Bible Bee Nationals 2016

3:36 PM

Here at last is my Nationals recap!  I said last year that I hoped to make it shorter this year, but it looks like it is not.  My apologies, but each year there is just so much more to be said.  Well, this is an improvement over last year's post in one way, because I finished it three days earlier than last year!



We left home on Tuesday afternoon.  As you may be able to tell from the picture, the van was a bit emptier than usual.  Delie had left early Monday morning to volunteer at Nationals.  She was one of the Junior commanders, which was a really important and fun job.  Joy wasn't able to leave when we did, but she flew down on Thursday with our grandmother.  


The car is a great place to study, because there's nothing to do but sit.  Mommy tested me on half of the verses, and I also got to review Greek and other things.  We didn't stop at a hotel until midnight, so I was able to get some good studying in (as well as sleep a bit, too).

The next day, we got up and got ready to leave.  Only about three more hours in the car!  My mom tested me on most of my verses (the perk of being the oldest and most motivated contestant in the family). 


William studying General Bible Knowledge. 


And we're here!  Lots of squeals and feeling like I'm home.  Before we were even out of the van, we saw Bible Bee friends, and of course there were more when we walked into the lobby.  Then we saw friends who had just gotten there, so we went back outside to say hello to them.  We checked in, and then headed toward registration.  Registration is so fun, because we get to see people who we haven't seen in a year.  Everyone is a little nervous about the next day, but we have the nice distraction of seeing each other. 

After registration, about a dozen people (mostly contestants) gathered for prayer.  We prayed for an hour (it felt much shorter), and that time was so encouraging.  It helped me to keep my focus on glorifying God and to trust Him with the results.  That is one of my favorite memories from Nationals.  


After that, I went to the Memverse/Quizlet meeting.  I was only there for the picture, since I had to run back up to the room before my parents left for the moderator dinner, but hey, at least I was there for more of it this year than last year! 

When I went back up to the room, I still had about 200 verses left to review.  I was getting pretty desperate, so I paid my brothers to test me while I fixed sandwiches.  I was very happy to finish reviewing my verses before orientation.  It was the first time that I had ever reviewed every single verse in one day.  


Orientation was great and very helpful.  The conversation with Ellie, Anna, Rebekah, and Sarah afterwards was also so good.  


My brothers enjoying looking at the lit-up trees from the balcony. 


It took me a long time to go to sleep on Wednesday, not because I was nervous, but because there was just so much to think about.  I finally did go to sleep, though, and woke up again at 3:30.  I didn't go back to sleep for almost an hour and a half.  I woke up for the last time that morning shortly before 6:00 and got ready to go.  I had time to read 1 John 1-4, and I was very glad to have it fresh on the brain.  I couldn't believe how dark it was when I was about to leave for the written test.  This is the most important test of the year.  How is my brain supposed to function at 7:30 in the morning?  


My adorable Primary brothers!  I am so proud of Thomas and William.  They both did so well, but more importantly, they hid lots of God's Word in their hearts.  That's 618 verses, to be exact, which is quite a bit for a nine and seven year-old. 


It was so weird to take a picture all by myself.  Joy and Delie, why did y'all have to graduate and leave me alone in Seniors???

As I walked downstairs, I quoted 1 John 5.  If you saw my lips moving, I was not talking to myself.  I was taken to the room where most of the Senior contestants were already seated.  I was so nervous that I just sat down in my seat and held my head in my hands for a bit.  Then I realized that I was sitting next to Taylor Bontrager and Courtney Minica, which was so fun.  I enjoyed talking to both of them, and then praying with Taylor before we went over questions, rules, and our password.  Before the test began, we prayed.  Then we clicked the start button and began our tests.  I went through the test somewhat slowly, because I figured it was best to just get it right the first time.  I felt like my brain was pretty foggy for the whole test, and when I would go through passages in my head, I kept on accidentally switching into other passages.  This was not something I normally did when reciting, and it made me feel somewhat flustered.  I also didn't feel like the logical part of my brain was working very well on the questions I didn't know.  But I remembered that God was in control of my mind, and so if it was His will that I not remember some things, I needed to trust His goodness and love.  

I only had about seven minutes left when I had gone over all the questions, so I went back and looked at the question numbers that I had written down on my piece of paper.  This took all of the remaining time.  Soon the test was over, and I was sighing and feeling like it hadn't gone as well as some of my Bible Bee tests.  But again came the reminder that God is good and would put me in the exact placement that was best for me.  I really didn't want to be overly optimistic, so I guessed that if I got a perfect oral score, I might could just barely squeeze into semis.  If not, I probably would not advance.  (I was actually one point away from conjecturing correctly about this.)

