Category: Miscellaneous


Sarah in Washington State

WA 1 Last weekend Sarah flew to Washington state to speak for a girls’ weekend camp. I wasn’t there, but thanks to Melodie Kirk (on Sarah’s right), I still have pictures to post to share about the special weekend.

Since I wasn’t there to kill the spiders in her cabin like she usually has me do, she had to kill all 5 of them herself. But she said they stood still and let her kill them, so she was grateful for their compliance.

Washington 3 We’re grateful for Kimbrlee, the 18-year-old Bright Lights leader who hosted the camp. Sarah said she did a wonderful job, and it sounds like the Lord really blessed … even more than anyone expected!

Washington 4
The theme was “Speaking the Truth In Your Heart.” Here were the topics Sarah covered over the weekend:

Let the Word of Christ Dwell in You Richly
Learn to discern lies of the world that are not consistent with Scripture, to delight in God’s Word, and to build every area of your life upon it!

Speaking Truth about God
Choose to reject the lies which girls often believe about God and to trust in Him fully. Grow deeper in your personal walk with Jesus Christ by getting to know His character.

Speaking Truth about Self
Take your eyes off yourself and put them on Jesus! Understanding who we are in Christ is the key to security and joy.

Speaking Truth about Emotions
Learn the dangers we as girls face in the area of emotions, and how to use your emotions to glorify the Lord.

Speaking Truth about Sin
Understand that the answers to dealing with guilt, regrets, and temptations are found in God’s Word. Only in Jesus will we find forgiveness, and gain power over sin and strength to walk in victory!

Speaking Truth about Purity
Choose to honor the Lord in your relationships with young men, to wait for God’s best in marriage, to walk by faith, and to use your single years for Christ.

Speaking Truth about Witnessing
Overcome common excuses and fears, and gain practical ideas about how to be a bold witness for Christ!

Washington 2 There were four small group discussion that met four times.

IMG_0643 There was also some free time for hiking, Frisbee, games, mother/daughter time, etc.

Today Sarah received an e-mail from a camp attendee with these words: “… We had a wonderful seven hour discussion on the drive home. 🙂 [My sister] and I were just talking today and saying how what Jesus did there is indescribable in a way… partly because we’re still processing everything, but it was just so good. We were trying to figure out how to describe it to people who asked us about it. We decided that one way we could say it was getting plunged into Truth, and soaking all weekend. :)”

Of course, that wasn’t Sarah–that was the WORD OF GOD bringing comfort and encouragement to their lives. Praise God for the Truth that sets us free!

If you are interested in hosting a “Speaking Truth in Your Heart” camp or weekend in your area, contact us for more information.

IMG_9817 Nickie put together a 31-page booklet that includes an outline of Sarah’s sessions.

IMG_9811 It includes the content of her Power Points (common lies girls believe, and Scriptures which refute them) as well as extra little Biblical studies.

IMG_9815 Lies have consequences! Often when we get to the root of our struggle, we see that we are telling ourselves something that is not true about God’s character. That’s what this little activity Nickie created is about. (She actually created it and some others like it for Sarah’s latest book-in-process on this subject. This is just a little preview. 🙂 )


New St Patrick Gospel Tracts Available

This year we printed our St Patrick’s Gospel Tract in bulk in order to make them available for others to distribute also.

IMG_9405 Shelby (who volunteers weekly for Bright Lights) is busy folding, counting, and preparing the tracts to ship out.



You can order 50 for $4 from our online store here. There are also options on our online store for larger quantities, folded or unfolded.

Are there are some people in your life that you want to share the gospel with but you aren’t sure how? I’d recommend using this tool as a starting place. Just this morning, I gave one of these to our mail man and the man who empties our dumpster. I’m so grateful for how a holiday provides a wonderfully natural way to witness… people are receptive, thankful, and curious.


“Facing A Task Unfinished,” and using St Patrick’s Day!

I am so excited about the “Global Hymn Sing” that Keith and Kristyn Getty are organizing for this Sunday. Partly, because I really love the message of this song! If you haven’t heard about this yet, the Gettys are inviting thousands of churches around the globe to sing the new hymn “Facing a Task Unfinished” together on Sunday, February 21st, 2016. Learn more here.

The command to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), begins whatever side of the globe we are currently on! A great place to start is to coordinate a group of friends to pass out gospel tracts on St Patrick’s day–a month from today.

We are revising our St Patrick’s gospel tract this year to have them printed in bulk. They’ll be available for order in about two weeks. Nickie is working on it right now as I type…


May our hearts’ prayer be the same as the song below, “Saviour, whose love constrained them, to toil with zeal untired, from cowardice defend us, from lethargy awake! Forth on Thine errands send us, To labour for Thy sake.”

… We bear the torch that flaming fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming that Jesus died and rose
Ours is the same commission, the same glad message ours
Fired by the same ambition, to Thee we yield our powers

O Father who sustained them, O Spirit who inspired
Saviour, whose love constrained them, To toil with zeal untired
From cowardice defend us, from lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us, To labour for Thy sake …

We go to all the world, His kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save, But Jesus Christ The Lord.

