Saturday, September 19, 2009
More importantly, the contestants all did wonderful! The hard work they spent certainly showed in their performance and their scores. And...
I am quite excited to announce that five students from our little contest (of only 30 students) have qualified for the National Competition!!!
1. Natalia Leslie
1. John Myers
2. Aaron Wilson
1. Abigail Myers
2. Bethany Franklin
We also have one student who is a runner-up for Nationals: Luke Rathke!
It is so exciting to see all the students who worked so hard and more importantly, invested in God's Word. To be a part of instilling such valuable gems of truth into the lives of others was a great blessing. I know everyone who participated feels the same and I am so thankful for all our volunteers who invested in so many lives.
I'm also incredibly thankful for our wonderful team--my mom, Carrie, Janet and Suzanne. (See below picture). They were all amazing. It's remarkable to see how well things run when each person fully and capably fulfills their roles.
All in all, the Bible Bee was a wonderful experience. And now I'm looking forward to volunteering at the National Competition in November!
Our wonderful team. :)
Thursday, September 17, 2009
There are so many things happening in our country, but two in particular have stood out as I hear the stories.
The Valley that Hope Forgot
With over 40% unemployment in San Joaquin Valley in Southern California, Sean Hannity broadcast the plight of farmers in that region tonight. I kept hearing the accusation that the government cared more about an endangered species of fish (called the Delta Smelt) than they did the people in the Valley. I was rather confused about exactly what was happening, so I started researching. (Internet, by the way, is a wonderful thing).
The best explanation I can find is that environmentalists started demanding several months (or even years?) ago that California "modify water exports to prevent the extinction of the delta smelt." (1) Apparently that means reducing water into the Valley to a mere 10% of what they previously used. 10%!!! And this is a valley that produces food for the entire nation--now subjected to 40% unemployment rates with families going hungry every night. Why? Because the Federal Government, the current Administration and Department of the Interior are more concerned that the fish have water than the people.
For shame. I am all for protecting the environment, but NEVER at the cost of human pain and suffering.
Well, the second topic I wanted to discuss was ACORN, but that may have to wait as I have other things to do. For now, I will just quote one of those speaking out on this...
"To preserve liberty, you have to restrict the Federal Government." I'm afraid that is becoming more and more true.
Friday, September 11, 2009
As I traveled, however, I was also somewhat saddened. My dad kindly booked me a first class seat for my trip, which I greatly appreciated. But as I looked from those around me seated in first class to those men in uniform walking back to coach, I was saddened. They were the ones who should have been first on that plane. Sitting in first class. Being honored for what they have done. I wish I could have given up my seat for them... and I wonder if America, or myself, fully grasps what they have done for us.
When one of them perishes in the line of duty... when we hear of another attack in Iraq or Afghanistan... do we think about the life that was cut down? I am ashamed to say I seldom think of the life that was lost; of the mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children, grandparents and friends who are grieving; of the great sacrifice that was made. I know I cannot begin to relate to the sorrow of those families or the sacrifice of those men... but I hope that I--and all of us--can at least remember, be thankful for and honor those who gave their all.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I have recently been reading a series of books called Zion Chronicles, by Bodie and Brock Thoene. I wish I could say they are enjoyable, but I’m afraid they are not. They focus on Hitler’s rise to power before World War II; not a pleasant subject to dwell on, but one that is still necessary. Reading of so much suffering has made me ache inside. And mourn. And think. Why? Because I feel so deeply that the things that happened should never have happened. Should never happen again. Yet they did. And they do.
You may know the history. In 1933, Hitler began his attempt at domination of Germany, Europe and the world. For over ten years, the world watched as he invaded, destroyed and eliminated nations and lives. And the world was complicit in his schemes! It is beyond comprehension that in the entire world, room could not be found for a few thousand or even a few hundred Jewish refugees. England, the United States, the entire world sent back ships filled with precious lives—tiny babies, beautiful little girls, rambunctious boys, young men and women just beginning life, mothers hoping to protect their little ones, fathers trying to save their children…
And we rejected them. Left them to die in the middle of an ocean, sent back to die at the hands of Hitler and the Nazis; refusing to be the shining city on a hill we were conceived to be!
