Greenville, South Carolina Home School Conference


The trees are in bloom in South Carolina already! (Winter gets long in Iowa sometimes!) I love the accent and how friendly everyone is down here…. though Stephen did say he’s getting a little tired of people calling him “sweetie.” Haha


It was encouraging to see a great response to Sarah’s session at the conference. There was much interest in Bright Lights–praise the Lord for that! I explained about the Bright Lights material to so many moms that by the end of the day I could hardly say it straight anymore. 🙂


We met so many sweet families at the conference. It is definitely exciting to see how the Lord is raising up a generation all over this nation that are seeking His ways.

It was a great conference! Things went smoothly and we were very grateful to be there. Lots of good memories and good conversations. Now we head home to regroup and repack for some more conferences coming up soon.

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:8-9)

Home School Conference in Memphis

Wow, I am definitely behind on posting! I have a lot to write about, but I think I’ll start with a quick report of our last trip. We just arrived home from the homeschool conference in Memphis, TN.

Setting up

One of the highlights of homeschool conferences is meeting and visiting with so many other godly families.

These girls told us about the small group study they have been doing using Before You Meet Prince Charming

Sarah’s session on “Preparing Young Ladies for their Teenage Years.”

Here Sarah is talking with a lady who has been leading a Bright Lights group for several years in Nashville, TN. She was full of good reports, and it was truly a blessing to be able to hear how the Lord has been working there.

One thing about road trips is that they provide so many new contacts and opportunities to witness. Before the trip, I prayed that the Lord would prepare the people’s hearts that we would witness to along the way. One of the clearest examples of God’s answer to this prayer was an Italian Catholic man who was the manager of a small gas station in Missouri. His station was out of gas, and we weren’t sure why he was even open. There were no customers, and he was just sitting at a table reading a book when we walked in. He rose to greet us and to see what we needed. My dad and I handed him a dinosaur booklet and then we noticed the book he had been reading sitting on his table right next to his ash tray. It was “One Heartbeat Away,” (by Mark Cahill). Apparently, he had been reading the book just before we arrived! (This is an evangelistic book that we often give away to unbelievers—in fact we had some “give away copies” with us in our van.)
Immediately we realized that God must want us to talk with this man. Although he believed in Jesus, he firmly stated that he thinks one must earn their salvation.
“Then who gets the credit?” my dad asked.
“That’s how you earn it—by getting credits! You go to church, you believe, you pray…” he said.
Obviously, he didn’t understand dad’s point. His broken English probably contributed to that.
“If we earned it, then it would not be by God’s mercy,” Dad explained.
That stumped him for a second, but he seemed unwilling to reason. Instead, he held firmly to his “salvation by works” mentality.
Understandably, if someone has been thinking this way for their entire life, it is not easy to change in one 15 minute conversation. But we have a special tool—prayer. God can change his thinking.
He told us he was up to chapter five in “One Heartbeat Away.” Chapters six, seven and eight are about the law and the gospel, so hopefully he keeps reading. Please pray for him!

Pennsylvania Home School Conference

Setting up! Dad always comes up with creative ways to put up our signs…

We had a wonderful time at the conference and enjoyed meeting lots of great Pennsylvania homeschool families!

Our presentation on “How Every Family Can Have a Family Ministry”

Talking with homeschool moms and dads

Speaking on “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends”

Aw, what a fun dad…

Mom talking with other mothers… (Btw, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank you for the innumerable amount of things you do to keep our family going!!)

Elizabeth Florio, Sarah, Jenny Florio, and Becky Florio. The Florios now run two Bright Lights groups and they have represented Bright Lights several times at the PA Homeschool conference for us. We enjoyed the time we were able to spend with them over the weekend!


