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I give up on acoustic amps . . .

Well, I made a decision today.  I am willing to accept the positive or negative consequences of my decision either way.

I am simply giving up on acoustic amps.

I've got a very good Fishman Loudbox acoustic amp.  It's for sale as of today.  Nothing wrong with it. I've used it for 3 years.  Carted it easily around with me to inside and outside gigs.

Why?

Well . . . I just can't get the sound I want dialed in.

What is the sound I want?

I want to hear the sound my guitar makes acoustically when I plug it in to an acoustic amplifier.

Trouble is . . . I can't get it to sound like my guitar, in fact I can't get any of my 6 string guitars to sound like they do when plugged in to an acoustic amp.  My Guild 12-string sounds fine . . . go figure.

To my untrained ear (emphasis on "untrained") I hear too many "effects."  However, I don't hear the sound my 6-strings make, which is the reason I got them in the first place.

So . . . I guess I am movin…

Merry Christmas to all!!

Despite my recent / current cancer journey ... I come into this Christmas of 2012 with a great deal of warmth, love and appreciation for the season. I am blessed with loving family, friends and an ever increasing faith.

My singing voice grows stronger each day with the help of the Vocal-Ease exercises that Jim Newton is mentoring me through. My speaking voice gets a first major test this Sunday as I provide the sermon in the downtown campus sanctuary at 11:15 AM at FUMC-Grapevine.

What a blessing ... 2 Christmas celebrations today with daughters and their families. Here at home this morning with Maranda and Dustin, and this afternoon/evening with Meredith, Chad and Briana. And then home later this evening before ice forms on the streets and highways. A possible white Christmas for us in the D/FW Texas area. A little snow would be nice.

Right now just a lot of very needed rain and a lot of wind!

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Despite the horrific news of recent days ... Chri…

Doing pretty well . . .

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I'm doing pretty well.  I just completed my 3rd full week of work, etc., with no ill effects.  It seems my ability to pull off long days (my "normal" Thursday begins at 5:30 AM and I usually don't get home until after 9 PM) is still in question.  Long days require that I take a nap or a long break where I can rest up.  I have forgotten a time or two to pace myself during the day.  On those days, I usually fall asleep in my recliner before going to bed.

Alas, I have a patient family, and they are helping me along.  I love having them by my side.

Advent here at the church has been very special.  We've taken a very hard look at Christmas as a church this year.  The shooting in Connecticut this past Friday were heavy on our hearts yesterday as we came to worship on the 3rd Sunday of Advent to light the candle of joy.  But light it we did, because as Dr. Cindy Ryan put it . . . "we had to."  If we didn't, we would hav…

Translating "Doctor talk' into more understandable "English" . . .

What a difference it makes when you have someone who can "translate" something into a language you can understand.

My oncology nurse called me this morning, after receiving a long list of questions I sent to her on Tuesday night by email. She shared that as she read my email, she realized that there had been a miscommunication ( and it truth, the miscommunication was a lot my fault.)  My emotions got pretty scrambled at the doctor’s office on Tuesday morning, and neither Liz or I correctly understood what my oncologist was attempting to communicate to us in “doctor language.”As a result, I “heard” that I was having another treatment in April and I panicked a bit, and I “sort of / kind of” got mad at the doctor. Seems that when I get mad, I stop listening . . . something that is probably not news to those who know me well. Seems that when I get mad . . . people (including doctors) often become afraid of me . . . So . . . here is the translation . . . In reality, I am not having a …

Not what I hoped, but still some good news . . .

My visit yesterday morning to my oncologist’s office did not go as smoothly as I had hoped . . .  but I believe all is going to be good in the end.

The results of my recent full body scan showed that I do not have any metastatic disease (in other words, the thyroid cancer did not migrate anywhere else in my body).  That is very good news.
However . . . the scan, according to the oncologist, “lit up” a section in the upper left area of my neck, indicating there “may be something” in the lymph node region.  He wants to address this “cautiously,” meaning I will receive another radioactive iodine treatment (smaller dose) during the 1st or 2nd week of April 2013.  I will receive more info on April 2nd.   I will probably be out for several days related to all this.
The take-a-ways from this are a bit mixed but mostly good. The bad take-a-ways . . . -I will not get what I really wanted for Christmas . . . the "all clear" report. -Another treatment, meaning the process that I hoped would …

Body scan results tomorrow morning ...

