"But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole." - Harry Chapin - chorus of "Mr. Tanner."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prayers requested for Joe . . .

One of my best friends . . . the friend who has been my friend for longer than anyone . . . Joe Laughlin . . . is gravely ill and in a hospital in the Houston, Texas area. 

On behalf of his wife, Riva, and family . . . I ask for your prayers.   Joe could use them right now.

Joe would hardly ever ask me to pray for him.  But when he did, after he was diagnosed with cancer, he asked me to pray "industrial strength" prayers.  Prayer closet kind of prayers.  The kind of prayers that you spill-your-guts-out to God.

He was my first guitar teacher.  He pretty much taught me how to hold a pick, how to hold a guitar, how to strum a guitar, how to finger a "real" G-chord, and how to sing using a guitar.  His motto was always "less is more." My love for Martin guitars came from him. 

Joe is one of the best "unsung" guitar players I know.  If it were not for his infernal shyness . . . he could have had a good career as a studio musician.   He knew he was good, real good . . . but felt God called him to be a chemistry teacher in public schools.  He was shy when he performed, not wanting to draw much attention to himself, which was hard to do since he is 6'4" and was well over 300 lbs for many years.  I personally believe he is the best acoustic finger style hymn player on guitar I have ever heard. 

Joe isn't perfect in my book. I've never been madder at any one individual in a my life on several occasions.   But he has been my adopted "big brother" since I975.  He is one of the friends-to-the-end I have in my life.

Prayers for Joe are very much appreciated . . . industrial strength prayers.

Thank you.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A rare privilege indeed ...

About a week ago, while on my way back from a meeting at a church in Arlington, I took a 30 minute break and stopped at the Guitar Center just off Collins and I-30.   After I made my way back into the section of the acoustic guitar department where they display the Martins, I was surprised to see a Martin OM-42 inside the locked display case where the high-end collectible guitars are featured for would be buyers.

About the most beautiful guitar I have ever layer eyes on.  

Yesterday, on a complete whim, I went to see if it was still there.  It was, and the salesperson who helped me (Austin) let me take it to the back of the acoustic department to play for awhile.  My wife even stated that it was a very nice sounding instrument.  I was surprised by the bass.  Much clearer and defined than on 000's I have played.

Martin OM's, at least to me, are somewhat louder as well than the 000 models, perhaps because of their longer scale length, and maybe because of they are usually made with rosewood bridges.  I am not sure the 1 3/4" nut width makes that much difference.  For strumming I probably prefer a 1 11/16" nut width.  I've been working some lately on some very basic fingerpicking patterns.  I seem to like the extra space, especially at the bridge, of a guitar with the 1 3/4" nut when fingerpicking.

Down the road I will probably get a Martin OM-28.  The OM 42 model is beautiful (all that inlaid mother of pearl!!!) but I would not play it in public because I would not want to risk getting it nicked up.  Plus the price of a 42 model means parting with all my Taylor's as well as parting with some cash.

Not going to do it.  At least not now.

But oh, it was one beautiful guitar!   Why I didn't take a picture of it I will never know ... Maybe Deep down I had some delusions about taking it home?

Oh well, I can always say I played an OM-42 ... and my wife was a witness.  

Another day ... Another way!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, June 23, 2014



Our annual summer Vacation Bible School started this morning, in the middle of a Texas thunderstorm!

We were worried that it would be a slow day . . . with parents keeping kids at home because of the bad weather.  

What were we thinking???   Kid's are still coming in!

I've got morning Assembly duties this year . . . playing the part of Assembly Leader "Sandy Paper" playing opposite of "Rivet the Ant" played by Pastor Nathan.   At the closing assembly, I will have guitar in hand to lead the children and volunteers in a time of worship and praise. 

Going to be fun.

One of my absolutely most favorite times of the year . . . always has been and always will be.

God's graces still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, June 16, 2014

It happened again . . .

Therapeutic Music Entertainment . . . . "A performance or activity which, by virtue of its diversion, amusement and/or pleasing qualities, promotes healing."

It happened again  . . .

I was singing this morning for the residents at the South Colleyvine Ranch in Grapevine.  I was about done with my program, my voice was about gone, and my new "Father's Day shoes" were hurting my feet.

"Rick . . . before you go  . . . please do an old gospel song!"

