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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'…

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…

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 wel…

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 . . . ><>

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 i…

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 th…

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 support…

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!

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 except…

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, pe…

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 . . . ><>

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…

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 . . . ><>

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…

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 . . . ><>

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 assist…

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…

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 …

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. …

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…

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 . . . ><>

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 . . . ><>

"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 acciden…

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 . . . ><>

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 learne…

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…

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…

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 T…

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 . . . ><>

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 …

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 ot…

"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 ac…

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 …

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.  T…

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 . . . ><>

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 Stri…

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 …

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 . . . ><>

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 . . . ><>

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 . . . ><>

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 …

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…
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…

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 . . . ><>

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…

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…

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.

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 . . . ><>

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 . . . ><>

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 . . . ><>

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 . . . ><>

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…

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 qua…