Tomorrow morning, Tuesday December 11th ... 3 months since my ENT called to tell me that I had thyroid cancer, I will meet with my oncologist to get the report from my recent full body thyroid cancer scan.

I am a bit nervous and apprehensive ... naturally so ... however, based on how I have felt the past 2 weeks, I am expecting something positive.

The entire process beginning with my experiencing regular fatigue in my voice and noticing a lump in my throat to the present time has has taken about 6 months.  Half-a-year dealing with cancer. Not as much as most people with cancer that I provided pastoral care to over the years, but every journey is different I guess.  The last 2 weeks are the first I've worked a regular schedule since the last week of August.  That's a long time to me.  In my own mind, I've not accomplished much In 2012, and I'm pretty much calling this year a wash.  I've have managed to accomplish a few personal and professional goals I set.  At the…

Help Make This World a Better Place . . .

The new "Playing for Change" music video is out!   A great message.  A call to to "arms" in fact . . . a call for us to join up and connect by our arms to sing a loud enough song that we can all work for change.  We can all work together to make this world a better place.

Check out www.playingforchange.com/episodes and click on episode #72.

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

Traynor amp . . .

Since accepting delivery of my Taylor T-5 last month,  I asked Sean Simon at Grapevine Guitar Works to look for a small electric guitar tube amp that I could use to play it through . . . something easy to operate, as I only put it through a tuner pedal.  I'm  really new to electric guitar playing, and wanted to keep things really simple.  Mostly because I don't like carrying a lot of equipment around.

Sean put me onto a Traynor Custom Valve YCV20WR that belonged to our late friend, guitar player and church member, Mike Pueppke.  Mike was a wonderful young man who finally succumbed to cancer last year after a long and courageous battle. I miss him daily still.  He was a good friend

I used to go to the hospital and visit Mike.  I did this many times over the years.  Mike was super intelligent, was working on his doctorate in English Lit . . . he could very well have become a college or university president . . . of that I have no doubt.  He was also a pretty decent lead rock-n-r…

Resources for Creative people . . .

Some great websites with great products for creative minded people . . . these are really good resources for artists, musicians, authors . . . and others who find it easier to manage their personal and professional lives when they see all aspects of their lives as individual projects. 

I have found these resources to be a great help to me.

Action Method
Behance.com
Creatives Outfitter
The 99%

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

A great new song from Joe Walsh . . .

"Family" is a great new song from Joe Walsh.

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

I'm back ....

Last night I had the special privilege and honor of providing the musical program for "The Well" event at FUMC-Grapevine. "The Well" is a bi-monthly gathering of women for fellowship, a great meal, followed by programs from noted women's authors and speakers.

Ann Hailey had asked me if I could provide a musical program of Christmas carols for the event. I initially planned to decline. I had not accepted any invitation to sing since my 2nd throat surgery in early October. Between a fluctuating energy level and vocal problems, I just hadn't felt comfortable singing in public in front of an audience. After thinking and considering the invitation for a couple of hours, I felt compelled to accept. i replied back to Ann and suggested a Christmas Carol sing-a-long to help compensate for my voice not being at full strength. Ann thought it was a great idea, and we confirmed I would be there.

This week was a good week energy wise. I worked a good full-time week w…

Joe Walsh . . .

If I have a favorite electric guitar player, it's Joe Walsh.

During my period of isolation last week, I watched an abnormal amount of television.  Granted, normal for me is NO television at all . . . seriously, I just don't watch TV anymore.
However, I watched my Eagles DVD (live concert in Australia)  and also found a Netflix movie called the "Strat Pack" which was a tribute concert in England in memory of Leo Fender.  Joe Walsh had the longest set on the movie, and he was just fantastic. 
This past month, Joe was Daryl Hall's guest on the most recent Live from Daryl's House internet program.  Check out www.lfdh.com.  He and Daryl do a version of Joe's "Funk #49/50" on the show which was just plan awesome.
What a program!!!!  Joe looks as broad shouldered and healthy as I have ever seen him.  His new album, his first in 20 years, is out and its called "Analog Man."  Joe has been sober for 18 years now, and shared that it took him tha…

Update: Out and about . . .

My isolations and restrictions following radioactive iodine ablation are over.  I'm trying to get back in the swing of things.  However, my body is telling me I am going to have to slowly work back up to full speed. 

