"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."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Lifelong Learning by Don McMinn
My friend and leadership mentor, Mr. Don McMinn, has just finished a new e-book on Life Long Learning (what Don taught some of us back in the "Leader's Summit" days to call L3).   I highly value Don's friendship, his mentoring, and his leadership blog (www.donmcminn.com).

If you sign up for his blog, you will receive the e-book as a gift.  Just go to donmcminn.com/subscribe or CLICK HERE.

Yes, this is a blatant endorsement, and I am proud to give it.  I have known Don for 10+ years, and his sharing with me helped me to successfully minister at FUMC in Grapevine, TX for the 10 years I was there.  I will benefit from it as well as I serve the good people here in Crowley, TX.

God's grace still amazes me  . . . and do my friendships with people like Don McMinn.

Rick ><>

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Getting "back in the saddle again!"

I'm back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly Jimson weed
Back in the saddle again!


Well, it certainly feels like I'm back in the saddle again when it comes to making music.

I've extended my services to a retirement home in Keene, TX where a member of our church resides.  I hope to be scheduled there in September.

I'm heading over to the Crowley Nursing Home as soon as I finish this blog entry to visit with the Activities Director about singing there.

I'm playing guitar and singing with our Praise Band tomorrow night (8/21) as we host the Local "Walk to Emmaus"  Reunion group gathering. 

And, I was just asked to travel to Waco on October 3 to sing for a United Methodist Women's gathering.  I'm checking out the details to determine if I will be able to accept.

Yesterday evening I sang in the hallways of our church as parents and children attended our Crowley United Methodist PreSchool.  I've sang several times for our United Methodist Men's gatherings, and I'm playing regularly with our 9:00 am service Praise Band, until I can recruit a layperson who is a better guitarist than I am.  

And . . . I've been mostly playing my Guild 12-string.  It's been a while.  It's the guitar I;ve been reaching for lately, esepcially if I am playing and singing solo.  I rotate my guitars around a lot.  Right now it's the season for the 12-string. 

It is good to be back in the saddle again after my move and transition to FUMC in Crowley.  Let;s make a joyful noise!

God's grace, and making a joyful noise . . . still amazes me!  ><>

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

VBS is going strong!

I'm the voice of a puppet!!  There's a bucket list item I can cross off!

Seriously, I've been the voice of "Checkers the Cheetah" during our morning VBS assemblies.  It's been great!  But afterwards I've been having a hankering for Cheetoe's!

Oops!  Wrong cheetah.

Speaking of great, what a wonderful group of adult and youth volunteers we've had this week at VBS!  Attendance has grown every day (could it be the big blow up water slide we have in the yard?)  I think attendance has grown because of the great people, great lessons and all the great food!

Singing wise, I've been busy this week singing with the pre-K kids after the opening assembly, and then singing with all the other kids and youth at closing.  

And to tell the truth, I've really needed this week.  Monday evening I sang as well as for our UMMen's group.  All the singing this week has given me a strong sense of balance that I haven't had in a few weeks.  Singing and playing guitar for other people is a devotional sort of thing with me.  If we can sing together, then we can work together to do great things for the Kingdom of God.  I'm sure how to better explain it, but after singing for people, I feel calmer, more controlled, more at peace.

Balance is a good thing.  Perspective helps me to not choose to react out of emotion, but to respond more often out of faith.

And that is always a good thing to do.

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

Friday, July 17, 2015

Update . . . I'm playing and singing again!

The transition to our new church and home in Crowley, Texas continues.  All is going well.  We still have a few boxes left to unpack.  Garage and workshop stuff I will unpack in the fall when it is cooler.

Singing and guitar wise, I "back in the saddle again!"

I am playing guitar for our 9am informal service  on Sunday mornings, hoping in the process to encourage other players to come join in the fun.  I really haven't played much praise & worship / contemporary Christian music, so there is a learning curve (what is it with contemporary Christian artists love of Eb?)

This past week I visited the local library, and will turn in my volunteer paperwork soon.  I think they are interested in having me come on Friday mornings when I can through the summer.  Hopefully we can talk more in the near future about doing something for after-school in the fall.

