Friday, December 28, 2018

The Retrospection Projection

This is my year-end blog post, where I recap, reminisce, ponder & project…

2018 was nothing spectacular, I mean nothing major happened in my life, it was really comprised of a bunch of little things:

December/January: On New Years Eve, I was in a car accident; it was snowing heavily, visibility was about two feet, I ran off the road & hit a tree. Both my car & myself were a little banged up but we both survived & I spent the first few weeks of 2018 indoors w/ vertigo. Ever since then I've been a bit skittish about driving in the snow & at night. I'm hoping for a mild Winter this time around… but I am grateful to be able to walk away from an accident & this year I've not taken anything for granted.

April: On Good Friday I accidentally dropped my Passport external drive & lost all my genealogy research stored on there: 40+ years of records, writings, stories, maps & pics that were almost ready for publication. I was heartbroken & numb for a couple of weeks, however, I got over it. I re-learned that things in this life are temporary… yes, the loss was great but I decided to eventually start over from scratch so in my spare time (whatever that is) I've been picking back up on it. One of these days I'll get it together & get it published…

May: I finally had it out w/ my power mower; I had almost pulled my arm out of my socket trying to get it started & when it finally decided to start, it screeched & wailed like a banshee when the cord continually got stuck so I permanently & quietly, retired it. Well, my (as well as my elderly neighbor's) lawn still needed to be mowed so I pulled out the old, vintage Craftsman push reel mower that's been in my family for five or six decades, cleaned it up, adjusted the blades & went to work on the lawn. It was wonderful, so quiet, so soothing, so eco-friendly... the lawn looked even & manicured. I'm not going back to power mowers, ever.



July: The Lord had dropped in my heart the idea of acoustic worship services at my fellowship w/ a small team of people who weren't regularly active in the Worship Team, so I submitted the idea to the leadership & it was [surprisingly] received. So once a month, on the third Sunday of the month, the Acoustic Team gives the Worship Team a break & it's been good just getting back to basics, just two acoustic guitars & two singers; at least it gets me out of the sound booth! 



Note: Don't get me wrong, I don't mind serving, I don't mind helping out in the sound booth I just don't want to get burned out doing it & trust me, I'm starting to feel a little singed. On a month w/ five Sundays I'm in the booth three of them because right now we just don't have the coverage & can't pull anyone from anywhere else… but I'm believing for God to send us some sound people, some video people, some drummers & send them soon. 

August: I finally had the chance to do something that's been on my heart for a long time: The Mayberry Bible Study. When the leader of our Men's Group had taken a contract out of town, he asked me to lead the group for a few months until his contract ended in December, so I introduced the MBS to the guys as something that was different, fun & refreshing. So many things connected w/ “Church” are so, so serious = classes, worship, sermons, discipleship, etc & this was something that was lite & non-threatening. We simply meet, watch an episode of The Andy Griffith Show & discuss the Biblical & moral lessons from that episode then end in prayer; it's that simple. Oh & we laugh too!



September – November: I've been cleaning up things at the church building & painting some rooms to be used for teaching & you know what? I enjoyed doing it. On top of that, I gave the Music Room a makeover, it needed one. I'm very happy w/ it now as it's cozy & cozy leads to creativity. The room is also ready for some video/live video stuff. The only thing I have left is to have a few of the guys frame out a vocal recording booth then it'll be 100% done! 

Before


After


Before 


 After


Yeah, I've been busy...

December: My little brother became a grandfather. I remember when my brother was born... when he became a father for the first time... & now, there's another generation on the scene. I'll be honest on two things: I'm happy for him & his wife, this is a new era & they'll be good grandparents, spoiling him & loading him up on sugar just before giving him back to his mother; secondly, I do at times wrestle w/ feeling old & alone. However, it's hit me just how much God is my source, my supply, my focus & my life. When the loneliness hits, I simply say out loud, “Father, You're my source” & suddenly my focus changes. As I grow in grace I find I'm more content... If I don't have someone it's because, obviously, I don't need someone. If I need someone, God will supply them. You either believe that God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus or you don't, it's that simple. 

So, that sums up 2018; it's been a year of change & I'm hoping that 2019 will bring even more change & promise to my life.

I have some goals for 2019:

This Winter I need to lose about 40-45 pounds & trim up before Spring hits; if this mild Winter continues that's a realistic goal.

