Our Renegade Review and Broken Arrow Invitational Experiences for 2011

So. Tulsa and me? We’re like thisclose.

I’ve driven down there and back, in the same day, TWICE now. Once last weekend and once yesterday. I should earn some kind of award for putting the most miles on my car in a month.

Why? You ask?

I’m glad you asked. (Because if you hadn’t asked, then we’d be sitting here now, avoiding each other’s eyes while enduring an awkward silence; and I KNOW you don’t want that to happen).

It’s marching band season! Where have you been?!?


(Before I forget – see those diamonds on the kids’ uniforms? They Velcro on so they can be removed whenever they [meaning the parents – not the kids] get them dry cleaned. Guess who has already lost one. Yep).

The name of our show this year is: “Life’s Directions” and in essence, it’s meant to make people think about where they’ve been, what they’re doing now and to decide carefully on their future.


The show is not as flashy as last year’s, but the music is better, in my opinion. It’s more recognizable and whenever they start to play (their first song is from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”), you can hear the audible gasp of affection from the audience.


My in-laws went with us both last weekend and this weekend. They are getting up there in age and it’s really not very safe for them to drive anywhere by themselves anymore. (Though they would vehemently deny that). They came over about 9:00, parked their car in our garage and away we went.

The drive down to Tulsa is actually pretty nice. It’s flat enough that I can put the car into cruise control and pretty much forget about driving.

Pretty much.

My in-laws brought crackers, cheese and even turkey to make sandwiches with (my FIL is a diabetic and has to restrict his diet), so we had plenty to eat on the trips. When we arrived in Tulsa last weekend and Broken Arrow this past weekend, we grabbed lunch before heading out to the stadiums.


If you’ve never experienced Oklahoma marching bands – it’s a world of its own. We are small potatoes compared to the shows the Oklahoma groups put on. In fact, we’re the only Springfield band to even attempt to compete with them. The competition is FIERCE and I’m being honest when I say, it’s quite an honor just to be in the finals with these same groups.

They’re THAT good.

I’m proud to say, we made finals both last week and this week.


Though our music is good and our kids do a good job performing it, I’m afraid our show is just not up to par with our competition this year. These other schools go all out with their props and really get their band members involved in the process. Though there’s a time period in our show when the kids lay their instruments down and do a little dance number …


… it’s not enough, in my opinion. The bands that beat us really run their band members to death during the entire show.

And it’s impressive, to say the least.

Our kids stick to more traditional marching formations, but there are a few surprises. Our Color Guard girls are quite good and have already won one award this year.

Jazz’s quartet has been doing a really great job, though there may have been a squawk in the finals performance this past weekend.


I know the kids really hit it hard when they’re in band class to try and perfect their sound.

The weather really cooperated with us this weekend, though I really thought we might get some rain at Broken Arrow. There was a wicked line of storms in the western part of Oklahoma when we left home yesterday morning. But I’m relieved to report that the rain held off and the day ended up being really nice, if not a little windy.


Our kids came in 7th place at Renegade Review (last weekend) and 5th place at Broken Arrow (yesterday), though they narrowly missed placing fourth by .7 of a point. Their score was 73.1 and the fourth place team ended up with 73.8.


There was a band that didn’t make it to the finals and though we were all shocked, I was disappointed with their fans’ reactions. I thought they were quite rude when the final bands were announced. They didn’t clap, (as in, not even being polite about it), and made disparaging comments as they piled out of the stadium. Though I understand their disappointment, it was quite immature and quite disturbing, in my opinion. ALL of these kids work their butts off to be the best they can possibly be and they deserve our respect and admiration – no matter what score they end up with.

Sometimes being too confident is counter-productive.

I knew our kids’ performance would not land them in the top three (there were just too many bands with better programs), but I was pleasantly surprised that they made 5th place and we couldn’t be MORE proud of them. I know their band director puts them in these Oklahoma shows to challenge them to be better players and it’s honestly paid off in spades. Any score they get they fight tooth and nail for – it’s NEVER easy for our kids – ever. They consistently compete in REALLY HARD competitions and as a result, our band program is one of the best in the area.


