Finally, the last post in this series! If I don't type it now, it may never happen! And as an aside, if you'd like to see pictures of our day, you can go here.
So...at the close of the last post, we were on Cedarville University's beautiful campus. The opening assembly began with a couple of worship songs to focus our hearts and minds on Christ. Then the kids were separated according to age group. The primary kids were seated in order, and the roll was called. Then, two by two, they were taken to the oral examination rooms. Ted went with Tobin, who was called first. I decided to stay and try to go with Charis, given my fears that she would dissolve into tears if she made mistakes during her turn. Praise the Lord, she and Arden were called together! So I was able to walk over with both of them and even got to see both of them do their oral rounds.
Charis was first. Arden waited in the hall, and Ted and the little ones joined him. (Tobin was taken to the Family Fun area after he finished--they were not to come in contact with other contestants prior to everyone finishing.) Charis did very well during her round. She stumbled a little on the third verse, which was an easy verse, and I was concerned that it would throw her, but she pressed on. We weren't allowed to have anything with us in the room, so I had to go by what I knew myself in trying to figure out whether she had missed any words, as the judges were not revealing any information. I did catch that she quoted John 8:56-58 when she was given Luke 1:17 and winced as I sat behind her, wishing she would catch the mistake herself. She didn't until she was given John 8:56-58 as the very next passage! At least she quoted it perfectly both times! She did pass on a couple, and she inserted an additional phrase in Ephesians 4:32, which again made me wince, but overall, she did very well from what I could tell, and she seemed pleased with herself, too.
Arden was next, and it just blessed my socks off to listen to my 6-year-old quoting so many passages of Scripture! There were some longer passages that he was given, but he honestly told them, "I know Ephesians 4:1-3, but not Ephesians 4:1-6!" and "I know Philippians 2:1-7, but not Philippians 2:1-11!" However, when he had gone through all the passages (Timothy track contestants didn't even have 30 passages total, so there were some repeats) and there was time left, they had him quote what he knew at least. I was so proud of him!
Ted said Tobin had done very well on the verses he actually quoted--if he had any hesitations about the passage, he immediately said "PASS!!" That kid better do the National Track next year! He is one sharp cookie!
So then we were in the field house (family fun area) with games and bounce houses set up for awhile. Then the kids were taken to their written testing areas, and Ted and I hung out with Kenna and Lucan, who ran around in glee at such a large area to explore. We enjoyed some grown-up talk time, which was a pleasant bonus. Unfortunately, the written test time went loooooong. I guess they had to wait for a room to clear out that was being used for one of the older groups. Anyway, the written test was one hour start to finish. When they FINALLY got back to the family fun area, we herded everyone to the university cafeteria (which is MUCH nicer than it was when I was a student there, LOL) for a madhouse lunch.
Then it was back to the recital hall where we began the day for the final rounds. Thankfully they began with the primary group! Lucan was getting VERY sleepy by this point but was in no way ready to try to nap, so he was in full wiggle-mode, trying to keep himself awake. We were back and forth with him from our seats to the back of the room, taking turns holding him and trying to keep him quiet.
Anyway, they called up all of the Primary National Track contestants on stage. Then they started with 5th place, calling out the names of those who had scored the highest number of points. When Charis wasn't called for 5th place, I honestly thought she was done. Ted and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and figured, hey, we're proud of her no matter what! The names kept coming, and Charis cheered on her fellow competitors. When the last seat, first place, was the only empty one left, the spokesman said, "Now our first place winner is a real sweetheart." My heart jumped! He had told me, when I picked Charis up after the written test, that our daughter was a real "sweetheart." Could it be? Could our sweet little Charis be the one? Sure enough! "Charis Jacobson," he announced, and my gasp must have been audible enough to hear all over the auditorium! I burst into tears, and Charis laughed with joy on stage.
Everyone else cleared the stage, and it was time for the "Verse off." (I don't know what the official name is for it, but that's the only name I can think to call it!) Charis went first and said her verse perfectly, as did several others. But the 5th place chair on the other side of the stage was filled when the first contestant made a mistake. Several rounds later, Charis and a boy named Kyle were the only ones left. Back and forth they went--either they would both quote their passages perfectly, or they would both make a mistake in the same round, so it went on for a few rounds. Finally Charis quoted Matthew 15:1-9, only missing ONE word in all 9 verses. However, perfection is the goal for this final round, so she took a seat in the 2nd place chair again.