Along w/ a couple of solo CDs I'm slowly working on I'd like to get a couple of CDs recorded of the musicians in the fellowship, one of those being a Christmas CD of songs in the public domain; interest & scheduling are major factors in any of these goals… 

Vlogging, music videos & video stuff are a very real possibility.

I do hope to have a Kids Music Room in place at my fellowship by February/March 2019 & that'll be nice for them; a place to put on the headphones & bang on the keyboards to their heart's desire…

I need to work on being more social. I don't like big cities, I don't like big crowds & I'm not crazy about parties but I need to really make the effort to get to know more people & to interact.

There's things to do, people to serve, CDs to be recorded & Wintry roads to be avoided.

Methinks 2019 is going to be okay.

  

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Best of Both Worlds

I've been thinking of streamlining my social media accounts down to two, perhaps three & I've been pondering the possibility of asking my friends & family this question:

“If you had to choose & use only 1 or 2 social media platforms, 
which one(s) would you keep & which ones would you ditch?”

If I had to venture an answer, I'd bet even money on Facebook & Instagram coming out on top. Let's face it (no pun intended), Facebook is easy:
  • Sign up
  • Find friends
  • Add friends
  • Post things
  • Like things
  • Chat and/or Facetime

That pretty much sums up Facebook, it's extremely easy & w/ Messenger you can chat/group chat & Facetime people all over the planet. Instagram is just as easy: create an account & post pics and/or videos, wait for the comments.



As for me, I think I would narrow my accounts down to Twitter & Google+. I hate Facebook, I always have but I have an account there for three reasons: family, classmates, official FB Music Page; that's it. I'm rarely on there & I just don't care to be…



When I first joined Twitter I didn't “get it”, I thought to myself, “What's the fuss? This thing is over-hyped” but once I  discovered Tweetdeck, Twitter finally came alive for me. Tweetdeck has four columns: 
  • Home 
  • Notifications 
  • Messages
  • Activity 



Home is your feed, it continuously live updates so there's no refreshing. Notifications shows you who liked & who re-tweeted your tweet(s). Messages naturally shows you your messages & Activity displays the activity of those you follow (what they liked, what they commented on, etc). It's customizable too, you can delete columns or add a column to notify you when certain hashtags are used. I'm really glad they doubled the character limit to 280, that was the right move. I've met many interesting people on Twitter & I do get some interaction on it, so that is one social media platform I would keep. Here's a rundown of Twitter's features:
  • 280 character limit
  • Real-time feed
  • Moments
  • Trending
  • "In the moment"/20-30 minute shelf-life on topics
  • Hashtag search



Google+ is a whole different animal & I loved it from the start. In the beginning it tried to be like Facebook but quickly realized the folly of that pursuit & it grew into it's own. The neat thing is you connect w/ people & then place them into Circles & you can then post to certain Circles; so if you have a Political Circle & say a Tennis Circle, you can choose to post to the appropriate Circle. There's Communities on virtually every topic & Collections are very much like Instagram/Pinterest. The Discover feature is Google+'s answer to Twitter's trending feature but to me it's just not interesting… hey, I'm being honest! 

So Google+ is a very powerful social media platform, after all it's powered by Google & here's a quick rundown of it's features:
  • Circles
  • Communities
  • Collections
  • Discover
  • unlimited character posts 
  • hashtag searches
  • real-time & ongoing conversations/long shelf life on topics


I have to say something about HangoutsHangouts was an incredible feature of Google+, in my opinion the best feature. Unsigned music artists would have Hangouts right from their homes as several people all over the country/globe watched, joined in & it was simply unique, interactive & fun. Alas, as of late 2016 the powers that be moved Google+ Hangouts/Hangouts on Air to Youtube Live but it hasn't been completely removed from Google+, just kinda hidden. 

Hangouts is very much like Skype but much more stable. There's four ways you can use Hangouts:

Google+: Simply click on a person's profile & there's the option called Hangout where you can Hangout w/ that person if they accept your invite.



Gmail: Open your Gmail & in the lower left-hand corner you'll see the Hangouts feature, add invites to people or chat/video call those already in your accepted invites.



Hangouts Home Page: Go to https://hangouts.google.com, log in w/ your Google account, invite/add someone to Hangout & there you are!



Smart Phone: Most every smart phone has the Hangouts app built-in or available, simply click the icon, again log in w/ your Google account & either chat or click the video camera icon & voila, you're video conferencing!



Note: I didn't intend for this to be a promotional page for Google & it's products but I like them, most everything is integrated & I use them.  



