16,000 Homeschoolers!

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16,ooo homeschoolers attended the FPEA (Florida Parent-Educators Association) convention in Orlando, Florida. The vendor hall, over 70,000 square feet, was sometimes so crowded it was hard to walk from one side to another without getting stuck in traffic (which included lots of strollers and bookbags on wheels, etc.)!

We were especially excited to be here this year because of a special annoucement we are making: Three Bright Lights conferneces have been scheduled for Florida this November! We will be taking our team of about 20 Bright Lights leaders to Florida for 3 weeks. The conferences will be held in the Jacksonville and Clearwater areas.

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Sarah’s speaking at the FPEA conference on “Preparing Young Ladies for their Teenage Years”

Florida FPEA Homeschool Conference

We are currently in the middle of a busy confernece here in Orlando. My mom hasn’t been feeling well, but besides for that, we’ve been encouraged about how the conference has been going.

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Here is a picture I snapped as we were setting up. Mia is a little friend of mine…she was helping her family unload their trailor and set up their booth, “Lifetime Books and Gifts”.
Since a lot of the vendors go to the same conferences, we enjoy seeing each other every few weekends in various parts of the country–wherever the next state homeschool conference is.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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Today was my dad’s 60th birthday. Last week my mom arranged for a bunch of friends of my dad (including several old college friends) to call him and wish him a happy birthday. Mom did a good job arranging it, and the plan worked out great. My dad was surprised to get call after call and enjoyed talking with old friends. We are currently in Clearwater, Florida and this has been the first “free day” of our trip, so it was a perfect day to celebrate Dad’s birthday.
Sarah, Stephen and I thought the best part of the whole phone call ordeal was watching Mom and Dad interact. Mom accidently dropped so many clues about the surprise phone calls that anyone could have figured it out– that is, anyone except my dad, who is usually oblivious to things like that. They make a great couple when it comes to surprises! Quite entertaining to watch, too. 🙂

New Friends in Mississippi…

One of the best parts of the Mississippi homeschool conference was getting to know the close-knit group of board members and their families. It was refreshing to us to spend time with a group of strong Christian families who are not afraid to seek God’s best without compromising. They are doing a great job running their conference.

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Here Candy is taking a walk with her little sister Amy.

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Stephen and I had fun playing a game late Saturday night with the kids of the board members. It got us all laughing… I guess that happens easily when everyone is tired after a long conference. 🙂

History Lesson

The program went well tonight! My friend from the grocery store didn’t come, (see previous post) but I am praying that the Lord would still be working in her life.
We are currently visiting my dad’s cousin and his wife in Philidelphia, Mississippi for a few days enjoying great hospitality and delicious meals.
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Here I am sitting at the table after dinner tonight getting a history lesson from my dad’s cousin. I had a few questions and it turned into an 2+ hour discussion. It was so interesting to listen to him explain things from all the history books he has read.

It’s amazing how much quicker you can learn something (history, for example) if you are interested in it. The exact same principle applies in learning God’s Word. Those that approach it with enthusiasm and desire gain far more than those who just read it because they have to. No wonder it says right at the beginning of Psalms, “Blessed is the man…whose delight is in the law of the Lord…”

The Conversation at the Grocery Store

It was humid and foggy last night as we were traveling through Mississippi. We opened all the windows instead of turning on the air, so I moved to the front bench of the van to get the full effect of the damp, cool wind. I began reading a book I had brought along for the van ride, One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill. I’ve heard so many good things about this book on soul-winning—I knew I needed to read it! In the first chapter, he emphasized how it takes practice, practice, practice to get good at witnessing. That encouraged me. Even if I mess up when I’m talking someone, or they don’t respond in the way I want them to, at least I’m getting practice. God’s the One who does the real work anyway.

When my mom asked me if I wanted to accompany her to the store today, I decided it would be a good chance to witness. At the store, I began evaluating each person I passed in the aisles. (… she looks like she’s in a hurry…no, not him, he looks intimidating…she’s on her cell phone…) Finally I decided I just needed to just pick someone! After all, that’s why I had come to the store.

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I spotted a lady looking at the pancake syrups who didn’t seem to be in a hurry. I handed her my current favorite tract*, smiled and said, “Hello—this is something for you.”
Surprised, she smiled back warmly and opened it.
“I like to pass these out to people,” I explained, “Inside there’s a coin with the 10 Commandments on it.”
“Oh, thank you!”
“I’m actually from Iowa, but I’m here because my family is going to a homeschool conference in Jackson. We just came from Texas, and next we are going to Florida…so have you lived in Mississippi all your life? ”
“Yes, all my life, but I’ve visited many other states traveling with my kids to basketball tournaments. I live on the Indian reservation and work at the Casino,” she said.
The Choctaw Indian reservation is just a few miles from where we are staying right now. The tribe consists of about 6,000 people.
I continued, “Just out of curiosity, what do you think happens when we die? Do you have an idea of where we’ll go?”
“Well, if we try to be really good…” she said, “well, I don’t really know for sure…I guess the Good Lord will make the decision when the time comes…”
I wanted to tell her how downright wrong she was and that people don’t go to Heaven by being good, but I thought it would probably be more effective to be sensitive in my response. I prayed that the Lord would show me what to say.
“It’s a really important thing to think about because our life here is so short and eternity is forever!”
She agreed with me.
“One of the reasons I like to pass out these 10 commandments coins is because it shows us how bad we really are—and how God sees us. You know, God’s the One who gave us those laws and since only perfect people can go to Heaven, we’re in big trouble. We humans lie, steal and sin all the time…”
“Yeah, and sometimes we do it without knowing it,” she added, “something just makes you do it”.
“Yes—it’s our nature to be bad. We can’t be good without God changing us.” I told her, “Just this morning our family had a Bible study about sins that are really hard to get rid of. We all need God’s help. But, you know, the main thing we need to understand is why Jesus died on the cross. It was to take the punishment that we should have had. We all deserved to die.”
She nodded, but I wasn’t sure what she was thinking. After a little more conversation she thanked me again warmly. I invited her to come to the harp concert/gospel chalk talk that our family is doing at a church in town tomorrow night. She seemed interested and wrote her phone number on a card for me so that I could call her with specific details of when and where. Please pray that she will come and bring her children!! The program is Wednesday night, May 16th. I will post more afterwards about what happens.

Looking back, I think of other things I should have said, or things I could have worded differently, but I have to remind myself that it takes time to learn. It’s better to say something than to say nothing at all.

*The tract is from Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron’s ministry. (www.livingwaters.com) It says “A gift for you” on the front and on the inside it has a message and the little coin. I’ve found that people receive it like a little gift and it’s great for cashiers, waiters, or for starting conversations.

Sam’s Decision

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After we spoke on brother/sister relationships at the conference yesterday, we noticed a boy named Sam (pictured above) standing next to our booth with a big smile on his face. His parents told us, “We gave Sam some money to buy something for himself at the conference. After going to your session, Sam decided to put what he learned into practice and buy a gift for his 2 older brothers.” It was cute to see Sam grinning, obviously pleased with his decision, and it’s a great reminder to all of us that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. 🙂