Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tuning a baritone uke to G-C-E-A ??

Well I'll be . . . it can be done.

If you didn't know, I use Aquila Nylgut Ukulele strings on my tenor and baritone ukes. Best sounding uke strings out there in my humble opinion.

I love my Kala tenor uke . . . but I've got such big bo-honking fingers, and the frets on a tenor uke are not exactly large . . . I can really only play chords on the first 5 frets.

Then one day a while back, I noticed on the package that Aquila makes a Baritone set tuned to G-C-E-A, just like my tenor. A baritone uke is usually tuned like the bottom 4 strings of a guitar . . . D-G-B-E.

Well, I jumped in and ordered a couple of sets. And . . . they work . . . at least to me. Now, I am not by any means a uke "purist." They are the "tools" I use as instruments when I sing certain songs. Restrung with the new strings, the Kala baritone is about as loud as my tenor . . . but with a little deeper sound. Some may not like it . . . but I do, especially as I work to learn the names of tenor uke chords.

God's grace and ukulele music still amaze me . . . the guy with the big bo-honking fingers . . . ><>

Adam Hamilton's new book . . . "Why?"

Adam Hamilton's new book, "Why? - Making Sense of God's Will" is a treasure.

At least to me it is. I am by nature, personality type and character (I R one!), a believer and adherent to the concept of free will. The two major active foundational components of my personal theology are "grace" and "free will." Especially in understanding what I believe to be God's will for my life.

Adam doesn't use the words "free will" in his book, but the concept is central through all four chapters (it is only 100 pages). Available at Cokesbury or

Why is it that most of the "profound" books I have read in my life are usually around 100 pages??

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The diet . . .

The diet I am on is not really a diet . . . but rather my adopting a new core value through the daily use of a question which I hope will become a more integral part of my life.

The question is: Do . . . I . . . Eat . . . This?

What I have decided, after reading and research . . . is to eat fruits, vegetables, natural grains and nuts . . . while reducing meat consumption to 30g or less a day, which is probably around 9 ounces of meat (baked or roasted).

In other words, I am eating very little "processed" foods (no flour and sugars). In a week I can already tell a world of difference in how I feel physically, my energy level is up, and I am sleeping more soundly.

And, I have lost a few pounds as well. My quarterly physical in next month, so my doctor will no doubt be pleased. Hopefully, I will be off some of my meds as the weight decreases.

Some people call this a diabetes diet . . . some call it a "Bible" diet. I just call it good, so far.

God's grace, and good earth foods, still amaze me . . . ><>

Some thoughts . . . possibly all connected . . .

A good week of rest . . . muchly needed. . . and muchly appreciated.

A week of sabbath level rest. In and of itself, a part of a my Lenten journey this year. I am also experiencing the positive results of several decisions which came with clarity during this time.

First, I changed my diet . . . a change that is having positive effects I have never previously considered as being connected to what one eats.

Second, I got back on a regular daily devotional schedule . . . with benefits already making themselves known.

Third, my new ukulele books came in . . . I am making music again.

Fourth, I quit worrying about seeing past the next couple of years. Time to live for today, in the "NOW!" Faith is faith.

Fifth, I am going to put even more emphasis on singing in the community. Whoever wants to hear me, provided by schedule allows, I am going to work to make it happen.

God's grace still amazes me . . . it pretty much blows me away . . . ><>

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Operation Philmont" building up steam . . .

I blogged before about my increasing my efforts to get back into shape in time for my scheduled trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico this coming September.

I am looking forward to Philmont . . . but need to get into shape so I can "survive" the experience, so I won't need a recovery time afterwards.

The diet is going OK, actually. Our oldest daughter and her husband are "experts" on this type of lower carb - more fruit and vegetables type diet. I also biked for the first time in several years, going 6+ miles. That was actually fun. And, I will be doing a lot of walking this week as part of my leave time from the church. I've got two "hikes" of 3-4 miles to get in this week.

