Saturday, June 30, 2012

A praise for my mentors . . .

Today my wife and I attended the memorial service of my ministry mentor, Rev. E. Frank Leach.  The service at Polytechnic United Methodist Church in Fort Worth were a good tribute to Frank, and allowed us to worship God.  There were equal opportunities to laugh and cry.  My youngest daughter, who Frank baptized, attended with us.  We saw many, many old Poly UMC friends that we hadn't connected with in some time.

I can say this honestly today . . .  that a celebration was had by all.   Polytechnic UMC was to Frank Leach as FUMC-Grapevine is to me.  Everyone in ministry prays and hopes for the opportunity to connect in a real and meaningful way with a church in their career.  Poly was it for Frank . . . and Grapevine is it for me.  

This past week . . . I've been thinking about mentors in my life . . . people who have been there for me in many ways over the years . . . some to kick me in the butt . . . others to guide my training . . .

So, I thought I would blog a few articles about some of my mentors over the years . . . names of people most of you won't know.  Writing this is therapeutic for me.  So if this bores you . . . then move on and come back later.

-Mr. Charles Dickerson

Charles was the General Manager at Manning's Sporting Goods for several years until Manning's closed in the early 1980's.  I worked at Manning's off and on for about 5 years.  Charles saw as his mission to daily kick-my-butt and put me on a crash course to grow up.  My first real instruction on what it was to be a man in both character and daily action was as the feet of Charles Dickerson. When I graduated from the Fort Worth Police Academy in 1983, the first person I went to see was Charles at his office.  I walked in with my police uniform on, with badge and loaded gun.  He saw me from  his desk, walked out to me, extended his hand, and simply said, "Officer, what can I do for you today?"  His smile was as big as mine.  His validation that day meant a lot to me.  I lost track of Charles about 5 years later.  His family had some hard times. One of his daughters died early.  I will always remember his advice, "if you can't come to work and give it your all, then don't come to work."  He actually said this in a different way, in reference to a certain part of the anatomy that men have . . . and I since I know some of you who read this blog . . . I'll refrain from writing it exactly as he said it.

Thank you, Charles, for kicking my butt as many times as you did . . . for teaching me how to sweep a showroom floor . . . for taking a risk in letting me merchandise the entire fishing department by myself . . . . and then giving me the credit when Mr. Manning asked who to thank for that department looking so good . . . for teaching me the value and benefit of always using the terms, "Yes/No Sir" and "Yes/No Ma'am" to people, even if they were younger than me.

Thank you mostly for teaching me that my minimum effort each and every day . . . was to give my best!!!

God's grace still amazes me . . . as does the fact that some mentors in my life stuck their neck out for me . . . ><>

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Round 1 goes to the Taylor . . .

In between VBS sessions today . . . I take out my Taylor Custom GS (sinker redwood), plug it in to my Fishman Loudbox 100, and then proceed to beat the hell out of it for an hour. 

I'm mean . . . I am pounding it!   Let's see what this baby can do.

About an hour later, I stop to catch my breath . . . my shoulder aches, I am tired, sweaty . . .

And it's as if I hear this guitar say out loud . . .

"Is that the best you can do?" 

Then it calls me a pussy and laughs!  You know, that kind of laugh that translates, "Can you believe this guy?"

Round 1 goes to the Taylor.  It beat me.  

What a great guitar!  What a freakin' great guitar!

Out of breath . . . and beat . . . but still in awe that God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Sunday, June 24, 2012

iPad and music

One thing music related . . . and that is my surprise as the number of guitar related apps, and music recording related apps available for the iPad.

More to come.

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

I'm old enough now to experience the death of loved ones and mentors

There is a song about this someplace in my heart . . .

In the early minutes after this day began . . . my longtime friend, mentor and adopted dad, Rev. E. Frank Leach, died from complications following a sudden massive stroke.

I worked for Frank at two churches over the course of years.  The first experience, well, let's just say it wasn't that positive.  I was too immature to be in church work . . . newly married, still in school, clumsy in relationships, too hot-headed when I spoke.  My way or the highway. I thought I was hot stuff and deserved more than I had worked for.   I didn't understand anything about being an adult . . . and it showed . . . a lot.  Frank was patient with me to a fault . . . guiding, suggesting, and more than once just plain ordering me to get stuff done.

Truth be told . . . I was scared to death . . . and no idea what to do, expect to make friends with as many youth as I could.  But the business end of being in the ministry . . . I was lost.

The 2nd time I worked with Frank, he was involved in helping bring me back into the ministry.  That experience . . . well, let's say I was more mature, not a kid anymore, and willing to learn from someone I respected, who I know would tell me the truth, even when I didn't want to hear it.  I had worked in the public, earned a living, been an police officer . . . experienced my "boot camp" in life, and knew that I could do what I set out to do.  I was spiritually more mature as well.  

Our church recommended me for the ministry with his approval.  My first appointment as a pastor came after his recommendation to our District Superintendent.   And, at my invitation, he was one of the elders who laid hands on me when I was ordained and elder.

I cried.  He cried. My wife cried. His wife cried.  

Ok.  At that points we were good friends, and I knew I loved and respected him like I do few others.

Frank embraced being a pastor.  He put his whole self into it.  And, was still a good husband, good dad, good neighbor, and about the best friend you could hope for.

I think he excelled as a pastoral mentor.  There are a handful of us in the Central Texas Annual Conference who benefitted from his "adopting us."  His advice was simple.  Preach from the Bible. Love everyone equally.  And, always showed up unless you were really sick.

He was getting ready to leave to officiate a wedding when he had is stroke. Faithful as a pastor at age 82.

In truth, Frank was a mentor, friend and in some ways . . . a dad.  I called him "Papa" for perhaps the last dozen years or so.  He never told me not to.  His son David is a pastor in our conference.  Frank always introduced me as David's younger brother.  At the hospital last night, David and I realized that I was actually born the day before he was.  I've been the older brother all these years!!!!

I don't care what you think or say . . .  but that's funny.

Frank is one of the ones who won't get the big reputation or the long-winded legacy.  And most will not remember him for long, as he had been retired for the past 15 years or so.  But many of us will remember his positive influence and support.  He cared for us.

He cared for me.  Bless him.  And I appreciated it.

For a blog that is supposed to be focused on music . . . I've been focusing a lot on saying goodbye to some loved ones.

My response to Frank's passing is to celebrate with his family the well lived life he enjoyed to the end.

And, I will experience myself . . . again . . . that God's still amazes me . . . ><>


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Techno-World ... Here I come

On Father's Day, my daughters and their husbands gifted me with the funds to get an iPad. Such a sweet family!!!! bless their hearts! How did they know I wanted one? maybe because every day since coming home from Annual Conference (2 weeks ago)I have mentioned that I wanted one??? So, I am going down the path of using an iPad as my "mobile" computer. Some of it my choice, some of it I'm being dragged kicking and screaming. Actually the learning curve has not been that hard, except for a moment yesterday when I almost threw it out the window. I've been able to figure it out .... And find out about some of the ways using it can help me be more productive. Man, there are a ton of music apps!!! I'm going to check out the Guitar Rig stuff for some possible vocal and guitar recording. There are a lot of apps for electric guitar, but not many, if any at all, for acoustic. It will be fun to look. More to come. God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>