Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years Resolutions . . .

This year, I am focusing some New Year's resolutions not so much on my faults, shortcomings or weaknesses, but on what I perceive to be my strengths.

My 5 main theme/strengths from the Strengths Finder 2.0 survey I took recently are:

1) Empathy
2) Arranger
3) Communication
4) Maximizer
5) Connectedness

So, my resolutions, based on each in order, are . . .

1) I will build on my empathy skills, to help people understand how to better express their emotions and fellings, through the use of words and music.

2) I will continue to be more flexible when dealing with people who are different than I am.

3) I am build upon and improve my communications skills by accepting more opportunities to sing, speak and teach.

4) I will work to further discover, nurture and build on strengths I have yet to discover, and help encourage others to do the same.

5) I will work to help more people see and understand how we are all connected to something bigger than all of us.

In past years, I have based my New Year's resolutions on my weaknesses. And, as a result, by February 1st of each year, I had given up on each. It seems to me that focusing on weaknesses causes to much friction in life.

Sort of like dragging an anchor around behind you.

I have come to believe that focusing on strengths, our God-Given strengths, opens the door to lots and lots of opportunities for growth. And, I think focusing on strengths brings us closer to God.

That is always a good thing.

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

A merry, mellow, contemplative Christmas this year . . .

For many years now, I have preferred that their be little if no hoopla or celebration of my birthday. Just a a quiet day of reflection on my part. I now try to spend my birthday doing something for someone else. Last year, I spent it singing to children at Cooks Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth.

Lately, I have felt the same about Christmas.

This year, we put up just a few decorations at our home. I provided a Christmas carol program at 4 area nursing home/care facilities with the help of a couple of the guys from the 1st Church String Band. I spent the time focusing on getting ready for Christmas Eve services (2500+ in attendance at all services).

We had the kids and friends over for Christmas dinner. We ate, talked and laughed.

As the Christmas season comes to a close, I find myself personally thankful for my family, my friends and my faith. I am also find myself eternally thankful to a loving God who loved me so much, that he gave His one and only Son to die for me. I hope to spend more time making that even more important in my life than it has been so far.

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Check out Jose Feliciano on the Christmas edition of "Live at Daryl's House!"

I have been listening a lot to the internet show, "Live at Daryl's House!" with Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates fame.

It's a very good, very well done program, featuring Daryl and most of the Hall and Oats Band guys playing with some classic artists as well as a lot of new artists I have never ever heard of, but whose music I have come to like by listening to the program.

The Christmas program is up now . . . and it features Jose Feliciano.

Man, that guy is just one major entertainer . . . he is awesome. It just blows me away to see what he can do on a classical guitar, whether it be Christmas music like "Feliz Navidad," or old rock like "Light My Fire," and "Fire and Rain."

However, should you decide to watch the program . . . go ahead and click first on "Little Drummer Boy." Jose plays snare drums on the guitar!!!!!!! Just too awesome to describe with words. You've got to see it to believe it . . . and appreciate it as well.

A great show. I have watched it twice so far, all the way through both times.

God's grace, especially at Christmas, still amazes me . . . ><>

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Joshua Ingram Band info . . .

Joshua (Josh) Ingram is a good friend, great guitar player, singer, husband and dad. He is also our worship leader at the Heritage Campus, and one of my fellow Theraputic Music Entertainment apprentices at Hugworks.org.

I put the live link to his Reverbnation site on my blog for a while. He is good! If you need a band that will carry an event, and surprise you in a good way in the process . . . then give them a call. Josh and his band perform rock, americana, folk, etc. Lot's of original tunes and a good amount of covers.

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas came a little early this year . . .

Christmas came a little early this year in the form of a brand new "out-of-the-box" Taylor GS Mini guitar and a new ES-Go Plug In Pickup.

Info from the Taylor site about the GS Mini can be found here.

My deepest thanks to Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works for this sweet gift. I did some work for him this fall, spending several weeks helping him get the showroom ready for the Taylor Road Show he hosted on November 16th. By the way, it was a big success!

This is the guitar that replaces the Little Martin I got the end of last year. I love Martin products, as long as they are not made with laminates. The Little Martin I had did have a spruce top . . . but sound wise it just fell way short of my expectations.

I've been playing the GS Mini that Sean has on display in the Grapevine Guitar Works showroom for the past 4 months. I even got to install the ES-Go pickup into it. Took me all of 15 minutes, which correctly implies it would take anyone else less than 10 minutes to do it.

My plan is to use this guitar for hospital and nursing home visitation, and for singing in hospitals for children after the first of the year. It sounds great through my Fishman Loudbox 100, and even through the little Thin Amp I have at home in my study. This is going to be a very portable rig. It will go with me when I travel up to Philmont Scout Ranch for 10 days in September of 2011.

The sound . . . no it's not the full sound of a full size guitar . . . but to my ear it is surprisingly sufficient considering that the GS Mini is a designed as a souped-up travel guitar with it's own little world of support accessories. Without a doubt, sound wise it is many times better than the Little Martin I had. Again, please don't get me wrong. I love Martin Guitars. But they come up really short with their little travel guitars, in my humble opinion.

Sean, thank you again. I am glad we are friends and kindred spirits.

Please plan to visit the Grapevine Guitar Works located upstairs in the Grapevine Antique Mall on Business 114 (Northwest Hwy, next door to the Beall's Dept. Store) as soon as you can. It's a great local-home-owned guitar store. Sean carries several brands that other big box stores do not carry, and he probably has more Taylor acoustics on display that you will find in the DFW metroplex area.

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



Thursday, November 18, 2010

Please support your local guitar store . . .

OK . . . I may be sounding hypocritical since I just purchased a djembe at Guitar Center in Dallas . . .

But please consider supporting your local guitar store.

I have been helped in many good ways, and been blessed to form some unique friendships with some great people who own/work in local guitar shops. Shops like Grapevine Guitar Works in Grapevine, Texas . . . Murphy's Music in Irving, Texas . . . Heart of Texas Music in Temple, Texas . . . and Sound Vibrations in Corpus Christi, Texas.

These people are in business and make their living serving the musicians, performers and students in their local communities. What you can count on from them is "individual" service.

Not only buy your guitars and amps from them, but all your accessories as well. They may not match the prices at Guitar Center Stores or the Musician's Friend website . . . but they will be pretty close. And, they will look you in the face, and take care of you.

My experience over the years with each of the shops listed above have been all positive. Sean's support of my theraputic music entertainment ministry these past five years through Grapevine Guitar Works has helped get me in front of a lot of people . . . with instruments that truly enrich the sound of what I do when I sing and play.

I believe in saving money, don't get me wrong or misunderstand me. My experience is that when I deal with a local guitar shop, I get to form great relationships that usally work both ways.

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

Taylor Guitars Road Show report

Wow!

Here, let me say it again . . . Wow!

No, that does not come across right . . . . Wow Wow Wow Wow Awesome Outstanding Great Magnificent Wow Wow Wow.

In other words, Wayne Johnson was the featured artist at the Taylor Guitars Road Show that Sean hosted this past Tuesday evening at Grapevine Guitar Works.

Oh my goodness!!!!

Probably 100+ showed up and stayed the whole time. I helped Sean and Charlie set up about 50 chairs, and Sean went and rented another 30. And people were still standing along the sides and in the back.

We all came away with a lot more knowledge about guitar shapes, woods, tones, etc. And it was awesome to hear Wayne wail on the new Taylor solid body, T3 and T5.

After my no new guitar pledge is fulfilled, I am going to look at a T5. I may not get it, but I am going to look long and awfully hard at one.

If you get the chance to attend a Taylor Guitars Road Show, please consider it worth your time, and worth the effort to get there . . . and . . . do consider supporting your local guitar stores like Grapevine Guitar Works in Grapevine, Texas . . . Murphy's Music in Irving, Texas . . . Heart of Texas Music in Temple, Texas . . . and Sound Vibrations in Corpus Christi, Texas. These people are local to the their communities, and serve their customers. Not only buy your guitars and amps from them, but all your accessories as well. They may not match Guitar Center Stores or the Musician's Friend website . . . but they will be pretty close. And, they will take care of you!

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Taylor Guitars Road Show is TONIGHT . . .

If you are into guitars, or wanting to learn more about them, or hoping to score big time on a great deal for a Taylor acoustic or electric guitar . . . then the place to be at tonight is the Grapevine Guitar Works showroom located upstairs in the Grapevine Antique Mall beginning at 7 PM.

The Antique Mall is remaing open extra hours tonight, so bring your spouse and let them tour the great selections of antiques and unique one-of-a-kind items.

1641 W. Northwest HighwayGrapevine, TX 76051(817) 329-2124. The Antique Mall is located to the left of the Bealls Department Store. When you walk in, take the stairs to your right.

See you there!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Martin and Taylor are part of my guitar family . . .

Someone asked me recently, "I thought you were an exclusive Martin Guitar guy?"

Well, the answer is "Yes", but it is also "No."

Yes . . . my first choice in guitar is a Martin. I have a DC-16gte. I named it "Marty." It is a pleasure to play, and has that Martin sound I want coming out of a guitar with the Martin name on it. When you hear it . . . you know it is a Martin. This is the guitar I most often use when playing in our band. It handles anything you throw at it, especiall rock-n-roll.

