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Hello Josh Garrels . . .

Well, Merry Christmas to me . . . I do so love discovering young artists that I have not been aware of before . . .

Yesterday, I was catching up on some of the music articles through the NPR app on my iPad, and saw an article about Josh Garrels (www.joshgarrels.com).

Josh is a Christian music artist . . . but not part of (by his own choice) the contemporary Christian music industry.  If I have read things right, he has self-produced most if not all of his CD's and has even participated in a documentary film of his most recent tour.

I watched several videos of him performing on YouTube.   In a way, he reminds me of Keith Green.

I like what I am hearing . . . and will be reading and listening more.

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

Saving Mr. Banks . . .

My wife and I were able to have a bit of free time yesterday, and went to see "Saving Mr. Banks". 

This is an outstanding movie, and you do not have to be a Mary Poppins fan to make any connections. 

Emma Thompson should at least receive an Academy Award nomination.  She was the heart of the movie.  In the film, she portrays P. L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins book series.  Tom Hanks plays a very interesting older Walt Disney.   Great supporting cast.

The movie just works, and is suitable for the entire family.

If you have had a relationship with a parent or relative, in which they failed to live up to being on the pedestal you placed them on . . . and you blame yourself as a result  . . . go see this movie.

"Let's go fly a kite . . . and send it soaring!"

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

Acousticletter.com

If you are either considering the purchase of a higher-end price acoustic guitar, or wanting to compare several together for sound and playability . . . well, you have a problem.

Many music stores can't afford to carry more than a couple $3,000 guitars due to overhead limitations.

Alas, do not fear . . .  you can always check out the reviews and demos that Tony Polecastro does through www.acousticletter.com.

I subscribe to the site and receive all the updates to their YouTube channel.   I'm not buying right now, and won't be for a while now that I have my Martin J-40.  However, you learn a lot by watching the videos, and Tony is great at explaining the tonal qualities of the different woods and guitar shapes.

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

AirTurn BT-105 review . . .

Well, it finally arrived . . . and I am pretty happy about it.
I am not a full-time singer/musician, as much as I wish I could be.
I do get to sing several times most every week, and always enjoy doing so.  I'm the "Plan C" program/music guy" for a lot of local groups.  My schedule is flexible to a point, and I'm not interested in the money.  That by itself will get you a few invites.

Several years ago I made the intentional effort to being memorizing as many songs as I could.  Only thing . . . memorizing songs is easy when you sing a lot.  I sing in public, but 3-4 hours a week is my usual average. 

That's not really a lot of time to sing songs regularly enough to remember them well.  Let's say my ability to recall things and my age seem more and more tied together.
I got an iPad for Father's Day a few years back.  I hadn't used it that much, until my wife, a Project Director for a local engineering firm, challenged me to get more tech savvy. …

RIP - Mr. Ray Price

Just read that Ray Price passed away today.

The man had a voice . . . a classic voice.

A sad day.

However, I am grateful for his music.  I always enjoyed listening to him.

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

Truly entertained . . .

I have always enjoyed good entertainment.

And in the process, I appreciate not being shocked.

I watch entertainment to be entertained.

In other words . . . to have good time.

What do I call good entertainment?

Watch the video below.

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

The weather did us in . . .

Well, we were ready for our Christmas house concert last night . . .

I mean, we were really ready!

However, a freak Texas ice storm this past Thursday night and Friday, and temperatures in the 20's for 4 straight days, left the area with 2-3 inches of ice and most major freeways closed or pretty messed up until this afternoon.

We got word late Friday that the event was cancelled.

A good decision.  I'm 56, and one of the youngest guys in the band.  Most wouldn't have made it.

It was a paying good too . . .  they were going to feed us.  Yeah . . . that's right. If we get fed, it's considered a paying gig.

And the food at this gig would have been mighty fine, indeed.  Shame.

Still pretty bad this morning.  I was told that the parking lot at the Downtown Campus was a skating rink.  We only had 45 in worship at one service at 11 AM, and my wife and I didn't make it.  I live 7 miles from the church, and with two bad knees, I don't slip and slide as athletically…

Thought you might like to see the band . . .

Some of the good folks who make up the 1st Church String Band . . .

