You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know ~ don’t just show up as a spectator


The room sizzled with awkward beauty attributed to pre-teenage girls.

Chatter bounced from one to the other

about boys

and who’s dating

and clothes

and half-up-half-down-hairstyles

and whether “so and so’s” “winged eyeliner” was on. point.

Keeping myself right smack dab in the middle of the dream-filled youthful conversation,

I said, “Always remember, no matter what, God loves you.”

With that statement, my daughter’s friend came face to face with me, shoulders squared.

Her hazel eyes looked intently into mine and she declared,

“Well, I don’t believe in God.”

Quickly she turned her freckled cheek to the side and lifted her button nose into the air.

With a jut of her chin and flicking her hair over her shoulder,

she gazed at me from her sideways stance.

Her expression exclaimed,

“So what do you think of that?!”

With only an instant to reflect, I responded,

“It’s OK if you don’t believe in God.  Because I know without a doubt a time will come where you will see undeniable evidence of HIM and you will KNOW that HE is real. Then you can decide if you really do believe in HIM or not.”

Because you don’t know what you don’t know.

And maybe, she just showed up as a spectator to the party anyway.

At the end of 7th grade, our daughter, along with some other band members, was given the opportunity to join the High School Marching Band as an 8th grader and practices started immediately (the middle of May) for the Fall season.  We let her attend one practice and then decided resoundingly that NO in fact she could not be in High School Marching Band.  We had legitimate reasons that were good and valid and those reasons served our family well as we walked through life that school year.

And then, much too quickly for this momma’s heart, it was time to make  the decision for High School Marching Band, yet again.  My heart was closed. The issue was set. Our reasons were valid. We’d discussed them at the end of 7th grade…nothing had changed, had it?

She didn’t beg or argue.

NO, no to marching band, were my thoughts.

And then one day Philip said, “I think we need to consider marching band.”

So we made a list of pros and cons and I began to talk to parents and students and anyone knowledgeable to try to get a grasp on every angle of involvement, not just for our student, but for our family. After weeks of gathering information and deliberating and again considering the pros and cons, we decided that it was valid to change our no to a yes…not based on emotional persuasion, but thoughtful consideration of information, our evidence.

High School Marching Band is intense and grueling.

It’s filled with hard long hours of practice

and memorization.

And amazing performances.

From a very honest heart, I will tell you that I DREADED the start of the practice season in mid-May

and the grueling schedule. Sigh…

But as we became involved…

…these weeks have flown by.

Well, you know, time is notorious for flying past

and the first season of our exposure to marching band has ended.

As it has drawn to a close I have reflected on the opportunities our daughter has had,

but also,

the new opportunities that our family has had.

We’ve made new friends. We have a new circle for life influence.

We’ve traveled to places new to us…right here in Central Indiana.

Granted, some of those new places were the metal bleachers of a neighboring High School,

but yeah,

still new to us.

We have seen detail and precision on finest display. These are elements that we enjoy.

We have heard beautiful harmony performed in ways that boggled our mind

as the band maneuvered around the field.

AND we had opportunities to pray for students struggling with life issues.

Our eyes have been opened to new ways we could lend help and hope



just show up as spectators to the party.

We now have evidence of  what Marching Band is.

We now KNOW what we didn’t previously know…

So here’s the question…

What are you saying NO to?

Is it no to God?

Is it no to a new opportunity?

Is it no to giving up an addiction?

Is it no to showing kindness

or love

or a helping hand in spite of hurt…?

After gathering your evidence

and listing  the pros and cons

you may see that it is indeed

valid to change your NO to a YES.

It may be a new opportunity for positive influence.

This is real life.

You only have one.

Real life is meant to be lived NOW…not later.

Get involved…

make a difference…

be kind…

show love…

lend a hand…

and don’t just show up as a spectator to the party.

Shine your light.

Put the extra…in an ordinary day.


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind comments and sharing these blog posts.  I am humbled and honored by your kindness. You truly do add extra to ordinary and joy to the journey. I love to surround myself with positive life changers just like you.
For updates on the blog, there is a subscribe button if you scroll all the way to the end of the page on a mobile device or in the upper right hand corner of this page on a computer. Thank you again.

Together, you and I, we can make a difference.

