A Busy Day At The Vicarage…Some Of Us Garden. Some Of Us Preach.

It was a busy day today. While I was busy writing and gardening and learning how to take art to the next level of ministry, Amanda was preaching her video children’s message at Cornerstone.


Those who follow “Notes” regularly know that Brenda, Amanda and I are living in our ancestral home while caring for our Mother, Nancy (Amanda’s grandmother), who struggles with dementia.

In many ways this disease ( at least the stage we are in) reminds me of raising teen-agers. Mom has gotten very cheeky, and that leads to some very funny conversations.

One of the things we are working on with Mom is her diet. She does not eat very well, partly because of her teeth (the repairs to which are put on hold for the moment due to Covid) and partly because she has a sweet tooth that never quits. the 3P.M.-5P.M. hour is reminiscent of when my kids were teens. They would come in from the day and start snacking, to which this parent would say, “Don’t eat too many snacks. You will ruin your dinner.”

I don’t know if you have ever tried that line with someone over 80 but if you do you are likely to get a response like I got yetserday….

Scene is the Vicarage Kitchen and living room.

Mom eats a Swiss roll at three.

At four she eats an ice cream sandwich

J. Says- Supper is in a little while Mom. Don’t spoil your dinner.

Mom says- I won’t. I am just really hungry now.

J says- Do you want me to fix you a sandwich or something now?

Mom says- This is a sandwich.

J rolls his eyes.

Clipart Eye Roll

After her ice cream sandwich Mom takes a brief nap and wakes up around 5P.M.

J says- Would you like me to fix you something for dinner?

Mom says- No. I am not hungry.

J says- OK, let me know when you are hungry ,and I can fix you a plate.

20 minutes later Mom comes out of the kitchen with A NUTTY BUDDY!

J says- Mom would you like me to fix you something for dinner before you eat that?

Mom says- No. I want this.

J says ( a little exasperated)- Mom you need to eat something more than sugar. You have been eating sugar all afternoon.

Mom says- Apparently it’s what my body needs.

J says- Apparently…..

Frustrated again

Introverted Pastoring

Person Walking on Pathway

The other day I wrote about SETTLING INTO A NEW ROUTINE. I wrote about how this time has birthed in me a new attention: towards prayer, towards writing, towards art and towards taking care of the Vicarage.

I didn’t write about how this “settling in” has affected the work of ministry. That was intentional. The effect this pandemic has had upon who I am as a minister and what I do as a minister is so profound I do not think I can fit it into one post. I thought it would be wrong to try and squeeze it in, as a line item, along with those other things.

I imagine most ministers have been doing a lot of work using Facebook and e-mail and phone calling. I certainly have. Just today I have started three new conversations on Facebook with men in my congregation.

I have also increased communication with folks who do not come to the church. One of my friends who I have been writing back and forth with summed up what I have been feeling beautifully.

She writes: “One aspect of these times that I’m enjoying is reclaiming my instincts and inclinations as an introvert. After all those years of being out there working at the edge of so many things, it feels comfortable and even familiar to pull back, be quiet (at least my mind and voice) .. and follow the lead of my body as it takes me to the garden, weeding, walking the dog, fixing food, etc.”

Brown Wooden Dock

I have been working as a minister in my town since 1991. Like my friend I feel like all these years I have been “working at the edge of so many things”. I don’t regret one bit of it. Pastoring has been a wonderful life and will continue to be as I move into the future. But I am so enjoying this radical new discovery which I think I have to call introverted pastoring.

I love and miss my church family. I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but since we have been praying for authenticity, transparency and vulnerability in our church for months here goes nothin’. What I do not miss is the parade of events that was the church before Covid-19. I am loving having one on one meetings via Zoom or Facebook Live, in which I can simply relate to people without the pressure of having to do business or plan an event. I am really loving having days-long and even weeks-long theological conversations by letter (or messenger) with congregants. I have loved grocery shopping for elderly people in the congregation. I have enjoyed having the time and energy to study the Bible without having to rush through in order to prepare for the rest of the week’s events.

While many of my extroverted congregants and colleagues descry the loss of community, I feel as though I have found a new level of community which is profound, deep and rich, because it is not based around large scale social events but around individual connections.

When we finally get to be back together, I am determined to change how I pastor, no matter what the cost, to reflect this new model of introverted pastoring. I do not know yet what all the changes will look like. I know it will involve saying yes on a permanent level to a more quiet lifestyle, but how that susses out, well, that is all part of the quiet adventure I am on.

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).

The Time Things Take

I have slowed my life down dramatically over the course of the last six weeks. I feel like I am just hitting my stride. I know those two statements sound diametrically opposed. You may even be thinking that both of them cannot be true at the same time, but I am discovering they can. I am discovering both statements ARE becoming true of me at the same time.

I have slowed down and somehow I feel more effective than I have ever been before.

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A friend and I had virtual coffee together the other day and he hit the nail on the head for me.

He said, ” I am learning to give things the time they actually take rather than trying to squeeze them into the time I have.”


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I think my new level of effectiveness comes from slowing down. In slowing down I am letting things take the time they take rather than trying to rush through them to get them done in the time I have. Rushing so that I can get a lot of things done poorly is not better than doing a few things well.

I have said to most of the people I have spoken with during this time, “As we walk into the future I don’t want to return to old habits. I want to build off of the things I have learned during this time.”


Without A Recipe For a Birthday

I am so proud of this lady. I would say girl but that is not what she is anymore. She has proven herself to be one of the most capable adults I know.

Today is Amanda’s birthday. If you want to know how old she is you are going to have to ask her. Because I try never to tell a lady’s age. I can be old school like that sometimes.

Amanda was supposed to be in Pennsylvania celebrating this week. Covid-19 has changed all that. It looks like none of us are going anywhere for quite a while. So instead of doing normal birthday things today like going out to eat or heading out for a movie, Amanda will be doing another episode of “Without A Recipe.”

Check in with her at 3 P.M. to wish her a happy birthday and to tell her how to make an ice cream Sundae.

Here she is making a dessert lasagna.