Category: Family News

Creation Museum/Family News

Weekend Trip to the Creation Museum!

We are so excited by how we saw the Lord working this past weekend!!! We just returned home from a Friday-Sunday trip to the Creation Museum. We had 16 in our group, including friends from Iran, Singapore, Malaysia, and China, as well as several young people from our town.

20140321_142813_26208 Watching Evolution Vs. God on my laptop in the van on the way there. (They really enjoyed it, as you can see!)

20140322_152306_26244 Here’s our group along with the Ramsek family who hosted some of us.

20140322_151735_26241 Discussing some of the encouraging conversations of the day.

My dad spent most of his time with a new friend from Iran who came along. They had a wonderful time together. My Dad said it’s the longest conversation he has ever had — a three day discussion! They talked for the entire 10 hour drive to Kentucky, all through the museum, and the 10 hours back! One time dad even missed his exit because of the interesting conversational topics they were discussing. [smile]

20140322_161724_26247 Concluding the day on Saturday with a great lasagna dinner at the Ramsek’s home!

20140322_162959_26254 This gave us the opportunity to have a time of sharing as a group — a special conclusion to the day at the museum.

20140323_070715_26315 The Dewald family for hosted half of the group of girls.

It was very encouraging to me to see the Lord truly ANSWER PRAYER this weekend. We were very blessed by three families who hosted us: the Dewalds, Ramseks, and Philips. We praise God for how all the logistical details fell into place and for how much our friends enjoyed the trip. Each of the international friends expressed strongly that they were glad they came and want to remain in touch. Our friend from China exclaimed with a bright smile, “This was the best three days of my life!”

We think the 9 hour drive was a blessing in disguise because of all the good van conversations on the way there and back. If you have a weekend you can get away, I recommend that you take some friends to the Creation Museum and see how the Lord works. [smile]

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1)

Family News/Witnessing Stories


One of our HIGHLIGHTS from 2013 was seeing the Lord work in the life of Christa, who trusted Christ for salvation on April 7th, 2013. She has become a very special part of our church family.

I think you would be blessed by watching this 3 1/2 minute video of her testimony and Nickie’s testimony before her baptism yesterday afternoon. Praise the Lord for the great things He does!

Family News/Miscellaneous

Sarah’s Webinar

20140128_201401_26088 Last week, Sarah ran her first webinar for Bright Lights leaders. The topic was “Singleness, a Season of Fruitfulness and Joy.” We were encouraged by the feedback we received, praise the Lord.

20140128_201859_26129 Nickie, Tia, Stephen and I probably had a little more fun than we were supposed to in the other room moderating the questions and comments that were coming in. (And we appreciated the good comments and questions that were sent!)

Family News/Mexico/Miscellaneous/Videos/Witnessing Stories

Mexico Call

I’ll admit, I didn’t think or pray often for Mexico … until I went there last month.

Of course, I knew there were needs there (as everywhere), but I didn’t have a special interest in the country, and I honestly didn’t know that much about it!

I was very surprised by what I learned while I was there. We had many conversations with young people who grew up as missionary kids, and they explained both the vast needs and open doors in Mexico.

Burdened by what we were learning, Nickie and I decided to put together this short video. We went to them and said, “You know what you told us about such and such? Could you say that once more for our camera?”

May the Lord cause us to lose interest in all that doesn’t matter, and enable us to put our thoughts, energy and prayers into the primary work He has entrusted to every believer—proclaiming the gospel to this dying world. The time is short!

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.'”(Mark 16:15)

Christmas Ministry Ideas/Family News

Reading Stories of Missionary Perspectives at Christmas

Because of bad weather, the Christmas program at our church became a Christmas “get together” in a home, but it was a special evening. Each family had prepared a special song to share, and in between songs, one of the mothers in our church, Crissy Jarmon, and her children read some missionary Christmas stories they had found.

The missionary stories were very touching – communicating the struggles and perspectives of missionaries around Christmastime. These stories can really help us keep our focus right this time of year! If some of you are interested in reading a couple of these stories with your families this Christmas, you can follow these links:

“Christmas is about Leaving Home … Not Going Home”
“I Gave Myself”


On a more lighthearted note, Sarah and I wrote a song for the evening– it’s mostly inside jokes, but we thought those of you who have been to our church may enjoy it. [smile]
(P.S. To see the words, click on “vimeo” to watch it off our church’s vimeo channel – the words will be below.)

