A Little Place

A Little Place

"Where shall I work today, dear Lord?" 
And my love flowed warm and free. 
He answered and said, 
"See that little place? 
Tend that place for Me."
I answered and said, "Oh no, not there! 
No one would ever see. 
No matter how well my work was done, 
Not that place for me!"
His voice, when He spoke, was soft and kind, 
He answered me tenderly, 
"Little one, search that heart of thine, 
Are you working for them or Me? 
Nazareth was a little place … So was Galilee"

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me."
Matthew 25:40 b

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."  Luke 16:10

2013 National Bible Bee!

Well, it's extremely hard to believe that the National Bible Bee was already over two months ago, and it's even harder to believe that I'm just now getting around to putting up pictures of our time there. 

It was once again an amazing time to volunteer at the Bible Bee as a family, fellowship with other believers, meet many new friends, and see God answer many prayers for our freinds who were competing. God was truly glorified once again, and I'm amazed at how every year seems to add a new aspect to God's blessing on the Bible Bee. It was (as always) especially fun for me to meet, and reunite with many friends, and get to talk with them. It was funny to have people coming up to me that I had never met in person, asking me if my name was Elanee, and saying they had been looking forward to meeting me. It was my first time to have made numerous friends over the year by studying for the Bible Bee online together. It was a very special time for all of us, and I really appreciated getting to talk with so many people....Although it could have lasted for weeks and still not have been enough time to talk with all of them:) 

Anyhow, I hope you didn't miss my pictures too much.... But of course you probably didn't miss my pictures since you didn't know they existed:) anyhow, here's a sample of our trip to the Bible Bee...I hope you enjoy the photos. 

Since we were already back east visiting realtives, we drove from Virginia to Sevireville,Tennessee for the Bible Bee. 

We enjoyed the drive and especially appreciated the scenery.

It has long been a goal of ours to stop at Chick-Fil-A when we have been back east, so we were very excited to finally stop, and found the environment, and food to quite surpass our expectations. We even tried to stop again on the way back from the Bible Bee, only to remember it was Sunday and they were closed.....hurray for a restaurant that honors God....I wish we had them on the West Coast, only they might have to change their menu a bit:) 

We arrived at the Bible Bee late on Tuesday night, and were excited to immediately meet up with other Oregon families. This year we also enjoyed being able to go to the water park at the hotel. Being my first time at a waterpark, I didn't know quite what to expect, and found myself screaming at the top of my lungs on the way down the slides....o,k, it was only for the first couple times:) 

The next morning after we arrived, we headed over to the conference center for instructions and to begin our volunteer assignments. It was SO refreshing to once again be in the presence of committed believers, and to spend time in prayer before beginning the long day of registration. 

Evan and I enjoyed being tour guides this year, while Mom & Dad did registration. Evan was the best tour guide in my opinion, and not only did he do an amazing job, as a firstime tourguide, he also managed to somehow get almost all of our Oregon Bible Bee families on his tours. ( which I'm still a bit amazed at:) 

Thursday was preliminary rounds for all the contestants. Mom was in the Prayer room & at the information booth, Dad was judging all day long, Evan was in the family fun area, and I was busy in the little siblings area. It was my first time to be taking care of 0-5 year olds, and trying to act like I knew what I was doing when I positively did not. I managed to make it through the day, and found myself almost completely overwhemled trying to occupy the attenttion of almost 20 energetic kids when the other volunteers were too tired to help out. Once I overcame my amazement of how out of control little kids can be without their parents..... I realized I needed to be creative to keep them all occupied when the toys became uninteresting....and at the end of the day....I found I really enjoyed my time with the little kids. I didn't realize Duck, Duck Goose, could be so much fun...especially when you're the goose. After this experience, I concluded that I'm younger sibling deprived:) 

Opening Ceremony is always a special and scary time; Special to see all the contestants be rewarded for their hard work, and scary when the semi- finalists are announced, and you're gripping the edge of your seat waiting for your friend's names to be called. This year I was helping out with the processional, so I didn't get to see all the contestants being awarded....and as a result the ceremony seemed really short. 

The Semi- Finalists were then called, and it was so amazing to see 3 of our Oregon Bible Bee contestants make it to Semis, as well as numerous other friends that I've met over the years. It's always special to see each contestant be surprised and grateful to make it on stage. God is certainly amazing to do abundantly beyond all that we could ask or think. 

It was such a blessing to be part of the Bible Bee choir and orchestra this year. It was amazing to hear how much can be accomplished in just three practices. I loved singing with the choir, and can't wait to repeat the experience next year. 

