My Bible Bee Testimony (Part 1: 2019)

 Well, here I am…I’m finally getting around to writing my BB testimony. This has honestly been very long in coming…ever since 2019 Nats. xD This is the story of how God used Bible Bee in my life to teach me so many different things. This is about some of the things that God has taught me so far, but I know for a fact that there are many more things that I have left to learn! I can’t wait to see what He has in store next! Anyways, let’s actually get this started now…xD

 I’d have to say that my 2020 BB story actually starts in 2019, back when we signed up for the 2019 Summer Study. We were still living in New Jersey at the time. Looking back, I can hardly even believe that this was me, but when my mom first mentioned that she wanted us to do Bible Bee again, my answer was a flat out I do NOT want to do it!  (Little did I know…lol). I had competed in the National Bible Bee for the first time in 2014, and again in 2016 and 2017. In 2014, I qualified for Nationals as a Primary, and ended up ranking 55th at Nats. In 2016, my first year as a Junior, I qualified as an alternate, and started the study, but after a while, it was just too much. I quit. I had lost my focus, and had driven myself crazy with nervousness, that was completely unnecessary. And I couldn’t take it anymore. So I pulled myself out. In 2017, I did the SS again, but didn’t qualify to move on to Nationals.

 By the time 2019 rolled around, I had convinced myself that I never wanted anything to do with BB ever again. I thought that it was all about the competition, and I hated the stress that it put on me. I didn’t think that studying the Bible should be a competition. So when my mom brought it up that year, my answer was no. I did NOT want to do it again. But my sister wanted to do it so badly that year, and my mom wanted it to be a family effort, so after much discussion and convincing, I finally gave in.

 Shortly after signing up to do the 2019 Summer Study, on Resurrection Sunday, we first laid eyes on the house that we are now living in here in Ohio. We had been wanting to move for many years, but it had just been one closed door after another. But after looking at our house, we gathered around outside and prayed as a family. We asked God that, if this was His will for us, let it go as smooth as butter. And it did.

 Even though it was a holiday, for some reason, the realtor picked up his phone. And by Tuesday of the same week, we were signing closing papers for the house. So after first laying eyes on that house on Resurrection Sunday, we officially moved into the house on June 1st. So a little over a month. Crazy, right?! But that’s how we knew that this was God’s will. It truly went as smooth as butter! And so on June 1st, we officially moved to Ohio.

 But as many of you know, June 1st also marks another significant date: the official start of the Summer Study! And so that day, we opened our package, and started our summer study. Even though I didn’t particularly want to be doing the SS, I’m the kind of person who still tries to do well at anything that I do. I don’t like to let things just sit in a corner if I know that I’m supposed to be doing them. And so I started working in my Discovery Journal every day with my siblings, and memorizing all my passages. I would do what I had to do, but I was very emphatic about the fact that — no matter how I did — I was not going to do Nationals.

 But as the Qualifying Test approached, I began to get nervous again. (I don’t even know why I was nervous, since I had no desire to do Nationals…lol. I guess I just didn’t want to fail like I was sure that I would.) I did not want to take it. I had done the study, I had memorized the verses, I did everything that I was supposed to do. But I didn’t want to take the test. I was very emphatic about that. My parents still really wanted me to do it, they wanted me to finish what I started, through to the end. But I kept saying that I didn’t want to, and it eventually started to wear them down. At last, they gave in, and said that I didn’t have to do it.

 I don’t remember exactly what happened, or what exactly was said, but something that my parents said one day pricked my conscience. I kept kicking against it. I don’t want to do it! I kept listing all the reasons in my head why I shouldn’t have to do it. But one by one, every one of those reasons failed. There was honestly no good reason for me not to take the QT. And so, I told my parents that I would go through with it. I would take the test. But I still insisted that, whether I qualified or not, I was not going to do Nats.

 And so for the last week before the test, I went all in. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to give it my all. I studied the DJ, I reviewed my memory passages, I wrote out every single one of the cross-references. And when I was down to the last three days, I learned all the Hebrew Words forwards and backwards. (At the time I didn’t have any idea about this wonderful resource called Quizlet, so my brother quizzed me over and over. xD)

 For our proclaim day, I recited my passages, and scored 100% on the proclaim day test. But still, in the back of my mind, I was convinced that I wouldn’t do well. My mom told me over and over that she was sure I would make Nats, but I didn’t believe her. Anyways, even if I did by some minute chance qualify, I already said that I wasn’t going to compete in Nationals anyway.

