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Showing posts from 2009

Rats . . . Rats . . . Rats . . .

Well . . . it was bound to happen sooner or later, as much guitar playing and singing I do around the church . . .

Before singing last night at a very special Eagle Scout Court of Honor . . . I put down my Martin DC-16 . . . and while I turned away . . . it fell out of the stand . . . and the head stock struck the metal bass of the Troop flag that was in the room for the ceremony.

No wood damage to the guitar . . . but the nut shattered . . . and I think the 1st E string tuner is broken . . .

It could have been worse . . .

There is no more horrible sound . . . than to hear a guitar fall and strike something metal . . . and you have your back turned when it happens.


But . . . it appears to me to be more than repairable. Yes, it could have been worse.

Glad I had the Tacoma Jumbo as a back up . . . and it actually is more western looking, so it fit the occassion better . . .

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

Christmas went so well . . . I forgot about the new year . . .

Honestly . . . I was so focused on all our recent band gigs, and getting ready to preach yesterday, that I hadn't given much thought to the coming of 2010 in just a few days.

Wait a minute . . . wasn't Y2K just a year or so ago?

Decade?? Give me a break! I usually say, "where has the last year gone?"

Today, I am saying "Where has the last decade gone???"

For the love of . . . oh well.

But, my fussing won't last long . . . I only have one goal for 2010 . . .

To be what I am.

At my age (52) . . . it is too late, too painful, and way too expensive to even begin to try and be something I am not.

I just don't have the time anymore . . .

I know, in my heart, what I like.

I know, with passion, what is important to me.

I know, concretely, what I believe in.

Everything else . . . will probably get a "No!" answer in the most polite and loving way I can offer it.

In 2010 . . . I will just be me.

Happy New Year!

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

I may never own one, but I got to play one . . .

One of the highlights of a recent trip with my wife and a couple of very dear friends to East Texas. In a small hole-in-the-wall music store, I got to play a 1970 Martin N-20 classical guitar.

For those of you who are Willie Nelson fans, Willie's "Trigger" guitar is a 1969 Martin N-20.

Awesome! Brazilian rosewood back and sides. It plays itself ... wow! What a thrill!

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

What do you do when you've gone as far as you can go in your career?

This is a great question which Glenn Shepherd answers in his latest newsletter.

He uses a story about guitar great John Fogerty . . . so he got my attention quick . . . and I was glad I read the article . . . he makes a very good point . . . that when we come to a point where we are wondering what to do next . . . we should "get even better."

This is a story I had to print out and put in my "personal" notebook.

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

Guy's Grids . . . More than a chord book . . .

If you are wanting to reach the next level in guitar playing . . . then I recommend you check out the new book, Guy's Grids. Just got mine in today . . . and I am overwhelmed with possibilities.

Granted, learning chords is a matter of memory. However, Guy's Grids changes all this. It is advertised that it easily expands yoru chord vocabulary by visualizing guitar chord relationships.

More info here.

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

Five Practices of Faithful Congregations . . .

Many of the clergy in our annual conference recently attended a special event at FUMC in Mansfield, TX. Bishop Robert Schnase was the key note speaker.

As a rule . . . I loathe Saturday clergy gatherings. Sorry, it's just the way I feel. Mostly becasue I have been to a lot of Saturday clergy gathering / trainings that were a complete waste of time.

Hmmm, I see that I have failed to mention that the event with Bishop Schnase also included laity? There were over 1,000 in attendance . . . and it was well worth the time of all who attended.

Having said that, I am spending December carefully re-reading Bishop Schnase's book, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.

In January, we are starting a church-wide study of Richard Sterns exceptional book, The Hole in Our Gospel. This will be a second read of this book for me as well . . . but the first time doing so with many of our church members reading it as well. I look forward to many future conversations about both books.

Why read t…

A friend of mine recently met a hero of mine . . .