So I think, if I had to choose only two, I would choose Twitter & Google+ as my two social media platforms; Twitter is real-time & widely used, Google+ is interest-centered & has all the features of many other social media platforms. 




Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Acoustic Experience

I've been playing guitar for almost 30 years & been involved in worship ministry for almost as long. Unlike most people who learn on acoustic & switch to electric, I was the opposite.  I began learning on electric & once I could play well w/ others, I was asked to be in a Christian garage band, writing & performing all original songs & eventually was asked to play on the worship team at my fellowship, where it was the exact opposite of the band setting. For the first few years of worship ministry I was basically in a holy cover band, we covered everything by everyone! Eventually though, some original worship songs came forth & some really good recording projects were made.



Getting back to my original point… in the band, I was a rhythm guitarist, on the worship team I was forced to play lead as all the other guitarists were strictly rhythm players; so in worship ministry I focused on soloing & playing “around” the lead rhythm instrument(s). 

When I got a little bored w/ playing electric, I became interested in learning acoustic, so I picked it up & learned some acoustic rhythm skills & fingerpicking styles but because I had played lead for so long I naturally transferred that to acoustic guitar & developed a different playing style.

So 30 years later I still play & record electric guitar but for the last 7 months or so I've been really drawn to & focused on  acoustic playing, especially my 12-string but I do still love my 6-string, the effects are kinda heavy on it... 

Now, there's some acoustic purists out there: those who strongly believe that the acoustic guitar should be the most pure instrument & therefore have zero effects on it. Then there are others who believe in minimal acoustic effects: a slight compressor, a slight chorus/reverb & that's it. A third group are those who believe that the acoustic guitar is fair game for any & all effects, just create your sound & run w/ it; I'm a part of the last group :)

Now there's some great Christian acoustic players: Steven Curtis Chapman, Darrell Evans & Matthew West to name a few & there's also some great artists in the secular arena who have some impressive acoustic chops & I'm going to give you a sampler of some of my acoustic/acoustic driven favorites from both sides:

Note: All videos/songs are the properties of their respective owners, no copyright infringement intended!

Steven Curtis Chapman, “The Walk”
SCC is always a joy to listen to & also to watch,
I can learn alot from his playing style.



Guardian, “The Way Home Back”
Guardian's "Swing Swang Swung" psuedo-acoustic CD is still one of my
all time favorites: great lyrics, great riffs & rhythms & great stuff!



Guardian, “Like the Sun”



Andrew Ellis, “Joe”
Andrew Ellis from Ellis Guitars shows his acoustic chops!



Chris Daughtry, “It's Not Over”
I love Chris Daughtry's style & stuff, his acoustic versions are just as good as the originals!



Chris Daughtry, “Outta My Head”



Alice in Chains, “Your Decision”
'Not a huge fan of AIC but I do like this song & I do like the acoustic version of it;
'also digging the 12-string!



Chris Isaak, “Lie to Me”
MTV Unplugged was one of the better ideas & endeavors & this acoustic
performance by Chris Isaak is top notch.



Foreigner, Acoustic Concert in Germany
I grew up listening to Foreigner & watching these guys kick back
& flawlessly play acoustic versions of their hits still impresses me.



Craig Chaquico, Acoustic Guitar Lessons
I never knew how much of my playing style style is similar to Craig Chaquico's & in this video he not only plays some of his songs but goes behind the scenes in how he wrote them.



If you notice, all these artists are sitting down when they play acoustic & when I play acoustic, I'm sitting too; it's kinda natural & casual, people relate to that.

I hope you enjoyed these acoustic samplers, as you can see there's no one way or one correct way to play or add effects to acoustic guitar, it's all good! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Personal Log 8.28.18

So I'm trying to drop 45 pounds. 

How I gained those 45 pounds is not important but I'll be honest: the past few Thanksgiving & Christmas Holidays didn't help. There's really no excuse though; I just haven't been exercising like I should have been, 'focusing more on guitar playing, teaching & recording. All that is changing…

About 5 months ago I was praying about losing weight & getting into shape again. I've been eating healthy: fruits, veggies, grains, chia seeds, yogurt, etc (& the occasional Pop-Tarts!) & I've been on the bike a few times this year but felt like there was something more to help jumpstart this regime. 



