It’s a beautiful day in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and even more beautiful is the Lord’s goodness to us and the way He is working. We just finished a special prayer time (where everyone divided into small groups to pray), and now Sarah is teaching another session here at the “Speak Truth in Your Heart” Conference, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Please prayer for us, and the mothers and daughters here, as we discuss the TRUTH regarding our identity, our relationships with others, the Lord’s character, sin and temptation, purity, emotions, and witnessing.
Praise the Lord for the way He is working in girls’ lives in Mexico. They responded with such enthusiasm to the messages presented. Ted and Priscilla Clark, with their family and team, did so much work to make the conference special. Notice the beautiful booklets they translated and produced for the conference.
One college-aged girl with misty eyes told me we can never know how much the conference impacted her thinking. Praise the Lord. She had been dealing with a lot of the world’s lies, and it was so encouraging to see her soaking up the truths taught at the conference.
We sensed much thirst for girls’ discipleship ministry. Many came from long distances — some drove up to sixteen hours. We were thrilled to learn of many Bright Lights groups going that we didn’t even know about! Please join us in praying for the Lord to raise up many more Bright Lights groups in Mexico.
One unique part of this conference/camp was how much the dads and brothers did. They cooked all of the food for the 200-300 ladies the entire week. And that included a gourmet tea party, in which they served us all. They thought of everything.
The girl who was sitting across from me (first girl on left) explained about a challenge that a young man in her church was spearheading: to share the gospel with one unbeliever every day in the month of February. Many young people took up his challenge in several different churches. She shared about the surprising opportunity the Lord had given her, in answer to her prayers, with one of her coworkers on February 1st. Now all of these young people are halfway through the challenge. Please pray for open doors for them as they are courageously and deliberately asking the Lord for gospel conversations every day this month!
The last evening they asked if we could do a fireside discussion on serving the Lord in our years of singleness. As we passed the mic around, many shared encouraging thoughts about keeping a godly perspective of life, ministry, singleness, and marriage.
Anna Kirk and Emily Selander (who came with us) enjoying a late night discussion with Alma Roa (2nd from left) and her sisters. Alma was one of the main translators of the Bright Lights materials and Before You Meet Prince Charming in Spanish.
Our next “Speak Truth in Your Heart” conference is much closer to home: It will be held in Council Bluffs, Iowa. See details here. This will probably be the only Bright Lights conference in Iowa in 2017. (Plans are also being finalized to do one in Michigan in July). Hope to see many of you there!
The conference adventure started in the airport when Nickie and I had to figure out how to move our six 50 lb. suitcases (materials for our book table) and three carry-on’s from the curbside to the Southwest desk while Sarah parked our vehicle in the Des Moines long term parking lot. The obvious problem is that if one person stays with the suitcases at the curb while the other starts moving them inside, who is going to stay with them inside the airport?
Well, we decided to move them all in short, 20 ft. increments through the airport, caterpillar style. (Who wants to pay $20 for 2 carts when you could have so much fun making a scene in the airport!) Thankfully the Southwest desk was just inside the door. 🙂
Kirstin (left), who hosted the conference (together with Cati Stokes) has led a Bright Lights group for about three years and had many stories to tell of God’s faithfulness. She also hosted us in her home, and we had a great time with her, her family, and her dogs. 🙂
Cati Stokes (right) is the one who initiated this whole conference and worked closely with Kirstin to make it happen. They have been working on it for months! It was great to finally meet in person, get acquainted with her and her sweet girls, and enjoy fellowship in the Lord.
This picture is for Bekah who requested it. 🙂 We didn’t really do any sightseeing, but thankfully there was a cactus in the church parking lot, so we ran out and snapped a picture with it after we had finished packing up from the conference. Wow, what a huge and very cool plant. 🙂 (I’m still fascinated with them, haha.)
This past June we held a “Strong in the Lord” and “Radiant Purity” conference in the St Louis area. It was a week of extra challenges and extra sweet moments! There was definite spiritual warfare, but thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14).
One of the challenges was getting the word out about the conference. It was the first time we’d run conferences in this area, so there wasn’t as much familiarity with our ministry. We PRAISE GOD for all He brought–many from longer distances, and many at the last minute.
Sharing time after the conference. One story in particular was especially heart-warming: one of the leaders mentioned that she was really hoping a friend of hers would come. This friend was struggling spiritually, and it seemed unlikely. It was during our free day at the St Louis zoo that this situation was mentioned. Emily said, “Let’s pray now,” and about 12 leaders formed a circle and had a prayer meeting for this girl. The next day, when the girl walked into the Radiant Purity conference, hearts were overjoyed! Not only did she come, but she and her mom stuck around afterward for a long conversation, leading to tears of joy and much praise to God from the leaders.
