Vessels of Honor Conference

20140526_112925_27009 Last weekend some friends and I went down to the “Vessels of Honor” young people’s conference in Kansas. Although I have never attended this conference before, I’ve heard about it for years– and I have listened to audio messages from it because the teaching is so good.

The main speaker last year was Scott Degroff. You can listen to his messages on prayer here. (I highly recommend them if you want to be encouraged in your prayer life!)

20140524_110139_26944 We received some great witnessing training from Brady Collier. In this picture he is showing us an evangelistic app that he is creating to be released in a few months.

20140524_144140_26972 We split up and went various places to witness (or pray) on Saturday afternoon. My group went to a downtown area and had several good talks and passed out a lot of tracts. On one street corner we ran into “Superman”. His cape says “trust Jesus,” and apparently he uses his outfit as a springboard to share the gospel. You never know who you’ll meet when you go out witnessing. [smile]

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I came back from the conference with many pages of new pointers and tips in my notebook, and I’m so grateful for the godly teachers that I had the opportunity to interact with. “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

One (of many) themes that struck me from comments made over the weekend was the benefit of reading Christian biographies. I decided to carve out some time in my schedule specifically for biographies, otherwise I always “intend” to but never do (I’m a slow reader).

Reading about martyrs helps us get out of the American mindset and embrace the martyr mindset that the Lord wants us to have daily.

” … he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:38-39).

Michigan Home School Conference

Well, I am happy to announce we survived yet another conference without Stephen. Not with ease, but God took care of us!

20140518_143202_26894 The first little scare was when my dad somehow got knocked to the ground by automatic doors that he wasn’t expecting to open outward. That was when I began texting friends for prayer, haha. Dad was fine, just a little startled. We thought “Oh my, I hope this isn’t a taste of what the whole convention is going to be like!”

20140515_125248_26824 The next scare is when we realized our computers were wet. It was raining for most of the travel day and when we arrived we found that a vent in the trailer had come open. Here Sarah is calling Stephen and getting his advice. Praise the Lord the computers still worked and only a few books were damaged!

20140516_181157_26828 Here are Sarah and I making last minute adjustments on a session on family ministry. While Sarah and I were sitting here working, we looked over at dad and noticed that he had literally fallen asleep while he was typing a text! Poor dad.

20140517_135831_26858 The Martin family was presenting eleven sessions during this conference, so we praise the Lord for giving them the strength to get through the weekend!

We’re excited that they are coming to our home tomorrow, so we will finally get a chance to talk with them (instead of just being in the same building but too busy to talk)! For those who live in the area, Mr. Martin will be speaking at our church (Cedar Rapids Bible Chapel, 3412 Oakland Road NE, Cedar Rapids) in two days (Wednesday, May 20) at 7:00 pm on “Astounding Evidence for Special Creation” and at 8:00 pm on “Developing Discernment in our Culture of Deception.” Mr. Martin is a very interesting speaker, and if you come I do not think you will be disappointed!

20140516_200127_26845 We were very blessed by meeting the Nachtman family and hearing of their heart for evangelism / discipleship. In fact, we learned that Mr. Nachtman lives in the same area as a man that my dad has been trying to disciple, so Mr. Nachtman is going to help! This is a very neat story in itself that I will have to post another time.

20140517_160629_26868 I really enjoyed getting acquainted with Valerie and Jason who are the Living Waters representatives in Michigan.

20140517_141642_26863 I loved how their booth was half booth / half nursery. (Not untypical for home school conferences!)

20140517_182453_26885 In so many ways, we saw the Lord provide help to make up for Stephen not being with us. Another wonderful provision was all the help loading the trailer. [smile]

20140516_183042_26834 Todd Wilson (Family Man) and Israel Wayne (Family Renewal) were the keynote speakers at this conference. Both of their ministries are focused on strengthening families–especially dads–and we really appreciate what they are doing!

“Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it (Psalm 90:16-17).”

The Mystery of Dad’s Lost Bibles

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I was not expecting this much drama last Saturday night.

We arrived at a restaurant around 8pm with our friends the Martins, Gunthers, and a few others. Everyone was exhausted after a long day at the homeschool conference, followed by tear down and pack up.

Before eating, my dad wanted to double check that his Bibles got packed – just for peace of mind. You see, my dad carries three Bibles and his Strong’s Concordance in a black case almost everywhere he goes. He is extremely protective of this case because he has over 20 years of notes in them. Normally he always carries this case himself so he can know firsthand that it is in a safe spot. But since he was packing the trailer, he agreed to let Sarah carry it out to the van.