The band that won the Broken Arrow Invitational TOTALLY deserved it – they were PHENOMENAL. Seriously. Their music was incredible and they played it flawlessly. Not to mention, their movements were entertaining and impressive and I really enjoyed the premise behind the show. (Statues that come alive and savor the moment). There were some fans from the second-place band behind me and when I stood up and clapped for the winner, they got quite cranky with my enthusiasm.

I don’t get “grown ups” sometimes. Does it really matter? Again. These kids are incredibly talented and pour their hearts and souls into their programs – I admire them all and respect the hell out of them. Shouldn’t we set an example and practice good sportsmanship?

Honestly. The attitudes of some of these parents just astounds me.


I really love the last formation the kids do at the last of our show – it’s an arrow. I don’t know if people really catch that since it’s hard to see unless you’re sitting up high.


Kevin also took this picture of a judge, standing right in front of Jazz, and well, judging his playing abilities. I can’t imagine how stressful that must have been for Jazz.


But here’s the funny part – when I showed Jazz this picture and asked him if he remembered the judge watching him, he said no. He said he was too busy worrying that his hat was going to come off (because it was super windy at Broken Arrow yesterday, though the winds died down for the finals performance). HA!

One of the perks of participating in the Broken Arrow Invitational is that we get to preview the Broken Arrow band’s performance as we’re waiting for the judges to tally their scores.

I love the Broken Arrow band – they are truly amazing. Those kids have perfected the art of performing. Their music is spectacular, their formations are tight, their girls are sexy and in sync … but if there’s one thing that drives me a little nuts about BA is that it takes them forever to take the field and then exit the field. This year, their girls take the field two-by-twos – and there’s about 40 girls in their Color Guard. It takes FOREVER for them all to get on the field. They also put way too much sexuality into their shows. This year, there’s a lot of full body touching and at one point, the boys actually cradle the girls. Now, I’m not a prude and sexy is hot, but when you’re talking about 16/17 year old kids, it gets a little uncomfortable. Still though, the show was pretty amazing and I’m sure they’ll go on to win Bands of America – they win it nearly every year.

At any rate, our kids will be competing at Bands of America next weekend. This is their overnight trip of the season and our kids are really looking forward to rooming with their buddies and playing XBox. (Yes, they allow it. I was surprised too, quite frankly. When do they sleep?!?) I believe they play at noon on Saturday (if the schedule I saw is accurate), so we’ll also spend the night and spend the day at the stadium to see how they do and who goes to finals. Though I would like to say that our kids will makes finals, the odds are against them. There will be close to 50 bands competing this year and well – I’m being realistic. They will likely not make finals and we’ll be heading home about dinner time next Saturday night.

Which is fine. It’s all about the experience, right?

It’s really hard not to take this whole marching band competition too seriously. It’s SO FUN to watch these talented kids strut their stuff that I sometimes have to stop, back up, take a breath and remember, they’re just kids. They’re kids having fun, making memories and doing what they love to do.

I envy them the experiences.

So. I’ll be writing more about their time in St. Louis next week. Cross your fingers for us!


Prompt Fiction, Saturday Stuff

Desperate Measures

“What do you think of this beauty?” Lorna held the flimsy, red teddy up to her body and modeled it in front of the mirror.

“I think that sharing everything with your best friend is overrated. I’m drawing the line at lingerie.”

Lorna laughed.

“And,” her friend continued, “you better buy some spray-on tan cause you’re going to glow in the dark with that number.”

“I’m desperate! I’m losing Max’s attention and I need to do something drastic.”

“What do you mean, ‘losing his attention?’”

“He only has eyes for one thing,” Lorna replied with a grimace.

“What’s her name?”

Friday night football.”





Write up to 100 words, fact or fiction….

This is a themed writing meme hosted by Jenny Matlock. The goal is to write something that does not exceed 100 words (not including said prompt). The prompt is in italics.

Abundant Life

Teaching: Looking for Happiness?

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

If you took a poll of everyone on earth and asked them what they want out of life, a large percentage would say, “I just want to be happy.” That is not astounding in itself, but what is astounding is that only a small percentage of them are happy. You would think that with so many people seeking a specific goal, a large percentage of them would achieve it, but that is not the case with happiness.

