Friday, August 30, 2013

Tattered Pants

When I come home from a long day of work, the first thing I want to do is get comfortable. Call them lounge pants, pajama bottoms, or sleep pants......putting these pants on is a highlight of my day. My body is comfortable, my mind is at rest, and I'm ready to enjoy the last few hours of my day. While I have several pairs of them, there is one pair that I always go back to......or at least that I always WENT back's the story.

The pants are certainly not a fashion statement. They are beige with large blue stripes. I've worn them for several years now and they have begun to show their age. The fabric has thinned. The edges have begun to fray. The elastic waistband has started to peek through the cloth. Several holes have formed. Actually, "holes" is probably an inaccurate word choice. "Craters" would be a more truthful depiction of the tears.

Earlier this week, I was relaxing in my room wearing these favorite pajamas. I turned and heard fabric tearing. My heart sank, but I still didn't want to accept the inevitable. Another movement lead to a more pronounced ripping sound. This sound was accompanied by a breeze along my right leg though. Not only had the pajamas torn, the entire seam along the leg had come apart! Thank goodness there was no one around! I would have been petrified!

Alas, I had to say goodbye to my pajama pants. (For the record, there wasn't enough of the leg remaining to attempt turning them into shorts either!) They found their way into the trash heap. If a sanitation worker runs across them, I'm sure they will conjure some interesting story! Oh well, now I'll just have to start the process of finding a new favorite pair of sleep pants.

P.S. I plan to enjoy the Labor Day holiday with my family on Monday, so there will be no new post. Livin' Life will return on Wednesday with the latest edition of "Hits and Misses."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You're Doing It Wrong!

I am a person who likes order and clear direction. I want a plan to follow step-by-step. I want to make sure that I'm doing things right. I'm learning this quality has been a detriment to my prayer life over the years. I've gotten so wrapped up in following the model of the Lord's Prayer and making sure that I was following the ACTS formula that I never felt like I was doing it right! Since I wasn't confident in the "formula", I didn't think my prayers had any power.

As I continue reading Philip Yancey's book on prayer, I found some encouragement for my situation in the chapter called "Tongue-Tied." If you've ever felt as though your prayers were inadequate, I hope these words also encourage you.

Apart from the requirement that we be authentic before God, there is no prescribed way to pray. Each of us presents a unique mix of personality, outlook, training, gifts, and weaknesses, as well as a unique history with church and with God. As Roberta Bondi says, "If you are praying, you are already 'doing it right.'"
. . . . .
Jesus taught a model prayer, the Lord's Prayer, but otherwise gave few rules. His teaching reduces down to three general principles: Keep it honest, keep it simple, and keep it up. Mainly, Jesus pressed home that we come as beloved children to a Father who loves us in advance and cares deeply about our lives. Ask young parents what is the correct way for their toddlers to approach them and you will probably get a puzzled look. Correct way? Being a parent means you do your best to remain available to your children and responsive to their needs. As Jesus said, if a human parent responds with compassion and not hostility, how much more will God.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence," urged the author of Hebrews, "so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference, 190-191)


Monday, August 26, 2013

Hits and Misses (August 18-24)

The first week of the semester always feels the busiest to me. At this point, I'm just glad that I survived. Here's the week in review.