Front Row:  Brother Harvey Guthrey

Back Row (l-r):  Brother Charles Weems, Brother Ned Conner, Me, Brother Russ Logan, Brother Stu Spencer, and Brother Bill Haines (pianist)

Not shown: Sister Mari McAdoo (who ordered us into position for this picture) and Brothers Jeff Murphy and Gary Ingram.

I've been making music with some of these guys for going on 8+ years.  A joy!

God's grace . . . and the folks in the 1st Church String Band . . . still amazes me . . . ><>

You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one . . .

When my oldest daughter and her husband (I love'em both!!!) moved out of my home (after an extended stay) . . . my wife blessed me (as she has done so many more times than I have ever deserved) with giving me my old music room back.

In my house, Bruce Springsteen is not the boss . . . my sweet wife is . . . and I am a happier man for it!!!!!!

My music room is the smaller of the two front bedrooms of our little home.  It's my spot.  I have a couple of guitars hanging on the walls, my late grandmother's piano, a lot of my music books, and a very comfortable chair.  It is where I try to spend a least half of every Friday (my usual day off) either playing guitar, listening to music, reading and praying.

It's also a very neat place for an old man to dream.

Yep, its even in the Bible . . . old me dream dreams . . .

My sweet wife (the one who always seems to be blessing me more than I have ever deserved) bought me a poster for my music room, one of John Lennon playing an elec…

Every once in while, I do something right ....

I was assigned turkey cooking duties this year by my wife and eldest daughter.  My last attempt at doing a whole turley did not go that well.  Edible ... but I had trouble keeping the Big Green Egg at a constant  temp. I know I could have done better.Just 4 people for dinner this year ... so we picked out a turkey breast.I fired up the Egg .... and got it right for once.Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Count your blessings today as many times as you can. And then count them again tomorrow. And again the next day and the next day and the next day . . . God's grace still amazes me ... ><>

SCORE . . . it pays to walk through a Half-Price Books . . .

I had taken a box of books to our local Half-Price Books.  I didn't want any money for them.  Just a box of books I had no interest in reading that were taking up space on the floor in our study.

So, after dropping off the books . . . just a very quick walk over to the music section . . . just a very quick scan because we had things to do and errands to run.

BAM!  Could it be . . . no way!

WAY!

A paperback copy (1975 - OUT OF PRINT) of The Folk Songs of North America by Alan Lomax.

Best $20 I've spent in a while.

If you are a collector of American Folk Music books and memorabilia, or a public or private school music teacher, or music historian or folklorist (perhaps a couple such people read this blog, one can hope) . . . you no doubt share in my joy!  Yes folk music collectors and teachers . . . there are some copies of this book still out there.

If you don't know anything about folk music history and folklore . . . then you are scratching your head wondering why I am ha…

Lean on me . . . seriously . . .

This past Tuesday evening, I provided entertainment for our Be Our Guest meal.  This is a formal sit down dinner we serve to  those in our community who wish to attend.

A great meal . . . served by some of the best volunteers ever.

I closed my song set (quietly singing in the background), I started the song "Lean on Me."

No big deal . . . except that it's one of the favorite songs for about half of our volunteers, who broke out in dancing and singing the song with me.

Several tables of people eating also broke out in song.

A great way to end and evening . . . a bunch of people singing together . . .

Lean on me
When you're not strong
I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long 
'till I'm going to need
Somebody to lean on . . .

To a lot of people in that room . . . those words describe how they are trying to live their lives.

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

Call me a goon . . . but I learned something important when I last visited Branson, MO

Today I performed for the sweet folks at the South Colleyvine Ranch retirement facility.  I have  regular gig there every 3rd Monday of the month.

The folks there really enjoy a "show."  

With that in mind, I always take into consideration what I learned attending music shows in Branson, Missouri.

Every music show there (pretty much) includes:

-Rock-n-Roll songs
-Country Western songs
-Folk Songs
-Patriotic Songs, and
-Gospel songs.

If you are singing to a group of "seniors" (I will leave you to define the ages related to that term) you need to remember to include songs from each of the above categories.

And . . . put some life into it!

Crack a joke (a clean joke still gets big laughs).

Tell a story.

SMILE!

In the end . . . sing the best that you can. 

The outcome of all this is two-fold.

1)  You see a lot of smiles and hear a lot of laughter, and . . .

2)  You get asked to return!

