"But music was his life, it was not his livelihood, and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good. And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul. He did not know how well he sang; it just made him whole." - Harry Chapin - chorus of "Mr. Tanner."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A busy season means less singing . . .

Well, it's that time of year.

The season of Lent has begun, and we are in a season of funerals at our church. I think after the memorial service tomorrow, I will have been part of 4 funeral/memorial services in the past 2 weeks.

No complaints . . . my pastoral strength is congregational / pastoral care. So funerals and being with families is what I do, and I am confident in my ability, and in God to see me through.

It also a time of growth for our church. We are one church with 2 campuses. We are creating new ministries, and it seems like we are creating them weekly. Easter is not far away, which means the next 6 weeks will be very busy with meetings, planning services, coodinating volunteers . . . it's part of what we do each year. And we do it well.

As a result, this is the time of year where I find it difficult to maintain my normal singing schedule. I will be back singing with the Hugworks guys in April, and except for the two nursing homes I sing at each month, and the children's times I am scheduled to lead . . . that will be about it.

Part of me is sad. Yet part of me is relieved a bit.

Instead of doing without something for Lent, my wife and I have taken something on together. That's about as much as I can and will share about it right now. This is where the extra time will be focused and spent.

I still we be rehearsing and learning songs. Heaven knows that I have at least 5-6 songs I need to memorize . . . and new guitar chords to learn as a result. So I will be singing behind closed doors, so to speak, for the next month or so.

I wonder . . . the visual image of a caccoon comes to mind. Taking the time to close the door for now, but in April to come out again, a better singer, a better guitarist, rejuvenated and refreshed.

Maybe this is not such a bad thing after all?

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

We lost a good young guitar player and friend yesterday . . .

Lost in all the national attention surrounding the death of Whitney Houston this weekend, was a local death here.

Mike Pueppke, a good friend and a decent rock-n-roll lead and power rhythm guitar player, died last night after a long battle with leukemia. He was only 29 years old.

Mike was a multi-talented and multi-faceted person. He was an adjunct Literature professor at Dallas Baptist University. He was a PhD student at SMU. He was a husband to a lovely and loving wife, and had son who will soon turn 2 years old.

I visited with Mike many times at the Cancer Center at Baylor-Dallas Hospital. I was one of Mike's pastors. That was a privilege. I learned a lot from him. He had a very dignified, calm and grace-filled faith . . . faith that I have seldom seen in people many years his senior.

Through his buying and selling guitars on eBay, he got to know Sean Simon, one of my best friends. Sean was very blessed by getting to know and have lunch with Mike, especially these last couple of months.

I do not begin to presume if there is any justice to life when you die at 29. To me, as I approach my 55th birthday, 29 seems awfully young. Unlike many who are the same age, Mike leaves a long and large legacy. He accomplished quite a bit in 29 years. People would meet him, and just walk away afterward knowing they needed to work on stuff in their lives.

I know I did.

God's grace, and people like Mike Pueppke, still amazes me daily . . . ><>

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What . . . 12,775 total pageviews of this blog . . .

Wow!

Thank you Riva, and Floyd, and others who check this blog out regularly.

Thank you Melissia Mason for encouraging me to give blogging a chance.

12,775 total pageviews of this blog!!! And still counting.

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

Chili Bowl report . . .

Actually, I didn't think I was singing at our Chili Bowl IX this past Sunday, here at the church. I arrived early to help set up, and was asked, "So, are you singing for the Chili Bowl?"

Says I, "Sure, I guess so!"

So with the help of fellow staff member, Chris Abram, we got the church sound system up and I got about 30 minutes of warm up in, then proceeded to sing over 20 songs in 2 hours . . . in addition to being the MC for the event.

I had a blast. I pulled out my trusty Martin DC-16 . . . and off we went together on another musical journey. I sang "Perhaps Love" for the first time in public, and a new arrangement of "Johnny Be Good," and the old folk ballad, "Kisses Sweater Than Wine."

Several of our church members brought over a box that had a sign with the word "tips" on it, and put it in front of me. I think I got close to $20, which I donated back toward the Chili Bowl proceeds. At the end, people were singing along . . . as I said, I had a blast.

Funny things about getting tips . . . I find that when I sing songs that in some way cause people to remember something in their past, some pleasant memory . . . I get more in tips than I do otherwise. The more I "connect" (which really isn't the right word here), then the more in tips than if I just hurry through a song set. I think I am good enough these days to get tips in most venues I sing at . . . but sometimes the amount just floors me when I sense I've made a connection with the audience.

Because of the nightmare highway construction in our area, the attendance was a bit low this year . . . but everyone who attended had a great time . . . and the chili and "not chili" recipes were all very, very tasty.

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

R.I.P. - Dick Kniss

I just heard that long-time Peter, Paul and Mary bassist, Mr. Dick Kniss, passed away this past week in his home state of New York.

Dick was also John Denver's bassist in the 70's, until Peter, Paul and Mary reunited, and he chose to rejoin them.

The guy could just play the upright bass. He could almost answer the vocals of PPM with his bass follow riffs.

Dick is going to be missed by many. An world class bassist, and I good man as well.

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