We left the room and began to discuss the test.  We weren't allowed to discuss specific questions at that point, so the questions were mostly of the "How did it go?" type.  A friend of mine, Hannah G., had offered to test me on verses, so when we saw each other, we left and went up to my room to get my verse cards.  When we got there, I tried to open the door, but it was dead-bolted, so we went back downstairs on a bit of a wild goose chase looking for my parents.  They eventually found us and gave me the key to the other room so that we could get in.  


After getting my cards, we went outside.  We had so much fun!  That was one of the biggest highlights from Nationals.  Even, though I was preparing for the competition, Hannah did a great job at making me relax and forget about it.  We also kept remembering things from the test while I was reciting.  I would be in the middle of a passage, and I would say, "Oh!".  We would look at each other, because we were both thinking about how there had been a question on the test about something in the passage.  We tried to be careful not to discuss actual test questions, but we came pretty close to it for one question.  "Uhh...don't talk about the question; we're just trying to discuss Geography."  I realized in another passage that I had made a careless mistake on an easy thirteen-point question.  This was very disappointing, because I knew that those points could make all the difference, but God reminded me again to just trust Him. 

A little while later, Esther B. joined us.  We were in the same oral group in 2014, so it was fun to see her again!

After a while, some other contestants came out and went on a walk -- right past us.  Of course, I started laughing when they came past me, and I was saying, "And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah...".  Then the group started playing Ultimate Frisbee, and let me just say, it makes you feel pretty good to see some of the top people out playing before orals while you're reviewing your verses :).    

One thing that's really neat about Bible Bee is that the competitors help each other out.  In this case, Hannah was helping me just hours before orals.  She could've been reviewing her own verses, but instead she chose to review me.  This helped me to feel so much more prepared going in to orals.  Thank you so much, Hannah!

I spent the remaining two hours before orals relaxing, eating lunch, and just having some "introvert time".  


My wonderful oral group: Hannah D, Jonathan H, Courtney M, Anna H, Ellie H, Denver B, Taylor B, Jeffrey M, and Rebekah M.  It was really fun, because I already knew everyone.  Talking to them before I went in to recite was a very nice distraction.  We had fun silently clapping for people we knew in other groups when we saw them going in to their rooms to recite. 

When the last person before me left, I stood up and walked over to the door.  I leaned against the wall and began to silently pray.  While I was praying, the Lord suddenly brought to my mind a passage that I had never memorized before.  I had listened to a Scripture song version of it several times, so I was fairly familiar with it.  "Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26) "Lord, there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you," I prayed.  God filled me with so much peace, and a few moments later, I was called in to recite.  

I walked up to the podium, and my judge said, "Oh, another Anna!"  Then he went through a few things and asked for my name and Bible version.  I was given the first reference: "John 13:34-35."  My face probably looked a bit funny at this, because I was expecting to start with something hard like I had last year.  Thankfully, I had reviewed my Locals passages, so I was able to recite John 13:34-35 correctly.  I was given the next reference, Habakkuk 3:17-19.  I teared up while I was reciting it, because I was reminded that, even if I don't make it to semis, I will rejoice in the Lord.  Making it to semis would make me very happy, but the only thing that can give me true, lasting joy is God.  Next followed Romans 12:1-5, and then Philippians 2:12-18.  I stuttered in verse 17 in Philippians 2:12-18, but I had plenty of time, so I started over.  I finished out the recitation with John 13:13-17.  I thought I had gotten a perfect score, and when the other ESV-er in my group came in a few minutes later, he said everything the same way that I had, as far as I could tell. 

When our group had finished reciting, we left the room and everyone began talking.  I ended up staying downstairs for an hour or more talking to friends.  It was a very wonderful and refreshing time.  After that, I went up to our room and relaxed a bit before my parents left for the host dinner.  


We saw friends of ours on their balcony, so we invited them over to play cards with us.  That was a lot of fun, and it was very nice to do something that didn't take much brain work. 


John enjoyed eating graham crackers while we played :).


That night, we went to the Opening Ceremony, which was really good.  Then we practiced for the processional which would be the next morning.  The Seniors went first, but after failing pretty miserably, we were told to watch the Primaries so we could learn how to do it.  That may or may not have been slightly humiliating :). 


