If you’ve read our blog for any length of time, than you’ve heard about the Bible Bee. Our family LOVES this program and we couldn’t be more excited about what all God is doing and has been doing through this amazing opportunity.
One again, our five youngest competed in the summer program of the Bible Bee. Josh, Denver, Hudson, and Rebecca all advanced on to the National Bible Bee.
This meant that September-November were chalk full of study, study, and more study, in addition to school, music, and farm work. It was a VERY busy and intense few months. Here are a few pictures of study time!
Certain members found that it was easier to remember ones memory verses if you were engulfed in a large blanket and closed your eyes while you recited. Supposedly…=)
The last few weeks before the competition were beyond intense. It seemed like all.the.time someone was saying “can you listen to me recite please?”
We had friends stop to visit and they so sweetly just jumped right on board to help out with listening to the hours of verses that needed to be recited.
Some people preferred to pace back and forth as they recited….
More online study.
..and even more…
We listened to verses everywhere. Even in the tractor!
Josh had been working long hours hauling grain, and we weren’t getting in enough time to listen to all his verses since he was gone so long all day. Finally someone had the idea that we could ride with him in the tractor and listen to his verses while he waited in line at the grain elevator. Josh of course was so focused and able to multi-task that he ended up reciting as he drove, and loaded, and unloaded, and waited, and everything in-between.
Finally in November, it was time to leave for THE thing in San Antonio! The parents and the six youngest loaded up the bus and headed south.
The five contestants sent us a picture of them outside the bus enjoying the warm sun, the first day they arrived. Naturally, they are each holding several of those ever present stacks of verses….
Brother selfies from the hotel room. =)
Finally it was time for THE actual competition!! Above is the primary contestant group.
We five oldest and a friend drove down for the final weekend competitions. We had a very lively road trip full of crazy little adventures and tired drivers. (sketchy rest stops, a little run in with the law, and a number of rumble strips, just to name a few) We also learned that Austin traffic is not a thing to be trifled with and that it would be wiser to leave home with at least one semi-perky driver. =)
Our crew. =) We barely got there in time but thankfully we made it about ten minutes before the opening ceremony started!
The whole family together the first night of opening ceremonies. It was great to all be together again and take our place for the second year as the loudest family present. =)
That night, it was announced that Josh, Taylor, and Hudson had made it onto the semi-finals!
Thursday was a great day. Josh and Taylor advanced to finals. Hudson got a chance to follow along with the competition from the crowd and then give his thoughts to the audience through a fun little interview.
A new addition to the format this year was a very professional and well-planned commentators stage. Denver and one of his close friends thought it looked like such fun, so they somehow found the person to talk to and asked if they could come to the backstage room and hop on the commentator stage for a bit. They didn’t tell their moms, though, and only a few of us siblings knew they were going to be on, so when they came on over the screen there were some very surprised individuals in our row. =) We all cheered extremely loud, so loud that the main commentator said, “wow, sounds like y’all have quite the fan club out there”. #truth
(you can watch this segment by clicking this link and then clicking on the “Review 2015 Bible Bee Senior Finals” and scrolling through the video to approximately one hour and nine minutes =))
Excited for Thursday!
These sweet friends (whom you may remember seeing from the beginning of this post; they were some of our guests who were the “relief crew” one day listening to recitations) drove all the way from Tennessee to come and surprise us. What a HUGE gift. Such a blessing to have them join us for the finals.
Prayer time in the hotel room before heading out to finals. As it is each year, our prayer was just that God would receive glory, and HIS name would be proclaimed above all else. Yes, the competition is fun, and us competitive Bontragers love to win for sure, but in this thing everyone is a winner because of the WORD that each of them has hidden in their hearts.
Celebration time on the main stage after Taylor won FIRST PLACE in the junior division!!
More hugs and family cheer time, after Josh won 4th place in the Senior division!
Other than the obvious greatest blessing of having God’s Word hidden in their hearts, one of the most wonderful things about the Bible Bee is that the ones who have competed have been able to meet and make so many close friends all across America. Many of their best friends are the ones they are competing against, which makes the whole thing quite interesting—they are all working their very best to win, but the joy and love they have for each other even when it is their friend who got first place and they didn’t…is amazing to see. They are all honestly and genuinely so happy for each other, even cheering their friends on when they themselves get knocked out.
Josh with the other four finalists, right before the ending evening awards ceremony.
Taylor with one of his closest Bible Bee friends. These two have competed against each other for years now and it is just really special to see the close but very competitive friendship they have. They won first and second place.
I posted the above pictures and the following paragraph on instagram, the last night after the competitions were over:
“I was going to post a picture of Josh who just won fourth place in seniors, and Taylor who won first place in juniors! And then I was going to post a picture of Hudson who went through a huge trial this week but is learning to trust God through it even though it’s hard. And then I was going to post a picture of Denver whose PR skills just pretty much wowed us all. But then I just decided to post a picture of the whole crew. Because the thing I love most about every person in this bunch is not how they score, or what they accomplish, or how they perform. But the thing I love about each of them is their hearts that are sold out for Jesus. Every one…from my amazing father all the way down to my youngest sister. The unity and love that we have in serving Jesus together and desiring to glorify Him “whether we win or we lose”, is a precious thing. And we are all first place winners anyways because of knowing Jesus and having His Word hidden in our hearts. My heart is overflowing with HIS GOODNESS.” #nationalbiblebee
The awards ceremony was incredible. Everything was amazing. There was table after table of delicious food-we ate like kings!
A highlight of the evening was the boys getting a chance to go up on stage and personally meet Dr. James Dobson.
We were all in stitches over some of the hilarious comments that were made, and certain ones of us will never hear certain phrases like, “have you considered farming?” again without bursting into laughter!
Last picture of the five finalists from each division.
For those of you who may have missed watching the webcast, it is still up and available to watch at this link
! The page includes videos of each division competition, as well as interviews and clips with the different contestants. It is truly such an encouraging thing to watch and if you have a little time and weren’t able to see it before, I would highly encourage you to check it out!
“Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might
not sin against Thee.”