Thursday, April 28, 2011

A busy next few days . . .

I am leaving here shortly for the Child Life volunteer training at Children's Medical Center in Dallas. A good two hours that will help make me a better pastor and theraputic music entertainer to children.

This Saturday, I will drive out to Bridgeport to sing and speak at the First United Methodist Church of Azle's Methodist Men's retreat. What a great honor! I am looking forward to it.

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

As promised . . . a step of faith today . . .

I promised myself that after Easter, I would start back doing the other stuff in my life I enjoy doing, that I stopped doing after Ken Diehm's death on Feb. 19th.

On that day, I stopped singing and playing guitar except for church and the 1-2 nursing homes I have volunteered at the longest. I took a leave from my Theraputic Music Entertainment apprenticeship. I stopped making fly fishing lanyards. I stopped fishing. I pretty much stopped exercising except for walking. By exercising, I mean riding my bike or going on day hikes.

I knew I needed to do some constructive grieving . . . and that I had to be very proactive about it, or this was going to drag me down.

And, I needed time to live through the season of Lent . . . knowing that our Good Friday came on Feb. 19th, and not on April 22nd.

Easter was yesterday. I needed Easter to be yesterday . . . and it was EASTER!!!! A great day of celebration . . . a day of moving forward with not so hesitant steps.

So, today is the day after Easter:

-Today, I have decided to continue with my diet, and to include bike riding 1-2 times a week.

-Today, I am making fly fishing lanyards again.

-Today, I resume my TME apprenticeship, attending a meeting and rehearsal time tonight.

-Today, I am actively looking for new places to sing and play guitar.

-Today, I am actively preparing for my Philmont upcoming experience this September.

Today, I move forward, still sad about Ken's death, but counting it as a blessing that I knew him, and had the honor and privilege of working with him. Today I look less toward the past, and more toward a new future, perhaps not so secure as I once saw it to be . . . but a future non-the-less.

God's grace and love amaze me daily . . . ><>

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I need it to be Easter today . . .

I awoke at 5:30 AM this morning, showered and dressed and then headed to our youth sponsored Easter Sunrise Service at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens.

What a sweet service . . . what a good way to start Easter Day.

I especially need it to be Easter today.

I stayed awake a lot last night thinking about my friend and ministry partner, Ken Diehm, who died suddenly on February 19th. I wasn't thinking sad thoughts. I was recalling things about Ken that I personally count as blessings.

Apparantly I count as blessings a lot of the stuff I did with Ken in almost 6 years of working together.

I especially need it to be Easter today.

Today I count many other blessings as well: my wife and family; my dear friends Joe, Floyd and Sean; the opportunity to serve this great church; singing and playing guitar in the community; my health as it continues to improve; and for a God who loves me so much that He sent His Son to die for me on the cross.

I especially need it to be Easter today.

We have our Worship Team meeting here shortly at 8 AM. Then the first of 5 Easter services here at the downtown campus (English and Spanish) this morning starts at 8:50 AM. The Heritage Campus service is at 10:30 AM . . . with Louis preaching his first Easter sermon as the Heritage Campus pastor.

Truthfully . . . it's going to be a long morning. But I can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I especially need it to be Easter today!!!!

Amen!

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

______________

2nd entry - 12:25 PM

Yes!!!!!! We had mighty Easter worship in each and every service.

I needed Easter! And it came today!!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

2nd Annual "BandWorks" benefitting Hugworks on May 1st . . .

Big Barn BBQ is hosting the 2nd Annual "BandWorks" benefiting Hugworks, as they continue to bring healing music to children with medical or other special needs. Sunday, May 1st is the date, from 1 - 9 PM. For more info, click here!

Big Barn BBQ is in North Richland Hills (corner of Davis Blvd at Main Street, and is a great family place serving great food. They are donating 10% of the days proceeds to Hugworks.

Great food, an entire afternoon and evenings worth of music. Hope you can come!

God's grace, and the ministry of Hugworks these past 30 years, simply amazes me . . . ><>

Hugworks is preparing to start a new apprentice class . . .

My good friends and Theraputic Music Entertainer teachers, Jim Newton and Paul Hill at Hugworks, are starting up a new apprentice class. The orientation meeting is this coming Monday evening, April 25th starting at 6 PM.

For more info, give the Hugworks office a call. The address and phone numbers are:

752 Mary Drive
Hurst, Texas 76053

hugworks@hugworks.org

817-268-0020 - Phone
817-285-9548 - Fax

New website for Grapevine Guitar Works with forum's

Sean has upgraded the GGW website (www.grapevineguitarworks.com), adding a neat "social network" element to it with several forums.

I will be the initial moderator for the acoustic guitar forum, and I have about 10 posts up and going on various acoustic topics. Lot's of "what do you think / use?" stuff for acoustic players, both beginner and professional.

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thank You Mimosa Manor Care Center . . .

Today is the anniversary of my volunteer involvement at the Mimosa Manor Care Center in Keller, Texas. I've provided theraputic music entertainment for the residents there every 3rd Wednesday morning at 10 AM for the past 4 years.

