Monday, January 7, 2013

Oregon Trail Qualifier

            Hello, dear friends! It feels so good to be home again, sitting in my own room. I spent this past week in Portland at a speech tournament.
            This was my first away-from-home tournament, as well as the first tournament of 2013. Needless to say, it was a blast. I got to get up at six in the morning, wear a suit, hang out with a ton of people that I don’t see often, meet new friends, sing songs, run to ‘catch my flight’ (you speech people know what I mean), give speeches, pray for competitors, judge at the Jr. Tournament, walk around the campus with my girlfriends, scream my head off at the award ceremony, give and receive a million hugs, sign ballots at the ballot party, and have an awesome drive home with my crazy (and sleep-deprived) friends.
            It. Was. Amazing!!
            At this tournament, I competed in two categories – Biographical Narrative and Original Interpretation. Both speeches were on Josh. The biographical gave an overview of Josh’s life and how he made an impact on the world. The Original portrayed the events of May 5th, from my perspective. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting either speech to go anywhere. Hoping, but not anticipating.
            God had other plans.
            My biographical broke to semi-finals, which means that it made it to the top sixteen of around thirty bios. My original interp placed third out of eight.
            I can’t even express the shock, joy, and surprise I felt when my name was called. The scream that my friend let loose proved to all the world that she could indeed scream like a girl (a fact that we had been debating the previous day). I felt a mixture of indescribable emotions churning in me as I walked to the stage and received my medal. As I put the strap around my neck, I felt filled with pride.
            But not pride in myself.
            I didn’t feel proud of myself. Honestly, I still don’t. I’m pleased with the accomplishment, ecstatic that I got third place, satisfied that I did my best, but I’m not proud of myself. Because I know that it wasn’t me. None of it was me.
            It was Josh’s story that I was telling. It was his legacy that I was sharing with the judges. His life, his faith, his surrender, his message that I was trying to convey in those few ten minutes. He changed my life… helped me to get where I am. And I am so thankful.
            Without God, I could not have made it through this tournament. Speaking about Josh was much harder than I thought it would be, but God got me through each of the rounds. Semi finals were on Saturday, January 5th – the eight month anniversary. Before my round, I was just sobbing in the hallway. I didn’t think I’d be able to give my speech without losing it. One of my good friends came and just hugged me. I finally composed myself and prayed that God would help me get through the round. He did.
            When I sat back down, holding my two certificates and two medals, I just felt so blessed. Blessed to be where I was. Surrounded by friends and fellow believers. A like-minded people, lovers of Christ. Having been given a loving, Christ-centered home. Knowing that all my sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus, and that He loves me more than could ever be expressed. My cup of blessings was already spilling over. Winning a medal was just an extra cherry on top.
            Having won something for the first time, I can now say that it really isn’t about the winning. We say that even when we don’t win anything, but it’s always a little harder to believe. But as good as a trophy can make you feel, that’s not the biggest thing you come away with.
I’ve had an amazing past few days renewing old friendships, deepening new ones, and watching God work through all the people at this tournament. These are the things that I will remember and treasure. Yes, I’m happy that I won… but that’s not the point. The point is that God enabled me to bless others. Showed me how to use this pain and grief for good. He has put amazing people and opportunities into my life… I don’t even know what to do with them all.
I am just so, so blessed.
Thank You, Lord.

Taking our Jr. ballots to TAB. Those kids were so cute!! <3 

Group photo! :D

My wonderful/amazing friend Deanna. <3

My semi-final round.


  1. Amen, amen, and amen!! Isn't God amazing?
    I'm so proud of you, Mariah. <3

  2. ::SCREAM:: I'm so proud to be your friend, Riah! Love you so much.

  3. This gave me shudders, it was that amazing. =) Great job!

  4. Thank you all so much for your congratulations. :) Can't wait until the next tournament!! :D