Sunday, July 26, 2009

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, Making music with my friends . . . 

I just lost it again . . . for that is exactly what we do when we get together as a band to sing and play our music.

Sniff . . . Sniff  

And . . . as I stood to preach . . . I found myself filled with more emotion before a sermon than I have ever felt in a very long time . . .  

I preached about how important it is for each of us to clearly know our "one thing" in life . . . using as a reference the famous "Curly's Law" bit from the old City Slickers movie.

"One thing, just one thing . . . and all the rest don't mean ____."

I shared about my past obsession with turning 50 . . . which began when I was 48 . . . which was tied to my having lost sight and grasp of my "one thing" some time before.   I shared the process, in detail, of how I rediscovered / recovered my "one thing" and shared it with all in the form of my personal mission statement:

To make a joyful noise wherever I am, or to cause one to be made, for God's glory.

That same mission statement appears in the right hand column of this blog . . .  and has for over three years now.

I can't remember a time when I have seen as many people taking notes while I was preaching . . . and I don't believe I have ever received as many hugs from people after a sermon. 

Usually when I preach, I tend to get a lot of blank stares.

Just kidding.

Anyway . . . it was a powerful service . . . and I haven't been as tired after a Sunday morning of worship services in a very long time.   

And, my Mom got to hear me preach for the first time in about 5 years.   She had been taking care of my late grandmother . . . and had to stay close by to where she lived . . . but today she was here . . . and we will be going with her on vacation here in a few days.

It was good.

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

Friday, July 17, 2009

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!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

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 opinion.

I have no idea as to how much it costs, or the time involved to straighten out a vintage guitar neck, especially one that doesn't have a truss rod, but I guess I am going to find out. I know in principle how to do it . . . and I have the tools and can make the jigs needed . . . but if I broke it . . . no, I'm not going down that road.

More to come.

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

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 me for years . . . playing an electric guitar is quite different that playing an acoustical guitar.

Truth be known . . . they are so right.

I play very little lead guitar . . . I don't have any skill for it . . . and would rather provide rhythm back up to a more competent player.

So, I designed my Hotrod #2 as a rhythm electric guitar . . . one that I could take to the after school functions I play guitar for during the school year. The Peavey T-60 I traded Alan for is my favorite electric, but it is so heavy . . . and not fun to transport. And being that the T-60 is no longer made . . . I just wanted to have a little bit of insurance.

So . . . Sean came up with the idea of our putting two P-90 soapbar pickups into a Stratocaster body, instead of building the guitar with the traditional 3 single coil pickups a Strat usually has, and using a Mighty Mite strat neck he had in his garage.

Then I came up with running the guitar through a Boss Super Chorus pedal (actually an idea Floyd gave me).

And . . . so far so good . . . my Hotrod is light . . . and has an action I can play. It sounds really good through the chorus pedal, but run it through a compression pedal, and it starts to really crunch. I am excited to start learning some new chords, songs and techniques.

And that, my friends, is what at least one instrument in your collection should motivate you to do . . . learn to play better.

As an acoustic player . . . I would say that I am a solid 6, and maybe even a 7 if I continue to learn new chords.

As an electric player . . . I am really a rank amateur, no more than a 3. But . . . I am ready to take the next step.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

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!

Friday, July 10, 2009

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 journey I took as I struggled dealing with the approach of my 50th birthday.  Now, two years later, I find that I have more easily allowed myself to identify and address the things in my life I love the most . . . my passions . . . a couple which relate to my childhood and adolescence.   The last two years have been a time of reflection . . . reflection which includes pain and remorse about past decisions, but also reflecting on a sense of personal recovery . . . as I find myself gaining strength in my understanding of what is most important to me . . . knowing who I am and what I am.

My personal and life mission has become more clear . . . and focused.   There are still a few things I want to do, and it looks like one of them may materialize in 2010.   My list of things I can say "no" to grows and grows.  The distractions are still there, those things that would try to take me away from my understanding how I am "fearfully and wonderfully made." But as I continue gaining a clearer understanding of where my focus and interest lies . . . and the reasons why, I find saying not to the distractions becomes easier and easier.  Distraction which in the past could pull me away from my path  . . . they no longer have any effect on me.  Some distraction . . . still . . . are a struggle.  But saying to them comes easier.

Regrets?  Sure . . . a bunch of them.   Most especially I regret not telling certain people in my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood these three words. . . "It's MY life!"   But then, back then I wasn't strong enough to do that.  Today, I am.

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


Monday, July 6, 2009

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 . . . ><>

Saturday, July 4, 2009

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, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th, 100th ... 200th ... 300th ... 400th ... 500th and counting chances to learn from my mistakes, my sins . . . and to grow and learn from my experiences, especially in light of God's loving grace and forgiveness.

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