How can you refuse a sweet dear lady in her 80's who asks you to do a gospel song?  I don't know about you, but I can't refuse such a request.

So, more so because I was pretty tired . . . I started a slow version of His Eye is On the Sparrow.

And . . . it happened again . . . I could see the healing in the eyes and on the faces of many in the room.  On this particular morning . . . on this particular day . . . this particular song, that wouldn't have been sung unless someone had asked . . . was the song that touched everyone there in a way that I will never ever be able to adequately describe with words.

But then I don't have to . . . because I believe most everyone has had a similar experience in their lives with music of some kind.

Healing that cone from music, for me, has a lot to do with feeling . . . and perhaps I was needing this song as much as those who had come to hear me sing . . . the one who comes once a month to offer an hour's diversion from regular daily emptiness or loneliness . . . an hour's diversion from the normal task of "waiting for God" as one resident recently told me.

I sing because I'm happy
I sing because I'm free
For His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He's watching me.

Thank you God, for the healing power in music.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Therapeutic Music Entertainment . . .

Therapeutic Music Entertainment . . . . "A performance or activity which, by virtue of its diversion, amusement and/or pleasing qualities, promotes healing."

This is the definition of TME that I was taught during my certification training time with the gang at Hugworks. 

Short, simple . . . to the point.

As I get older, the idea/concept of promoting healing through music takes up a lot of the time I spend thinking about important life stuff.

Actually, just the idea of promoting healing ... however, whenever and wherever I can ... takes up a lot of my thinking time.   In fact, it's taking up a lot of my personal and professional time.

I currently sing at 4 area assisted living centers each month.  This month I will also lead worship at two of these assisted living centers.  Seeing the smiles on people's faces as they engage a song through singing, hand clapping or dancing . . . is therapeutic for me.  My experience is that TME promotes healing in many ways to many people for many various reasons ... To the ones entertaining and to the ones being entertained.

What kind of healing and how the healing takes place . . . I will leave that all to God.

I sometimes work out theology like math problems.  I had the following equation in one of my journals a while back:

Music + Worship = Healing

Actually the words I had written down were "music + worship (should) = healing.

Worship, for some, is a time when they expect to be set straight, or "guilted" back into doing what is right, more often according to someone else's opinion of what is right and correct.  

How is that therapeutic?   How does that promote the process of healing?  How does that help anyone come to know God as a loving Lord?  

John Wesley suggested 3 general rules (simple rules) for all believers associated with the then Methodist movement in England.  They are good guides for us today.

1)  Do no harm  (that would seem, to me, to promote and facilitate the possibility of healing)

2)  Do good  (that would seem, to me, to also promote and facilitate the opportunity for healing as well)

3)  The regular practice of those things that help you get and stay close to God  (it seems to me that being in God's presence would promote the possibility of healing for mind, body and soul).

Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I want to learn more about how my life, and how I live it, can be an instrument of healing, especially through music, pastoral care, teaching, preaching, engaging people when they are grief or in pain . . . that can help improve people's lives in new and fresh ways.

I'm ok with being a diversion . . . if it helps to promote healing in some way.

I'm ok with being an amusement . . . if it helps to promote healing in some way.

I'm even ok with helping others smile . . . if it helps to promote healing in some way.

Lord, make me an instrument of worship and healing.

God's graces still amazes me . . . ><>

Thursday, June 5, 2014

You Don't Bring Me Flowers Any More . . .

Another good Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain video.

Too funny . . . but well done!

God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A little old school . . . Peter, Paul and Mary

I am amazed how the vocals and two guitar parts so smoothly blend together in the video of Peter, Paul and Mary singing "A'Soalin." 

For the most part, I sing and play solo mostly for senior citizens and children.  Me, my guitar, and my tapping foot.  It takes an effort to combine vocals and guitar, and I know that I can always improve my skill level.

On occasion, I am joined by Larry Dykstra, and we sing as a duo.  Sometimes I get to sing with Jim Newton and Paul Hill.  At other times, I get to sing with our 1st Church String Band.  And, on the rare occasion, I get to sing with one our church choral groups.

And I love it!!!

I love the blending of vocal melodies and harmonies.  I love different instrument working together to make music.