My first true love in terms of musical instruments is the 12-string guitar. I had the chance to get one of several very nice Taylor's, but held out for a Martin, finally locating, after a long search, a brand new J-12-16 at Sound Vibrations Music Store in Corpus Christi. I love this 12 string, and it is what I take when I play and sing at hospitals and nursing homes. It has the best action of any guitar I have every owned or played in my life. Without exception. Pete Seeger would be proud of this guitar. I know I am. If ever a guitar spoke to me . . . it is this one. I named her "Christi."

I started looking a year or so ago for a decent nylon string to use when doing solo stuff, as I have been hoping to get a restaurant gig in the area on Friday nights. I actually got to play a 1980 Martin N-20 at an old music/craft store in Jefferson, TX of all places during the Thanksgiving Holiday a year ago. Same model as Willie Nelson plays (his is a 1979), but with a more classical head stock. I would have named it "Butter" if I could have purchased it . . . however, I didn't have $3,500 at the time . . . and in truth, I would have been afraid to take it anywhere and even more afraid to ever let it get out-of-my-sight.

Since Martin no longer makes a classical . . . I gave Taylor a shot. And Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works helped me get into an NS-74ce.

Mercy, what a guitar!
The Taylor electronics are simply outstanding . . . and it's a 14 fret neck! Western Cedar top. What a great guitar to have playing when I sing solo.
Love it Love it Love it Love it Love it!!!!
I named her "Butter." She handles, sounds and plays better than the Martin N-20, which to tell the truth, I would buy if I had $3,500 lying around, if for no other reason than to have it as a collectible.

My Yairi DY-38 just sort of fell into my lap, again thanks to Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works. I was visiting with Sean at the store one day, and he says, "You need to play this guitar." I have learned to listen to Sean. Doing so pays off in many ways.
It's now my acoustic back up guitar, and its the one I take to camp grounds, or when I play out-of-doors. Classic dreadnaught folk guitar shape ... and I hope that my Martin DC-16 sounds as good as this one in a year or so. No, the Yairi does not sound like a Martin, but it has this full "older guitar" sound. I am not worried, because "Marty" will get there soon enough.

I was recently informed by a good friend that they have ordered me a Taylor GS Mini for Christmas as a gift.

Wow! Now that's a GOOD friend.

And, to be honest, before I recently took my "no new guitar pledge," I wanted a GS Mini to take the place of the Little Martin I got rid of. I truly have never ever been as disappointed in a Martin product as I was in that Little Martin. I ended up breaking even on it. The Taylor GS Mini will come with the Taylor sound hole pickup designed for it. It's going to be a good travel, hospital, nursing home and song writing guitar. The two I have been able to play both amazed me with their sound. And since it is a gift, my pledge is still in tack.

So . . . "Yes," I am a Martin man. However, they don't make a classical nylon string, so the best option for me was Taylor, and that NS74 will end up being a guitar I pass down to a grand child one day. Martin makes a small travel guitar, but I just don't like it. Taylor makes a travel size guitar that sounds like a full size guitar, one that will fit the bill for me very well.

Now, do I not like Taylor steel string acoustics? I sure as heck do!!!! But, I like the Martin sound better. Ah, but I have been warned ... that the 900 series model Taylor's sound even better than Martins. But then, we are talking $4,000+ . . . an amount I don't ever see myself paying for an instrument, and then using it a lot. But, one can only dream and think of the possibilities down the road . . . maybe in 2012. Perhaps a 716ce (CS body / western red cedar top)????
Am I a project or what??
God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Ah ha ... now I am beginning to understand ...

Several months ago, I made a pledge that I would not purchase or trade for another guitar until January of 2012.

Please, stop laughing. I am going to do it!

I said "PLEASSSSSSSSE" stop laughing!!!

Oh go ahead and laugh. Everyone around here is as well. No one in my family, or my friends think I will come close to pulling this off.

However, be for warned!!!!!! . . . I have discovered the secret of how to keep this pledge!!

Seriously.

I have, over the past 5 years, purchased, traded and worked for a dozen different guitars. But only a few weeks ago did I understand one of the reasons why.

The reason I was always purchasing, trading or working for guitars . . .

Really, this is going to blow some people away . . . is that I didn't know how to take care of the guitars I had!!!!

Again, seriously . . . if a guitar developed fret buzz, or couldn't keep intonation, or if the action was wrong . . . I simply got rid of it and got something else.

In the past several months, perhaps as a result of rereading my copy of the little Martin booklet, "The Care and Feeding of Your Martin Guitar," along with a long conversation with the Taylor rep who works with Sean to support Grapevine Guitar Works, I came to realize that I did not know the first thing about properly taking care of a guitar.

And, I have to give Bob Taylor himself a bunch of credit. I believe I have watched every single "how to care for your Taylor Guitar" video on the Taylor web site that Bob has done. And I learn something new every time I watch them.

I have now learned a great deal about intonation, humidification, action, proper choosing of string type and guage, and so much more.

As a result, I am taking 100% better care of my Martin DC-16gte and D-12-16, my Taylor NS74ce, and my 1989 Alvarez/Yairi DY-38. I have humidifiers in all the cases now. Weekly I check on the humidity level. I use the Planet Waves humidifier that has the little sponge. I wipe down the strings, both on top and in between the frets after every time I play. I wipe the guitars down every time I play. I keep each guitar in it's case at all times. I have a tuner, can of String Eaze, a Planet Waves pro guitar tool and capo in every case, along with a good quality wiping cloth.

I have the right strings on my Martins and my Yairi, and that means they all have phosphor-bronze strings. I like the Cleartone brand phosphor-bronze coated strings . . . the ones that Martin is starting to market as SP long-life. If Elixir has a phosphor-bronze nano-web, then I will give them a shot as well.

These new habits, and more things I will check on as I learn how to do them, have in a strange way, brought me closer to my guitars. I guess it is true in all relationships, the more you put into it, the better the relationships.

As a result ... I really think I am going to honor my goal of no new guitar until 2012. Come to think of it, I will have plenty of time to play and try out other models, most especially a Taylor CS-7 or 716ce. But in the meantime, I have acknowledge that the guitars I own now . . . I am becoming closer to. And I play them now with much more appreciation than I have in the past.

And appreciate them I should. They all gifts and blessings to me in some unique way.

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

Taylor Guitars Road Show at Grapevine Guitar Works . . .

Tuesday night, November 16th, the Taylor Guitars Road Show will be in the Grapevine Guitar Works showroom, located upstairs in the Grapevine Antique Mall. There is info at the Taylor Guitars Road Show info page.

I will be there helping Sean and Charlie take care of the crowd. We anticipate over 150 people.

The Taylor Guitars Road Show is a great way to learn about all the Taylor Guitar models, the different woods they are made of, and also hear some great guitar playing. There will be special models available in the Taylor "Petting Zoo" for playing and examination, in addition to the models Sean regularly carries. There will also be some chances to win some prizes.

Hope to see you there!

God's grace, and friendships like Sean's, still amaze me . . . ><>

Monday, October 25, 2010

What a busy week . . .

What a busy week! And what a great week! Especially since I got to play guitar and sing 5 different times.

This past Tuesday, I sang and played for our Creative Learning Center chapel service.
On Tuesday night I sang for the "Be Our Guest" meal we serve to our neighbors on the 3rd Tuesday of the month.

On Wednesday, I sang for the residents at Mimosa Manor in Keller, TX, one of my regular nursing home gigs.

On Friday, I spent the day in Ft. Worth with Jim, Paul and Cora at Cooks Children's Hospital singing to children as part of the ministry of Hugworks.

On Saturday, I sang as the opening for my good friend, Rev. Mark Winter (that's us in the picture) as he performed his Circuit Rider skit at the 100th birthday bash for the Central Texas Conference at the Will Rogers Center in Ft. Worth. For more information on Mark's ministry, click here or go to www.onemanshow.org.

Yesterday, besides singing for the Children's Time, I was also the last act during our annual Mission Fair here at the church.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

Music is therapy for me . . . and I hope that my singing and playing is therapy for others.

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Peter Yarrow on the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour

I just finished watching the recent Woodsongs Old Time Radio program featuring Peter Yarrow.

www.woodsongs.com

Go to the archives link. The episode featuring Peter is near the top. You can watch the video version.

Just awesome.

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

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Live From Daryl's House . . .

I really enjoy a website called "Live From Daryl's House," featuring Daryl Hall of "Hall and Oates" fame.

Click here for the website.

Check out episode #27, with special guest, Eli "Paperboy" Reed. "Take My Love With You" is a great song to watch and listen to. The entire episode is one of the best from this series, along with the episode featuring Monte Montgomery, and the episode in tribute to the late T. Bone Wolk.

Music should be this easy. Music should be this fun.

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

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Planet Waves O-Port

My backup acoustic guitar is a 1989 Alvarez-Yairi DY-38, a full bodied dreadnaught.

Using the same Elixir Nanoweb light guage strings on it as I use on my Martin DC-16gte, it is a great sounding older guitar. The basses are not as deep as my Martin, but I do like the more punchy sound of the Yairi. Actually, for playing rock-n-roll, I like the Yairi better than I do my Martins.

For outside gigs at parks or at the lake, I like to take the Yairi instead of my Martin DC-16gte or my Martin J-12-16. The Yairi will be going with me next year when I go to Philmont Scout Ranch for a week of chaplain and camp fire song leader duties.