Yesterday I went by the guitar store and to my office at the church.  I didn't stay long.  I was tired, and had a dizzy spell.  Today I arrived at the church early . . . but my concentration just isn't up to the task.  So, after catching up on my daily devotions, I am going to head over to Sonic for a grilled chicken sandwhich and then leisurely run a few errands before heading back home. 

I so want to be ready to take on a full schedule . . . but 2 surgeries and 2 months of reduced activity (sitting in my recliner recovering) have taken their toll on my stamina and energy level.  Apparently I am no far enough along the hormone replacement process for it to have made the "big" difference others have told me to expect.  

Liz and I will be in worshi…

Update: I can taste again!

Yay! The old taste buds are working again!

The swelling in my neck, which I am pretty sure is due to swollen salivary glands, is reducing. Other than my neck still feeling stiff, I think I'm good to go.

3 pm today ended a long list of 5-day restrictions. I can be near loved ones and others. I can hug but can't kiss (a 7 day restriction ... Awwwwwww!) I can hold my cat again, which may not be very soon because he apparently believes that I've given him up for Lent or some other human celebration. I'll work on him some. He'll come around.

Tomorrow I will spend a good part of the day cleaning and washing clothes, sheets, blanket, mattress pad, towels, bagging up "Rick's" trash, cleaning and disinfecting the bathroom (twice) and wash the shower curtains. I have to throw away my toothbrush, and little travel toiletries I've been using. Also have to throw away my old CPAP mask and start using a new one.

I am glad that I did not have any sweating sid…

Update: Some side effects continue

Two days now with a very tender and sore neck, including some swelling. The very bad fatigue of Wednesday evening and yesterday has let up. Taste buds are still a bit off; however, the metallic taste is gone. I have not yet experienced any kind of dry mouth, which I had been told to expect.

I can resume some normal activities on Monday, and can be back in public for sure on Tuesday, and glad for that as the Reigelman's are coming through town and we really want to see them.

Yesterday was just one of those rare "mostly bad days." I don't have many bad days, because I believe that a bad day is more about my deciding it's a bad day, rather than trying to identify something redeemable. I believe there is something redeemable about every single day, in every single relationship, in every single person. I decided, a long time ago, to live life this way. Doing so has served me well for a long time. It's been an act of faith.

Yesterday ... was pretty bad. Pa…

Live from Daryl's House new episode just posted ...

Joe Walsh is Daryl Hall's guest this month.

Watching this brought a decent ending to what was, quite frankly, a horrible day. But redeemable none-the-less ... Because of some wonderful music. I'll write more a out how I feel about bad days tomorrow.

LFDH is my favorite internet web show. Joe looked great, and played even better.

www.lfdh.com

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

Update: Phase 3.1

I'm home! A completely un-eventfull treatment ... Swallow a pill that 3 people were involved in giving to me.

I was surprised by the peace I had during the entire process. Apparently, I had been the only patient so far in the day that was either very worried/emotional. My response when asked how I was doing was "Go Team!" My nurse said, "you are to be just fine."

My visual for all this is to imagine any remaining cancer cells or thyroid tissue will just soak up the "I-131" radioactive iodine ... then to scream "Raid!" ... and then blow up.

I think I just dated myself again.

Doing ok!

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

Update: Phase #3 begins today

Here in a little bit, I will head toward my radioactive iodine ablation at my oncologist's office. After the treatment, provided there are no side effects, I head back home for a 1 week period of isolation as the Radioactive Rev. Rick!!

I admit I am a little nervous, not about swallowing a radioactive pill, but about my being able to stay out of everyone's way here at the house. However, Liz has it all planned and she is the best project manager I know and trust!

My family is being so sweet to me. My church has gifted me with additional time off so I can focus on getting better. Folks from the church have called to let Liz know when they are available to run errands or do yard work. Long distance friends are calling or emailing with words of encouragement.

I am overwhelmed by love and by God's grace.

That, in part, is why I always end each blog entry, no matter the topic, with my favorite line from my favorite Phillips-Craig&Dean song ...

God's love "still…

Ain't she sweet!

My Taylor T-5 custom electric guitar arrived this past Wednesday. It has a dark, rich stripped sinker redwood top, with mahogany back and neck. A lot darker than the sinker redwood top on my Taylor GS, which is a very rich reddish orange with hardly any stripping at all. Both are simply magnificent in their own unique way.

