Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card

I hope you're having a wonderful fall season, and enjoying the warm fires, and pumpkins, and leaves all around. I know I sure am, and I can't wait for Thanksgiving:) God is SO faithful to keep His promises. I've been enjoying doing Kings Blooming Roses' Thanksgiving Challenge. It's SO fun to see all the little things I usually overlook, as blessings from God.

I just wanted to share a quick note with you, and let you in on something that's been keeping me away from the blog for the last few weeks.

I'm hosting a local event called Rosewood Christmas Bazaar on the 5th of December in Hillsboro, OR, and the Bazaar is sponsoring a $50 Amazon Gift Card giveaway.

Go to this link to check out the Bazaar, and enter the giveaway. And if you're in the area, I hope to see you at the Bazaar:)

P.S. Please share this on your blog/social media:) I'm trying to get the word out as much as possible:)

Psalm 127:1 "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it, except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." 

What If You Loved Someone as Much as You Want to be Loved?

The thought struck me late last night after watching the 2015 Cinderella movie for the second time. It is a heart moving story in many ways, and I was impressed with the way the producers captured the themes of forgiveness, kindness, and courage. But I was also impressed with a theme that was acted out throughout the movie, but never spoken. To truly love someone as much as you want to be loved, even when they don't deserve it. Several times throughout the movie Cinderella is seen doing the right thing when all the people around her are not. She is seen holding her peace when others are fighting, and refraining from blaming others even when there was reason to do so.

As I went to bed last night the thought kept coming to my mind. What if I loved someone as much as I want to be loved, even if they don't deserve it? What if I sacrificed without hope for reward, and what if I truly lived with the needs of others in my focus instead of my own? What would change? Would life be different for me? Would it be better?

I think it would. I know for myself, the challenges and struggles I face would be almost eliminated if I was to truly live with others in my perspective instead of myself. I would come face to face with my heart, and I would see that true value is created not when I get, but when I give. True love is being willing to sacrifice without hope for gain.

So many times I think we look to people to provide us love and acceptance which we have never been able to provide to someone else. For example, many people dream about and hope for a future spouse to meet their needs, and love them unconditionally. But how many of us dream about loving someone else unconditionally, and sacrificing so that they can experience the same depth of love we hope to receive?

Maybe the reason we have yet to find that love and acceptance which we so desire is because we have been looking for it in the wrong place. Maybe instead of searching for someone to meet our needs, we need to search for needs we can meet, and maybe instead of waiting for someone to come along and love us unconditionally, we need to love the people that come along in our lives…. unconditionally. Maybe…. just maybe that is when we will truly experience the love we desire to receive.

God has given us a great gift in Jesus, His Son. He is our only source of true love, and even though most of us know that, and have come to experience the blessed hope we have in His love, we still look for people to meet our earthly needs. We look for "Cinderella's" and "Prince Charmings" to come along, and offer us a hand, to walk beside us in the journey of life, and to always know just the right thing to do, and the right words to say. But with God's help, I submit to you that we can stop looking for other people to meet our needs, and we can start becoming the people that meet needs. And as a result, instead of searching for "Prince Charmings" and "Cinderella's" we will start  becoming them for other people.

Matthew 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

So what's your opinion? What would change if you truly loved others as much as you want to be loved? What do you wish someone would come along and do for you?

Leave a comment….Let's start the Conversation.

Take Joy in the Lord!

Here's a simple poem of encouragement  the Lord gave me to share with you this morning. It was inspired by a recent Bible Study in John 16. I was inspired by this verse, and convicted by how many times I refuse to take joy in the Lord. But I hope this poem helps us all remember, that He is our source of Joy, and no one can ever take that from us!

"And ye therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy NO man taketh from you." John 16:22

Take Joy in the Lord!

Take Joy in the Lord,
He knows your mistakes, 
He's the source of all truth, 
Live for His name's sake.

Trust Him in the trials, 
They won't last that long, 
Even in the mist of them all, 
His love is still your song. 

The pain you face, will not long last, 
He knows the future, present, and past. 
Give Him your heart, your hope, your love, 
Take joy in the Lord, your hope above.

Take joy in the Lord, 
Each moment, each day, 
For in the midst of confusion, 
He still knows the way. 

So whatever comes along
Let this be your song,
Cling to the Word,
Take Joy in the Lord!

Portrait of a Godly Woman || Tiffany

Today I am excited to share my second ever guest interview on this blog. Remember those questions you all submitted for interviews? Well, today you'll get some answers.

Here to talk with us today is my dear friend Tiffany Schlichter. Tiffany was gracious enough to allow me to interview her over the phone several months ago. She is such an encouragment to me, and I was very blessed to be able to hear her perspective on such important topics.