So after I prayed I felt led to go to the shed & found the old vintage push reel mower that's been in my family for at least 50+ years. I cleaned it up, adjusted/sharpened the blades & started using it. The grass was a little high (not bad) & after 15 minutes of arduous work I was worn out. I mean worn out: I was drenched in sweat, my arms & legs were on fire & I had only done a little section! I took a minute to re-think the situation... then went back at it & to make a long story short the first time I mowed the lawn w/ this vintage mower it took me 2 days whereas it usually took under 3 hours w/ the power mower. 

After a couple of days I was sore but decided to stick w/ the vintage mower. After a couple more days I went over the lawn again & it was so much easier to mow; after another couple of days I gave it a once over & it was a breeze, what used to take me around 3 hours w/ the power mower now took me less than half that time… The lawn has never looked better as the push reel mower snips the grass & doesn't rip it like a power mower does & the clippings go right back into the lawn to nourish it. 

Here's some benefits of the push reel mower:
  • it's a great aerobic workout; my arms & legs are feeling more toned & my middle is shrinking
  • it's eco-friendly: no gas = no emissions, w/ gas around $4 a gallon now it's also money saved
  • it's quiet, I can mow at 6 am & not wake the neighbors, I can pray/meditate on the Lord or pop in the ear buds & listen to an audio book 

Now this retro push reel mower is in great shape for it's age, they were really built to last however they do make new ones, some wider, some lighter, some w/ bags to catch the clippings & w/ prices between $35 - $135 they are flying off the shelves as more & more people are going retro & eco-friendly. I will say this though: at first it may seem hard & daunting but just like shaving your face, don't wait until you have a full beard to pull out the razor. I personally keep the lawn cut short & neat, so a quick buzz twice a week does the job.

I say all that to say this: sometimes the answer [to your prayers] may be unconventional & not what you expected. I had thought perhaps the Lord would give me some insight on what foods to eat/not eat or some special Biblical diet, etc but I never expected a vintage mower to be a part of my weight loss plan & I love it!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Personal Log 6.23.18

I tweeted this yesterday & wanted to clarify that it was not directed at anyone currently; it was something I had remembered from around ten years ago:

If there's one thing I've learned in ministry over the last 30-40 years it's this:
Don't yell at your volunteers. Why?
They're "volunteers".
They're unpaid people who could be doing other things w/ their time & talents or serving elsewhere.

#ThingsIveLearnedTheHardWay

I think it was 2007 or 2008 & I was playing guitar on our worship team. We had a full team back then, about 9-10 people on the platform each Sunday & 2-3 in the sound booth; it was, in some ways, the golden era of our fellowship w/ a pretty good percentage of people serving & serving joyfully.

We were having some sound issues at the time as we had a brick sanctuary & sound was bouncing off of the walls, even w/ several tectum panels plastered everywhere & w/ a full worship team on every Sunday you had vocal frequencies clashing w/ instrument frequencies & it was a sonic nightmare. The worship leader, of course, had to be heard & had to be able to hear both herself, her instrument & the other vocalists; that's just the way it was… everyone else was secondary & that was understood. We had ditched monitor wedges for in-ear monitors to eliminate platform noise, which in some ways, helped the overall mix. However, there were countless times when many of the musicians simply weren't turned up, both in the mains & in their personal monitor mix. This happened week after week.

Many people commented to me & to the other musicians, “well, we saw you playing but didn't hear you playing, all we heard was the worship leader”. After a while the mix got a little better but it was a rather frustrating time as the musicians just couldn't hear themselves & the sound guys appeared to not be doing anything about it, whether they were under orders or just incompetent is still a mystery to this day.

Well, after about 8-9 months of this nonsense I was ready to explode. One Sunday morning, during worship, I was called to play a couple of guitar solos & when the time came for them I couldn't hear a thing; the in-ear mix was terrible so I jerked the earbuds out of my ears & tried to play w/ the house mix, which was just as terrible. I couldn't find my place in the song(s) & on one song, I was playing in the wrong key. That song set was a disaster & I was more than embarrassed after the worship service ended. I wasn't just personally embarrassed, I was embarrassed for the team, for the fellowship & how everything lacked any resemblance to excellence; we had collectively fallen far short of that. 

I stormed past the worship team & went to the sound guy in the booth & gave him what for. I was so mad, so frustrated & when I got done w/ him I went to the men's bathroom & washed my face w/ cold water for about ten minutes, trying to calm down as I was physically shaking. In the meantime, the man overseeing the Sound Ministry popped into the sound booth to check on things & the sound man relayed what had happened. Naturally, the overseer wasn't happy & hunted me down, we met in the foyer & yelled at each other, almost coming to blows, the tension was really thick. So here was the pastor preaching his sermon in the sanctuary, blissfully unaware of the royal rumble that was brewing in the foyer. 

