Bright Lights Conferences in Minneapolis

Last week was an exciting week of conferences at Straitgate Church in Minneapolis. We really appreciated being able to use this beautiful facility and enjoyed working with the great people at the church.

But the conference was not without difficulties! Difficulties are good, though. They cause us to pray more, and it builds our faith as we see the Lord work things out for good!

A few days before the conference my dad and brother became aware that the church was located in a dangerous part of Minneapolis. (This picture is of the church’s fenced-in parking lot.) When Stephen looked up the crime record in the area he became quite concerned, and he said that if he had known he’s not sure he would have agreed to do the conference there. Dad and Stephen are very protective, and they didn’t want to be responsible for any problems while 400 moms and daughters came to this area of town.

My dad felt that the principle found in Deut 22:8 applied in this situation, and he wanted to take whatever precautions we could. First, we sent out an e-mail to everyone registered, asking them to park in the lot (not on the street), not leave valuables in car, carpool if possible, and other things like that.

Here we are dividing up phone numbers among the leaders who were helping us set up on Monday. We checked and saw that about 80 attendees hadn’t opened the e-mail about security precautions. So we decided to make contact another way…i.e. lots of phone calls!

We also hired a policeman. He was really nice!

And we were very grateful for the help of a group of young men (especially the Watson brothers) who directed parking, escorted the moms and girls, and patrolled the area. Even though there were some other interesting people around in the neighborhood, the presence of our team of young men, our new officer friend, and of course God’s hand of protection made everything safe even when it was at 9pm when we dismissed.

Dad dismissing the audience and giving directions

It seemed like there were a lot more dads there than usual. We thought this was great, because we LOVE it when dads come. We think it’s beneficial for them to hear what their wives and daughters are learning. My dad also leads the small group time with the men and they seem to always have great discussions.

We had such a great group of attendees.

Our friend Mindy Caron (right) and the group she brought to the Radiant Purity Conference from northern Minnesota. At the Radiant Purity conference she told the encouraging story of how God brought her and her husband Ben together.

Backstage

Josie Morris, Ruth Watson, Mrs. Watson, and Mrs. Kramer in the kitchen. They worked really hard and made it very special…even making homemade applesauce and other homemade snacks.

After each conference we always have a cool down time to share stories over dinner. While I was taking this picture, Laurie (in green) was sharing about one 8-year-old girl in her small group (who was from the neighborhood and part of the church’s bus ministry) who contemplatively asked, “So you are saying that when my brother does something mean I am supposed to do something nice to him in return?” It’s really encouraging to see the lessons “click” with the girls.

Our group of leaders

We had a fantastic place to sleep. Mrs. Issac opened her home to all of us–with lots of loving care besides. Thank you again, Issac family! Here we are on having a special “singing” time together with the Bright Lights group that regularly meets in their home.

There are some *interesting* parts of living with so many other girls in a basement for a week. It’s fun, but you also learn things like:
-how to get completely ready in the morning without even stepping in a bathroom
-how to fall asleep with earphones in and the lights on
-how to turn the water on and off during your shower to reserve water, while also making your shower really fast!
-How to take showers at odd times…like Stephen, who had to take showers at 3:30am! (He and my parents were sleeping on the top level while the rest of us had the basement.)

BUT, these things are all an improvement from icy cold showers (we still love you, our Wisconsin friends, though! 🙂 And we’d still come back if you invited us! haha ) and it’s better than traveling to other houses for showers (although there are some blessings in that too!)

We thought this sign in one of the bathrooms of the Issac’s house (where we stayed) was especially appropriate!

There are many little practical things we learn after living for a good portion of the summer with LOTS of other sisters. We have finally learned a big secret that makes mornings much more pleasant: no one is allowed to set their alarm clock on their cell phone. Instead, someone individually wakes people up at the time they request to be woken up. (They even made me turn off mine which is really cool and sounds like a tropical jungle! 🙁 ) Otherwise, we just have way too many weird sounding noises going off in the morning…(i.e. a rooster, a frog, annoying bells, praise songs, you get the idea.) And SOME PEOPLE (okay, myself included) don’t even wake up to their own alarm clock half the time even though most everybody else does.

Ah…fun memories.

Well, to everyone who prayed for us: THANK YOU. There are so many more stories that I don’t have time or space to record. We are so privileged to serve the King of the Universe who has good plans, good lessons for us to learn, and who provides for us just what we need for what lays in our path.

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.” Psalm 145:3-4

Courageous and Wisdom Teeth

Tuesday afternoon our family went to see Courageous. It was fantastic.

As I was buying my ticket, I gave the girl at the booth an “animal card” – one of my new favorite tracts. They have amazing facts about animals with reference to the Creator and a Bible verse on the back. People really like them and they are so easy to give out.

Since no one else was in line at the moment and the movie hadn’t started yet, I decided to go back and talk with her. Our conversation went something like this.

“Hey, since no one is behind me here in line can I has you an interesting question?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said.
“What’s your view on what happens when someone dies…like, do you have any spiritual beliefs about that?”
She wanted to talk about it right away and said, “Well my cousin died 7 years ago so it really made me think about it…” she explained. “He was only 25 and I couldn’t understand why…”
“Ah, like you had a hard time wondering why God allowed it to happen?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“So it was a tragic death?” I asked.
“Well, he had his wisdom teeth pulled and then developed an infection and that led to something else and he died…”
*internal gulp*
“I’m getting my wisdom teeth out on Friday,” I told her.

Maybe that wasn’t the best thing for me to hear at that moment. My little witnessing attempt became sort of…well…haha, I don’t know…it wasn’t exactly going as I expected! I tried to get to the gospel, mentioning how it’s not God’s fault there is evil in the world — it’s ours. And if God got rid of all of the evil in the world that would include us because each one of us has evil (sin) inside us. That’s why we need Jesus.

She agreed but I’m not sure if she understood. She needs to hear more.

Anyway, here I am three days later sitting with ice packs wrapped to my face, grateful that I like smoothies and yogurt!

And I’m also grateful for my friend Karen from church who just brought over 5 little miniture ice cream containers!

I’m thinking I should go back to see Harmony, the girl from the Theater to follow up. And to tell her I’m still alive. 🙂 If you think of it, pray for Harmony.

STARTING TODAY…want to join? :-)

Sarah and Stephen are doing a special “project” this fall. Yesterday Sarah sent out an e-mail to the Bright Lights summer traveling team, inviting them to do the same.

Anyone interested in doing a “speed read” through the Bible with me? (I’m thinking of something like 15 chapters a day, starting tomorrow and finishing Dec. 31st.) It’s something I’ve been interested in doing for a while, and now that conference season is over, it seems like a good time! …For me personally, I know that the fall/winter is a season where I can spend extra time in personal study and disciplines…I think my plan is to read 9 chapters in the morning (starting in Genesis), 2 chapters at lunch (Psalms and Proverbs), and 4 chapters before bed (starting in Matthew). But I’m sure each day will vary. 🙂
Love,
Sarah

Although it’s great to slowly digest a chapter or do word studies, there is a special perspective and understanding you receive when you read through the Bible at a faster pace. It causes you to step back and see the whole picture at once. I’m not doing it this time, but I wanted to put the idea out there in case any of you would like to join! If you are doing it too we’d love to hear from you!