My young friend, Christian brother and fellow singer/guitarist Joshua Ingram (who by the way is one of my favorite professional singer/guitarist types) recently got to meet one of my all-time favorite music hero's . . . Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.  
I don't know the specifics . . . other than Josh got to spend a few minutes with Paul at a gathering in Ft. Worth, and during the conversation, Josh received Paul's blessing to sing his songs.   
Special?  . . . . Indeed!  
I have written before that Pete Seeger, along with Peter, Paul and Mary, have shaped me musically more than any other singer/instrumentalists . . .
Well, with the possible close exception of the Beatles, The New Christie Minstrels, John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot and Crosby/Stills/Nash among about 50 others.  But songs by Pete and P.P and M. were the first songs I ever learned to sing and play on guitar.  I bet I have about 10 P.P. and M. CD's.  
I actually had a chance a year or so ago t…

To all the kids who survived the 1930 - 1970"s . . .

I received this today . . . I've seen it before, and if you know who to give credit to for writing this, I will post that info ASAP.

I was born in 1957, so I can relate to a lot to the contents of this article. It was a different day and time . . . and granted, children had an "innocence" back then. We played outside . . . a lot . . . and we went on adventures . . . we made discoveries, like watching a cocoon for hours at at time until a butterfly emerged. We wrestled, rode bikes, played sandlot sports . . . without adult supervision, because we knew that our parents would know, before we got home, if we had done something wrong or illegal.

It was a time when the trust parents had for their children, and the trust that children had in their parents was THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. We we told to act responsibly, and then given opportunity after opportunity to practice being responsible. We did chores, mowed the grass, cut down tree limbs with big hand saws, . . . we respected…

My friends new song has started me thinking . . .

Eric Folkerth is a pastoral friend of mine. He is also an accomplished singer, songwriter, poet and human rights advocate. His new song, "Tell Myself" has been speaking to me.

Now to be completely honest . . . I still don't know why . . . but then, I love and appreciate process, and I love mysteries . . . there is an answer to the question, "Why has this song moved me?" and I will discover the answer in time.

My first initial attempt at trying to figure out how this song has connected to me is perhaps somehow attached to two things I am working through in my own heart and mind.

First, one of my best friends experienced a very big emotional / relational hurt last week. And as his friend and brother, I am longing to discover how to control my own emotions to the situation, and not put on my "Superman" cape and fly in to help him . . . no I can't do that. But what I can and want to do is to become able to better listen to him as he shares his g…

I am attending a Seminar . . .

Just got home from the first of the "Leading Mediation in Churches" seminar in Arlington.
Not bad for the first day . . . I think now I understand how the rest of the week will pan out.
Funny thing . . . I love songs about peace. Peace songs were some of the first songs I learned and sang.
Now, as an adult . . . I am learning how to help people live in peace . . . especially Christians. Feels like I've come full circle.

Dear Lord ... please break me . . .

Dear and most gracious Lord, my God . . .
Please,  break me.
The older I get, the more I understand how amazing your grace really is, the more you bless me with a dose of wisdom here and there . . . the more I realize how little I really know . . . and how in a state of confusion, and fear . . . I do not yeild to the Spirit . . . but try to control . . .
And at those times . . . I am probably standing more in Your way than by Your side . . .
Please Lord, break me . . . from wanting to be in control because of my being afraid of the unknown.  If You are leading the way, then why am I still afraid?  Break me Lord, of all that keeps me fearful. 
As my personal mission in life becomes more clearer day by day . . . and as You ask me to do more things that are out-of-my comfort zone . . . to be honest, way-out-of-my comfort zone . . . things that cause my heart to leap for joy, yet which causes my mind and body to cry out in fear  . . . I ask that you would give me an ample portion of Your Holy …

Deja Vu all over again . . . I now have my grandmother's piano . . .

Wow! It's finally here.
I'm sitting only 5 feet away from it.  It's like facebook in a way . . . meeting again a long lost friend.  
My "friend" is my late maternal grandmother's Ivers & Pond piano. When my mother asked me what I wanted from my grandmother's estate after her death earlier this year . . . all I asked for was "Granny's piano."  
When my family moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 1966, my grandfather was serving the church in La Feria, TX. I think my grandmother had this piano then in the church parsonage . . . but for sure in 1968, when my grandpa retired, and they bought a home in La Feria, this piano was in their formal living room . . . in fact, it was really in the one spot that was the exact center of their home. And every where they had lived since . . . this piano went with them.  
My grandmother would have it no other way.  
That is how important music was to my grandmother.  
That is how important this piano was to m…

Upcoming dates for the 1st Church String Band . . .