Friday evening we ate at Cracker Barrel with the Florio and Moberg families. Michelle Moberg (right) has also just started a Bright Lights group. Here at the girls’ table we got into a great talk with our waitress. I asked her, “Hey, I have an interesting question for you.”
“Okay,” she said.
“Do you think going to Heaven is a free gift or something you have to earn?”
She replied that she believes in a kind of reincarnation where you get reincarnated several times and then eventually end up in heaven.
“So when you finally get to heaven are you in your ‘human form’ again?” I asked.
“Hmm…good question. I guess I’ve never thought about that,” she said.
“Well some people believe that in the Karmic circle you eventually just become sort of ‘one with the universe’ …is that what you believe?”
“Yeah, I think that’s more what I believe. Eventually I’ll just become ‘energy’.”
“Interesting…” I said.
“My relatives and I debate this all the time…but no one really knows so we just always keep going in circles,” she told me.
“Well, it’s important stuff to talk about,” I agreed.
“So what do you believe? I’m curious now!” she asked.
“Well, I’d like to tell you, but I also know you are on the job and I don’t want to take your time…” I said.
“I’ll tell you what,” she replied. “I only have one other table. I’ll go take care of them and then come back!”
“Ok, sounds good!” I replied.
After a few minutes she came back, ready to hear whatever I had to say.
“Well, first of all, I think this world was designed. I think it’s obvious by looking around and seeing the beauty and complexity around us.” I gave some examples. She definitely agreed with that point.
“So then the big question is: Who made us and why,” I said.
She agreed.
“Well, I’ve come to conclude there are a lot of reasons to believe the Bible,” I explained, beginning to list some of them.
“Oh, I’ve read the Bible,” she said. “But I just don’t think I completely agree with it.”
She explained how one thing she had a big problem with is how someone could live a rotten life and then on their deathbed say “I’m sorry” to God and be able to go to Heaven. She recounted how every Sunday afternoon some pastor’s kids come in to eat and they’ve made some really rude comments to her.
I agreed with her that many call themselves Christians but do not act like Christ.
“When people become a Christian, their life should show it,” I said.
She definitely agreed.
“But just because people mess up and make mistakes doesn’t mean that what God told us in the Bible isn’t true,” I told her.
She nodded.
I mentioned how God has to punish evil because He is just and good—but also that the principle of “mercy” is a beautiful thing and God can show mercy if He wants to. Mercy is never “deserved” otherwise it wouldn’t be mercy! And really, we all need God’s mercy. We’ve all broken God’s law.”
“Yeah, and that’s what makes me tend to believe more in the reincarnation thing…” she said, “Because I know I mess up and with reincarnation you have the chance to start over and keep trying…”
We must have talked for at least 15 minutes. I mentioned how ultimately God decides what happens–not us.
Another thing she brought up is how she can’t understand how God seems so “harsh” in the O.T. and then so “mild” in the new.
“One thing that helps me,” I told her “is to look at it this way: Jesus is the exact representation of God. When God became a man we were able to get a better picture of what He was really like.” I explained how in Jesus we see God’s holiness and justice, but also God’s desire to heal and show mercy.
“Hmm, I’ve never thought of it that way before,” she responded.
“But it’s in the cross that we really see God’s justice and love together,” I said. “Because we see God punishing sin—but He didn’t punish us. He punished Himself so He could then give mercy to us.”
I asked her if she liked to read.
“I LOVE to read,” she said.
I gave her a copy of One Heartbeat Away. “It’s definitely Christian and it’s very straight forward,” I explained, “ but I like the way he reasons and logically presents the facts.”
As we were leaving she came up and told me, “My friend was looking at the book in the kitchen and she wants to read it. She said she really liked the way it was written. So now I’m going to have to share it,” she complained, jokingly.
I went out to the van and got another book for her friend. Then I said goodbye to our waitress for the last time.
“You made my night!” she said, giving me a hug, and telling me how much she enjoyed “debating” with us. I told her that we really enjoyed it too. She promised to e-mail me when she finished the book.

MACHE Homeschool Conference

We had a wonderful time last weekend at MACHE – the Minnesota Homeschool Conference.

Meeting new Bright Lights leaders! These girls have recently started a Bright Lights group and shared some great reports about how it’s going.

We were able to get acquainted with this special man from Sweden who spent many years in South America as a missionary. He calls himself a “broken vessel” as he has been battling cancer for the past four years at Mayo Clinic. But I quickly learned that this hasn’t kept him from sharing Jesus! He showed me his favorite tracts, tips for witnessing, and told me about the open air preaching he has done (and is planning to continue) when he goes back to Sweden soon. It’s such an encouragement to pick up tips from those who have been in this “battle” longer than we have…!

Tearing down our booth. Thanks to our good friends the Lenz’s (and Abby), the process happened very quickly!

Indianapolis Home School Conference

The past three days have been jammed packed with action as our family has been at the IAHE (Indiana) home school conference!

We are very excited about the new wooden shelves some friends helped us build for our booth. (Quite an improvement to what we had before.)