  • The week kicked off by attending a wonderful worship service at Hope Baptist with my family. Such an encouraging word about the work of the Holy Spirit taken from John 17. The sermon was delivered clearly and ministered to my soul. After church, it was great to feed my stomach some great food with my family as well. 
  • When the stress finally settled down, I really had a great time teaching class piano for the first time. There were definitely challenges associated with students not having textbooks and equipment issues, but the process of teaching these talented students has gotten off to a good start.
  • My Tuesday night class was cancelled and I couldn't be happier! I enjoy teaching night classes because the students are much more motivated and interested in the material. However, I find it terribly taxing to teach a class of only 3 or 4 students. Last semester, the course went ahead despite its low enrollment. This term, I was very clear with my supervisors that I would not be upset if the class didn't make. I'm looking forward to having my evenings entirely free (for the most part) for the first time in several years.
  • I was reminded this week of how wonderful it is to have truly supportive people working with me. I know I am blessed to work with people who are willing to provide administrative support that allows me to focus on my teaching. I am honored to serve under program chairs at both schools that tell me to create a class structure that best fits my teaching methods and enhances student learning. (This is a brand new experience for me.....and I truly appreciate the confidence they have in my ability.)
  • To end the week, my family traveled to Stuttgart, Arkansas to celebrate my Aunt Ola Mae Freeman's 80th birthday. It was great to see cousins that I haven't seen in way too long. (Even though I sat quietly with my family for much of the party nursing a rough headache, I'm glad I was part of the celebration.)
  • Monday was a bit stressful since it was the first day of the new semester as well as the memorial service for my aunt, Catherine. After teaching classes, I made the 2.5 hour drive into central Arkansas for the thirty minute service, collected my parents, and drove straight home. I wouldn't have missed the services for anything in the world though. It was a fitting way to say goodbye to a special woman.
  • With the addition of the memorial service and the birthday party to this week's schedule, I have been a driving machine! Normally I enjoy my time on the road, but the extra 7 hours of traveling definitely took its toll. I'm planning to start the new week with some much needed rest.
  • I've heard several explanations about why situations aren't better. I find myself laughing inside when I hear the excuses that they could be improved....but there is no reason to make things better since OTHER PEOPLE aren't going to respect things. One excuse this week seemed to go on forever! What I wanted to say is that I think you are simply too lazy to address the problem since you have settled to work around the situation rather than making things the best they can be. When you start giving me a lot of excuses, I begin to lose a lot of respect for you and question if you are someone in whom I really want to invest my time.
  • Saturday classes are the pits! That is all I have to say....except that I'm still praying it will be cancelled.  With an enrollment of five (and only three bothering to show up for the first class), I'm still holding out hope! Now we just have to wait and see what happens.

Friday, August 23, 2013

When Answers Don't Come

Have you ever found yourself wondering why situations don't change despite your repeated prayers? Whether you are seeking God's face for the healing of a loved one, deliverance from an oppression, or new employment, our faith can take a beating as we attempt to press forward in our prayer life when God appears silent. For some, this situation has been the reason they cease to practice prayer while others declare that God can't possibly exist if He allows situations to continue unchanged.

As I am personally investigating prayer right now, I have to admit that unanswered prayers have caused me to struggle in my own prayer life. I simply couldn't come to terms with WHY God would allow situations to remain the same. (After all, I was certain that the change I was praying for was the best outcome for my life.) As part of my study, I am reading Prayer: Does It Make a Difference? by Philip Yancey. Here's a powerful portion of what he has to say about unanswered prayers:

I will always remember an alcoholic friend who expressed to me his frustration at praying daily for God to remove his desire for drink, only to find each morning his thoughts turning to Jack Daniel's whiskey. Was God even listening? Later, it dawned on him that the desire for alcohol was the main reason he prayed so diligently. Persistent temptation had compelled persistent prayer.
. . . . .
. . .God views my persistence as a sign of genuine desire for change, the one prerequisite for spiritual growth. When I really want something, I strive and persist. Whether it's climbing Colorado's mountains, chasing the woodpeckers away from my roof, or getting a high-speed Internet connection for my home, I'll do whatever it takes. Do I show the same spirit in prayer? (Yancey, 150-151)
That puts things in perspective, doesn't it? Do I truly want to see circumstances change enough that I will persistently and passionately pray about it with confidence that God will listen? As I bombard Heaven with my petitions, one of two things is going to happen....either the situation will change or I will be changed as I come into the presence of a Holy God.

I'm ready to find a quiet place and talk some things over with my Father. Are you ready to join me?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Touching Heaven, Changing Earth

Within the heart of every person is the desire to communicate with someone greater than themselves. For the Christian, prayer is talking to God just as we would talk to our best friend. While most Christians know this truth intellectually, I think that most find some level of struggle in this area. We wonder why the God of the universe would want to listen to a mere speck. In moments of doubt, we question if our prayers are actually heard......and if there is a hope that they will be answered. Can our prayers influence events and release God's power in our lives and those around us?

I was raised in a loving Christian home and was taught the basic principles of prayer. I've often prayed publicly before classes and during times of worship. When illness hits my family, I talk to God about it. Still, I find myself longing for a more powerful prayer life. I want to know that my prayers move Heaven and have confidence that they are effective. I want to be a prayer warrior. The only question is "How?"