One of the biggest highlights of the Bible Bee this year, was being able to cheer on our dear friend Jordan Strang who did an excellent job in senior semi- finals, and quoted the Word of God with passion and excellence. He accurately recited eight passages with great oratory skills, and won the attention of the entire audience, with a spontaneous applause on his first recitation.  It was such a blessing to be able to see him be rewarded for his diligence, and determination to study God's Word throughout the entire year.

It was also exciting for me to see Ryan Sinni win first place in the Senior division. It has been a desire of mine since 2010 to see a "representative of the male species" win first place....so it was very exciting for me to watch the finals.

Speaking of finals, it was so special to see our dear sweet friend Olivia Davis once again make it to finals and take fourth place in the Jounior division. Braving the new iPad challenge, and final challenge round format, she quoted her verses with excellence, and did a wonderful job bringing glory to God, and encouraging her fellow contestants. 

After the competitions were over, we all enjoyed the celebration ceremony, and I especially enjoyed being able to sing with the choir, and hear my mom do some of the narration for the performance. God was truly glorified, and it was so uplifting to be a part of such a wonderful group of people who are so committed to bringing the Word of God to life. I felt as though I was in the gateway of heaven, hearing the angels sing "Holy, Holy, Holy is The Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." He truly is worthy of all our praise. 

After the celebration ceremony, all the Oregon Bible Bee families gathered for a group photo. It was so fun to see how many of us there were, and to spend the weekend with them. Whenever someone from
Oregon was on stage, we all ( well most of us) took seats up front to cheer them on. It was like our own Oregon fan club.....we even had buttons to wear so we could let everyone know we were from Oregon. 

I think one of the biggest highlights of my Bible Bee experience (which seems to be the same every year;) was the talking, talking, talking, and reuniting with freinds, from all over the country. It was a blessing to be able to spend time encouraging and being encouraged by fellow students of the Word. It's like a big family reunion....something I look forward to each year. 

It was so special to finally meet, and spend time with the M. ( I can't spell their name:) family. I felt like we had known each other for a long time, and I don't know how we've managed to be at Bible Bee 3 years in a row without meeting until now. 

It was also a blessing to meet Kristin R. And her family. Over the Bible Bee studying season, I was blessed by Kristin's testimony of determination to put God first, and her testimony of persevering during some difficult health problems. Her sweet spirit, and grateful heart were very inspiring to me. 

It was also good to finally meet Kaitlin R. and her family for the first time. Kaitlin & I share the same spiritual birthdays, and almost the same physical ones as well. It was a blessing to meet her and see how I can be praying for her.

It was also a blessing to see Brittany S. and her family again, as well as to spend time with Hannah Cooksey and her family from Oregon. (Our pastor's family:)

Meanwhile:) Evan enjoyed spending time with the Cooksey boys, and meeting new friends.
This was the Cookseys first time at Nationals and so it was extra special to be able to share the Bible Bee experience with them. 

Evan with Joshua, & Kerestel. (I guess it was getting late...because the room seems to be empty.)

Signature time is always my favorite time of the celebration ceremony. This is where everyone gets "everyone else" whether they know them or not, to sign their Bible Bee program. It's kind- of like saying goodbye with a purpose. And by design, it can take several hours;) 

It was fun to spend time off and on throughout the weekend with the D. & Davis families from our local Oregon group. It's been fun to watch them grow over the years we've done Bible Bee together. 

Group photo time..... It was great to finally meet Daniel F. who I had heard so much about. He also made it to semi- finals in Seniors, and did an excellent job reciting the Word. And even when he made a mistake and knew he was eliminated from the competition, he finished quoting his verse with excellence, and passion. It was very moving. 
And round about midnight....things started to get a little interesting. This was a normal group photo of all the late night Bible Bee people, until an "anonymous" suggestion was taken and the photo became simply hilarious. 