My dad presented his session, “Learning from Dad”. We noticed how many more dads were at this conference in comparison to most home school conferences. It was neat to see so many couples shopping together–not just moms by themselves. My dad’s session accents on the point of how important it is that fathers play a role in teahing their children– not necessarily “academics” but more importantly the standards and convictions each family needs to have.

Sarah speaking on “Raising Pure Daughters in a Generation of Darkness”.

Things always get pretty busy, messy and crazy inside our booth at the end of the conference…!

Friday night we got together with some of my parents’ friends from college.

Stephen, Sarah and I came along for the entertainment. (And the food 🙂 .) No, actually, it was a very nice evening and it’s always fun hearing new stories about mom and dad. 🙂

Note the above picture was taken inside not outside. Our friends live in an old school they bought downtown Indianapolis and they use it for ministry, a home church, etc. Pretty creative!

2009: A Year in Review

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Florida Travels

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Because of a tight schedule, buying peaches at a stand while we stopped for gas was about as touristy as we got in Florida this year.

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At the FPEA home school conference, it was exciting to visit with Bright Lights leaders and hear what God is doing in their groups. The mother in this picture hosts a BL group in her home. She told us that she was searching eveywhere for tea cups for the snack time and couldn’t find what she wanted. Then–out of the blue–a relative sent her a box of 30 old fashioned tea cups. Just what she had been looking for! And her relative didn’t even know she wanted them. Isn’t it encouraging to see the Lord provide in ways like this?!

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Saturday morning before the conference started, Sarah and I met for coffee with Kelsy and Katherine, friends who run the Generations of Virtue booth. We see each other at a lot of the same conferences, and we have a lot of the similar messages, experiences, and passions that could keep us talking for hours if we had the time. They have also spent quite a bit of time in Singapore and Malaysia. It was neat to hear about the doors the Lord is opening for their ministry.

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As I was washing my hands, I noticed the house-keeping lady was cleaning and restocking. Two rolls of toilet paper were rolling away from her on the floor, so I picked them up and handed them to her.
“Thank you, God bless you honey!” she said with surprise.
“Oh, you are welcome. Thank you for keeping the restrooms so clean!” I said.
“Oh, bless you, honey….aw, can I give you a hug?” she asked.
She gave me a hug and her business card so I could e-mail her boss and tell her that the restrooms were clean. I said I would.
Then I pulled out a 10 commandments coin and gave it to her.
“And what is this?” she asked.
“This is a coin with the 10 commandments. The 10 Commandments show us our sin. We need God’s forgiveness. He will cleanse us from our sin if we ask because Jesus died on the cross for us. Many people pray, but they never ask God for eternal life. But it’s a free gift He will give to those who ask.”
Tears began to stream down her eyes. I was so surprised, and I hardly knew how to react! I only said a few words – why was she so touched? I figured the Lord must have been touching her through me somehow. She thanked me heartily and told me she would go to the website on the tract. (www.needgod.com) May the Lord continue the work he began in her life!

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After the Florida Homeschool Conference was over, we talked until midnight at a restaurant with the vendors from the ICR (Institute for Creation Research) booth. It was a good time of building new friendships with great people.

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As my dad was pumping gas at this station, I handed an employee a tract while she was restocking candy bars. After I explained what it was, I asked her what her “religious background” was and we began chatting about spiritual things. She told me, “I don’t think anyone’s going to hell. Actually, I don’t think there is a hell.”
“Oh really? So you don’t believe the Bible, then? Because the Bible talks about hell.”
“Oh yeah, well I believe the Bible, but I still think everyone’s going to Heaven.”
“So Hitler is in Heaven…?” I asked.
“Oh no, I guess he’s probably not,” she said.
“Ok, but you just said you didn’t believe in hell.”
“Well, I do for some people, I guess,” she said.
This may seem humorous, but it’s just an example of how many people think! It’s like this deadly delusion that’s blinding Americans today. They don’t believe in hell, or even if they do, they are sure they’d be good enough for Heaven. People need to be awakened to reality before it’s too late! What if you had cancer, but your doctor didn’t tell you?! What if he was afraid of offending you so he simply told you that you might not feel very good for a while? You wouldn’t be very motivated to find a cure because you wouldn’t know the deadly reality of your disease.

If we truly care about people, we will show them what God says in the Bible: that sin is deadly, and it leads to hell –separation from God. God offers a cure, (He did the most loving thing possible to save us from hell!) but He only gives the “cure” to those who ask for it. John 3:16 He doesn’t force people to come to Him. True love isn’t forced.

