Speak Truth Conference: Snowflakes & Answered Prayers!

The conference started out with a typical array of complications, beginning at home … one of which was our dying printer. Of course it would stop working just when we had tons to print for the conference. My dad developed a little rhythm and when he’d hit the printer just right it would start working again for a while (our superb IT skills when Stephen’s not around). We are thankful that it worked just long enough to finish printing what we needed. (And we are thankful that Stephen purchased a new printer for us now.)

Setting up Thursday night in Hudson, especially grateful that Anna Kirk was able to fly in from Washington state for the weekend to help and teach a break-out session.

The day of the conference we awoke to beautiful big snowflakes which we enjoyed with coffee, soft music, and our Bibles in the comfortable home where we were staying … what a peaceful start to a conference day for the team we brought from Iowa to help lead the conference.

A couple hours later, we enjoyed a sharing time from the Word and prayer meeting with the local Bright Lights leaders and moms who hosted the conference. What a highlight to hear each others’ hearts and be so united in spirit, even though many of us had never met before.

The girls and moms in this picture (beside our team) are from a Bright Lights group that was originally started by Katelyn Lowery in 2012. After a few years, Katelyn passed it on to her sister, who then passed it on to a selection of five or six older teenage girls from within the group. These older girls led the group together for a while and then decided to split into three different groups. These groups have continue to grow, and we rejoice to see the prayer that has been going into this ministry, and the fruit coming out of it. They all did a wonderful job hosting the conference.

Leaders and helpers from the local Bright Lights groups greeting conference attendees

The weather was very windy and cold as the conference was beginning!

Of course this made it feel so much more cozy and cheery inside! Here local Bright Lights leaders are distributing name tags and conference journals.

The local Bright Lights group shared with us weeks ago about specific request they were praying for this conference. We’re so grateful for their labor of love through prayer.

I think one of the reasons it’s encouraging is because the girls can look around and see, “Wow–I’m not the only girl left on this earth who is seeking to live as a godly woman.” Others are building their lives on the foundation of Jesus and His Word and living it out, and we are in this together.

I’m delighted to announce that Nickie, who always prefers to be behind the scenes, is not only on the cover of Sarah’s new book, her picture is now on the first-ever Bright Lights poster! You see, a few months ago a girl requested that we make a poster similar to the cover of Sarah’s book so that she could have a continual reminder on her wall to “speak truth in her heart.” We received these posters back from the printer just in time for the conference. (Maybe at our next conference we will have life-size cardboard cut-outs of Nickie for sale. πŸ™‚ )

There were a number of girls at this conference who had come to the Testify witnessing training camp a few months ago in August. It was very special to connect again.

Current leaders of the local Bright Lights groups in Hudson (and little sisters – invaluable πŸ˜€ )

After the conference ended we had an upbeat cool down time, sharing stories and rejoicing together in all that the Lord did.

Thanks for reading this report and if the Lord brings the Bright Lights ministry to mind, please pray for the local groups that meet around the country on an ongoing basis. This is not an easy ministry; it takes much work to plan and prepare lessons and activities on a regular basis. It takes time, emotional energy, and is impossible without the strengthening of the Lord. But if there was ever a need for such groups for young people, it seems the need is greater now than ever.

And may all of us, no matter our age or season of life, take seriously the command to “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “Encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).

Speak Truth in Your Heart Conference: Morelia, Mexico

IMG_2749 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.

IMG_2826 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.

IMG_2966 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.

IMG_3007 Many grandmas came too

IMG_2803 The camp’s beautiful surroundings in the mountains give it a “peaceful haven” feel.

IMG_2821 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.

IMG_2954 …even pink marshmallows! haha

IMG_2818 Here they are babysitting lots of children while the ladies are in the session.

IMG_2791 This was also the first time we have had dads run jump rope games for the girls during the break. πŸ™‚

IMG_2971 A Bright Lights group from Guadalajara

IMG_2850 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!

IMG_2903 Picture taking time after the tea party

IMG_2943 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.

IMG_2969 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.

IMG_2983 Goodbyes

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!

Mexico “Speak Truth in Your Heart” Conference

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Please pray for the moms and daughters at Camp Berea (near Morelia, Mexico, up in the mountains) who are listening to Sarah teach right now! Today is the second day of our “Speak Truth In Your Heart” Conference. So many girls and moms here are very thirsty to grow in the Lord! It’s such a privilege and blessing to be here. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would impact their hearts greatly with His Word, and that the impact would be eternal.

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“Speak Truth In Your Heart Conference” Phoenix, Arizona

img_1820 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. πŸ™‚

img_1846 This was our first time to do a Bright Lights conference so far west. It was exciting to have an audience of entirely “new” people!

It’s also been fun to have a totally new conference. (This was our second “Speak Truth in Your Heart Conference” conference. Our first was in Dallas in June.)

img_1866-2 Two sweet girls who are a part of the Bright Lights group here.

img_1875 I enjoyed getting acquainted with these young ladies from Las Vegas, where their dad was burdened to do a church plant. Praise God for the bright lights He is raising up in that dark place!

img_1893 During one half hour period, the moms and daughters formed small groups and prayed together.

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img_1850 A “get to know you” activity

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img_1928 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. πŸ™‚

img_1841At Kirstin’s house spending time with some of the Bright Lights girls the day before the conference started.

img_1883 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.

img_1919 Lots of moms and girls who all came from one church!

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img_1930-2 This picture is for Bekah who requested it. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚ (I’m still fascinated with them, haha.)

Speak Truth in Your Heart Conference, Dallas

img_0184 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.”

img_0190 Mothers and daughters, praying together in between sessions.

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For more information on the “Speak Truth” Curriculum, see this blog post from when Sarah presented it at a camp last September.

img_0206 This was a group activity / object lesson on discipleship.

img_0221 Since Stephen and my dad couldn’t be there, we were grateful for the extra help loading up afterward from Daniel Skrnich and Mr. Noland.