I met Tiffany and her family in 2010, when her sister Brittany competed in the National Bible  Bee. Right from the start, I knew that Tiffany was a godly woman I could look up to and be encouraged by. Tiffany has written several books. "All Glorious Within," "Noble Girlhood," "Encouragement to the Homeschool Student" & "Higher Ground at Home." She is also the author of the Virtuous Daughters Magazine - a monthly encouragement for young ladies. I have been very blessed and encouraged by her example of humility, and I hope you are blessed with this interview.

Could you tell me about some of your successes in your life?

Well, I guess I would say that I've been grateful to the Lord for giving me an opportunity to publish 4 books, and write the Virtuous Daughters Magazine. I know that anything that I have accomplished is only a result of the Lord's grace. I've also enjoyed helping my siblings and my parents be sucessful. 

A Movie Worth Watching…..& a Giveaway!

I don't usually post about movies on my blog, but this one is worth sharing about. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly encourage you to see "Beyond the Mask." It's showing in theaters all around the country RIGHT NOW and until June 18th. One of the leading Christian films of the year, Beyond the Mask is packed with action, adventure, history, and even a bit of romance. It's sure to be a film your entire family will enjoy. Produced by two homeschool graduates and their families the film is complete with stunning scenes, inviting stories, and a moving message that will challenge your faith. Be sure to go to this link to find the showtimes and theaters near you! 

As a special treat for my blog I have 2 exclusive Beyond the Mask t-shirts that I'm giving away. They are size Large and X-Large- Perfect for the guys in your family! There will be two winners so enter away:)

Oh, and be sure to leave a comment and tell me what you thought about the movie after you see it:) Have a blessed day:) 

My Goal for Writing this Blog

In December of 2012, I had an idea to start a blog. I had accumulated quite a bit of writng, and I wanted to be able to share with others, and hopefully be of some encouragement. So, I contacted my friend Eden S.,and we talked about the possibilities I could do for a blog. Would it be a specific theme? Would it have giveaways, and reviews, or be more of an encouragement, and exhortation blog?
There were SO many possibilities for what I could do, and so many ideas in my head that I was eager to pursue. But overall, I knew that whatever my blog became, I wanted it to bring glory to God, and encourage other people to do the same. I wanted to start with lessons from my life, and insights from Scripture. I also had a few poems to share, and hoped to include details of our family expereinces. So, I started my blog, and with Eden's help, I came upon a name. Elanee's Endeavors.

Early || The Last Morning

What Would Getting Up Earlier in the Day Help me Accomplish?

Getting up earlier in the day - is that just an idea that will never fully come to pass, or is it something that must be worked at until it is accomlished?
Recently, I've been doing a 30 day Early to Rise challenge by Andy Traub, and I've been noticing how many limiting beliefs I've allowed to come into my mind and belive. I think that there's nothing wrong if I sleep in an extra hour, Nothing wrong if I waste most of the morning sleeping, and somehow I'm going to become successful without doing anything. What a lie!The truth is that the Bible   has many things to say about slothfulness, sleeping in late, and believing that work is not necessary.

God's Faithfulness || New Beginnings

Psalm 89:1 says “I will sing of the mercies of The Lord forever, with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” Lamentations 3:21-24 says “It is of The Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul, therefore will I hope in Him. The Lord is good to them that wait for Him to the soul that seeketh Him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of The Lord.”
How many times do we stop and consider The Lord's faithfulness? Every day His mercies are new, and His compassions fail not. Through the hard times, and the good times God never changes. His Word remains steady and sure, and there is nothing uncertain about His faithfulness to keep His promises. Have you ever stopped to consider the power of God? He rules the heavens, and the earth. He could have made one star, and one moon, and the earth, and stopped. He could have just made the earth as well, and stopped. But He didn't. He decided to go beyond all that we could ask or think, and create infinite wonder and beauty in the heavens of heavens, and in the earth. He went so far as to create you and me, and not just create us, but to give us unique thoughts and dreams, and feelings and goals. He went beyond, just to show that He could, and prove that His faithfulness is never ending. When we think we can't go on another day, and when our failures seem to be closing in on us, God sends us his love, in the form of a ray of sunshine, a bird, a flower. The sound of rain on our roof, and the knowledge that we are safe inside His arms. His mercies are new every morning. His strength is sufficient for another day. Great is His faithfulness.
I read a book recently Priscilla Shier entitled “God is Able” The entire book was an explanation and practical application of Ephesians 3:20-21 that says “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above ALL that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages. World without end. Amen.” Mrs. Shier basically took every negative thought, and concern we have about God, and challenged it with the truth of Scripture. Through stories, and insights from her life, she showed the importance of trusting and believing that God is truly able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think. And He requires us to live in light of that belief.

Today is the day!