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

Starting to get "Holiday" busy . . .

I am sure glad that Liz and I were able to take some time off in October.  It's "Holiday Time" hear at the church . . . meaning I will start having a lot of extra events on my calendar through the rest of November and all of December.

Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter are truly the two busiest times of our church year.

Along with extra meetings, worship services, and various Christmas parties, it's also the time I take a look at my winter 2014 calendar.

Why?

Well, it's time to work some singing back into my schedule with the Hugwork's guys at various children's hospitals in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

I would have figured, years ago, that the older I got, the less busy I would be.

Not the case.  Not the case at all.   I'm busy . . . and to be honest . . . I like it.

Since my return home from Philmont/New Mexico this summer, I believe I've been doing some of my best work in several years.  I believe my focus on important things has been much more c…

We are all of the nature to change . . .

Sometimes I am contacted by area funeral homes to either officiate or sing at the chapel or grave side services of people I don't know . . . and because of their deaths, will never get to meet.  I honestly try to accommodate all such requests if my calendar allows it.  I guess it helps to have a great relationship with all the area funeral homes, and I do.  They all know that when I come, it's to serve those who are grieving.  It has little to do with me.
Most of the people I lead funeral services for  . . . are "old."

There really isn't any better way to put it.  They were old.  People who had lived long lives. Most died with families or friends by their side.

A few died alone. 
At times I sit with someone when death draws near, at their request or at the request of their family.  Doing so would make some people uncomfortable, I guess.  I find it something I seem "wired" to do, able to do, willing to do.   I listen to them breath. I hold their hand. …

My schedule through the end of the year is packed, and that mean's . . .

Well . . . it means this.

For the first time since way before my cancer surgery, I have to announce that I cannot accept any more regular gigs until January of 2014.   With preaching responsibilities at our Heritage Campus in November and December, I just do not have the time, nor many open slots on my schedule until after the first of the year.   
It is good to be back in a much stronger level of physical, emotional, relational and spiritual strength.  I feel as balanced in all four areas as I have been in some time.  Being gifted by the church with  mission/renewal leave this past July did me a world of good in many more ways than I am probably aware of.  
It is all carrying over to my being much better able to focus on important things right now . . . pretty clear focus for the first time in a long, long, long while.   Distractions right now  . . . I've never more enjoyed the freedom of saying "no" when they come.  
A wonderful and rich marriage to the love of my life…

Posted a song, and then I got to sing it!

What a surprise yesterday, when Wren Robinson, our Director of Worship Arts, asked if I could fill in and sing "Drops in a Bucket" in the 8:30 AM service at the Downtown Campus.  Then I got to sing it at the Heritage Campus later in the morning, backed up by the Heritage Campus Band. 

Wow! 

It's a great song.  The video of Mitch Barrett singing it is below this post.  Enjoy.

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

I'm preaching the next two Sunday's at the Heritage Campus . . .

Should'a shared this news earlier.

Oh well, a lazy Friday morning, and I've just taken out the trash.  Now I'm at the computer looking over my blog.

A slow and lazy Friday morning.

But, for those who would like to know. . . I will be preaching at the Heritage Campus worship service (10:30 am) this coming Sunday, October 27, and also on November 3, 2013.

This Sunday, I will be finishing up, for the Heritage Campus, our month-long Sunday study of the book of Galatians.  I will be taking us through some of the main points from chapters 5 and 6.   The 27th is also our first time to participate in our "Drops in the Bucket" giving campaign as we raise support for our ministries for 2014.

In November, we begin a new sermon series titled, "First World Problems".   I will preach at least twice in November at Heritage (3rd and 24th ??), and may do all the preaching in December.  That decision will be made in the next few weeks.

I'm at the Heritage Campus mo…

1st Church String Band is now jamming weekly . . .

Yep, you heard it here!

The 1st Church String Band is now jamming and rehearsing weekly (on most Thursday evenings) beginning at 6:30 PM, usually in Room#2001, located upstairs in the Family Life Center at the First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, Texas Downtown Campus.

We are looking for a lead guitar player.  Just thought that should get out there to anyone who might want to play around with us.

We will begin rehearsing a bunch of Christmas songs for 4 Christmas gigs in December, one of them at the Traveller's Service at our Heritage Campus on Dec. 18th.

More info to come!

