Oklahoma Home School Conference (OCHEC)

img_2769
It makes it a lot easier to unload and load up when we can pull our trailer into the convention hall…

changed
Friday evening, after a long and tiring day at the OCHEC homeschool conference, we enjoyed a great BBQ dinner with the Solis family from Lifetime Books and Gifts the Reinhart family from Rhino Technologies, and Jan and Gary Bloom from Books Bloom. One of the highlights of traveling to homeschool conferences each spring is being able to visit with the community of other “homeschool resource suppliers” and speakers. We usually see each other several times each spring in different states and leave each conference saying, “See you next week in Texas!” and then “See you in Florida!”, etc. The men help each other with their trailers, and it’s always a highlight when we get extra opportunities to talk — which is rare because the conferences are so busy!

Many of these families go to far more conferences and put on a lot more miles than we do. They are very dedicated in their ministry to homeschoolers! Plus, they are a lot of fun to be around, and we always enjoy the great fellowship (and humor) :).

img_2740
I didn’t take very many pictures at the confernece, but here is half of our booth.

The conference went very well and we are so grateful that God brought us here. We were praising the Lord for many things as we left!

Spring Travels

img_3966

We are leaving in two days for a chain of home school conferences. Below is our schedule for the month. Hopefully we’ll see some of you along the way!

May 1-2
OCHEC Home School Conference, Oklahoma City, OK

May 8-9
Arlington Home school Book Fair, Arlington, TX
(My parents and myself)

May 8-9
Christian Family Schools Expo, San Diego, CA
(Sarah and Stephen)

May 15-16
INCH Home School Conference, Lansing, MI

May 21-23
FPEA Home School Convention, Orlando, FL

May 30
Cousin’s Wedding, Duluth, MN

June 5-6
NICHE Home School Conference, Des Moines, Iowa

Minnesota Homeschool Conference (MACHE)

img_0205
Last weekend, Sarah, my dad, myself, and the four Bright Lights interns went up to Minneapolis for the MACHE homeschool conference…

img_0138
Setting up our booth the day before

img_0174
With over 6,000 attendees, the convention hall kept pretty busy.

img_0187
I don’t know what we would have done without the help of our four interns!

img_0168
Sarah giving her session called “Raising Daughters who are Pure in a Generation of Darkness”

Before our session on “Developing a Family Ministry” my dad informed us of some bad news. Our projector was missing. It had been left at the house we were staying — a half hour a way. Not good. We were relying heavily on the powerpoint because we had just revamped our whole talk and we really needed our powerpoint to help it stay connected and smooth. And with three speakers it can be especially difficult to keep it flowing in a clear way.

My dad asked all the other speakers at the conference if they had an extra projector we could borrow, but nothing was available. Finally he resorted to the least desirable option — driving all the way back to our host home. Our session was beginning in just over an hour now. We were cutting it close. After arriving at the house, my dad called again with more bad news. “I can’t find it. I’ve looked everywhere.”
Sarah and I dropped what we were doing and prayed.
Five minutes later the phone rang again and I could tell by the relief on Sarah’s face that my dad had good news this time. “I found it. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before–it was right there in the middle of the room.”

Next we needed to tune the harp (which we use during the chalk talk), and guess what? Our tuner was in the van that Dad had taken. Thankfully, Dad arrived about 15 minutes before the talk and we were able to tune, set up, get everything ready and start the session really fast. Whew!
The session went especially well, and many shared very encouraging comments about how the Lord used it to change their perspective. Praise the Lord.

I love looking back and seeing the Lord’s hand in taking care of so many little details!

img_0160
Dinner at Chipotle!

img_0276
Thank you Buller family for the very nice time we had at your house!

After church, my mom called with urgent news that we couldn’t come home because of the weather. Apparently the snow storm hit right in between Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids, and everyone at our church back home was very concerned after looking online at the weather. So, we decided to “drop in” on some more friends instead of coming home.

img_0293
We called the Lenz’s and they graciously opened their home even at such late notice. We enjoyed eating several dozen eggs from their farm 🙂 (among other things), ice cream, and enjoyed great fellowship…

img_0298
And, of course, we had to pull out the instruments and have a singing time.

img_0336
After a good night’s sleep, a great breakfast, and a refreshing hike through the cornfields, we hit the road again.

img_0358
We made it about 5 minutes down the road…and the van broke a belt. We stopped and prayed. My dad called Lenz’s and got the number of their mechanic, who said he happened to be only 5 minutes away (even though he lives in another town) and he’d come take a look. Wow- how convenient! After he looked it over, it was decided that my dad would drive the van to his shop to get it fixed. I was wondering what all of us girls would do while we waited…especially since everyone was getting hungry for lunch.

We passed a Panera Breads.
“Dad–there was a Panera back there! Can you drop us off?” I asked.
“Well, I could stop right here and you can walk back to it,” he offered (he was following the mechanic).

img_0362
“K guys let’s go!” I said and we all grabbed our computers and bags, rolled out of the van (almost), and walked through the cold back to Panera, laughing. Panera was a great place to get some e-mails sent and enjoy a relaxing lunch as we waited for the van to be fixed.

