Friday, July 31, 2020

Learning how to deal with what I can't control . . .

Since March, when Covid-19 reared its ugly head in a way that began to change all of our lives, things started to get a little difficult for me. 

I am a "flaming" extrovert.  Staying at home, even on my Friday day off, was (and is still) a challenge unless I had a long and daunting to-do list that would keep me focused and busy.  In the past 5 months of our current Covid-19 reality, I've been working from home quite a bit.  I have a wonderful home study with lots of electronic do-dads to help me accomplish all that I need and want to do. 

And yet, this has been a very difficult time for me, especially mentally.  I'm an extrovert. I need people.  Phone calls help.  But I miss in-person worship and Wednesday evening children and youth ministries. I miss one-on-one counseling. I miss appointments.  I miss singing to senior citizens at the Senior Center and retirement home. I also miss being able to safely go camping in our camper. 

Needless to say, in early June, I began to get a little depressed, discouraged . . . and whiny.  I whine when I get depressed. I was spiraling into an emotional place I didn't really want to go. 

I have written for years that I truthfully know that I do not have as much control over life as most people wish. In the grand scheme of things, I can only control if I react emotionally to something (and often regret doing so) or that I can instead respond out of faith / reason (which in my experience is pretty much the best choice all the time!)

Issue #1 for me . . . was to acknowledge that I wasn't in control.  Covid-19 is in control right now.  My only choices are . . . react emotionally, or respond out of faith / reason.  To help me better deal with this, I began to read up on stoicism.  After all, I minored in philosophy in college.  Stoicism has had it's place in my life for many years.  But a deeper dive was needed to rediscover its' merits. 

Ryan Holiday, noted contemporary author, has embraced stoicism. He has a YouTube channel called the "Daily Stoic."   Below is one of the videos from that channel which helped me begin to think about things in a new more reasoned way. 

For those wondering if I am abandoning the Christian faith for philosophy . . . No, I'm not, so please don't go there.  In my personal life experience, the philosophical study of reason has almost always benefited my Christian faith in some form or fashion, with results that I often didn't expect.  The appreciation of reason aids my daily Christian walk. 

At the heart of Stoicism is the quote by Marcus Aurelius, "You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength."  If you are struggling right how with a lack of "control" over everything going on in your life, then check out "Stoicism Quotes" on Pinterest with focus on Seneca and Marcus Aurelius.  Or, check out some of Ryan Holiday's videos.  

Perhaps it will help you better respond to life, especially about how to live in a Covid-19 world. 

The YouTube link to Ryan's video is here, or at\

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Galls Lawpro Black Leather Notebook in Basketweave

Call me crazy, but I have always had a fondness for pocket notebooks, especially the top bound ones.  I used top bound spiral memo books during my law enforcement days.  I put all my accident and criminal investigation notes and to-do's in those little 3"x5" memo books.  They were indispensable especially when testifying in court, which I had to do a few times in the course of my career.  A fellow officer made my first leather memo book cover.  I've had it since the 1980's and it didn't quite fit the good quality memo books, like Cambridge brand, because the wire spiral is a little wider diameter.  

I had some time on my hands the other day and started looking on the internet.  In past searches I had come across the Galls website. They are a law enforcement / 1st Responder supply company.  They had the Lawpro Black Leather Notebook in basketweave on sale for $18.00, so I placed an order.  I would have gladly carried this notebook cover when I was a police officer.  It's a classic. 

It holds the better quality memo books with the larger wire spiral.  It is sturdy enough for back pocket work, and easily fits in a front shirt pocket or inner sport coat pocket. 

Total cost was $31 and some pennies with shipping and tax.   That may be high for some, but it arrived in about 3 days from the time I placed my order.  That was certainly sooner than I expected. 

Anyone looking for an old fashioned, well-made top bound memo book holder can't go wrong with the Law Pro black leather in basketweave. 

Rick ><>

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Some thoughts on using some extra time each week . . .

One aspect of a pastor's life during this Covid-19 season is attention to correct focus. 

The truth is, I'm not as busy as I would usually be if we were still living in a pre-Covid-19 world.  Usually up to half of each day I worked was engaged in one-on-one relationship building. 

At least once a week, I visited and spoke at length with different businesses owners who operate stores on the City Square.  Visits to the library, at least two restaurants a week . . . not to mention visitation in homes or at the hospital.  I usually was able to engage in a couple of meetings a week, either in the community or at the church. 

Today, I spend most of my time at a desk, at home or in my church office.  Visitation has been replaced with phone calls and text messages.  I took a bit of a risk and broadcast my cell number so our senior adults would have it, especially those who do not own home computers or smart phones.  Surprisingly, we mail out 40 weekly newsletters and email another 90.  The 40 we mail are folks who do not have an email address. 

Another minor issue is my cell number is a different area code than the one here locally.  It is amazing how many times I call someone on my cell phone, and get no answer, and then I call using the church phone and they pick up right away!  Such is life in the country. Interesting fact, the folks without email addresses or computers are feeling a bit left out, and I can completely understand how that can happen. 