We had a pretty good talk there in the candy bar aisle, and when I left she told me she was definitely going to pass the little tract around to all the employees at the gas station!
It’s a lie we believe that “people don’t want you to give them a tract”.

Michigan Home School Conference

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Sarah working at our booth at the Michigan Home School Conference

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We’ve been keeping a Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends Coloring Book open at our booth for kids to color. We accidentally sold this coloring book at the end of the Michigan conference, so if anyone came home with a half-colored coloring book (including this nicely colored green-headed dog) we’d be happy to send you a new one. 🙂

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We were asked to lead the singing for the keynote sessions at the conference. As Sarah and Stephen were trying to pick out songs, they remembered that just one week previously at the San Diego home school convention they had learned a new song called “For All Generations”. Written by one of the mothers who helped to lead the conference, it’s a powerful song about what makes Christian families strong — perfect for a home school conference. It went over wonderfully, and many wanted information so they could teach it to their church or friends. We are grateful to Stephanie Wojnicki for the beautiful song, and we are grateful to the Lord for bringing it to our attention just one week before we needed it!

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After Michigan, on our way to the FL convention, we stopped to visit a good friend of ours (who was a good friend of my grandma). It was a highlight of the trip for me. Every time we visit Clorinda, she encourages us and speaks about the things of the Lord. Her endearing Brazilian accent, zealous personality, and humor make her fun to listen to. I’ve never heard her chat about menial things — it’s always about the gospel, about how we need to be obedient to God, be a persevering warrior for Christ, and be in prayer about what God is doing in the world. (I want to be more like her!!)

Pictures and reports from Florida coming next.

Our hotel room

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This is what it’s like traveling with three harps.

We are at the Michigan home school conference now. Today went very well. Finally back in the room, we just finished pizza and now everyone is working on various sessions and PowerPoint for tomorrow. Well, except for me, I suppose… I’m standing on the beds with my camera trying to get a picture of how messy our room is…

San Diego, Texas, and Pennsylvania

city-2 Stephen and Sarah flew to the CFS Expo homeschool conference in San Diego last weekend. Before the flight, Sarah prayed that God would put her next to the right person. She found herself next to a man who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness but was now a Christian. (Apparently a Christian acquaintance had witnessed to him in a gas station and the Lord used it to get his attention.) He has only been saved for two years now. Sarah talked with him the whole way and left him with some materials for his family –which he was very enthusiastic about receiving. He said that God just keeps putting Christians in his path who have been discipling and encouraging him.

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The booth in San Diego

img_2928 Meanwhile, my parents and I were at the Arlington, TX Book Fair

100_15132 Simultaneosly, the Florio family was representing Bright Lights at the CHAP Pennsylvania homeschool conference for us. See a report of their week here. Thank you again, Florio family, for your help and hard work!

We felt like we were in “three places at once” last weekend, and we were grateful for the way God worked everything out.

Below are a few more pictures from Arlington.

img_2943 Alexandra drove up from Austin, TX to help us. It’s neat how the Lord provides. Since Alexandra had just interned with Bright Lights for 10 weeks, she already knew how to run the booth. She jumped right in and was a huge help.

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These twins came up to the booth and were excited to tell us how they were best friends.

img_2888 Haley and Megan (both 14 yrs old) lead a Bright Lights group together. God gave them both the desire to disciple young ladies independantly. When they met each other last year, they hit it off right away and excitedly made plans to start a group together. Their group has now grown to about 17 girls and they are very excited about what the Lord is doing.

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Tear down…

img_2948 As you can see we were one of the last booths to get packed up…we weren’t moving too quickly at the end of the day.

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I was a little worried about how we’d get through this conference without Stephen and Sarah because Arlington is one of the biggest conferences of the year. But thankfully none of our equipment broke, (answer to prayer!) Alexandra was a big help, and when we were ready to load up, the ALERT guys showed up and took out all our boxes really fast. Like, in about two trips. Wow, it would have taken us forever… (Not to mention, they also brought our boxes in before the confernece started…) God provides. 🙂

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Alexandra and I had a good time jumping on the trampoline with the daughters of the family we stayed with. The Friesens lead a Bright Lights group and it has now grown to become four separate Bright Lights groups. Each one is led by an older girl or a mom, and occasionally they all meet altogether. It was very encouraging to hear their positive reports! Praise the Lord.

“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 89:1