Similar Posts


    1. Abby, I am glad that you found this to be helpful. Sometimes life just comes at us and we have to dig down deep to keep up! xo rachel

  1. Beautifully written Rachel, As you know marching band has planned a major part in our lives, and
    still is to this day. Keith is a band director in Columbus, IN., and my granddaughter is a part of that band. With her challenges, band has given her since of belonging. She has made friends, which is difficult for her. A freshman has already made friends before school starts because of band. Band kids & parents become a family. It is a major commitment. Delbert & I and Mel & Kay made life long friendships through marching band. Parents need to get involved in their children’s lives.

    1. Karen, thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving your perspective. I remember that your son Keith has an excellent band program. I can see how a student with challenges could thrive, because there is something so powerful and healing in music. It is touching that your granddaughter has found a place to belong there. Isn’t it wonderful that those things were set in place for her before she was even born? Yes, when our daughter walked into high school the first day of school, she didn’t have those first day, new school jitters, because she had already made friends with 165 students (so to speak) 9-12 grades AND had already spent countless hours at the high school during the summer.

  2. Reminds me of when we chose to attend a monthly bluegrass jam for the first time. Would they all be Christians? No. Was all of the music gospel? No. But, we’ve met many people from various areas and walks of life. We’ve met several great Christian people and have made some wonderful friends. Every month, we go with a desire to be an example, an encourager and a friend. God has allowed us to do exactly that!

    1. Oh what a great story Jonna. I have never attended a bluegrass jam. Thanks for sharing your positive experience. xo rachel

    1. Hahaha!! Teresa, you are a beautiful grandma-to-be too!! Thank you for stopping by with your kind words. xo rachel

  3. So happy the marching band and life with bandsters has been good! Sometimes we jump into the pond tentatively and then become “the biggest duck in the puddle!” Love the pic of that BEAUTIFUL SCARECROW too.

    1. Rhonda, haha! It does look like I’m quacking pretty loudly about this marching band stuff!! But I agree, it sure has been an interesting new experience. The “Scarecrow” and I had a lot of fun together!!

    1. Oh Florence thank you for your kind words. Yes, I agree, it does take effort to get involved…and besides, sometimes it’s just fun and cozy to watch. Isn’t it?

  4. That was so inspiring Rachel. Sometimes we don’t want to get involved for fear that the others will become offended or they will turn on us. This has in fact happened to me. But we must keep the faith and try to help.

    1. Mary, I am humbled that you found this post inspiring. I absolutely agree with you that fear holds us back so many times from getting involved. I am sorry that has happened to you, but it is true that we do have to hold on to faith and continue to move forward. xo rachel

  5. Oh my Rachel. We were meant to meet through Thistlewood. I know this for fact. I have long espoused to the saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” along with “stupid people can’t comprehend how dumb they are…so cut them a break”. I knew as soon as I started reading your post, your one I want to follow. Then, then, you wrote about something near and dear to my heart. I’m a marching band mom. We just finished our second season. I get it…all of it. The highs, the lows, the 1:00 am pick ups as the bus pulls in from a competition and you can barely keep your eyes open as you wait in the car, the days they don’t make finals, and the days where they are rated straight superiors (ours just did that). It is the best decision my 15 year old ever made.


    1. Nancy!!!! Squeeee!!!! It’s so fun to meet another band mom! We are just blown away with the whole organization. Yes, our band has had an amazing season also!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Haha…I really like your saying, “stupid people can’t comprehend how dumb they are…” THAT is so true!! xo rachel

  6. Rachael, I was never a band mom, and band grandma is nothing like the same thing! But I love your perspective! I particularly love your answer to the young girl who said she did not believe in God… gentle, relaxed, unthreatened…confident in what you DO know. I won’t be surprised if you learn one day that God used your answer in His long pursuit of her heart! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Barb, thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate your comment and I pray that those words spoken to the friend, do come full circle and she sees and knows and chooses. xx rachel

  7. Both of my children were a part of marching band in High school. It took both to college as members of the ‘Razorback marching band.’ Oldest has an engineering degree and youngest is about to finish her music degree. Marching band took them there!

    1. Wow! Jeff, that is SO AWESOME about your kids. You have every right to be a really proud dad! Thank you so much for dropping by and sharing about them. I love to hear those stories. Philip and I have truly been amazed at the whole Marching Band organization.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *