IMG_2472 A few nights ago our good friend Bekah (in blue sweater) invited us all over to her house for her 21st birthday party. We are all old friends because almost everyone in the picture has been involved in our Bright Lights group here in Cedar Rapids, IA for the past 10 years, and has traveled together to help lead at multiple Bright Lights conference trips. We have lots of adventurous and unique memories! Serving the Lord together ignites some of the best times of fellowship. I’m so grateful for these lasting friendships.

Bright Lights Leaders Training

IMG_5754_01Today was the first day of the Bright Lights Leader’s Training!

IMG_5756_01 We are trying to capture the training on video this time, so Stephen has been spending long hours preparing and setting up. He’s doing a great job.

We’d appreicate prayer about this project. It would so helpful to have this training available on dvd. (At the moment it’s only available in CD form.)

IMG_5761_01 Tonight we also had our normal Bright Lights meeting. The topic was on “Accepting the Way God Created You”, and Sarah emphasized the importance of not worrying what others are thinking of you but fearing God instead.

Pray for Sarah this week because teaching a five day conference gets tiring!

Sharing Jesus Class

Did you know that in some ways younger girls have an advantage when it comes to sharing the gospel? The reason is this: people are not intimidated by them! Instead, they are impressed by their maturity. If a few sweet, smiley young girls go to the park and take “surveys” (questions about the gospel), people are almost always willing to talk! This is great approach to initiate conversations about Jesus. (And if anyone would like to know what questions we ask in our surveys, feel free to e-mail and ask.)

Last Monday evening a group of young ladies from our Bright Lights group gathered here at the Bright Lights office for a class on evangelism. We discussed various ways to engage people in conversation using tracts, surveys, the “wordless bridge”, etc. Then we divided up and practiced witnessing to each other. I am so excited about their enthusiasm.

We also watched a little witnessing clip from Way of the Master to learn what to say to atheists.

We’d appreciate prayer tomorrow evening (the 25th) because several of us will be going out witnessing together in the town square. Please pray that the Lord would strengthen and empower each one of us to overcome fear and experience the joy of blessing others with the Good News.

“And Jesus…said, Verily I say unto you, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'” Matt 18:3

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

The four Bright Lights interns (Alexandra, Karissa, Hannah, and Mary) helped to teach Bright Lights last night. They all did a great job. And, of course, everyone enjoyed the funny skit they planned.

The topic of the meeting was guarding our words. The girls emphasized a practical way to screen what comes out of our mouths. Before you speak, ask yourself three questions.
1) Is it true?
2) Is it kind?
3) Is it necessary?

If it doesn’t fit into these categories, don’t say it!

Jesus said:
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” (Mt 12:36)

4:12 – Organized, One-on-one Discipleship

If you would have come to the Bright Lights office last night, you would have found pairs of girls scattered throughout the building studying and praying together. It was the first night of something new in Bright Lights. Something special! Sarah designed and organized a new way to provide one-on-one discipleship for those within our Bright Lights group who are interested in deeper fellowship and accountability.
Emma and Hannah

She divided them into pairs (an older girl and younger girl) and gave them each 4:12 booklets to do together. What do I mean by “4:12”? Well, that’s what we named this new program. It actually stands for three Scripture references:

1 Timothy 4:12 – “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

Ephesians 4:12 – “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”

Colossians 4:12 – “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Ellen and Katie

Each pair spent time getting acquainted, studying Scripture, sharing prayer requests, setting a “goal” for the week, choosing a memory verse for the week, discussing and talking through several other thought-provoking questions from the “4:12” booklets, making braclets, and eating freshly baked cinnamon sugar soft pretzels.

Mary and Abigail

The partners will meet once a week for eight weeks, praying for each other throughout. We are excited about each team and how they are paired up. We prayed over each combination and feel that the Lord really arranged just the perfect matches. I think He has special things in store.

Obedience in Every Area of Life…

Bekah May, a good friend who has been involved in Bright Lights for years, taught the lesson last Monday night. She covered lots of great topics including accepting the way God created you, saying “no” to the flesh and “yes” to the Spirit, nutrition, and developing a motivation to glorify God vs. pleasing others. She has an incredible testimony of how the Lord has changed her life in this area. Thanks, Bekah! We praise the Lord for you and the testimony of your life.

Fellowship and crafts during “small group time”

Bright Lights in Cedar Rapids

Sarah directing a Bible skit at our last Bright Lights meeting

Sarah taught about the dangers of the internet, especially about how it can waste our time.

We did a “clothes exchange” for our activity afterwards. (This activity is often requested by our girls. 🙂 ) It’s hard to find modest clothes in the stores! Everyone brings a stack of clothes they don’t want anymore, and we buy and sell from each other using fake money.

Reports from Home

We are making progress on the new Bright Lights office / ministry building! Changes have been slow because it keeps getting put “on hold” while we are out of town, but we have seen the Lord provide and answer prayer in countless ways. Here’s what it looks like right now.

We are excited about our carpet tiles, which will be installed soon!

No, it’s not a big pizza party…

We’re so grateful for our good friend, Dave Fuller, who will be laying our carpet.

Here’s Toni (one of our most faithful helpers 🙂 ) sanding the floor after we hammered down hundreds of staples that were left from the previous carpet and tile.

Stephen and my dad, fixing pipes.

The other day Stephen installed 30 outlets and light switches.

After arriving home from Singapore, we were grateful for chance to catch up with correspondence, organization, sleep, etc. To be honest, we’re still not caught up with everything that got neglected during the busy summer and fall. We’re grateful for the help of many who volunteer for Bright Lights, especially Nickie, who spends two days a week at the Bright Lights office–otherwise it would be difficult to stay on top of things.

We were excited to receive 10 Bright Lights Leaders applications when we arrived home from SE Asia–raising the number of Bright Lights groups to 277. Two more groups have also recently started in Malaysia. PTL!

At our local Bright Lights group here in Cedar Rapids last week, the older girls watched a “Rebelution” video upstairs while Sarah taught a lesson to the younger girls about “by their fruits ye shall know them.” She talked about the importance of bearing true fruit with a desire to please the Lord, not impress other people. Sarah did an activity where she had volunteers close their eyes and guess what kind of fruit they were tasting.

Her volunteers don’t look too excited…. lol… (Sarah used some rather unusual fruits)

But it was sure funny for everyone else!

On a more personal note…here I am with my cousin making supper at our grandparents’ house. Stephanie and I have quite a bit in common, and unfortunately that includes being messy cooks. (It got worse than what you see here…) By the time we were finished, my grandpa commented that in the 40 some years he’s lived there, he had never seen his kitchen so messy. We assured him we’d clean up. 🙂

At Home…

Isn’t spring great?!

At Bright Lights on Monday night, two leaders in our group shared with the girls about how the Lord had been working in their lives… Elyssa shared her courtship and engagement story and Amy shared about her recent missions trip to Peru. Both of their stories were very exciting and the girls seemed to really enjoy it. Both Elyssa and Amy stressed to the girls the importance of preparing and seeking the Lord at home.

Dads at Bright Lights

We invited all the dads to come with their daughters to Bright Lights last night. We all enjoyed having the dads there. 🙂 We showed a video called The Return of the Daughters. This professionally made documentary addresses the God-given role of young ladies, gives vision for how girls can use their single years for the Lord, and shows in a beautiful way the blessings and benefits that come when a young lady honors her father and seeks to make him successful. The video was very well received, and my dad said that the 30+ fathers who were there had a good time of sharing afterwards while all of us girls divided into discussion groups downstairs. It created some special fellowship to have a whole group of like-minded fathers watching it together with their daughters. It’s exciting and encouraging to see many strong families in our community.

For an activity, all the dads had to draw a picture (with their daughter’s verbal help) of something related to their occupation. We taped them up on the wall afterwards for everyone to look at. It was funny to see the little cartoons they all came up with.