And as I read and thought and mourned, I couldn’t help but wonder. . . are we still complicit in the schemes of the devil as he seeks to steal, kill and destroy the innocent creations of the Father?
There have been millions who died and continue to die through abortion. It’s a number you all know. But when you hear the number, do you think of the life? Beautiful, tiny, innocent babies, created by God to be loved, nurtured and cherished… do you see them? A baby boy with big brown eyes. A little girl with beautiful golden hair. DO YOU SEE THEM? He would have been a strong, caring person. She would have loved to help others. They should be wanted! By all of us. We should have a burning desire to love and care for them, to hold them when they cry and see them become all God intended them to be.
What about the 12 million illegal immigrants who dwell in our land? Again, we’ve heard the numbers, debated the solution. But these are not numbers! They are people. They have histories. Families. Lives. They were created to be loved. Mothers hoping for food and shelter and freedom for their children. Fathers trying to make enough money to support their families. So many, just trying to survive.
When you hear of genocide. . . do you see the mothers and fathers grieving, wailing, crying for their lost children? The little ones wandering alone, wondering where everyone and everything they have ever known has gone? Do you see the broken hearts and broken lives?
I’m not saying I know the solution to these issues that so many have dealt with. But I wonder. . . when we hear ‘abortion,’ ‘immigration,’ or ‘genocide,’ do we see only another ‘issue?’ One more ‘problem?’ Do we fail to realize that behind each problem is a story and a life? Or do we see these innocent people as human beings, created in the image of God?
I wonder. . .
If we really saw them the way God sees them, what would we do differently? Would we talk so casually about deporting immigrants? Argue over money sent to Darfur? Lament the millions of babies dead while never thinking of doing something about it? So often we throw around these terms, never thinking of the life that has been lived. The people who are real. The hurt they suffer. And never thinking of how God mourns when people suffer because we fail to care.
When I think of these things, it is not pleasant… but I don’t want this feeling to leave. I want to be so burdened that I do something worth doing! That I move others to do the same! I am praying that God will continually give me a burning passion and desire to do something to see people rescued, protected and cared for the way God tells us to! The way HE cares for and loves them! With an eternal, everlasting, never-ending, overpowering, unbelievable love! That’s the kind of love I want. And the kind of love I want to act on.
I know it will not change everything. And I know the policies and procedures still have to be dealt with. But I can’t help but think that if we tried to see people through God’s eyes, instead of problems through man’s eyes, this world might be a very different place. A place of love. And God would be in the midst of it.
Friday, September 4, 2009
The amount of Scripture these students are learning is phenomenal. Young people hiding thousands of Scripture verses in their hearts. Knowing that "the Word of God will not return void," I am excited to see how God will use such a program to bring revival to our hearts and renewal to our land.
As I cannot be a competitor in this wonderful program, I am working as the Logistics Coordinator for the contest in Wichita. Needless to say, there are many details to take care of for a competition like this. I have been busy gathering supplies, making lists, helping train volunteers, compiling lists, holding meetings, writing lists, planning snacks and food, assigning rooms... and did I mention lists? :) It has been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I enjoy organization immensely, so this has been an enjoyable, though challenging, project for me. Thankfully, our "Local Planning Committee" consists of several well qualified ladies who have taken their respective responsibilities and run with them quite well. We (my mom and I) are very thankful to have them on our team.
The Local Contests take place all across the country next Saturday, September 12th. Please pray for these competitions. 1) That God will use them mightily to work in our nation. 2) That all the little details will fall into place without overwhelming those of us who are responsible for them. 3) That any plans of the enemy will prove fruitless as we do what he fears most... declaring the Word of the Lord!
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Thus begins a new book--Pajama School--written by a friend of mine, Natalie Wickham. Natalie has just started a new contest to promote her new book and provide YOU with a way to win a free family pass to the 2010 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival! There are also other prizes to win, so be sure to check out Natalie's blog at http://www.pajamaschool.com/blog!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Here's what happened: my mom's computer randomly turned off and refused to turn back on a few weeks ago. This is the third time this has happened to the same computer. So we sent it in to HP on August 17th and were told we would have it within 3 days, per our warranty. Now, if I can add correctly (which I can), that means we should have had it back by August 20th. But apparently HP cannot add, as it is now September 1st and our computer is nowhere to be seen.