However, when dad looked for the case in the van, it wasn’t there. He looked in the trailer. No case.

“I don’t have my Bibles!” dad told me in an urgent tone of voice, “we need to go back to the convention center!”

My dad and I jumped in Haley’s SUV and she drove us back to the convention center.

How could we not have not packed Dad’s Bibles? I wondered in disbelief.

I called Sarah. She explained, “I remember taking Dad’s Bibles out to the van, but I was carrying a bunch of things and I suppose it’s *possible* I would have set the case down on the curb as I was trying to put it all in. But I made sure to lock the van, and I don’t know how I could have left the case on the curb!” she said.

But we couldn’t come up with any other explanation! If Sarah really did leave it on the curb, than we knew it was likely stolen. People would assume it’s a laptop case. The parking lot outside the convention center has had so much theft that it even has signs up, warning people to lock their vehicles. And with so many people walking through the parking lot to the ballgame next door, it could have been quickly spotted and taken.

It’s hard for me to put into words the importance of these Bibles to our whole family. They aren’t just Bibles, they are basically my dad’s life notes. Within their pages was the content my dad was intending to draw from for many future writing projects. They represent two decades of Bibles study thoughts. They contain tiny pencil script on almost every page; my dad writes thoroughly on the margins of all his Bibles.

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Why would the Lord allow these Bibles to be lost? I began praying for a miracle.

We arrived at the convention center and dad began looking through garbage bins and talking to convention workers. He even talked with “lost and found” at the Rangers stadium next door. No success. Our hearts were beginning to sink.

We arrived back at the restaurant with the disappointing news. Apparently the dinner had turned into more of the atmosphere of a funeral party, as everyone felt so bad for my dad.

It was about 9:45pm now. I went in to eat while dad stayed outside to look again through the van and trailer. After this final search, he became convinced they were gone.

I went outside again and found dad sitting on the curb in the dark, with his head in his hands, praying. This was his most valuable earthly possession, beside people. It hurt so much to see my dad lose something that was so costly to him — and to all of us!

If it was equipment or cash, no big deal! That’s replaceable. But Dad’s Bibles are priceless to us!

I couldn’t eat. Dad came in to say goodbye to everyone, and we all just sort of stood together without saying much. We appreciated our friends’ understanding and sympathy. We prayed together, and dad prayed that the enemy would not have a victory in this.

Lalo said, “Well, I’m still optimistic that they are in the van somewhere!”

But I knew that my mom had looked in the van, and my mom can find anything. They couldn’t be there! However, I was hopeful we’d find them behind a tree somewhere, or, I thought, maybe someone would dump it on the side of the road once they found out they were Bibles not laptops?

When we got back in the van, I told the family, “I think we should send out a huge prayer email and pray for a miracle! They have to be somewhere in this area!”

“Let’s go back to the convention center,” my mom told my dad.

What else could we do? It was now about 10:30pm. We looked in more garbage cans, and dad looked in the trailer, again.

And that is when he uncovered the mystery.

On the way to the restaurant he had to stop suddenly, but he had forgotten to turn on the trailer brakes. This caused several cases of books to tumble down. When my dad moved all of these cases … there was the black case, underneath them.

I could barely believe it. What a relief. Praise the Lord!

It was such an emotional experience for all of us, including our friends. Haley wrote, “When I left I got in the car and I cried too, I felt so bad for him and all of you.” Awww …

No one remembers putting the case in the trailer, but … there it was! Our memories can be deceptive and unreliable. Or, as one friend texted my dad, “Maybe you had misplaced them and some angels snuck them into your trailer.” [smile]

“If Stephen would have been here, none of this would have happened,” mom said. “First, he would have been packing the trailer so you wouldn’t have been as stressed. Then …” and she continued to list some other reasons why.
“Well, it’s not Stephen’s fault we lost the Bibles!” I mentioned. [smile]
But we did all know that Stephen, our family Sherlock Holmes, would probably have figured out the problem right away. (I wonder how many other tragedies our family would have experienced in the last 10 years had Stephen not been traveling with us!)

“Well I guess the moral of the story is to not carry your Bibles around anymore,” Stephen told dad with a smile after we told him the whole story.

“I already made that pretty clear,” my mom said. [smile]

The verse that comes to mind is Psalm 112 … “Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, Who delights greatly in His commandments…”

The love of the Word is what marks a man of God and a fantastic father! <3

Witnessing Workshop Weekend – 3 Weeks Away

We are doing our first “evangelism training conference” in Saint Paul, Minnesota, three weeks from now.

