Monday, December 24, 2018

A Word of Thanks to Lamb's Music . . .

I reported several weeks ago that I had taken two of my acoustic guitars in for repairs.

I recently dropped my Martin D-18 retro onto a tile floor (the strap came off the button), and it bounced twice before I could grab at it with my hands and one of my legs.   The top cracked in two places.   It's an ugly sound when a guitar cracks.  You always remember it.  Sorta stays in the pit of your stomach.

My Taylor GS custom build was damaged when I turned with it and cracked the lower side of it against a chair in my office.  The sound of that crack was also ugly . . . very ugly.   I initially thought it was a finish crack, but upon deeper examination, I confirmed the crack had gone through the wood.

I could have killed myself right then.  What a dunce!

I called J. R. Robeson, our local Taylor rep, and he recommended that I take both guitars to Lamb's Music in the White Settlement neighborhood of Fort Worth.  A good friend who used to be in retail music industry offered the same recommendation.

Lamb's Music is a family run business, and Steve Lamb has an excellent reputation.  To be honest, when I picked up my guitars from him this past Saturday, I was amazed.

I knew from past experience working in a guitar store that the crack in the top of my Martin would still be noticeable.  However, I had to check the edges and binding several times in order to finally see where there had been damage. I was thinking I would have to have the top replaced, but Steve was able to match the finish.  The guitar sounds great, plays great (Thank you Steve for the set up!) and I am very satisfied.

I was a little worried about the repair to the Taylor GS, in part because of Taylor's use of a UV finish.
To tell you the truth, I cannot tell that the guitar was ever damaged.  The repair is superb!  The finish match is outstanding.  And, Steve also set up this guitar, and I've changed my mind about trading it in.  I didn't like the action, but now I love it.  Steve put on a different set of strings, and the sound of the guitar caught my ear.  I need to play this guitar more.  It is the most beautiful guitar I own with a orange sinker redwood top.

I guess it just takes a pro to guide you toward what you didn't know you wanted.  Thanks Steve.

I think the turn around time was about 45 days.  They are very busy at Lamb's Music, as a lot of local musicians take instruments there for set ups, customizations and repairs.

Contact info for Lamb's Music is below in the picture.  I can honestly give them a 5-Star rating.  I know I will be a satisfied repeat customer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A shout out to one of the good guys . . .

Joe Hagin is the Life Enrichment Director at our area Crowley Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.   I have provided music for several dozen nursing homes, retirement communities and senior adult centers in different communities in Texas for over 30 years.   I can hoestly say that I have never seen anyone approach their job with the care, compassion, energy and enthusiasm that Joe does.  Joe is the guy who is always in a funny hat.  He always has a song to sing.  He always has a joke or a cheerful word ready.  And, he really cares about the residents at CN&RC.   To him, they are all family.

He is one of the good guys and deserves our appreciation as well as a pat-on-the-back.

Joe is your contact person if you are interested in volunteering at CN&RC.  Our church is entering a new relationship of support for the staff and residents there in 2019.  They are our neighbors, and we want to support their good work.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

A New Daily Devotional Resource for a New Christian Year . . .

The Season of Advent (the 4 Sundays before Chistmas Day) marks the beginning of the new Christian year.   This is the time of year I usually pick a new daily devotional resource to use.

I've made the decision to once again use one of the books from the Guide to Prayer series written by the late Bishop Rueben P. Jones and Norman Shawchuck.   Both of these spiritual leaders have passed from this world militant to the Church triumphant.  Their resources have guided many pastors and laity in their daily devotional journeys since the original Guide to Prayer was first published in 1983.

This new Christian year, I will be using the final volume of the series, A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God.   This volume is somewhat different than previous volumes, in that the prayers are centered more on scripture and ancient forms of prayer.  These ancient spiritual prayers and practices speak to many of us, who although near retirement from "professional ministry," still seek to envision the return of the current church to the spirituality of the first three centuries of the Christianity that followed the resurrection of Christ.

This is not a simple read a scripture, story and prayer devotional.  Using A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God involves times of silence, reflection and written journaling.  I find that this type of daily devotional takes me 15-30 minutes to complete in a way which blesses me.

But most importantly, this type of disciplined spiritual practive has blessed many in helping them draw closer to God, and inviting Christ into the center of their lives.

This resource is available from Cokesbury Bookstore (

Rick ><>

Saturday, December 8, 2018

A book that has made a difference in my life . . .

I will be the first to admit that I am more of a "jack of many trades" kind of guy rather than a "master" of anything.  

One of my frustrations over the years has been how to keep things in my life organized:  church events and projects, music projects, family activities and responsibilities, travel plans, notes, etc.

I've purchased and used many different organizers:  DayTimer, Franklin Covey, My-Tyme . . . they are all great planners, but never seemed to keep me organized in the way I thought I should, or rather could be.

Several years ago, I can across Ryder Carroll's "Bullet Journal" webpage (  His method seemed to resonate with me . . . and 7 plus years later, I've gone through almost a dozen Moleskine or Leuchtturn Journals.

However, something still seemed to be missing.  It ended up being my understanding of a system.

Ryder recently published his book, The Bullet Journal Method.   Folks, if you are like me, that "jack of many trades" sorta person . . . who has their hands, and interests in many subjects, this just might be the book you should read.