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

Come on to the Pumpkin Patch

On Thursday, October 24th, I will be helping staff our Youth sponsored Pumpkin Patch located on our Ball Street parking lot across from the Grapevine Botanical Gardens (west of the Main Sanctuary).

I will be there with John Mollet between 2-4 PM.

No big deal, but weather permitting, I am bringing my guitar and would welcome anyone else to come on by for an acoustic jam session!

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

Turn down my guitar?

My good friend, Bill Haines, who doubles on the side as our keyboard player for our little church guitar group, was kind enough to join me this morning when I played for the good folks at Dancing River. 

I extended an invitation to the guys and gals in our little guitar band to join me when I sing at retirement and nursing homes.  Bill was there to check me out.  I hope he will join me soon, because he is a good keyboardist.

As we were walking back to our cars, I was remarking out loud how good I thought the Martin guitar I had played sounded in both the Memory Care Unit as well as in the main Activity Room there at Dancing River.

Bill said he thought the guitar was pretty loud. 

Now that is a first, from anyone . . . telling me that an acoustic guitar I was playing was loud.

Actually, it was good to know, because both rooms have tile floors and sound does carry and echo well in both places. 

I remember an old advertisement poster from Martin Guitars . . . about the J-40 model.  Th…

A couple of non-music related shout outs . . .

In the past few weeks, my family and I have gone through the process of taking bids on a complete HVAC replacement for our home, as well as for some foundation work.

We ended up doing business with A#1 Air out of Carrolton.  I like the way they do business.  Signed the contract, and the install was the next day, and it went without a hitch.

3 different foundations companies indicated that I needed a lot of foundation repair, with bids ranging from $6,000 to $14,000.

Jeff from All Pro Foundations in Denton came yesterday.  Sat in his car in front of our house for over an hour because his previous appointment cancelled.  After an inspection, he told us that we didn't need foundation repair.  We needed some drainage and landscaping work and new guttering.  This company approaches foundation repair from an engineering perspective.  We only have a couple of sticking doors.  Yet all of our door frames and windows are level and plumb.  Jacking up the outside walls with piers would have, …

I'll even sing in a Pumpkin Patch!

No.  I am not the Great Pumpkin.

However, the youth group at FUMC-Grapevine are sponsoring a Pumpkin Patch next to our Ball Street parking lot, across from the Botanical Gardens.

Pumpkins everywhere!
The usual rush hits right after school lets out. Today was my first day to play the guitar and sing for whomever wanted to listen, and to entertain all of our great volunteers.
Can't say enough about the weather!   Can't say enough about all the good people I get to do neat things with!
God grace still amazes me . . . ><>

Our Seniors need you . . .

Ok, this is a request for help.  The request comes in a minute.  First some info.

I was reading the other day.   It seems that the US Census Bureau is projecting that in the year 2025 (when I will be a young 68 years old) that the number of adults in the US over the age of 65 will outnumber all the children aged 6 and younger in our country.

This will be the first time in the history of our nation that this has happened.  But hold on.

The US Census Bureau is also projecting that in 2050 (when I will be 93 years old, and hopefully still playing guitar) that the number of adults over 65 will outnumber all the children and teens aged 18 and  younger.

Again, for the first time in our nations history.

Lately, I've been noticing a lot of new senior retirement centers under construction in our area.   I sing at 2 similar facilities on a regular basis.  I also provide community ministry to adults who live in the community funded housing next door to our church.  Most of them are seniors. …

House Concert . . . a great experience . . .

This past Saturday, I joined the guys (and gal) of our First Church String Band in performing a house concert for one of our adult Sunday School classes at the church.

Gospel, folk, rock, C&W, golden oldies . . . we had songs in every category, and we did well enough on each that the "audience" (composed mostly of friends) sang and danced.

We are Methodists.  Dancing is OK.

At 56, I may be one of the youngest guys in the band.  I'd say we are composed of 50-80+ years olds, mostly retired, a few still working.  Many of us have previous experience being in a band . . .

A looooooong time ago!

I suggested that a better name for us as a group was the "Wanna Be Band."

In truth, we all "wanna be" in a band.

And it has nothing to do with fame, fortune or being in the limelight.

It has to do with making music.

