One of my prayers regarding Zaden's delivery was that it would happen at a time so as to allow me to attend the Local Bible Bee with the older kids. I, for one, am thankful that I did not have to attend the Bee while still pregnant! However, I must confess that I had hoped for a delivery date earlier than Zaden actually came--the day of the Bee was most uncomfortable for me physically, as my milk had come in just the night before and we had a HORRIBLE night.
But God is good. Despite my extreme exhaustion and the painful feeding sessions we endured, the day was a total blessing in every other way. And perhaps the activity of the day served to divert my attention from a difficult situation with our little newborn.
So, going on about 2 hours of sleep, I managed to get the kids up and fed and out the door by 8 a.m., no small feat, I might add! Mom stayed home with Kenna and Lucan, as she and Kenna were recovering from coughs and sore throats. (Originally we had a sitter lined up to watch the younger two so Mom and I could both go to the Bee.) We made it to Cedarville University with time to spare and loaded up all the baby supplies in the stroller. (I brought the boppy to make feeding times a bit easier!) Zaden was ready to eat during the opening session, so I took him out to a lounge area and worked on that while the kids stayed inside with my friend Cathy and her daughter, Carly, who, like Arden and Lucan, was participating in the Primary Timothy track.
One of the coordinators, knowing our situation, told me that she would make sure the kids' oral rounds were scheduled so that I would be able to go in with them, and she came to tell me that Charis was soon going to be ready. Perfect timing, as Zaden and I were finishing up in the lounge. I waved goodbye to Tobin and Arden, who were being taken to the written testing room, and I took Zaden in with Charis (who held on to Flat Daddy) for her oral round.
Some background here: Charis chose to participate in the National Track, because she wanted to be eligible to possibly qualify for the National competition in November. Because of this, she had to follow the age guidelines. Because she will be 11 years old by November, she had to participate as a Junior (ages 11-14) instead of a Primary (ages 7-10), even though she was still 10 years old on the day of the Local Bee. Junior contestants had 500 verses to memorize, whereas Primary had 250. So--a considerable difference! But I was very proud of her. Even though she didn't memorize all of them, she probably got through at least 2/3 or even 3/4 of the verse cards, a daunting task for anyone.
So the oral round consists of 25 verse cards (each contestant has the same passages to recite), and she passed on probably almost half of them, not knowing them at all. The ones she did recite, I think she did pretty well on, and she felt she had done her best, which was all we asked.
She and Zaden and I went to the "Family Fun Area," where we were joined by the boys after their written test. Then it was time to switch. Charis was taken to do her written test, and I was able to watch the boys' oral rounds.
The boys chose to do the Timothy track in the Primary Division. This track only involved learning 50 verses instead of 250. No matter which track you choose, though, everyone does the same Bible study throughout the summer. We studied the book of 1 Peter, and each age group has their own version of the study, but the same concepts are covered.
I went with Arden first. My amazing son quoted all 25 passages given to him, without passing or asking for prompts. I sat listening to him and couldn't help it...tears filled my eyes, and I just thanked God over and over for placing His Word in Arden's heart. At the end of the round, one of the judges spoke a blessing over Arden, quoting some of the same verses back to him..."Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity," for one, and telling him that God was going to use him in a mighty way. You can imagine how emotional this mother was after all that!!
Arden was then escorted back to the Family Fun Area while I went with Tobin to view his round. He did well also, but he did pass on 4 passages that he hadn't bothered to learn! (He's SO capable, but SO lazy!! I hope he will become more self-motivated over time!!)
Then it was lunch time, and we enjoyed a picnic under the trees by Cedar Lake while I worked at feeding Zaden again. (And I do mean "worked." Sigh.)
At 2 p.m. we gathered in the auditorium for the final portion of the day. All the Primary contestants got to march on stage, and then they called out the top 5 Timothy contestants. Oh, the joy! Arden and Tobin took 1st and 2nd place, respectively! The boys were positively beaming on stage! Of course, their excitement had a lot to do with the gift/goodie bags they received along with their trophies, LOL. But I was so happy that their hard work and perseverance had paid off, especially in Arden's case. He had begun a lot of the Sword Studies in tears because he didn't feel he could do it...I was there to help him, but sometimes I would ask him to start on his own while I finished something up. But for verse memorization, he really did most of it on his own!
We then watched the National Track contestants do their final round before moving to the Junior division. Charis marched on stage with kids that looked way older and bigger than she is, and I was so proud of her for all she had done! We had talked about the fact that she would likely be one of the very youngest contestants in her category, and while she was disappointed that she hadn't learned more verses, we both agreed she really had done a great deal over the summer and had nothing to be ashamed of.
We both gasped in surprise when she was called forward as one of the top 5 National Track contestants! She got to participate in the oral round, but not for long...the kids kept having to pass on various passages they were asked, so it went fairly quickly until they got down to the last 2 contestants, who went back and forth for a bit. And the final ranking found Charis in 4th place for the local contest! The picture of the top 5 cracks me up...Charis barely reaches the 5th place guy's elbow!
We are so proud of all our contestants! What a wonderful program. We have thoroughly studied the book of 1 Peter, which is so appropriate for our family during this season of life. I'll close this post with a passage I learned just two days before Zaden was born...it became a focal point for me during my labor and delivery, and the words continue to echo in my mind as we face many more challenges during the remaining 9 months of Ted's deployment.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:3-9
P.S. The final results are in (mostly--there will be some additions after make-up bees are done due to Hurricane Irene). Nationwide, Charis ranked 237 out of 813 Junior National Track contestants! So, she did not qualify to attend the National competition in November, but wow, what an accomplishment.
As for the Primary Timothy division, there were 420-ish contestants, and Arden placed 18th!! WOW! (And he earned a PERFECT score on his oral round!) Tobin was 56th. I'm so proud of ALL my kiddos!
Of course, the best part isn't the numbers or the trophies or the goodie bags. The best part is having all those Scriptures stored up in the hearts and minds of our children--and me, too! (I nearly made it through all 250 verses of the National Primary track! I was a bit shy of the total goal, having to stop Week 12 early due to...having a baby, LOL.) What a blessing it has been this summer to literally walk in the Word.