The Primaries!  I just love these people.  Too bad I can't ever be in the same age division as them!


The Seniors went onstage again (third time?) after the Primaries.  I really love and appreciate these people.  


All of the Juniors.  I thought that this picture was hilarious, because most of the Juniors are smiling and looking at the picture; but if you zoom in to about the middle, you'll see my brother who is in a lively conversation with one of his friends. 

The next morning, we got up early again and left for the processional.  We Seniors stood in line for quite a while, but I found a nice distraction.  Since the Primary and Junior semi-finalists were going to be announced before the Seniors went in, an anonymous friend and I sneaked in the back door of the ballroom and watched.  We had siblings who advanced to Primary semi-finals, so we were very excited!  I had lots of friends who made it to Primary semis, so I squealed for most of that.  I went back to stand in line for a few minutes after that, and then I came back for Juniors.  The Juniors were almost about to be announced, and then someone came in and told us that the Senior line was moving and we needed to be there.  We ran back to the hall where the Seniors had been, but it was already empty, so we had to run again to catch up.  From where I was backstage, I could only hear fragments and whichever names were passed back.  This was pretty anti-climactic, because I never could be sure if I had heard the name correctly :).  But I was very excited to hear later about quite a few friends who had advanced. 

Finally, it was time for the Seniors to go onstage and receive their medals. 


Walking out onto the stage was surreal.  I felt like I wasn't even there.  But in that moment, I was also already grieving.  God was very good, and I think that He allowed me to know right then that I hadn't made it to semi-finals.  As I waited for the other half of the contestants to receive their medals, I prayed silently and repeated Psalm 73:25-26 to myself.  "There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you...there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you...there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you."  I had decided months ago that I would pick a passage to meditate on as the semi-finalists were announced, but I hadn't picked this passage.  God picked this passage for me and gave it to me at Nationals.  I started to tear up a little bit before the semi-finalists were announced, but I really felt okay.  

Finally, every contestant had received their medal, and it was time.  I was excited to hear some of my friends called, but I hardly even realized what was going on until after the fourteenth name.  Then I woke up and realized that if I was going to advance to semis, my name had to be called now.  But it wasn't.  I didn't feel very disappointed at first.  That was really odd, since my dream of the past year hadn't come true.  Even though semi-finals was what I had hoped and worked for since Nationals 2015 ended, God kept reminding me that He is good and that this really wasn't important.  As I left the stage, I half-hugged a friend of mine who had advanced.  She gave me a really sympathetic look, and I came pretty near to crying right there.  I went to our family's row and walked past my grandmother.  I didn't want her to hug me, because I knew that if she did, I would start crying.  I sat down next to my mom, who did hug me, and of course I started crying then.  But I thought that I had calmed down by the end of the ceremony.  After the ceremony, I saw some other friends who hadn't advanced either, and then my heart began to break for them, too.  I went over to congratulate a dear friend in Primaries who had advanced -- and ended up crying again.  This friend had advanced to semis when she was eight, but not when she was nine.  I think that she probably knew what I was going through better than anyone else in the room.  Her mom prayed with me, which was really special, and even though I was very sad, that is one of my favorite memories from Nationals.  I felt God's love through one of His people so much right then.  

The hardest part was yet to come, though.  Scores were going to be announced at 10:00 (an hour after the ceremony).  We stuck around in the convention center for a while with friends, trying to get to the page with our scores on a phone.  We couldn't get it to work, though, so I eventually went back to the room for a bit.  When I got there, my dad had just written down all our rankings.  I wanted to look at it myself, though, so I took the computer in a different room and began to scroll through the list, looking for my contestant id.  I got to the triple digits and was freaking out.  I still hadn't seen my id.  What if I had gotten the very last placement?  But I worked so hard...why?  Then I realized that I was looking at the Primary list.  A good lesson in thankfulness.  I sighed with relief and went to the Senior list.  I found my id.  The ranking wasn't very surprising.  Scores are tight in Seniors, and I knew that it's possible for someone to do work really hard and not be 16th.  But then I looked at my oral score.  470!  What?!?!?  But I was certain that I had recited the passages perfectly.  After all, I had recited all my passages on Wednesday, and I only messed up on two of them then.  How could I possibly have messed up on some of the easiest passages and in my oral round?  In my mind, there was only one option: the judges had made a mistake.  The semi-finalist scores hadn't been released yet, but from looking at the score of 16th place, it was possible that I could've just barely squeezed into semis with a perfect orals.  I was pretty upset about this.  