The 1st Church String Band will be singing again at Heritage UMC on October 11th at the 10:30 AM worship service.
Heritage UMC is located on Heritage Avenue between Hall-Johnson and Glade. 
The Band will also be performing on Friday, December 4th, at the Grapevine Housing Authority Tenants Association Christmas Party.  More info on the exact time of this event to come.
We love to play and sing for people, and for charitable causes.  
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

A tribute to Mary Travers . . . Let's all start singing!

Those of us who are in our 50's and 60's, and who got caught up in folk music when we were teens and in college, owe a lot to Peter, Paul and Mary. They have shared 50 years of singing together. And now that has come to an end with the death this week of Mary Travers.  
Ah, yes . . . our beautiful, vibrant, endearing, wonderful Mary.  
Yes it is a sad day, for someone we love has died . . . but, it is also a day of challenge.   Many of us can sing, many of us can still play instruments, but for many various reasons we have stopped singing over the years . . . perhaps singing became less of a priority in some way . . . perhaps at the suggestion of "other people", we were encouraged to have a more "adult" focus . . . there were families to raise, money to earn, careers to pursue.  
Perhaps, it was suggested that singing was just not as important as other activities, or other more "adult" pursuits.  
Can you imagine . . . being a singer, and not s…

Crummy ceiling fan . . .

Today was not a good day to be a ceiling fan.

Today, my wife and I emptied out our attic . . . we have service people coming on Wednesday to apply a radiant barrier in our attic, and add more insulation.

I lowered the attic ladder, and proceeded to climb into the attic, and while standing the ladder, half in the attic, and half out, I lowered the first box to my wife.

As I was handing the box to my wife, I felt the "pow-pow-pow" of the ceiling fan hitting the ring finger on my left hand . . . I realized I had not turned off the ceiling fan before climbing up.

Out of instinct I guess . . . or my old police training . . . or out of a rational desire to never experience the same situation ever again, I pulled the ceiling fan from the ceiling and stomped it into little bitty pieces.

Nah . . . I'm just kidding . . . I did call it some choice names . . . probably hurt its feelings . . . if ceiling fans can have feelings.

Crummy ceiling fan!

I jumped down to make sure my finger wa…

Dr. John Francis (Planetwalker) lecture video . . .

Last year, I read PlanetWalker by Dr. John Francis.   Most of my favorite books are about travel, especially by foot (hiking), which explains why the John Francis, Bill Bryson, and the late Colin Fletcher are my favorite authors.
John is an environmentalist, a PhD, and a former UN Goodwill Ambassador.  He did not speak for 17 years of his life, and walked across a good portion of the United States and Central America.
Below is a video of a lecture he gave this past year, describing that how we treat each other is how we treat the environment.   An interesting concept . . . he goes on to share that basic communication is instrumental in bringing about any kind of change.
My wife and I have discussing what our personal actions in support of improving our environment should be.    We have started to recycle, and will have a radiant barrier and more insulation put in our attic.   We want to move away from using styrofoam cups, but I am finding that harder to do than I first realized. 
We know…

Getting the chance to check out another guitar . . .

This is a blog entry about guitar stuff - if that isn't your thing, then skip this and continue reading further down my blog, or check back later. Either way, I appreciate you! RM ><>

For those who know I promised a blog on my "inept" attempts to discover "sound" . . . it's coming soon.

In the mean time . . . Sean at Dallas Used Guitar has loaned me an Ibanez Montage MSC700NT acoustic hybrid guitar. He thought I might be interested in it, and as usual, he was right.

In honest, truthful reality . . . I am not a guitarist as much as I am a singer who plays guitar. And since I do a fair amount of "solo" work singing at nursing homes, schools, etc., I have been trying to find a guitar I can take with me, which would have a few effects options.

My beloved Martin D-15 GTE has been showing some wear after the past 4 years of regular use. I acquired a Tacoma jumbo from Sean a while back, and have really enjoyed it, but it has no on-board tuner/eq/etc…

Proud Papa . . .