Oh, oh, oh, oh ...... I am a fan of the sound a redwood topped guitar makes. I thought cedar was a warm sounding wood, and it is. But redwood, to my ear, is warm ... but with more volume than cedar, but not the brightness of spruce. A great sound for the the performer like me, who usually sings solo, or in a duet or trio.

Sinker redwood really touches something in my heart and soul.

My thanks to Sean Simon at Grapevine Guitar Works and J.R. Robison of Taylor Guitars for getting this truly one-of-a-kind guitar created. This guitar is one that I'm going to very much "enjoy" paying for. It's been a needed bright spot during this medical journey I…

Some after election thoughts ...

A few after election thoughts this morning ...

Cheering your candidates victory, or grieving their loss may make you happy or sad for the moment ... in the end it all doesn't matter.

What matters is this .... for real constructive change to happen for everyone's benefit, you have to raise your individual and personal level of involvement in the process to doing something more than just casting your vote and then sitting back hoping the winner will do what you want them to.

Get involved yourself!

Start in your neighborhood or local community. Volunteer where ever there is a need. Commit to serving on a civic or community committee, or help build a playground, or feed and clothe the poor. Pick up the trash along a section of road. Drive around and really look at the needs in the world you live in. Take your children with you because they have eyes that see things more honestly and clearly than adults do.

Purposely work with people who are "different" than you in hop…

Yep, I must be a cat bed...

A splitting headache and flu like symptoms (related to an ever increasing level of fatigue) have me at home again today. I'm just about ready to call this week a wash.

I've done a lite of thinking in all the time off I've had recently.

And right there in front of me ... I discovered that I have truly missed my calling!

I am, in reality, a king-sized cat bed!

I wish I could believe they both were acting out of sympathy to how I feel, but then I know better.

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

Update: Fatigue / the home stretch ...

Thanks again for all the cards and calls. I am overwhelmed.

Well, it's low-iodine diet week (finally), and as promised, the fatigue is quickly getting worse ... Lasting longer and feeling much more draining. I am now considering taking most of this week off, and have cancelled most of my appointments. I sure hope I can make the Gala this coming Saturday, but if I can't go, I can't go. My mom is coming down for a visit this weekend, and I'm looking forward to that.

And ... It seems because of my sitting in my recliner so much this past month, that one of our cats believes I am his new custom cat bed!! I bet he stayed in my lap for 4 hours. The little guy recently had de-claw surgery, and was probably a bit woozy.

I know what that is like. Anyway, he seemed comfortable and was just so dang cute!

Our diet plan for the week is very doable, really not much different from my regular diet, except for no salt or commercially prepared foods. No eating out this week. All home…
Friends,

I believe that I still have about 100 or so copies of my Children's Worship music CD which I recorded several years ago.  I'd like to get them sold before the coming holidays, as 100% of the proceeds go toward the support of Hugworks and Kenya Kid's Can food project in Kenya.

Send me word by email or give me a call at the church if you are interested.  $10.00 each or $2 for $15.00.   People tell me this CD has been a blessing to their children.  It includes a lot of the songs we have sung together with the children who have come down for the Children's Time during morning worship services and Vacation Bible School these almost seven-and-a-half years together here at the First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, Texas.

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

Update: Radioactive Rev. Rick . . .

Visited my radiology oncologist yesterday.  A great guy who was very positive from the get-go.

I start my low-iodine diet on November 6 . . . which is only a little more restrictive than the counting calorie diet I've been on for almost a year.  Shouldn't be any problem at all.

I will have my radioactive iodine ablation on Nov. 13, and then be at home for a week.  Even signed a couple of forms from the "State of Texas" acknowledging I won't be around small children or mingling in crowds from November 13-18. 

Sure don't plan to be.

Call me Radioactive Rev. Rick!!!

All this is really good news, because it means the schedule is a bit expidited.  I was under the impression the diet lasted for 2-3 weeks, which again would have been no big deal.   That I can stay at home, with appropriate precautions (have to sleep by myself, have a bathroom for my use only, etc.) it's going to all be OK.   We can host family Thanksgiving this year and as of November 19th,  I…

Update: Fatigue - Phase #2

I went to the doctor today ... As a result of 3 dizziness episodes on Monday when I arose from a seated position. I also had an episode while driving. My doctor took me off one of my BP meds, and halved the other ... which is a good thing for me in the long run.