Christmas Ministry Ideas/Family News/Miscellaneous/Witnessing Stories

Christmas Party With Neighbors

20131216_224131_25275 Last Monday evening we had our neighbors over for snacks and harp music. We haven’t done a neighborhood Christmas party for years, but we’ve been realizing that getting to know our neighbors better takes … well… effort. [smile]

Monday was one of those days where many things seemed to go wrong. I spilled grain all over the basement floor and cleaned it up just in time to find that my mom had splattered her green drink all over the kitchen. She had left her metal spoon in her blender and turned it on which caused it to break (while it was blending) and spray everywhere. I will just say it wasn’t the ideal start to the day.

20131216_200229_25255 But, praise the Lord, everything got taken care of before people began to arrive… and we were so encouraged by the number of neighbors who came and by their response!



20131216_203703_25266 The evening enabled us to have many good conversations.


20131216_203651_25264 The neighbors seemed to really enjoy getting to know each other better. We also sang Christmas carols and my dad shared a “Christmas verse” with everyone from Genesis 3.

If you would like to do something in your neighborhood, here are some suggestions:

-Make a little invite and personally deliver each one.

-Don’t worry about not having enough space. Being a little crowded just makes it cozy!

-Consider showing a short video, doing a puppet show, skit, or special music.

-Set up a table with some Christmas booklets or resources that people can take if they want to.

-Don’t be stressed about having a bunch of people over who don’t all know each other. Just be friendly and tell them, “We all live so close, we thought it would be nice to get to know each other better!” You may be surprised at how much they appreciate the evening.

Family News/Homeschool Conferences

Family Camp in Mexico

20131114_180835_23996-1 We are at a beautiful camp in Mexico having a wonderful time!!

20131115_192423_24034-1 Here is my dad speaking last night on having family ministry.

20131115_193216_24040-2 The missionary doing simultaneous translation

The camp continues until Monday. Please pray for the Lord’s blessing on this time, for good weather (people are in tents and there has been a forecast for rain), for good fellowship even through translators, and for much lasting fruit!

Family News/Miscellaneous

Bekah’s Birthday Song


Today is Bekah’s birthday! We surprised her with a little party Saturday night after the conference. Here’s the little song we sang for her. Even though there are a lot of inside jokes, I think you’ll still enjoy it.

Bekah, Bekah, we all love you, full of laughter, full of sun
Faithful, long term Bright Lights member, you provide us so much fun
When you enter, you bring laughter, you bring joy, you make a splash
We are thankful for your friendship and your secret chocolate stash!

Bekah, Bekah, make us coffee, you don’t measure, it’s okay
We have grown to kind of like your simple, tasty, random way
You could use the coffee maker, aero press, or moka pot
French press, or the Keurig maker, make it strong and make it hot!

9:00 we meet at office, ready for the day to start
It has been a two-day weekend, we can’t bear to be apart
We just miss your cell phone singing, tigger boings and little sounds,
More than that we love your laughter, little jokes and friendly bounce.

Phone is ringing, won’t stop ringing, all you want to do is yawn
Coffee filters down to zero, and the precious cream is gone!
Where is Hannah when you need her? Tia’s gone to family camp.
Grace is talking in the bookstore. Stephen, did you take a nap?

Nickie, are you always busy? Sarah’s door is closed the most.
And of course, like every morning, Mr. Mally burns his toast!
Packing orders, finding labels, post office is closing soon
Is it 5 O Clock already? I thought it was only noon.

Think of all our conference memories: stubborn horses, cowboy boots
30 hours without sleeping, and your favorite—durian fruit!
Think of all the Asian cooking: fish eyes, squid, and sea weed bites
And your favorite from Australia, that delicious vegemite.

If you ever get discouraged, think of all your favorite things
Target shopping, purple pillows, coffee mugs and cell phone rings,
IMing Nickie, when you should be working, playing dumb games on your nook
Don’t forget what you have written in your “I am Awesome” Book

Bekah, Bekah, Happy Birthday! Hope that you can really thrive
With the new responsibilities now that you are 25!
dusting your cubicle, learning to drink tea, and with the printer make amends
Bekah, Bekah Happy Birthday! Blessings from your loyal friends!