"Now is the time to know God is able. To connect your current reality with God's present ability. But in order to do that- in order to experience Him Now, to burst through the cloud cover that's keeping you from catching the rays of His light- you need to make a deliberate decision to change your perspective. " Priscilla Shirer- "God is Able"

Guest Interview || Eden

 Motivation, anticipation, passion, and experience, these are some of life's greatest stepping stones that mold and shape our character in more ways than we can imagine. Here to talk with us today is my dear friend Eden S. from Eden's Evaluations. Eden graciously agreed to be the first person to share her answers to the interview questions you helped me formulate. 

       What motivates you? 
Knowing that my time on earth is short and fleeting… I want to use all my time serving the Lord, glorifying Him in all that I do, being a light for Him, and building His Kingdom!

Who has had the most influence on your life, and why? 
My parents. They are such amazing examples in many ways, one of which, is how they both honor and love the Lord with their whole hearts.

How are you preparing yourself to be an adult woman? 
Heeding the instruction of my Mother! She is an amazing woman of God, and attending my ear to her instruction is one of the best ways I can prepare myself.

What quotation most inspires you?
I have a few, but these are two of my favorites.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” -Corrie Ten Boom
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” -Corrie Ten Boom

What are some books you would recommend for young ladies to read? 
“Trapped in Hitler’s Hell” By Anita Dittman.  That is one of my favorites… Anita’s love and trust in the Lord is absolutely amazing and an incredible example to me.

What are the biggest assets to your time management? 
Hmmm… probably accountability and self-governement.

How have you gone about overcoming laziness?
I would have to give the credit to my parents! :)  Goal setting also helped me with overcoming laziness.

What has been the most significant Scripture passage for your life, and why? 
Currently, Psalm 71:1 is one of my favorites, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.”  I find this very comforting, knowing that the Lord will never leave or forsake me.  Satan works with confusion, but God works with clarity.  With our eyes and trust in Jesus, we will not be put to confusion.

Based on your life experiences, what advice do you have for young women as they move forward in life?
Keep your eyes on Jesus, be continually in His Word, always have a heart open to receiving instruction, and keep Hebrews 12:1 in mind. :) “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with 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 patience the race that is set before us.”
I'm Eden, I'm 16, the fourth out of 7 children, and the daughter of Jesus Christ. I love anything active, hanging out with my amazing family and friends, dancing En Pointe, singing, doing thrilling things, talking, laughing, playing fun pranks, and overall, being hyper. ;) You can visit my blog at:

If  you enjoyed reading Eden's interview, please leave a comment and let me know. How were you encouraged or inspired by Eden's interview? 
Thanks for reading, And remember, the past is history, and the future is a mystery. Today is the only day you have to make a difference. Make it count for God's glory!

The Question You've Always Wanted to Ask || Giveaway Winner

What are some questions you've always wanted to ask a godly Christian woman? What would the interview you've always wanted to read look like?

Well, we're about to find out.......But first off, a huge congratulations to  Bonnie S. for winning the Well Planned Day Calendar Giveaway, and thanks to all who entered. I'll be mailing the Calendar to you shortly. 

Calendar Review // Giveaway!

Hello Friends………..Today I have a very special review and giveaway for you from The Home Educating Family Association has all sorts of wonderful resources for every member of the Homeschooling family. From student planners, to Mother's schedules, to wall calendars, and (my favorite;) blog planners, Hedua has it all. 

I've used their Well Planned Day Planners and really love the results they give to help me manage, and improve my daily schedule. You might recall this giveaway I did of it last year.

Also, you probably remember this giveaway I did of the My Blog Planner a few months ago. It is still my favorite tool for managing my blog, and keeping track of my future posts. Even though I haven't been blogging as much lately, I promise you I have a list of all sorts of blog post ideas in My Blog Plan book:)

Day by Day!

Life:) day by day I learn and grow and struggle to survive. At times, It feels like I won't see the end of this physical journey, and then at times I wish I would have more time to stop and enjoy the blessings of life. Oh, to be young again. I feel with each passing birthday, that the years of my life are drawing to a close. I see my future more by the time that has passed, than the time that hasn't. 

But there's nothing so satisfying, so lasting, as the joy of knowing Christ. His love, is all encompassing, and even when I feel like I've completely lost my way, I know He's still there, and that will never change. I see His smile in the rays of the sun. I feel His peace in the encouragement of a friend's email, and I sense the satisfaction of work done for His glory in the gratefulness of my family. 

Yes!!!! This life is a stuggle, and there are days in which I wish I could simply take a break. But I know that no matter what happens God's Word is all sufficient. Christ is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. He is my one desire, and my greatest satisfaction. Life with Christ is worthwhile! 

"There will come a day when you believe everything is finished, that will be the beginning" - Joe Bayly 

"Remember the faithfulness of God through all our needs" - D.F. 

"And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth." (Isaiah 12:4-5 KJV)

Recent Endeavor- Published a Book!