All in all . . . my week still progresses pretty normally, except for some extra time on my hands now and then.  

Let's see, how to spend extra time when you can't really travel anywhere and your doctor tells you to not get out in public much?

Reading . . . reading is an essential element in every pastor's life.  A pastor has to read.  Our minds needs to be expanding, and reading the books that others have written provide for this.  I've been reading several books on spiritual formation, a great pictorial book about Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, a book on the true meaning of Gospel, a book about starting over in your 60's, and a re-read of The Bullet Journal Method.  

Sabbath . . . most pastors do not practice Sabbath the way it was biblically intended.  However, Sabbath is something you can experience in a wide variety of ways.  My newest enjoyment of Sabbath . . . taking a nap, especially on Friday and Saturday.

Gardening . . . my wife and I have a small raised bed garden, with actual raised beds on legs and about a dozen five gallon buckets and three whiskey barrels.  We've harvested and eaten squash, zucchini, okra, green beans, black-eyed peas, banana peppers, garlic . . . there are 3 eggplant almost ready for picking.  It is a great feeling to produce from "farm to table."   Everything has been quite tasty!

List-making / project planning . . . I built myself a 4'x8' workbench in our garage, and have built a garden bench and a small end-table for the back porch.  I have a list of some things I want to try and build, as well as some things I need to repair or retool.  I have a plan to reorganize my tool closet, and a plan to rearrange the garage . . . all in due time, and when it's a little cooler. 

Time is so precious . . . and keeping active is just as important.  I fear that some people are not dealing with time as well as others in this Covid-19 world.  I expect to hear "I'm bored" from kids, and from teens. However, I don't expect to hear it from adults.  Surprise surprise!  I've heard some adults complaining about being bored . . . and they haven't asked me for my advice.  I wonder if they are bored, or just not happy about things not going like they want them to.  

Perhaps in the end, it's all about coping skill???

Rick ><>


Monday, July 6, 2020

Goodbye Charlie Daniels & Stu Spencer

I read today about the passing of Country and Rock music superstar, Charlie Daniels. Charlie was 83 and died from a form of a stroke.  Charlie was a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer.  He has been a constant in my life since the late 1970's.  His career lasted 60 years!  He will be missed.

Yesterday, my friend and former band mate (1st Church Guitars) Stu Spencer passed away after a battle with cancer.  Stu was our banjo player, guitar player, and occasional drummer when we had access to drums.  I remember when he started taking bluegrass banjo lessons.  He took it seriously.  I also remember the first time I called him out during a song to do a solo.  He played it pretty well, looking daggers at me the entire time. 

Stu was actually one of our band co-managers until his health began to diminish his playing ability.  It only slowed his ability down a bit, he could still hang with us.  But he was uncomfortable, so he gradually retired from our band, joining us on "good days."

I officiated Stu's wedding to his wife, Susan, over 10 years ago.  Susan was very good to, and for, Stu.  They settled in the Nocona, TX area and I understand that Stu finally got to build his dream house on the land that he loved so much. 

So, goodbye Charlie . . . and goodbye Stu.  I'll probably attend the celebration of Stu's life, but it will have to wait until Covid-19 settles down, whenever that will be.  I officiated Stu's wedding, the least I can do is help him into his final resting place.  The least we can do sing one final song for him. 

Rick ><>

Thursday, July 2, 2020

I miss an audience . . .

Ever loved something so much, and later find out why?  That happened to me recently. 

I have been a certified therapeutic music entertainer since 2011.   I have sung in nursing homes and senior  centers on a regular weekly or monthly basis since 2005.  

Due to Covid-19, I haven't performed musically since February 2020.  Stupid Covid-19.

I haven't been playing much guitar either this past 3 months.  I pick one up most every day, but only play for a few minutes then put it back on the rack or back in its' case.  

Not having an audience to sing to, to engage with, is hitting pretty hard.  I love to perform.  I love to get people singing.  I've confessed that I am not the greatest singer or guitar player.  I'm probably in the "dime -a-dozen" category regarding both.  However, I can get other people to sing!  Call it a gift. I've been a song leader in several churches and for several groups.  I was the featured singer in a band for almost 10 years, because I could get the others in the band to sing with me, as well as people in the audience. 

And now, I don't have an audience.  Well, more specifically . . . I don't have a live audience. 

I guess this can all relate to my being a preacher as well.  I truly miss the engagement of the people in the congregation when I preach.  Preaching to a camera is not the same. 

I'm in a spot of sorts.  I need to work through this.  The other day I decided to sell all my guitars.  I quickly gave my self a symbolic "slap-in-the-face" and sternly told my inner child to "get-a-hold-of-yourself."

Yep . . . I need to process this, and I need to do it now. 

Too mask or not to mask . . .

Please, for the sake of yourself, and everyone else . . . put on a mask!  You are protecting yourself as well as those around you.  

Our Governor just made masks mandatory when people are in public.   I may reconsider my recent decision to not vote for him again. 

Rick ><>

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Can we have a tater tot?

This is what happens when you say "I'm full!" but there are still tater tots left on your plate!