Grace Notes

Witnessing Stories

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.

Homeschool Conferences

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. 🙂

Homeschool Conferences

Arlington, Texas Homeschool Book Fair

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It was a great day! We were exhausted afterwards, but we were all very encouraged by the people we talked to and the good reports we heard.

While Stephen was working at the booth, one lady came and picked up a Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends book off the stack. Turning it over and seeing our pictures on the back, she asked Stephen, “And which one are you?”

Another lady came up to the booth and picked up Before You Meet Prince Charming. “I’ve never heard of this book before” she told Sarah. Pointing to Sarah’s picture on the back she asked “Is she a famous author?”
When Sarah explained that it was her, the lady seemed quite embarrased.

Sarah and my Dad ate lunch with some homeschoolers attending the conference. After Sarah got up to leave, one girl commented, “You gotta be careful what you say around Sarah…she might write about it”.

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After supper Dad and Stephen were glad to have some daylight left so they could play catch in the hotel parking lot.

Now we are all back in the hotel room getting ready for bed. Dad just shared a verse with us:
“I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus… for they have refreshed my spirit and yours.” (1 Corinthians 16:17) We talked about how that is a great goal– to refresh the spirits of others.

Homeschool Conferences

Problems solved…

My dad and Stephen made it safely to Walmart! When the mechanics saw our tire, they were amazed. They had never seen a bulge in a tire that large.

We are grateful for how the Lord has taken care of us in the situation! The tire could have exploded as we were going 70 mi per hour down the interstate, but instead God allowed us to notice the problem when we were parked and get it fixed before it caused trouble.

Miscellaneous

Tire Trouble

About a half hour ago, Stephen came running in to our hotel room saying, “where’s the camera?” He wanted to take a picture of our van tire. Here it is:

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Dad and Stephen just headed off to Walmart to get it fixed. They said they weren’t sure if the van would make it there or not…so…they could be gone a while! I wanted to go along for the adventure but Dad and Stephen didn’t think that was necessary. 🙂 I’ll post again later about what happens.

Family News/Homeschool Conferences

Our trip has begun!

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After traveling 921 miles we finally arrived in Texas! Thankfully, we all like to ride in the van. Especially Sarah—she can’t get enough of it. Usually she’s disappointed when we arrive. Behind our van we are pulling a 24 foot trailor.

We will be on the road for a month, primarily traveling to 3 homeschool conferences (Texas, Mississippi, and Florida).

I am planning to post a picture a day, so those that are interested can keep up with what is happening. I may not always be able to post the picture on the day, but if I can’t I’ll post it the next day.

Well, the plan was to have everything in the van Monday night and leave in the morning. As usual, it didn’t happen that way. Since we didn’t leave until until Tuesday evening, we drove through the night. We stopped to sleep in the Walmart parking lot. Since we have 4 bench seats in our van, most of us were quite comfortable. Sarah slept on the floor. She said she liked it.

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We made a stop this afternoon to drop off a box of Spanish “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” in Oklahoma City at “The Lighthouse”. A homeschool family, the Engles, bought an old building downtown that they are fixing up as a ministry center. Currently they are running a bookstore, coffee shop, Creation museum, and they provide appartments for missionaries to stay in. This week they are going to the Dominican Republic so they wanted to distribute the Spanish translation of our book there.

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Stephen’s 22 Birthday!

Since I had some extra time in the van today, I put together some pictures from Stephen’s birthday. The actual date was the 16th, but we celebrated it just last week. To explain a few of the gifts you see here…

-Stephen has been mentioning for a while how he’d like a giant stuffed penguin. We found him one an hour before his party. 🙂 When my mom called the toy store they asked “Now how old is your son?” She said “Well, he’s actually 22…” We’re glad Stephen is still young and fun at heart. 🙂
-The sign he is holding says, “If it weren’t for coffee, nothing would get done around here.”
-My grandparents gave him a commentary of the Old Testiment by William McDonald
-Sarah ordered this white shirt for him to wear when he freelances for our local newspaper. The little caption in the corner says, “A wise man once said, ‘don’t forget to remove lens cap.’”
-In the middle is a picture of his German Chocolate Cake.

Miscellaneous

Valuable Assistance!

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Top: Marie Briceland is printing envelopes; Chrissy Baskerville is processing orders.
Bottom: Nickie Biegler is designing a new Bright Lights brochure; my grandpa is labeling CDs.

We are leaving tomorrow for a “southern trip” to Texas, Mississippi and Florida (in that order). There is a lot to do because we need to prepare and pack materials for 3 conferences, put everything in order before we leave, and take care of a month’s worth of work here at home.

We are grateful for the help of Nickie and Chrissy, (who come over one day a week to help in the Bright Lights office) and the others who often join them.

My grandpa comes over faithfully four days a week and helps with whatever we need him to do. (He duplicates and labels CDs and DVDs, packages orders, helps us pack for our conferences and trips, etc.) He takes a load off our family by all he does. Since there has been an abundance of work recently, Grandpa has been getting here earlier in the mornings, and one day he got here at 4:30am!

Miscellaneous

Chinese Visitors

Ever since our family went to Hong Kong and China 16 years ago, we’ve always wanted to go back. Now we feel as if “China comes to us” –right into our home!

Last night was one of those “special occasions” as six Chinese computer engineers came to our house for dinner. They came to the States for a few weeks because they work for Rockwell International. We had a very nice evening together as we ate, talked, sang, took pictures, and gave them a tour of our house and “office house”. We gave them some books (Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends, and What Really Happened to the Dinosaurs ) and played our harps for them. They sang for us some popular and beautiful Chinese songs.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had Chinese computer engineers come to our home. Every few months we enjoy another delegation from China because we have a Chinese friend from Rockwell who lives in town and brings them over to our house.

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My dad is opening a gift of special Chinese Tea

Homeschool Conferences

Kansas City Homeschool Conference

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Setting up our booth

From set-up on Thursday to tear down Saturday night, our weekend at the Kansas City Homeschool conference was busy and eventful. We did 3 sessions, and felt that they were well-recieved. We arrived home today today.

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Here is our booth, finally set up! 🙂

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On Friday night, we were invited out to dinner by the Ward Family, who help host the conference in Kansas City. We enjoyed the fellowship and the good BBQ meal. Here’s the “kids” table.