I told a few people about this.  It probably would've been better not to, since I didn't know for sure, but I don't think that anyone could blame me for it.  When someone asks you where you ranked, it's hard not to say, "Well, I was this, but I think I actually should've been 16th or maybe 15th."  Several people asked if I would appeal, but I just didn't feel right about it.  I'm not really sure why. 


We spent the rest of the day watching semis-finals.  I like to watch every round that I can, partly because many of the people are my friends, but also because I want to honor all of them for their hard work.  Here is my friend Celia reciting.  I was so excited for her to advance to semi-finals, though not a bit surprised!


And it's time for Primary semi-finals!  These are some of my favorite people, and the round included my brother, which meant that this was also a bit nerve-racking.  


John attentively listening to the recitations and double-checking them in his head.  Not really, but I've been surprised at how much he has picked up just from hearing us recite.  Recently, he recited quite a bit of 1 Samuel 16:4-13.  I guess that he had heard it a lot, because it was one of my hard passages.


My sweet baby brother Thomas!  He did such a wonderful job.  I'm thankful that he has so much of God's Word already memorized, because it will be with him for the rest of his life. 

Four of the finalists were announced, and the remaining four went through another round of reciting (Thomas had been eliminated by this point).  Our dear friend Anastasia was one of them, and so I was just sitting there praying, "Lord, please let Anastasia make it to finals," but not with much faith. 


But by God's grace, she did!  My sisters and I were crying so much that the people in front of us asked if she was our sister.  We were so excited!  Notice sweet Elizabeth sharing in her sister's joy in the picture above :). 


Senior semi-finals!  It was so much fun to get to watch several of my friends compete.  To be honest, it was a bit painful to sit there, thinking that I should have been up there.  But I tried not to think about that, and just focus on rejoicing with everyone who was getting to have the same experience of a lifetime that I had had the year before.  



The finalists are announced!  



If I had to pick a #1 highlight from Nationals, this would probably be it.  Earlier on Friday, we were invited to an informal recitation after Senior semis.  It was such a special time, and I really enjoyed hearing others recite favorite passages and share how the Lord had been working in their lives.  I memorized Psalm 73:25-26 as I was walking down the stairs to get there, and I had the privilege of sharing it with everyone.  I also shared a tiny bit about what God had been teaching me through the experience of not advancing, but I knew that I was about to cry, so I wasn't able to talk about it very much. 


I enjoyed a long conversation with Rachel afterward!  I've said "hi" and "bye" to her for years, but we had never really had a conversation, and I enjoyed it so much this year.  It was such an encouragement. 


I woke up on Saturday morning and did not feel well.  For most of the mornings at Nationals, I felt a little sick when I first woke up, but I always felt normal by the time we left the room.  But this time, I felt really bad and knew I couldn't go to Junior finals.  I felt a big lump rising in my throat, but I told myself I was not going to cry.  It had already been so hard not to make it to semis, and now I was sick at Nationals.  I'm very thankful for livestream, because I was able to watch Junior finals while resting.  I knew a few of the finalists, and Rebekah was one of the contestants that I prayed for, so I enjoyed getting to watch all of them.  I felt too bad to really pay much attention, but it was nice that I could still watch it without feeling like I was missing out on everything.  


I was so thankful that I did feel well enough to make it down for the end of Junior finals to see the announcement of the rankings.  Great job, everyone!


In the afternoon, we went to Primary finals.  This was such a fun and exciting round!  I knew three of the five contestants, so this was a somewhat nerve-racking round.  


I ended up knowing the questions in Primary finals about as well as the questions in Senior finals :). 


Congratulations, Corbin!  I love the confetti in this picture.

After finals, we talked with friends, and then we were going to start a game of psychiatrist, but we never did (something that happened several times at Nationals).  My brother George also found a politician, and we took a picture with him.  


Senior finals!  Such an exciting and intense round.  I had been planning to sit near the front, but when I thought about it, I realized that my face might be a little too expressive during the competition, and I wasn't sure that I wanted to see it on the livestream :). 


I loved it when the families were interviewed...and also when Mr. Bontrager interviewed E.Z. :)  But really, it was neat to hear the parents' perspective on the Bible Bee and how it had impacted their kids' lives. 