 The day finally came. I sat down to take the 2019 QT. When I started, I was very surprised to see that I knew a lot of the answers! There were still a ton that I had to guess on, but the fact that I knew some answers really excited me for some reason! And so after the test, I was pretty happy. I knew that there was no way that I would qualify…I probably wouldn’t even make the top 200 because I had guessed on so many. But still, I was happy that it was finally through with.

 But a few days later, we got an email that would change everything.

 I had qualified as an alternate, and since people had already declined their invitations, I was being invited to compete at Nationals.

 There were so many things going through my mind. I couldn’t believe that I had qualified as an alternate. There was no way! And what was I supposed to do? I did not want to compete! I had already said this!!

 But somehow, my parents convinced me to do it. And for the first time that year, I was actually excited to start studying for BB. We printed out all the passages, and I made the goal to memorize at least one passage a day. We bought a Bible study for 1 Peter, which was the study passage, and I started working in it every day.

 And so I started. Every day, I completed my goal. I worked in my Bible study, and I made sure to memorize at least one passage. And I actually kept up the schedule for a few weeks. A month and a half I think it was. But slowly, I was wearing out. 

 I was excited, yes. But my focus was wrong. So wrong. Every day, when I began my study, I would pray, “Dear God, help me to do my best!” But I was too focused on doing “good”, too focused on the competition. I had done exactly what I didn’t want to do. I had made the Bible into a textbook. Something to study and memorize to do good on a test. But the Bible is a treasure! A gift that God has given us! His very words! And here I was treating it like something of way less value. I wanted to do my best, but for the wrong reason. I wasn’t doing it for the glory of God, rather, to do well in a competition. Something meaningless — worthless. I was storing information in my head, a bunch of random facts, rather than putting it in my heart, and letting it transform my life. I realize now just how wrong I was for all those months!!

 While I was storing all this information in my head, it began to wear me out. I was constantly thinking about what I thought had to be done. What I needed to memorize next. How I needed to review. How I wouldn’t get everything done in time. This constant stress wore me down, but I was determined to press on. I was determined to do this!

 But then I broke.

 I was doing math one day, when I just started crying, and I couldn’t stop. I had no clue what was wrong with me. My parents sat down with me, and asked me over and over what was wrong. But I didn’t know. I suppose that deep down I knew, but I didn’t recognize it. I was convinced that I was studying for God, but in all reality, I was studying for myself. To make myself look good. So that I could do well in a competition. It was so bad, that at one point, my mom typed up an email to BBHQ, so that they could take me out of the competition. She was so close to sending it, and I honestly don’t know what made her decide not to. But after many hours of talking with me, my parents helped me to recognize the problem. They showed me how what I was doing was wrong. They sacrificed many, many hours, just talking with me, and helping me to realize this. I wish so badly  that I wouldn’t have put them under so much pressure and stress that day, but I am SO thankful for them, and how they loved me and cared about me enough to sacrifice of their lives to point me back to the truth, and the right way to do this study! I love you both so much. ❤ 

 After this, I had a renewed mindset, a shift of focus. My prayer changed from Help me to do my best, to it now being, Help me to glorify You through this.  And with this also can a new determination. Not to do my best so that I could do well in a competition, but a drive to dive deep into God’s Word and make it my own. To apply it to my life. And to glorify God through however I did at the competition, knowing that I am studying, and would be reciting, for His  glory alone! I really started to think about what I was studying. To see what God was trying to teach me through the passages. And the verses I was studying became so precious to me! Instead of trying to memorize more passages, I decided to go back and focus on reviewing the ones that I had already learned, and to make them my own.

 (Philippians 4:8, which was one of the Nats passages. I actually memorized the list by associating the colors with the words! xD)

 Somewhere around this point, my mom told me about Quizlet, and I started to use it for my studying. It helped SO MUCH! It was also on Quizlet that I accidentally discovered some Bible Bee chat sets, and started talking to my very first-ever BB friends. In the last few weeks before the competition, they encouraged me SO MUCH, and I really began to look forward to Nats. I couldn’t wait to meet them there!! And then my friend Lydia introduced me to the BB online community where I met SO many other BB-ers! Talking to you all on there were some of my favorite memories. I was honestly amazed that there were so many other kids who loved God and His Word so much, and it truly just shone through everything that they did and said! It really surprised me, because I was never used to being around other kids who had a true hunger for the Word of God. And it was amazing.