She also confirmed, based on her experience, as others and my wife have have told me, that I am to that point post-surgery where my daily fatigue is lasting longer, and will continue to do so until hormone replacement therapy starts.

Her advice ... the same as others have advised who have gone through thyroid cancer ... It is going to get better.

So, another month at least of increasing fatigue, along with an expected increase in appetite, and all I can do is rest when I need to.

As a result, I'm getting a little nervous about driving. So, if tired, I don't drive, or get home as quickly as possible before the fatigue headache and backache start.

It's all more than a bit frustrating. I don't feel at all like …

Update: A full morning of worship ... Well almost ...

The picture here is my view of the sunrise this morning coming east on Mustang Drive toward S. Main Street. Pretty awesome.

Helped lead worship at 8:50 am, sang and helped at 10:10 am, but only made it through the Children's Time and hearing the kids sing before I ran out of gas at the 11:15 am service.

This fatigue thing has no rhyme or reason to it. It hits you when it hits you, and I don't like to be driving when it does! I made it home to my recliner in time. I'll make my class tonight at 6 pm at the church.

Didn't realize until today how much I have missed working with and beside John Mollet. John has become a good friend and ministry partner, and it's a challenge to keep up with him. As much as he and I joke about each other in public, there is a deep inner and personal respect we have for one another. It's my honor and privilege to work with him.

His sermon this morning was a great start to our new "Split-Ticket" sermon series.

God's g…

A special thanks to Butch Hall ...

I had the honor and privilege of meeting and talking to Butch Hall of Butch Hall Native American Flutes this afternoon in Weatherford. Butch was kind enough to receive Liz and I on an early Saturday afternoon, and gave us a personal tour of his wood shop, and let me share my hopes and dreams about furthering my understanding and appreciation about music that heals, as well as exploring if Native American flutes could be part of this journey.

I'm now approaching therapeutic/healing music more from a clinical perspective, which is how Jim Newton and Paul Hill have developed the songs they have written in their work through Hugworks for 30+ years.

It became apparent in just a few moments that Butch was the man I needed to talk to about Native American flutes and this dream of mine.

Butch showed and even let me play 6 of his flutes, but guided me toward the lower toned flutes he makes. I will be getting the Dm and Cm bass flutes from him very soon, and probably an E as well at some p…

Reconnections . . .

I blogged recently about "reconnecting" to something spiritual during my recent 2 week stay in New Mexico. That reconnection has changed me, and my understanding of it continues to develop, almost to the point where I hope to put it down into words.

I've experienced several additional reconnections since, two in just the past few days. How this has all happened is pretty amazing to me.

The first new reconnection ...

On Wednesday morning, a church member who recently experienced an accident came to see me. It was the year anniversary of the accident itself. During our conversation, she presented me with a small guardian angel medallion that she had worn every day during the past year of her recovery. It had been given to her by another church member. That member received it from me. I presented it to her when she began a very long period of rehab as the result of a stroke.

This little pendant is showing its age! It's tarnished, a bit pitted, and the edges are a bit …

Update: A "new" normal is my goal ...

I facilitated session #1 of our new "Questions People Ask About Death and Dying" class last evening. Today I was back in my office, and actually got several pastoral care items taken care of. It all felt good.

The number of get-well cards that Liz and I have received continues to grow (and we are so thankful to all who have sent then with Facebook "likes," texts, emails and calls). However, seeing, greeting and talking to people "live" and one-on-one today was a blessing. I relished every single personal contact today!

I worked until a little after 2:30 PM, including time for a healthy lunch at Old West Cafe. I knew I was starting to push it a bit, so I headed home. It's sort of interesting and yet annoying, that you "feel" the fatigue coming on, or it blindsides you.

Focusing mentally was a bit of an issue today, perhaps because of fatigue, or from being away a lot during September and part of October. My main focus remains on pastoral…

Moving into Native American flutes . . .

Part of the stuff I started to plan for when I was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer, was to accelerate my efforts around learning to play the Native American flute.

If you have ever gone to a massage therapist's office, that flute based meditation music you probably heard in the background during the massage is usually from a Native American flute.