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

I'm going to take a break now from finals to tell you about something that happened to me then.  During one of the glitches, I stood up and walked around a bit, getting signatures.  I knew that my dad was watching the judging of Senior finals, so I was surprised when I saw him walking towards me.  He motioned for me to come, and it looked like he had something he wanted to tell me.  We walked out into the hallway, and then he told me that he had mentioned to the judges that I thought there was an error in my judging.  They had said that I was welcome to come to headquarters and listen to my recitation.  Daddy asked if I wanted to go.  I was a little uncertain, since I felt like the hurt was already healing, and listening to my recitation might just be pouring salt into it.  Besides, even if I had been supposed to be in semis, they couldn't just suddenly put me on the stage in the middle of Senior finals.  But, on the other hand, listening to my recitation would probably help to give me closure on it, and even though it would hurt a lot (regardless of whether or not I had messed up), it would eventually help me to heal better.  I decided that I wanted to hear it.  

We only had to wait for a little while outside headquarters, but it felt like a really long time.  Finally, we were sent inside, and the judges found my recitation (which was really a lot more trouble to go to than I realized).  At first, one of the judges said something about how I had started over in one of my passages, and I thought that a judge must have thought that this took off points.  But then one of the judges looked at my book and pointed out that the words "in the world" in Philippians 2:12-18 were marked.  They handed the headphones to me and I sank down into a chair.  It was weird to hear my voice saying these familiar words so confidently.  Had that really been just two days earlier?  I listened carefully to each word, dreading when I would get to the end of verse 15.  "...Children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights..."  I heard myself pause for two seconds, apparently double-checking the next phrase in my mind before I entered it.  But I knew what had happened now.  I had make a mistake that I had never made before in one of my best passages.  I had left out "in the world."  

I stood up, and began to cry immediately.  I have a hard time sharing my emotions with other people, so 99% of the people I know have never seen me cry like that.  The judges and staff were very kind, and thankfully, they had a tissue box on hand.  I got a tissue and kept apologizing for crying, all the while soaking my tissue.  I feel like their job is already hard enough without having a teenage girl coming in and crying.  But it was really hard not to. 

I told them thank you, and then left with my dad.  He comforted me for a little while, and then I told him I needed a little bit of time to be alone.  I remember blurry images and walking past several people.  I found a quiet spot and began to weep.  "Lord, why?  I worked so hard.  I wanted to make it to semis so badly, not to mention finals!"  Verses and songs came floating back to me.  "What if your healing comes through tears...What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life, is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy."  ("Blessings" by Laura Story)  "Lord, make me so satisfied in you that it doesn't really matter where I rank."  "And someday you will understand, why I sent this trial and someday you will see the end, and know it's all worthwhile!" ("I Am Your Shield" by Rachel Wissman)  "Lord, you know that I love you more than this.  Some people won't understand why I didn't make it to semis, but I know that it's because you're good and this is not what is best for me."  "When the hurt's so deep I can hardly breathe, when your ocean waves all break over me -- I remember you and your steadfast truth; though the earth gives way, you are good." ("In the Eventide" by Cody Curtis)

Suddenly, the passage that had already come to mean so much to me was in my heart and on my lips: "Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26)  "Lord, I feel like I've failed, but you are my strength and my portion forever.  I wanted to make it to semis, but all that I desire is you."  

I knew in that moment that the reason I hadn't made it to semis was not because I hadn't tried hard enough, but only because of the loving sovereignty of my Father.  God loved me so much that He didn't give me what I wanted, but what I needed.  I felt God's love and presence then probably more than I ever have before.  Let me put it to you this way: have you felt someone's love more when they gave you a gift you really wanted or when they comforted you in one of your hardest moments?  Yes, gifts are wonderful, but you can give a gift without loving someone.  Comforting someone is much harder, because you have to enter into their pain and sorrow.  I cried out to God, and He said, "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3)  I didn't have to do well in Bible Bee in order to make God love me.  He already does, regardless of my performance.  This Friend is always with me and loves me no matter what.

I told myself I could not go back to finals until I had gone five minutes without crying.  This gave me plenty of time to talk to God and remember verses, because I would go a few minutes without crying, and then I would think of something and begin to sob again.  Finally, I had gone five whole minutes without crying, and I returned to watching finals.  I sat down next to a friend and told her what had happened right away.  I felt like I needed to tell people that I had been wrong, and the judges had been right, because I didn't want them to think poorly of the judges.  This was sometimes really hard, but I kind of just had to do it without thinking about how I felt.  

~   ~   ~   ~   ~

To return to the competition...


This part made me laugh!  I can't follow along with hardly anything unless I see it, so I wasn't entirely sure about the error, but the friends I was sitting with were very emphatic that the answer was ischyros!


I always love hearing all of the Scripture recited at Nationals!  It's so wonderful to spend a weekend immersing yourself in the Word of God.  Since I was sitting with KJV-ers and use ESV, we were able to follow along with four of the recitations.  

It wasn't quite as intense waiting for the winner to be announced this year as it was last year, but it was still hard to wait.  Finally, the rankings were announced...


And the winner is...Taylor!  (Apparently, this person several rows in front of me was also very excited.)  


Bible Bee: The competition where the winner publicly praises God right after winning, and the runner-up is overjoyed for him.  And this is exactly why I love Bible Bee. 


It was really neat to hear Taylor honoring the Lord and not keeping back any praise for himself after winning.  You could tell that he was living John 3:27, "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven."


Our family before the closing ceremony.  It was so good to all be together again after a long week.



Joy, Samuel, and I with our friend Rachael.  The girls and I met Rachael and her sisters at a girls' retreat in May, and I sure have enjoyed keeping up with them!  I was so excited for her whole family to qualify for Nationals (and I was also very excited for their surprise visit the Sunday before Nationals)!  



The lighting in this picture isn't very good, but the room and the tables were so elegant at the Closing Ceremony.  


The dinner was just as yummy as it was last year.  We joked about how we didn't have to try everything, because it will probably be there next year. 



The Bontragers did such a wonderful job at leading music both at the Opening and Closing Ceremony.  And Taylor's version of Psalm 133:1 was great.



During the closing ceremony, the finalists received their trophies.  Here is Anastasia B. receiving her trophy.  She and Delie have been pen pals for the past two years, so we thought that it was pretty neat that Delie got to give Anastasia her trophy.



When they started talking about the host of the year, I got pretty excited because I thought I knew who it was.  And I was right!  Congratulations, Bella!  She graduated from Bible Bee last year, and she was an amazing host this year.  


I was really disappointed to miss the pointing picture last year, so I made sure to be there this year!  Such a fun tradition. 


After the pointing picture, we took a very large group picture.  I had no idea how many people were in it until we were looking at pictures later.  


I was enjoying some conversations upstairs (and then I embarrassed myself by getting the SDHA confused with HSLDA), so I never ended up dancing.  I was kind of too tired to, and even though I love square dancing, conversations are always better!  But since I should probably include a picture from such a key part of Nationals in this post, here's my brother Thomas (the little one smiling at the camera) with his group.  


It was wonderful to see these two good friends at Nationals!  We are all named Anna :).  I miss both of them!


Another very dear friend, Rebekah.  It was so good to see her again this year, and I really enjoyed that I got to spend so much time with her this year.  She is such an encouragement. 


Because singing is what people do when they stay up until 3:00 in the morning at Bible Bee :).  I rotated between singing, conversations, and games.  


More friends!  They are all such a blessing and encouragement to me. 

After getting a few hours of sleep, we went to the worship service, packed up the van, and said goodbye (which really takes quite a long time). 


Allison is such a sweet friend!  She is always very quick to encourage me with Scripture.  



I was so sad to say good-bye to Carissa.  And sad she had to join the alumni association.  I'm thankful to have her as my friend.  Not only do we share the bond of being sisters in Christ and Bible Bee-ers, but she uses ESV!  I'm going to miss being in Bible Bee with her, but maybe she'll be my commander next year.


John and Timothy -- such adorable people!  Wouldn't it be great if they were in finals together someday? :)



It was so good to see Rachel again!  We got to see her in August, so seeing her again just three months later was really nice.  I miss her!



We enjoyed fellowshipping with several families before leaving late Sunday afternoon.  Maybe we should start saying, "Next year in San Antonio!" (You know you're in Bible Bee if you get this.)

Thank you to everyone who let me use their pictures!  I really enjoyed seeing all of you at Nationals!  I miss you all so much!  Keep glorifying God and putting Him first in everything!


Sunset in San Antonio
"Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
Psalm 73:25-26

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31 comments

  1. such an amazing article!! i wish i could've gone this year -_- it seems so fun even compared to last year's

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  2. Love it! Thanks so much for sharing! I think one of the most wonderful things about Nationals is the spiritual journey God takes you on. None of ours is the same, and yet all of us had one, the one God needed to take us on.
    And I LOVE that passage--it's one of my (many!) favorites!
    Thanks again!

