Thursday, August 1, 2019

Embracing Digital . . . I hope it's not too late!

I have recently embarked, at the encouragement of my ministry coach, Jerry Roberson, to embrace going fully digital when it comes to planning my day, taking journal entries, calendar, to-do lists . . .

I'm not that digitally or computer challenged as I once was.  I remember working with Melissia Mason at FUMC in Grapevine.  Oh, the look on her face when she realized that I didn't have a clue as to what she was talking about when I would ask her for help using Microsoft Word.  Bless her heart.  But I do appreciate everything she taught me, and things started to click when I started using an iPad (3rd generation).

Melissia is the one who first encouraged me to write a blog over 14 years ago.  She is a much more proficient, and effecient communicator and blog writer than I am.  But she planted the seed and I continue to nurture it along.

Well, back to what Jerry has encouraged me to do . . . apparantly his definition of going "all in" digitally is doing everything on an iPad.  Granted, Jerry is a professional ministry / clergy coach and consultant.  He speaks at conferences.  He recently gave a great Ted-Talk.  So he must know what he is talking about.  My experience with Jerry these past two years is that when he suggests something, it is usually to my benefit to take the time to consider his counsel.

For those serving full-time in ministry, I would encourage you to consider a relationship with a ministry / clergy coach.  If you put in the effort, you will be blessed.

So, I will be purchasing a new iPad Air 3 in the coming week.  At Jerry's suggestion, I have already been learning to use a couple of apps that I was able to download onto my Samsung S9.

The first app is "Get it Done."   I'm already willing to say that this app was well worth the $39 it cost. It works with those who are fond of David Allen's GTD (Get Things Done) approach.  It works for me so far.  I will get some further training on maximizing this app to the fullest.

The next app is the one I simply love . . . Day One Journal.  This app cost around $35 for the premium edition, and it might be a little less through the Google Play Store for the android version.

Where has this app been all my life?

On a shelf in my church office and in my home office, I have dozens of notebooks and journal of all sizes where I wrote my daily to-do lists along with contact, meeting and project notes. (By the way . . . I have horrible handwriting . . . so you already know where this is going.)

 It was only recently that I learned a method to index my journals, alas too little too late as the process is completely analog, in that you have to start with the fist journal and work through it to the next one . .  repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat again.  Unless I put a reminder note in Google Calendars, I had to grab the current journal or past journal and start thumbing through the pages to find the entry I was looking for.

Day One Journal allows me to make my entries, which are completely searchable by using a key word.  "Click" and there is my info.  Awesome.

Here is the kicker (positive consequence) to all this . . . I am now writing more!   Why?  Because I can instantly find what I wrote!

Day One Journal works with other database apps . . . so far . . . I am really impressed.  Every day I seem to discover something new about it.  As I said, this app has me writing more.

The only drawback is that it doesn't work with a Windows computer, just IOS, Mac and Android.  The new iPad runs on IOS 12, so no problem handling this app when I am out and about.

Who knows, perhaps as old dog (I'm 62 years old) can learn some new tricks.

Thank you Melissia Mason, for encouraging me to learn more about computers and Digital stuff.

Thank you Jerry Roberson, for encouraging me (actually daring me) to become more efficient
so I can have more time to be with my family, and the people I work for and work with.

All good!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Heeding the Call to a New Mission Field . . .

This past Sunday, it was announced that Liz and I will be leaving FUMC Crowley and moving in July to the West District to serve FUMC in Comanche and FUMC in Gustine. This is a surpise move for everyone concerned. However, I took a vow at my elder's ordination that I would go where I was needed. This is one of those moves, and we believe we are being called into a new mission field. There is sadness, and excitment. Those who have gone through this process better understand what I can't exactly put into words.
Liz and I truly treasure the people here in Crowley. They are working hard to become the church that Christ is calling them to be. The folks in Crowley stood by me, and gave me the time to recover, when my knees were replaced, and when I decided that I had to lose weight and regain my health in order to become the best husband, father, grandfather and pastor I can be.
I thought I couldn't love a church staff as much as I did when I served in Grapevine, but then I arrived at Crowley. Together we have plowed ahead depending on God to lead us where we needed to go and do what we needed to do. That applies to everyone who has served FUMC Crowley in leadership as well.
We will leave with numerous memories, and with the belief that Crowley was one of the best places that we have ever had the privilege to serve. Still two more months of transition . . . but I say this . . . Crowley, it has been an honor to be your pastor for 4 years!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Crowley Senior Center Performance - April 25, 2019

I had another opportunity to sing for my friends at the Crowley Senior Center.  They have a new location in the Crowley Recreation Center, which just happens to be across the street from my church.


