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 ( 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 . . . ><>

Monday, April 14, 2014

Singing from memory or using the iPad

I had fun singing today at Dancing River.  Only my second time to perform for adults this month.  

That's what happens when your regular job is focused on the arrival of Easter!

To say I'm a little rusty when it comes to singing and playing guitar is putting it mildly.  Both vocally and musically, I could hear the mistakes.  Too many mistakes . . . I was pushing to hard.

Hope I didn't cringe too noticeably.

Finally, I had enough . . . And I turned off my iPad, and abandoned my set-list.

Then . . . I just sang and played what songs I know, songs I would enjoy singing anywhere.  Story songs, funny songs, good neighbor songs.  I started engaging the audience with my eyes and vocals, and kept the guitar playing simple.

I had a blast!  I think the residents did as well.  

If I sang more than 3-4 times a month, I know I would easily be able to fully and comfortably memorize 30+ songs.  But reality being what it is, opportunities to sing have to fit in with a full-time Pastor's schedule.  Things should get busier when summer arrives with VBS and other community events.

That it my hope.

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oh, let me hear a well sung hymn . . .

So, if you need a good laugh to start your weekend . . . then continue reading.  You might get a chuckle or two . . .

Dentist's Hymn - Crown Him with Many Crowns 

Weatherman's Hymn - There Shall Be Showers of Blessings

Contractor's Hymn - The Church's One Foundation 

The Tailor's Hymn - Holy, Holy, Holy

The Golfer's Hymn - There's a Green Hill Far Away 

The Politician's Hymn - Standing on the Promises! 

Optometrist's Hymn - Open My Eyes That I Might See

The Tax Payer's Hymn - I Surrender All

The Gossip's Hymn - Pass It On 

The Electrician's Hymn - Send The Light 

The Shopper's Hymn - Sweet Bye and Bye

The Realtor's Hymn - I've Got a Mansion, Just Over the Hilltop

The Doctor's Hymn - The Great Physician

And . . .  for those who speed on the highway - a few hymns:

55 mph............God Will Take Care of You

75 mph.............Nearer My God To Thee

85 mph.............This World Is Not My Home

95 mph.............Lord, I'm Coming Home

100 mph...........Precious Memories

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

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What people will never forget . . .

Perhaps because of my age, or my many life experiences with helping many people who go through grief after the death of a loved on; or perhaps the combination of the two as I realize the place in life I currently find myself . . . I believe that the following quote from contemporary author Maya Angelou has a great amount of truth to it:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”   (Maya Angelou)

I will be pondering this quote a lot in the days to come.  I am thankful that as we grow older, we have the chance to discover the real and important truths of life.  Call it maturity.  Call it the "School-of-Hard-Knocks."  There are so many teachable moments in life.  We need to recognize as many of them as we can . . . and ponder the lessons we have a chance to learn. 

As I grow older, it becomes clear to me that there is much about life that I have still yet to learn.

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

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bluebonnets are coming up!

We love our Bluebonnet here in Texas.  We planted seed from the Wildseed Farm in Fredericksburg about 6 or 7 years ago into our front yard garden.

They are coming up strong!  If we can get rain in our area this next week, we will have a good wildflower year!

I need to write a song about Bliebonnets!  They are the State flower of Texas!

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

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hope to be back singing soon . . .

Due to my regular ministry duties, combined with an out-of-town business trip, and a week's worth of still lingering allergies, I haven't had a chance to sing much in the past few weeks.

However, music and performing have still been on my mind.

Now that my J-40 can be played though and amp or PA, I have begun to pair down my travelling equipment, which should be much easier now that I have a small mixing console.

I am not a very good sound technician . . . but I have begun the process of learning more, so I can provide a better quality music performance the smaller venues I love to perform in.  

More info to come on what I learn and experience.

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

New pick up is here and in hand . . .

It's here and I have it in hand!

I was able to make it by Murphy's Music in Irving, TX today to pickup a Takamine Tri-ax sound hole pickup to be used on my Martin J-40.

After arriving at my office, I had a 30 minute window of time to play the J-40 with the pickup temporarily installed  . . . and was very pleased.  It is really nice to hear how this wonderful guitar sounds amplified.

A good start to a Monday. 

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Takamine Triax pickup is on it's way

Taking into consideration a lot of suggestions from a lot of people, I made the decision to order a Takamine Triax (Active/Passive) sound hole pickup from Murphy's Music in Irving, TX.