So far . . . so good.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You gotta walk, this lonesome valley . . .

Today is starting out with a lot of pondering and contemplation on things important, and not so important.

In the midst of deciding that there are a lot of things I can't control (but I can control my responses to them) I remembered this song. Good thing to know, as I find myself walking through a valley of sorts . . . a journey I have to travel because it is part of my personal life journey as I work to find peace in the sudden death of a friend and ministry partner. As the song says, "there ain't no one here can walk it for you . . . you gotta walk it by yourself."

Although he doesn't know it ... Pete Seeger is my musical mentor in many ways. Watching him perform, and watching him working with such ease to get the audience to sing with him . . . I never forgot those lessons. As a theraputic music entertainer, I enjoy getting people to sing, like the seniors in nursing and retirement homes; or those who gather at an RV park, campground, or Scout camp fire circle; or the children, youth and adults who come to worship at our church.

Something Pete said years ago has served me and others well when we pause to remember it. In my own words . . . good thing seem to happen when different kinds of people come to sing together, because afterwards, they might just start talking with each other.

Music and God's grace still amaze me . . . ><>

Monday, March 21, 2011

A needed break . . .

I'm on leave this coming week . . . taking a needed break, encouraged to do so, and allowed to do so by the great church where I have the privilege to serve as Senior Associate Pastor.

As part of my time off, I am going to be doing some exercise, dieting, and praying.

It's time to tune up my Taylor GS Mini and my Kala Tenor Ukulele. It's time to do some singing.

It's time to acknowledge a loss, grieve, look up and see the dim vision of the future. It's time to listen to and appreciate my family.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Great Cowboy singer and storyteller . . . Mr. Don Edwards . . .

No wordsneeded to introduce him, other than . . . Mr. Don Edwards, who is and has been THE total cowboy singer/storyteller for many years.

Enjoy a master of his craft.

Music and God's grace still amaze me . . . ><>

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Can't Help Falling in Love with You . . .

Several years back, Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger did regular touring together. I have both CD sets of their concerts . . . awesome . . . to me anyway.

One of the songs Arlo sings, and tells a great story about, is the old Elvis song, "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You." I sing this song everytime I sing to senior adults. They usually can sing it with me word for word . . . and enjoy it at the same time!

The healing power of music, and God's grace, both still amaze me . . . ><>

"Operation Philmont" begins this Friday . . .

Well . . . I am sure I am going to live to regret making this one particular blog entry.

Anyway . . . here goes nothing . . .

"Operation Philmont" begins on Friday. What, you are asking, is "Operation Philmont?"

I am not really that glad that you ask . . . but I know that I am going to need some help.

"Operation Philmont" is my exercise and diet plan to start getting into shape so that when I go to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico this coming September, I will be in good enough physical shape to survive the experience.

The plan . . . includes beginning a diet excluding processed carbohydrates (white food) and increasing the amount of fresh greens I eat. Weening myself from diet Dr. Pepper in favor of good ol' H20 . . . and eliminating my usual 3:30 PM snack.

My bike has been tuned up, and I will begin this Friday doing some riding in the parks near my home, working up to 10 miles in less than an hour (my old goal when I was biking 3 years ago. I could do 10 miles in 45 minutes depending on traffic.)

And, I am going to start walking / day hiking again. I don't know of anything more theraputic for me personally, than going on day hikes. Yes, I have arthristis in both knees, but day hiking involves taking careful steps, and planning the route, carrying the food and water I will need. My wife and I at one time could do a 3-5 mile day hike with no problem. Shoot, thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail do 15+ a day.

There are a lot of places to walk / day hike in Texas . . . over 60+ listed routes in and around the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

The goal, again, is to go up to Philmont in September, serving as the chaplain of an adult training event there . . . and survive the experience. I need to be in better shape in order to handle the altitude as well.

