A time to sow, a time to reap

GrassAndSkyThere is a season

While I can’t profess to know a lot about farming, I do know that there is a large chunk of time when the farmer must wait between when the crop is planted and when it is ready to harvest. There will be regular tasks to perform to make sure the crop is nourished and produces the best yield possible, but for a large chunk of time, the farmer must simply be patient and trust. It can be hard to wait, but digging up a seed, potato or carrot to check on its progress not only won’t help it progress any faster, it will probably kill the progress! For me, this summer is a time for sowing seeds and waiting patiently for the growth that will come.


Summer has often been the time when I plan out the fall season of music for church. Planning has been one of the most stressful tasks of my church work. Trying to find the right balance of old and new music, both easy and challenging for an ever evolving group of singers that also fits with the readings of each Sunday is a challenging process. With plans this year to start a graded children’s choir program at Holy Redeemer, I have a new wrinkle to consider, so may not be able to plan as thoroughly as I would have in the past. I suppose I am a farmer trying out a new crop this fall: hoping for excellent results, but uncertain if the conditions will produce the best outcome.

Summer is also the time when many musicians organize their concert season for the next year. While everything is not settled yet, I am looking forward to several fabulous concert opportunities and compositional premieres in the next few months.

Patient Maintenance

Everyone copes with stress differently. I need a certain amount in order to keep me fully engaged, otherwise it’s very easy to slack off when the deadlines seem so far away. The unofficial motto of my high school was “If it’s not due today, it’s not due.” While I might not have been the most strict follower of that motto, I continue to struggle under it’s influence. This is my public reminder to myself to continue practicing my improvisations, learning repertoire and working on the pieces I already know I need to compose for this fall. It’s the patient part of farming that I find most difficult and seems to be most challenging to our instant gratification society.

Watermelon5KFinishSMRunning Ahead

I’ve been running in maintenance mode for the past couple of months, but managed to pick up a partner. My wife Karen has adopted the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude and ran her first 5K on July 4. It was a slow run for me, but I’m very proud of her. It was only a year ago that I became confident that I would be able to run a half-marathon, and now I’m signed up for the Dopey challenge at Disney! Before the race, she said she didn’t want to do anything longer than 5K, but afterwards she was asking when we could do a 10K, so maybe with a little encouragement, she might actually do a marathon one day! Today is her birthday, so be sure and congratulate her on the run and wish her a happy birthday. (if you don’t have contact info for her, you can use the form on her website here.) Help me plant and nourish the running seed that she has planted!

Wishing you a summer full of nourishment!

Newsletter Issue 25 – 2014 07 11
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Goals: Old and New

2014GreenHappy New Year!

I hope the Christmas holidays brought you much peace and joy with a chance to rest and recover amidst all the celebrating! As 2014 is approaching quickly, it seems appropriate to reflect on 2013 and consider how to make the best of the new year.


Last January, I made a few New Year’s resolutions. I was very intentional about choosing goals in different areas of life: health, social, professional, and spiritual. I regret to say that I didn’t accomplish all that I set out to do in 2013. The one area where I had the most progress and met my goal was in health: I successfully completed a half-marathon. I believe part of my success in this area was the public accountability that I established through my regular workout postings to Facebook. If you want to make sure you achieve something in 2014, be sure to find an accountability partner or a public forum that will keep you on track and encourage you to keep going.

Orlando2013FinishRaising the Bar

Even though I was never much of an athlete, after meeting my health goal for 2013, I have decided to raise the bar for 2014. Because I like a challenge, I have decided not simply to go for a full marathon, but to complete the Dopey Challenge in January 2015. Because this requires running a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and then a full marathon over four days, I want to make you a challenge to come and run one of the races with me. Doing them all is probably nuts, but surely one of them could be your health goal for 2014!

Professional and Social

Honestly, I’m not 100% certain what my professional goal was for 2013. (Maybe that’s why I didn’t make it….) This year, my goal is to get my psalter printed and available for sales and distribution. I’m hoping there will be many other compositions that will follow along as well, but the psalm settings have been sitting on the back burner long enough that it’s time they went public! As a secondary goal for 2014, I’d also like to have my own CD available. I have ideas for over a dozen recording projects, so feel free to let me know what you think I should record first.

I’m going to include travel as a social activity this year. My long standing travel goal is to make it to all 50 states before I reach age 50. In my college days on choir tour and auditions, I was ahead of schedule (at one state per year), but then I left the continent to live in Europe, and so now, I’m behind. I’d really like to knock two or three more states off my list this year. Below is a map of where I’ve been so far. Only in airports in the red states, overnight in the orange ones, at least twice to the blue ones, and I have lived for extended times in the green ones. Alaska and Hawaii aren’t shown because I haven’t been there yet…. Create your own version here: http://www.defocus.net/visitedstates/


While I’ve had some wonderfully moving spiritual experiences during different worship services in 2013 (most notably at the RSCM Course in Tulsa, Advent Lessons and Carols, and The Messiah), my goal for 2013 was to go on a week long silent retreat. Because I was not able to do that in 2013, I am going to try again for 2014. I know now that I must schedule the time in advance on my calendar before other activities make it impossible for me to get away.

And what about you?

I’ve shared some of my goals and plans for 2014 with you. Will you share your plans now with me? Choose a couple of different areas in your life where you’d like to change or do something new and exciting. Let me know what they are, and if I can do anything to help you out or keep you on track, I’ll do my best to work with you so that we may all have a happy and prosperous new year!

Wishing you all the best for 2014!


Newsletter Issue 12 – 2013 12 31
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