We’ve had a desire to run some kind of witnessing conference for a couple years now, and when a pastor in Minnesota invited us to come to his church, it pushed us to actually make plans and put it on the calendar. We are excited to see what the Lord has in store!

All are welcome!

Click here for flyer, or for bulletin inserts, click here.

To register, click here.

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Texas Home School Conference

We just returned home from a trip to Texas to the Arlington book fair. It was a great trip, but not without difficulty!

I think my favorite part was getting home last night and sitting around for a couple hours telling Stephen all of the stories from the trip … which seem funny now, though they weren’t all funny at the time!

20140508_104745_26672 One of the things that was especially difficult without Stephen was setting up the computers! One of them fell over and died. The other took what seemed like a couple hours to set up … with many phone calls to Stephen!

20140508_173855_26708 After our day of set up, we went over to Lalo and Dara’s house (from Institute for Creation Research) for a very nice time of good food and fellowship. They have been a big blessing to our family whenever we are in the area.

20140509_145022_26749 I don’t know how we could have done the conference without Haley and Natalie, good friends / local Bright Lights leaders who helped to run our booth.

20140510_101107_26767 Moriah, in pink, explained how she leads a Bible study with friends and is interested in using the Bright Lights material with her group. She’s 12, so I introduced her to Haley, who also started a Bright Lights group at 12. Many underestimate what a 12-year-old is capable to do, but the Lord obviously doesn’t! It’s super encouraging to see Him raising up young ladies in this generation with a heart for discipleship – even at twelve.

20140510_124108_26772 One new addition we have at our booth this year is the Scripture Talk DVD for children produced by our friends Kate and Christa Bridges. We are excited about this new resource to help children memorize Scripture!

20140509_140117_26715 The fellowship with the other speakers and vendors is always a fun part of homes school conferences. Here are our friends Michael Hanson and Lalo Gunther at the ICR booth.

20140509_140132_26718 And Carl Kerby’s booth.

20140513_211147_26810 Fellowship over dinner

We have one day at home and tomorrow we head to the Michigan home school conference. We are grateful that Stephen was able to quickly fix our computer that “died.” We’d appreciate prayer for our sessions, many of which we are adjusting since Stephen won’t be with us.

My Parents’ First Date

…was 45 years ago, TODAY! It was May 3rd, 1969.

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They had a pretty rocky relationship. Almost every time they talk about their past they insert comments like, “We were so immature.” “I wish someone would have taught me …” and, “We made a lot of mistakes.”

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After my mom rejected my dad for about a year, she finally agreed to go with him to a Youth For Christ Rally where they were doing Bible Quizzing. (My dad was a coach.) She thought Dad was “just okay.” [smile]

She didn’t fall in love with him till a while later when she saw him in some ministry leadership roles. (As a side note, my dad continued leading Bible Quizzing and it was a huge part of our family activities growing up. It’s difficult to express how grateful we are for this now because of all the Scripture it caused us to memorize. If you’re interested, see here. )

20140503_134659_26597 They think this was the first picture they ever took together.

20140503_134837_26600 My mom at the the first Youth For Christ staff retreat they went to together, talking to her girlfriends … probably about “Harold.”

Mom and dad kept breaking up and getting back together. One time my mom even transferred to a different college, hoping separation would help the relationship!

At first, my mom wouldn’t even talk to my dad. But then, once she fell in love with him, my dad couldn’t decide if he should marry my mom! He called off the wedding after it was all planned, and my mom moved to Florida as a school teacher. All I can say is praise the Lord they actually got married!!!

My parents are quick to share about their past mistakes and all the lessons the Lord has taught them. The hard times they went through has given them wisdom, compassion, and understanding.

Email from Dad to Mom today:
Our first date was 45 years ago TODAY! Saturday, May 3, 1969

Reply from Mom to Dad:
Wow….that is amazing! Well, after going through A LOT in the last 45 years I can truthfully say that “we are crazy about each other!”

One of the (MANY) things I really respect about my parents is their humility with us kids, with each other, and with others.

I am so grateful to the Lord for them. Of course, I could go on and on about my amazing parents [smile] … but I think I will stop there for now. They are leaving for a date now and I need to get them to proofread this before they go [smile].

I’ll conclude with one picture that will sum it all up [HA HA HA, I’m so glad Mom and Dad are letting me post this one!]:

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And here they are walking out the door for their date tonight, which they seem pretty excited about. 🙂