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    1. It was great to see you at Nationals, Hannah! (though I'm sad that it was only a few minutes)
      I agree. There is a lot that can be learned from being in a competition (like trusting God), and when you're in a competition that is centered around the Word of God, it's that much better :). I'm thankful for all the lessons God has taught me through it, even though some have been very hard.

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  3. Wow! This is such a beautiful testimony, Anna! You've been such a blessing + encouragement + inspiration to me:) Love what you said about not being in semis because of the loving sovereignty of the Father and how you added the giving gifts vs. comforting the sorrowful analogy. I needed that! What an incredible thing it is to know God more... To Him be the glory!

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    1. I'm thankful that God could use me to encourage you! Yes, God is so loving! And when you experience a trial, and He is right there with you the whole time, you feel that love even more.

      It was so good to see y'all at Nationals! I loved talking to y'all when we were fixing our plates before the closing ceremony :).

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  4. I l.o.v.e. this, Anna! "the friends I was sitting with were very emphatic that the answer was ischyros!": This line cracked me up! If you ladies wanted a quiet, calm watching of Senior Finals, you should not have sat with the Craig Crew:):) It was such fun 'having you along' though! Fun times are always best shared!
    Thanks for your transparent heart about not making semis. I appreciate + respect you so much for seeing how little semis matter in the long run. Yes, they surely do matter; we all want to make it! But what REALLY matters is God's precious Word, + every single Nats contestant has that! And that GOD would be glorified. You did that, my friend. Even though it was hard, you chose to accept your mistakes + glorify God! That means. so. much.
    Very much enjoyed this post! Such memories!!! I am missing everyone SO bad now, thank you very much:) Love you my friend!

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    1. It was SO fun sitting with y'all! And y'all made me even more excited about Taylor winning :). Yes! And thank you for also sharing in my sorrow when I told you about my oral round. I really appreciated your sympathy.

      So true! And even if my not making it to semis were to matter for the rest of my life (which seems doubtful when I think rationally :)), it still wouldn't matter in eternity, which is infinite. Thank you for all your encouragement! I'd like to make it to semis, but more than that, I want to glorify God.

      I'm sorry for making you miss everyone! Now you know the agony of "Bible Bee withdrawal" I had to go through in order to write this post ;). Miss you a bunch!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing once again, Anna! I love following this blog because it always points me back to Jesus. Your openness and honesty in writing is an inspiration. And I loved reading this post!! I could totally relate to you throughout the post and I was just about crying at the part after you heard your recitation. Even though this sounds funny, getting to cry with you after the semi-finalists were announced was a special part of Nationals for me. :) I love the Bible Bee camaraderie. Your testimony is so powerful! What a great promise God gave you at Nationals! The word He impressed upon my heart was "trust." For me, it all came back down to choosing to trust a sovereign yet loving Heavenly Father. Knowing and resting in God's sovereignty brings so much peace when the storm is raging. You truly are an example to the rest of us as you have demonstrated what it means to glorify God in both the highs and lows of competition! Keep placing Jesus at the center of everything! So grateful for your friendship!

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    1. Thank you for all your encouragement, Kaitlyn! I knew last year that it must have been hard for you not to make it to semis, since you had been so close the year before, but I had no idea how hard it was until I experienced it this year. I really admire your cheerfulness and contentment with God's will.
      I know what you mean! :) Most of my favorite memories from Nationals are crying with people. Those were really hard moments, but just to feel the love of God through other believers was so special.
      Thank you for sharing! Thank you also for your encouraging email! I was going to reply to that, but I decided to just reply to your comment :). Even if you never had the platform of semi-finals to glorify God, you have definitely honored Him by trusting Him.
      I'm so thankful for your friendship, too!

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    2. You're welcome, Anna! Thank you for your kind words. Praise the Lord that it encouraged you! It's definitely His working in my life, not my own doing. Wished you lived closer! :)

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  6. Love it, Anna! I'm still working on getting my memories finished myself. :)

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and refreshing memories at nationals! I miss it so much! Also, your amazing testimony really touched me, I found myself tearing up as I read. I can relate so much, and Psalm 73:25-26 is one of my favorite passages, so much so that is framed in my room. :) Thank you again!

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    1. I miss it, too! Aw, thank you! It was (and is) really hard, but God is so good through it all!