Out of curiosity, I recently purchased the Planet Waves O-Port to put in my Yairi, wanting to see if it would make any difference on an already good sounding guitar.

In a word . . . YES! It only took about 10 minutes (maybe less) to loosen the strings, install the O-Port and to then re-tune.

The Yairi is just a bit louder now acoustically, and the sound is a better blend of bass, mids and highs. Plugged in, the sound is fuller, using my normal amp settings that I seldom stray from for my steel strings. I have to say that I am pleased, and feel the expense was a good one. I got the O-Port for $24.99 plus shipping.

Today I played both the Martin DC-16 and the Yairi. The characteristic brand differences remain. Nothing guitar accessory would change that. However, the Yairi more than held it's own, especially running through some Beatles, Eagles and CCR songs.

If you are playing a mid-range priced guitar, and would like to give it a "little" boost, then you might consider giving the Planet Waves O-Port a try. To my ear, it works. It comes in two sizes, and also in black and cream colors.

I do not think the addition of an O-Port would be that noticeable on the Martins. Anyway, it won't fit my DC-16gte because of the Fishman onboard pre-amp. I have a Takamine magnetic pickup in the f-hole of my Martin 12 string. I think I could adapt the O-Port to fit the 12-string with a little trimming from my X-Acto knife. The O-Port will not fit in my Taylor NS74, as a classical top is a bit thicker than a steel string.

So, I like it, but I think the O-Port is a better accessory for lower priced/quality guitars, or older guitars that need a little boost.

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


Monday, October 4, 2010

Philmont Scout Ranch . . . here I come . . .

I am overwhelmed and humbled by my recent invitation to be the chaplain/campfire song leader at the Philmont Scout Ranch Training Center in Cimmaron, New Mexico for a week in September of 2011.

Today, I officially accepted the invitation. Now, I have a year to get in shape physically, emotionally and spiritually.

A new journey . . . in hopes of crossing off something on my "Life To-Do List" . . . something I had already decided I would probably never get to do.

But . . . if all works out, I am going to Philmont to do what I do best, be a chaplain, sing and play guitar. It is humbling to understand that there are others who believe I do these tasks well enough to be recognized on this level.

To quote Gomer Pyle . . . Shazam!

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Music as therapy . . . to make people feel better . . .

For the record, I don't often get paid to sing and to play guitar.

I've had a couple of offers . . . I must have been plan "C."

My dreams of making a living as a singer and guitar player are long gone. In fact, I made that decision / came to that realization about the time I got married. I've shared with others that I have recently come to conclusion that I was called years ago to be a music teacher, song director and music leader. For various reasons, and perhaps my own cowardice or inability to stand up for myself, I interpreted my call in the way I thought others wanted me to interpret it.

However, there was always something about singing, playing guitar and music in general that kept drawing me back to performing for others. I noticed long ago that when I sing to a group of children, or to a group of senior saints ... they usually smile, and most times, they start singing with me. I can't remember all the times after singing at a nursing home or at an assisted living center, that one of the residents said to me, "thanks for taking me back home for a while . . ." in reference to a song we may have shared together, that reminded them of family, old days, and sweet memories.

That was my first true heart felt inkling that music, for some people, can be a positive, healing diversion from everyday life, especially if one's everyday life involved hopelessness.

A diversion . . . almost to the point of being theraputic in nature. I know this is true. I've seen this too many times.

Music . . . can make a child, teen or adult . . . feel better. Music can promote physical, emotional, relational and spiritual healing.

I don't have the research on this to back me up . . . but I do have the experience that this is true.

So, long ago, I made the decision that my music would not be about seeking fame and forturne; instead, it would be about making people feel better . . . providing a moment or two of release from the various pains of life's struggles.

Earlier this year, I was provided an opportunity to apply as an apprentic to the Hugworks Theraputic Music Entertainment program. I am a little less than half-way through. And what I am learning in this process only AFFIRMS what I have known for years . . . that music is powerful and can help heal.

The Hugworks program focuses on children who are in hospitals, and who attend camps with other children with similar illnesses. I encourage you to ponder the possibility of your support of this wonderful ministry in some way.

FYI - I am a ministry volunteer for Hugworks. I do not hide this. I do not get paid for doing what I do, or for mentioning them here in this blog entry. My "pay" (that internal sense that I am making a positive difference) is getting to see children and older adults smile, relax, and enjoy themselves . . . even if only for a few minutes.

That is why I do this, why I show up, why I sing, why I play, why I travel, why I say "yes" when my calendar indicates I should say "no," why I rehearse, why I practice with others, why I learn to play new instruments, why I learn new songs . . . and why I even more today appreciate friends like Joe Laughlin and Floyd Marshall, for continually prodding me over the years to improve my skills. And, for friends like Sean Simon at Grapevine Guitar Works, whose support helps me show up with the equipment I need to entertain as best I can.

I am a theraputic music entertainer . . . and I have known that for years, even though I was not aware of the particular words or terms.

I sing and play so that others can feel better. There is positive power in what people like me can do for others.

Thank you Lord, for the 2nd chance opportunity to know why I sing and play.

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

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Just being able to "breathe" . . .

I think most of us take many things for granted most every day.

I personally think that many of us take one particular thing for granted.

Breathing.

I know I do, unless I have a stopped-up nose or sinus problems.

For people suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis . . . they live in fear about getting their next breath.
On Tuesday evening a week ago, I officiated at a memorial service for a church member, retired police officer, and friend, Rob Neff. He died from complications arising out of his having pulmonary fibrosis. He died before he could get a lung transplant.

I watched Rob proceed toward death. And, I felt pretty helpless. At the request of Barbara, Robb's wife, friends of Rob have started wearing a "Breathe" wrist band. For a $3 donation, you can get one through www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org, or click here.

It's the least I can do for a friend, church member, and fellow law enforcement family brother.
In Genesis, we read the creation story where God breathed in the breath into Adam.
In the Old Testament, the Jewish name for God is a listing of consonants (YHWH) which make up the word, "Yahweh."
Say that 4 or 5 times. It occured to me that the Jewish name for God sounds like someone inhaling and then exhaling a breath.
God is breath!
I don't think I will ever again take breathing so lightly.
Please consider the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation as being worthy of your contributions and support. If you know of someone who has pulmonary fibrosis, then show your support by getting a bracelet.

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

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Core Values #1 - Family and Friends

At 53 years of age, I have worked through the process of reviewing my core values, those things that are of great importance in defining who I am as a unique individual / child of God.

In other words, a core value is something you believe in so strongly, that you have, if you will, "carved it in stone and taken it to the bank."

I had not intended to write about my core values now. But something happened today that peaked my interest is putting some words into print.

Ken, our Senior Pastor, sent out and email to the rest of the clergy on staff, asking us to submit to him some phrase consisting of 8 words that would "preach." We are preparing for this Sunday for worship services using Jonah 3, the shortest chapter in the Bible.

I submitted the phrase, "Family and friends are what make me rich."

I would have submitted "Jesus love me this I know . . . "; however, one of the other clergy on staff here had already sent it in.

On Wednesdays in September and October, I teach a class on "Emotional Fitness" at noon and again at 6 PM. While teaching the noon class today, I realized that I was focusing somewhat on what I had sent Ken, and realizing that I had reaffirmed what is the #1 core value in my life.

Core Value #1 . . . It's all about relationships!

My relationships with God, family and friends are the most important thing in my life. Unfortunately, this was not my #1 core value for many of my adult years. My former #1 core value used to be, "the church is the most important thing, and I must sacrifice who and what I am and hope to be for the sake of the church."

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Wrong answer. Thank you for playing.

It is not easy to admit that I have sacrificed so much, and so many people, on the altar of success in past years. My dear wife, my two daughters, too many friendships to count. My wife and daughters were kind, loving and Christian enough to give me a 2nd chance. A couple of my friends offered the same grace in kind.

It took time . . . a long time . . . and I had to identify and heal some past hurts in my life, to the point where I truly began to understand, not only in my belief and words but also in my actions, that what was truly most important to me in my life was my relationships.

In a word, relationships are "everything."

My relationship with God . . . when that is going well, my other relationships seem to also be going well.

When my relationship with God struggles . . . the same can be said for my other relationships.

My relationship with my wife and daughters changed the day I "woke up" and realized how much of a blessing they were to me . . . that they each were a "treasure" to be cherished, loved, protected and honored. My wife, daughers, and their husbands, are worthy of my intentional time and prayers.

The time I came to embrace this was about the time I came up with the saying "family and friends are what make me rich." I only found out a few years ago that various authors and poets have claim on that phrase.

I don't care.

I may not own it, but I own the emotions attached to it.

Life is truly the sum (the answer to an addition problem) of our relationships, and the time we spend in each of them.

Core Value #1 - relationships are everything, especially my relationship with God, family and friends!

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I have hope for the United Methodist Church . . .

Today was a long day as part of the Mid-Cities District Committee on Ordained Ministry fall interviews for those requesting certification as ministerial candidates, and for those farther along in the process who requested we recommend them to the Conference Board of Ministry as provisional members.

Obviously, what is said and done in these meetings is confidential.

What I wanted to write about and share about these meetings today is this: We have some really great people in our district who feel called to serve our Annual Conference as future elders or deacons.

I mean . . . some really good people.