I'm a proud Papa.
My eldest daughter and her husband have a new art blog, sharing about pieces of art they create together.
Check out their new blog Edwin/Oliver Art and Design.
My youngest daughter has begun a home cake decorating endeavor.  Pictures I have seen of what she has done just blow me away.  Best I've seen in a long time . . . and I'm a pastor . . . I see lots of cakes.
I am one proud Papa.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>
Several months ago, I was loaned the use of a 1956 Silvertone "Twin Thin" guitar by a family in our church. The intent of the gift was I would use it during the Children's Time at 8:50, 10:10 and 11:15 am services, as well on a children's worship CD we have been talking about.

It needed a bit of work . . . which was finished this last week. My thanks to Kerry Cash at Kerry's Guitar Shop for resetting the neck and making some needed adjustments.

This past Sunday, I used this guitar for the first time in worship, and the children helped in blessing it for use in ministry.

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

Living life more slowly . . .

Eight days of vacation in another state starts you thinking . . .
Again . . .
I've been on a "kick" for a while about my needing to decide to live more slowly.
Some have asked me if I mean "living one day at a time," or "living more focused on what is important," or "slowing down?"
Yes . . . Yes . . . Yes
So, I've begun my personal "Operation Living Life More Slowly."   Problem is, I can't make all the changes I want to all at once . . . and since I am a believer in process . . . I have started created steps for what I want / hope to do.
First . . . I am going to start eating all my meals more slowly.
I have actually been doing this for almost a month now . . . and with a few exceptions, I have focused on eating one bite of food at a time . . . slowly chewing . . . tasting more . . . savoring more . . . 
And, noticing in the process, that when I eat slowly . . . I don't eat near as much as when I just gobble it all down in reco…

I love flowers . . .

Canon G-10, foliage setting.

We love our pretty flowers in Texas.

One of my favorite Disney Word pictures . . .

Canon G-10, auto setting with no flash. A bit blurry, but I am pretty proud I got this shot.

At this point, I had to put the camera down and just watch the show.

Wow! A memory I will never forget.

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

My big Disney World bass . . .

Say what you will about my looks, how I sing or play guitar, how I preach, how I dress, how I walk or talk . . .

Say what you will about my family, my car, even my Tilley Hat . . .

But, you can never say that I can't fish a black plastic Zoom Trick Worm.

Wellllllll doggee!

She went 6 pounds on the scales. I put her back and she swam away like she was really mad.

A Florida Disney World bass.

Out standing!!!

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

Les Paul . . . R.I.P.

Another guitar blog . . . if not for you . . . then move on, but be sure to check back later.

Just heard that the great Les Paul passed away today at a hospital in White Plains, NY. He was 94 years old.

He was an inventer, electronics and music pioneer, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member . . . credited with inventing the solid body electric guitar, whose design would become the Les Paul first made by Gibson, and a designed now copied by so, so, so many guitar manufacturers.

He also was credited with pioneering multi-tracking, which changed the sound of rock and roll, jazz, and all other music genres. has many videos of Les . . . including parts of several documentaries.

For those of us who play electric guitar . . . "Les Paul, thank you, and R.I.P."

Went South to visit my friend, Floyd . . .

And he was kind enough to take a couple of guitar pictures for me playing my Peavey T-60.
I never realized how big my hands were.
Check out the framed picture behind me in Floyd's study, given to him by his daughter. All the album covers of the Beatles.
"I love you yeah yeah yeah!"
Thank you Floyd, for a good moring of visiting and playing guitar, and for a great lunch.
God's grace . . . and my friends . . . still amazes me . . . ><>

Camera stuff . . .