In honesty, part of my motivation for doing this, is to do it for my health . . . but also as a tribute to my late friend, senior pastor and ministry partner, Ken Diehm. He placed such emphasis on being physically fit. He loved to bike, both road riding and mountain biking. His effort in being physically fit served him well.

I pray for the same in my life.

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

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh well . . .

Here's a picture of the Children's Time during the 10:10 AM service, probably on Super Bowl Sunday.

Sometimes at 10:10 AM, we only have 2-6 children come forward, as most are attending Sunday School during this hour.

Apparantly the little boy in front of me thought I was too loud . . . actually, I know this little boy, and he was having a bad day.

Priceless . . .

I am thankful he came down to the front.

Music and God's grace still amaze me . . . ><>

Friday, March 11, 2011

Vineyards Campground on Saturday, March 12th . . .

I will be peforming at the Vineyards Campground herein Grapevine tomorrow, Saturday, March 12th from 10:30 AM - 12 Noon, as part of the dedication of the new Campground Store. I'm looking forward to this event . . . my first major music undertaking since Ken Diehm's death. He encouraged me to sing in as many venues as I could each week, and recognized it as part of my ministry. I will forever remember him telling me on several occassions, "you need to go sing somewhere."

I hope to be doing more public performing this spring, summer and fall as my schedule allows.

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

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lone Star Ukefest coming soon . . .

Wow! I just got a reminder about the 2011 Lone Star Ukefest in Dallas in early April.

For more info, click here.

I hope to make it out there at least one day this year. Sure wish I could have attended last year because James Hill was one of the clinicians.

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

Vineyards Campground, March 12th

I will be singing this Saturday, March 12th, from 10:30 AM - 12 Noon at the Vineyards Campground, as part of the dedication of the new Campground Store.

I will be on the front porch area. As big as I am, you won't miss me.

Behind the store is the new outdoor performance area (picture), and I hope to be back soon to do an outside show this summer.

The Parks and Recreation and Campground staff have done a great job making some wonderful improvements and upgrades. This campground is a great resource for our community, and draws in a lot of people. I am glad to be a part of it all.

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

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Time to start singing . . .

Still grieving the death of my friend and ministry partner, Ken Diehm.

If Ken were here, and I asked him what I needed to do to feel better . . . he would have advised me to "do something you love to do."

With that in mind . . . it's time to start singing!

I've only played the guitar twice in the past 2 weeks. Yesterday, while on the way back from a hospital visit in Dallas, I stopped off at Murphy's Music in Irving to visit with my friend, Warren Sewell . . . and to play a Martin JC-16ME . . . which I have had my eye on for a couple of months.

Warren's mom died a few months back . . . guess I wanted to talk with someone else who sorta knew the emotional state I have been in lately. He saw something in my eye, pulled the Martin off the wall, gave it to me, told me to sit down and play it, and then he left to leave me to myself and to my thoughts.

So, I played and sang, not caring who was listening or who heard me. In a word, it was very "theraputic."

Yes, it's time to sing and play guitar again.

I am thankful for friends, music, and God's grace, which still amazes me . . . ><>

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Pedaling Pastor Project

Steve Isbell let me know that he has set up "The Pedaling Pastor Project" as a way of honoring Ken Diehm's life, and doing something good for others.
For more info, click here.

Ken loved to bike ride, and before his death was training for 100 bike ride (referred to as a "century"), which Steve has info about on the website.

The picture here is one that Steve took of Ken leading the way on a group bike ride in the Texas Hill Country near Fredericksburg, Texas.

I have a decent bike. Haven't ridden it much in the past few years. I fell off it a time or two about three years ago. Guess I lost my nerve to get back on it.

I am taking it to the bike store for a tune-up this week. I am in no way remotely ready for a 100 mile bike ride . . . but riding around my neighborhood for a while will help me journey through my grief brought on my Ken passing. Perhaps I will come up with an idea or two about what I can do as a rememberance of Ken. Maybe I'll hear God's voice as well.

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