Sometimes, it sends a cold chill down my spine, in a good sort of way.  I feel energy through the power of the music, and the good the music can do for those who also sing it, but who also hear it.

It's a very good feeling indeed.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bullet Journal

I have been using the Bullet Journal method for several months now.  For more information on this analog style method, please check out www.bulletjournal.com.

I'm just using it as a way to keep track of my tasks, notes and ideas all in one place.  That place for me is a lined regular sized Moleskine journal ($18).

I've spent years working out of various notebooks and also using various electronic smart devices.  I made the jump about 10 years ago to keeping my calendar on Outlook, which links to my phone.  All good!  As long as I have my iPhone when away from my office at the church, then I can have immediate access to my calendar and email.

So far, my keeping everything in one notebook using the Bullet Journal method is working nicely.

I have embraced digital in many ways in my life.  All my music and recording stuff is on my iPad.  My iPad is the main component of my little portable home studio along with an iRig iMic.  I'm into digital cameras.  In fact, I have mostly used my iPhone for many of the pictures I take.

One thing that just did not work for me was keeping my task list and notes in Outlook.  It was just to jumbled

I've tried to use just about every kind of paper/notebook based planner that's out there, spending a bunch of money in the process.  I never found a system that supported how I think and create.  

After two months, I have come to the conclusion that using a journal / analog method like the Bullet Journal system for tasks and notes has had a positive effect on my . . .

Wait for it . . . Wait for it . . .

My memory!!!   Yep, I said it.  It is helping me remember more details about things.

I don't know about you, but when I get an idea . . . I have to write it down.  When ideas go into one notebook . . . and that notebook is back in the office, well, goodbye idea.  That's happened to me so many times.

I've also enjoyed personalizing the system with a few quirks that suit me personally.  It's sorta hard to make some one else's system your system.   You can do just about anything in a journal.  One thing I am going to do for June is draw out an actual calendar for the month on two facing pages, and list my big events and meetings on it instead of listing the month on one page.  Again, my main calendar is the digital one.  But major events on a paper copy helps me to plan.

So . . . after two months, so far so good!   

I do feel obligated to say that the Bullet Journal analog system might well suit a lot of folks who still want or like to use pen, pencil and good quality paper.  Personally, I like writing with a nice ball-point pen (Oh how I loathe ink gel pens!!!) on good quality paper.  I always have and I always will.  

However, others thing and work better digitally.  For people who need access to tasks and notes through search tools, or who depend on the Cloud, or who have gone all digital, this system will not be for you.  In fact, you would probably hate it.  You will probably see it as a  time waster.

Good for you!

For this 57 year old dreamer and doodler . . . I like it.  I wish I had discovered this many years ago.  I'd have that Martin D-41 by now if I had, just in the saving of money spent on Day Timers and gadgets.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tommy's One-Man Band . . .

One of my addictions, and an awfully good one to have in my opinion, is to watch TedTalk videos.  Great speakers on great topics.

One of the central themes of these talks is the time we waste on what other people expect of us as well as our personal assumptions that are actually guided by culture, instead of focusing on the things that give our lives real meaning. 

Achieving balance, for many if not for most of us, is not easy. 

Below is a TedTalk by Tommy Emmanuel.  He states in the beginning that he is, as a guitarist, in the "happiness" business.  I'm going to intentionally try to focus on that every time I sing to senior adults in the days to come.  I am in the "happiness" business as well.

At the end of his talk, listen for his use of the word "fearless."  For some reason his use of that word struck me.  I am going to have to spend some time pondering about that.

This video is about 18 minutes . . . but well worth the listen.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

A good video about Hugworks!

For several years now, I have been a volunteer and supporter of a great organization called "Hugworks."   Working with, and being mentored by, Jim Newton and Paul Hill has been one of the professional highlights of my life, along with getting to meet Noel Paul Stookey.

This is an older video, back when the ministry was called "Celebration Shop" before using the name "Hugworks" . . . but it shares the passion behind all that Jim and Paul have been involved in these past 35+ years.  

And now, to my great delight, that same passion is being also focused toward providing therapeutic music entertainment to senior adults.  I couldn't be more thrilled because singing to seniors in my great music passion.

Enjoy . . . and learn more . . . and consider supporting Hugworks with your resources and time.

God's graces till amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Had to have my Tommy Emmanuel fix . . .

Time to get high on some Tommy Emmanuel! Enjoy!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, May 9, 2014

New venue on my schedule

If you read my schedule, you quickly deduce that I sing, most of the time, for senior citizens.

I am very glad to do it.  I am honored to do it. 

I am blessed to serve a church where my singing and guitar playing is recognized as an important part of my ministry.  I have to manage my singing schedule carefully. Very carefully.  

All the locations I perform for understand that I may have to call in and cancel or reschedule because of other ministry demands that come my way, which I have to treat with greater priority.  They understand.  

Again, I am blessed.

I sing at the Atria in Grapevine, on the 1st Monday of the month, because our church has had an almost 9 year relationship with them.  

I sing at Dancing Rivers in Grapevine, on the 2nd Monday of the month, because 5-6 of our church members now reside there.  

I sing at South Colleyvine Ranch in Grapevine on the 3rd Monday of the month, because 8-10 church members who reside there, plus a lot of Methodist folk who we have adopted.  This is a pretty active bunch!   I have been a part of South Colleyvine Ranch since it opened a little less that 9 years ago.   I also get to lead a little worship service for them on the 2nd Thursday of the month in the late afternoon.

And now, I will be singing at Meadow Wood in Grapevine, a brand new senior adult retirement community.  One of our members now resides there, and she is very, very dear to me.  In fact, she already told the staff I would be coming to sing.  This place is so new. . . that there are only 8 current residents in a facility that can hold well over 100.   I will go for my "test performance" next Wednesday. After that, we will probably schedule Meadow Wood for the 4th Monday of the month.

I'm excited.  

As I get older . . . 57 years old on May 7th (I thought I was 58 until my wife asked me to the do the math!!!!!) . . . I find myself being unable, in an way, to resist going down a path that may lead to a greater focus, and perhaps even certification, in senior adult ministry.   Let's face it . . . the number of senior adults, who are healthy, have time and resources to help accomplish great things, is on a steady increase.  So much so, that in 2050, the number of adults aged 65+ are expected to outnumber all the children and teens between the ages birth - 18 years old!!!  When this happens, it will be for the first time in the history of our country.

As some may be aware, I am participating in a project with Hugworks.org as they move toward providing therapeutic music resources to senior adults in a unique way, similar to how they have been providing therapeutic music resources to children in hospitals all over the country for the past 35 years. 

I look forward to doing what I can . . . even more so when the time comes that I can retire, and focus my time, talents and resources on something that I really believe in . . . that becomes a more intentionally focused part of my ministry.

It is good to have something to believe in, especially when it helps people with a way to share mercy, grace and compassion to others.   Thank God for the church, my ministry, and how music plays an important part.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

I am alive . . .

This has been a very busy last 4 months, and I have neglected my little blog that the 4-5 of you faithfully check on every so often.

And I appreciate you all.

I should be back with music and song stuff by this summer.

God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>

Sunday, April 20, 2014

It goes without saying . . .

Happy Easter everyone!  

Thank you as well for prayers regarding my upcoming cancer scan stuff this week.  

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just "Checking In" . . .

We are in the midst of a very busy Holy Week here at the church.  We held Maundy Thursday services last night to celebrate together the Last Supper in the Upper Room, and to let people experience foot washing.

In my nine years (and what a blessing!) of service here as a pastor at our church, I do not ever remember feeling the way I did last night, after I washed a church members' feet, and then he asked if he could wash mine!  I think the best word to describe the feeling was "awe."

People came up wanting to wash each others feet.  Children came up and their mom's and dad's washed their feet.   For a few minutes, it seemed that we were living out our lives in community together as Christ asked us to live.

It was  (pardon the use of a 70's phrase) a far-out experience.   What a sight to see people sharing genuine love and humility toward each other.

I think we got something right last night.

Otherwise I am doing OK . . . and will be off all next week for annual cancer scan protocols.   Prayers appreciated.

Hopefully in May, I can start singing again, and put more focus into firming up the song-set lists for a project I have volunteered to help the good folks over at Hugworks (www.hugworks.org) with as they consider moving into providing music for senior adults.

If you are here in Texas, enjoy the Bluebonnets!  We are having a great wildflower filled spring this year!

And . . . keep making music with your life!

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>