A couple of the people there today, one I helped interview, and another who I helped mentor . . . I am thinking to myself, "I would like to work with these guys."

I mean . . . some really good people. Bright, smart, creative, visionary, who think outside the box that I can't seem to find a way out that often.

I have hope for our United Methodist Church. A strong and firm hope. In fact, I have a smile on my face just thinking about all the possibilities.

When you come to understand that some of the brighest and best are indeed stepping forward to serve . . . you can't help but have hope.

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

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

James Taylor, still "theraputic" after all these years . . .

This has been a hard week or so . . . we had a funeral this past Saturday. The night before I responsed to a death call at a local hospital. On Saturday after the funeral, I responded to another death call at another local hospital.

It's what I do . . . it is taking it's toll, but . . . it's what I do. I spend a lot of time with people before they die. I spend a lot of time with their families afterward.

Truth is . . . and I hope I am not bragging . . . but I don't know of another pastor who walks with people toward death as I do . . . or who officiates a funeral as well as I do.

Naw ... that's not bragging. It's a fact. I have this core value that death should not be something we fear and avoid . . . but embrace as the start of a new journey, when the time for death comes.

Yet . . . today, I found myself drained, tired, and a bit weepy because the funeral tonight and the one tomorrow morning . . . I knew them both as well as you can know someone in being their pastor these past 5 years. I knew them. I loved them as friends.

So, I needed to take a break, but didnt have time to go to the Grapevine Guitar Works to hide for a while. I thought to myself, "Self, what do you need right now?"

My self answered back, "Give me some Sweet Baby James." I got it, and I'm back in the saddle preparing to do "what I do."

James Taylor . . . what an artist, even after all these years.

God grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Monday, September 13, 2010

Taylor CS-8

I took a 30 minute break around 4 PM today . . . we are getting ready for two big funerals this week, and I needed to clear my head.

So, I went down to Grapevine Guitar Works and sat down with a Taylor GS-8.

In a word . . . heaven!

Of my goodness . . . I've never heard a full-bodied acoustic with such great mid-tones. My Martin DC-16 has such a loud bass end. The GS-8 had balance between the bass, mids and trebles. I was really impressed!

This Martin Guitar guy is slowly moving toward Taylor's. I think I could one day embrace a GS-8, or other larger bodied Grand Symphony model acoustic guitar from Taylor.

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

Friday, September 10, 2010

F - R - I - E - N - D . . .

I had the pleasure and opportunity to spend part of today with my good friend, Floyd.

He came up I-35 from down south. We played guitar and talked in my office, went over to Grapevine Guitar Works and played guitar and talked some more.

Then we went to lunch, and talked some more.

Then we came back to my office, and played guitar and talked some more.

I am blessed to have a friend like Floyd, who would take a day off from work, and come up to see me, on a day when I actually needed a friend to talk to. I was needing to "unwind" and decompress a bit.

Love ya, Floyd!

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

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"The Well" is a great ministry . . .

"The Well" is a bi-monthly dinner meeting for the women of our church and guests and friends they invite. Attendance ranges between 180-240 women, who come for a great dinner, followed by a performance by a musical guest. This is followed by the main speaker for the evening, such as a noted woman author or speaker.

Participants gather on the 2nd Thursday each month they meet . . . when us guitar guys are having a jam session elsewhere in the building.

I had the honor and privilege of being the musical "guest" for the meeting tonight, and was followed by my friend and fellow pastor, Dr. Cindy Ryan. Cindy was in here element. Besides Chris back in the sound booth, I was the only guy sitting with the women.

And for the record, I had a great time!!!! Truth is, Cindy Ryan is one of my favorite speakers to listen to.
After a wonderful introduction by Trudy Hughes (especially since she could have told how that of all the staff we have, I qualify best for "the accident waiting to happen"), I opened with Jerry Reed's "A Thing Called Love." When I finished, I looked at Cindy and said, "This is the first time in my life that I've had 246 women between me and the door!"

It's the truth!

I then lead a good old fashioned group singing of "Puff the Magic Dragon," which ended up being a great song considering the topic Cindy talked about. I closed with an old gospel hymn from the 1850's, "The Great Physician."
Personally for me, it was a wonderful experience. In fact, it began a period of time where I am going to be doing a lot of solo stuff as I try to finish up my theraputic music entertainment apprenticeship through Hugworks.org. Hope to have that done soon after Christmas.

So, a good time was had by all . . . and I made it out the door. Didn't due half-bad, or at least that is what everyone said.

I will take that as a win-win by all who attended.
It was fun!

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sign Up Now for the Iron Men Golf Tournament on September 19th

2010 Iron Men Golf Tournament - Sunday, September 19

Golfers, here's your opportunity to join in a fun day of golf and help some great causes at the same time!

The Iron Men invite you to come out for the Seventh Annual Iron Men Golf Tournament on Sunday, September 19, at Sky Creek Ranch in Keller. (Please note the new date - this is two weeks earlier than years past.) All golfers are welcome - male and female, young and young-at-heart.

Registration is now open! Your $110 registration fee covers course fees, dinner buffet, beverages, goody bags, awards and a few surprises! The deadline for registration is Sunday, September 12.

Please also support the golf tournament with your prayers and consider becoming a sponsor! Various levels of sponsorship are available.

Visit our website for more information or to register online! Questions? Contact Kevin Mitchell at 817-416-2609 or kmitchell@grapevinetexas.gov. Click here to download a printable brochure (pdf).

Beatlegrass in concert . . . a great show

I normally do not take time to go hear many individuals or groups perform. If they play at the church, that is one thing. Out in the public . . . that is where I work every day, and sometimes I like to just hang out and chill on my own.

However, this past Saturday, our friends Rick and Donna asked us to go with them to the new Levitt Theater in Arlington, Texas, which is a brand new outdoor theater in downtown Arlington. Rick's favorite group, Beatlegras, was performing.

It's been really hot in Texas this summer. But it was an absolutely perfect evening to carry the lawn chairs in with a big Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper from Sonic, and sit down to enjoy a great 90 minutes of Beatles song covered in bluegrass style.

Dave, Milo and George are exceptional musicians and vocalists, and they really put on a show. What a great evening. I am very glad I went.

Check out their website at www.beatlegras.com.

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

Monday, September 6, 2010

Times change, as does interest in certain guitars . . .

WARNING! . . . This blog entry is about guitars and stuff like that. If you like guitar stuff, then please read on. If not, then check back later . . . either way, "I appreciate you!"
_____________________________________________

For over 5 years . . . my #1 guitar has been a Martin DC-16gte guitar. As fine an intrument as I had ever previously owned or played.

For years I had always wanted a nice Martin. My friends Joe and Floyd had Martins, and I always admired their looks and sound. My DC-16 has never let me down in this regard.
I was able to get it the week before we moved to Grapevine, purchasing it at Heart of Texas Music in Temple, TX, thanks in part to a grant I received, along with gifts I received from my friends Joe and Floyd.

I recently was able to finally obtain a Martin J-12-16 12 string guitar, after an over year long search. I had the opportunity to buy several truly wonderful Taylor 12-strings during that time, but instead waited for the Martin. I first learned to play guitar on a 12-string.

I know about, and have studied quite a bit of the Martin Guitar history. You could say I am and have been a Martin man for quite a while.

However, the Martin guitars I have dreamed of owning . . . are probably forever priced higher than I will ever be willing to pay.

A couple years ago . . . I felt drawn, and encouraged by others, to improve my guitar playing skills, including finger-picking. I found myself looking at the nylon string classical guitars that Sean would occasionally have in his showroom and Grapevine Guitar Works. I got to play a couple of Godin Multiac SA's, even had one for a couple months . . . but sent it back because it wasn't a true acoustic.

Over a year ago, while enjoying an after Thanksgiving break in East Texes, I stumbled across a rare, beautiful and wonderful sounding Martin N-20 classical guitar. A 1980 model, a year older than the one Willie Nelson still plays to this day.

I got to play it for over 30 minutes . . . a time I will treasure forever. However, with a near $4,000 price tag . . . I knew it was something I would never own, or play much in public out of fear of harming such a treasure.

A few months later, I stumbled onto a used Taylor NS42ce at another local guitar store. It's what some call a "hybrid" classical guitar. It had a Fishman pre-amp, 14 frets to the neck instead of 12, and the nut was 1 7/8 inches instead of the normal 2 inches for a classical. Thanks to my Mom, I was able to get it. It has served me well this past year. And, I began to play it more and more at children's time during worship, and during jam sessions. At most of the solo gigs I have had this past year, I have played this guitar through my Fishman Loudbox 1oo.

A month ago, Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works became a certified Taylor dealer. One of the guitars he bought for display at his showroom was a Taylor NS74ce. This is the top-of-the line Taylor acoustic-electric classical guitar. There is no better unless it is a custom order. Western red cedar top, and Indian rosewood back and sides. It has a larger body (Grand Auditorium) than the NS42 (Grand Symphony), and the sound it makes when you play it just swells. The NS74 also has the newer Taylor TS-E electronics, just three simple little knobs (volume, treble adn bass) to turn.

I am drooling a bit just writing about this guitar.

I took my Loudbox amp and NS42 to Grapevine Guitar Works showroom, and Sean and I plugged the two guitars in. The NS42 is a fine guitar, with great sound. However, the difference between the two guitars was amazing! We are talking bush league-verses-major league here, I'm that serious . . . Sean even said it was a $1,000 difference in sound. I believe him.