Personally, I am an adequate rhythm guitar player.  I might even be good enough to earn some extra money playing guitar more . . . if I had the tim…

I'm preaching at the Heritage Campus this coming Sunday . . . 9/29/13

I will be preaching at the Heritage Campus on Sunday, September 29th during the regular 10:30 AM service there.  

The message title is, "Hearing God's Voice."  In this sermon, I explain the 5 historic ways that God has spoken to his children.  

There will be a 5th Sunday fellowship lunch immediately after the worship service. Come one, come all!

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

I'm preaching this Sunday . . .

I will be preaching at the 8:30, 9:45 and 11:00 AM worship services at the Down Town Campus of the First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, Texas.

We are finishing up our current sermon series, "Our Favorite Sins."  My message will focus on steps we can take to help with those desires in our lives that can lead us down paths we would not really want to travel, or cause us to experience consequences which we would rather have avoided.

I will be preaching at the Heritage Campus on Sunday, September 29th during the regular 10:30 AM service there.  The message title is, "Hearing God's Voice."  In this sermon, I explain the 5 historic ways that God has spoken to his children.  At the end of this sermon, you will be surprised to realize how much you already know!

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

TODAY (September 19) is North Texas Giving Day - to benefit Hugworks!!

Please help me support 2013 North Texas Giving Day that will in part benefit the great program my friends at Hugworks provides for children in area hospitals, and to support future plans to provide music to senior adults in various venues.   

Help support all that Hugworks does by clicking on this web address.

https://www.facebook.com/DonorBridge

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

Both sad and excited to report . . .

This past week, after a 4+ year run, my good friends at Grapevine Guitar Works closed the doors to their showroom in Grapevine.

Sad . . . as I really enjoyed having a guitar store just a few blocks from the church . . . in particular because the main owner is a dear friend . . . I helped paint the showroom, hand slat-board, and helped display guitars as my schedule permitted. In truth, I spent a lot of days off helping around the showroom.  Even sold a few guitars.  Played a bunch.  Figured out in the process the kind of guitars I like the best.   The GGW showroom and storeroom were  also my "hidey-hole", or the place I could hide for a while to deeply think about things that needed thinking about.

I'm going to miss that place.

I am excited as well . . . as GGW is not going away by any means. They are re-vamping their website, and will soon be an even stronger presence on the internet. Below is more info directly from their website.

Check them out in the days to come.  …

I will be singing tonight at our Be Our Guest Meal . . .

A quick announcement . . .

I am singing tonight at our monthly Be Our Guest community meal, which will be served in Leach Hall here at the church beginning at 6:00 PM.  This is a "sit-down-family-style" monthly meal we offer and serve to anyone who lives in or around our church neighborhood. 

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

I will be preaching at the Heritage Campus on Sunday, 9/15/13 and Sunday 9/29/13 . . .

For those who have not heard, or would like to know . . . I will be preaching at the Heritage Campus on Sunday morning, September 15 and 29. 

The service begins at 10:30 AM.  On the 15th, I will be preaching a sermon in the current sermon series, "Our Favorite Sins" on desires that I will also preach at the Downtown Campus on September 22.

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

Music2Life . . .

I am in the process of learning more about Noel Paul Stookey's efforts with the new Music2Life organization.

To go to the Music2Life website, click here.  Their Facebook page is here.

I have tremendous hope for efforts like Music2Life and Playing for Change.  At some point, all these groups, and others, need both monetary and musical support.

If you sing, play an instrument . . .

If you have sung in the past . . .

If you have any kind of musical skill . . .

There are people out there who would benefit you crossing their path.

There are different community, church, personal, private and corporate groups and organizations, like the Hugworks group that I participate with, who need help in their efforts to make music once again the power in people's lives in can be.

Please consider learning more about any or all of these groups, but most especially the ones active in your area.

Can't find a group in your area . . . then start one!

God's grace still amazes me . . . and ma…

Finally . . . back to singing!!

No more talking about it . . .

No more getting around to it . . .

No more wishing it was like it use to be . . .

No more worrying about cancer, or any other stumbling blocks, getting in my way . . .

After more than a years absence from regularly singing and playing guitar for others . . . this coming Monday . . . September 9, 2013 . . . I will sing twice in the morning at Dancing Rivers in Grapevine (senior living / retirement facility), and . . . I will sing for the children who attend  our Monday afternoon "Project Fun" after-school program.