I've been researching wooden flutes for several years now.  Why?  I just love the sound they make.
They are soothing and calming, something I can always do with more of.  With the prospect of losing my singing speaking voice during two thyroid / throat surgeries, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge.  In case I lost my voice, I wanted to start learning another instument that might have to become a new music voice for me.

Well, all is going good with the voice, it's getting stronger . . . and it will be back to full strength after I start some voice lessons soon.  But I am far enough along now in learning how to play th…

Update: Phase #3 begins

Phase #1 - Was diagnosis
Phase #2 - Was 2 surgeries
Phase #3 - Radioactive iodine treatment

Got word yesterday that we will go see the radiological oncologist on October 30. They will let us know of any cancellations between now and then, as we are not far from their office while either at home or work.

Initial visit, start the low iodine diet, and weekly blood tests until levels show I'm ready for the radioactive iodine treatments.

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

Update: Post-Op update

Released today, referred to next doctor (radiology oncologist??) and stitches are out. I will take a glorious shower soon.

I am, and will be for the time being, on driving restrictions because fatigue issues until I start taking hormone therapy, which is after the radioactive iodine treatments. My doctors orders are to only drive short distances, if I feel up to it, basically 10 miles or less ... No driving to Dallas or Ft. Worth yet. Due to my larger than normal body size (really?) it looks like my fatigue will be ongoing throughout the day, and will gradually worsen over the next few weeks.

I slept great last night, but was in my recliner just a few minutes after getting up. The bad episode I had Sunday, according to the doctor, was probably due to having had 2 surgeries in a month, and staying out to long. Sunday was my first time out since the surgery.

I'm happy to be released, and forcing myself to be realistic about the restrictions, which I need to admit isn't,…

Update: Post-Op visit is tomorrow

All things considered, it's all good.

I got the attend our staff worship planning meeting this morning at the Heritage campus, my first "more than a couple hour" venture from home. It was an awesome meeting, and I'm very, very (did I say "very?" Can I get an "Amen!") excited what will come our of our frank, open, and honest discussion about worship. As of today, I just can't wait to get back into the ebb and flow of daily ministry. I very much miss working with John, Cindy, Armando, Nathan, Wren, Jenny, Trudy, Melissia and all the rest.

I was also blessed today by my barber, Joe Sheppard. He bought me lunch, gave me a haircut and a shave, and then drove me home (I'm still on driving restrictions). Joe has been my friend for almost 8 years. Floyd Diehm told me about Joe's shop, and no one else has cut my hair since. A good Christian man who counsels and mentors many in his daily walk. And, it's a "Barber Shop." Not a…

Update: I'm home!

I'm in my recliner with my fleece Indian "God's Eye" decorated blanket and my "Hope" pillow. I feel a long quiet nap coming on.

I'll update again in a few days. I think I'll take the next few days for rest, reading, writing, and visiting with family who are planning to come over.

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

Update: Surgery #2

Surgery yesterday went well. The rest of my thyroid was removed, and it is expected that they will find a tumor in it as well. After healing up a bit, I anticipate being referred to a nuclear medicine doctor in a couple of weeks to begin prep for radioactive iodine treatments.

My voice is raspy, and tired after just speaking a few words. "No singing for a month" says the doctor. Irritation to the vocal chords is the culprit. Two surgeries on your neck in less than a month near your throat will cause that I guess. But, it's not vocal chord paralysis, which is good.

Pain this time is a lot less, and perhaps that is due to my being less anxious, since I've been through this surgery before. I can only speak of my complete and total satisfaction with the care I have received from Dr. Charles Railsback, he is a fine man and a wonderful doctor, and from everyone at Texas Health Harris Methodist HEB Hospital. The care here is exemplary!!

Hopefully leaving for home later th…

Update: Surgery #2 is tomorrow

Dr. Cindy Ryan, fellow pastor, ministry team partner and friend, stopped me as I was leaving the office this afternoon, and tells me that she has a gift for me from a secret ministry group in our church that "even you don't know about."

My reply to her was, "but you know about it, right?"

Cindy replies, "we'll of course!"

It was the very cute, yet quite masculine little pillow you see below.

Surgery #2 is at 10 am tomorrow, to remove the remainder of my thyroid. A week or so after my post-op visit with my doctor, I will be referred to a nuclear medicine doctor to begin all that needs to be done in preparation for radioactive iodine treatment.