Sean was feeling compassionate that day, or perhaps generous. That's the kind of friend he is. As a result, my new #1 is now a Taylor NS74ce.

The price? That's between me and Sean, but it was less than an equal quality Martin would have been, and I get the customer service that Taylor is known for if I ever need it. But yes, there was some stuff I had to give up. Let's just say that to cover this price of this guitar, I had to part with a bunch of my current equipment. Nuff' said.

I think I have a clearer understanding now of the scripture about the man finding the prized pearl in the field, then going back and selling all he had to buy the field.

This is the nicest guitar I have ever owned in my life . . . without a doubt, despite my preference for Martin's. In my mind, this is a once-in-a-lifetime guitar.

So . . . thanks Mom! I love you, and we miss you a lot since your move to Husker-Land. I still consider this the guitar you helped me get. I will always appreciate that you believe in my passion to sing and perform. I will play you a personal concert this fall when you come visit. Being a musician yourself, you will appreciate this instrument.

And . . . thank you Sean, for directing me toward this once-in-a-life-time guitar, and for working out a way for me to get it. I appreciate this guitar, along with your friendship and counsel, very much.

And now . . . the even better news. I now only have 4 guitars and one amp in my office, to go along with my tenor banjoy and baritone uke. I have more room now than I know what to do with!

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



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yep bruddha . . . I be playing a "U"kulele now . . .

I know, I know, I know . . . it's going to look awful funny, the first time I do a Children's Time message during worship with a ukulele. But get ready . . . it's going to happen sooner than you think.

My daughter played a ukulele in a production of "Radio Gals" back when she was a theater arts student at Texas Women's University. For her birthday this year, she asked me to get her a decent uke, because she wanted to start playing again.

I meant to get around to it . . . but forgot.

Then Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works tells me he is carrying Kala Brand Ukuleles. He helped me get a nice mahogany tenor uke for my daughter.

By the way, did I share that she wants to go with me, as her schedule allows, to sing at hospitals and nursing homes??? Brings a tear to my eye. I am happy beyond belief . . .

Anyway, Sean also had a nice spruce top baritone uke. Now, for those who didn't know, and I am one who didn't know, a baritone uke is usually tuned like the bottom four strings of a guitar. D-G-B-E. Which means . . . I am playing the thing like crazy. It's just like playing my old tenor banjo.

I had recently purchased a Little Martin travel guitar with some mad money I was saving. I wanted to, and have used it to sing in nursing homes. However, this baritone uke is just as loud, and a lot more lighter and easier to carry around as a travel instrument.

So . . . another journey started. More to report soon.

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

Monday, August 9, 2010

Three interesting things happened to me today . . .

Three interesting things did happen to me today . . . well sort of . . .

First . . . my oldest daughter called to tell me an "interesting" anecdote. A customer walked into my daughter's store today and, referencing the 10+ straight days of over 100 F. weather we have been having, said . . .

"If it is really as hot as hell outside, I need to work on getting my life straight!"

Interesting . . . how God's own creation can get the point across when we Christian-types can't.

Second . . . while eating dinner tonight in my favorite local "dive", I was told that the restaurant had been sold, and was under new ownership and management.

Bummer . . . absolute bummer . . . the couple that ran the restaurant had become good friends, and I enjoyed bringing them my business.

The new manager, Renee, has gone out of her way to take care of us, as my wife and I have "regulars" status at this place. We will see how it goes.

Third . . . at the restaurant tonight, two ladies were eating at the table next to us. One of them told me . . .

"Do you know that you look like Steve Forbes . . . the guy who ran for President?"

Obviously, this lady suffers from a severe degenerative vision disorder . . . but wait, it gets better.

I replied back . . . "Well, if I am, I guess you want me to pick up your dinner bill tonight. But before I do, I have to ask if you voted for Steve Forbes?"

She replies, "Well no, I didn't."

Opps . . . guess who paid for their own bill at the restaurant???

Aw . . . she was a nice lady. We all had a good laugh.

But seriously . . . I don't think I look like Steve Forbes? Do I?

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



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yo ho . . . blow the man down . . .

Everybody sing . . . .

"Come sit right down and I'll tell a tale, and tale of a fatefull trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailing man, the skipper brave and sure. Five passengers set sail that day on a 3 hour cruise . . . a 3 hour cruise."

I was invited to play guitar and sing for a group of retired Boy Scouts of America employees and their spouses on a lunch cruise yesterday on Lake Grapevine. This group regularly meets for lunch or a social activity, and this is my second time to have had the pleasure of being the "entertainment" for them.

Especially since they like singing "O Suzanna," "Row Row Row Your Boat," "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain," the theme song to "Gilligan's Island," and other great campfire songs that I learned way back in my scouting days.

Oh rats, we forgot to sing the theme song to "The Beverly Hillbillies!"

Of all the days in a Texas summer to plan this trip . . . this was the one . . . slight breeze, overcast, and about 86 F. Not a bad two hour boat ride!

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

VBS guitarist for 150 years in a row!!!!

Playing guitar at VBS for about the 150th year in a row.


Some people / musicians plan their entire year around holidays or big events.


Seriously, I plan my year around VBS.


That's VBS as in "Vacation Bible School."


I am now what one would call a VBS "Old Dog."


I don't know why, but I like this picture!


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

Friday, July 23, 2010

How can I / We keep from singing . . .

My friend, Eric Folkerth, is a fellow UMC pastor, singer/songwriter / guitarist / blogger. He most recent entry to his "When EF Talks" blog is titled "How Can They Keep From Singing." It can be found here, and it is worth your time to read.

It is a question I ask myself all the time. I may be admitting that I am crazy, but I hear music everywhere I go . . . in nature and in all of life. Sometimes, you just feel invited to sing.

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

I am a "visual" person . . .

I've heard it said that there are three kinds of learners.

1) The visual learner - who learns best by watching others do it.
2) The audible learner - who learns best by listening.
3) The kinesetic learner - who learns best by watching, listening and doing.

I am a "visual" learner. I am a "visual" person.

When I am with my wife or a friend at a restaurant, I have to position myself so I am facing a corner, or a section of a wall. Why? If I sit facing a window, I will be distracted by people or cars passing by. Many times in my life, I have been in a conversation with someone and realized that I had not been listening because I got distracted by something I saw or was looking at.

Several of those times, the other person took offense at my "lack of care / concentration."

I learn a lot through my eyes. I really have to "see" something with my eyes / mind to be able to grasp a concept or a design. My wife can look at an empty room, and see where furniture and pictures will go. I have to put the furniture and pictures in the room, and move them around until I "see" how everything best fits.

When I am being told a story, I have to close my eyes and "see" the story visually . . . which is why I am fond of very good story tellers, because they have the gift in their story telling to "paint" the scene for their listeners.

I learn a lot about people by watching them. I am big on "tells," the way that all people communicate non-verbally with their hand, facial and body movements when speaking, and when they are not speaking. I use this a lot in my pre-marital counseling sessions with couples who plan to get to married.

Sometimes I go somewhere and watch people as a way to "vet" out a sermon I am writing. I did this once when I was writing a Christmas sermon series a few years ago. I went to a mall in the community I was living in at the time, and just watched people as they did their Christmas shopping. I called the sermon series, "Everything I Know About Christmas, I Learned at the Mall."

People like me tend to see God a lot . . . especially in nature. Clouds, trees, flowers, scenery, rivers, oceans, animals, birds, people . . .

It is a wonder how I have not had a bad car wreck when I confess how easily I am visually distracted.

Alas, a visual person is who I am. It's a pretty interesting world we live in. It's a very interesting world to look at. Many times I gaze at people, paintings, the stores that line a pretty downtown, flags along the street on July 4th, snow on the ground, geese flying southward in a V formation, a big field of Bluebonnets or Indian Paint Brush . . . and I find myself in awe of a world full of so much to look at. Perhaps this is why, every so often, I get the photo bug of sorts. It never last for more than a few days at a time. In truth, I have taken 100 times more "mental pictures" than I have taken "digital" ones.

More times than I can remember . . . I have looked, and all I can say is, "Wow, look at that!"

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


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why did God create wasps?

We came back home from vacation on Monday, to find that a weeks worth of rain had helped my lawn grow quite tall while we were gone.

On Wednesday morning, I undertook the task of getting my yard mowed, pleasing both myself and my neighbors. Took the usual 1.5 - 2 hours.

While I was putting my lawn mower back into my backyard shed, my hat brushed against a big yellowjacket nest that I did not see ...

Buzz Buzz Buzz . . . WHAM! Two got me on the left ear, one got me in the face, and another flew between my eye and my glasses. Luckily enough, I got it swatted away before it could sting me.

Flustered, a bit in pain . . . I marched through my gate to my garage and got one of the two cans of wasp spray I new I had. I shook it up all the way to the back yard . . . aimed it at the wasp nest, and pressed the trigger while muttering under my breath, "now you die!"

Nothing . . . no spray . . . so I shook the can some more, and fired again . . . nothing.

Went back to the garage and got the other can . . . aimed, fired . . . and nothing.

I took the two FULL cans of wasp spray back to the garage, and began to read the label . . .

"Keep can stored in a dry COOL place."

Rats.

It's been a least 100 degrees in my garage all summer.

Rats Rats Rats Rats.