As I was reading The Trial by Robert Whitlow, I was entertained by the novel's plot. I was mesmerized, however, by the powerful prayer scenes woven throughout the story. A group of women gather for a weekly prayer meeting in the local Presbyterian church. Though the group's members have changed over the years, the prayer group has met for decades and have kept records of the prayers lifted to Heaven and the faithfulness of God to answer.

As the novel reaches its climax, the women gather again for prayer. After reading a portion of Isaiah 62, the women are reminded of their role as prayer warriors over their community. Whitlow describes what happens like this:
They became quiet and waited. A heavy stillness settled in the room, a time when heaven held its breath in anticipation.
Then the divine wind came. There were no visible tongues of fire resting on their heads, but the manifestation of the Holy Spirit was immediate and intense. Like ripe stalks of wheat before a coming storm, the women bowed down and began to pray aloud with passion and zeal. Spirit-inspired phrases and Scripture passages rolled out of their hearts and through their lips in a gushing river of intercession. "Expose the deeds of darkness, loose the chains of injustice, break the bands of the oppressor, proclaim freedom to the captives, cast down the accuser, establish truth and integrity, save the perishing, shine forth the light, reveal your glory." There were ebbs and flows, tears and sighs, but for more than an hour one after another would come to the head of the column and push forward the advance until yielding to the next in line.
When Naomi said, "In the strong name of Jesus Christ, amen," they sat back in their chairs and looked at one another in amazement.
"That was different," Kelli said.
"That was a prayer meeting," Naomi responded. (Robert Whitlow, The Trial, 264)
This was no ordinary, run-of-the-mill time of prayer. This was Spirit-directed prayer that specifically addressed the issues that concerned the Heavenly Father. THAT'S the type of prayer I want to learn. That type of prayer will totally transform our lives, resurrect our churches, and display the power of Jesus Christ to a desperate world.

I don't have the answers, but I know the One who is the Answer. I'm pursuing Him and adding my voice to those of the disciples who asked, "Lord, teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1, NIV)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hits and Misses (August 11-17)

It's been a busy week with lots of positive things happening. However, I need to tell you about the misses first so you can understand one of the hits. Just mixing things up a bit to keep you on your toes at the beginning of the new week!


  • Crime is the pits. This week, my sister's home was robbed. My first thought was that the a-hole was terrorizing them again. (I wouldn't put it past him, but this time he was wrongly accused in my mind.) Thankfully, no one was home yet and the thugs only got away with some electronics. It's a nuisance, but things can be replaced.
  • There are many things that I cannot do. I am well aware of that. However, I despise being underestimated by someone simply because of some prejudicial feelings on their part. Underestimate me and I am going to move Heaven and earth to prove you wrong. People annoy me sometimes.
  • Last weekend, my youngest niece asked if I had a copy of Avi's book Nothing But the Truth. She needed it by this Friday for school. I told her that I know I own a copy of it, but I can't put my fingers on it right away because my personal library is a mess! I'm ashamed to admit it, but bookshelves are piled with books, music, and CDs in total disarray. The situation is so out of hand that the floors in front of the shelves are covered with more books, making it difficult to even get to the shelves. 
  • Since I couldn't find the book, I decided to just do a little book shopping and get a copy for her. I went to my local Barnes and Noble on Sunday afternoon only to find that they were sold out. A new shipment was scheduled in 10 days. On Monday, I visited 3 other bookstores in the area with the same results. At each store, I gave my name and asked them to hold a copy for me when the shipment came in. When I got home on Monday afternoon, I immediately logged onto to order the book and paid an additional $5 for express shipping. Express shipping should have had the paperback here by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest; the package arrived on Saturday morning! I was livid!
  • Because of my dissatisfaction with Barnes and Noble, I took to the web. After sending an email to customer service via their website, I posted notes on both Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #BarnesandNoble and #fail. Within an hour -- and via 3 tweets -- I was informed that the shipping charges (which the website said could not be reimbursed) were credited to my charge card. I love the power of social media!
  • I knew the week was going to be busy, so I took some time out Monday afternoon to see the movie Fruitvale Station. It's not a "feel good" movie, but it was well written and powerful. Be warned, the dialogue is full of graphic language and the violence is disturbing. The film is based on the racially charged shooting that occurred in a BART station in Oakland, California in the early hours of New Year's Day, 2009.
  • Food returned to faithful favorites this week. In my opinion, the best of them all was the Parmesan Garlic Crusted Chicken. It's a replica of the dish served at Longhorn Steak House. I normally order it when I visit the restaurant -- although I didn't last Sunday since I knew we were having it for dinner this week -- and the home recipe is just as good!
  • I've filled this final week of summer vacation with good books. My favorite of the week was The Trial by Robert Whitlow. At the moment, I'm also enjoying Chevy Stevens' first novel, Still Missing, as well as Philip Yancey's book on prayer. Sadly I know that my reading time will be limited beginning next week. 
  • While attending various orientation meetings this week, it was great to get some positive feedback from a couple of new supervisors.....especially after experiencing some underestimation earlier in the week. The kind words were sincere and made me willing to help out as much as I can.
  • Thankfully, my cup is running over at the moment! Another section of College Survival was added to my course load on Friday morning. If the Saturday class actually gets enough students (which I'm still doubtful about), the new class will bring the grand total to 7 classes that I'll be teaching.....17 credit hours! I haven't had that large of a load since I was an undergraduate student. 
  • I decided to end the week with a visit to my favorite local library since I'm going to be spending a good amount of time there preparing for lectures, grading papers, and finding a quiet corner to recharge. I enjoyed the peaceful few hours that I spent browsing the shelves and soaking in the peaceful environment.
A new week is here and it's certain to have some adventure in it. I'll be meeting lots of new students and start teaching two new courses. It should be interesting to say the least!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Wishing and Hoping