I had been planning on purchasing a Digital SLR camera for some time . . . well, for at least the past two years.   
My friend Floyd is into photography, and I enjoy talking to him about taking pictures, and once had the opportunity to take him to several areas in Grapevine and had the privilige of watching as he took pictures of flowers, water, even a few of me . . .
In the past, as I was preparing to buy a camera, the money I had saved needed to be used for something "more necessary" than a camera.
Oh well . . . there is always another day.
Prior to leaving for Disney World, I had the chance to look at some different point-and-shoot digital cameras.   At Best Buy, where we had gone to exchange an SD Card for my Mom, I finally got to look at and hold a Canon PowerShot G-10.
My Mom, bless her sweet-kind-wonderful-compassionate soul, was feeling more generous than her normal more-than-generous nature . . . long story short, we came home with the G-10, and immediately, we were all …

Back from vacation on Monday, August 10th . . .

We are back from a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida.
To quote Andy Griffith (one of my heroes) . . . Outstanding!
To tell the truth, going to Disney World was never on my to-do list.  Always thought it was too far and too expensive.
Then, my  maternal grandmother recently passed away.  One of her final wishes was that my Mom take all the family, who could go, to Disney World.  
And the rest . . . . is Mang/Hudson/Cornell family history.
We enjoyed a 7 night stay . . . and had a great time.   I think the only reason we left, besides our reservation coming to an end, was the Florida afternoon humidity and heat.   We were just tired of the heat.   
For the record . . . we were not tired of Disney World.
And yes, for those who want to know . . . I want to go back . . . but in the spring or fall.  Maybe in 2010 . . . when depends on when I try to go to Kenya.
What did I like . . .  the stuff everyone told me I would like . . .
-The Parade of Lights and Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom -…

Yeah . . . it's true . . .

I had the distinct and wonderful privilige of introducing my mother to the congregation at the beginning of the 11:15 AM service this morning . . .
And . . . wouldn't you know it . . . I started to cry.   Could barely get out "my Mom is here."  I pointed to her . . . at which time she stood and waved her hand in a very stately fashion appropriate for the dear mother of the pastor who was preaching that morning.  
And, as everyone was looking at her . . . I forced myself to get better composed.
Who wants to see a 6'6" / 300 pound preacher in a black robe cry???
Mom waved at me and blew me a kiss.
I felt like a dork for crying.
In fact . . . I pretty much cried through out the rest of the service.   The Fishers of Men sang two songs today . . . and it was good to see Charles, Gary and Russ from our 1st Church String Band singing in that group today.  The entire group did a great job.
The chorus of the 2nd song they sang went like this . . .
-Loving God, Loving each other,…

Ft. Worth Guitar Show . . .

The Radisson Hotel South (I35W at Alta Mesa Blvd.) is the location for the 8th Annual Ft. Worth Guitar Show.

Sean Simon (Dallas Used Guitar) will have a booth there on Saturday and Sunday. I am going to help on Saturday for part of the day. Come by and say "Hi!"

Taking the Silvertone Twin Thin to the luthier . . .

Another guitar blog . . . if not for you . . . then move on, but be sure to check back later.

A while back, I was given a 1956 Silvertone Twin Thin electric guitar by one of the families in the church.

To make a point/put things into perspective . . . I was born in 1957.

I think the guitar is in better shape physically than I am.

After playing my Hotrod this morning, I decided to plug in the Silvertone, just to compare.


Maybe it's the pedals, or maybe I have the amp finally where I want it . . . it has a very vintage tone . . . not right for everything, but . . . there are possibilities.

Either way, it's time to get the neck on this guitar worked on by Kerry Cash in Bedford, and start playing it a bit more often. It was given to me to use during the Children's Time on Sundays . . . and perhaps to play on a Children's Worship CD we have talked about doing for a couple of years now. I accepted it on those terms, so tomorrow I take it in to get Kerry's first opinio…

Opps. . . forget to announce that my Hotrod #2 is home . . .

Fair warning . . . this particular blog entry is about guitars. If not for you, then move on . . . but please come back soon.

Yep . . . my only attempt at building a guitar . . . the Grapevine Guitar Works Hotrod#2 Stratocaster that Sean Simon and I built, is back in my office . . .

In a word . . . sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttttttttttttttttttttt.

If I may, let me say that again . . . swwwwweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeettttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt.

To quote Joe Walsh . . . "That'sa so nice!"

Alan Massey, the lead guitar player of our 1st Church String Band, and a master carpenter, worked on it for a few weeks. I like the set up on his Strat and Tele . . . my guitar was in very good hands.