So . . . still in pain, I went to Lowe's and upon entering found two other guys holding onto their ears while standing next to a display of Black Flag Wasp spray . . . a two-can special for $3.97. I purchased 4 cans.

I have to admit . . . I quite enjoyed spraying an ENTIRE CAN of wasp spray on the nest attached to my storage barn. I knocked it off after all the wasps were dead, and stomped it into smitherines. Yes, that really is a word in my famlily.

Now that my primal-revengle-lust was over, I decided to walk around my house . . . and sure enough, I found a red wasp nest and promptly dispatched its occupants to wasp heaven.

Lesson learned: Never forget, that in Texas, we have wasps.

I wonder if there is a song in all this?

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

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Deactivate" is my new favorite word . . .

Let me review a few things . . . as I try to short something out.

I am a pretty OK person. The sort of guy who would take the time to meet with someone for a diet Dr. Pepper or unsweet ice tea, and spend time talking.

Funny thing about talking and listening. I do both much better when I can actually see the person I am talking with.

Then Facebook enters the picture. Lot's of my friends, and I, get Facebook accounts, so we can "keep us with each other." Seemed like a good idea when it was first presented to me.

But something changed. It seems the "talking and visiting" takes place, but now we use Facebook to do so . . . sort of a short-cut in my mind. The actual time spent "getting together," is happening less and less and less.

And Facebook wants to me to believe that "staying connected" the impersonal way they suggest is a "good idea?"

I don't think so.

Time to think about "deactivating" the ol' Facebook account.

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

Rick ><>

Monday, May 17, 2010

Anticipation . . .

Runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing is not the way I wanted to start this week . . .

Oh well, spring time weather in Texas. If not thunderstorms and hail one day, it is super high levels of mold spores and pollen in the air.

Oh, my nose . . . .

It has, however, been one of the prettiest springs in Texas in many, many years. I find that most every day as I leave my house for work or play, I am anticipating what I might actually get to see and experience.

Granted, I live just a couple miles west of DFW International Airport (actually not as noisy as one might think), and one mile from a major State Hwy that runs north/south on the west side of the airport. One could take it for granted that there would not be that much "nature" in such a location.

Yet, the trees turning green, the wildflowers that are still blooming . . . plus the last day or so, it has actually been sunny . . . I am noticing more birds than I have in our area in some time. My front and back yards have never been as green.

Simply awesome.

Maybe that is why I haven't enjoyed day-hiking as much these past couple of years, because the scenery around here was "yuckier" than normal.

Not this year. Time to go for a walk . . . after I double-dose some antihistamine.

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

Friday, May 7, 2010

Being a "server" on one's birthday, instead of being a receiver . . .

NOTE: I am just speaking for myself, of my own recent decision about what I do on my birthday.  What you do on your own birthday is really none of my business.


Today is my birthday.  I am 53 years old.

A couple of  years ago, I made the decision that my birthday should not be so much about celebrating and receiving gifts and presents . . . but rather be a special day of personal service, over and above what I do in ministry and as a volunteer.  However, I had not acted on that decision.

Last week, I decided that for my birthday today, I would intentionally find a way to "serve" outside my comfort zone, as well as outside my current circle of influence. 

So, I went with my friends, Jim Newton and Paul G. Hill (the Hugworks.org guys) to shadow, help and sing with them at Cooks Children's Hospital in Fort Worth.   Yesterday, I had gone to observe Jim and Paul as they sang at Our Children's House at Baylor-Dallas, as part of my theraputic music performance apprenticeship.  Today, I went to help in what ever way I could, just wanting to touch the lives of children who are battling illnesses that no child should have to experience.  

The time we spent today at Cook's Children . . . may have changed me forever.

To make my birthday about serving, instead of receiving.  I think this will become something I do every year from now on.  

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

1st Church String Band . . . May 1st

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 1st, several of my 1st Church String Band brothers will join me for a concert at the Parkwook Healthcare Center in Bedford at 2 PM. We will be singing in the main gathering room in the Alzheimer's Treatment area in the back (south) of the complex.

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

In memory of Mr. Floyd Dakil

I recently shared that I got meet one of my musical heroes, Mr. Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame. That was a great day. I had goosebumps on my arms.

I heard yesterday that another of my heroes and friends . . . a mighty fine man and a great guitar player, Mr. Floyd Dakil, died over the weekend. And I had to admit that I had to sit down after hearing the news. And I had to wipe a tear or two away as well.

That's life . . . with ups and downs . . . goosebumps and tears . . .

Floyd was the best electric guitar player I ever got to hear, and see play. He had a long professional music career, with both ups and downs, all beginning in Dallas, TX years ago with his hit record, "Dance, Franny, Dance." Other records and gigs followed over the years. He had come back home to the D-FW area several years ago.

He sat in with us several times at our community jam sessions on Thursday evenings at the Grapevine Antique Mall. He also played lead guitar for our 1st Church String Band at a couple of our concerts.

He was a fixture at the Grapevine Antique Mall here in Grapevine, where he taught guitar lessons. He was one of the best guitar teachers. He gave me a couple of lessons . . . and a ton of encouragement.

At our jam sessions or rehearsals, he would sometimes stop us to offer a word of how to do something a little different, or to help adjust our tempo. I have to admit, that our best sound, both vocally and instrumentally, came after Floyd took time to work with us. I hope, now, that we all thanked him enough.

He will be missed by family and friends, and by the guys in our 1st Church String Band.

I will miss him very much.

In the midst of sorrow and grief, God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Getting to meet Noel Paul Stookey . . .

It was a distinct and honored pleasure to get to meet and spend a few minutes this past Thursday with Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.

P. P. and M., are one of my favorite groups, and Noel especially has been one of my favorite singers, guitarists and song writers ever since I first picked up a guitar back when I was about 15 years old. He is a very gracious and generous man. He spoke about how all of us have the ability to change our lives as well as the world. All we have to do is "spend less time thinking about it, and spend more time doing it." He is a man who believes that one person can make an enormous difference.

I have to admit, I had goosebumps on my arms while he was talking.

This was a special gathering hosted by the Board of Directors of Hugworks, which was founded by my friend and fellow UMC clergyman Jim Newton. This is the group which I have started my therpautic music performance intership with. Noel has been involved with this ministry, , since 1985.

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

12 string guitar update . . .

Employees at the Customer Service Department at the Martin factory in Nazareth, PA helped me find it.

I went to see it in Corpus Christi, TX.

I played it for an hour. with a smile on my face, and my loved one sitting by my side.

I bought it with a smile on my face.

I brought it home, with a smile on my face.

I named it in honor of the Gulf Coast of Texas that I love so much.

And now "Christi" is calling me to come play it.

Ah . . . the journeys a musician takes during their lifetime.

And there is a smile on my face!

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I found it ....

After several months of searching, and a couple of phone calls to the customer service department at the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth, PA, I have finally found a music store in Texas that has a Martin J12-16 twelve string guitar.  

It's only 350+ miles away.

Do I really want to drive that far to look at a guitar???

Decisions, decisions. 

Can anyone say "road trip?"

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

Monday, April 12, 2010

Now the CD is "officially" finished . . .

It is finally finished.

Hallelujah! Pass the jam and biscuits please!!!!

Copies of the CD will be available after worship beginning on April 25, but you can order one now through the FUMC-Grapevine website, or come by the church and pick up one from Katherine Hunter or myself.

We are asking for a minimum donation of $10 for each CD. 100 % of the proceeds go toward support of the Kenya Kids Can Project in the Rift Valley in Kenya, and to Hugworks.org.
Thank you to all who provided various means of support for this project.

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

Monday, April 5, 2010

A prayer finally answered . . .

5 years ago, because of a grant I received, along with the generosity of two good friends,  I acquired a Martin DC-16GTE guitar from Heart of Texas Music in Temple, TX.  It was the first really good guitar I had ever owned in my life to that point.  

My guitar playing began to improve dramatically as a result . . . the Martin was set up correctly, it was fun to play, and had that awesome Martin sound I have come to love so much.

I began longing to improve as a player . . . and took the matter to God in prayer.

My prayer centered on someone, I imagined it was someone older, coming to see me and saying, "I understand you play guitar."

"Yes, sir . . . at least I try to play the guitar."

"OK, show me what you got."

With that, I would take out my Martin, and then play and sing some songs.  When finished, I imagined my new friend saying, "I play guitar also, let me give your Martin a whirl."

With that, he would take my guitar, and play so well that it would blow me away.

Then, my prayer was that I would hear my new friend say these words, "Boy, you finally ready to learn how to play and sing?"

"Yes sir!"

I think my prayer may have finally been answered.

This past Friday, Good Friday as a matter of fact, I submitted my application to enter the apprentice/intern theraputic music performance certification program through Hugworks.org.

Friend and fellow UMC pastor, Jim Newton, is the founder and president of Celebration Shop/Hugworks, a ministry which provides theraputic music performance to children in hospitals all over the county, as well as music therapy at their ministry office in Hurst.  

The program will take me about 6 months to a year to complete.  It requires a vocal and instrumental audition and learning 20-30 songs. It includes instrumental and vocal coaching by Jim and his partner Paul Hill, along with peer group participation, and singing under supervision as several area hospitals.

I think I am getting ready to learn a lot about singing, and about playing the guitar.

And . . . I know I am ready.