Before we go further, we must note that “happiness” is different than “joy.” Biblically, there are two primary ways “joy” is used. It is used in the sense of the fruit of the spirit “joy,” the joy inside us from which we draw strength to continue. This joy is rooted in the knowledge that everything will be wonderful in the end: goodness will prevail; hunger, war, sickness, crime, and injustice will all come to an end; evil people will get the justice they deserve, and the saved will live in everlasting bliss. That good ending is guaranteed, so God commands us to rejoice, which comes from looking away from this life and mentally focusing on our glorious future. [1] The Bible records many instances of people rejoicing in difficult circumstances. Paul rejoiced in the midst of his affliction (2 Cor. 7:4) and Jesus drew strength from joy to endure the shame and pain of being crucified (Heb. 12:2). However, the Bible never says either of them was “happy” about what they were going through.

We need to know that biblically, “joy” can also refer to a feeling, an emotion that wells up within us when something wonderful happens to us. The Bible has many examples of that “feeling of joy,” the emotion that can accompany something good happening to us. [2] In this fallen world, however, it is not always possible to have such feelings of joy or happiness. For many people in difficult circumstances, inner joy derived from the hope of a better future is the best they can do. Thus, while God commands us to be joyful, as we saw above, there is no verse that commands us to be happy.

In spite of the fact that many people are living in dire circumstances in which it is unreasonable to expect them to be happy, many others could easily be happy (or certainly happier) if they did not do so much to make themselves miserable. Many people are neither sick nor in pain, persecuted nor enslaved, financially nor materially destitute, and in fact have many advantages in life, but are still unhappy.

Satan, the “god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4 KJV), is an expert in stealing the value from people’s lives so that they are unhappy. He does it in so many ways that the fields of self-help, psychology, and counseling are in large part dedicated to helping people help themselves to live life more graciously and positively. It is outside the scope of this short article to deal with the different problems people cause themselves that keep them from being happy in their day-to-day life, such as the hurt caused by alcohol or drug abuse, the pain caused by an uncontrolled temper, or the misery of living a life with no boundaries.

What I do want to cover in this article is the unhappiness people cause themselves by trying to be happy. Despite what the world around us propounds, God never designed happiness as a goal that we set out to achieve, like losing 20 pounds [9 kilograms], adding monthly to a retirement account, or learning more about computers. When we examine the Bible and ponder its teachings, we find no verse saying that happiness is a goal we should seek. What we learn from both the Bible and life is that happiness is a bi-product, the result of a godly life that is focused on obeying the Word of God and making wise decisions.

Happiness is like a house cat (I learned this from a book I read, but it was long ago and I cannot remember the title or author). If you make it your goal to have the cat sit on your lap when it is unwilling, you only end up frustrated, because it will run from you, hide from you, and even scratch you if you grab it and try to hold it. However, if you stop worrying about the cat and get about productive life in the house, then the cat shows up, rubs itself against your leg, and jumps up on your lap when you sit down for a break.

If we try to design our lives to be happy, it seems that no matter what we do we are not happy. We get upset when life makes demands on our time; we are discontented with what we own, and want newer or better stuff; we become overly concerned or even worried about our image, finances, or interpersonal relations. Even if we go on vacation, we cannot seem to relax (or the opposite happens, we get bored because we are not “having fun”). On the other hand, if we forget about our happiness and focus on God and His will for our lives, such as loving and serving others, we may notice at some point that we are not unhappy. In fact, we may notice that we are very content with our lives and are actually happy.

We cannot just “be happy” because God did not design us to just “be happy.” God designed us to be content in our godly work, not just content, period. When God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, He designed them for meaningful activity, and told them to “…work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). That productive work would fill their lives (which were supposed to last a looooooong time, as in forever), and keep them content and blessed. Think about it. If anyone could have been “just happy” anywhere, it would have been in the Garden of Eden. But God did not say to Adam and Eve, “OK, you’re in Eden, now go and be happy.” No, He told them to go work, knowing that if they did they would be happy.