So about two years ago, I wrote a poem for a writing contest entitled "What Our Flag Means to Me." The contest wasn't supposed to be a poem contest, but rather a writing contest to share what you believe about the American Flag. I had been inspired and touched by a short Christmas book in poem form, and so I really wanted to write a poem for the contest.

But who writes a 500 word poem? It seemed to be a rather daunting task, and considering that I only had 2 days between when I found out about the contest, and when the entries were due, it was really looking like I wouldn't be able to participate. So, I thought about the contest, and prayed about it, and talked with my parents about it, and came to the conclusion that I should do my best and see what happened.

Top 10 Favorite Posts of 2014!

I thought I'd share with you my top 10 favorite posts from 2014. These are posts that looking back were very meaningful and received the most response from you all. Be sure to vote for your favorite one in the comments section, and one of you will be chosen to participate in a guest post!

               1. The Effects of the Internet on Our Brains!

This post was my top favorite post of the year because I felt like I was finally able to share my heart on the difficult topic of internet usage. I've never been able to open up with my heart on this subject, and it felt good to be able to share!

                       2Christian Heritage Conference 2014!

The Christian Heritage conference is one of my favorite times of the year, and it was especially fun to spend lots of time with great friends once again this year. 

I thought of this poem when I was washing my hands one night. Our sink had a clogged drain, and I was trying to fix it. I keep thinking about how sometimes our lives get all clogged up, and no one can see our true purpose. How we let mistakes, and failures cause us to be weighed down, and we cease to make a difference in the lives of people around us.

What I've Learned Recently!

What (in my opinion:) is the biggest key to Spiritual and Physical success?

I believe the Biggest key to Spiritual and Physical is to follow the principles of Scripture, and seek God's kingdom first. "But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and ALL these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 The Bible    is full of promises, and encouragement for the person struggling to find success in life. God's Word is faithful, and powerful, and there is nothing that is not talked about, and given examples about within it's pages. It  is vital for ALL of life, and is the only source of success, and happiness!

I've recently been reading a book called "God is Able"by Priscilla Shirer. Reading Priscilla's writings over the last few days, has really gotten me thinking about God's great ability and power to control everything in life. It was SO encouraging and I highly recommend the book to anyone. Overall the book is a step by step application of Ephesians 3:20-21 which says. "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

Here's a few of my favorite quotes from the book! 

"Just because God can doesn't mean He will. 
But, just because He hasn't doesn't mean He won't. 
The bottom line is that He is able!"
Priscilla Shrier

"When we become a gathered group of testifying brothers and sisters in Christ….truly praying, truly believing, truly supporting each other, truly rejoicing….the world around us can't keep from hearing about it, and gathering around to see it."
Priscilla Shrier

"God is ABLE to do exceedingly abundantly above ALL that we ask or think!"

What is one thing way God has shown Himself "able" in your life recently?

Imagine If….|| Blog Tag

I was recently tagged by my sweet friend Eden of Eden's Evaluations to do an Imagine If blog post!

For this post let's imagine that I'm stranded on an island, and I have to decide what's really important  in life! Enjoy reading my answers, and also check out my answer the discussion question of the day…"What is the biggest key to spiritual and physical success?" from my last post!

And now for the tag! Many years ago, in my dreams I was stranded on a deserted island. There were no sources of food readily available, and the only things I can find to eat and drink are the fish in the water one food I enjoy that happened to land with me, and one beverage besides fresh water from a small creek. I only have the clothes I'm wearing, and the one book I had in my hand when I was thrown from the aircraft. You see I was the only survivor of a recent plane crash. I must use my imagination to resolve my struggles of being alone, and I must figure out how to survive without any help……. Here's what I've decided to do!

You can have one food item (besides all the fish you catch!) so what do you choose?
Bread….. It sustains life, and goes with fish:)

You can only have one beverage besides fresh water- what do you pick?
Mango Juice….if it happened to be available.

What ONE outfit would you bring to wear (top, bottom, shoes)? 
A long sleeve cotton shirt ….To protect me from the sun
Denim skirt…practical, and not easily stained
Tennis shoes…because I could always go barefoot if my feet got hot.

1 Author- You get all the books they've ever written.
The Bible  ..... There is no book more sustaining to life.

1 freebie item (other than your phone)
Matches….to start a fire and cook the fish.

While struggling to stay alive, what could you do for 1 whole year?
Build a house out of vegetation, rocks, and trees if possible. Make weapons, and a knife out of rocks. Catch a bird to keep me company. Make a fishing pole. Make a boat. Make a chair out of branches, and a hammock from vines. And of course try to get the attention of any passing airplanes, and boats. Read the Bible  several times. Write a book on tree bark. Enjoy life! Really the possibilities are endless.

Best thing about solo island living for me is: 
The life experience and time to spend alone with God. I imagine one could learn a lot about seeking God, and listening to him in a year of solitary time.