The overseer was seething, “Don't you ever talk to one of my guys like that again, ever!” That was the last straw for me, I should have just went to my car & drove home but I stood my ground. I said, “You wouldn't drive a car if you can't see, how am I supposed to play if I can't hear? This is nonsense, nine months of this & nothing has changed, it's gotten worse! What's the point of anyone but the worship leader being up there? We're not heard & we can't hear! It's all noise!” 

We were both red w/ rage & he said, “Don't yell at my volunteers! If you have an issue, you come to me, not them! If you can do better, you run sound!”

“I can't play & run sound at the same time! Are they the only volunteers in this building? Do I get paid? No! I'm also a  volunteer & I get yelled at plenty! Don't ever let this happen again, you've had months to fix this thing, fix it! I will hear or I won't play!” & we backed away from each other & I walked around the parking lot for a few minutes then left. I later e-mailed leadership & resigned from the worship team, packed up my gear later in the week & attended the following services for the next few months. 

In hindsight, I didn't handle that well; in fact I handled that completely wrong. Shortly after that, a couple of the sound guys left the fellowship & eventually, after much prayer & some other circumstances/reasons, I did also.

I've changed a lot since then... 

I share this story because this week, in prayer for the music & sound ministry, the Lord brought this event back to my memory. I had yelled at some volunteers & it had affected the fellowship. There was a better way, a more mature way, a more graceful way, of addressing the issue(s).

Fast-forward to the present, where the Lord has brought me back to this very fellowship which has new leadership & a much smaller music ministry team. In an ironic twist, I've recently been asked to serve temporarily in the sound ministry! So in the past couple of weeks I've been in the sound booth, serving, volunteering & I've gained a new perspective on this, on ministry as a whole. 

I heard someone say, “Well, Jesus yelled at His disciples” but Jesus didn't yell at them for serving. The majority of people are volunteers, they're volunteering their time & their talents to serve I appreciate that fact more & more. From the coffee ministry to the welcome center to the greeters to the ushers to the children's ministry to the music ministry to the sound ministry to the men's ministry to women's ministry to the visitation ministry to the social media ministry to whatever ministry, they're all volunteers & I never want to take anyone for granted or yell at anyone again.

Yes, there's excellence.
Yes, there's ongoing training.
Yes, there's a learning curve.
Yes, we're all human & mistakes will be made.  

 I'm honored to serve & grateful for a lesson learned, even one from ten years ago...    


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Personal Log 6.12.18

Everything in life is a choice.

You choose to love or you choose not to.
You choose to believe in God or you choose not to.
You choose to believe God or you choose not to. 
You choose to accept Jesus or you choose not to.
You choose to believe the Bible or you choose not to.
You choose to walk in/by faith or you choose not to.
You choose to serve or you choose not to.
You choose to bless or you choose not to.
You choose to wake up early or you choose not to.
You choose to exercise or you choose not to.
You choose to eat healthy or you choose not to.
You choose to study the Bible or you choose not to.
You choose to hone your skills or you choose not to.
You choose to engage or you choose not to.
You choose to change or you choose not to.
You choose to speak life or you choose not to.
You choose to edify or you choose not to.
You choose to worship or you choose not to.
You choose to budget your money or you choose not to.
You choose to budget your time or you choose not to.
You choose to ask for help or you choose not to. 
You choose to speak out or you choose not to.
You choose to shut up or you choose not to.
You choose to forgive or you choose not to.
You choose to move forward or you choose not to.
You choose to enjoy life or you choose not to.
You choose to criticize or you choose not to.
You choose to compromise or you choose not to.
You choose to let go or you choose not to.
You choose to be social or you choose not to be.
You choose to be vulnerable or you choose not to be.
You choose to be offended or you choose not to be.
You choose to be excellent or you choose not to be.
You choose to be obedient or you choose not to be.
You choose to be overwhelmed or you choose not to be.
You choose to be lazy or you choose not to be.



All things can be boiled down to free will, to having & making choices that will affect not only us but others on this planet. 

We've all been given the same amount of time, the same 24 hours since the dawn of Eden. Life is short & granted, not everything is work, work, work; there's rest, there's enjoying nature & hobbies & the fruits of our labors.