My dad had a chance to speak with the mechanic about the Lord and he left him (and the secretary at his shop) with a few of our books.

Each trip is different and unique. Each one is usually characterized by hard work and various problems to work out. But those problems turn into blessings and opportunities when we trust God–the One who’s really “running the show”.


“And my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Nebraska Home School Conference

img_1580
Karissa, Alexandra, and Nickie working at the booth

The home school conference season has begun….! We just arrived home from Lincoln, Nebraska where four of us girls set up a booth at the NE home school conference. One of our main goals for the trip was to get the word out about the upcoming Bright Lights conference in Nebraska. Everything went smoothly and it was a very good trip.

“Heart of Homeschooling” Conference in Lansing, MI

This weekend we spoke at the CHESS Heart of Homeschooling Conference here in Lansing.



Since it’s being held at the same location as the past two Bright Lights conferences, we didn’t have to tear down our booktable. That was a huge blessing. The Lord gave sufficient grace to “make it through” and all the people we met and spent time with were such an encouragement!
I just calculated how many sessions Sarah gave this past week. –Ninteen. 6 at the Strong in the Lord conference, 6 at the Radiant Purity Conference, and 7 at the Heart of Homeschooling Conference. (Others from our family were speaking with her in the last seven sessions.) Sometimes I’m amazed at how she just keeps going and going, and I know it’s the Lord who is giving her strength. Thanks to all of you who were praying!


Wow– we actually matched one day. We had to get a picture. 🙂

Sitting in the back of my mom and dad’s session on marriage this afternoon, I noticed a lot of “sniffing” in the audience… it seemed like the Lord was really working in hearts.


Although most of our Bright Lights leaders drove home yesterday, four girls stayed with us to help at the conference. I snapped these pictures of them this afternoon. Two of them were working… And two of them were sleeping… 🙂

“Preschool nap time” as Stephen called it. (I can’t believe they actually gave me permission to post that picture. 🙂 )

The four girls who were with us (Jolynn, Carolynn, Marie, and Karissa) were such a big help. They packed up the entire booktable while we were giving our last session. Because of their help, we got off a lot earlier than we expected. Yea! (Good thing they got that nap!)


Here is our new friend, Grant, holding the door as we were loading up. After the conference was over this evening, Grant quoted for us the book of Jonah (yes, the whole thing). He quoted it with such enthusiasm and expression, I wish you all could have heard it. He memorized it on his own initiative after their family read “Ten Peas in a Pod.”


Grant’s sisters, Haley and Lydia, are also ministry-minded young ladies! Haley quoted the book of Ruth for us, and Lydia quoted John 3. They often recite these to audiences, and it was encouraging to see their initiative and how the Lord is using their family!


Tonight we had a great time at the Martins house, the family who is hosting us. We sang around the piano, ate ice cream, and stayed up late playing “telephone charades” with their kids. It was a blast!

In Florida

Last weekend I flew down to Orlando, Florida, for the FPEA home school conference. (In previous years, we’ve gone as a family with our van and trailer, but this year we decided it would be wiser for just one of us to fly down.)
A good friend and Bright Lights leader, Chelsea Owen, picked me up at the airport, helped me run the booth at the conference, and helped me give the session Sarah normally gives on “Training Young Ladies to be Bright Lights for the Lord”. Chelsea was a great “partner” for the week—definitely the Lord’s perfect provision! She was also a lot of fun. 🙂


Chelsea and I, (and our “now water-proof boxes”), ready to head to Orlando.

We saw our Heavenly Father watching out for us in so many specific ways. Although we did face several “glitches” along the way (it wasn’t exactly our “typical conference routine” [smile]), one by one each problem worked out.

For example, Wednesday afternoon after I arrived in Florida I learned that the tables I thought we were going to be able to borrow from another vendor weren’t available anymore. Great. Now what? Thankfully, Chelsea’s church had tables we could borrow—exactly the size we needed. (And, they were the lightweight plastic kind, too. Whew! I really dislike those super heavy 8 ft. wooden tables…[smile])


Loading up tables from Chelsea’s church

We drove from Chelsea’s house in Clearwater to Orlando and arrived in good time. Although parking last year was a nightmare, this year a security man directed us to a parking spot right by the entrance, and some boys with an extra cart took all of our stuff in for us in one trip. That was easy!


Chelsea and me


Katie, Chelsea, Myself, Alethea

Katie, Alethea, and Chelsea all lead Bright Lights groups in Florida. It was really nice to be able to have some time to get better acquainted and hear about their groups!


Carissa and Hannah, new Bright Lights leaders.


Chelsea explaining about Bright Lights to people at the booth

We sold out of just about all the Bright Lights material we had brought. Yea! We were encouraged by the enthusiastic response we received about Bright Lights.

As we were packing up, Chelsea asked, “Do you think it’s going to rain tonight? Because we don’t have a tarp to cover the boxes in the back of my pickup—and the garbage bags we used on the way here are now ripped and ruined.” We had a long drive home, and we knew it was too much of a risk to transport 15 cardboard boxes of books in the back of an open pickup.

