Week 14

Hello all! This was a good week with pretty smooth sailing, and I’m really grateful to all of the people in my life who have come alongside me; I’m even more grateful for the Lord my God for strengthening me in all things and equipping me to live for Him through His grace.

On Monday, nothing too eventful happened at school, but I got coffee with one of my church leaders who is a good friend of mine. It’s always so encouraging to share my life with her and share back and forth about the things God is doing in our lives and what He is teaching us each day. I’m so blessed to get to grab coffee with her and that she comes alongside me to do life. Shoutout to you, “Grace”! (:

Tuesday, I had pit band rehearsal for the school musical coming up. I remembered that the cast, crew, and band all get Starbucks and Noodles & Co. for the tech week and dress rehearsal days. Those are some fANTASTIC bonuses to being involved with an already fun production…I’m looking forward to it!

Wednesday was our Student Worship Night at youth group, and I am so blessed to be a part of our worship band. It was a powerful and wonderful night to take intentional time to worship our great God, and it was an honor to serve and play keys for the night! One of my new favorite hymns was included in the night, “Jesus Paid It All”, and it has been in my mind and heart ever since. What a great reminder of how God came in flesh to take on our burdens, our sins, and our grievances and brought us to righteousness with God through Him. I’ve been learning more and more about the significance of Jesus coming in the flesh and how we can call Him Lord, and how His atonement and resurrection are so clearly marked as the total payment for our transgressions. Praise God for loving us enough to send His precious Son as our righteous, permanent sacrifice!

Thursday was another pit band rehearsal! Despite not having a lot of our usual pit that day, it was a lot of fun to stay in the back with a relaxed rehearsal, fill out the extra parts, and get to play some cowbell. It was even better because earlier we had performed the musical numbers with the vocal ensemble and we figured out what all of our cues were for entrances and exits. It was very encouraging to perform it with them and see it all come together.

On Friday was (finally) our last football game. Our team kept advancing in the playoffs, but their road ended on Friday with a close loss against Maryville. I got Sprite Cranberries for the drumline before the game because IT DO BE THAT TIME OF YEAR. HYPE. It was also a really fun game because one of my close friends got to play snare drum with me! Our other snare drums could not make it to the game, so she volunteered to play snare because she knew some of the music and technique from rehearsing. It was a lot of fun, and it was a good way to close out the season with a smile! (:

Saturday, I attended the FHS boys’ and girls’ basketball home openers in the morning! I got a free t-shirt from it and got to see some amazing basketball being played. I’m so excited that basketball season is back and that I know so many of the talented players on each team. After that, I played drums for our Saturday evening service.

Today, I played drums for our Live Sunday services in the morning and got to spend some time in worship with close staff members I know. It’s so clear to me that the Lord knew what He was doing in bringing those people around me and allowing them to encourage me in what He has for me in the coming seasons of my life. Later today, I decorated my room for Christmas and watched Home Alone to get in the Christmas mood!

Here is to another good week, and for Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday! By God’s grace, His grace alone, I move forward.

-Luke Wanca

Week 13

Hello all! This was another good, albeit hard, week of November and it is starting to get colder! I don’t like it! At least I get to wear my hoodies and blankets and socks and all of the good things now.

Monday was an average day, and I got to start memorizing my poem for our English class’s Poetry Out Loud competition. I’m reciting “Battle-Hymn of the Republic” and am hoping to win my class’s competition and move on to the school competition!

Tuesday was another normal day that I decided to dress up a little bit for school! Because marching band is over, I enjoy getting to not bring 3 changes of clothes each day. I had a rehearsal for our Student Worship Night coming up, and I am grateful to get to play keys for it! That will be this coming Wednesday, the 17th, and I look forward to having a night of dedicated worship to our Heavenly Father.

Wednesday was signing day for our high school student-athletes, and I was proud to go support them in the morning during their ceremony! It was emotional to think about the upcoming changes in our lives, but also it was a wonderful opportunity to praise God for the changes He is placing in our lives to move forward with His plans. That night, I led worship for our youth group and got to hear our worship resident speak on the importance and role of worship in the lives of Christians.

Thursday, Veterans Day, was a nice off-day for me as the band participated in the Knoxville Veterans Day parade. Afterward, we all headed to the West Town Mall for lunch and some shopping. It was a good day and a fitting close to wearing our uniforms and being all together as a band one last time.

On Friday, a small group of the band went to the second playoff game, where we won 27-24! I initially did not want to go to the game and was quite insistent on being smug and having a poor attitude for the night…but the Lord reached out to me, dawned kindness on me, and allowed me to enjoy the night in His presence. Joy is one of the true marks of a Christian, and it is not our own joy, but the joy of He who gives it to us.

Saturday, I relaxed, made my Christmas playlist, and allowed myself to enjoy warmth and comfort on a day off. In my up and down days, I am further relying on the Lord for my comfort and strength, and it is beautiful to see Him further take me out of my own feelings and despair. I find myself coming out of my own heart and ways and turning with a desperate sinner’s heart towards Christ my Lord. The Lord has been teaching me further about sanctification and the strength He gives us to walk with Him. It is not the strength from our own flesh, but strength from His grace in mercifully calling us to be His restored children. As I write this, I feel the Lord’s peace over me in a culmination of what He has taught me over this hard week and how reliance on Him is truly the only way to true life. Despite our emotions, our God is so much greater than anything our flesh could do or not do. He is greater than our self-inflicted wounds of despair and hate. Most of all, He is so much greater than our sinful flesh, and He is so faithful to keep us in His hands: the hands of the everlasting.

Today I attended church and a student leadership meeting to plan our Christmas party! I am taking today to rest in the Lord and allow His grace to wash over me in all ways. My growth and my deeds in this season and life are attributed to Him always; glory be to God and His Son who set me free.