On my shelf in my office is a small grouping of books that have really resonated with me.  You know, the books that you regularly re-read every year or so because they mean that much to you.  They bless you.  The Bullet Journal Method is the first book on that shelf now.  It has helped me to understand how to better and more appropriately focus, and most importantly, how to keep track of all my projects and all my ideas . . . especially to determine if they are worth my time to develop, or if they are really nothing more than a distraction.

Ok, I will admit it, I am drawn to bright lights and shiny new things.  I will start a new adventure by making a big financial investment getting "everything I need to do it right" and end up wasting my money and time because it didn't turn out to be what I wanted, or needed to to.   Ryder addresses this carefully in his book, and it is blessing me.

I don't have it all down yet, but I am finally keeping all my life in ONE journal.  My Traveller's Notebooks are quietly stored away now.  My collection of Field Notes is boxed up.  My new journal for 2019 is at the ready on my desk.

For the first time is several years . . . I honestly feel productive, and on top of the important things in my life.   Folks, that is a good feeling to have.

I believe Barnes & Noble is selling The Bullet Journal Method for around $16 on line.  I cannot more highly recommend this book to anyone who has a broad selection of professional and personal projects and interests.

Rick ><>

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Matt Kleibrink - "Bringin' on the Heartbreak"

I remember when this young man was a young boy who came down every Sunday when I led the  Children's Time in worship at First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, Texas.  He loved to sing the silly little songs that I taught the children there over the years.  Now, he is singing his own songs, and there is a depth to his music that leads one to believe that he is much older and more experienced in life than most young men his age.  Indeed, Matt has grown quite a bit in the years since I first met him!   And, dang blast it . . . he is already a better guitar player than I am!

I pride myself on encouraging younger singer/songwriters, especially those who have Matt's passion for creating music.   He is performing regularly in the DFW area, and I believe we will be hearing great things about him in the near future.

Matt's website is  Check out his upcoming performances at a venue near you in the DFW area.

Way to go Matt!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Damn . . . I broke my Martin D-18

I was walking from my office into the Fellowship Hall to help lead and sing "On Top of Sphaghetti" with our Cub Scout Pack last night.

I was carrying my Martin D-18.  I had the strap around my shoulders.  As I reached for the door, the strap connected to the end pin gave way . . . and before I could grab the guitar, it bounced off the floor once on it's side and then flat on it's top.

I can't remember a time when my gut got that sick so quickly.

I picked it up . . . gave it a once over . . . and thought . . . "Wow, it's ok!"

Then I checked the top . . . yep, just above the end pin area, the top of the guitar has separted (about 2-3 inches) from the tortoise shell binding.  There is a 2 inch crack in the finish and wood from the edge going in the direction of the bridge.

I'm getting sick again just writing about it.

I still played the D-18 for the Cub Scouts.  The neck was fine. 

I guess I'm heading over to the approved Martin repair luthier in Fort Worth to get a quote on repairs.  Poor thing.  Time to invest in better straps and quality strap pins.

Funny thing, I've been carefully considering all of my guitars. I have written before that I am considering trading in my Taylors and Guilds and acquiring a couple of Rainsong graphite guitars, which I believe are better suited for what I do.  The D-18 was number 1 on my list was the Martin D-18.  Yep, the Martin J-40 was not number 1  . . . it was the D-18.

Well, damage or not, it's a keeper . . . and I am sure it can be repaired easily enough by a compentant luthier.  Updates soon.

Time for some self reflection . . .

Time for some self reflection.

OK . . . to begin with, let's deal with some reality here.

I am a 61 year old pastor of a local church who is also a certified therapeutic music entertainer.   In the church I previously served (for 10 years), I was the senior associate pastor.  I was in charge of a lot of things, but I wasn't the one making most of the big decisions that senior pastor's get called on and paid to make.  My main focus was providing the best pastoral care I could to members of the church and to the community.  Singing was one of the ways I did that.

I would sing at every nursing home and rehab center that had one of my church members as a resident.  Word got around . . . "he's pretty good, and doesn't charge for doing what he does!"
Prior to my leaving and moving to my current appointment, I was singing at 12 - 15 "venues" a month, and at several more if the little band I was part of had gigs.

Now, I'm the only pastor at my church.  My weekly focus is on writing the best sermon I can for worship each week, and providing pastoral care, leadership and making administrative decisions.  I sing at only two venues a month: out local senior center and at an area nursing home / rehabilitation center.  I serve a smaller community than previously . . . so the opportunities have been fewer.  I also play guitar for our informal service on Sunday mornings, but its just rhythm
support as our pianist plays lead (and she is GOOD at what she does!)

To tell you the truth . . . not singing and playing as often as I did in the past is eating at my soul.   But, life is what it is, and my professional and spiritual calling is to pastor a church.  Figuring how to balance that with my life calling, which is making a joyful noise, is a challenge.

It's been said, "to sing or not to sing, that is the question."   Not for me . . . there is no question.  I have to sing, or I am not being true to who I am.

What I have come to decide is this . . . playing guitar and singing even once-a-month is better than not at all!  Singing is my best form of self-expression. Actually, singing is only way I truly know how to express my soul.

How is your soul best expressed?