Category Archives: Grateful

Fall’s March Madness

Springboro Band 1999

Even though I wrote this twenty years ago while our own daughter was in marching band, this reflection still holds true today.  For there are thousands of band parents and family members that embrace fall as their time; when their own beloved teenagers transform into musical warriors…enjoy!

Along with brilliant colors and cool crisp nights, autumn ushers in activities that have long been anticipated. Football games, fall festivals and pumpkin patches are each eagerly welcomed with enthusiasm as multitudes of folks try to take advantage of the last remaining weeks of good weather. However, there is one spectator sport that is usually overlooked at this time of year, even though it is just as exciting as the other fall events. High school marching band competitions have more to offer the public than just a pleasurable experience for the eye and ear. A marching band can be a source of pride for a local community, county or even a state. For the supporters of the marching band, a high school marching band invitational can be more thrilling and rewarding than the proverbial, Friday night, high school football game. The 20th Annual Troy Invitational was a perfect platform to prove this point.

A very cold, stiff breeze from the North swept over Troy High School stadium, converting the aluminum bleachers into what seemed to be cold, marble mausoleum benches. Mother Nature’s treachery had turned this early October weekend into a frigid preview of the oncoming winter’s wrath. Squirrels scampered about on the green just north of the stadium, trying to locate last minute morsels that could be stored away for the long haul. The sun was just setting, playing hide and seek behind drifting clouds. The sun’s rays warmed the face and gave a temporary reprieve from the cutting wind. The aroma of popcorn and hot chocolate mingled together as it wafted past the nostrils of hungry patrons waiting to be seated in the stadium.

Parents, relatives, friends, and music lovers representing different school districts began to fill the stands. The entourage, wearing the school colors of choice, carried everything necessary to cheer on their band as well as an ample supply of blankets, hats, and gloves to help combat the numbing cold. As individuals began making their way into the stadium, the school colors they wore became an instant identifier, attracting other like members into their self-proclaimed cheering sections. These colorful groups of spectators made the stadium appear as if it were draped by a giant’s patchwork quilt. Trophy laden tables were displayed in front of the spectators; the trophies served as laurels given for a battle well fought. The anxious crowd fidgeted with anticipation as the first band prepared for war.

The first ensemble meandered onto the field and began to perform a “fingernails across the chalkboard” rendition of “Hooray for Hollywood”. The field commander fought for control of the unruly mob of musicians but reluctantly resigned herself to follow the laboring beat of the bass drum. The color guard cautiously pranced around while watching one another, unsure of the next routine. Tonight was not the night for this unit to clinch a victory; another weekend perhaps. All eyes were already staring at the next band to engage in musical combat.

The Springboro High School marching band stepped on the field with a confidence and self-assurance worthy of their reputation as a tough opponent. The musicians wore royal blue and black uniforms accentuated by a silver sequined sash across the chest. The performance began with a dramatic fanfare, followed by an intricate African beat. The color guard moved and gyrated to the music, transforming bright, colorful flags into spinning, hypnotic dervishes. The band continued moving from one complex formation to another, horns resonating melodies and exchanging fluent harmonies with the woodwinds. The performance ended as it had begun, with the same addictive fanfare. In the stands, the cold lifeless spectators sprang into animation as the crowd stood to their feed in applause. For a brief moment, the stadium belonged to the one hundred plus teenagers on the field. But only for a fleeting moment, for as in real life, there always seems to be bigger and better competition to battle against.

As the competition came closer to the finale, the largest marching units prepared to perform. The full, rich sounds that radiated from the field could only come from a band with over two hundred plus instruments. Grove City would be the easy victor tonight, take the Grand Champion award. In actuality, all of the performers were victorious; they were true winners.

The next time you are at a football game and the band marches out on the field during the halftime show, remember this. They are not actually there to entertain you; it is just another practice. The real competitive performance occurs every weekend in front of family, friends, and others who give up their fall afternoons to become band supporters.

This dedicated group of encouragers will cheer with enthusiasm whether or not their band is the best or worst. They will sit in the stands through sun, wind, rain, or snow just to offer one more, “YOU CAN DO IT!”. And their favorite band will gratefully respond back with a melodic, “THANK YOU”.

Loyalty Binds Me

crown enhanced

This past fall and winter, an unfortunate series of circumstances occurred which resulted in a couple of necessary surgeries.  Without going into gruesome details, let’s just say the whole experience didn’t sit very well with me.

While recuperating in the weeks that followed, I started reading the Kingfountain series, which is a set of nine books written by Jeff Wheeler and which came highly recommended by a friend of mine.  The fictional series reflected a medieval time, complete with lords and ladies, good and evil, heroes and villains, and of course, kings and queens.  Well written and full of twists and turns, it was an easy task to devour one book after another.  But there was one common thread that bound the series; one united mindset that set the hero aside from all the others.  It was a profound thought, a vow turned lifestyle, an utterance and motto in which the hero and others like him wholeheartedly lived and yes, ultimately died declaring…”Loyalty Binds Me”.

The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “loyalty” as: implying a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.  One definition of the dictionary also describes the word “binds” as: to make a firm commitment for.  Together, these two words combine to form an impenetrable covenant.  Owen, the consummate hero in the series, takes this oath so seriously that he risks his own life to overthrow the evil king he serves under in order to ensure the rightful heir is secured as king of Ceredigion.

Back in the present day, the here and now, commonly called reality, we don’t hear so much about loyalty any more.  In fact, we seem to see a lot of just the opposite; a mindset of disloyalty or unfaithfulness has unfortunately become commonplace.  Whether one is disloyal to one’s job, spouse, church, friends, country or even God,  the attitude of being disloyal or unfaithful can turn a life, marriage, business and/or community completely up…side…down.  You could argue that your workplace does not support you, that your spouse doesn’t attempt to communicate or understand you, that if God really loved us, He wouldn’t allow bad things to happen to good people or any of the other situations just mentioned.  Once the seed of unfaithfulness and doubt is planted, it can and often times does yield a harvest full of heartache and regret.  For once you are familiar with unfaithfulness in one area of your life, it becomes easier to allow it to seep into ALL areas of your life.