It's hard to believe, but summer vacation is finally coming to an end. Where did the lazy days go? Between family travel, visits to various doctors, and taking a huge step of faith, I don't necessarily feel like I got a lot of time to rest. At the same time, I'm really looking forward to getting back into the classroom. Surprising, huh?

After so many semesters of being micromanaged and told what to teach, I'm really looking forward to going into a classroom where I've been told I'm in charge. My job is to teach the material to my students in the way that will best benefit them. I wasn't handed a pre-formulated syllabus that told me how many points the course had to contain and what types of assignments I had to give. It's refreshing to be offered the opportunity to teach what I know by an institution that acknowledges my competence and trusts me. What impact does this have on me? It means I'm busting my butt to do a good job and I'm excited to teach. That excitement is contagious and my students are going to benefit because of it (even if they don't realize it immediately). There's a lesson to be learned there about stifling employees, I think. Too bad I don't expect that those who most need to learn the lesson will do so anytime soon. C'est la vie!

Now I find myself holding my breath, wishing and hoping. I'm hoping for a good semester. I'm wishing for classes filled with students that are ready to be engaged with the content. I'm hoping those students are found in all six classes that start next week. Actually, I'm hoping that the Saturday class doesn't have enough students enrolled to make. (How did I get conned into teaching a class on Saturday morning again?)

Oh well......we'll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens. In the meantime, I'll keep my eyes focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. The end comes sometime in early December!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Avoided Tasks

We all face them everyday. Tasks that we know that we should complete. Things that will benefit us personally. They come in many forms.....repairs around the house, a healthier diet and exercise regiment, a consistent devotional life, professional development classes......but they all fall by the wayside because of the same obstacle. Life gets in the way.

I don't have time for that.

I'll do it later.

There are other urgent issues that need immediate attention.

We are so busy that we ignore the benefits that would come by doing what we know we should. Occasionally we finally decide to begin work on one of our tasks, but we find ourselves defeated before we even begin. The job is too big for us. The commitment required is too great. What do we do?

I'm finally taking on a couple of the tasks that I've been avoiding in my life for a while. Here's what I'm learning along the way that I hope will be helpful to you as you pursue your own avoided tasks.