Thank you God, for answered prayer.  

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


Monday, March 29, 2010

An article from the Vineyards Campground blog . . .

I was recently asked to help with a camper jam session at the Vineyards Campground in Grapevine this past Friday night.   There is a blog article about the events of that evening here,

I enjoyed meeting Brooks, who had brought his new ukulele with him.  As we waited for others to show up, he and I went through the first three lessons in his uke book, and he quickly learned the C, G7 and F chords.  After that, we put on a concert, including the Beatles "I Feel Fine."   Brooks' mom seemed quite pleased with her sons first public recital.  What a fun evening.   I enjoy making a "joyful noise" or causing one to be made (see my mission statement).

I have heard that the city of Grapevine has given a very generous grant to the Campground.  There are going to be some great improvements made in the coming year.  It has already been voted as one of the best mid-sized campgrounds in the State of Texas.  I am sure that the best is yet to come.

Hopefully, that means more music opportunities as well.

My thanks to Barbara Tipton who invited me to come out.  This was the second time I have played at the campground, and hopefully will get to go back several more times this summer.

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

A very long process has come to a close, with the completion of my CD project, "Come on Down! It's Children's Time!" - a collection of 19 of the songs we sing each Sunday morning in worship during the Children's Time at the 8:50, 10:10 and 11:15 AM services.

Again, I am not the greatest guitar player or singer in the world . . . but I am very proud of this project. It is the first time I have ever done a project like this . . . for a "first time" . . . it was pretty good.

I am asking for a minimum donation of $10 for each CD. 100% of the proceeds raised from this project will go to the Kenya Kids Can project in the Rift Valley in Kenya and to the Hugworks Music ministry in Hurst, TX. Please feel free to give more than $10.

One sad note . . . I will now be returning the 1956 Silvertone Twin Thin guitar, pictured above, back to the Loper family . . . who graciously loaned it to me for this project. However, it is time for it to go home. In addition, Zulma and her family helped to underwrite half this project. I am very greatful to them, both that I got to play this wonderful guitar for this past year that belonged to Gary, Zulma's late husband, as well as for their help with the project.

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sungha Jung . . . absolutely fantastic

No words needed . . . just watch and listen.

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

And, oh holy cow . . . I need to practice.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Boss . . . Born to Run . . . Acoustic

I love playing with a band. I love it a lot. I love the group dynamic, the rehearsal, and having it all come together during a performance.

But my initial preference is to sing solo with my guitar. Always has been, always will be. I enjoy the intimacy of doing a song with just a guitar to back up what I sing . . .

Just seems to be more "pure" . . . it's a personal thing I guess.

When it's just me and a guitar . . . I think the audience is more inspired to sing with me, and, to be truthful . . . I really get a kick when people start singing together.

I discovered this video . . . the "Boss" doing and acoustic/solo version of Born to Run.

I think it show's what I mean . . . minus the flawed words of explanantion.

Awesome . . .

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

Friday, March 12, 2010

Children's CD project almost finished . . .

Received word today that my CD project, "Come on Down! It's Children's Time!" is on the home stretch. The CD has been mastered, and we are going to have 300 copies made for the initial run.

The CD will be available for a donation of either $10 or $15. I haven't yet decided how much "the market will bear." It will not win a Grammy, but it is pretty good if I do say so myself.

Every single dollar donated is going to support feeding children in Kenya, as well as the "Hugworks" Music ministry of Rev. Jim Newton, who sings to children in area hospitals.

No one associated with this project is making any money at all off of CD. This is our way of helping "fill the hole."

This picture is the one we are developing for the CD itself. The guitar in the picture, which will also be on the front cover, is a 1956 Silvertone Twin Thin guitar, loaned to me by one of the families who helped underwrite this project. I officiated last year at the funeral of the gentleman who owned and played this guitar.

This guitar is a year "older" than I am. It has served as a good inspiration to me for this project.

The CD has 18 of the songs we regularly do at the Children's Time during Sunday morning worship. Hoping it will be available by Easter.

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

God's grace still amazes me . . .

It has been a very busy, but good week.  Hospital calls, extra pastoral care counseling, studying for and writing a sermon, paperwork and rehearsals with the band to be ready to sing in worship this Sunday at the Heritage Campus . . . 

My knees hurt, I am tired . . . but I feel pretty good.

This past week, I decided to get serious again about morning devotions, and Bible reading.  That may be part of the good week I had.  

Thursdays are a very long day for me . . . a "double" in fact.  But more so yesterday because the night before we meet our daughters and their families for a birthday dinner for our oldest.  It was good to be together for a joyful, but relaxed time together.  

Up on Thursday at 5:30 AM, then teach a men's Bible study at IHOP in Southlake, an event that I look forward to each week.  The fellowship with the guys who attends gives me the energy I need to make it through the weekend.

Yesterday, the Bible study was followed by a hospital visit in Irving, where a friend and fellow band mate had knee surgery.  That was followed by driving to Hurst to sing for the first time at a nursing home.  Started with 3 people in the room where I was singing.  There were 30 people in the room when I left.  This group is fun . . . they like the old hymns, and they sing with you.   I was the one trying to keep up.  When I go back next month, I will have a good catalog of songs ready for them.

Then, back to Grapevine for lunch with a friend, then over to the guitar store a short look around.  Then, to the office for 3 hours of prep for last night's rehearsal.  

Another hospital call . . . and then a quick stop at Sonic for a burger . . . at which time I return a phone call to a dear friend in Houston, who tells me that the doctor says the cancer my friend has been fighting for over 5 years . . . is completely gone!

As I sat in stunned silence, a Sonic car hop brings me my meal, says "O look, a rainbow!"

Yep, the rain we had in the afternoon had let up, and there was a rainbow.

I lost it.   I just lost it.

A flood of emotions came to my mind.

I have a wife, who for the most part smiles when she says she loves me.

My two daughters are enjoying some success in life, have loving husbands, and are generally happy.  They both have celebrated birthdays in the last two months . . . and I was blessed to share in both of those celebrations.

My longest life long friend told me he is cancer free.

I had already sung once during the day, and was going to do so again with dear friends as we prepare to sing in a worship service this Sunday.

And I recalled a scripture I had read earlier . . . "be still and know that I am God."

Rehearsal went very well, and we all had a good time.   I came home ... watched the news and talked with my wife . . . then as I lay in bed . . . I just couldn't help but think how tired I was, and how ready for a good night's sleep I was . . .

But something else kept coming into my mind . . .

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

We are at the Heritage Campus this Sunday . . .

I will be preaching at the Heritage Campus this Sunday morning.   Can't go over there without the 1st Church String Band going with me . . .  it's going to be a good service.   The people who worship at the Heritage Campus are a great bunch of folk . . . I always enjoy preaching and visiting there.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Josh Ingram to lead "Hugworks" fund raising concert

This coming Saturday, and the Love and War in Texas restaurant in Grapevine, there will be a benefit fundraising concert for "Hugworks", a ministry that UMC pastor Jim Newton began many years ago. . .

For more info, click here.

For facebook stuff about this, click here.

Well worth your time, consideration and support.

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

Trying to "name" the CD project . . .

I thought the hardest part of doing a CD of the songs we have done in worship during the Children's Time would be to lay down the guitar and vocal tracks, followed by mixing, etc.

I was wrong.

The hardest thing is deciding on a name for the CD project . . . and designing a cover for the CD case.

Funny thing . . . how someone as visual stimulated as I am can't come up with an original idea for a "visual" CD cover.

However, my wife has come to the rescue with an idea that will work.

But again, what to call / title this project? I need to figure it all out by the end of this week.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Iron Men Ministry Dinner and Program tonight . . .

Some of the 1st Church String Band members will be performing tonight at 7 PM in the Founder's Chapel, prior to the main presentation by Coach Kris Hogan of Faith Christian Academy. Coach Hogan's presentation will be on how to become a "Spiritual Hero."

Coach Hogan is widely known in our area, both as a coach and speaker. I was just made aware that a movie about his life is possibly in the works?? Outstanding.

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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I have never seen it snow this long in my life . . .


Ok, I live in north central Texas. In fact, I live just a mile or so west of the D/FW International Airport.
It has been snowing today since very early in the morning . . . this picture was taken at 1 PM.
I am back in my church office, and the largest snow flakes of the day are falling right now. What was projected as 1-2 inches of accumilation has now been changed to 6-8.
I for one do not like snow . . . but today, I have to say it is one of the prettiest sights I have ever seen.
God's grace, and His creation, still amazes me . . . ><>

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Children's CD project - Now things are getting interesting!

Several years ago, two or three families at our church, FUMC-Grapevine, asked me if I had ever considered recording a CD of the children's songs I sing to and with the children who come down for the Children's Time during our Sunday morning worship services.  It seems these parents wanted to sing along at home with their children.

They even said they would "pay" to get a copy.

Friends  . . . as of 12 noon today, (I hope-I hope-I hope) we finished recording the guitar and vocal tracks for the CD.  "We" being myself and Wren Robinson, who is serving as the "producer" of this grand adventure.

Truth be told, and it should be told . . . if Wren hadn't stepped up to help me, this project would not have been done.  I needed someone to help me, someone who knows me well . . . and who would let me fuss for a minute, and not get worried when I slapped my head or called myself and "idiot." 

Actually, I would hate to start yelling and throwing stuff around in a studio with strangers after I make a mistake singing or playing the guitar.   