This was my first public performance using my Rain Song BI jumbo.  So far so good using a 100% graphite guitar. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I Finally Brought Home a RainSong . . .

Well, I've threatened to do it.  I've written about doing it.  Finally, I did it. 

I just brought home my RainSong Black Ice jumbo guitar.  This is my first venture into owning and playing a guitar that is constructed of graphite.

I got a great trade-in for my Taylor's, and even walked out with a very nice check for the difference in the price.  The Taylor's were probably the best and prettiest guitars I owned.  However, I never played them!  They were great gifts from a friend, who blessed my moving on from them.

I must say "so far so good."  The sound is a bit "purer" to me than that of a wooden guitar.  My Martin's are a bit louder, again to my ear, and I haven't yet played into a microphone to tell for sure.  My RainSong came with light guage bronze strings and I really prefer phosphor-bronze.  So I will be putting on a set of medium phoshor-bronze in a week or so.  RainSong customer service is pretty good.  I was told that I "might" have to adjust the neck a quarter-turn when I put the mediums on.   I've got the right tools to do it.  Should be no sweat.

This guitar is a keeper . . . I've already made that decision.  I've only had it for a couple of weeks, and I am just scratching the surface of what it can do, and what I can do when I play it. I have been pleasently surprised so far.  But I will admit, I went into this knowing it wasn't going to sound like a wooden guitar.

Oh, did I mention, it's one of the largest guitars that I now own, but it's also the lighest?   Oh, what a sincere pleasure it is to play this guitar for the usual 50-60 minutes of singing and playing that I do in front of senior adults in nursing homes or community centers. 

I'm certainly not a purist by any means.   I have no "relationship" with guitars like others do.  They are tools for what I need them to do. But this guitar is a "banger."  By that I mean it's a guitar that is impervious to humidity, heat and cold, which along with sunlight are the enemies of guitars that are made with wood.  A RainSong can supposedly be left in sunlight with no damage, not that I will ever try to find out if this is true. 

High humidity, low humidity, no change in sound.  That's good for me, as I'm in usually in New Mexico for a week or so in early fall.  Most of that time I play outside.  The case it came with fits nicely under the bed in our Grand Designs Imagine 2970rls travel trailer.   Looking, and sounding, good so far!

More to come. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Crowley Senior Center performance . . .

I enjoyed singing today for the folks at the Crowley Senior Center at their new digs inside the Crowley Recreation Center.  There were about 15 in attendance.   It was good to reconnect with Ruby Harse (CSC Director) and the rest of the folks.  This location for their activities is really so much better than their old location, in my humble opinion.

I will sing for them again on the last Thursday of this month!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Is It All in a Name?

As you get older (in just a few months I'll be 62) you find yourself paying closer attention to the few things in your life that really matter to you.  I think this happens more earnestly when you come to the realization that you have less time left to live than you have lived so far.

Family, friends, faith . . . these are the big 3 in my life, and have been for some time.   Otherwise, when approached by those who want my help, or my business, my answer is simple, and hopefully loving . . . I'm not interested.  If something can't appropriately filter through family, friends and faith, then I know in my heart that it not a wise use of my time.  If something does not resonate with me, or in some way connect with my passions, then there is no connection, nor inclination to become involved.  I am a curious man, but my curiosity is limited to those things that bring me joy, and joy to others.

My wife and I share a passion for RVing.  We make time for it as often as we can. It's an activity that we enjoy doing together.  It's out way to relax and enjoy exploring the world around us.  I doubt that we will ever be full-timers, but I do see us embracing seasonal RVing after our retirement in the coming future. 

In the past few years, we have especially enjoyed camping in New Mexico, Colorado, Mississippi and Tennessee.  We've stayed in some great RV parks, and met some really great people.  Overall, it's been a positive activity for us.

In our travels these past months, we began to get the feeling that our Forest River MicroLite 25FKS was just too small for us and our two collies.  It was a great unit, and we made a good decision getting it for short get-a-ways and vacations. However, we have a possible opportunity after retirement to live in our camper seasonally in New Mexico from May through September.  We needed something with more kitchen space, more seating, and much more wardrobe space.

After looking at different dealerships and visiting RV shows in the DFW area for the past 3-4 months, we found a great fit for us . . . a Grand Designs Imagine 2970RLS.  We picked it up this past week, and were able to spend 3 nights in it before arriving back home.

I will be sharing more about this camper in future blogs.

What I wanted to write about today . . . was the brand name of the camper we purchased . . . Imagine.