And today, they were just all awesome. This group sings with me more than other venues I entertain at. They were in great form.

As I was getting ready to leave, the Activities Director there presented me with a very nice red and blue carry bag . . . with the Mimosa Manor logo on it. It's a really nice bag. April is Volunteer Appreciation Month there.

It feels good to be appreciated! Here's to another 4 years!!!

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

"Dirty theology" . . .

I am not sure which well known preacher of theologian coined the phrase "dirty theology," . . . but I like it.

People ask me why I've avoided singing in bars, clubs and other similar venues.

First, I don't really like them. The noise, the alcohol, the smoking . . . that has never really been "me." Too many negative memories from my police officer days I guess.

Second, most of those venues involve starting to sing at 10 PM or later. I'm usually in bed by 9:30 PM.

Third, if you don't do well (connecting with the audience well), you may not get paid. Getting paid for singing has never been important to me. Don't get me wrong, it's OK, but it's not the reason I sing. But if you bomb, it will be out in the grapevine and others will hear about it before you can get home.

Fourth, I will never, never, ever, ever write a drinking song. I will never, never, ever, ever sing one either.

I sing instead at retirement and nursing homes, to children in hospitals, and at camps and community events. Why?

I like getting my hands "dirty" that way.

Part of the expression of who I am as a person is centered in how I live out a life of faith. I am at the age where I realize that practicing one's faith only within a "comfort zone" is in reality a very poor decision. For one's faith to grow, it has to be stretched . . . it has to be challenged . . . it has to be put into practice. That's why the idea of having a personal "mission" is so important to me, and why I share the concept with as many people as I can.

Having a personal mission gets you out of your comfort zone, and into the real world that is going on around us. Leaving the comfort of my very nice church office (seriously, I have a very, very nice and very comfortable office) . . . carrying a guitar, amp, backpack with music, cables and extension cords, music stand, etc. out to the car . . . driving to the place I am going . . . unloading it all . . . setting it up . . . and then singing "theraputically" in an activity room or in an individual patient room with the goal of building people up about how they feel about themselves, singing to make people feel better . . . for me personally, that is putting my faith to practice . . . I am getting my hands dirty.

"Dirty" theology . . . "Dirty" faith . . . is not bad. It's good! Getting my hands and life dirty in this way helps me to draw closer to God, and it helps me grow in the understanding of who I am physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I am leaving the confirms of my safe home study here shortly to go to a nursing home in Keller, TX where I have sung every 3rd Wednesday for the past 4 years. I promise you, that I will be a different person when I leave there. Singing and playing the guitar, as a way of helping people feel better . . . makes me feel better also.

Find "your" way to get "your" hands dirty in some way. Helping others is always a good thing.

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

It fell from the sky into my arms . . .

I am humbled beyond understanding, and thankful for my friendship with Grapevine Guitar Works guitar store. I've done some work of various sorts for Sean these past 5 years. I've pretty much displayed most every guitar in the store at some point for the past two years. We laugh a lot that I am the "unofficial" Display Manager. Hey, I enjoy coming in on my day off and helping Sean and Bill out. It's fun, good exercise, and I get to borrow and play all sorts of new guitars that come in. I am currently in the process of painting the GGW showroom a section at a time as Sean continues to develop his vision for the future.

I spent this past Friday with Sean at his booth at the Dallas International Guitar Festival. On Sunday afternoon, I went back to the Guitar Festival to help Sean and Bill pack up to come home. That's when Sean gifted me with a once-in-a-lifetime guitar, a Guild F-512, the 12-string of all 12-strings. I truly cannot recall the last time I have seen one in a guitar store, but Fuller Vintage Guitars from Houston had brought one up to the Guitar Festival.

Mercy! It sounded like an organ. Plugged into an acoustic amp, it sounded like a BIG organ. This is a song leading guitar in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Johann Anderson. Just freaking awesome.

It was one of those moments when, at the time, you don't know what to say because you are pretty much speechless. . . . Finally a soft "Thank You" comes out of your mouth as you gaze in wonderment and awe.

I cannot remember the last time I was as humbled by, and appreciative of, my friendship with someone. Well, yes I can . . . it was when my friends Joe and Floyd both helped me get my first Martin back in 2005.

Before leaving Dallas, I got to visit with Mike Fuller himself, owner of Fuller Vintage Guitars. What a gracious gentleman! He wished me luck, and even offered me and the guitar a blessing. He had personally picked this guitar out to bring to the Festival. Getting to visit with Mike was an additional blessing.

That evening, I played the F-512 at home for my wife. I played and sang for over 30 minutes. She says, "Congratulations!" I guess I looked at her funny, the sort of look on one's face that asks for an explanation. She says, "you have been searching your entire adult life for "THE" guitar. Congratulations, because "THE" guitar just fell from the sky into your lap. Whether you know it yet or not . . . this is "THE" guitar for you."

(Insert picture here of me with my mouth open, jaw bouncing off the floor . . . .)

I hope and pray that she is right.