  • Regularity is essential. I've got to consistently chop away at the task at hand in order to make progress. The easiest way I've found to insure regularity is to make it part of my schedule. The task is included on my daily to-do list and time is set aside. I make every effort to guard that time against interruption and accomplish the job. For me, the earlier in my day, the better. 
  • Perfection is not possible. Even though it's scheduled, there are days where I'm not going to make progress. That's okay! The key is to forgive yourself for your "failure", brush yourself off, and get back to it the following day.
  • Rome wasn't built in a day. Most of these avoided tasks are not going to be accomplished quickly. Realize it, accept it, and persevere. I've broken the task down into manageable chunks. That keeps me focused on the task immediately at hand and helps me avoid the inevitable sense of being overwhelmed.
  • Celebrate success! Whenever I hit a milestone in my task, it's time to celebrate. Organized a closet that's been neglected far too long? Reward yourself. Lost your first 10 pounds? PARTY! Celebration reminds us of what we have accomplished and assures us that we can continue on the journey.
  • Don't overload yourself. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. I can't modify my environment, behavior, and career all at the same time. If I try to do that, I'm setting myself up for failure. (Trust me, I know this from personal experience.) Step back, look at the situation, and prayerfully ask for direction of what needs attention first. Begin working in that area. As you get a handle there and begin to establish a habit in your routine, then you're ready to add another task.
Whatever it is that you've been avoiding, knock out the voices that are telling you it's too difficult. Make a plan and get to work. After all, if you start and don't find success you've learned what doesn't work. Dust yourself off, examine the situation again, and make another attempt. If it's worth it to you, you will find success and finally achieve the thing you've been avoiding so long!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Hits and Misses (August 4-10)

A lot has happened this week, so let's get right down to business.


  • There's only one new recipe that was a success this week: Crescent Lasagna Pie. We liked the flavor a lot and think that the only change we want to make next time is to use biscuits instead. 
  • Summer reality TV is reaching its climax. I will admit that I'm addicted. I love watching Big Brother, The Bachelorette, and Project Runway. (Be nice.....don't judge me!) What's the draw? All of the drama and stupid people. This way I can laugh at people without having to do so behind their backs.
  • Every month, Dad has a meeting somewhere around the state on a Thursday evening. I always look forward to these days because I get to spend some quality time with Mom without anyone else around. Things were really relaxed with a quick trip to Colton's for dinner with great conversation and lots of laughter.
  • I finally finished Winter of the World this week. I'm finding that I really enjoy Ken Follett's writing style and his story development. I'll probably check out some more of his works, but not right away. After a 940 page saga, I need something a little lighter. 
  • A lot of my life as a musician has been tied up with productions of American musicals. I'm sad to say that I don't know a lot of the stories of the shows that I haven't done though. This week, I finally sat down and watched South Pacific on DVD. The scenery was amazing, the cast brought the characters to life, and the story of racism and war is still relevant. The singing left something to be desired though.
  • The kitchen was an absolute mess on Sunday afternoon as Mom and I tried out a new recipe for Iced Lemon Cookies. They were a lot of work and very involved. They were not very tasty and ended up in the trash shortly after we finished. That's right......they were so bad that we were embarrassed to give them away!
  • I am naturally a planner, but I hate putting together a course syllabus. These documents get longer every year. The new material isn't included because I'm adding course content. No......I'm clarifying expectations so students don't have loopholes and I don't have to spend valuable time with administrators explaining situations. I just want to teach! My greatest hope is that one day I will experience a class that truly wants to learn something rather than just get by.
  • Going to the dentist sucks! There's no better way to say it. I guess I hate it so much because I've had so many traumatic experiences in the chair. That means I generally don't go unless there's a problem. I've finally found a dentist that I do like and his staff is kind and gentle. This week, I needed to have some deep cleaning done. I wasn't looking forward to it at all, but knew it was necessary. Even though I hated going and having the work done, I have to admit that it wasn't as bad as I expected; there was only one deep pocket that was really painful. Thank Heaven for topical anesthetics that numb the whole mouth!
  • What's more painful than the dentist? Meetings that don't apply to me! Over the course of the week, I have sat in 5 hours of meetings. Only one hour of those actually involved new information that was pertinent to me.....even though I won't be using it for 3 months. What do you bet I'll have to sit through another meeting then to explain what I need to know? Ugh!
That's my week in review. Next week should be interesting as I continue my prep for the upcoming semester and make some decisions about possible gigs. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Continuing Adventures of the Geriatric Ward

Living with senior citizens is always an adventure. There are moments of intense humor, challenging emotions, and undeniable love. Depending on the day, it is my pleasure or curse to live in my parents' home. Thankfully the good days outnumber the bad and most days are sprinkled with things we can all laugh about.

This week's adventure involved counting. While sitting in the living room, I overheard my parents discussing some missing capsules from a recently filled prescription. At first I thought we were talking about one or two pills and shook my head as I acknowledged their thriftiness. When I stepped into the kitchen, I saw Dad furiously "ciphering" and concluding that the pharmacy had failed to include over 50 doses of medicine.