My next stop is the Crowley Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.  I believe one of our church members works there.  That is a help, especially when you walk in "off-the-streets" and introduce yourself as a singer / guitar player who will sing and play for free.

"Free" is what I am all about.  I'm a good performer, but not good enough to make a living at singing and playing.  And when you do it for a living, there is all the self-promotion work and travel.  And then, the people I love to perform for the most, children and older adults in retirement or nursing centers, would not normally be part of my usual audience.

I think I have it now the way it is supposed to be.  If I have my health when I retire, I will probably split my time singing at Philmont Scout Ranch in the summers, and singing wherever Hugworks.org wants me to go.  Either way, I will be singing the songs that I love with the people that I love, respect and appreciate the most.

More to report in the coming days.  VBS is next week!  Yay!

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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'm back . . .

Lord, it has been a long time since I did any blogging, but I've been really busy.

My final Sunday at FUMC-Grapevine was on 6/14, and everything went very well.  The Iron Men
group bequeathed me with over $300 in Sonic gift cards and a gift card to Bass Pro Shops.  The staff presented me with a half-day guided striper fishing trip on Lake Whitney.  And the church presented us with a wonderful love offering that was most generous.  Liz and I are blessed.

We've been packing, and it's taken longer than I thought.  We had a garage sale and got rid of a lot of stuff.  While packing, we discovered more stuff that should have gone in the garage sale!

The movers will be here in the morning on Wednesday, July 1st, and we will be at the parsonage in
Crowley in the early or mid-afternoon.  My first Sunday in the pulpit is July 5th.

Music wise, well I played twice in June with the 1st Church String Band.  It was fun, but bittersweet.  I helped form this group nine years ago, and served as the director for 5 years before passing on those responsibilities.  For the past two years, I was the stage manager for our shows, and learned a lot about setting up sound for different venues.

I will sing and play guitar during the Children's message on 7/1. Later in July, I will be making contact with the local library (across the street from the church!!!  How awesome is that!!)  Later in July I will check in with the local rehab center/nursing home to see about volunteering to sing.  I hope to have a few regular gigs up an doing by September at the latest. 

More to come, especially on the topic of singing, guitar playing and music in general.

All the while, God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Friday, May 1, 2015

Musically . . . things are slowing down . . . feeling bittersweet

According to the plan I currently have worked out, things are starting to wind down regarding my regular local gigs here in Grapevine, Texas. 

Tomorrow,  Larry Dykstra, Mari McAdoo and I will be sharing the styles of music we sing to and with older adults in the DFW area to a gathering of people attending a workshop event on ministering to older adults.  I will only get to sing with Larry and Mari a few more times before I have to shut things down completely for several months during the summer after I move to Crowley.

In addition, I have my regular gigs in May, and then it will be time to focus on packing for our move, and for the upcoming Annual Conference meetings in Southlake.

I've sung at several of these locations for 5-6 years.  And the folks seem genuinely sad that I am moving to a new appointment, but none-the-less have still shared their best wishes.  It will be hard to move on.
However, there may be a person or two ready to take over my regular gigs later in the summer.  So, in the end, people will still be able to hear live music with a therapeutic message sung from the heart.

I hope to have a couple of new places in the Crowley area lined up by the first of September.  If you are the praying type, please put this to prayer.  Hopefully my offers to sing will be received well.

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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Transition time is starting to become a little bittersweet . . . already . . .

Last night, our 1st Church String Band performed during the first dinner of the Latvian pastor's conference at FUMC-Grapevine.  In attendance were most of the Methodist pastor's from Latvia, some of their spouses, and many of the officers and members of the "Friends for Latvia" national ministry group.  About 6 members of our little group were able to make it, and we sang pretty good.

Unless something comes up on the schedule, this may have been my last time to perform with the band, which was birthed out of a guitar group I started during my second year at FUMC-Grapevine, sometime in 2006.  We gathered twice a week.  Then someone asked us to play a concert for a Boy Scout troop committee dinner.  Then we were asked to play Christmas carols before and after worship services during Advent.