As fickle as I have been known to be about guitars (I can hear Sean, Joe and Floyd all laughing right now . . . and I do admit that I have made more bad decisions about guitars than good ones) . . . I don't know yet if this is "THE" guitar. We will see. But I always trust my wife's intuition. And I trust Sean's advice and friendship.

A long time ago, I quit trying to speak for God, and trying to figure out everything related to the stuff in my life . . . at times wondering if / how God was involved or had planned where I found myself along my faith journey. As I have grown older, and hopefully more mentally, emotionally and spiritually mature, I have become more OK with the idea that some things in life just can't be explained. Better to accept some them on faith alone which, as I have grown older, has become what I usually do. I figure a lot of things you experience on a journey, especially a faith journey, are better explained and understood somewhere down the road.

Yet . . . I have to acknowledge that the entire experience surrounding this particular guitar has been a "Divine" moment for me. What else can I say, other than I treasure my friendship with Sean, as I do with my friends Floyd and Joe. What else can I say, except that I truly feel blessed and thankful as a result.

Gifts of grace, whether from God or people, are just that . . . gifts! All one can do . . . all I can do . . . is to again say, "thank you!"

God's grace, music, and my good friends still amaze me . . . ><>

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dallas International Guitar Festival starts tomorrow, April 15

I will be going to the vendor's viewing tomorrow morning at the Dallas International Guitar Festival at Market Hall, thanks to Sean at Grapevine Guitar Works. I am going to work on the GGW display booth, the get to look around at the other displays.

I am hoping to find and try out a Martin J-15 and/or a Martin J-12-15. I had a D-15 mahogany a couple years ago, and foolishly traded it for an electric that I got rid of within a couple months of getting it.

I am not very proud about how the end of that story ended up.

I would like to play a Martin J-40 . . . my friend Joe has one. A bit steep for my price, at this time. Guess like anything else, if I want it bad enough, I will start saving toward that goal.

Guitar shows are very interesting, and I bet such will be the case with the Dallas show. With the price of gas, it is probably costing most of the vendors a bit more to attend than in the past. I am guessing that there will be more people there trying to sell their guitars than buying from the vendors. However, it is a very good guitar market right now . . . lots and lots and lots of good competition between the big name builders and between the "boutique" builders. People buying guitars are asking for a lot of guitar for the money. I think Martin and Taylor are now building some of the best guitars in their respective histories.

It should be fun.

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Have guitar . . . will travel . . . hopefully . . .

Have guitar will travel???

Well, hopefully . . . depending if my schedule permits.

Speaking of my schedule, I have been getting a few more invitations to community type gigs. And my reaction is that I am truly honored!! That is probably why I try very hard to honor as many requests as my personal and ministry calendar will allow.

I guess I am saying, "Please keep asking me to sing!" Sometimes I can say "yes," and sometimes I can say "no." It's hard to tell a family you are doing a funeral for, or a couple whose wedding you are presiding over, that you need to go sing instead . . . But I do appreciate being asked, and I will often try to help the group find someone else if I can't make it.

Later this month, I am going out to Bridgeport to sing and speak at a United Methodist Men's retreat another church is having. I was their 1st choice! Mercy, an honor to be sure!!!!

People do ask, knowing that I am a full-time pastor at a large church, just what music events I can help with as my schedule allows. Below is a short list:

-I can provide a music program for nursing and retirement homes. I fit in really well . . . since I am not that far from living in one myself.

-I can sing in hospitals to children, which I do through my association with Hugworks (www.hugworks.org).

-I sing for as many VBS and church camps each summer as I can fit into my schedule. I just "LIVE" for VBS. Call me as early in the spring as possible to see if I am available. I can't do one every week . . . but I can sometimes fit a couple VBS events into a month if they are "local,' especially if they are in the morning.

-I can provide music entertainment for RV Parks, Campgrounds and at BSA events, with advanced scheduling. I am going to get to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in September to serve as chaplain and song leader at a training event there. A "to-do" list item I thought had passed me by. I am usually out at the Vineyards Campground in Grapevine for an outside concert a couple of times during the summer.

-I can sing for civic group meetings and events, schools, and events at other churches. Texas folk music and folklore is a hobby of mine. I enjoy providing programs for Rotary, Lions Club, etc.

-I can sing for weddings, but far more often I am invited to sing at graveside services and funerals in the DFW area. This is a special passion of mine, for reasons I am not quite sure of myself.

-Schedule permitting, I am available to sing at dinner events, restaurants, house concerts and sing-a-longs of various types . . . including serving as the Master of Ceremonies.

For more info or to check my calendar, send me an email.

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

Friday, April 1, 2011

Loafer's Glory Radio - The Hobo Jungle of the Mind

Loafer's Glory was a radio / music / storytelling program hosted by the late folk singer and activist, U. Utah Phillips.

I believe he did over 100 episodes, and about 40 of them are available through the Long Memory website. Click here to go to the show archives page.

If you like storytelling . . . then this will be a great resource for you.

God's grace, and a well told story, still amaze me . . . ><>