Mom continued to look at the bottle and exclaimed that the pharmacist must have known that they had not filled the entire prescription since "2/3" was written on the label. I started to ask a few questions and learned that the medicine was picked up last week and was to be a three month supply. That's 90 pills! Even the most incompetent pharmacy tech would notice the absence of over 50 pills. I decided to dig a little deeper. When I asked if she had gotten any other meds on that trip, Mom excitedly told me that she was given two additional bottles of the same medicine. When I looked at the bottles, I could barely control my laughter. The other containers were labeled "1/3" and "3/3"! When was the last time you tried to explain to your parent that something was broken up into three parts for ease of packaging? When she asked if it mattered that she was taking the medicine in bottle #2 first, I nearly died!

The funny part? This wasn't an uncommon occurrence! It's just another example of my daily life in the geriatric ward.....and I'm having a blast.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Here We Go!

I am still in denial. I don't want to accept the fact that August is here again. That means it's time to start prepping for another semester of teaching. This has gotten to be a normal routine and not too difficult. This year, however, I'm facing a couple of new challenges.  All I know is that both of these should be interesting and provide some entertainment in the months ahead.

The first new challenge comes at Mid-South Community College. This semester I'll be returning to my teaching of College Survival Skills. If you've spoken with me very much about teaching, you know this is a class that I have DESPISED teaching in the past. The major problems were results of course content, technology issues, and lack of clear expectations for the faculty. Since the program has undergone a total transformation at the hands of a gifted faculty director, I have high hopes for the program at the moment. Faculty members will function as advisors and mentors to the students, a fact that I think will result in better dialogue between students and teachers. The only downside for me is that I have been assigned the Saturday morning section of the course. Ugh! I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about this by acknowledging that I'll be done with my teaching at 10am and have the rest of the weekend to myself. We'll just have to see if I can maintain the same positive outlook for the next 16 weeks! As this post is being published, I am sitting in the first of several training sessions for the faculty members teaching College Survival. (Just so there's no misunderstanding, I schedule my posts to publish at 10am on MWF. I've not been blogging while in the seminar!)

The more exciting (and frightening) new challenge will take place at Union University. This fall I will teach the third semester of the class piano sequence. There are two sections of the course that I'm scheduled to cover. I'm excited because I'm finally getting to teach a major course in my discipline. I'm frightened nervous because I've done a limited amount of class piano teaching in graduate school. I know I'm capable of successfully teaching the course and look forward to the challenge. I just have to get my mind wrapped around what's ahead and begin planning for a new course.

For those of you doing the math, that's 2 new courses (3 sections total) added to 3 sections of music appreciation as well as continuing as one of Union's staff pianists. That's 6 classes! I'm thrilled! I'm also going to be a very busy man who is going to be burning up the roads between West Memphis and Jackson. For now, I wouldn't have it any other way either.  I suppose the only thing to say is that it's almost time for the craziness insanity fun to begin!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hits and Misses (July 28-Aug 3)

I'm very happy to report that my sinus infection is coming to an end. Since I wasn't always feeling well, I didn't take as many photos this week to include in my post. Hopefully I'll get back to taking some fun pics next week. Either way, here are the hits and misses of this week.


  • Since I've been searching for a full-time music job since 2009, any interview is a great thing. The week began with a brief phone interview with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Union University. The entire interview took about 15 minutes and was very relaxed. I was asked a couple of questions I didn't totally expect, but I was pleased with the answers that I gave. Even though it was a low-stress interview, it was a good opportunity to practice for the interview I hope comes down the road.
  • Talk about a quick turn around! The day after the interview, I received a packet of forms to complete and received a contract for adjunct teaching at Union this year. I'll be teaching two sections of Class Piano to music majors preparing for their piano proficiency exam. It's gonna be an exciting adventure for me. I'm thrilled to have a class on my plate that I'm really looking forward to teaching.
  • Much of the week has been spent in text message conversations with a young fraternity brother at Pepperdine. He was asking lots of questions about various experiences I had during my time as a Lambda. It was nice to remember the fun and foolishness while realizing that the group's legacy and commitment to service continues. I'm thrilled to still be a part of this group as an alumnus and honored to count many of the current actives as friends.
  • On the food front, there's only one new recipe that qualifies as a hit. This week we tried Cheeseburger Pasta

Truthfully, I should have thought of this recipe on my own. It's super easy! You literally cook the pasta and ground beef separately, make a cheese sauce, and mix everything together. We found that it needed a little more salt than the recipe calls for. Even though it's simple, it was a welcome quick dinner in the middle of a long week.

