Bright Lights in Dallas

20130708_191158_22036 We had a great week of conferences in Dallas. It started out Monday night with a special time with the local Bright Lights group. Haley, Natalie and Megan have done a wonderful job leading this group for several years now.

20130710_153248_22069 Here is a small group from the “Strong in the Lord Conference” conference. It is fun to get to hear what the girls are thinking and learning. After Sarah’s session on being in the Word, a few of them expressed to me with seriousness in their eyes that they haven’t been doing very well reading their Bibles but now they want to make that decision to read it every day consistently.

This is probably the #1 response that the girls write on their “response forms” after the conference – that they are going to start reading their Bibles every day. We’d appreciate prayer for all of these young ladies right now, only a week after the conference….that the Lord would give them strength and reminders to follow through.

20130713_175352_22138 It’s also exciting to see the girls get excited about witnessing! Sometimes it doesn’t take much to spark their excitement. Many leaders tell me how their girls are anxious to talk about “sharing the gospel” in their small groups after it’s discussed in the main session. Here Priscilla is standing by our “Witnessing Starter Packages.” She was excited to get one. [smile]

20130716_125728_22175 We’re grateful for the testimonies that the Lord provides for the main sessions. They drive home the lessons in a personal, practical way. A message from a mind reaches a mind, but a message from a life reaches a life! Pictured above are Scarlet, Kate, and Abby sharing testimonies at the Radiant Purity conference.

20130713_084110_22121 Here’s a picture from the Purity Conference. We’d appreciate prayer for all the conference attendees from Arkansas, Houston, and Dallas … that they would be seeking Christ, abiding in the Word, seeking the Lord’s ways, honoring their parents.

20130717_143251_22182 The dads who are able to come to the Purity Conference always have a discussion on father’s roles in protecting their daughters and screening young men who express interest. My dad usually tells us afterward about some of the various comments and stories that are shared. He is usually very encouraged by how the men’s discussions go and he says they never have enough time.

20130711_101635_22093 During one of our devotional times, Stephen gave us a review of the book Radical by David Platt which he had been reading on the trip. Stephen was impressed with it, and read several sections to us.

In talking about missions and how we should all have a heart for the WORLD, David Platt writes, “As we have seen all over Scripture, God’s heart is for the world. So when we say we have a heart for the United States, we are admitting that we have a meager 5 percent of God’s heart, and we are proud of it. When we say we have a heart for the city we live in, we confess that we have less than 1 percent of God’s heart … regardless of where we live–here or overseas–our hearts should be consumed with making the glory of God known in all nations.”

20130709_111536_22044 During another devotional time, Taryn and Mirren Martin did a “Question & Answer” time with our group of leaders. They have been such an encouragement to us.

20130711_170747_22106 We enjoyed several hours on our free day at the Skrinch home.

20130717_130822_22180 Lauren and Haley. Haley (right) was one of the hostesses for this conference. Thank you Haley for all your hard work!

20130715_160005_22173 Guess where we had tire trouble? 45 minutes from home right in front of a Tires Plus shop that wasn’t busy! They fixed the 2 bad tires immediately (while we girls shopped in the air conditioned mall), gave us a good price, and my dad was able to witness to them. Praise God that He takes such good care of us.

Strong in the Lord Conference, Dallas


The “Strong in the Lord Conference” here in the Dallas area was another statement of God’s grace and faithfulness to provide in countless ways! We thought you would enjoy experiencing Session Three from the conference in 35 seconds.

“Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate.” Psalm 116:5

The Radiant Purity Conference started tonight and will end tomorrow at 6pm. Thank you for your prayers!!

Strong in the Lord Conference, Arkansas


20130625_173725_21559 Things are going well here in Arkansas! Yesterday we concluded the “Strong in the Lord” Conference, and tomorrow the “Radiant Purity” Conference begins. Please pray for us and for the attendees.

20130626_172502_21586 Olivia (left) with three conference attendees. Olivia is just starting a Bright Lights group here in Arkansas, and we’re so glad she joined us to help at these conferences.

20130626_124320_21572 Hannah (right) and her mom and sister. Hannah’s mom told me about how faithful Hannah is in passing out tracts. She told me her favorite is the “Good Person Comic” from Living Waters. It sounds like the Lord is really using her! [smile]

The topic of “learning to witness” is often the topic that the attendees say they are most interested in. Please pray that the Lord would give these girls boldness to act upon what they are learning and truly be bright lights!

20130624_195237_21546 The Lord has provided a fantastic team of leaders. They have really been an encouragement to me! It is a true gift to be able to have fellowship with other girls who have been walking with Jesus and have riches to share because of it.

I took this picture Monday night as we were studying 2 Corinthians 1 before bed. It was very refreshing [smile]. We chose 2 Corinthians as our book for this 3 week trip.

20130626_180908_21598 Nawon talking with Nickie. Nawon is from Korea and has led a purity conference for young ladies in Korea. She sees a lot of needs among the girls there and has a heart to provide more discipleship for them in the future. We are excited about how the Lord is going to continue to use her.

