Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
In my previous post, I explained how the Bible Bee is set up. In this post I will detail our adventures leading up to the event itself. If you are not familiar with the Bible Bee, I encourage you to check out their web site or read my previous post first so this will make more sense!
Our Bible Bee summer began with great intentions, a good schedule, and much excitement. I planned to memorize every verse card right along with the kids--let me say now that did NOT happen! But the first few weeks of summer, we were clipping along merrily. Charis needed to learn 20-21 verses every week in order to stay on track to learn all 250, and she and the boys (who needed to learn about 9 a week) were doing well keeping up. We reviewed frequently, were faithful in our daily quiet times, and felt we were on track.
Then we went to Wisconsin to visit my parents for a week.
A few weeks later, when we were finally catching up, Charis and Tobin left for camp for a week.
After that, it was kind of a free-for-all in some ways. We continued doing the quiet times, but as I got busy with life, Tobin ended up doing a lot of quiet times on his own while I herded Arden along. I neglected to practice verse cards with the kids the way we used to, and more days than not they heard me lament, "You REALLY need to be learning verses!" or "Please get your verse cards and study for a little while!" Charis's shoulders would slump, because she knew how far behind she had gotten, and she would get the "bad-attitude" look on her face that I dreaded. Meanwhile, the boys would merrily go on their way, not seeming at all fazed by the number of verse cards they hadn't even touched yet.
It could have gotten dreadfully discouraging. But then, without fail, I would get an upbeat email from the local Bible Bee headquarters, encouraging us to not become weary in doing good. We WOULD reap a harvest if we would not give up! The folks at the Bible Bee headquarters kept their mission in mind and helped us remember as well--it was NOT about the contest! We were studying the Word of God so we could LEARN it, SPEAK it, and LIVE it! So what if we weren't doing Greek word studies as a family?! Who cared if there were questions left unanswered in our notebooks?! So we didn't have every verse card memorized. Was that reason to slump our shoulders and throw up our hands in despair? NO!
So went the roller coaster of emotions throughout the summer.
YES! We're excited! We can do this! This is incredible and is bringing our family together!
NO! We're behind! We'll never catch up! We might as well quit now! And our boys will NEVER sit quietly through a Family Bonfire time!
YES! New verses learned! Spiritually sensitive questions and discussion! We're making progress!
NO! No one has done their quiet time today, and we've forgotten all the verses we learned yesterday!
You get the idea. As a type A, homeschooling mom, I had a mental picture of how our Bible Bee summer would "look," and the reality was not matching that picture! I struggled with guilt off and on, one moment realizing that there was only so much I could do and knowing that my kids had to take responsibility for learning at some point, and the next moment thinking that if I ONLY were doing X, Y, or Z, we would be SO much better off. If ONLY we were taking time to do practice oral rounds with the kids. If ONLY we could get our act together and do the Greek word studies as a family. If ONLY we had read the rules for the contest at the beginning of the summer instead of halfway through. If only...if only...if only.
Guilt is so overrated.
In a nutshell, our summer efforts went something like this: We did GREAT weeks 1, 2, and 3. We played catch-up weeks 4, 5, and 6. And we simply did the very best we could, working around life and little ones, weeks 7-12.
And so we came to Friday evening, August 27, our last Family Bonfire before the Bible Bee itself. We thought it would be fun to do a practice oral round after reviewing the rules with the kids so they could have a chance to get a feel for what
the next day would bring. The boys had fun and enjoyed the experience. Charis...burst into tears, began sobbing uncontrollably, and couldn't breathe for about a half hour afterward, proclaiming that she was NEVER going to remember her verses.
Mommy guilt was at an all-time high. I had known from the beginning of the summer that, being just like her mom, Charis had set her sights on going all the way to Nationals. There was just no way she was going to be able to compete with all the "stuff" we didn't do. If only I had pushed her just a little more! If only I had reminded her of her goals and had taken the time to work with her just a few minutes every day, or even a half hour once a week!
We sent the boys to bed for a blissful night of sleep (yeah, right--they were awake past the time Ted and I went to bed). I made some hot tea for Charis and myself, and we went through her verse cards with a highlighter, checking to see that she knew the first few words to get her on her way, then marking words that were troublesome for her. Towards the end of the stack there were more and more cards that she miserably confessed she just didn't know. We decided she would just have to say "pass" on those and do the best she could on the rest. We prayed together (again) and tucked her in bed, only slightly more confident than she had been during our practice oral round.
The next morning we ate a good breakfast together as a family, laughing at the silly antics of Kenna and Lucan. Spirits were high as we drove to Cedarville University and talked again about how we were proud of ALL the kids for all the hard work they had done. With final reminders about how we only wanted to see the kids do their best and not worry about anything else, we pulled into the parking lot, loaded up our gear for the little ones (stroller, back pack, diaper bag), and made our way to the registration tables.
The time of preparation was over--the Bible Bee was beginning!