Worst thing about your so called paradise is:
Not being able to communicate with another person, and make a difference in their life.

Yay! You're finally rescued! Who is the first person you'd want to see?
  My family and friends.

First thing you'd do-
Write a book about my experiences, and lessons I'd learned.

First thing you'd want to eat-

What would you have hoped to learn while from your time alone?
The value of life. The importance of cherishing the relationships, we have and the time to invest in them each day. Who God is, and how faithful He is to keep His promises. The purpose of life, and be able to see that material things I value aren't always important! What a lesson that would be! What an experience!  

And now, it's your turn…… If you're reading this, it's your turn to share…… How would you survive on a deserted island?…… Write your answer to the above questions on your blog, or in a comment below. Oh, and be sure to tag my blog in the post, and comment here so I can see your post!

May God bless you with a wonderful day!

P.S. Please take some time to answer my short survey in the sidebar of my blog!

A Recent Discovery!

I recently came accros a great way to rent and recycle textbooks. Although I have never been a college student, I know that textbooks can be very expensive, and I've always wondered why people will pay so much money for books they won't use in a couple years.

So here's what I found. 

The first method of saving money for textbooks is renting them from a company instead of buying them. This way you don't spend as much money, and you don't have the book longer than you need it. Campus Book Rentals seems like a great option for doing this. I personally haven't used their service, but it looks like a great tool if you're in need of any textbooks. 

Some perks are:
-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
-free shipping both ways
-can highlight in the textbooks
-flexible renting periods
-they donate to Operation Smile with each textbook rented

But the second possibility for re-using textbooks is the one that really stood out to me. You can actually send your used textbooks to and they will rent them out for you, and give you the money you've earned. I think this is a great idea, and if I hadn't sold all our old textbooks on Amazon, I'd definitely give it a try.

Anyhow, I thought you all might be interested in hearing about these options if you're trying to figure out what to do with old textbooks, or needing new ones. Be sure to check out the websites, and let me know what you think. Also here's a quick video that shows how Campus Rentals works. 

And now for the question of the day! 

What do you think is the biggest key to Spiritual and Physical success? 
 Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and stay tuned, because next week I'll be asnwering this question in my post on "What I've Learned Recently"! 

May God bless you all today, and help your life to bring glory to His name! 

Communication | My Story

What is the single biggest factor in the failure or success of relationships? Communication! This is my story……..

I guess I'd like to start by saying that I have always struggled with communicating with other people. It's been something that I have had to work on over and over throughout my life. 

When I was about 10 and up until about 17 I was very shy. I wouldn't answer the door, answer the phone, or even talk to people unless they talked to me; and even then it was just in order to answer the question very quickly. To make a very long story short, I was shy because I was not saved, and I knew I was not saved. I was scared that people would see through me and see my sin. And so to compensate for this, I decided to not talk to people unless I absolutely had to. 

It wasn't until 2010 when I did the National Bible Bee and learned through my study of Colossians that God is faithful to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. That he is perfect and no matter what I do, I will never meet His standard of excellence. I saw my sin in light of His grace and realized how much He had done for me. And after this, when I realized what it means to me to have a relationship with Christ, I felt a freedom I've ever experienced before. 

As a result of the Bible Bee, I had many opportunities to share the Word with people around me. I gained a new confidence by communicating with people through scripture, and it was a blessing to be able to share what I had memorized with others. 

As a result of this, my confidence in speaking to other people was greatly improved. I still struggle at times with being nervous or shy when in the mix of people that I don't know, but the confidence that I have in Christ has definitely been an excellent foundation for being able to communicate with others. But because it has been such a struggle for me in the past, it is something I have to put a lot of effort into developing. And there is always more to learn about communication. 

Anyhow, now that I've shared a bit of my struggles with communication, here's a few resources that have given me inspiration and encouragement over the years. (The Bible has certainly been the basis and foundation of all of my inspiration and encouragement, and I never seem to know enough about it:) 

Here's a list of books that I have read and in some cases reread over the years and have been blessed and encouraged by.

Alone Yet Not Alone- by Tracey Lieninger- This book helps me to see the need to abide in Christ without dependence upon other people. 

Gifted Hands- by Dr. Ben Carson- Dr. Carson's story has been very encouraging and inspiring to me over the years, and I have learned a lot from his strength of character and determination to not be overcome by evil. (The Gifted Hands movie is also very good if you haven't seen it already) 

It’s not that complicated – by the Botkin sisters – this book has probably been the most encouraging to me in the area of  communication, especially with people of the opposite gender. It helped me to see that we are all siblings in the body of Christ, and that it is important to treat each other like we would want to be treated and not with judgment or selfishness. 