That wasn’t our only problem. Upon our first trip out to the truck, we found that the bed of her truck had a few inches of standing water in it. There’s no way we can carry our boxes in here, we realized. Additionally, the sky had suddenly grown dark and we could tell it was going to start pouring at any minute.

Thankfully, God knows our needs before we ask Him. Chelsea’s brother, Cale, “just so happened” to be stopping by on his way home from college and agreed to take the boxes in his vehicle. Now all we needed to do was load them into Chelsea’s truck temporarily and then transfer them to Cale’s vehicle which was parked in a lot a little farther away.
Quickly, we laid the plastic tables down in the truck bed and piled the boxes on top. We couldn’t close the back, but that was okay, because Cale jumped on top and held them all in place while we took off to find his vehicle.
The sky was now a dark gray and lightning was flashing around us. Our boxes were about to get drenched! “Lord, we really need you to hold off the rain!” Chelsea prayed.
Cale was shouting directions to his vehicle, but in that gigantic parking lot it took forever to find it.


(Yes, I had to stop and snap a picture… [smile])

When we finally spotted Cale’s vehicle, we all jumped out and loaded the boxes into it as quickly as we could. As we were putting the last box in I almost started to laugh. Yes—the rain started to come. “I knew it!” The Lord was so good. One minute later, it was a heavy downpour, but we didn’t mind because the boxes were safe and we were dry and ready to go find something for dinner!

We wondered what we ever have done without Cale there to help. I really have no idea! On the way to dinner, we were praising the Lord and naming all the other dozens of ways we saw the Lord taking care of us all throughout the trip.

At church the next morning we sang “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” I had to smile, feeling as if the Lord arranged that hymn choice just for us. When I think back on this trip, I am definitely going to remember God’s faithfulness.

I’ve recently been mediating on Philippians 4:6-7 and this conference was a perfect opportunity to work on application! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Theft

“Harold, I need you to come here right now!” my mom, panicking, called my dad on his cell phone. My dad was down in the hotel lobby eating breakfast. My mom’s two rings (her own wedding band and my grandmother’s wedding band) were missing. She had left them in the hotel drawer yesterday and now they were gone.
After more searching and conversation, we were convinced they had been stolen. However, just as my dad went down to speak with the hotel manager, she found it. Wow, what a huge relief.

20 minutes later we went out to the van and found this:

In contrast to the little “lost ring episode”, this was for real. Yes, it’s as it looks. Last night someone shattered our back window and stole our GPS, a laptop, a whole lot of Stephen’s Microsoft Software, and his newest camera.

Sarah and I stood there looking at the van, feeling how strange it was that we have had things stolen from us two weekends in a row now. (Last weekend in MI, Stephen’s $450 voice recorder was stolen.) We can’t remember having anything stolen from us ever before!

But we couldn’t stand there long because the convention hall opened in just a few minutes, and we were already late… so Sarah and I hopped in a mini van with a gracious home school family who was headed to the convention. We got there just in time to set up before the convention started. I’ll admit, the morning felt a little unreal.

Stephen was still feeling pretty down with his sore throat, although it did get a little better for the second half of the day. Now Sarah is losing her voice, so we’d appreciate prayer that it will be strong enough for our session tomorrow (10:45am). So Sarah can’t talk and Stephen can’t hear…they don’t make a very good combination when it comes to communication. [smile]

The good news is that when the enemy is attacks, it usually means there is something good he’s trying to damage or prevent. We’ve seen that the Lord is working here. We were very encouraged by how things went at the convention today. Thankfully, our session went smooth and we were encouraged by an enthusiastic response. We feel that it’s been a fruitful weekend so far, praise the Lord.

Tonight a group of young ladies who have been doing a study together of Before You Meet Prince Charming arranged for Sarah to meet with them at a park.

While we were having a question/answer time, the mother who had led the study, Thelma, asked the girls “How many of you have totally changed your way of thinking on this topic of purity because of this study?”

As you can see, almost all of the girls raised their hands! These girls are truly seeking God’s best way, and it was a blessing to see their teachable hearts. It’s so exciting to see this group of young ladies (ages 11-14) who have caught a vision for how much better it is to follow the way of purity than to follow this world’s “have fun now” mindset.


Young Ladies who just studied “Before You Meet Prince Charming” together

My dad just called a family prayer meeting a few minutes ago. We are in a spiritual battle and we have an enemy who is real, but our God is in control. We have so much to be grateful for. Thank you for all of your prayers. Tomorrow will be another big day.


“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ…” (2 Cor 2:14)

Set Up



Today we spent most of the day setting up our booth here at the Arlington Home School Book Fair. Afterwards, we went out to one of our favorite restaurants: (which we don’t have in Iowa!) Souper Salad.



Please pray for Stephen. He came down with an ear ache and sore throat tonight. We are speaking tomorrow at 10:45, plus it will be a busy day talking with people at our booth, so it will be a rough day for Stephen if he is feeling sick.