-Luke Wanca

Week 12

Hello! This was a pretty uneventful week, once again, but the Lord is faithful to show up even in those weeks.

On Wednesday, we had a deep cleaning day of the band room because marching band season is over. I found an entire, intact clarinet in one of the percussion cubbies…so naturally, I took a picture of it and asked whose it was. I still don’t know who it belonged to, but it was bizarre to find it there in the first place.

As well, I played drums for youth group worship and helped lead! The topic of the day was prayer, and I am so thankful it was shared with honesty, delicacy, and reverence for God. Prayer is something the Lord is continually showing me the importance of in good and in bad days, in anxious and in peaceful days,  in easy and in hard days. It is refreshing to know that we can have communication with God our Father through prayer and the Holy Spirit within us. Thanks be to Jesus who restored us back to Him!

Thursday and Friday both ran together, but all I know is they were extremely cold. Thankfully this next week will warm up, but pHEW welcome to November.

Saturday was our annual marching band fundraiser: the fruit sale. It was 35° and windy, but nonetheless, our group of 4 raised $641 in sales for our band! Not too shabby. As well, the neighborhood we were assigned was uphill with long spaces in between each house, meaning we were exhausted by the end of it. The 3.5 hours of selling proved to be worth it, though, with this gorgeous view and with a treat of going out to lunch after it was over.

Today, we set back the clocks one hour and gained some sleep back! I was up and refreshed at 7:30 and spent some time in the Bible, finishing up 1 Samuel today. The more I read the narratives of the Old Testament, the more I see God’s faithful hand over His people then and now. The same character and steady justice were shown thousands of years ago and today. At church, we discussed rejoicing and the importance of relationship with God through His Word as our hope. The Lord is faithful to us time and time again, and we can trust that whatever season we are in, He will be there with us.

As I go into November, I’m praying that I can continually be a light to others and serve faithfully where the Lord has called me to serve. The emotions of upcoming change and finality keep hitting me as senior year flies by us, but I know that the Lord has been my rock, allowing me to enjoy it, find purpose in it, and serve Him and His people in it. Words can’t express the comfort and peace I feel in knowing that when things keep changing, our God does not and He is faithful to be with us in it all. Everything may not go the way we want it to, but God is present with us in all things. I leave you with a quote from Spurgeon:

“You always need divine protection, and, believer in Christ, you shall always have it.”

-C.H. Spurgeon

-Luke Wanca

Week 11

Week 11 was a really good final week of our marching band season. I decided to include this past Monday of week 12 because that’s the real end to the marching season.

On Monday we had band rehearsal as usual, except there was one big surprise: a practice fighter jet had flown over our practice field, roaring like thunder for a couple of minutes. It was very Top Gun-esque and made everyone feel really cool, of course.

On Wednesday, I had a day off of band and church, so I decided to start working on my Halloween costume: an X-Wing fighter plane. One of my friends was dressing up as the fighter pilot. so we came up with the idea that I could be the plane itself. Here’s the plane in the works:

Throughout all of this, I’m watching World Series games and keeping up with the highs and lows of the Braves as they seek to beat the Astros. Rooting for the Braves is an easy choice because of the Astros cheating scandal only a couple of years back.

Thursday I also had band off and decided to continue my project of writing individual notes to people in my percussion section. Words are a way I express love well, and I wanted to make sure all of them felt loved as this marching band season ended and made sure they knew how awesome and an honor it was to drum with them my senior year.

Friday was our final home football game! Senior Night! We had our final performance in front of the home crowd, and we got to recognize our wonderful Class of 2022 seniors after it. I couldn’t be more blessed and thankful to have the group of seniors around me that I did this year, and I can’t wait to see where we all go in life after high school is over.

Through ups and downs in this whole month, the Lord has been teaching me how to steadfastly love others around me and the friends He has given me. As I continue to pray for gospel-centered friendships and relationships to blossom, God has given me more direction on how to love others around me, show the marks of a Christian through my life (not on my own, but through His grace), and He has allowed me to have fruitful conversations with those around me to help strengthen these friendships. I tend to get in my own head when thinking about people’s intentions and actions towards me, but I have learned to simply love and take them in with grace and truth and sincerity like Jesus did. I don’t have to fake being friendly or nice just because the Bible says to, but instead, Jesus has shown me mercy and allows me HIS righteousness in fruitfully displaying such love and kindness. It’s not an effort of my own heart whatsoever, but the effort of our loving Christ who rescued us from the depths of our sin. Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

Saturday was our final band competition! Per tradition, I brought a fun hat for one last time (my best hat, of course) and was ready to rock ‘n’ roll with the last show. We sat through a few hours of A and AA Class bands before we had to go warm up on our own, but it was cold, rainy, and windy the entire day. ): Thankfully, it had slowed down quite a bit for our performance! We finished 2nd overall and 2nd in percussion in our class for the day, so a fitting end to our final competition.

Sunday was Halloween! I finished my costume that day and went to a party with many of my friends, getting to show off my EPIC Star Wars pair costume. It was a good day filled with food, laughter, friendship, and photos! I’m glad to have gone and grown in relationship with others and with God through even everyday events like friend gatherings.

Monday (yesterday) was our Knox County Schools marching band exhibition, where we performed our show for all of the other Knox County bands and got to watch the other bands as well. It’s always a fun evening to perform our show a final time and get all the love and support from other KCS bands. Could not be happier with our last performance as a band together. Although it was an emotional night, it was needed and cathartic for all of our seniors to be able to say “it is well with my soul” and get to share a moment together.

Here’s to open doors in the coming months of new free time, and may Christ use me and grow me further in ways I couldn’t see or even imagine before. His sanctification is a work of art, an ongoing masterpiece, and a road that ultimately leads us to forever with God.