Growing Up Duggar – by the Duggar sisters – this book has been really encouraging to me recently, and has help me to see the in-depth workings of communication from a large family's perspective. ( Stay tuned for a complete review and giveaway of this book next week) 

Start Here – by Alex and Brett Harris – this book has been really encouraging me to look for needs around me and to see that where I am is where God wants me to be for a purpose. There's so much to learn from meeting other people's needs.

And lastly:)
The Disciplined Life – by Richard Shelley Taylor – this book has been really inspirational to me, and has help me to see areas in my life that I need to submit to Christ more. It has a lot of practical help, and encouraging stories that help to bring home the message of each chapter.

Other than books, I've received a lot of inspiration in the area of communication from listening to podcasts and sermons. Some of my favorites are.....

Michael Hyatt's conversation questions podcast. All of his podcasts are good, but this one is particularly geared towards communication. 

Botkin sisters - this is a link to their website where they post encouraging articles for young ladies. Their Reclaiming Beauty Webinar was very helpful as well. 

I think this is most of the resources that have helped me over the years, and if I think of any others I’ll be sure to pass them on to you as well. I hope this is helpful for you, and that you may be encouraged in your quest for greater communication skills.

Join the discussion- What's one thing that has helped you with communication?

"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."
Ephesians 4: 29

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2014 National Bible Bee!

While I took a break from blogging for Christmas and New Years! We've been doing a goal setting course with one of my favorite inspiring authors, and encouragers…..Michael Hyatt. The course is called 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever!  It has been very encouraging and inspiring,…….but I'll share more on that later:)

For now, think back on my blog ( or click here) to pick up where we left off with our Month Long family trip. 

Today I bring you part Three….and my personal favorite part…. of the month long trip. Our adventures with the National Bible Bee in Orlando, Florida!!

After leaving our friends the W.'s house in Tennessee, we travelled on to Florida. We stopped for a break, and saw this beautiful field of cotton. It was SO soft, and white! 

Soon after, we dawned our "official" hand drawn Bible Bee sign hoping to spot some other family travelers on the way,  but it was not to be! 

On the way to Orlando, we stopped to have dinner with our brother Ian and visit his Navy base for a few hours. It was good to see him, and catch up with things in his life. We are praying that God allows him to be protected, and established in His Word more and more this year!

A few hours later, we arrived in sunny beautiful Orlando, Florida! 

After checking into our hotel, Evan and I walked the hallways to see where the weeks Bible                                               Bee events were going to be held, and we met up with Zachary M., and ended up going swimming, and have a great discussion about what we'd learned over the past year. 

The next morning, we got up early to go shopping and get situated in our hotel before the "big" afternoon of volunteering. 

Mom and Evan and I enjoyed walking across the street from our hotel to Downtown DisneyWorld in the early afternoon.

We saw this amazing sculpture made entirely from Legos!

Then we enjoyed getting re aquatinted with the other volunteers and helped setup and prepare the rooms and other materials for the competition. It's amazing how a conference room can transform into a site for the National Bible Bee! 

It all came together so fast, and before we knew it, it was time to go to the volunteer pizza dinner.

We had a great time talking and fellowshipping with the other volunteers. The National Bible                   Bee is the life blood of some of the most amazing people I know. God is SO good to use His word to be the foundation for so many wonderful relationships.

And after dinner, we enjoyed seeing the amazing ballon creations the man at the restaurant made for the kids. 

Evan requested a boat for the Jonah themed contest this year:)

After dinner we did some more volunteer work, and then went swimming again:)

The next morning we got up bright and early for the BIG ( my favorite) day of registration for the contest!

I was VERY excited to be a tour guide for the families again this year:)

It is a privilege to get to be one of the first faces of the "Bible Bee" the families see throughout the weekend. 

I love hearing the stories, and getting to meet new families every year. 

Dad waiting for the families to come to his table in the registration room!

Dad got to be on the registration line for the Seniors this year:) He always enjoys the interaction with the families.

The theme for the volunteers was to dress Nautically this year. Dad and Mr. W had a great time acting as Captain and First Mate:) I think they looked great in their hats!

Mom got to be at the Info Booth during registration, and Evan enjoyed a new job this year, of being a Host to a TV reporter. It was a great learning experience for him, and he enjoyed it!

After registration, the hotel kind of goes quiet until the next morning as all the contestants use their final moments to prepare for the Oral and Written tests early the next morning!

After enjoying some fellowship with Emily H. and other friends; We got some dinner, helped set up the final things for the tests, and then went to bed early! It was a wonderful day!

Contest day began VERY early with all the excited contestants filling the hallways, and encouraging each other to do their best!

After their intense oral and written tests, everyone enjoyed playing Octaball to work of the stress.

I felt very blessed to not be stressed this year, in fact, I almost felt bad about what I got to do all day:) My job …along with my Mom… was to watch 30 little kids in the "Little Siblings Room". We enjoyed Duck Duck Goose, Tag, and modified versions of Soccer, and Volleyball, and of course plenty of story times:) It was a lot of fun, and I was once again grateful for the opportunity to spend time with the little ones. I don't get to do that very often. 