My goal for singing to others this fall, winter and spring is simple enough . . . to sing somewhere . . . for somebody . . .  at least once a week.  I am confident that my pastoral and personal calendars can handle that with no problem.

My voice is good (I actually think it's improved since my 2nd throat surgery . . . but its only strong for about 30-45 minutes).  I need to build up the endurance I had back when I was singing 2-3 t…

Resurrection time! I just un-retired :"Marty" . . .

Pardon the picture of yours truly with spiky hair and a failed attempt at facial hair . . . a road I traveled several years ago without success.

A couple of years ago . . . I "retired" my favorite guitar of all time (so far), my Martin DC-16GTE cut-a-way acoustic electric dreadnaught (the guitar in the picture).  I was able to purchase it in May of 2005 thanks to my receiving funds from a grant, along with gifts from 2 friends. I had used it a lot over 6 years, and it had the road damage (nicks, cuts, scrapes, head stock bumps, etc.) to prove it. 

Fearing it being damaged accidently (or maybe because at the time I wanted to justify getting another guitar) I retired "Marty" to my home study.

Too be truthful, several friends told me I was going to be making a mistake.  I sometimes hate it when others are right!   Well, sometimes . . . maybe this time in particular . . . but it really was a mistake on my part.

I am in the process of re-arranging my home study, which …

Link to my recent "Confessions" sermon . . .

Several people have requested the link to the video of my recent "Confessions" sermon on August 11th at FUMC-Grapevine, TX.   It is available through the TruthCasting website; however, you can go to the direct link by clicking HERE.

There has to be a song I can write about my hummingbird. 

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

Project Fun is starting soon!

Our weekday after-school program, called "Project Fun," begins on Monday, September 9th with a little party for the volunteers followed by the arrival of the children who join us upon completion of their classes from area schools.

Food, art and crafts, fun Bible memorization . . . and this year . . . more music with me!

I am going to be attempting to be present at as many Project Fun events as I am able, guitar in hand.

I'm really, really looking forward to it!

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

I will be singing this fall at a new venue . . .

On Monday, September 9th, I will provide music entertainment for the residents of the Dancing Rivers community here in Grapevine.  I will be doing two music sessions that morning, the first at 10 AM in the Memory Unit, followed by one of my standard programs in the main building at 10:30 AM. 

Several members of our church reside at Dancing Rivers, and I must say that I was very impressed with the facility and staff in my tour today, especially with their Life Enrichment Director, Jill Jurena.  She is truly called to be doing the work she is doing there. 

Except for our Vacation Bible School here at the church in late June, and the couple of times I sang during Chapel services and in performances with the Wannabe Band at Philmont, I have otherwise refrained from accepting a full singing schedule this summer . . . for no other reason than a bit of soul care for myself while ending up cancer treatment. 

Aww . . . mostly I didn't sing because I knew I would be doing it out of a sen…

Something good to know . . . StopHungerNow.org

I am very glad to be provided some good information today from a friend about a group called StopHungerNow.org.  They are one of the mission partners of our National United Methodist Men's ministry, and are supported by churches of all denominations, and by many Scout troops. 

I've been looking for another cause to offer some of my time to, perhaps to raise funds for through a community talent show.  Working to feed hungry children in our world is worthy of everyone's time and attention.

I will be sharing more about this in the future . . . so, more to come.

God's grace still amazes me . . . ><>

iPad . . . what have you done for me lately?

IK Multimedia is a company that manufactures and sells different accessories for musicians to use with iPads and iPhones.

Since I claim to be a musician, and since I have an iPad, I thought I would give a few of their products a try since they were advertising a "B-Stock" (blemished/returns) sale.

I purchased the iKlip, the iRig, and the iMic.

I had already purchased their iRig Pre, which allows you to plug a standard microphone into your iPad.  The iMic ( http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/irigmic/ ) is a microphone that plugs into the iPad without having to carry a second accessory.  We will see if it works well for recording, and for recording my blogs more often by "voice."

The iKlip ( http://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/iklip2/ )is a little ingenious thing that holds your iPad onto a microphone stand in various positions depending on what you are using the iPad for.  Since I have most of my song music in the Pages app on my iPad, I thought I could use the…

Things I came away with from New Mexico . . .