Having worked with Wren for almost 5 years now, I trust him when he says, "That was good," as well as when he says, "Try that one again."  Wren is a calming influence on me . . . and I appreciate him now more than ever.

Now we take the tracks to a sound studio in Arlington, TX for mixing on February 18th . . . I hope we will have CD's available in about a month after that.

The songs on this CD are the songs I have sung for and to children for over 20 years, along with a couple of newer songs that have come to mean a lot to me.  

Our goal is this . . . we are going to give a few CD's away (my Mom has already threatened me if I don't send her a couple copies . . . ) and then we are going to sell as many CD's as we can, with ALL proceeds going towards one of the missions projects of our church . . . hopefully a project chosen by the children of our church.  I have asked Pastor Nathan for his help and guidance on this.

So, that is where we stand.  More info to come.

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A tribute: I am half-the-man Randy Roberts was

Randy Roberts died yesterday . . . more than 30 years after a work accident made him a quadra-plegic . . . more than 30 years since the doctors told his Dad, Mom and sister that Randy might live, at best,  5 years after the accident.

After perhaps 50+ operations, Randy's body just didn't have anymore life left in it.  He knew it was time.  He told Dennis it was time, and then told doctors and family that no heroic measures were to be taken to prolong his life.   After several days on a ventilator, and as his internal organs began to shut down one-by-one, his doctors, with permission of his family,  pulled the breathing tube out, and soon after, Randy quietly slipped away to a place the Bible calls Heaven, a place I believe is better than this world, a place where Randy is enjoying a new body made by the hands of God.

No more pain . . . no more trauma . . . no more facing the hundreds of challenges that most people only get to experience a couple of in their lives.

Randy was a quadra-plegic man in a motorized wheel chair. I towered over him when I stood next to him.  He would ask me to bend over when I talked to him,  because it hurt his neck to look up so high.  

Before I arrived here at FUMC-Grapevine, I obtained a copy of the church directory.  I was struck by the smile Randy had in his directory picture.  I remember emailing either Trudy Hughes or Katie Long, a former pastor, asking for the names of people I needed to meet upon arrival at the church to work alongside Ken Diehm in ministry.   Near the top of the list, was Randy's name.   

My first Sunday, I saw Randy sitting in the back of the sanctuary . . . we introduced ourselves to each other . . .  he asked me "What kind of a name is Mang?"  I explained that it was a good German name.   He said, "I've only heard the name Mang one other time, it was the name of a character in the movie, Tarzan Goes to India.  That character got killed.

Well, I thought it was funny.

When I first met him, I asked him why he didn't have a beard like he did in his church directory picture.  He replied, "Oh, I was holding my razor the other day, and I kinda had an "opps", so I cut off the rest of my beard to hide it."

We had a race one time, down the hall from my office to Cheri's office.  I don't know how it all started  . . . I think I had asked him how fast he could go in his wheelchair.  He said, "You want to find out." We agreed to go on the count of three . . . he took off on the count of two  . . . when I caught up to him  . . . because he had stopped so I could catch up . . . he just smiled.  I said, "You sure are smiling big."  He said, "Yeah, and if I had bet you $20 bucks, I would be smiling even bigger."

I came to realize right then and there, that I would never play poker with Randy.

Randy was my friend . . . I was one of his pastors . . . these past two years, we became brothers.  I probably visited and called him well over 50 times in the past two years.  Funny thing, during those two years,  at times it felt that something changed, that at times he was pastoring me . . . asking more about how I was doing . . . offering to pray . . . making suggestions.   I wast there for him . . . he was the one with the illness, with challenge . . . yet I was the one who often left feeling the most blessed.   

The truth . . . Randy gave really great advice.

My friend Randy . . . in a wheel chair . . . and me . . . 6'6", 300 pounds . . . 

Can I share honestly for a moment . . .   I was half-the-man that Randy was.  

Despite my height and weight advantage . . . despite the fact that I have full use of my arms and legs and being close to the same age, despite that I was stronger . . . despite the fact that I was better looking (something Randy was very willing to argue with me about) . . . Randy accomplished so much more in his life than I have.

I know, I know . . . it's not a competition . . .  but as I prepare to preach Randy's memorial service this Saturday, I am coming to realize, as well as admitting to being a bit overwhelmed by the rich legacy Randy is leaving behind.

Despite being in a wheel-chair, and needing family, friends and helpers to get him in and out of bed, in and out of his wheel chair, in and out of a car until he got his van . . . seldom if ever a word of complaint came out of his mouth.

The other day, I got a bit testy because the guys at the Chicken Express were taking "too long" to take my order . . .  

Today, I broke my nail, and almost made the decision to go home because my finger hurt.

At times, even though I have the full use and pleasure of my body . . . I have been known to whine about stuff that in reality is quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Randy was in a wheel chair  . . . and still served for years as one of the most involved civic volunteers in Grapevine . . . he taught Disciple Bible Study . . . was taking training to become a Stephen Minister (even though he had been doing the work of a Stephen Minister for years) . . . he single handedly coordinated the God's Can ministry at our church, picking up the can goods every Monday and carrying them on his lap to his van, and then taking them to our neighborhood food bank.

And I was going to go home because I broke a finger nail . . .  

I am half-the-man Randy Roberts was.   I think that goes for most of us.

I can only remember two times he ever spoke negatively . . . and I can't share the details because what he shared took place during pastoral care situations . . . however, a day or so later on both occassions, he called me to say he was OK, and that he and God had talked about things, and that everything was going to be all right.

And, it was!   Randy was man of his word.   That in and of itself is a legacy he leaves behind for us.

I have a couple of bad habits . . . that have been bad habits for a long time.   Habits can be changed . . . bad habits can be broken . . . if I put some hard work into it.   Randy had to put a great effort into everything he did . . . and in the end, it finally wore him out.   Yet I am struck by the fact that I have full use of a functioning body, and almost quit on an entire day because I broke a fingernail . . . so in Randy's memory . . . perhaps I can do what I have to do, that needs to be done.

I don't have to try very hard to paint Randy in a positive light.   He was a role model and and inspiration for many.   But I also don't want to go to over board.   Randy was not Jesus.  He was a sinner, saved by grace . . . a man with a wonderful servant spirit who lived his personal values to the fullest . . .

-Loving and appreciating his family
-Loving and appreciating his friends 
-Serving his church
-Serving his community.

Randy was not Jesus . . . but Randy did reflect Jesus.

He loved his family . . . especially his neices . . . who at times were more like daughters.  He provided after-school care for them, and made sure they were in Sunday School, worship and VBS.   The love he had for his Dad, Dennis, and his sister, Robin . . . was just something so good to witness.

I count it an honor and a privilege to have been Randy Robert's friend and brother.   Man, Randy had a lot of friends . . . and he loved them all . . . helped many with their problems . . . was there when he was needed . . .  kept a few friends from doing something stupid they would live to regret . . . could still be counted on as friends to those who did . . . and he brought some of those same friends to the feet of Jesus Christ.

He served his church in so many ways over so many years . . . and I don't know if as a full-time pastor,  I could have kept up with him.

He served his community.   He loved Grapevine with all his heart.   While some act as if they are too busy to even take the time to vote in an election . . .  Randy spent hours every week he could . . . volunteering at Grapefest and Main Street Dayz, serving on boards and groups . . . doing what he could to promote his community.   His efforts helped many other people come to love Grapevine as much as he did.  

Now, I know that some might say . . . Randy was in a wheel-chair, he didn't work full-time, he had the time to volunteer and serve.

Just stop and consider for a moment . . . that many days of the week since his accident, Randy needed to stay in bed.   In the past 2 and 1/2 years alone, he spent about a years total time in the hospital or rehab center.   He probably had a hundred hospital stays which included well over 50 surgeries in the past 30+ years, and the associated time of recovery at home.  

If anybody ever had the right to curse God . . . cry . . . moan . . . whine . . . quit . . .  it was Randy. 

I am here today . . . to share that Randy's response to life . . . while living in a wheelchair . . . is how full able-bodied peoples responses to life should be . . . but for the most part aren't.  Oh, and we have several excellent excuses why that is . . . we are soooooo busy, our priorities in life are so off track . . . the expectation of others is too demanding . . . we have it soooooo tough . . . or we have a broken finger nail.

Randy's response to life, to success, to misfortune and set-backs . . . was to be positive, and to react to all that life threw at him . . . by being a servant to others even when facing personal set backs and adversity, and to volunteer in his church and community.  

As a result, he leaves a legacy so far reaching, that I cannot begin to imagine it's limits . . . I can only admire the list of people whose lives he touched, as it continues, even after his death . . . to grow on, and on, and on, and on.

I would suggest something to the leaders of our city . . . there better be a Randy Roberts Drive or Blvd. street sign up somewhere in Grapevine pretty darned quick . . . because people who did not know Randy, if there are any . . . need to learn and know who he was.  They will be the better for it.

I love you Randy.  And I already miss you as much as I have ever missed anyone whom I have ever known who has preceeded me in death.   I am comforted by the fact that I know we shall meet again.   Until that time, may my attitude toward life, the way I treat others,  and the way I react to the difficulties and adversities that life throws my way, be a reflection of Jesus, and a reflection of how you touched my life.

God's grace, and my late friend Randy, still amazes me . . . ><>