Also, I found some great time during the afternoon ….When we only had a few children in the room…. to pray for my friends who were competing in the Senior round. For many of my friends this was their last year, and I know how it feels to want to do your best…. but also give God the glory no matter what happens!

After the stress of the day, many of the contestants enjoy gathering to share stories, rekindle friendships, and take photos….of course:) Here is a group of friends from Memverse….( joined by Evan in the background:)

Before the opening ceremony that evening, we enjoyed going out to eat with many of our friends from Oregon. What a great group of people!

Next comes the long awaited opening ceremony when …among other things… the Semi- Finalists of the day are announced.

There's the grand processional of the contestants which is always a favorite highlight at Nationals!

The crowd eagerly awaiting the contestants arrival! You never know how long you can clap, and you've never seen people that deserve an applause more, until you've attended an opening ceremony of the National Bible Bee! It is an amazing experience, that I cannot express with words!

And now I present the 2014 Senior Division of the National Bible Bee!

And now I present the 2014 Junior Division of the National Bible Bee!

And now I present the 2014 Primary Division of the National Bible Bee!

After the contestants were seated, there was a wonderful performance from the GLAD  singers.

They did an amazing job bringing hymns to life with tight harmonies, and beautiful arrangements.

And then there was my favorite performance of the night- but it's not really a performance. It's when Tim McKenzie from On Every Word  presents a multi dimensional dramatic narration of the Scriptures from memory!!!!!! SO inspiring! It nearly brings me to tears every time!

And then comes the BIG anticipated moment…..when the Semi- Finalists are announced! 

As soon as their names are announced NOTHING could stop them getting to that stage:) They've worked SO hard, and yet they are conscious of the fact that they did not get on stage alone. It is all of God's mercy! That is always evident!

I always enjoy watching the Semi- Finalists after the opening ceremony as they're briefed on what will take place the next day! Abundant excitement is always evident:)

There's always disappointment,  and contestants who we hope would have made it that didn't, but they know the contest is not about winning, it's about the journey!

And just to make sure the night ends on a good note, we make sure to play some games before bed! This was a gigantic game of spoons that I somehow got involved in:) 

The next morning began early again with Semi- Finals for all the divisions. It was a blessing to see Olivia ……

……..and Le Anna D. from our Oregon group make it to top 15 again this year!

I ended up being asked to lead a tour of families to the Wycliffe Discovery Center during the Semi- Final rounds, so I missed part of the Junior, and Senior rounds. But it was a blessing to be able to lead the tour, and I enjoyed learning a lot at the Discovery Center. It was a new experience for me to be "in charge" of the tour bus, and make sure the right people got on and off:) 

There was a spot in the center to dress up as people from different countries, which some of my Oregon friends did:)

It was fun to spend some time at the Museum with Hannah C. and her siblings.

Somehow having friends from Oregon there, didn't make me feel so far away from home.

I appreciated the mission of Wycliffe Bible Translators. What a great commission we have been given!

The gardens outside the Center were beautiful, and they had inscribed Scriptures in the rocks around this fountain. It was SO beautiful!

After the tour, I returned back to the contest just in time to see the final portion of the Senior Semi-Final round. 

Dad was blessed to be able to judge Senior Semi- Finals, and Junior Finals this year! 

He did a great job, and took his job very seriously!

After a very intense hour and a half of judging 

The top five Seniors were decided upon! What a great group!

I was SO excited for my friends Daniel F. and Brittany S. who made it to top 5! It was the last year for both of them, and they did such a great job working hard to achieve such a great accomplishment!

And thus ended the second full day of intense competition. After dinner, everyone got a chance to relax and enjoy some great singing and performances in the Friday Night Party Night.

Before the performances there were some fun games for the audience to participate in. My favorite was this husband/wife neck tie race. Super hilarious!

And then there was another SPECIAL Bible dramatization from Tim Mckenzie. If you haven't heard any of his narrations, I encourage you to take a moment to watch one here. You won't regret it!

And then there was a wonderful concert from the GLAD singers.

They did a special performance of  Leaning On the Everlasting Arms in 5 different musical styles.

This one was obviously the Barbershop Quartet style. If you'd like to hear the song click Here. It's amazing!

And next came my personal favorite part of the evening! Jesse Joyner performed an amazing juggling and comedic routine!

He was amazing juggling everything from Bowling pins to Cowboy Boots, to basket balls.

And then he told the Gospel message while juggling 6 colored rings. Simply amazing! Click Here to see a video of his performance. (this isn't at the Bible Bee:)

Here's Evan and I with Mr. Joyner after the concert! 
I enjoyed helping out selling CDs at the GLAD singers table afterwards. It was fun to see SO many people that remembered the group from 30+ years ago.

