DEAR FAMILY- ON TRACK

Dear Family, So I met with our contractor for The Vicarage project yesterday and we are back on track thanks to what seems to be a move of God. The plumbing took longer than originally calculated, so for a while it looked like we were going to be a week behind because of the time it would take to get our rough inspections done.

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The contractor was fairly sure we would have to wait until next week to get the carpentry inspection done but praise God the building inspector just happened to have a few minutes free yesterday and so he came over the house and finished the inspector just as the tile guys arrived four days ahead of schedule!

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So the tile job is now beginning. The Vicarage project is back on track!

A month ago one of the widows in our church went into the hospital and was deemed unfit to return home. Insurance has refused to pay for long term care and without anyone who can legally advocate for her she got stuck there. I began the process of filing for guardianship. Yesterday we heard that we are now far enough along the process that a nursing home has opened up a bed for her.

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It’s not ideal. It’s an hour and a half away, but at least it takes us to our next step as I await the court date for guardianship so I can finish the new insurance paperwork which will open up more opportunities for housing for our sister in Christ. She was very frightened yesterday that moving meant she was going to be cast adrift and left to face what’s left of her life alone. Her church, though, is determined to track with her.

So today I am going to take the drive up to the new nursing home to help her get settled in.

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We also got the plan set for closing down her apartment yesterday. So things are coming together for this. We are on track.

Then there is the Sanctuary project which begins on the 15th of May. The congregation is getting ready to help pull out the rug and break down the old altar so the new altar can be built by our contractors.

By the end of the month. The Vicarage project will be done to a place where we can move back in. Our dear sister will be settled in her new temporary residence and I will have guardianship. Her apartment will be closed down and her new insurance paperwork will be well on its way to finalization. And our sanctuary project will be almost completed.

Now is a busy season, but we are getting A LOT done.

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- TUESDAY IS DAY # 1

Dear Family, I was praying and thinking this morning and had a revelation. Tuesday is really day 1 of my week. I don’t know when this switch took place but as I think about it must have been quite some time ago.

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I am aware that Day 1 is actually Sunday. I am also aware that most people think of Monday as Day 1 (we don’t call Saturday and Sunday the weekend for no reason after all). I think that this culture has taught me that the week begins with work and ends with recreation.

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For most people then it makes sense that they would count. Monday as Day 1. As I thought about it this morning it also made sense that Tuesday would be my Day 1 and Monday would be my Day 7 because Sunday is the major work day for me (not that they are not all busy but Sunday is the day that requires the most focus and concentration). It also makes sense that Monday being Day 7 would need to be a recuperation day.

But in my scheduling I have not allowed for this. I have made Monday a major work and planning day. I write my sermon, Wednesday night prayer meeting, do all my meeting schedules and run a Bible study in the evening.

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I have been praying about how to get around the fatigue I feel on Mondays. This morning I realized maybe I am not supposed to. Maybe I am to look at Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoons as my Day 7 and do what I am supposed to do on day 7….rest.

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I think I am going to try this.

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- THE GRANDDAUGHTERS

Dear Family, It was a busy weekend. Friday night I attended “The Kingdom Of Priests” conference being held by our local House of Prayer here in Winchendon. What an incredible privilege to have such a ministry in our hometown!

Saturday I went to do hospital visitation with one of our widows and then I did follow up with several of our people who have either been ill or have had surgery this week.

Sunday of course was church and what a time in God’s presence we had!

This morning I started the day in prayer, walked and fed the dogs, got Mom’s papers and then called my sister in the Netherlands before Abigail and Daniella came for a visit.

Daniella was none to thrilled to be dropped off at Oz’ house, but after a rather severe meltdown on the blue stairs she was fine.
We spent our time together watching Veggie Tales and eating Fruitloops.

Now the girls have gone home, and after a brief recuperative nap, I am launching into the day of writing and studying. Time to think about sermons!

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- FEELING WEAK

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.

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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”.

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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.

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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:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

will never be put to shame.” b

7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected

8and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble

and a rock that makes them fall.” d

1 Peter 2:4-8

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.

Revelation Received Father!

Oz

DEAR FAMILY-THE ANNEX

Dear Family, It strikes me that I have not spoken much about the incredible blessing that God has given us during this season of The Vicarage’s rehab. In the midst of all this work God has given us a miraculous provision of a house that meets absolutely every one of our needs. The Annex is a Victorian duplex located directly next door to The Vicarage! The only thing separating us from our house is the field which we own. I can literally see The Vicarage from there sun porch in my room which most of you will recognize as the place I am using to do my daily video devotion, Digging Deeper. The location was important to Mom who insisted she wasn’t going to leave the neighborhood. And it keeps me close to the project.

The place has four bedrooms and more importantly a comfortable couch because Mom will not sleep in a bed having not slept in one since my father died in 1990. It came completely furnished. We didn’t;t even need to bring dishes or a coffee maker!

The place has plenty of places to meet. Which is important because with Mom’s dementia being in an unfamiliar place means we are sticking at home. So I am working remotely as much as possible and we are staffing any amount of time longer than hour. The room below I use for those meetings which are more sensitive in nature.

It is right at the top of the blue stairs.

But I am also doing fellowship meeting in the kitchen.

And I am doing staff meetings at the conference/ dining table which seats 10.

I praise God for His amazing provision!

Oz

DEAR FAMILY- JUST KEEP SWIMMING

Dear Family,

Normally I would not be writing on Wednesday as it is one of the busier days in my week, but as yesterday was awash with work I did not have time to get to my posts for the day.

Yesterday was a constant pace through most of the daytime hours and by night my brain was mush and the rainy weather made me a candidate for Motrin therapy. I got a lot done for sure. The house got cleaned. Paperwork got done (well at least some of it…I am amazed at how much paperwork there is for a lead pastor to do and I am minimizing my paperwork compared to my predecessors). The weekly staff meeting was finished. Grocery shopping and library run was finished. I even had time to do my daily devotional for the church before I had to go off to a hospital visit.

I did not complete my prayer regimen yesterday, but today is another day and so I am getting off to a good start finishing up this work and a few other bits before my my senior staff meeting. I will also fit in at least 45 minutes of prayer before that meeting happens and then I have to go into the church to get a check signed for one of the two funerals I planned this week and then I need to get a court waiver filled out and sent for one of our widows who the church is helping with guardianship proceedings. All that will be accomplished before our prayer meeting tonight.

It is a season full of ministry. And I am learning that in all things…like Dory…I need to just keep swimming.

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DEAR FAMILY- PLUMBING AND PLANNING

Dear Family,

The contrasts in ministry life are sometimes rather jarring. Today is Monday. Monday is planning day. It is also the day when the plumber is coming to begin putting the new pipes into the Vicarage.

Pipe by Plains is licensed under CC-BY 3.0

So on this day. I am praying through and writing my schedule, my sermon, Wednesday night prayer meeting. I am pre-planning two funerals with a local undertaker. Putting together a men’s Bible study and I am thinking about when the new toilets might be operation al at the Vicarage.

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Well….It’s time for lunch.

Oz

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- THE NEW IN THE OLD

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Dear Family,

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 Painting Pictures of Egypt.

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.

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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.