I will be getting a new bridge for it . . . later this summer for it. We used a cheap one that Sean had in a parts box . . . after that, I think it will be finished.

As my friends (Joe in Houston, and Floyd in Waco) have been telling m…

George Harrison and Paul Simon . . .

My good friend, Floyd, sent me info on this video. I've been a bit down lately with an issue I am going to have to deal with sooner than later (isn't that usually how it goes) . . . and in a bit of nostalgic therapy, I think Floyd knew watching this video would make me feel better.

Floyd was right!

Thank you Floyd! Love ya!

Disney's "The Kid" . . .

Spent some time this morning watching Disney's "The Kid."
It's one of my favorite movies.  Not because of how great a movie it is, but rather because of what it means to me.  I very much identify with Russ, the character played by Bruce Willis.
In truth, I am a man who gave up childhood dreams in an attempt to please and gain the support of others.  
Over the years, many of the people I admire most are those who pursued their childhood passions, despite the criticism of others, and achieved a sense of satisfaction and joy in life not experienced by many.   I chose that the need for acceptance and validation from others was more important than developing the personal discipline to pursue my dream . . . my real calling.
I do regret making that decision.  It was the wrong decision.  I can see that clearly now.  I am glad, however, that I have some time, wisdom and maturity on my side . . . and I know there is still time for a dream or two.
I shared several years ago the jour…

The String band members were busy yesterday ...

The 1st Church String Band played during the Pot-Luck Lunch yesterday in the Family Life Center, following our one worship service at 10:10 AM, and the dedication of the new parking lot.

Russ Logan joined me at 3 PM, later that afternoon, at the Atria Center, and we had the folks there clapping their hands. A group of ladies from Covenant Church also provided a program as well . . . and we all had a good time.

Thanks to everyone for the positive comments and encouragement. All the guys in the band played and sang their hearts out. We will perform again in worship at Heritage UMC on July 19th, and then we will probably take the month of August off, before getting ready for our annual "1st Church String Band and Friends" Fall Concert.

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

July 4th weekend in Texas . . .

Just for the record . . .

It is July 4th . . .

In Texas . . .

It will be 102 F+ degrees today . . .

And one thing is lingering in my mind . . .

I came . . . I saw . . . I grilled . . .

July 4th weekend in Texas and grilling meat . . . It's the Cowboy Way!

Can you say "HOTDOGS!"

Happy Birthday America!

To all in the military . . . I appreciate you.

To those who disagree with me . . . you have that right . . . as I have the right to disagree with you . . . and I am glad we can still be friends even though we disagree.

I have not forgotten the freedoms and liberties I enjoy t oday , because of the sacrifice of others in days past.

And, yes, there are things in our world that need fixing . . . and if you have a solution . . . speak up. However, full time complaining gets old very quickly.

I thank God for my family and friends, who enrich my life.

I thank God on high for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th. 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 30…

Hotrod #2 is coming home . . .

Funny ... I feel like a kid at Christmas time, waiting to open the "big" present.

Last year, Sean Simon and I built two electric guitars . . . both Strats. We name Sean's guitar "Hotrod #1" and mine was "Hotrod #2." Instead of using three single coil pickups, we built both guitars with 2 P-90 pickups . . . very hot pick-ups . . . thus the name "Hotrod."

Scroll down the right side of my blog, and you will find a picture of my guitar above all music and guitar links.

Mine has needed a bit of extra work . . . as I just don't have the experience to more fine tune my guitar than I was able. So I asked our 1st Church String Band lead guitarist, Alan Massey, who is a master woodworker, to work it over for me.

He called me today . . . to let me know that my guitar is ready.

Earlier this year, I traded Alan my G&L Tele for his 1984 Peavey T-60. The main reason for trading, was the action on that T-60, which Alan had set up. I have never h…

Southern Cross . . .

The 1st Church String Band has been rehearsing some new songs these past months, getting reading for July 5th, when we provide entertainment for the All-Church luncheon in the Family Life Center.
I am personally a big fan of Crosby, Stills and Nash.   We will be singing Southern Cross for the first time in public on the 5th.   No, we are not C, S & N, we are no where closed, yet I am very proud of our arrangment of this song and I think we do it justice.
See you on the 5th.