And....This is what happens when the first place winner tries to play hide and go seek at the Bible Bee:) j/k

I think we got to bed at 3am (which is almost normal for us:) and then got up at 8 to check out of our hotel room, and attend the Bible Bee church service, which was such a blessing and an encouragement. And then the "fellowship competition" began.  Which is for the committed few who like to stay around and talk until everyone else is gone, (because their stomachs and watches get the better of them;) and they would've stayed even longer had not they walked outside, and been met by the extreme cold, and waiting parents, who forced them to say goodbye;) 

And so concludes my promised post of the 2013 Bible Bee. It was a great weekend to focus on Christ, celebrate with friends, experience the family of God, and share great conversations with fellow believers. I am so grateful that God allowed our family to volunteer and attend the Bible Bee again, and I simply can't wait to do it all over in Orlando, Florida in 289 days:) 

"If ye abide in me and My Words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you, herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples." John 15: 7-8 

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe that 2013 is actually coming to a close, (Actually it's "closed"....That shows how long it has taken for me to wrote this post:) I still want to write 2003 as the date. I can't believe how many years can pass so quickly before our eyes.... A decade doesn't seem so very long now. 

Anyhow, I thought I'd share some of the things I learned, accomplished, and God has taught me this year. This is by no means going to be an exaustive list, but probably more like highlights and things that stand out in my memory, so bear with me if I forget something.....I have a feeling this is going to be a long post. 

This year was a year of great challenge and discovery for me. I learned how hard it can be to trust God in the face of opposition from many different sources. He never ceases to show us His unfailing love.  God's ways no matter how hard are always best. I felt God asking me how much I was willing to give up and still love Him. Through the course of the year, He seemed to be touching each area of my life and saying "Can I take this, and you still love me?" "What about this person? Will thier absence cause you to question me?" "Will you stand strong for me in the face of this temptaion?" Friends, family, possessions, opportunities, desires, encouragement, and acquaintances. I soon realized how little I was willing to sacrifice for Him. This passage in Hebrews stood out as a promise and a source of hope in the midst of these times of sacrifice. 

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with paitience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such cantradiction of sinners, against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the  Lord nor faint when thou art rebuked by him; For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he recieveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons, for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." Hebrews 12:1-8

Another thing God taught me this year was how important it is to not stand in my own strength, and think that I have any cause whereby to glory on my own. 3/4 of this year was a season of great challenges for me, and I was once again thrust into the realization that people can change, and when they do, they will try to take us along for the ride. Time and time again, I found myself repenting and seeking God's strength to make it through another day. People will fail us, kingdoms will fall, but God alone must be my all in all. He gives strength to those who wait on Him. 

For this season of my year, I felt like I was living 1 Corinthians 10:12 " Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take need lest he fall." Every moment seemed like another opportunity for satan to tug at my heart, and urge me to give in just a little. On how easy that would be, and how great and difficult the consequences. 

Through a study called Choosing Graditude from Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I've been learning the importance of gratefulness this year. It's so easy for me to think I'm a self-made person, and be proud of my talents and abilities. But in reality, I have nothing in which to boast, apart from God, and the gifts and sacrifices many people have invested in my life. Without their encouragement, protection, love, teaching, and sacrifice, I would be nothing! I would have nothing! I began to keep a gratefulness journal in October, and I was shocked at how much I take for granted. And not just things that I have, but even things I don't have are sources of gratefulness. (Like not having cancer, or lymes disease, or blindness, or a million other health problems) "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not, they are new every mroning, great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him." Lamantations 3:21-23

This year I was excited to complete some small accomplishments. I was blessed to be able to take harp, and singing lessons, and to even take ballet lessons for a short time. (Something I have always wanted to do) I was able to host another craft sale, raise money for Pregnancy Resource Centers, help host our local Bible Bee, volunteer at the National Bible Bee, (which BTW was an amazing experience....pictures of that are still forthcoming....I promise:) perform a piano duet with my brother Evan for the Chrisian Heritage Homeschool Conference, (that still seems unreal) sing in choirs, attend several excellent conferences, learn from many inspriing speakers, and visit relatives and friends across the country. 

By far, my favorite trip this year, was when my mother and I were able to attend the birth of my sweet neice, Elizabeth Ann Smythe. Even though I was a bit apprehensive about going on the trip, I knew that it was what God wanted me to do, and in the end I was so blessed to be a part of such a life changing experience. I learned so much about life, had some very encouraging times with God, and found a renewed apreciation for Parents. It's unbeliveable that Elizabeth will be a year old next month. It just reminds me of God's mercy, which I have seen over and over this year. God is gracious to show me more of Himself in very real and unique ways and  to help us trust Him in the face of uncertainty. 

In the beginning of 2013, I asked God to make Him my first and only affection, and little did I know how faithful He would be to answer that prayer. Before I realized what was happening, some of my closest friendships were displaced, people who I admired and looked up to we're taken in deep sin, my sister (who was my closest friend) got engaged and married before I even had a chance to fathom the affects on the rest of my life, and things that I had thought were going to happen fell through. I was having a really hard time accepting these things and found myself complaining and upset with God's ways numerous times. I seemed to be living in the midst of Psalm 88:18 " Lover and friend has thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness." 