  • Even though I'm thrilled about the new teaching opportunities, I hate paperwork. The packet from Union hit my desk at the same time as some work from MSCC that I didn't know about. So I sat at my desk with a pounding sinus headache while trying to think clearly in order to complete everything accurately and in a timely manner. It's certainly not my favorite combination.
  • I'm part of a team of teachers at MSCC who are taking on new roles in the school's College Survival course. The jury is still out on how that's going to go. Since it's under new leadership (thankfully) and has been completely overhauled, the faculty need some training sessions. We've heard they were coming all summer, but just got the schedule of events this week. That meant that I had to adjust my schedule to fit them in. Normally that's not a problem; this week, Mom and I both had doctor's appointments that I had to adjust. Everything worked out, but I still don't like the stress of last minute shuffling. Can't the world just get as organized as I am? Really!  (Now it's time to take the tongue out of my cheek and move on....)
  • I suppose I should be extremely thankful that this week's sinus infection never exploded in my head. It really wasn't that bad. HOWEVER, with the two cold fronts that came through this week and the rain that accompanied them, I have suffered with achy teeth and jaws much of the time. I don't have a high pain tolerance anyway, but when my mouth hurts, I am miserable! 
  • There's not a picture of the food disaster of the week: Chicken Cordon Bleu Pillows. The recipe sounds like it should be a hit.....cream cheese, chicken, bacon, ham, and cheese wrapped in a crescent roll. Mom scheduled them for the middle of week, so she was tired from work and I was dealing with my teeth at the moment. The crescents didn't want to stretch as the recipe calls for. The bread crumbs were grainy. The pillows never got hot on the inside. I'm not going to say the recipe is a dud.....but our first experience was bad enough that we won't be repeating it again. We'll continue to enjoy Paula Deen's yummy Chicken Cordon Bleu casserole and call it good!
  • Formatting issues also drive me nuts! Once I inserted the picture above in the "hits" the formatting went wild. Not sure what's going on with Blogger at the moment, but it's certainly tempting to move everything over to Wordpress......Ugh!

Friday, August 2, 2013


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Sometimes it's easy to forget when blogging that people are actually reading what you're putting into cyberspace. I write about my life and experiences. I blog what is of interest to me at the moment. I make fun of myself and my family. I vent my frustrations and annoyances. I remind myself of important lessons that I've learned. In the past few weeks, I've had two reminders that others are reading these comments.

I have a professional blog, Collaborations, that I devote to all things related to music. I share stories about teaching music appreciation, performing, practicing, teaching, and church music issues. In early July, I posted a review of a new book about the music of the 18th century. The review was overall very positive. I mentioned that some of the theoretical discussions got in the way of my enjoyment of the study. Imagine my surprise while driving home from visiting family to receive an email from the book's author! The email was very short and kind; it also included suggested reading that might change my feelings about the theories I found confusing. I was thrilled. A notable figure in musicology had read my blog.....and I had said nothing extremely offensive! Whew! I replied to the email, thanking the author for his recommendations that I have added to my reading list. (Now I just need to find time to actually READ the books!)

Yesterday morning, I got another reminder. A woman from southern California posted a comment on my FaceBook fan page telling me how much she enjoyed reading my blog. She mentioned how refreshing it was to read about musical issues from a Christian perspective. I have never met this young woman although we share two mutual friends via FaceBook. There is no logical reason to explain our connection. At first, I was tempted to think the post was nothing more than spam. Then I compared her comments with the normal spam I deal with on the page. It was clear that she is a real visitor. Talk about an ego boost and a reminder that people are watching and reading! (See.....I really do read your comments and appreciate hearing from you!)

I enjoy blogging (which should be obvious by now) and strive to present thoughtful and inspiring material on a regular basis. I never want to present myself in any way that is not honest. I simply want to be myself. Sometimes that may come across as harsh or critical, but I hope that in everything I write my desire to be a godly man shines through.

Whether you are writing an email, a note to your children, or a blog, remember that someone is going to read your words and that they're listening to what you have to say. How will your words portray you today?