"One Phone" Days . . . .

Ok . . . I am heading over to the ATT store . . . and I will leave there with one of the iPhones that are on sale pending the arrival of the new iPhone this Friday, or I will leave with a Blackberry.

Hmmmmm . . .

You know . . . I can clearly remember my first appointment . . . a two-point charge serving churches in Palo Pinto and Graford, west of Mineral Wells, Texas. The phone number at the Palo Pinto church was the same as the parsonage phone. There was only one phone in the parsonage, and only one phone in the church, in my office.

At Graford, there was only a phone in my office, on the opposite end of the church building from where everthing else took place.

And now, 20 years later . . . I am in full realization that the cell phone is an appropriate tool for ministry . . . and I am wasting time trying to figure out exactly which phone to get.

I miss those "one phone" days sometimes.

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

To Twitter or no to Twitter . . .

I set up a Twitter account today . . .

Don't really know why.

My friend and pastoral colleague, Steve Heyduck, has embraced Twitter, and I hope to have a conversation with him soon on this topic.

I think it would be great to have Twitter screens in worship sometimes . . . perhaps to use them during our annual Q&A with the Pastors on Memorial Day weekend.

Some pastoral resources I read suggest that pastors of all ages should embrace Twitter. And equal number seem to offer the suggestion "Don't waste your time."

I don't know. But will see what I can find out. Since I seem to be more about relationships than other things . . . maybe Twitter can become a communication tool I can use in positive ways.

Or, I can delete my account and move on.

Blogging . . . Facebook . . . Twittering . . . it's a lot to organize and coordinate.

Perhaps I just love to write.

Perhaps I just need to know that people are listening to me. Funny thing though, when you talk to much . . . peopl…

Attending Annual Conference sessions . . .

In early June of each month, pastors and lay delegates from all the churches in the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church gather for Annual Conference.  This is a three day gathering, this year taking place at White's Chapel UMC in Southlake, TX, the largest church in our Annual Conference.  
And, only 9 miles from my house.
And, only 5 miles from my office at the church.
Our new Bishop, Michael Lowry, has hit the ground running.  His enthusiasm is infectious.  
We have a new sheriff in town.  Change IS here.  It won't be easy . . . but the role of our Annual Conference is moving toward supporting the ministries of the local churches, instead of the local churches supporting the Annual Conference.  
I am impressed . . . I am on board . . . and I am eager to meet with Ken and the pastoral staff next week to "decompress" the experience together.  
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>!

A great song . . .

I usually check out facebook early in the morning, before heading toward the church office.  My pastor / musician friend, Eric Folkerth (Northaven UMC in Dallas) had made a facebook entry and which included a great line from Chicago's song,  Saturday in the Park.  
"Can you help him change the world? Can you dig it?  Yes I can . . . "
For some reason, those words, and the tune to the song, spoke to me today, especially as I decompress this morning from our Career Transition Ministry Team dinner last night, attended by 10 of our church members who are currently in transition between jobs.   
Perhaps I can sort out my emotions this morning, as well as my thoughts as to how God is speaking to us about how we can help people with this need.  I sure hope so.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

The art of preaching if you are an Associate Pastor

It was my honor to preach yesterday at the 8:50, 9:00 and 1o:10 AM services.
When I pastored at FUMC-Hewitt, and before that at Godley UMC, I found it helpful to get into a study pattern where I was about 3 months ahead on sermon preparations.
If for no other reasons, it helped my relationship with my choir director, as they knew in advance the basic theme for the service, and could plan hymns and special music accordingly.
Joel Deichman was my choir director at Hewitt, and I loved working with him. He challenged me constantly to be prepared 3 months +, and promised I would like the results of doing so.
In all honesty, it took about 6 months to break a lot of bad habits, not to mention some personal pride and a penchant to procastinate. But yes, I did like the results.
As an associate, I will be invited to preach in worship about 3-4 times a year, alternating with Dr. Cindy Ryan. I think that Ken, Cindy and I make a very good preaching team.
The problem for me, is preparatio…

The shoulder is feeling better . . .

