Friday, May 30, 2008

Attending Annual Conference this next week . . .

I will be out Sunday evening through Wednesday afternoon attending our yearly Annual Conference Session, this year in Ft. Worth. With the exception of atteding the Steve Illies memorial service on Monday morning, I will be participating in what for many years has been the least exciting / least enjoyable thing I do as a UMC pastor each year.

However, the past couple of years, I've taken a different approach. I am slowly coming to the point where I believe that there is no place for politics in the church.

Yeah, I know . . . call me naive!

There just has to be a better way . . . a more Christlike way to operate a regional church body . . . so instead of just complaining about things, or leaving the denomination, I decided a few years ago to work, in a way ruled by grace and not by politics, with others for some constructive change.

Last year . . . it was working to get some fresh faces elected to General and Jurisdictional Conference. Yeah, I know . . . election of delegates is politics. I found that out first hand! However, for the first time, I also experienced what it was like to be part of a consensus! Talking to like minded people, whose hope is for God-lead renewal for our Annual Conference and Church.

This year . . . well, I am not quite sure what many of the discussions will be about. I hear that many are upset with GC decisions, while I also hear that many are very pleased with GC decisions. But I do feel led to talk to people that I don't know very well. I am going to be introducing myself a lot.

Hey, my name is Rick. I'm one of the preachers in Grapevine . . . How ya doin'?

I think also . . . I want to serve in a deeper capacity than I have before. I will be on the District Board of Ordained Ministry this year . . . and I was nominated for the Conference B.O.M. as well, but have not heard if I was selected.

So, I am going to see where I can volunteer or serve the district or annual conference in a way that is out of my usual comfort zone.

I may go kickint-and-screaming . . . but I feel like I need to stretch.

Actually . . . I feel like I have been a complainer too long . . . and just want to be part of finding some positive and fruitful suggestions or answer.

As a result, I wii end up having hundrends of conversations with other pastors and laity from churches throughout our Annua Conference . . . and some of the discussions I'm sure will be very positive.

So, I am preparing to go to Annual Conference, where I will be positive, and willing to engage with others in discussions to share what is important to each of us.

Maybe I will do some listening to God as well.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

53 pounds lost so far . . .

The weight seems to be coming off slower now . . .

Time to get back on my bike.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's a secret . . .

J.D. Lyle let me nose around in his shop while he was cleaning the fish we caught.

As a general rule, preachers who are ex-cops are naturally nosey . . .

And while nosing around . . . I stumbled upon the "secret weapon lure" for Lake Texoma.

Unfortunatley, I cannot tell you anything about it. As you can see, Thomas would have to kill you.

OK . . . a first ever . . . I hardly ever become insane before 10 AM. Today is a first!!!!!

The value of friendships . . .

John Mason writes, "Tell me who your best friends are, and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights."

May I have the profound pleasure of introducing you to some of my "eagles."

In the picture from left to right . . .

Me, Ned O'Connor, Thomas Milyo, Jim Peterson, and Bob Campisi.

Looking at this picture . . . it dawns on me just how rich I truly am.

Life in itself is a great adventure. But true joy in life happens when you have others to share in the adventure with you.

A good part of my ministry in and through the church is to help men form great relationships with "eagles." There is a lot of God's creation to experience . . . and the discoveries we make are even more enjoyable when we discover them together with friends.

As John Mason writes, "If you were to list your greatest benefits, resources or strengths, you would find that money is one of the least important ones while some of your greatest resources are the people you know."


Ever forward . . . ><>

Fishing pictures

Fishing Guide J.D. Lyle holds one of my fish for the camera.

Don't know why he is "snarling" . . . he is really a great guy.

His website is He is worth every penny you pay him for his services, and for the tip you will want to give him afterwards.

This guy is a class act.

Ever forward . . . ><>

P.S. - That's my new Tilley Hat. The chin strap looks dorky, but it never blew off my head.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1st Tilley Hat is sold . . .

My LTM6 Tilley hat has been sold.

Thanks for the inquiries. Maybe I should sell more stuff. I got more response from selling a Tilley Hat than I have ever had a response to anything I have blogged about, well, except for one of my first blogs about beef bar-b-que being better than pork bar-b-que.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Monday, May 19, 2008

My exuberance over silly stuff gets me in trouble . . .

May God and my friends forgive me . . .

I bought the wrong Tilley Hat. I know, I am going to hell.

I bought the LTM6 in a 7 5/8. It fits great.

Then I read the instruction booklet that comes with the hat. Yes, Tilley Hats comes with an instruction booklet, and an insurance policy against loss for the first two years you own the hat.

They believe in their product.

It seems, that for a Tilley Hat to fit correctly, it must fit loosely on your head. Gravity holds it on, or the adjustable chin strap that comes with the hat.

So, I am in Cabela's on Saturday, picking up a long sleeve fishing shirt to wear for a striper trip. And there, for the first time that I have ever seen them at Cabela's . . . was a display of Tilley Hats.