They tried to ship it to us on August 24th (note: four days AFTER we should have had it back). Unfortunately, someone on the continent can't spell and they sent it to a non-existant address. So FedEx got the computer within miles of us, couldn't find the house and sent it back to California.
We had been tracking the package and when it didn't arrive on time, my dad got involved. (He's the person who can make things happen in our family). So on August 28th, he took off an afternoon from work and spent the entire time talking to HP. After being transferred around the world, he finally talked to the management, who promised to overnight the computer and get it to us ASAP.
Allowing for the weekend, that means we should have had our computer yesterday or today at the latest. Well, it didn't come yesterday, so we called FedEx and were told the package would come today. It did, around 12:30pm.
But guess what? (You might want to sit down).
They sent us an empty box.
That's right--no computer, just a box with a return label in it. NOT what we needed or expected.
So since my dad is now in China and it is early morning (around 2:45 am) his time, I got to call HP. I spent about an hour and forty-five minutes trying to track down case manager "Steve." I started out in Mexico, who promptly connected me to Nova Scotia. After talking to them for awhile, we got disconnected and I got to start all over again. This time I ended up in India, got nowhere fast, hung up and called back again. I once again ended up in Mexico, who once again transferred me to Nova Scotia, who finally located the case manager in Ontario. He's now working with California to get our computer to Colorado by tomorrow.
All that to say--the quality of the product and of the service at HP has been pretty dismal. (And this isn't the first time we've had problems--just the worst). So if you're ever considering buying a computer or other technological products, let me encourage you to not try HP.
On another note, I did receive some interesting lessons on various cultures. Mexico can't help you with anything, but is more than happy to transfer you wherever you would like to go. India can't help, won't let you talk to anyone else, and will only promise that someone will call you back within three business days. (Both my mom and I had this experience). And Nova Scotia and Ontario tend to be pretty helpful and actually get stuff done, but they can't figure out what on earth those people in California were thinking. (Neither can I, come to think of it).
Well, that's my story... and unfortunately, it's not over yet. I have to go call case manager 'Steve' again and make sure the computer is on it's way to the right state and address. Then I think I'm going to get a bowl of ice cream and go watch a movie. My mind needs to rest after traveling around the world in an hour and forty-five minutes.
So... I finished all the requirements for my Bachelor degree in Social Sciences this summer. Yes, that is a four-year degree completed in 10 months, 7 days! I'm now waiting to graduate from Thomas Edison State College, a regionally accredited school in New Jersey, sometime in December.
After finishing my degree, I ended up spending a month traversing the country; in Virginia for a camp called iGovern East, back to KS for a couple days, up to Nebraska to see grandparents, drove out to Colorado for iGovern West, stayed in CO for a week after camp with my family who is out there for awhile, back to KS to plan a Bible Bee and now planning to head to Pennsylvania this weekend! It's been busy, but fun.
In the midst of all that, I started a job with CollegePlus!, the organization that helped me plan and achieve my goal of getting a degree "Faster, For Less and For Sure." I'm currently coaching 18 students to do the same thing I did and enjoying it so far.
I am also hard at work organzing a Bible Bee in Wichita. We have around 40 contestants and are down to the last couple weeks before the competition, so there is a lot to do.
On a more personal note, I just spent a wonderful couple of days with my best friend and am off to Pennsylvania this weekend to spend some time with another great friend. For those of you who know I was hoping to go to China--well, I didn't. My dad left this past Saturday, but because his schedule was so full, I was not able to go with him. So I'm going to PA instead and hopefully can tag along the next time he heads somewhere. (He did mention Europe...) ;)
Well, hopefully that brings you up-to-date on my life thus far. I will hopefully elaborate on all the exciting things I'm a part of later on. I just wanted to let you all know I'm alive and well and that I DO plan to keep up my blog--somehow.