We all, at times, question the validity of the difficult situations we face.  It is in those times, we want to rush forward and take matters into our own hands, making rash decisions as opposed to just hunkering down to pray and wait; wait for the solution to present itself, for the door of opportunity to open, for the green light to proceed to the next season in our life, to hear His still small voice inside saying, “trust in Me, believe in Me, I have this…let go, trust and obey”.

The poem reflected below describes the cement that loyalty creates, binding together the areas of your life that show the cracks and wear of the everyday life.  Simply stated, regardless of the challenging areas of your life—never give up!

 

 

Loyalty Binds Me

Always working behind the eight ball, wading through this day of stress

The stack of work never seems to lessen, my calendar’s a mess,

But I have to pause and thank the Lord that He gave this job to me

So I can use my God given abilities, to provide for my family.

You see loyalty binds me to the place I work with all its’ ups and downs

They say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, I must be muscle bound,

But I’ll be faithful to my place of work until the time to move on has come

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, tempting as it is for some.

∞∞

Harsh words were used, doors were slammed, hurt feelings lying on the floor

Our relationship’s in shambles, I don’t know if I can take it anymore,

What has happened, where was the breakdown, how did we end up in such a mess?

My love for you has been waning but it’s both our faults I guess.

But loyalty binds me, my hope realigns me to know our love is true

Though difficulties come, I’m pressing on to faithfully see us through,

So let’s keep striving, not just surviving to build a solid marital core

I can’t wait, till we again embrace and say those words, I love you more.

∞∞

Here I am Lord, once again Lord, pleading deep inside

I haven’t heard your voice for so long it seems and my doubts begin to rise,

I know you are the great I AM, and I am one of the least of these

So forgive me for my impatience but please listen to my pleas.

I know I’ve caused a lot of pain in life by my own cursed hands

By not trusting in You and not waiting on you, building on sinking sands,

But I believe in You still and always will, I’m asking for a second chance

Please don’t give up on me, love and forgive me please, restore our great romance.

For loyalty binds me, your Love realigns me to the place where you want me to be

By faith I know, You are there even though at times I cannot hear you or see,

My hope is in you, my very salvation too, you are my provider of comfort and peace

Yeshua I pray, be my champion always, my Redeemer, my Savior, my Priest.

Yes, Your grace is what binds me, your mercy positions me to a place of perfect peace

Only Your love alone will lead me on until one day my last breath will cease,

Until that day comes, I must tarry on and be obedient to do my Father’s will

To push towards that prize, until I open my eyes and see your radiant face, oh what a thrill!

Jennifer’s Ashes

Today marks the end of the Thought of the Day.  One year ago today, I started to post these on my blog post. These “Thought of the Day” statements were created for my sister, Jennifer, to attempt to temporarily get her mind off of her daily struggle with stage four melanoma; I would call and leave them on her answering machine or text them to her.  I hope you have enjoyed reading these thoughts as I have felt these were God inspired and it was my privilege to be the presenter of God’s “thought provokers”.  Reflected below is a final tribute I wrote for my sister, Jennifer…may God richly bless your lives and may you truly appreciate every heartbeat of life…

 

Jennifers headstone 2

 

Jennifer’s Ashes

Gone are the happy go lucky days

Where days went on forever and forever we played,

When I had your back and you had mine

We were just siblings, but how our lives intertwined.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

Wishing I could somehow turn back time,

Back to when you were healthy and happy

Back to the days when laughter chimed.

 

You taught me to drive and I pulled you through hell

From the torture of Algebra, we worked through it well,

I must confess, I teased you too much

But you got me back with your screams and your pouts.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

Wishing I could be anywhere else,

My head knows you’re gone but my heart’s in denial

Time heals all wounds but I still have an aching pulse.

 

We both grew up and became adults

We both had families and bills and the lot,

And even though we didn’t see each other very often

We made up for it, on the phone or in person.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

Hating myself for the guilt I feel,

For I’m still alive being healthy and happy

And your life is over, a life gone too soon.

 

Standing here on your birthday, May 23rd

Barely listening to the Pastor, his words scarcely heard,

For my mind continues to wander and I kind of worry

That this date will be forever stamped with a bittersweet memory.

 

And now I’m just standing here, burying Jennifer’s ashes

I’d rather be celebrating with you still alive,

You often stated that your birthdate meant time for spring planting

But none of us knew just how your words would now be implied.

 

I know your soul rejoices for where you reside now

Among the angels and the Son of God,

Please be patient with me big little sister

As I try to cope with placing your remains beneath the sod.

 

And now I’m leaving behind Jennifer’s ashes

Moving ahead with the rest of my life,

Yearning for the day when I once again get to see her

Where the heavenly realms is flooded by God’s Holy light.

Jennifer 1958 2

Thought of the Day–5/20/18

Thought of the Day—    Gift of God, freely given

Receiving mercy

Accepting Christ as savior

Christ centered life

Experiencing unmerited favor

Thought of the Day–5/19/18

Thought of the Day—“I am sorry”—these aren’t just three little words…it’s an admission of wrongdoing, a request for forgiveness and an opportunity for restoration.  It is the other bookend to “I forgive you” which is crucial for any healthy relationship…using these two pillars of humility can help keep our lives stabilized…

Thought of the Day–5/13/18

Thought of the Day—If you want to attempt to fathom God’s great love for us, first study the great unselfish love of a mother for her children…