Vacation Highlights

I was back at work today after spending the last few days in Indianapolis for Bible Bowl. We’ll be back to our regular social media coursework shortly, but here are a few reflections and memories from four days in Indy (and two days traveling there and back):

It was a joy to see our granddaughter, Evelyn, and her parents as they joined us from their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s a picture of Evelyn after having gotten a hairdo from her mom in our hotel room:


Lisa and I were also glad to have three of our four parents and five of our six children be with us for this family getaway. We missed Lisa’s mom and our son Jake and wished they were there too, but we were thankful everyone else could make it.

Another highlight was that Joe and Bekah got to play in the National Bible Bowl 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which was held at Conseco Fieldhouse following a Sunday night WNBA game (Indiana vs. Atlanta.) Here’s some footage from the semifinal game, which they lost 15-10.

Finally, here’s the Austin Bible Bowl team photo taken after they were awarded their fifth-place medals (out of 120 teams) in the double-elimination tournament.


And here’s the story that ran in today’s Austin Post-Bulletin after an editor saw my #biblebowl09 tweets and assigned a reporter.

It was a great few days…but now it’s time to resume our regularly scheduled classes!

Bible Bowl Quoting Bee 2009

The National Bible Bowl competition, in which my kids participated over the last several days in Indiana, involves memorization of large sections of the Bible, at leas for those who want to be successful. Last year the assigned text was the Gospel of John, along with 1 John,  2 John, 3 John, 1 Peter and 2 Peter. This year the text covered six great prophets, and was taken from I Kings, 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Jonah.

A relatively recent addition to the main competition is the Quoting Bee, in which participants are given a single verse reference, and within 10 seconds must begin to quote the verse, starting at the first word and ending exactly at the last word.

It’s hard enough to memorize an extended passage; pulling a verse right out of the middle of a chapter like Jeremiah 19:3 as my daughter Ruthie does in the video below (she’s the fifth contestant) is amazing:

Here is the climactic moment of the Quoting Bee, in which Ross Smith of Towne South (North Carolina) edged Breanna Hayes of Valley View (Dallas, TX) for the top spot:

Ruthie made it through six rounds of the qualifying contest and four rounds of the finals before making a mistake. She finished in a tie for sixth place.

Bible Bowl 2009

I’ve written some posts over the last couple of years about my kids being involved in Bible Bowl, such as this one from 2007 and this from 2008. My daughter Ruthie, who has been the “franchise player” for the team, just graduated from high school, so this year’s national competition in Indianapolis is her last.

Bible Bowl is a team game, but most teams typically have one key player who wins the toss-up questions. That’s Ruthie. So when I say “Ruthie won” or “Ruthie had a tough time in last year’s round robin” it’s because so much of the team’s performance depends on winning toss-up questions, and also because she is the hardest-working and most dedicated member of her team. Her brother Joe and sister Rebekah are key contributors to the Austin team, and it’s been great to have them all doing this together (Bekah also graduated in June; Joe will be in 9th grade next year.)

During the first couple of days of the competition the teams play a round robin format to determine seeding for the double elimination competition. The teams are grouped into pods or pools of 12 based on how they have done earlier in the year, and then those teams all play each other, and are seeded for the double elimination based on their pool record.

In some ways the round robin doesn’t really matter, as Ruthie showed last year. Her team lost every game in round robin, was seeded 12th, and still came back to finish fifth in the double elimination tournament. She’s kind of streaky that way.

This year she’s off to a much better start, with a 6-2 record and tied for first in the round robin, with three games tomorrow afternoon. Two of those games are against the teams with which Austin is tied, so it’s nice that she can just focus on the games she’s playing instead of depending on someone else losing.

Of course, the most important thing is that through the competition the kids are learning a lot and memorizing lots of scripture. But it’s nice to have Ruthie doing well in the competition since she has worked so hard.

Bible Bowl has been our family vacation for the last couple of years, as we went to Kansas City in 2007 and Atlanta in 2008. We’re glad to have my parents joining us again this year and Lisa’s dad attending for the first time. And a big highlight is that my daughter Rachel and her husband Kyle were able to come for the weekend with our granddaughter, Evelyn.


So for the next few days, until Wednesday, my Twitter stream will be mostly personal. If you want to follow the Bible Bowl tweets, you can use this hashtag: #BibleBowl09. Looks like I’m the only one using it right now, but let’s see if we can get that to change.

But now it’s time to stop blogging about vacation and resume my experience of it.

Here’s hoping everyone is having a great Independence Day!

Congratulations, Ruthie!

We now interrupt the regular social media curriculum for a point of paternal pride.

As I’ve mentioned previously (here, here and here at least), several of my kids have been involved in an amazing program called Bible Bowl, in which the participants (at least the most dedicated ones) memorize huge chunks of the Bible (last year it was the Gospel of John, 1-2 Peter and 1-3 John) and then compete in a contest similar to the old College Bowl based on that text. You know, buzz in on the toss-ups, and then if you get them you earn the right to answer additional questions for bonus points.

My youngest daughter, Ruthie, has been our most intense Bible Bowler. It’s her sport. When basketball season is over her siblings (Bekah and Joe) will become more actively involved, but they couldn’t go with her this weekend to the first major tournament of the year, the Kentucky Christian University round robin. Until this point in the year the competitions are all in the local round robins, but this tournament had kids from Minnesota, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Florida and Iowa. (No particular order in the list, but I always like to leave Iowa for last)  😉

Lisa and I couldn’t go to the tournament, but it was fun to watch the results come in online as they were posted to the Bible Bowl site.

As you can see from the final standings and her round-by-round results below (click to enlarge), Ruthie got off to a slow start but came on strong to win in the 23-team tournament.


After the tournament was completed, we also got the pleasure of calling Ruthie to tell her that she had received a letter saying she had advanced to Finalist status in the National Merit Scholarship program.

She was pretty excited about that, too. She said, “Wow! This is my lucky day! Things are going so well, I should go out and buy stocks or something.”

Ruthie’s really smart, but sometimes lacks practical sense. I had to remind her it was Saturday, and the markets were closed.

But at least she’s smart enough that she didn’t say she should go buy a lottery ticket.

As a postscript, we learned early this afternoon that Ruthie took first place in what they call the “Brain Test,” which is an insanely difficult 200-point exam covering the entire text memorized to this point. Ruthie scored a 192.

Ruthie’s the one on the left in the picture below (from last Christmas, when she and her sisters received some family heirloom aprons as part of their gifts from my parents.) Rachel, our oldest daughter (and first Bible Bowler) and the mother of our first grandchild, is in the middle, and Bekah (our lady hoopster) is on the right.


Ruthie, Rachel and Rebekah
Ruthie, Rachel and Rebekah


Lisa and I are extremely blessed, and this is only the female half of our offspring!

Thanksgiving Reflections 2008

As I noted two years ago in Top 10 Reasons I’m Thankful, and to Whom, my performance in composing annual Christmas letters was spotty in the B.B. (Before Blog) era. Doing a family newsletter was such a production that procrastination (and eventually abject failure) was the most frequent outcome.

But that all changed in 2006, and I followed it up last year with another compilation (though that one was in December, on my daughter Rachel’s first wedding anniversary).

My new tradition is not only to beat what was formerly the Christmas snail mail crush, but to have my year-in-review distributed before the Black Friday sales have even begun.

Continue reading “Thanksgiving Reflections 2008”