On a more serious note, thank you to everyone who was praying for our conferences last week! I will post some more pictures soon.

Here are a few things going on today here at our office.

20131015_133823_23372 Sarah and I practicing putting together the travel easel that we will be using next week at a girls camp in North Carolina. (Trying to prevent potential disasters from happening since we will not have our normal technical assistance along! [smile]) We only broke down in tears once, lol, but those were tears of laughter. I think we have it figured out now.

20131015_154710_23408 Since we were gone last week we had quite a few packages of materials going out to many Bright Lights groups today! My Grandpa packed almost all of them. We are VERY grateful for him.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul,And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

Family News/Miscellaneous/Witnessing Stories

Neighborhood Pie Party

20130926_174139_23048 Last night was our annual (well, almost annual) neighborhood pie party! It went great, praise the Lord! About 35 neighbors came from all around the block, and we were so excited about the warm responses and good connections made!

20130926_174056_23043 Our purpose for the pie party is simply to get acquainted with our neighbors.

20130926_170622_23039 The first year we had the pie party about a dozen neighbors came. It has just continued to grow since then. The neighbors like the opportunity to get to know each other. (Now they express strong disappointment to us when they have to miss a neighborhood pie party.)

Unfortunately, in today’s generation, most people don’t know their neighbors that well. It’s not because people are less social than they used to be – it’s just because they don’t “rely” on each other as much, and have more connections elsewhere. But we’ve seen that our neighbors really do like getting acquainted (and eating pie).



If you’d like to try this in your area, we’d highly recommend it! Here are a few tips:

1) Set aside a couple hours a few days in advance to go around, knock on doors, and invite all the neighbors. It’s helpful to tell them about it face to face. It also gives extra opportunity to get acquainted. (Sometimes I have long talks on their doorsteps!)

2) Print up a little paper to leave with them (or attach to doors) to remind them of the day, time, and place.

3) Whatever you serve for desert, make it special and memorable.

4) If there is a prayer request or celebration in the neighborhood, acknowledge that. For example, last night as everyone arrived my dad prayed to give thanks for the food and prayed especially for Harry, our next door neighbor struggling with cancer. We also honored the couple across the street who was celebrating their anniversary.

5) Use name tags. Last night my dad invented a new kind of name tag by cutting paper plates in fourths so they looked like pieces of pie.

Right now I am working on a study guide to go along with Will Our Generation Speak?. I’m looking for practical ideas similar to this one to include. I’d love to hear any you may have! Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me. Thanks!

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” Hebrews 10:24

Family News/Miscellaneous

1,200 People @ Iowa Farm with Duggar Family

20130902_122726_22845 Our friends the Bontragers host a unique event every year at their farm called the “Turning Hearts Celebration,” based off Malachi 4:6.

Home school families from all over Iowa and surrounding states come for a day of great fellowship, hay-rack rides, food, special music, and speakers. It has been exciting to see this event grow. This year topped every other year with over 1,200 people!

20130902_164057_22855 We wondered how that many people would fit, but much prayer went into the day, and the Lord worked it all out. (The Bontragers even served dinner! [smile])


20130902_174217_22877 It was nice having some friends who are students at the University of Iowa come with us.

20130902_180522_22880 The Duggar family sharing special music

20130902_190954_22892 In the evening Mr. and Mrs. Duggar did a Q&A time and shared a lot of good advice. I think my favorite point that Mrs. Duggar made was how Matthew 18:15-16 revolutionized the way she dealt with tattling with younger children. All the wisdom we need for every area of life is in the Word of God.

It was a good thing the Bontragers had a good sound system because as you can see, not everyone fit in that barn! The Bontragers ended the evening with a concert. If you haven’t heard their family sing before, I recommend you check their schedule here to see if they are coming to your area. You would be encouraged!

It is very encouraging to be with a large group of godly families for a day – to be reminded that God is raising up a generation of ministry-minded warriors!

When we consider the strong opposition to homeschooling in Germany and other nations, we’re reminded to be grateful to God for what He’s given us here. Those of us who were raised in godly homes with much godly teaching have great responsibility. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12:48) May we not lack zeal or focus, but run looking unto Jesus.

… let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus … (Hebrews 12:1-2)