Since I have nothing to report on the Vicarage building project I thought I would show you these mushrooms that have sprung up at the edge of Boat Garden.
Everything is in readiness for the project to begin but the town building inspector is on a two week vacation and so our building permit is stuck in committee somewhere until he returns on the 18th of October….Ah yes it is the double edged sword of living in a small town. It is easy to know all of the town officials if you want to, but that is because there are not a lot of them, and no one to replace them when they are gone. Delays and mushrooms that is what we have here right now, but that is how God works. There is purpose in all things. Yes even in delays…and yes even in mushrooms.
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.
I said yesterday that there was a lot of news to share about the Vicarage. To do that I am going take part in another challenge hosted by Cee. This is the CMMC CHALLENGE (CEE’S MIDWEEK MADNESS CHALLENGE). THIS PHOTO CHALLENGE REQUIRES ME TO POST PICTURES AROUND MY STORY THAT HAVE THE LETTER “O” IN THE MIDDLE.
The project at the Vicarage has hit its first snag. The cost of supplies has driven the price of the project beyond our budget, and so we are looking at what we can cut out.
We know that while all the work is important, keeping the house from falling down is the first priority. So we are going to focus on the outside and then see what we have left to give to the inside projects. I don’t know if this closet will ever become the new doorway to the kitchen. I don’t know if we will have money to refinish the bathrooms. By faith though, I am preparing these spaces for the work. I am emptying and cleaning these space to get ready for…something to happen.
But the Vicarage is not the only place where projects are happening. We just had an annual church clean up day out at Cornerstone. Amanda, Jody, Joe (pictured here), Ken and I lugged logs from trees our maintenance man, John, cut down in front of the church. Meanwhile others tended the garden beds which had not really been tended since last year.
We got a lot done in the three hours we had. But there is much more to do; So John is compiling a list of jobs and will farm that out to our DLT (Doing Life Together) groups to see if we can’t get some help with these jobs before winter sets in.
Tonight we have a ZOOM meeting to make some plans for the altar space repairs inside the church we are hoping to do in November.
Life is full! And I am finding that cleaning things out is clearing my head.
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?
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?
Today two things happened to me in prayer. As I sat for my afternoon devotions on the porch (which generally last at least an hour) I was listening to my meditation music, and around the corner of the steps came a gopher.
He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him.
“Hello!” I said….and he was off like a shot.
It makes me happy that nature lives at my front door.
The second event happened around 6:30 P.M. as I was having my evening devotions. I was listening to the book of 1 Corinthians on my phone. The birds and the squirrels were gathered at the feeder eating supper.
Eight or ten doves and several squirrels and a chipmunk were happily munching at the birdseed. Then, they were off like a shot. The rodents skittered into the underbrush and the doves took to the skies in different directions.
The hawk was barely more than a shadow and an explosion of feathers as it grabbed the mourning dove from its flight. It was over leaving only a rain of dove down falling into the sumac below.
Life has been a mix of gopher gladness and great hawk gasps lately.
Brenda got the keys to her new apartment in Zaandam yesterday.
She needed a new laptop. So we prayed and less than two hours later she was on her way to get a new laptop provided by one of her donors.
Then she got a call from her landlord saying that all her furniture had been destroyed by an air B-n-B customer (she had consented to leave her furniture in the apartment if her landlord would hold the apartment for her when she returned).
Gophers or great hawks, you never can tell what’s coming across the porch on any given day. The only assurance is that both will show up at one time or another. Sometimes they will even show up at the same time.
In my experience though God has this singular talent to turn our sorrows into dancing, our gasps into gladness and our great hawks into gophers.
How about you are living in the shadow of great hawks right now or are you playing with the gophers?
It feels like I have used this title before…maybe I have but if so its worth repeating. I live my life by inches not by miles.
The older I get the more I realize that life, to be truly tasted and enjoyed needs to be taken in small bites.
There is a temptation to lose the beauty of the single flower because I am trying to conquer the whole forest.
When I give into that temptation, and start to think about the miles I have to go before I sleep for the night, instead of the inch I have left to walk before I can rest for a minute, I find myself getting filled with stress and striving. In that negative mindspace I find myself constantly disappointed by my own inability to meet my self imposed demands and by the world which falls so short of my expectations.
Take the Vicarage project for instance.
When I look at the project as a whole, and think of all that needs to be done, and think of all the money its going to cost, and consider all the possible problems which are going to rise between now and the time I pay the final installment of the loan we are taking out to pay for it all well….
But life isn’t meant to be lived in all those miles at once. It is meant to be lived in the inch we are on right now, because honestly that is all we can deal with…right now.
More than that it is meant to be a celebration of this inch. Not a worry about what the next inch will bring. What can I find to be thankful for in the moment….
I am thankful that all of our bank paperwork has now been received.
Something bad kept happening when I tried to send it, but our friendly neighborhood banker Deb took care of it for me this morning. Yay!
More than that though Brenda has found a new home base for her work in The Netherlands. She was told just over a month ago she would have to move from her current BOO (Base of operations) becacuse the owner is selling it.
That news created a few tough inches. It is not easy finding an apartment when there is an ocean between you and a site visit. But thanks to some very dedicated ministry partners and a good recommendation from her old landlord, Brenda just signed paperwork on a new two bedroom house.
Further she has sensed the leading of the Lord that she will be back in the Netherlands by the end of August or the first week of September!
Life is full and fast now, but living by inches is how I am keeping my peace.
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!