The words of John Lennon's song of the same name ring true with many people.  Not so much with other people.  But the word itself strikes a chord with me.

Here's why.  I don't see much evidence of imagination in the lives of many of the people around me, most especially in children.  It's as if they either don't know how to engage in imagination, or have never been taught to seek the possibilities and discoveries in life that are all around them.  Perhaps it's because they seem so busy, and that they don't have the time.

Has imagination become something we don't have time for anymore?  Or is imagination now seen by many as a waste of the time they have?

I believe, in an effort to daily strive for personal health and wholeness in life (physically, relationally, emotionally and spiritually) one is aided by one's sense of imagination.  By imagination, I mean being able to see possible "future's".   I think the goals we set in life for ourselves are often rooted, or should be, in the possibilities we can imagine about our lives, including our dreams and our passions.  Life is supposed to be about discovery!   In almost 62 years, I have discovered so much about myself, my family, my friends and the world around me during my life.  I have learned some great lessons, and some painful ones as well.

It seems that so many people are hard-wired to a cultural reality these days . . . they seem to put so much effort and resources in striving toward a cultural definition of success and happiness.  But there is a problem.  A cultural definition of success and happiness does not work for most people.   This kind of definition is rooted in debt, acquiring possessions, and not giving a damn about anyone else.   Unless you look a certain way, dress a certain way, have a certain kind of job, house, car, spouse, etc. . . . you aren't happy.

Another problem with this way of thinking . . . you can never have enough, because the happiness or joy you feel after acquring something new, or checking off a to-do list, is short lived at best.  Something new, shining in the distance, will always attract your eye.

I know this from personal experience.  It is a costly way to live, in more ways than one.

My happiness, to my understanding, is totally and completely my responsibility.   I learned a long time ago, people can't make me happy.  Only I can make myself happy, and it won't ever happen by letting cultural definitions define or steer my life.   If I let this happen, then I am giving culture an unfair aspect of control over my life.  In other words, pleasing the majority dictates what I do.

It seems to me that a consequence of this belief is the crushing of one's imagination to imagine a perferred future.  Perhaps . . . living without imagination . . . is the death of one's soul.  Is that the desire of our culture, to form and shape us into a submissive understanding of what's important . . . and the expense of our very soul?

I believe the unfortunate answer to that question is "yes."  However, there is an alternative way to live!   We can live life with a goal of imagining possibilities . . . of what may be "out there" that we have yet to explore, but can if we will just get up and do so.  We must never lose sight of the fact that our imaginations are the birthplace of our dreams!!!

Imagine the possibilities.  That's the easy part.  Getting there is the hard part.  Doing so is always a risk of some sorts.  But then, we can't begin to explore what lies ahead of us in life if we don't put in some hard work and self-sacrifice.  A little sweat makes the experience that much richer.

Imagination . . .  never give up the ability, and your right, to imagine!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Maybe busy is bad . . .

Life has become quite busy since deciding and announcing that I had made the decision to purchase/trade for a Rainsong guitar.  In other words, I haven't been able to take the time to go to Guitar Center to work the trade and place an order.

Life gets that way . . . busy.  I see it in the lives of so many people, especially younger families.  Two parents often working two demanding jobs.  Children with busy schedules of their own, which have to be factored into the life of the parents.

Is it me, or do kids just seem tired all the time?   Is their fascination with cell phones, apps and the internet their way of escaping from reality long enough to take a short break?  If naps aren't an option, then maybe zoning out their brains is?

I've been legitimately busy.  We've entered the season of Lent.  Getting ready for Easter at a church takes a lot more time than you think.  Add that to the weekly responsibility of maintaining the older part of our building.  Our kids moved to a new home, and "grandpa" duty kept me busy.  Now that kind of busy I like!!!!

Today, I was hoping to head to the music stores, but we have personal errands to take care of.  And as always on a Saturday night, I will be finishing up my sermon for Sunday.

The question has to be asked . . . what have I accomplished this past week except to maintain the status quo?  The honest answer is "nothing much."   I did manage to get most of the things done on my weekly to-do list despite unplanned interruptions.  There is some satisfaction in that I guess.  However, what I really wanted to do, that had the opportunity to be enriching to my life . . . I wasn't able to begin any of it, let alone check it off the list.

In a few weeks my wife and I will take a few days off, something we try to do every year before Easter.   I'm confident I can do some reading and writing during that time away.  Perhaps I can reprioritize my to-do list for the next few months.  Perhaps I can strike through a few to-do list items because they really don't add value to my life.

Perhaps . . . I can come to understand that "busy" can be bad . . . if what's keeping yme busy is not enriching me in some good way.