 And then came Nationals. The day that I used to dread, I was suddenly SO excited for!! I was so excited that my stomach hurt, and I was hardly able to eat anything. xD   

(At the hotel)
(Right after registration)

 After registration, we went to our hotel for a bit before it was time for my age division (Juniors) to take our written test. (Called the CBT) My mom and I read through 1 Peter together one last time before the test.

(Reading 1 Peter with my mom)

It was right before going up to take the CBT that I actually got to meet a lot of the BB-ers that I had been talking to for the past few weeks. It was so wonderful and encouraging just to get to talk to them before we went up to take the test! And talking to them also showed me something else. To them, BB really wasn’t a competition! I mean, it was, but there wasn’t really a focus on trying to do amazing at the competition. Yes, they wanted to do their best, but they wanted to do it for God’s glory, not for the competition itself! They realized that, if they moved on, that was part of God’s plan for them, and if not, that was part of His plan too. And when their friends got to move on and they didn’t, they were genuinely excited  for them! Not bitter or jealous! It was a competition, but there was no spirit of competition. Instead, it was a bunch of Believers gathered together who had studied God’s Word, and were now going to proclaim it to the best of their ability, for God’s glory alone. I found that so incredible!

When  we went in to take the test, I was a little nervous, but not really nervous. I knew that I had done what I could, and the results from now on were in God’s hands. I clicked “start”, and began to answer the questions. I was honestly very surprised,   because I knew the answers to so many of the questions! I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but I guess I wasn’t expecting to know many answers! The funny thing was, that the actual CBT was easier than a lot of the practice tests that I had been taking. xD

 Later that night was the opening ceremony. Each of the qualifiers was announced, and went  on stage to receive a medal. Afterwards, there was a time of fellowship where everyone got to hang out and talk. I got to meet several other BB-ers, and it was so awesome to talk and get to know them better. After this, we went to the hotel to get some rest before tomorrow, which was going to be another big day.

(With my sibs after the Opening Ceremony)

 The  next day was orals day. I was assigned to oral group D, so my group was the last to go. As we were waiting for our group’s turn to go up, some of us Oral Group D’ers got together and prayed. I was somehow nominated to be the one who prayed, lol. But this was honestly such an amazing and sweet time, praying with them before the round began. I think that was one of my most treasured memories from Nats.

 And then it was time for us to go up. After we all listened to the rules for the round, we divided into smaller groups, and each group went to their judging rooms. I was the first one up in my group. As I walked into the room, my hands were sweaty, and I was pretty nervous. But I was also super excited! When I competed back in 2014, I was only able to recite two of the passages that I was asked to recite in orals. How many would I know this time?

(Right before Orals)

 Once I reached the front, I was asked to state my name, age, and Bible version. After confirming that I was ready, they gave me the first reference. I know this one! That thought excited me. I repeated the reference, and the timer began to count down. Then I was asked the next one. I knew that one as well! I couldn’t even try to contain my happiness. I broke out into a smile, and recited the passage with joy. 

 I had to pass on a good amount of the passages, but I knew so many of them too! I was even asked Philippians 4:8, which was one of my favorite passages from the Nats season. Thank you God! I prayed afterwards. I didn’t deserve this. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to recite Your Word!

 Later that night, the Semi-finalists were announced. I knew that I hadn’t moved on, but I was so excited for those who had! I didn’t know any of the semi-finalists at the time, but I would later become friends with many of them. 😉

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 The rest of Nationals flew by. I got to talk to talk to many more BB-ers, and I made several new friends. I got to play a lot of games with friends, and we all just had a great time. On the last day, I was able to watch Junior and Senior Finals, and it was so amazing. Getting to watch all of the Finalists proclaim God’s Word almost flawlessly was so incredible!

After Finals, we went to eat, and then hurried back to get to the closing ceremony. It was almost surreal being there. I could hardly believe that it was almost over. We all sang some hymns together, and that was incredible. There were over a thousand people together, and singing praises to our Savior with all of them was just unforgettable! After the closing ceremony, my siblings really wanted to go out and try skating on the glice rink. I was awful at it, I think my skate blades were too blunt or something. xD My dad basically held me up the entire time! My siblings were wayyy better at skating than I was, lol! 