After a year or so, we were asked to sing in worship.  That was perhaps the best rendition of "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again" that we ever performed.

Later, we hosted a fund-raising concert, and raised several thousand dollars for water wells in Kenya.  Then we started getting requests to do multiple Christmas concerts.  December became our busiest time of year.  Last year we performed 8 times!

Sunday school class party and dinner invites followed.  We sang at the Heritage Campus a few times.  We stayed busy for a group of volunteers.

When I had cancer, a couple of the guys took over my manager duties, and they kept us busy as well.  Concerts and other gigs would come in "seasons".    I was always convinced that invites came because we were free!   Getting to eat before or after singing was always considered a paying gig.   Decembers stayed busy.

Most importantly for all these years has been the relationships.  Our lead guitar players. Alan and Scotty, both came and went, as did other members of the band, either due to moving or children getting older.   Sometimes it was because of health.  We aren't exactly a young group.  I will be 58 next month, and I think I am the 2nd youngest member.   A few other people came and visited and played with us, but liked other kinds of music, went their way as well.

I actually dropped out for a while when I was getting certified with Hugworks, and because of my professional schedule.  We usually rehearse on Thursday evenings, and Thursdays start for me at 5:30 AM.  Sometimes I just "ran out of steam" and had no energy to play.  I usually make it once every month.

Last night, playing with Papa Russ, Mari, Harvey, Stu, Joe and Mark, it struck me that we aren't great.  But we do harmonize well, and if we keep time when the bass player isn't there, we don't sound half bad.  Our harmonies carry us.  They always have.

If last night was the last gig with the group, then I am sad.  But then I think about all the times we played together in public.  Seriously, we had the balls and gumption, despite fear and stage fright, to get up in front of people and take a chance they would like us.  Others never get out of the garage or place they are rehearsing.  We actually played enough, and well enough, that we got invitations to play.  We got a little bit of a following.  Groups knew they could count on us to come prepared, and give it the best we could.  And, we always encouraged everyone in the audience to sing with us.  I proudly look back with great memories singing with this group, especially with Papa Russ, Stu, Harvey, Ned, Charley and Jeff, who were there when we first started.  We all got better playing and singing in the process.

All things come to an end.  That's a fact of life I don't try to hide from anymore. My ministry at FUMC-Grapevine will come to an end on June 14th.  My singing with the 1st Church String Band may have come to an end yesterday.   I leave both with no regrets about either experience.  Just good memories. That's a good thing!

And through it all, God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Announcement of my change in pastoral appointment . . .

My eBlast article announcing my upcoming move to FUMC-Crowley can be found at    http://www.firstmethodistgrapevine.org/10664/article/article_id/438902/A-Note-From-Rev-Rick-Mang or by clicking here.

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

Monday, April 13, 2015

Transition time is here . . .

It was announced yesterday, April 12th, that I will be accepting a new pastoral appointment, beginning on July1st, at the First United Methodist Church in Crowley, Texas.  My last Sunday at FUMC-Grapevine will be on Sunday, June 14th, the date of my 10th anniversary.

My wife and I are truly excited about this new ministry opportunity,  However, this is a bittersweet moment as well.  We have made some very tender and precious memories of the Grapevine church and community.  Some of the best people we have ever known and served in ministry with.  It's hard to say goodbye, so we don't.  Rather, we always say, "until we meet again!"

Musically, I will be bringing to a close all my current gigs in the Grapevine area at the end of May. I hope to be singing again in the greater Crowley area (Crowley, Burleson, Joshua) as I work to establish relationships with area retirement and nursing homes.  My new church has a pre-school and after-school ministry, so I hope to be singing to children again on a more regular basis.

Now is the time to take a good long hard look at my instruments and sound equipment.  I have moved away somewhat from "keep it simple."  It's time to pair down to essentials with limited back up instruments and equipment.  That will not be easy at all.  I am a very proud "owner."  And, I am not  well off enough financially to be a collector of guitars either (despite my comments on this blog that stated otherwise).  The truth is, a guitar in a closet that isn't being played is not benefitting anyone.