I did a lot of thinking during the 60-90 seconds the hummingbird sat on my finger at Philmont in July.

I've done a lot of thinking afterwards about all that I thought about.
First . . .
I am not the center of the universe.   The world does not revolve around me.  My many attempts to make the world where it does revolve around me have failed miserably over the years.

What I was humbled by most in this was coming to understand the level of arrogance that people have who live like they are the center of the world.   I know this, in part, from a lot of first hand experience being the one who was acting arrogant.   My family and friends can all remember those days.  In the past 9-10 years, I have moved away from living like that a majority of the time.

At least I hope I have.

Second . . .

I believe that God is FOR everyone.   The more I read, re-read and re-read John 3:16, the more I understand that God is FOR everyone . . . something that doesn't often get shared enough.

Actually,…

A defining moment ...

One of the defining moments during my time in New Mexico this past July was during the taking of this picture. 

I had just finished the Saturday evening Back-Country Protestant Chapel service at Cimarroncito Camp at Philmont.  On the porch of the staff cabin were several hummingbird feeders, which were actively being circled about by at least a dozen different hummingbirds.

One of the staff members advised me to put my finger up to one of the feeders, and then told me to "stay really still."

After a couple of moments, this little female hummingbird came to rest on my finger, and began to feed without hint of any threat.  She stayed there for about a minute . . .  perhaps one of the longest minutes of my life.

Awesome.

The finger the hummingbird was sitting on was the pointy finger of my right hand.  It's the finger I use to point at people, things, the line on a map, etc.

When people ask me for directions, I usually point with this finger.

When someone isn't paying…

It is "really" good to be back home . . .

Ain't it good . . . to be back home again! (Oh yes it is . . .)
Sometimes, this ol' farm feels like a long lost friend.
Oh ain't it good, to be back home again.
Oh ain't it good . . . to be back home . . . again . . .

Not sure my home would be ever considered a farm, although we do have a lot of plants and vegetables in pots here and there . . .

But, for the record, it is sure good to be home again.

Heck, I don't even mind the temperature (100+ degrees today) . . . the temperature doesn't matter when you are home.

It was good to be back helping lead worship at the downtown campus . . . and I was reminded that I preach the next two Sundays . . . time to get back into work time.  "Leave time" is over.

I will spend some time later this week putting down some thoughts about my time away.  I came away with several "take-a-ways," . . . not sure that they aren't any different from past "take-a-ways" after other periods of vacation or tim…

Heading home soon ....

I am getting to spend a few more days in New Mexico before heading back to Texas and arriving home on August 2nd.  I will be in worship on August 4th, and back in the office on August 5th.
The past days have been a time of relaxing, thinking, reading, feeding hummingbirds, and driving around the Golden Triangle area of northern New Mexico.  I'm so happy that Liz could join me this week to share in the experience.  I have missed her so much.
For the record ... She is the better driver.
Today is one beautiful day for sure .... Not a cloud in the sky.  Today is an official "exploration day."  Meaning, we hope to head out on a road we have not driven on ... And see where it goes.
In a couple of days ... The road we travel will lead the way home ... A road we have driven on before, a road that we know well ... A road that calls us gently with the words, "it's time."
I'm looking forward to going home.
God's grace still amazes me ... ><>

Philmont Report #5 - Last day . . .

Friday, July 26th . . . my last "official" day as a Philmont chaplain.  Tomorrow morning I drive to pick up Liz at an area airport, and then we will spend a few more days "on vacation" before leisurely heading home to the DFW area.  I will be back in the worship services at FUMC-Grapevine on August 4th.

I made 3 camps this morning, then spent the afternoon cleaning and packing up my stuff, doing laundry, reading, and saying a lot of "goodbyes."  I am honestly surprised by the number of staff who have come by to wish me well and to offer me travel blessings.

I guess in some way, I will miss Philmont . . . the camp, the mountains, the scenery . . .

But the truth is, I will miss the people here the most.  I have worked for 26 days with a whole lot of 19-23 year olds . . . and I have hope for the future of our country and our world as a result.

But, it is time . . . time to head back to those who I have missed working with and beside back in Grapevine  . . .…

Philmont Report #4

A quick update . . . as I start my final week at Philmont during this Summer 2013 camping season.