After getting some sleep, we got up early to enjoy another full day of competition and volunteering! I was able to see the last part of the Junior round, as the finalists were awarded their prizes.

And I was SO excited to be able to watch the entire Senior Final round with these great contestants!

Apparently this is what we looked like while watching the round! Intense!

The contestants had 7 rounds of Recitation, and written Bible questions on iPads. 

The room was packed for the Senior round, as this is always the major highlight of the competition!

After 7 rounds of steep competition, the awards were given out. My friend Brittany S. was overjoyed to get second place. What a wonderful way to finish her Bible Bee experiences.

And I think after Brittany was awarded it finally hit my friend Daniel F. that he had won First Place in the National Bible Bee. I had wishing he would all along, so it was amazing when he actually did! He was excited to say the least:)

Daniel receiving his award! Everyone was SO proud of his accomplishment!

And now I present the National Bible Bee 2014 Senior Division Finalists!

As the contestants left  the stage I could sense the excitement in the air as the audience rushed to the stage exit to congratulate the Finalists. It was a moment to remember!

And next came the "famous" Bible Bee Book signature exchanges! 

And of course lots of pictures with the finalists! Jordan S. was SO happy to be able to witness Daniel take first place. They were in Semi- Finals together last year, and Jordan (too old to compete) really encouraged Daniel during the competition this year!

Here's Daniel with the Founders of the Bible Bee- Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy! The Bible Bee was started after their daughter Shelby died of cancer. It had been her desire to help young people engraft God's Word into their hearts. I wish she could see what has come of her desire now! 

After talking and celebrating with the finalists, we helped setup for the closing ceremony and desert reception. 

It is always an amazing time of fellowship, encouragement, and collecting signatures from dear Bible  Bee friends!

I enjoyed talking with lots of my friends, and celebrating with them!

And we were all VERY excited when the D. family from our local Oregon group won the Hosts of the Year award! They certainly deserved it!

And then there was a sweet song performed by this dear family and their daughter was awarded the Shelby Kennedy Award for enduring significant health challenges while competing in the Bible Bee. Her testimony was amazing!

It was a blessing to be able to share the entire Bible Bee experience with numerous friends form Oregon this year! I was especially excited that Amanda D. could come along to volunteer!

It was also a blessing to meet many new friends this year including Rachel C.  She has been an encouragement to me through her blog, and it was wonderful to finally meet her in person!

What better way to close off the 2014 National Bible Bee than to sing hymns of thanksgiving to God? It was Such a wonderful experience!

After the Celebration Ceremony there was a Square Dance for all the families. It's always a time of joy and fun for everyone. 

We finished helping cleanup from the weekend, and then came over to watch some of the remaining dances. It was fun to see everyone enjoying themselves SO much!

And of course there was plenty of questions and talking for everyone to do! It's always hard to say goodbye to friends from Bible Bee!

And then came the "famous" "I found the Winner "photo! 

And then after far too little sleep, we enjoyed the last few hours of fellowship with Bible Bee friends at the church service the next morning!

After the sermon, some of us gathered around the piano to sing hymns together for a few hours.

Then we talked for quite a while, and then said goodbye. It was a blessing to be able to spend time with Janelle, and Jessica G. (fellow volunteers) this year! I appreciated their examples of humility, and serving God without distraction. 

We ended up going out to eat with a couple families to finish off the afternoon. It was hard to say goodbye. Philip A. managed to balance these two forks on a toothpick. And then he used the attraction as a lead in to write the gospel message on a napkin at the restaurant. What a great example of using what He'd learned through Bible Bee for God's glory!

After dinner, we came back to the hotel and found some remaining contestants and volunteers to play games with until early morning! We enjoyed playing games and fellowshipping together. It was a lot of fun! I especially enjoyed being able to play Dutch Blitz, and teach Daniel F. how to play for the first time! It was a blast! And then we ended up talking until 2am, when we finally decided we better go to bed! It was a great end to the most exciting week of the year! 

                     "But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of Thanksgiving: I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation  is of the Lord! " Jonah 2:9

If you attended, what was your favorite part of the Bible Bee this year? 

If you didn't attend, what was your favorite part of the Bible  that you studied this year?

Do you hope to memorize any part of the Bible  this year?

Be sure to check out the National Bible Bee and consider starting your lifelong journey studying the Bible this year! I guarantee you won't regret it, and it will make an impact on you in ways you could have never imagined!

And just for fun, I wanted to include this video my friends did to commemorate the Bible Bee this year! Enjoy!

You Know You're in Bible Bee When… Epic Version! from Martin Family on Vimeo.

Special thanks to Evan Smythe for letting me use most of the pictures in this post! He recently discovered that he had never seen the pictures he took at Nationals, so he downloaded them to the computer, and we had a great time reviewing and reliving the fun memories we made that weekend!