Spent a few days working finishing a home remodel project that I started last July 4th.
Hip Hip Hooray.  
My right shoulder started feeling better after the 2nd day . . . working one armed didn't allow for much progress . . . so I went ahead and used both arms and hands, but made it a point to lift and handle things correctly.
In other words . . . I didn't do the guy thing . . . like strain myself for the sheer joy of experiencing excruciating pain.
Will follow the doctor's orders and wear the sling when needed . . . for the rest of the week anyway.
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

With apologies to all the "lefty's" out there . . .

Seems that I have, according to my chiropractor (who, if my memory has served me right, has never been wrong when it comes to diagnosing what ails me) . . .  I have nerve and ligament issues in my right shoulder caused by . . . 
"AHEM" . . . 
(note the not so subtle attempt at dramatic pause here  . . . )   
Wait for it . . . .
The way I sleep!
Seems I sleep a lot on my right shoulder  . . . and that . . . combined with a recent stacking of a bunch of kitchen tile in my garage  . . . caused my right shoulder to have a slight separation recently.
But . . . I thought I had just pulled a muscle . . . Hey, I'm a guy . . . "I'm good!"
However, the pain and discomfort increased dramatically over several days.
My wife said, "Go see your chiropractor, the one who is never wrong about what really is ailing you" . . .
So, I go see my chiropractor, and tell him I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder.  He examines me, and says different, that it was a slight shoulder …

"Ask the Pastors" is this Sunday . . .

It's that time again, as we approach the Memorial Day weekend, our pastoral staff is preparing for the "Ask the Pastors" sermon this Sunday.
You can text a question on Sunday morning (the phone # to call will be annouced) and we will try to answer it.   Sort of a panel discussion, but with interaction with the congregation.  It is one of my favorite Sundays.
God's grace still amazes me . . .  ><>

Thank you, Dr. Floyd Diehm . . .

This morning at 11 AM, I officiated at a private graveside service for Dr. Floyd Diehm, the father of Dr. Ken Diehm, the senior pastor of our church, and my friend.
Later at 1:30 PM, we had a Memorial service to honor Dr. Floyd's life in our sanctuary.  Close to, if not more than, 350 people attended, many from our church, but also from St. Andrews UMC in Arlington, and several clergy colleagues from across our Annual Conference.
A committed Christian, husband, father and grandfather, Floyd was also a Disciples of Christ pastor for almost 40 years, whose passions were Bible study, evangelism, golf and fishing  . . . Floyd was an intense individual who sought to get all out of life that he could.
He believed in the "abundant life."   He had a passion for living, and for helping other people live.  He was one of the best encouragers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, and calling a friend.   Looking back on it now, the number of times in the past four years he encouraged…

Steve Isbell's "40 at 40" . . .

I am very proud to have supported Steve Isbell, a member of our church, in his recent "40 at 40" fundraising effort to help support Grace Ministries here in Grapevine.

As a way of celebrating his 40th birthday, Steve ran 40 miles to raise funds, as well as public support, for a very worthy cause.

To learn more about what motivated Steve to do this, in his own words, click here.

Steve, I appreciate you! Way to go!

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

Ain't she a beauty ???

A Tacoma JK28CE jumbo acoustic. Ain't she a beauty?

For those of you who do not care a "lick" (pardon the pun, a little guitar humor there) about how someone decided on a guitar . . . you may want to go on to the next blog on your list.
If you are a guitar person . . . you might be interested in this journey of mine.

I've been considering getting and playing a jumbo acoustic for several years now. In fact, Sean at Dallas Used Guitar loaned me an Alvarez jumbo a few years back. I played it for our week long VBS, and at one of our 1st Church String Band concerts. I liked it size wise, but the sound was a bit tinny, which is normal for most Alvarez guitars.
For the most part, during the Children's Time and when I sing at area nursing homes or at funerals, I play my Martin DC-16GTE or my Martin D-15 mahogany guitar. I have played the DC-16 hard for 4 years now . . . and it is starting to show some wear, along with needing new frets and some work on the electronics. The…