I will still remain a volunteer with Hugworks, but on a more limited basis for at least the summer.  I'm still working on a project for them, and I promised that I will see that through, although it has taken longer than I thought, but part of that is due to how Hugworks is restructuring.

In the end, my mission in life is still "to make a joyful noise wherever I am, or cause one to be made." In a few months, we will be making a joyful noise in the Crowley, Texas area.

And that's a good thing!

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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Greetings to family and friends,

Happy Easter to one and all!

God's grace still amazes me . . . especially on this day!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Happy Holy Week . . .

Well, duties as a pastor of a large church have taken the forefront of my focus during this season of Lent, and rightly so, as I make my living, and fulfill my calling, as a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  And now it is Holy Week (Good Friday today) with Easter Sunday in just a few days.

On the Monday after Easter, you will probably hear a long and languid primordial sigh . . . emanating from all the preachers and church staff across our great land who both thank God for Easter Sunday, and who also thank God that Easter has come and gone.  Lent is a busy season of the church year, because getting ready for Easter takes a lot of work for both individuals personally, and for a church staff's in getting programs set up.   A busy time.

Now if the rain forecast for Easter Sunday will just hold off a day.

There hasn't been, or rather I haven't taken much time for music.  I have been playing my three regular Monday morning retirement home/assisted living center gigs, but that's about all.   The 1st Church String Band has a gig in April, and in early May, but then our calendar is somewhat empty.   I have scheduled my regular gigs through the end of May.  I will take off June - August as I usually do, expect for Vacation Bible School.  During the summer I go through and repair/replace all my music equipment, as well as tend to the needs of my guitars, and also to focus on learning new songs and guitar techniques at home.

And . . . I need to spend some time devoted to banjo playing.  The long neck Gibson I was gifted with by the Laughlin's hasn't been out of its case much in the past few months.

Yesterday morning, I spent some time in my home music room, and I did manage to put some time in on most of my acoustic guitars.  I have too many.

As the old saying goes, "how many guitars does a guitar player need?  Just one more . . . " 

I do appreciate the different sound qualities of each.  I hadn't played my Guild jumbo 6-string in quite a while.  I used it the entire summer of 2013, especially the month I spent as a chaplain at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.   Each guitar has a good back story.  Those back stories may be what I write about this summer.

I hope each of you has observed a Holy Lent.  And I hope each of you has a joyous Easter Sunday.

Keep making music whenever you can.   Make a joyful noise!

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

 


Friday, March 20, 2015

Singing to a 93 year old . . .

Today I made an afternoon home visit, in the rain, to sing to a 93 woman who is hospice care.  She lives with her daughter, who lovingly provides additional care.

I played my guitar and sang some gospel hymns and some songs from the Hugworks catalog.  I had fun.  Both ladies laughed at all the right places.

What struck me was the comment this sweet 93 year old made after I had finished each song.

"Beautiful . . . "

I personally believe that I am a very competent singer, and an OK guitar player.  But I wouldn't classify how I sing and play guitar as beautiful.

But this woman did!  

Isn't that the nature of music when it is sung with a therapeutic intent?  Isn't any song that brings a tear to our eye "beautiful?"  Isn't any song that causes us to forget our pain "beautiful?"  Isn't any song that takes the thought away that death is near "beautiful?"

Another instance when I went to sing for someone at their home . . . and I left blessed.

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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My Life As A One-Man Band - Tommy Emmanuel




A great video about what Tommy Emmanuel does "for a living."

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jorma Kaukonen and Ruthie Foster - Long Time Gone




A great cover of Long Time Gone by Jorma Kaukonen and Ruthie Foster.   Jorma is 70 years old and can still growl out a great acoustic guitar lead.  Ruthie's vocal are just as great as well!

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

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another favorite from the 70's - Dave Mason-We Just Disagree




Dave Mason playing a 12-string on the video of one of his performances on The Midnight Special program back in the 1970's.

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