I could never have imagined on June 3, 2011 when I began my Bible Bee journey, the way it would feel to walk out of that hotel in San Antonio, Texas five years later on November 21, 2015.
To step out of that hotel and walk away from that incredible week we spent together worshipping God and rejoicing with each other. Walking away from that amazing time with the people I couldn't imagine not knowing. Walking away from what could be my last time with all of you since I was stepping out into a new life of Alumni.
When I first signed up for the Bible Bee in 2011, I didn't know I would meet all of you. I didn't know then how much you would mean to me now.
So if I've never told all of you how grateful I am for you, this is for you:
You have edified me, you have built me up, you have encouraged me. You have inspired me, challenged me, and picked me back up. You have laughed with me, cried with me, prayed with me, rejoiced with me. You have cheered for me, pushed me on, and never let me give up. You have loved me and run the race beside me every step of the way.
You have been my second family.
The second family that will always be a part of my heart and life even as I step into the new race of being Alumni.
I look back on all the moments we have shared and I can't help but smile. I cry too, because the loss of not having all of us together now still stings some. And I would give anything to have us all back at Nationals together just one more time, to sing just one more song, or pray just one more prayer in a group.
But think about all we've shared together....
We have counted down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until registration, summer study, and Nationals. We have raced to register for Bible Bee in April to see who could register first. We have stayed up until midnight on May 31st, watching the time on our clocks change to June 1st as we excitedly rip open our Bible Bee boxes to discover our new study materials. We have tried to guess the study books (most often we've guessed wrong, haha) over and over and we've tried to memorize as many verses as possible in the shortest amount of time.
We have taken practice tests, written practice questions, and shared resources over and over on google study docs. We have had signature and photo contests at Nationals. We have all had nervous attacks at locals and Nationals where we needed a friend to smile at us, reassuring us that it would be okay.
We have stood onstage together reciting the Word of God for hundreds of people to hear. We have stood onstage together as a group receiving medals that hung around our necks, only a temporary prize compared to the true reward in our hearts.
And every one of these moments I cherish in my heart.
But the moments I miss the most are the simple moments at Nationals when we were all together, laughing and playing. Sitting in a circle playing Dutch Blitz (I know, I still don't know how to play...). Standing in a circle singing hymns as loud as we could. Dancing all the wrong steps at the square dance. Holding hands in a group as we all fervently prayed for each other and thanked God for what He was doing.
My dear Bible Bee-er's, you are some of the strongest people I know and I am honored to know each of you. I know I haven't listed names here, but you know who you are. You are the ones who have been in my Bible Bee journey and changed my life even if you didn't know it. Your examples of love for Jesus inspire me every day. I am so blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to be a part of a group that loves Jesus more than anything else.
Thank you for everything.
For the phone calls, the letters, the emails, the encouragement, the hugs (Bible Bee hugs are the best), the smiles, the prayers. Thank you for it all.
I will miss standing with you on that stage as you glorify God.
I will miss standing in the circles talking about all of our study tips and how much we want to make semi's but how much more we want God to be glorified. I will miss walking with you down that aisle at the Opening Ceremony. I will miss praying with you in groups. I will miss hugging you those tight, beautiful hugs that we exchange after not seeing each other for a year.
Thank you for being wonderful enough to give me something that I will miss so deeply.
I chose to write this post to you today, as it turns midnight on June 1st, 2016, to remind you of the nights we stayed up till midnight on June 1st to open our Bible Bee boxes together. To remind you of how special and precious those moments are. Cherish them.
And now, you sweet Bible Bee friends who are still running your race...Keep running.
On Monday, your new race begins. You are standing at the starting line, anxiously ready to start running.
So run well, my friends.
I believe in you, I know you can do it. And above everything else, I already know that every one of you is a winner. You've been a winner every year. So keep running to glorify Him. Keep running to praise Him. And when you get to the end of your race, whether that be at Locals or Nationals, give Him all the honor.
I am standing at the end of the Bible Bee race as Alumni, cheering for you every step of the way. You can do it.
I am so, so proud of you.
More proud of you than you will ever know.
Thank you for being my second family. You mean so much to me.
May we always run together towards the prize of knowing Jesus deeper in this life.
I love you all beyond words.