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  8. "Next year in San Antonio"...LOVE IT!!! :)

    I love this so much. I know this was Nationals from your perspective but there are still SO many memories in this post! Celia in semis, small group prayers outside orals, the seniors filing onstage...again, all of the powerful scripture recitations, Taylor winning+his testimony, and the list goes on! Haha, thanks for protecting the identity of your, ahem, "very emphatic" friends:)
    Your testimony was such a blessing, thank you for sharing!


    Oh and this reminds me of your post from Nationals last year, when I commented and you told me y'all were coming to Allison's retreat:)

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    1. So many dear memories! Haha, you're welcome! I didn't want to embarrass y'all. But y'all were hilarious during Senior finals :D.

      Yes, I was thinking about that, too! Wow, I can't believe that I didn't even know that you existed a year ago. I feel like I've known you much longer!

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    2. Haha!!! Well, we can get pretty...well...emphatic sometimes:)

      I know, that seems crazy to think about!!! I remember watching the livestreaming last year, and seeing Delie win, and thinking "I wonder if we'll ever get a chance to meet her?" :)

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  9. GraceAnn (Westfahl) MoyerDecember 16, 2016 at 6:36 PM

    Thanks for the recap Anna! :) It's fun to see that the Bible Bee is still impacting lives (actually, Scripture is, through the BB :).

    Quick question...who received the Oratory Award this year?

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    1. Hi GraceAnn (Mrs. Moyer, congratulations! :)),
      Thanks for commenting! Yes, God is continuing to use the Bible Bee to change so many lives! It has definitely changed mine.

      Noah McKay won the Oratory Award. This was his first year in Bible Bee, and he was a Senior semi-finalist.

      Thank you for all the work that you did for the Bible Bee! I would love to do that when I graduate.

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    2. GraceAnn, it's great to see you on here! I miss seeing you at Nationals! And yes, you are completely right about Scripture impacting our lives. Bible Bee is simply a tool. We were excited that Noah McKay won the Oratory Award (I believe he was the first young man to do so).

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    3. I really enjoyed Noah's recitations as well!

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  10. Ah, such a wonderful recap of Nationals. Thanks so much for writing this up; I so enjoyed reading it!

    Nationals truly was so amazing this year! I miss you so much!

    LOL! "an anonymous friend and I sneaked in the back door of the ballroom and watched" - I like how you hide everyone's identity, and then we all go and tell on ourselves. xP

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it was so good. Last year, almost everything went the way I wanted it to go (though there were definitely some trials that came with that), and that was fun; but this year was so, so much better, because I saw God's goodness and love over and over.

      Haha! Well, like I said to Rachael, I didn't want to embarrass y'all, but it looks like y'all are fine with it. Maybe I should go back and add your names in bold ;).

      I miss you, too! You should visit us!

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    2. Uh, no, you don't need to do that. :P

      Well, if we each drove three hours (or so), we could meet halfway... I so want to see you again!

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    3. Do it, Anna!!! :) And you're right, Cari, that's hilarious:)

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    4. @Carissa Rose: That would be so fun! I've never driven 3+ hours by myself before, but I'm sure that I'm capable...maybe :P.

      @Rachael: Well, should I put your name in bold, but not Carissa's? just kidding! :)

      Miss both of you a bunch!

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    5. I KNEW it was Carissa!! xD

      I'm reading through stuff because I miss BB. :'(

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    6. Haha! I do that too, Hannah :).

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    7. *is really missing BB...so is reading through blog posts and looking at pictures* ;P

      Hannah: Haha! How did you know it was me? :P

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  11. Thanks for sharing! It was so fun to relive nationals over again even if it makes me miss it too. Your post really helped me accept some little disappointments I had after nationals. Thank you for being such an encouragement!

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    1. Thanks! Sometimes I read this post or my Nationals post from last year to deal with PBBWS, but I'm not sure that it really helps :).

      Aw, I'm glad to hear that! God is always so good, even when we don't understand why things happened the way they did.

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  12. Aww, so many memories! Thank you so much for writing this, Anna! I love the recap; it makes me feel like I'm reliving Nats (which may or may not be beneficial to PBBWS :P)!

    What you said about Psalm 73:25... it happens to be a Junior MV. Thank you for the reminder that God should be our one and only desire; we don't have anything apart from Him. Heaven and earth will pass away, but His words never will. And because we have this assurance, it doesn't matter if we don't make semis, finals, or win, because the eternal, soul-searching Word in our hearts is the greatest treasure.

    It was so good to see you at Nats! Miss you all! :)

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