And there was a size 8 in a LT6. And it fit like heaven. Loose as the instructions implied it should.

I bought it. $65.00

Yes, I am insane.

However, I wore it today fishing all day on Lake Texoma, and it was the most comfortable hat I have ever worn. It is perhaps the best hat, for me, to wear for the Texas outdoor activities I love to participate in.

So . . . my 7 5/8 LTM6 Tilley hat is for sale. My friend Floyd has first right of refusal toward purchase . . . because he tried it on when we visited this past Friday, and he looked pretty darned good with it on!!!!

The moral of the story . . .

When I get real excited about something . . . I need to take a deep breath, and read the instructions about whatever it is I want to get.

Oh well, I got a great hat . . . it will help keep skin cancer at bay . . . and someone I'm sure will buy the LTM6, and then they will have a great hat.

Email me to find out what I want for the LTM6.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

Seems that on my birthday, May 7, 2008, over 75 evangelical / church leaders and laity published a document called "An Evangelical Manifesto."

Mark, Steve, Eric, Dale, Billy and other fellow "professional clergy" out there, and Linda and other laity . . . any comments or concerns after reading this?

I haven't quite gotten through my first full read of the document, but have done quite a bit of underlining. Before I started to read this, I had just finished a summary of General Conference . . . so the filter through which I read the Manifesto may have been slightly skewed.

Ever forward . . . ><>

My friend Jim sent me this . . .

My friend and fishing buddy, Jim Peterson, sent me the following. We are both at that age where we know that relationships with others are what truly make us rich, and help us to grow into who God wants us to be.

I believe my relationship over the years with my wife, daughters, relatives, Floyd, Joe and others have taught me that there is value in these statements.

If any of you who read this is aware of the author, then please let me know so I can give credit.

Comments? Let me know.

Ever forward . . . ><>

I believe - A birth certificate shows that we were born; a death certificate shows that we died; pictures show that we lived!

I believe - That just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

I believe - That we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I believe - That no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I believe - That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I believe - That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I believe - That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I believe - That you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I believe - That you can keep going long after you think you can't.

I believe - That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I believe - That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I believe - That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I believe - That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I believe - That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I believe - That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I believe - That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I believe - That it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

Monday, May 12, 2008

1st Church Guitars report . . .

Eleven of us played this Sunday. Our rendition of "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again" was one of our best sounding efforts as guitarists and singing in harmony together. Seemed to be appreciated by those in attendance.

We will sing next on Sunday, June 22, at our opening session of evening VBS.

On Sunday, July 6th, we will be providing music during our July 4th celebration luncheon in the Family Life Center, which will follow the single worship service for that day which will be at 10:10 AM.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Friday, May 9, 2008

1st Church Guitars play this Sunday . . .

Mother's Day, May 11th.

We will play and sing before and during the 8:50, 10:10 and 11:15 AM services.

Ever forward . . . ><>

I've lost 50 pounds . . .

This morning I got on our scales . . . and once the scaled leveled . . . I saw that I have now lost 50 pounds total since Feb. 5th.

I am feeling pretty good this morning!

How much am I going to lose? Well the first goal is to see if I can lose enough weight so that I don't need to use a CPAP machine any more to sleep.

Then . . . there is that 4-day hike into the Grand Canyon I want to try.

Every forward . . . ><>

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Brushed the dust off the ol' Cowboy hat . . .

I knew this morning it was going to be a really humid and muggy day, as we prepare for the prospect of even more spring Texas thunderstorms this evening and tomorrow.

So . . .

I wore a nice pair of Wrangler blue jeans today.

Wore one of my FUMC-Grapevine button up short-sleeve western shirts.

Wore my straw Cowboy hat. Since I've lost weight, it fits better than it has in years. Last time I wore it was a couple of years ago, when Thomas Milyo took me fly fishing (picture below/right in the links section).

I was really comfortable today. I think it showed in my speech and how I treated people. Humidity and weather didn't bother me at all.

Felt good to really be me today. Felt I needed to write about it.

Thank you, Lord. And thank you again, Barber Joe, for suggesting I need to wear a hat in the spring and summer.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Another "new favorite quote . . .

Home is where your heart is . . . but it is also where your story begins!

Now that is truly a profound quote. I am trying to find out who the author is in order to give proper credit. If you know . . . please send that info to me.

On our way home from an out-of-town trip this past week, my wife and I stopped in Temple, TX where we met my Mom for dinner. As luck would have it, my aunt and uncle, who live in the same town as my Mom, showed up as well to the restaurant.

I waved them over . . . and we had a grand ol' "family reunion" and catch up time.

My aunt and uncle are very dear to me. He is a "retired" Baptist preacher, church planter, and church stewardship consultant. Yet, in his late 70's, he is still preaching most Sundays, and helping several churches and colleges with fund-raising programs She is a "retired" high school English teacher, in her mid-70's, who serves as a mentor each semester to education majors and student teachers who attend a nearby college.

I hope my retirement is as energetic and active!!!