As of today, I have only 4 full days left here . . . and I am serving as the Back Country Chaplain, which means I am in a Chevy Suburban driving all over the place.  Today I went as far north as Dan Beard Camp . . . the first Philmont Chaplain to do so this year!  The final leg of the trip to Dan Beard Camp is the steepest road on the entire Philmont property. 

Thank you, Lord . . . for 4 wheel drive.

The north country here at Philmont has a distinct Southwest flavor . . . which I just love.  I actually walked up on a patch of Indian Paintbrush blooming at 8,300 feet elevation.  Awesome.

Tomorrow, along with Cantor Michael Dzubin (our Jewish Chaplain), I will be travelling back into the far north part of Philmont, called the Valle Vidal region . . . which I drove into last night with some of the staff from the Health Lodge, to pick up a sick camper who was participating in the Rayado pro…

Philmont Report #3

Sorry for the delay in posting report #3 . . . it's been busy!

This past week, I was assigned the relief chaplain rotation.  In other words, I covered 6 of the different chaplain rotations, in the process allowing the other chaplains to have some time off.  A lot of what I learned the first two weeks here came into play this past week, as I made several trips into the back country to notify advisors, campers or staff about family situations back home.

Yesterday I was assigned to travel out to the Saw Mill camp on the far west border of Philmont, to share with an advisor and his son that their father/grandfather was near death.  It was a very emotional time for them, and for the members of their crew, as they were only half way into their 12 day trek.   Their crew rallied around them, and they decided to hike on until they received additional word from their family.  

I guess it's one thing when your pastor arrives to tell you something potentially uncomfortable.  And it can b…

Philmont Report #2

Greeting from Philmont Scout Ranch, and a somewhat wet north east New Mexico.

Rain is the order-of-the-day, and every drop is being welcomed and appreciated.  The area around Philmont in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is still in a severe drought.  However several inches of rain have fallen in the past 3-4 days, and things are greening up a bit, as the ground is finally able to soak up some needed moisture.  At this elevation, lightening is always a threat, and I've driven through two hailstorms in the past week.   Mornings are bright and beautiful, but afternoon rains are now a regular occurrence, and muchly needed.

My assignment this week is serving as the Camping Headquarters Chaplain.  After breakfast, I take off on foot and try to visit as many staff members as I can, and also hang around the Welcome Center to greet arriving trail bound crews, as well as home bound crews.  During lunch time, I head over to the Dining Hall and speak to as many crews as I have time for, findin…

Philmont Report #1

Greetings from Philmont Scout Ranch!

I arrived at 8:15 AM on Monday, July 1st, having left Colorado Springs at 5 am.  It was an awesome drive going south through Pueblo, Trinidad, Raton Pass, and then out to Cimarron, and finally to the Philmont.

Monday and Tuesday were spent in getting in a weeks worth of training in 2 days.  I did get to lead evening Protestant Chapel on July 1st, and preached on July 2nd. I will preach again on Friday.  I am sharing Protestant Chaplain responsibilities with 2 other gentlemen, and we are getting along great.  my back country driving training was overseen by our Jewish Chaplain, Cantor Michael Dzubin of Miami, Fl.  Yesterday I drove up to Cimarroncito Camp, and then waaaaaaaayyyyyy out to Sawmill Camp to pick up 3 hikers who were ill, to bring then down to the Health Lodge at Camping Headquarters.   I am thankful the Suburban's we drive here have 4 wheel drive.  I drove from 6500 feet up to over 10,000+ feet in elevation on gravel, dirt and mud r…

An "Official Announcement" and a very humble "Thank you, Church!!"

Dear FUMC-Grapevine Church members and friends . . . 

Two years ago, I was extended the honor of being invited to come serve as a member of the summer Chaplain Corps at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico, the largest outdoor youth camp in the world.  To say the least, this is a great honor to myself and to the church I am proud to serve, the First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, Texas.  I initially thought that my going to serve as a chaplain  at Philmont during the summer would be out-of-the-question.  Being away from the church and family for so long just didn't seem realistic to me.  I was very comfortable with my yearly trip to Philmont to serve as chaplain for the week-long Fall Leadership Conference held there each September.  A week away was far more manageable.
Then . . .  I got cancer.  I have to admit, my cancer battle took far more out of me than I realized, and it lasted a lot longer than I expected it to.  There are still some physical side-effects f…