 

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Before I knew it, it was time to go. I hurried around trying to say goodbye to all of my friends. I was honestly really worried; the place was so big, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find everyone to say goodbye before we left. But looking back, I just should’ve trusted God. I was only able to find one of my friends by myself. The rest of my friends found me! I’m so thankful that I was able to say goodbye to everyone before we left!

 That basically sums up Nationals. After that, we left to go back home, and life returned to normal again. But the memories, the experiences, the friendships, the lessons learned, the Word that was stored in my heart…those were all there to stay. After competing in BB 2019, I was left with a greater desire to know God’s Word. And not just to know it, but to really know it. To have it in my heart. Competing in BB also introduced me to a whole community of believers, some of whom have since become my closest friends. God really used this experience to teach me so many things, and I can only imagine how different my life would be if just one of the factors in this story was changed. What if my mom had sent that email? What if she hadn’t convinced me to do Nats? What if she hadn’t made me do the SS in the first place? My life would honestly be SO different right now! It’s crazy to think about. There would have been so many missed experiences, so many lessons that might not have been learned yet, so much of God’s Word that I might not have in my heart, so many missed friendships, so many blessings that would not have been had…and to think that I never wanted to do it…not at all!!

 Thank you so much, Mom, for making me do Bible Bee even when I didn’t want to, even when I tried to use every reason I could think of for why I shouldn’t do it. Thanks for being right beside me the whole time, encouraging me to go on, even when I didn’t think that I could, and for pointing out to me when my perspective and attitude needed to change. Thanks for helping me throughout this whole journey, and for always pointing me back to Jesus in it all! You’re such  an amazing mom, and you mean more to me than words can say. Love you so, so, SO much!! ❤

 That journey was hard, but God used it to teach me SO much! My attitude was wrong in so many areas, but God used the people in my life to point this out to me, and then gave the strength to change it so that my focus could be back on Him and Him alone. I didn’t deserve any of this. There was no logical reason for why I should have qualified for Nats. I shouldn’t have qualified! But God had a reason. He wanted me there for a reason. Thinking back, it’s amazing to see how God used this all to bring me to the point that I’m at now. And even when we can’t see it at the time, He does that with EVERYTHING!!! He is ALWAYS using every situation to shape us and to teach us! I just need to learn how to follow the first time, without always having to learn the hard way. 😉 xD

 So that’s my 2019 BB story. But there’s still more to be told…

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6 thoughts on “My Bible Bee Testimony (Part 1: 2019)

  1. This was a BEAUTIFUL testimony, Sierra! I remember when I live-streamed the competition in 2019, I was extremely surprised + excited to see you walk across the stage during the opening ceremony. ❤ It is amazing to see how much God can teach and what more He wants to show us. There is so, so much to learn from Him! Reading your testimony makes me even more excited to participate in the SS next year. Honestly, I think while I was doing it this year, I was too focused on trying to qualify for the competition because it was something I really wanted. But this time around, I am going to pray that I focus more on growing in my relationship with God. If I qualify, cool! And if I don't, I'll be okay with it, with His help, of course. ❤ Keep pressing on, dear Sierra! You're truly an encouragement + blessing in my life, and I am thankful to have "met" you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I loved reading this, Sierra. God certainly taught you a lot through Nats. Color coding verses….that’s something I haven’t thought of doing. Maybe I should try that. Thanks again for sharing this post. (I was going to ask about your Nats journey in my next letter, but now I don’t have to 😀)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Loved this Sierra!! I always love reading others stories, especially if they involve Bible Bee!! I am so excited to try harder next year to qualify. I was honestly not very disciplined and didn’t put much effort into it. There was also a lot of things that I had signed up for and they had to take priority over Bible Bee, sadly. So I learned from the summer of 2020, don’t spread yourself over so many areas you can’t fully be there for every thing, don’t get tired halfway through and give up mentally, and rely on God’s strength not your own. Thanks for sharing your story!! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Pingback: Reflection Tag

  5. Pingback: What I’m learning in Bible Bee | Practical ways to get your motivation back – Living for Jesus

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