And then, towards the end of the year, I was contemplating what had transpired throughout the year, and how very different life is from now on because of the changes that happened in 2013.....and then it happened....I was struck with the reality of what God had done. I was cleaning the house, and as I worked I was listening to some CDs a friend had told me about, and suddenly, I was struck with the words of this song. 

 "My Redeemer Is Faithful and True"

As I look back on the road I've traveled, 
I see so many times He carried me through;
And if there's one thing that I've learned in my life,
My Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My Redeemer is faithful and true.
Everything He has said He will do,
And every morning His mercies are new.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

My heart rejoices when I read the promise
'There is a place I am preparing for you.'
I know someday I'll see my Lord face to face,
'Cause my Redeemer is faithful and true.
My Redeemer is faithful and true.

And in every situation He has proved His love to me;
When I lack the understanding, He gives more grace to me.

It was as though God spoke to me in a clear way, and said, "Don't you see, I've done what you wanted me to do...I've been here all year long, and you've failed to notice me. I've answered your prayers, and I'm still here throughout it all." It was then that I found myself in a state of utter gratefulness to God for His mercy, and it was then that I was able to say with Job, " Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him, but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.... He also shall be my salvation." Job 13:15-16a I looked back over the events of the year with complete confidence and a renewed trust in God, and my heart was finally able to say "Amen" to His will. 

So once again in 2014, I'm asking God to be my first and only affection....and this time I'm looking forward to recognizing His answers, sacrificing even more, and accepting His will with gratefulness. For I know that whatever my God ordains is right, because He is my Redeemer, and He is always faithful and true....He is!!!! 

So claim His promises today, they are written for you, and when His love once again shines through, thank Him that His mercies are new.........Happy 2014 to you and your family!!!!

Visiting Friends!

After our time at the Bible Bee, we dove to Central Tenesee to visit our dear friends the Wilson family, who used to live a couple blocks from us in Oregon for several years. 

We spent the night at their house, and enjoyed catching up on the past year, & seeing how God has been working in their lives and providing for their family. Then we traveled to the airport with most of their family, and stopped for lunch at Bob Evan's on the way. 

Evan & Robert & Ian enjoyed the hot Cholcolate with free refills, (thus their absence from the table) and we all enjoyed seeing snow falling as we headed to the airport after lunch. 

We thought we had to rush to the airport, but we arrived with time to spare so we were able to have fun capturing these group photos before we left. 


And gentlemen....

Boys ....

& Girls...

Humor is....

So much....


Unless you're the one being pinched:) 

As you can see, we had a wonderful time with the Wilson's, and we were very grateful to see them again. And while we're still waiting for them to move closer, as they are vice versa, we all enjoy our yearly visits and look forward to the next time we see each other again.

Once again, God blessed us with safe travels home, and we all are so grateful for 
His mercy in our numerous travels this past year! As we take off on each flight this 
verse from the 2012 Bible Bee comes to my mind, and I'm always amazed at God's faithfulness to answer this prayer, and protect us in our journeys. He is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations! Praise be to The Lord!!!!!!!!

"Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight,
 shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight:
 and consider that this nation is thy people.
And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence."
Ex 33:13-15

You're My Hiding Place!

"Hiding Place"


In the distance I can see the storm clouds coming my way,
And I need to find a shelter before it starts to rain,
So I turn and run to you, Lord,
You're the only place to go,
Where unfailing love surrounds me, 
When I need it most.

You're my hiding place,
Safe in your embrace,
I'm protected from the storm that rages,
When the waters rise,
And I run to hide,
Lord in you I'll find my hiding place.

I'm not asking you to take away my troubles, Lord,
Cause it's through the stormy weather I'll learn to trust you more,
But I thank you for the promise,
And I have come to know,
Your unfailing love surrounds me,
When I need it most.

You're my hiding place,
Safe in your embrace,
I'm protected from the storm that rages.
When the waters rise,
And I run to hide,
Lord in you I'll find my hiding place.

So, let your people seek you,
While you may be found,
Cause you're our only refuge,
When the rain comes pouring down.

You're our hiding place,
Safe in your embrace,
We're protected from the storm that rages,
When the waters rise,
And we run to hide,
Lord, in you we find our hiding place...
Lord, in you we find our hiding place. 

Hiding place... hiding place... Lord, you are my hiding place...