No time table yet on all that. But that's how it usually works with any kind of illness requiring surgery and treatments. The process of it all is just that ... a process. The journey takes as long as it has to and the road meanders a lot along the way. All I know to do is keep going forward, one step at…

Time to write about music stuff again . . .

Surgery #2 is this coming Thursday.  I would appreciate as many morning prayers as possible.  Thanks again for all the prayers so far.  

The only negative note about all this is my decision to cancel my October nursing home gigs, mostly due to my probably having a raspy-after-surgery voice for the next few weeks. My voice is much better, but still a bit more "nasal" than normal, and my voice tires easily it seems after just a couple songs, or speaking for more than 5 minutes.  Some vocal lessons with Jim Newton in a month or so will fix all that up, I am sure.

I am blessed that the relationships I have with my nursing home folks are long-term, so the folks there understand and know I will be back, hopefullly in time for my Christmas music stuff, which often includes the families of the nursing home residents. 

Now . . . for some music stuff . . . and it's good to be writing about music again.

First, I've today discovered, thanks to an email from the Americana Music Ass…

Update: Back to normal for a few days ...

Yeah, I know the question you want to ask ... Define "normal?"

Normal for a Sunday is leaving the house around 7 AM, and head to the Sonic in Grapevine for breakfast, arriving at the downtown campus in time for our worship run-through meeting at 8 AM. Then do my part, as I am scheduled, in the morning services.

It all went good this morning, but I have to admit that I was tired when I got home after lunch. Greeting everyone who wanted to talk, visit, offer prayer or other types of support before and after services both charged me up, but tired me out.

You see, I am supposed to be the care giver ... the one asking "how are you doing?" That's my job here at FUMC-Grapevine, and it's the thing as a pastor that I do far better than most and not as good as some. As I was being cared for, I saw others I wanted to care for. The tension between the two can wear you out.

One thing I do know, and am very proud of, us that we have one of, if not the best pastoral sta…

Update: Home, getting ready for part 2 ...

We arrived home yesterday. There is something to be said about sleeping in your own bed for the first time in over 2 weeks, and taking a shower in the bathroom designed for someone my height.

One neat thing about this trip was our seeing several rainbows. Don't know about you, but rainbows for me are very spiritual, and always a sign of hope and the active presence of God. The picture below was the closest we have ever been to a complete rainbow, meaning we saw both ends and the complete bow between. It was brilliant, far more so than this picture can show. We were on the road leading out of Taos back to Angel Fire.

We saw another rainbow on Interstate 40 on Thursday afternoon, as we drove through a big thunderstorm with rain, very high wind, and a ton of small, slushy hail. I swear that the end of the rainbow came down into the hood of our car. I could have touched it, if such a thing is even possible. Just a very awesome God moment.

As I reflect some this morning, I feel …

Update: Understanding the need to reconnect

I've posted recently about coming to the mountains and desert of New Mexico for some healing time after my diagnosis of thyroid cancer following surgery to remove a tumor in my neck. Healing has occurred here as a result in mind, heart, body and spirit.

Something else has happened as well. I find that I have reconnected with the feeling and rhythm of what some call "nature," or "Mother Earth," or God's creation. Apparently there had been a disconnect that I wasn't aware of.

Keeping in connection with a natural rhythm in the greater DGW area has always been hard for me. There is such a fast pace of life, a constant hustle and bustle of going here and going there. What is most disconcerting for me is the constant "white noise" that drowns out the important still small voices from within. It numbs me in such a way that I sometimes miss those wonderfully tender "ah ha" moments that God quietly provides for us many times each day.

Now I…

Update: A world of good

Today is the final full day at Philmont. This week has done me a world of good ... Mind, body, heart and soul. As of this morning, I have walked 81,000 steps, according to my official UMC Pastor's step-counter, since my arrival here last Saturday, with no I'll effect. Not bad for less than 3 weeks out from surgery #1. I have over 8,000 steps so far today. Perhaps 100,000 steps by the end of tomorrow?? It's going to be close.

Yep, this experience has done me a world of good, caring for all the faculty and conference attendees and Philmont staff ... Being outside, walking a lot, leading chapel services, playing guitar and singing, eating right and drinking mostly water. No soreness, no aches or pains. And I haven't thought or worried about upcoming surgery #2 and iodine treatments to follow, or having thyroid cancer in particular.

A world of good indeed!

I'm going to be ok!

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