living at Beals Memorial Library here in Winchendon. I have been fascinated by the concept of “journey living” versus “destination living”. Journey living is the idea that we have a destination in mind but we really live for the journey because we realize that each destination is just a temporary stopping point on a much larger journey.
This week the Vicarage project wrapped up and so we reached a destination of sorts and found ourselves ready to go home.
We packed our bags…literally our bags.
and started cleaning. It was at this point we realized our destination was not a completion but just the beginning of some new journey I think we will call the continual road to home improvement.
As we got back in and got set up…Thanks to Ray and Barry Parker for helping move the necessary furniture into place and The Bag End Beam DLT group for coming in to wash all the woodwork….we realized that there is much more to do. So first we sat and just enjoyed the newness of our home. Then, as I walked through our home I began to realize that much of our old stuff is going to need a new home. It does not fit with the new Vicarage.
I started unpacking our bags…again they are literally bags…. so as I went through it I began deciding that some of what was in those bags should just stay there and go directly to the dumpster. Other bags I began to empty. Those bags will be used for laundry and for filling with other stuff from other rooms that never made it into bags to go to The Annex with us.
The journey ahead promises to be just as long as the journey behind and I believe that the results will be just as fulfilling.
As I sit writing I am mindful of the literal heaps of paperwork sitting around me and the many messages I have yet to return. But I have the afternoon to get a lot of this done.
Monday was our 5-Star Men’s group. We had a great study in the book of Mark as we wandered through the calling of the first disciples and I called some of the guys to come help us set up chairs on Saturday as the project at Cornerstone has us breaking down and resetting the sanctuary for every service for the next month or so.
Tuesday began the real busyness though: Staff meeting in the morning and then after a quick walking of the dogs I was off to court for guardianship of one of our elder congregants. The judge was very helpful and I am now beginning the work of guardianship for dear Grace. Hence one of the heaps of paperwork on my conference table.
Wednesday the cleaning company came to take what was left of Grace’s furniture and belongings and today the staff went in and did the final cleaning for inspection. Another job done. I think tomorrow I will take the drive up to Claremont to visit with Grace and see how she is settling into her new home. So it has been a week of Grace and it feels good to get so many of these large projects she needed done…done.
In between I have been trying to keep up with my household bills, church business and start cleaning out The Vicarage. This is a great opportunity to get rid of some stuff. And I am feeling the push to simplify in order to manage the future with all that is on my plate.
As Neil Kennedy often says…” If you are feeling overwhelmed clean your garage. Putting things back in order creates peace.”
Well it is time to sign off from this week of Grace,
Last night I started a class on appreciative living at Beals Memorial library right here in Winchendon…. So much fun!
In one of our group discussions I was asked to appreciate something about a difficulty. I thought of the building projects at The Vicarage, at the church, and the moving project I am doing for Grace all rolled into one. It’s not that any of these things is very difficult in and of themselves. It’s not like I am doing any of the complicated work and the guys doing the work are really top notch. But each of these projects adds a level of complexity to my life. As they are all converging upon life at once there is a level of complexity and time management which is taking me beyond anything I have ever had to do before.
As I thought about it, I appreciate that!
In the moments when things get stressy….when I get stressy…. I am beginning to realize that I am being stretched out of my current comfort zone into a much larger one that will contain more peace, more joy, more “can do” attitude and more confidence. I am growing and so I appreciate these circumstances that are allowing that.
Dear Family, Yesterday I pulled another muscle. This time in my neck. I am not sure quite how I did it, but let’s just say when I went to bed my left shoulder was throbbing. When I woke up I had a hard time rolling over to get out of bed because my shoulder was so knotted up.
The Motrin bottle and the tiger balm were my first stop on the way to feed and walk the dogs.
It seems like the last few months have been a constant string of injuries: First my hip went out, and then my knee, now my shoulder. Since that first injury, it seems like I have lost some strength in my body. Everything feels tight and ready to snap at any moment. I find myself reaching for the walking stick more and more “just in case”.
I am seeking God about this. I thought at first it was just going to be like other times when I had gotten injured. I would rest the injured part for a few days and voila! It would be all better. It doesn’t seem to be working that way this time around. I am praying for healing and realizing that this might be a tool to help me come to a new pace that allows me to see the things I need to see without rushing right past them. I do, still, after all these years tend to rush from one thing to another. In the rushing I miss many important things God wants me to understand and know. My time here at the Annex is teaching me a lot about a new pace, a deeper pace, God wants me to learn, A rhythm God is desirous for me to begin walking and maybe even to teach to others.
I keep going back to a prophetic word God gave me almost twenty years ago now about living within my brick.
It was based off of the passage where Peter talks about the church being made up of us and that we were like living stones.
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house a to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
In the prophetic word which God gave to me He said each of us were like bricks in a building. Each brick was meant to support and stabilize the bricks around it. God pointed out to me that bricks did not move they learned to do their job by living within the boundaries that God had made for them. He told me I had to stop trying to run around being something I was not. I had to learn to “live within my brick.”
I think from that point to this life has been about me coming to understand my boundaries, and part of that is the pace I keep.
This is not the first time I have been injured for an extended period of time, as I think about it. Other times the purpose was to slow me down, help me get back in my bounds. I suppose even more than healing, the boundarY God is trying to establish me in is what I should be seeking out.
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.”
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.
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 was reminded today in prayer about that old nursery rhyme “The Tortoise and the Hare”
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.
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.
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.
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 went to The Vicarage this morning to do my morning chores. As I was feeding the dogs and the cat I really stopped to take a look around. I thought to myself about the magnitude of the work we have had done in the last year.
Then I thought about the magnitude of the work that still lies before us after these particular renovations are finished: The washing of floors and walls and curtains itself will take weeks. The windows I have no doubt will be months in the doing. Then there is the fifty years of collected stuff which I am determined to go through and get rid of. This doesn’t;t even begin to mention the further renovations I hope to do to the kitchen, the basement, the back hall and the gardens. So much more to do!
Then there is the work of the church. We are a well established ministry in Winchendon and yet I feel like we are just beginning this work of ministry.
In all this understanding I am not discouraged. I am excited about the days ahead and the work that goes with them! A new day is dawning. There is so much more to do and so much more to see. One day at a time I will see it!
We are well into week three of our stay at The Vicarage Annex. So far everything is going to plan and I am very excited about the prospect of returning home soon. Well, by Memorial Day at any rate which is soon to me.
Today marked two events on our calendar of work. The asbestos guys came, and Amanda headed off on her vacation to Niagara Falls.
We are not quite halfway there, but somehow in my mind I have placed these events as the turning point…the hump day of our project. Get through this week, I reckon, and it’s all downhill from here!