The fellowship we enjoy with the leaders is a highlight. Here was a Bible study with my dad on Colossians 1 after our set up day. We spent a while discussing the phrase, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” ! (Colossians 1:27)
Thank you to everyone who prayed for this conference. The Lord did beautiful things, and we are so grateful.
“Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
Photo credit to Cassidy Schoolz for a few of the pictures, thanks Cassidy!
On June 7-8 we held the first official “Speak Truth in Your Heart” Bright Lights conference in Dallas, Texas. For many years we have been doing the same two conferences (the “Strong in the Lord” and “Radiant Purity” conference) so it was special to present totally NEW content.
The name of the conference (and Sarah’s soon-to-be-published book) comes from Psalm 15:1-2 “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”
We praise God for the way we clearly saw Him working that weekend. We hope to do many more “Speak Truth in Your Heart” conferences! The need is great for young ladies to be replacing faulty thinking with God’s Word. From the beginning, Satan’s strategy has been to use deception. Often struggles in our spiritual lives are intensified because we don’t know the Lord and His Word well enough! Trusting Him is a natural byproduct of truly knowing Him. Psalm 9:10 says “Those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
For more information on the “Speak Truth” Curriculum, see this blog post from when Sarah presented it at a camp last September.
Please for girls and parents who are here tonight and tomorrow at our “Strong in the Lord” conference in the St Louis area. In this first session (going on now) Sarah is challenging the girls to be one of those few who does not go the world’s way, but lives their lives for Christ! Please pray that the Lord works in a powerful way in their hearts. Thank you.
I’m very excited about the brand new Bright Lights conference that will be taking place in Dallas, Texas on June 7-8. As girls replace lies with the truth, they see how God’s Word transforms each area of their lives as the truth sets them free.
Sarah has presented this material at camps, but this is the first time she will be teaching a Bright Lights conference using this material. See more information on our flyer here. Click here to register.
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be running Bright Lights conferences in St Louis in the end of June. We are praising God for how details have been coming together, thanks to the hard work of our friend Allison Whisler who is our hostess in St Louis.
This is our image designed for sharing on social media. We also have an email with more information about the conferences for spreading the word. If you know families in Iowa, Illinois, or Missouri who might be interested in the conferences, you can email us and request this informational email. Or if anyone would like actual paper flyers [smile] we’d be happy to put some in the mail to you.
We would greatly appreciate prayer that the Lord would use these conferences to point the hearts of young ladies and parents to Jesus Christ.
In this first session, Sarah answers the question: “what is RADIANT purity?” Why don’t we just call it the “Purity Conference”? Sarah explains how it’s not just being pure yourself, but leading others in the way of purity. It’s having a life that stands out as different, and beautiful–and points others to Jesus Christ.
It was very exciting to see the Lord’s hand working in girls’ lives at the conference. In the small group discussions, many voiced their thirst for answers. They were struggling and wanted help. The most encouraging part was seeing their decisions to actually make changes in their lives. For example, here are a few comments we received:
“I want to spend more time now working on becoming the godly woman I hope to be rather than just daydreaming about finding a godly guy all the time… I thought the speaker made a very good point about how most failed relationships go wrong because of seeds planted before the people even met. That’s important for me to consider right now… I want to make more time actively for exploring the Bible rather than wasting time on social media…” – 17-year-old
“I let go of a guy, told him that I don’t see a future between us (which was really hard cause I’ve really liked him for a while now) … Some decisions I was facing like currently this weekend I got answers to on how to handle it. It was like God was speaking directly to me through the speakers.” – 18-year-old
One of topics the girls seem to appreciate the most is “Emotional Purity.” Sarah shares practical, Biblical advice on how not to be obsessed over a crush, and how to be a godly sister in Christ who is not flirtatious or rude. She encourages the girls to seek to build up young men around them rather than trying to get attention for themselves.
We had a unique, unexpected problem (well, we always do, but this one was especially noticeable): the sustain pedal on the keyboard wasn’t working, which made the piano sound kind of like a harpsichord. 🙂 Stephen and I took a careful look at it during a break and saw that it was definitely broken. We weren’t sure what to do. You don’t realize how much of a difference a sustain pedal makes until it’s broken.
Sarah came into the office and told a couple of the girls, “I have a prayer request. Pray that the pedal on the keyboard starts to work.” My first reaction was, “Does Sarah realize that’s not possible? Stephen and I looked at it, and it’s broken.” But then I remembered Oh yeah. God could fix it. In the next session, I couldn’t believe it: the sustain pedal was working! Then it stopped working again, so Stephen had the idea of switching to a different keyboard for the rest of the conference, and that really fixed the problem, praise the Lord.