20130626_190410_21608 Last night Maiike shared with us the whole story of how she began a Bright Lights group in Congo. She gave a beautiful report of the Lord’s hand at work, even though it has not been an easy process. She has been back in Canada for the last 9 months, but the local girls in Congo have continued the work. And Maiike is thrilled to be returning to Congo in September. The Lord has given her great vision for discipleship for that country, and her enthusiasm is very encouraging. [smile]

Singapore Bright Lights Conferences

Singapore Conferences!

Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell B Vanderbon have taken on … um … a new look look for these overseas conferences. Dani has definitely exceeded what I thought a girl could do playing Mr. Maxwell.

The good thing was that I could actually get this dress zipped up. When we do overseas conferences we ask local people to help find skit props. Some Asian people are kind of … um, small! [smile]

Small groups!

This picture is of Reena (in white), a 26-yr old girl who is now engaged, sharing with my small group about how the Lord had changed her thinking in the area of purity and relationships. The girls loved hearing her share, and it was really a provision from the Lord to have her with us!

Dads praying for their daughters

Moms praying for their daughters

“Cool down” time with staff and those who had helped to host the conference, sharing stories.

Eating pizza and ice cream with flavors we don’t get in the States…red bean, durian, jackfruit …

This is something else we were eating that I’m going to miss! … it’s a soft bean curd desert with a sweet syrup-like sauce.

There is so much more to share, I feel that this is a very inadequate representation of the Singapore conferences. Right now we are in Australia. It has been an extremely full week and blogging hasn’t been top priority, but I will definitely be posting more reports soon. Sarah and Nickie are packing suitcases now as I write this. We’ll be leaving tomorrow morning to fly home.

It doesn’t feel like Christmas yet, especially since I have a sunburn! We’ve had an amazing trip, and we are going home to snowy Iowa for Christmas with full hearts of gratefulness and awesome memories. More reports coming soon.

More Bright Lights in Alaska

The Strong in the Lord conference last weekend

View from the parking lot of the church

There’s nothing better to prepare you for an Alaska Bright Lights conference than reindeer sausage for breakfast, right?! (Thanks again, Mr. Vassar! 🙂 )

Just as attendees were beginning to arrive the easel fell over. Here Sarah is discovering that one of the lights broke. Thankfully Simon (son of one of the host families) got it all fixed in time.

Bryant simultaneously fixing a broken harp string …

Stephen meeting with the sound man from the church before the conference started

We had barely any problems with sound at this conference since Stephen was there. He has always had a way of fixing things that go wrong, so his presence at a conference removes a lot of stress from the rest of us.

Not to mention he even brought us Starbucks mochas to split up … a very appreciated surprise!

And he gets us all laughing … (this picture was taken at the Vassar’s house after the conference).

But back to the conference. Here’s Sarah, a girl in the Alaska Bright Lights group, arriving at the conference Saturday morning. (The sun doesn’t rise until about 10am so this was the first time we’ve had people arrive at a BL conference Sat. morning in the dark!)

Morning devotions in the small groups … (which includes balloon popping).

Kelly Jo, an attendee from a couple hours away, really bonded with Abby, her small group leader. It was a difficult goodbye!

Although there were new challenges and new obstacles in Alaska, we are going to look back on our time time there as a time we really saw the Lord work. For example, here is something a very honest father wrote on his response form:

“[The conference] reinforced that my responsibility as a father is so huge, and I am failing so bad, a lot of head knowledge not as much heart, time is running out … Please pray that I would make the decision to truly serve the Lord with my whole life, I’ve been serving two masters and my family is suffering because of it, that’s not my intent but that’s what’s happening.”

We also had some special opportunities outside the conferences. Our team went over to the home of Vangie (a girl in Alaska who joined our team for the week) to sing for her father, who has been in a wheelchair/bed for many years. Though our team went over hoping to be a blessing to him, but it turned out that Mr. and Mrs. Alexander were such a blessing to our team! They shared many stories about how the Lord has been their rock through the difficult times they have gone through. There were quite a few tears that afternoon!

It was so sweet to see how excited Bethany, Bekah’s little sister, was as they picked Bekah up at the airport.

We are flying out tomorrow morning for Singapore. Bekah and Danielle both were not feeling well over the 2 days we were home … we’d appreciate prayer for health / rest on the plane and also for opportunities to be a light.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Strong in the Lord Conference

Karen and Elizabeth greeting people as they arrived.

The conference went smoothly and I heard many good reports from the small group times. Praise the Lord. We always enjoy running the conference at home where so many local friends are able to come.

Pictured here is Sarah leading a minute of silent prayer, encouraging the girls to commit to reading the Bible every day–even if it is just for a few minutes. We are always encouraged by the many girls who make this commitment.

“Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments. Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes” (Psalm 119:129-135).

Strong in the Lord Conference – Carrollton, Texas

Below is a slideshow of pictures from the Carrollton, Texas “Strong in the Lord conference.” We took one photo an hour (from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM) to show how Wednesday progressed. We were excited to see the Lord working in many people’s lives.

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Topeka, Kansas Strong in the Lord Conference

Tonight we concluded the “Strong in the Lord” Conference in Topeka, Kansas. All went very well – praise the Lord! I thought you would enjoy seeing some of the pictures Stephen took of the skits and testimonies. The Radiant Purity Conference starts Friday. Thank you so much for your prayers.

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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