Kyle's passage was Deuteronomy 10:17-22. He immediately burst into song, singing the version that came with the original Bible Bee CD. He was adorable and did a good job, apparently not missing any words, because all of a sudden everyone was cheering for the winner. Charis was enthusiastically clapping as well.
But I have to confess. I was at the back of the room, holding a squirmy Lucan, and all I could think of was...didn't the rules say that the kids weren't allowed to sing the verses?! We had just gone through the FAQs from the web site the night before, and that had stuck in my brain. I quietly asked one of the area hosts about that rule, and she went on stage to check. The coordinator told me that they had talked to the primary students in the morning and told them that for this local contest, it was all right if they burst into song. When I heard that, I said that was fine, and really, singing a passage would not have helped Charis, as she preferred to learn her verses without the song accompanying it. Who was I to steal someone else's joy? Kyle did a fantastic job, and Charis admittedly had had to pass a number of times on passages she had been given. I felt the ruling was fair, and as the announcement had been clear, there was to be no questioning the judges' decisions.
So we rejoiced with Charis--her standing as far as the National Bible Bee went was still first place, based on the scores from the day, and she got a 2nd place trophy for the local competition to boot. All that after a night of trauma thinking she wouldn't remember anything! Our hearts were full of joy.
Moments later, when the Timothy track awards were being called out, we heard Arden's name for 3rd place! And then Tobin's name for 2nd place! Lo and behold, both our boys were standing on stage holding trophies themselves! My cup was running over! Joy flooded over me, a pure, sweet gift from the Lord. HIS grace was sufficient for our family. HIS strength was perfect. HIS blessing was on us and ALL who participated, for we treasure His Word, and it will NOT return void. HE overcame our weaknesses, our failings, our shortcomings, our "if onlys."
I was absolutely overcome with praise and thanksgiving--not that my kids were all holding trophies, though there is a parent's pride and joy in that. No, it was so much deeper than that! I can hardly now even find words to express how thankful I am that GOD made it so clear that HE is the one who is carrying on this work in the hearts of my children...and in my heart and my husband's heart. It wasn't MOM. It wasn't DAD. It wasn't a perfect plan, a perfect schedule, a perfect bonfire time. It was GOD, and God alone. His Holy Spirit has been at work in our family this summer, and the fruit will be borne for years to come. All praise and glory to His name!
The excitement of the day didn't end there. Though we chose to leave early due to frantic little ones who were rapidly approaching the manic stage, we left with singing hearts full of thanksgiving. Cell phones were whipped out, and the children got to share the good news with grandmas living in other states. Little did we know we would have to call them back!
Shortly after we got home, we received a phone call from one of the judges. Apparently there was much discussion amongst the judges after all was said and done. The bottom line was, Kyle had sung his song, and the rules had stated there was to be no singing. Furthermore, their hearts all sank when they had to tell Charis that she was not fully correct--only missing one word--on her loooong Scripture passage, which was the longest anyone had been given in the primary track! So they agreed that they would award dual first-place winners! The kind judge who spoke with me was one who had graded Charis on her preliminaries as well as had been part of the judging panel at the end. She came by our house today to give Charis the first place trophy AND the monetary difference between the 2nd place and 1st place positions.
(Yes--all the kids received money as part of their award packets! We had no idea! God is so incredibly good. What makes my heart sing even more is seeing how excited they are at being able to use the tithe from their winnings to sponsor a verse of Scripture to be translated into a language that needs God's Word!)
So, that's the story of our day at the Bible Bee! We will wait a few days for the posting of the scores, and by September 1 we should know whether Charis scored high enough to attend the National Competition in November. We'll keep you posted!
In the meantime, I hope and pray that reading about our experience may encourage you and your family to participate in the Bible Bee next year. We've already decided we're signing up--whether or not we compete! The study materials are just too rich of a resource NOT to use. We know we'll be moving with the military again next summer, so we're not sure if we can manage everything, but you can bet the Bible Bee will be a summer staple for our family for years to come. Hiding God's Word in our hearts--the best trophy of all!