Alyssa (left) came up to me after the conference and told me about how she was wanting to witness to the other girls on her swim team back home but was finding it difficult. I agreed that it is tough to witness to friends in that context. I mentioned that it’s actually a lot easier to witness to people at the park that you don’t know, because you don’t have anything to lose.
“But I don’t want to serve God in a way that costs me nothing,” Alyssa replied.
That was a great comment, I thought.
“That’s true,” I agreed.
“But in a way there is nothing to lose by witnessing to your swim team either,” I remarked…
“Well, friendships,” she said.
Praise God for young ladies like Alyssa who desire to lay down their own lives and desires out of devotion to Christ. Sharing the gospel IS a sacrifice. Living for Jesus DOES cost. And many aren’t willing to pay the price. But when we look from the perspective of the cross, it’s not a price–it’s a privilege.
“We need to get over,” Nickie told me with an intense tone of voice. She was driving one of our 15 passenger vans and I was in the passenger’s seat texting someone. I looked up and noticed that smoke was filling the van. Since we were on a busy Dallas interstate, it took Nickie a little bit to get over to the side of the road. I was worried the van might burst into flames before we all got out. But God protected us.
Eventually my dad arrived, and then two men from a local Bible chapel came to help us. “Usually God sends angels in pairs,” my dad told them gratefully. 🙂 It turned out that a wire came loose from a power inverter and the insulation on the end was charred, thus causing the smoke.
As you can see, I’ve been very slow with sharing reports here this summer, but if you’re interested in more pictures and reports, Caitlin did a fantastic job updating her blog here.
It feels like we just got off a roller coaster. 🙂 Our summer of conferences just came to an end and most of our summer staff is now gone. It’s been sad to part with them, but our hearts are filled with gratefulness to God for His work this summer. He does more than we ask or imagine! I’ll try to catch up on blog reports by posting in segments, starting with our “Strong in the Lord Conference” in Dallas, August 4-5th.
When we arrived at the church in Texas that would be hosting the conferences, we were greeted warmly by the church staff. We learned that they had been waiting for us since 7:30 am. Aaron (in black) told us he had been in our state, Iowa, before … playing football against the Hawkeyes. We laughed as we realized that since Stephen is a photojournalist for our local paper (covering Hawkeyes every year) he has pictures of Aaron stored in his old archives. 🙂
Soon local Bright Lights leaders and friends began joining our leadership team. Yet again, the Lord provided a team of leaders who were united, loved Christ, and were passionate to make Him known. Only the Lord can pull together such a group.
A couple hours before the conference began, we had an exciting arrival! 🙂 (We did a “quick print” of these Will Our Generation Speak? study guides to have a box for conferences.) They will be available on our online store soon.
When all the girls are there, it really hits what a responsibility and privilege it is to be speaking into their lives. We’re also vividly aware of the need for much PRAYER, as only the Lord can touch these hearts.
Abby and Ana, perplexed that the coffee peculator was making so much noise in the back of the moms prayer time. I’m always pleased when I can be around to document these special behind-the-scenes moments, haha. Ana Skrnich (15) was actually in charge of food for the entire conference week–which meant cooking for 40 of us leaders, two meals a day, as well as doing snacks for the conference. She did a phenomenal job! In fact, I think this is the only time I saw Ana with this perplexed expression. 🙂
We are THRILLED when dads come with their daughters. Nia (left) shared with me that her dad is a pastor and has been speaking a lot about evangelism recently. She is really excited about witnessing and would like to start a witnessing team. It was sweet to see the sparkle in Nia’s eyes as she spoke of her desire to reach the lost the gospel!
The girl on my right in this picture has been faithfully spending time in the Word since the Lord convicted her about that two years ago at the last Bright Lights conference in Dallas – praise the Lord! Her mom explained about this to me. How encouraging to see her faithfully following Him!
During our sharing time afterward, Emily Selander reported that one 9-year-old on her team, Taylor, trusted Christ for salvation. I had the privilege of meeting Taylor afterward as well. She was very excited about her decision to follow Jesus! Taylor’s mom told us that they’d had many discussions about what it means to be saved, but apparently it hadn’t clicked with her until that night. Emily shared that Taylor was crying during the chalk talk, obviously very emotional about the decision she had just made. But then Taylor wiped her tears away, sat up, and said, “okay, now I’m just excited!” It was very sweet.
I remembered a text I had received from Mirren Martin earlier that day. She said that her dad prayed for the Bright Lights conference during their family devotions, and that he had prayed for the salvation of unsaved girls. Mirren and Taryn attended that night and it was a joy to send them home with the news that their dad’s prayer had been answered. Praise the Lord!