Because God designed us to get enjoyment out of productive work, it is no wonder the Devil has mounted such an aggressive campaign against work (when is the last time you heard a positive comment about work on a television sitcom?) and instead promotes “just having fun,” “chilling out,” “kicking back,” etc. Abandoning the wisdom of godly work and service is a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness. Of course, if a person has never learned to work, it may not be enjoyable at first, but since God designed us to do godly work and service, even those who never have learned how to enjoy it will quickly find themselves being content, yes, even happy and fulfilled, in godly work and service to others.

Ecclesiastes 3:22a
So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot….

Ecclesiastes 5:19
Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.

Even the New Testament tells us that we were created “to do good works” (Eph. 2:10), and when we focus on that, we will find that we are indeed happy.

We live in a time and culture that has placed a special emphasis on being happy and enjoying life. But the Devil subtly promotes the lie that no matter how much one does, or has, it is never quite enough to be truly happy. Multitudes of corporations spend billions of dollars on advertising to call our attention to what we lack—and they are effective. So now we are unhappy or uncomfortable when our clothes, though certainly adequate for what clothing is supposed to do, are a little worn, have a small spot on them, or are “out of style.” Though our car runs well, if it is somewhat rusty, or lacks new conveniences that supposedly make our lives easier and “more fun,” we are dissatisfied with it. We are not content with the furniture in our house, even though it is comfortable and safe, because of the way it looks. And so our lives go, until in general we are unhappy and discontented.

The Satanic system in which we live changes styles, models, and colors every year, even if they do not need to be changed. But that is not the worst part. The worst part is that the system then works very hard to make us feel inadequate if we do not keep up. Eventually people “buy in” to the pressure, and then it’s not just the television or magazine ads that create a feeling of discontent, but family members, friends, and neighbors who make comments about how we look, what we drive, etc. The Satanic vice squeezes us from both ends: we are tricked into thinking happiness is a proper goal, and yet what we have is never good enough to make us happy. Then we make unwise decisions, like spending money we do not have (usually via credit cards), supposedly so that our lives will be easier and we will be happier. But that backfires too, and people soon find that debt creates its own pressures and unhappiness.

Is there a way out of the cycle of unhappiness and discontentment? Sure there is, but not in “the system.” The Bible tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world…” (Rom. 12:2). In The Message, [3] Eugene Peterson renders it as, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture….” While it may not be practical to completely divorce ourselves from the cultural system we live in, we actually can do so to a large extent.

A lot of people’s unhappiness and discontent is due to not using wisdom in their decisions, as Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to do.

Proverbs 4:7
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

We Christians need to use wisdom in all aspects of our lives, starting with what we hold in our minds and think about, and then how we spend our lives and our money. Often we make unwise choices that land us in unhappy circumstances or unhappiness in general, when we should have taken God’s advice and used wisdom. Part of wisdom is realizing that the Devil is creating a system that fosters covetousness, i.e., passionately wanting things we do not have. Both the Devil and God know that coveting is a formula for unhappiness and even a first step to crime, so the Devil promotes it, while God gave one of the Ten Commandments to help us avoid it, summarized as “You shall not covet” (Exod. 20:17; Deut. 5:21). Much of the advertising we see is specifically designed to make us dissatisfied with what we have and to covet what we do not have. Jesus reminded us to guard ourselves against covetousness, because contentment in life does not depend on what we own.

Luke 12:15 (ESV) [4]
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Actually, having a lot of “stuff” to take care of can hurt us. It can complicate our lives, rob us of valuable time, and distract us from God and service to others.

Ecclesiastes 5:13
I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

Some people would find themselves much happier if they would simplify their lives. Others need to learn to stop coveting. Some need to learn to make wise choices with their time and money, and still others need to learn the joy of service rather than the heartache and unhappiness of self-service. The book of Timothy contains a simple truth:

1 Timothy 6:6
But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Godliness with contentment is great gain, great profit, and we will achieve it when we live God’s way. Let’s not be fooled into thinking that happiness is a viable goal in life, and that having “better stuff” will actually get us there. If we follow God’s way, living a disciplined life based on wisdom and serving others before ourselves, we will find that, if we ever get around to thinking about it, that we are indeed happy.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here to inform and bless you. God granted you the gift of free will – take it or leave it).

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