Josiah and Middle Earth

At youth on Wednesday, we studied Josiah, the sixteenth king of Judah. We’re doing a six-week, 40-minute inductive study called, “How to Make Choices You Won’t Regret.”  In studying Josiah’s life, we also studied his father and grandfather, Manasseh and Amon, who were awful kings: they worshiped idols, encouraged child sacrifice, and did not follow the Lord. Josiah became king when he was eight years old, began to seek the Lord at sixteen, started to cleanse the land completely of idols when he was twenty, and began reconstructing the temple at the age of twenty-six. He was very different from his father and grandfather! During the evening, I was reminded of several examples in Tolkien’s works that prove we do not have to be like our parents and ancestors.

Aragorn, grandson of Isildur

Aragorn is the grandson of the man who refused to destroy the One Ring when he had the chance. Aragorn lives with the shame and burden of his ancestor’s failings, and worries that he may fail, too. Arwen, Aragorn’s betrothed, believes in Aragorn: “You are Isildur’s grandson, not Isildur himself. You are not bound to his fate.”

When the time comes, Aragorn resists the temptation to take the Ring and fights numerous orcs to give Frodo time to get away.








Thorin, son of Thrain, son of Thror

Thorin’s grandfather became mad with dragon-sickness, greed, and pride. Thror’s love for hoarding gold and jewels led to disputes with the Wood Elves, and brought Smaug the dragon upon his own people and the people of Dale. The Dwarves of Erebor fled from the dragon’s wrath, wandering for several years until Thror tried to re-enter Moria, where he was killed by Azog. (Yes, it’s different than the movie.) Thror had given his son Thrain a Ring of Power, a map of Erebor and the surrounding area, and a key to the mountain. Thrain passed these things (excepting the Ring) on to Thorin before he went wandering.

Thorin has a duty to his people – to do what is best for his people. He set out for Erebor to find the Arkenstone, which would affirm his right to rule. When he cannot find it, he starts to fall under the influence of the dragon-sickness. Here, Thorin has a choice. He can imitate his grandfather and allow his greed to influence him, or he can fight his greed. He succumbs to the dragon-sickness for a while, but is jarred back to reality before the Battle of the Five Armies, conquering his greed.

















Faramir, son of Denethor and Finduilas

Faramir’s father was a proud man, distrustful of Gandalf, who wished to help the people of Gondor. He turned to a palantir to test his strength against Sauron, who was unable to corrupt him, but deceived him into hopelessness. Faramir did not lose hope. He remained faithful, refusing to take the One Ring from Sam and Frodo, accentuating the differences between him and Boromir. Denethor was angered when he heard of Faramir’s doing.

Later Faramir commands the defense of Osgiliath (though he knows it may be futile), staying behind to protect the rearguard. He was wounded by a Southron arrow (not an orc arrow like in the movie) and brought back to Denethor, unconscious. During the battle at the Black Gate, he stayed in the Houses of Healing, where he fell in love with Eowyn, who was also severely wounded. Faramir provides a wonderful contrast to his father and brother.


I hope these examples are good reminders to follow God, and “Do Hard Things.”



Croatia: Day 6

Wednesday, November 4th

Today we got to tour a bottle factory! Remember on Monday when we taught at a bottle factory? Well, we were invited back for a tour so the workers could practice their English! On Wednesday morning, four of us went to a village closer to Zagreb to distribute more pamphlets about the Gospel.


We saw several chickens, and called them, “patkas,” or “ducks,” then added, “Quack-quack.” The chickens were not amused.

Sorry. 😉 Anyway, we made it through the village in a few hours, got some kava and čokolada and went back home to the the church for lunch. Then we were off to Vetropack!

When we arrived, I was reminded of a TSYS building. As we walked in, this was set into the floor:


The tour of the factory was amazing – we got to go inside the control room and see how the furnaces worked. We were able to see the bottles drop from the ceiling in liquid form, watch them as they cooled and traveled along conveyor belts to be checked for defects. We also got to see the bottles packaged and stacked on pallets. Then they invited us to have some juice – in Vetropack bottles, of course – and cheese štrudla, a traditional Croatian pastry. It’s said that if a woman can’t make a good štrudla, no one will marry her. When we had gone to the factory on Monday, my dad mentioned that one of my sisters collected bottles. On Wednesday, a woman came up to us and asked, “Where is the girl who collects bottles?” With that, she handed my sister a bag of three glass bottles, one in the shape of a man. Later, they gave her a matching lady bottle to go with it!

After a lovely time of fellowship, we left for Krapina to teach our evening classes. When we were done, we went to our host’s house for a debriefing meeting, where we had crepes, Nutella, and strawberries. Yum!


This is our pastor’s wife’s schedule after the week. All the ink markings are the changes that were made throughout the week! (Mine looked much messier because – well, let’s face it – I’m a disorganized person.) This was a learning experience for me: a much needed one. I learned to be “Croatia flexible,” in the words of my sister Rachel. She said, “I thought I was flexible, but I’m not Croatia flexible.”


Regional Tournament


On January 30th, my archery team hosted our regional tournament. This was kind of a big deal, because our school had never hosted a tournament before. I say “our school,” but that’s not technically correct. I’m homeschooled, but a nearby Christian school allows homeschoolers to shoot on their archery team. Our flight time was at 10 am, but I came early to help register, direct people, etc. (I didn’t end up doing much to help.)

I had high hopes for this tournament, but when the time came to shoot, my hopes were, let’s just say, shot. At our district tournament in November (one week after we got back from Croatia), I shot 262, one point higher than my all-time high at World the previous year. A few weeks before this tournament, we scored at practice and I shot 258. That made me worry a little bit, but I was still hopeful. The day before the tournament, I shot a 0 and a 2 at 15 meters. My friend said it was the dress rehearsal before the performance.

As always, I shot very well in the practice round, but the first scoring round was a different matter. I shot badly. Not horribly, but worse than I’ve shot in a long, long time.

After we shot, my friends and I went into the cafeteria to hang out and stress over what our scores might have been. I ate pretzels and watched one of my friends draw on other people’s arms with silver Sharpie.

In between flights, we helped change target faces and just basically goofed off. I was able to work on my Robin Hood story a little bit, and I watched people play chess. Then it came time for the award ceremony! *cue dramatic music – the Empire Strikes Back, perhaps?* I ended up shooting 229, which was about what I shot last year at Regionals with a messed up bow. Our middle school team took first place, and our high school team took first, too! We shot 3276, which would put us at first in the state until the next week when the last set of tournaments were completed.

We took pictures, then headed back to the cafeteria for our stuff. When I looked at my phone, I had a text from my dad saying, “When you’re done, come see the new puppy.” Puppy?!!

To be continued…