In talking w/ many friends I ask them about their lives & what's going on, sometimes their answers exhaust me. I think to myself, “how can anyone cram so much into their lives?”, I mean they wake up, go to work, go to school/sport functions, go to college classes, go to church classes, come home & eat, collapse into bed, rinse & repeat. You know what though? That kind of life is a result of their choices & what they choose to prioritize. 

Jesus sacrificed His life for us, but one way He modeled sacrifice before He went to the Cross was in getting up early & praying. He chose to sacrifice sleep to connect w/ the Father. He chose that for us. This is something that we've been talking about in the our Men's Meetings: choices, priorities, sacrifices, what is consuming our time, our day, our thoughts...  how often are we choosing to prioritize Bible study & praying? How often are we choosing to turn off the pc, phones & tvs that consume much of our time & lives?

There's nothing wrong w/ a little entertainment or even a power nap, Jesus was known to take one here & there; there's nothing wrong w/ supporting your kids sports activities, there's nothing wrong w/ higher  education, these things in of themselves are good but an over-busy life is not. 

I've heard countless excuses as to why people aren't involved, as to why they're not honing their gifts & talents, etc & to be honest, they're all just excuses, it's what they choose to prioritize in their given 24 hours. For some it was their choice to get married, their choice to have kids, their choice to browse online for hours & hours at night… for others, it was their choice to stay single, to master their instrument or their craft, to devote a certain amount of time for prayer & study & ministry… 

We're all different, we all have different lives & therefore different priorities but it doesn't change the fact that our choices, whatever they are, create either excuses or results & each has their respective consequences or rewards. 

We all have time but we all don't necessarily make time, everything in life is a choice... 

   

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Personal Log 5.12.2018

I heard the birds this morning.

Last night I slept w/ the window open & I woke up around 5 am, just laying there praying & the birds were chirping in their usual pre-dawn ritual. As I laid there I was reminded of just a few months earlier: we had a brutal & long Winter, it was cold & one particular morning I got up early to shovel; in fact it was around the same time: 5 am. The wind was blowing & as I was shoveling I kept pausing between the gusts. Yep, I heard right: there were birds chirping.



Most birds go south for the Winter but here in Michigan we have a species of birds that remain here all year long; how they survive is a mystery to me but God takes care of them somehow. 

I thought about that Winter moment this morning as I lay in my warm bed, the cool air massaging the room. I thought about how those birds use the voice that God gave them, it doesn't matter if it's warm weather, cold weather, good weather or bad, they use their voice.

Just this week in one of my walks I heard some geese flying overhead, honking their way north.. I also heard some seagulls in the distance & yesterday, I saw a pair of turtledoves & they were cooing to each other. A myriad of voices, all being heard... 

It's just a natural thing for creatures to use their voice yet for many people, they're afraid to. Many are afraid to speak up, to say anything, to use the voice that God gave them. For some it's a fear issue, for others it's a confidence issue:
  • What if someone doesn't like what I said?
  • What if someone is offended?
  • What if someone challenges me?
  • What if I can't answer or debate them?
  • What if I stutter or my mind goes blank?

We're all different & wired differently. I personally know some musicians who have no problem playing in front of 5 thousand people but freeze up in a coffeehouse setting… there are people who can really open up in a small group but can't speak in front of the congregation… there are those that that can't articulate on the fly but can post beautifully loquacious & coherent blogs… there are those that refuse to engage in political discourse but silently speak w/ their vote at the polls…

Your vote is your voice, if you don't vote you're letting someone else speak for you.   

Sometimes it's comparison that cripples a voice. I knew of a singer on my worship team several years ago that struggled w/ comparison; she didn't sing like another woman on the team & that bothered her, it crippled her voice & I told her, “Use the voice that God gave you. God gave her a certain voice & God gave you a different voice, she's using hers, use yours. So you don't sing like her, sing like you.” 

In my lifetime I've run into the same thing w/ other guitarists & guitar students; they try to play like famous guitarists & I tell them, “Are you them? No? Then don't try to play like them, develop your own style, your own sound & you'll be in a world of happy.” For many musicians, their instrument is their voice.

I Corinthians 15: 39-41
“Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.”

I don't tell people how to vote.
I don't tell people what to preach.
I don't tell people how to minister.
I don't tell people what to say.

I do encourage them to somehow find an expression for the voice that God gave them & like the birds in the dead of Winter or in the dawn of Spring use that voice in the good times, in the bad times, in every situation.

Be heard.