Well, we started talking and sharing stories, and before we knew it . . . over two hours had passed by. Liz and I had to leave in order to get home at a respectable hour for needed sleep from our travels. Yet it was difficult to leave knowing that there was so much more we wanted to share together with my "folks."

Family is where our hearts are. Or at least ought to be, if relationships are indeed the most important value of our lives . . . as I think they should be.

Families are where are own individual story begins . . . and where the corporate story of our family continues. Whether it be a blood family, nuclear family, or church family . . . we all belong to some type of family . . . and we are all part of a story. I thank God for this. I use to not believe or care about this notion . . . until I began a 2-3 year spiritual journey in preparation for turning 50. In that journey, I re-prioritized my values. Family went to the top of the list.

I thank God for this 2nd chance. Better to finally "get this" than to not get it at all.

We laughed at lot that evening in Temple, as we told stories and caught up on "what's been going on?" We laughed a whole lot. I am glad my family story is entertaining, or that we maybe are good storytellers. But whether the story be entertaining or sad . . . it is where I have my first roots. I am a character in the story . . . I am not trapped in that character . . . as all characters in a story must develop for the story to have a flow towards an interesting or climactic conclusion.

Family is where my story begins. Knowing this energizes me to continue to grow in life's adventure.

Ever forward . . . ><>

Monday, May 5, 2008

Barber's advice and my new Tilley hat . . .

Last Tuesday, I got a haircut. I've written before about the barbershop I frequent. It is my "man-cave." An "estrogen-free-zone."

All the of guys who work there are great barbers, but lately I've been asking Joe, the owner, to cut my hair.

I like Joe. He is a wonderful conversationalist, and he knows a lot about many of the guys who come through his shop . . . either for haircuts, coffee, or just to shoot-the-breeze. I've heard him give guys advice . . . I've seen him follow guys out to their cars, put his arm around them . . . giving them a word of encouragement.

I guess Joe, in some aspect, is a pastor like me . . . except his "church building" is a little barber shop on Glade Road in Grapevine, just off Hwy 121.

After my haircut, Joes says to me . . . "I need you to listen to your barber for a moment."

Hmmm, that didn't sound like a barber . . . it sounded more like a Dad . . . or a good friend!

"Rick . . . you need to start wearing a hat. The back of your ears and the back of your neck are pretty red today . . . and you have a couple of spots you might want your doctor to look at."


The day before, I had gone fishing for about an hour during lunch, in a bright Texas spring sun. And, wouldn't you know it, I forgot to take my old fishing / gardening hat with me. It's a great hat . . . just incredibly ugly with sweat stains and old dried paint.

My wife and I took a trip to another town later in the week. My favorite shop there is Hill Country Outfitters. For several years they have stocked Tilley Hats. This time, they had one my size . . . one of the new "Airflo" series. Lightweight . . . with mess for ventilation . . . blocks 98% of harmful UV rays . . .

I bought it.

I alread think it is going to be the best hat I have ever used. I will write about Tilley Hats later on. Their web site is something else. I have wanted to purchase one for many years, but the cost kept me from letting go of the money. I wish now that I had ordered a Tilley Hat when I first heard about them.

So, I am going to the doctor in a little over a month for my regular checkup / new prescription time. And yes, I am going to ask her to look at my neck and ears. I grew up in South Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley. South Padre Island / Port Isabel was my second home throughout my high school years. I would move back to the Texas Gulf Coast in a minute . . . but only if gainfully employed.

In those days . . . we used baby oil for sunscreen. We wore muscle shirts, or no shirts at all. All my friends were tanned. I was most always "lobster red."

I am indeed a fair skinned German.

It's a wonder so many in my generation have skin cancer of some sorts. My mom has it. I've been to the doctor about 30 times in the past 5 years . . . in various states of undress . . . enough that anything suspicous area or spot would have been detected.

I hope.

So . . . better to be proactive. If the sun is shining this coming hot Texas summer . . . I will have my hat on. Sunscreen on my face, ears and neck . . . will be applied everyday.

Better safe than sorry . . . or regretful about something that coulda / shoulda been done earlier, before dicovering that starting now is really too late.

So . . . my thanks go out to Joe, my barber and my friend. Thanks for caring enough to offer some very good advice. Perhaps he sensed I liked him well enough that I would listen.

Considering he was shaving the back of my neck with a straight razor . . . I had no choice.

Timing is everything . . . especially when you are sharing something really important!

Ever forward . . . ><>

48 pounds lost as of today . . .

Wow . . . I was a little caught off guard when I looked at the scales today.

I've lost 48 pounds since February 6th of this year.

Thank you Lord!

Ever forward . . . ><>

1st Church Guitars in worship this Sunday . . .

1st Church Guitars will perform in the 8:50, 10:10 and 11:15 AM services on Mother's Day this Sunday, May 11th.

We will also play before and after several of the services out in the foyer area.

If you like how we sound . . . then please offer us a smile and let us know!

Ever forward . . . ><>