I had this pick up in a Martin 12-string that I STUPIDLY let get away from me (with nothing today to show for it!!!!)  

The Triax is made for Takamine by L. R. Baggs, and it is pretty much the same as an L. R. Baggs M-80, except it does not have the button to push to activate a small light display which indicates how much battery life the pick up has left.  Don't know why you need to know this, because the pickup goes into passive mode should the battery go out while it is in active mode.

Another neat feature is that in active mode, this pickup also senses the movement of the top of the guitar.  As I said, I have had one before, and liked it a lot.

The Triax is also black, which doesn't stand out (in my opinion) as much as the cream colored Baggs M-80.

Anyway . . . the pickup should be here this Friday, and I hope to have it installed this weekend.

The joy of a sound hole pickup, especially the Triax and the Baggs M-80, is that you do not have to permanently mount the pickup.  It has a quick disconnect, meaning you can permanently mount the endpin jack, and with the help of a couple of interior body clips, keep the cable secure (not rattling inside the guitar) until you need to install the pickup for a gig in which you run the guitar through your amp or PA.  Maybe takes a minute to install if you know what you are doing.


In all honesty, I prefer to carry one guitar to most gigs, especially when I am singing and playing solo.  It's hard enough to watch one guitar, let alone 2 or more.   I think the Triax was the best choice considering all the things I felt were important.

More to come!

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

Here comes Lent!

The Christian season of Lent begins next week on Ash Wednesday, March 5th.  I have the honor of preaching at our Ash Wednesday service at 7 PM in our Main Sanctuary at the Downtown Campus.

I have been attending Wednesday morning Bible study these past few weeks, taught by my long-time college and pastoral mentor, Dr. Jesse J. Sowell.   The class is one our short-term Disciple Bible Study's, and is called "Invitation to the Psalms.

This past week, our daily exercise was to pray the Psalms in both the morning and the evening.  I found this to be a great challenge.   Jesse shared that it has been a common practice in many faith traditions to pray the entire Book of Psalms in 30 days.  The Book of Common Prayer has a reading plan to read in support of this, with the Psalms divided, in order, into morning and evening sections.

So . . .  I have made a decision . . . and I could use your prayer support.

I am going to pray the Book of Psalms for 30 days, in both March and April.  This will include the entire season of Lent, and include the 10 days following Easter.

I don't know what to expect, and I hope to be able to share what I experienced.

More to come.

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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Foolish Questions . . .

Another Canote Brothers video.

These guys are really good entertainers.  They seem to be having as much, if not more, fun than the audience.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

Singing with friends takes the blues away . . .

I had the special privilege of singing with my "sometimes" music partner, Larry Dykstra.  Larry joined me this cold drizzly morning for my regular 2nd Monday morning gig singing to the residents at Dancing River in Grapevine, Texas.

Singing with friends . . . for a "wannabe" guitarist/singer such as myself, there is perhaps no better way to spend one's time.

Funny thing, my iPad (on which I have ALL my songs) broke down right as we started, so we just looked at each other and "winged it."  50 minutes of music, corny jokes and stories, we sang our last song to the applause of a great (and very very kind) bunch of folks.

It does my heart good when someone senior-in-age to me shakes my hand and with a smile on their face says, "Thank you so much for coming to sing to us!"

What a joy to sing with a friend, and to know that our music brought a smile to someone's face, and maybe to their heart and life as well.

Perhaps we made their day.  Singing for them sure made my day!

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

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I guess this video best shares what I would like to say or write about Pete Seeger . . .

It will be a while before I can write about the death of Pete Seeger.  He was one of my heroes.  In fact, I think he was one of the last of my heroes who was still alive . . . until this past Monday, when Pete died at the age of 94.

I'll let this video speak for me . . . until I can put my thoughts and feelings into appropriate words, words that will hopefully bless others as they read . . . and be a blessing for me when I finish writing.

I think this video is from a concert in Washington D.C. in the late 70's, maybe early 80's  . . . when Pete toured regularly with Arlo Guthrie.

There is something about the strength of his voice, and how he engaged with the audience, encouraging them to join together to sing.  That was one thing about Pete's concerts as opposed to others.  You went to his concerts knowing you were going to sing along, and not just listen.

God's grace, and remembering my people are your heroes in the first place, still amazes me . . . ><>

My favorite story about Pete Seeger w/ Arlo Guthrie

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Another good article about Pete Seeger's life ...

An article in the New York Times about Pete Seeger can be found here. 

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