Original Words by Frank Houghton. Original Music by Samuel Wesley. New Words and Music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash, and Fionan de Barra; © 2015 OMF International, Getty Music Publishing (BMI), Alletrop Music (BMI), and Fionan de Barra (all admin. By

See here for all lyrics.

Bright Lights Office/Miscellaneous

Haley Experiences Iowa Cold

We are so grateful to Haley for the countless ways she has been a support and blessing to the Bright Lights ministry for the past 7 years.

IMG_9025 She normally volunteers from her home in Texas (For example, one of her recent projects was the Simplified Bright Lights Songbook), but we were delighted that she was able to spend about 10 days with us in Iowa at the beginning of January.

IMG_9021 The only problem was that it was a little colder here than she expected. I’m not sure she ever acclimated. 🙁
Here were her remarks after we went sledding in 3 degree F weather. (Her idea, by the way. 🙂 )

We love you, Haley. Thank you for everything! (And sorry you missed our weather here yesterday, it was -9.)


Announcing: Midwest 26 Below Retreat

MW 26 below flyer

I have high expectations for how the Lord will work at this youth retreat coming to Iowa next month! This retreat has been running on the East Coast for almost two decades, and last year I had the joy of being a part of it. (I blogged about it here.) I was so excited to hear that the first “26 Below” was being held in the Midwest.

I would highly recommend that you look into coming if you are below 26 years of age. (And if you are a few years older, you’re still welcome.)

It will be held at Hidden Acres in Dayton Iowa (an hour north of Des Moines). See more details here. If you live in the Cedar Rapids area and would like to ride with us, we’ll probably be bringing a van or two.

The speaker will be Nate Bramsen, missionary to Niger. See him sharing some thoughts after persecution hit his village in Niger last year:


Sixty Years Ago Today!

What a significant event happened sixty years ago today! After we watched this video, my grandpa began sharing stories about Jim Elliot. He and Jim led a youth group together at Lombard Gospel Chapel, and Jim was in my grandparents’ wedding. I have appreciated hearing stories from them, both serious and funny, about how Jim was the “real deal” – with a huge heart for God and people…even walking in between stopped cars at traffic lights to pass out gospel tracts 🙂


Young People Entering 2016 On Their Knees

IMG_8977 Over the turn of the New Year, I was blessed to be surrounded by about 70+ youth, praying in a hotel hallway, asking God to bless missions around the world in 2016. We split into several groups and divided the world into sections so we could “cover it all.” I think many would report that an hour was only long enough to “get started” … but at least it was a start!

Why pray together with our brothers and sisters in Christ?

– It’s the pattern modeled for us by the apostles / early church
– We get to know each other’s hearts
– We grow in love for each other as we “wrestle together” asking the Lord to work
– We’re strengthened by each other’s faith
– We learn from each other
– We are reminded of more things to pray for than we’d think of on our own

The reason we were in a hotel was because we were all attending a conference together called the “Believers Bible Conference.” There were about 500 in attendance. About a third of those in attendance were young adults.

12473519_10205804223039896_6316214577901123399_o_1 Nate Bramsen and Brady Collier led sessions with the young people at 9pm after the normal conference sessions were over. These times were fantastic.

IMG_8969 I snapped this picture during the Q and A time the final evening. Questions answered were mostly on courtship/dating, pornography, evangelism, and decision-making. Nate and Brady both have a way of powerfully articulating what it means to be a sold-out follower of Jesus… not asking “where is the line?” or “is this okay?” but rather running as far from “the line of sin” as possible, for the glory of God. Victory is found when we daily experience the “explosive power of a new affection” which transforms every area of our lives.

IMG_8927 If you look closely, you can see that little clay oil lamps are now part of my “Will Our Generation Speak?” table display. I was blessed as I explained to people over and over a few analogies between us and oil lamps. The lamps are a continual reminder that if we want to burn brightly, we need to make our relationship with Christ first priority–going to Him daily to be refueled. 🙂

IMG_8987 Heidi and Haley rode with Sarah and me to and from the conference. Our fellowship in the car was enriching and basically non-stop. 🙂 Thank you, Haley and Heidi, for your vibrant walk with the Lord and the refreshment you are to us!

Family News/Miscellaneous

Instant Family :)

IMG_8580 You know how you can meet someone and bond so quickly you feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s sort of how it was when Anderson, Josue, and Keren visited us over their Thanksgiving break. (They’re students at Rio Grande Bible Institute, a Spanish speaking college in Texas, and a mutual friend arranged for them to come help with Spanish ministry in Cedar Rapids for a few days…sort of a “practicum” with our church.) It didn’t matter that they were still learning English, we were instant “family,” and we appreciated their fellowship and passion for Christ so much.

IMG_8520 The first thing they did while with us was help with the annual Thanksgiving Event that our church hosts. We do this every year, partly as an outreach to extended family and international students. It’s always a great time.

After dinner we had a time of sharing and our Hispanic friends shared Christ boldly from the heart. I believe it left a real impression on everyone.

IMG_8554 Good talks also developed with the international students at their table …

IMG_8579 So much so, we arranged to meet at a coffee shop in Iowa City to continue the conversation.

IMG_9100 Josue (from Argentina) told us that one of his dreams was to build a snow man. He wanted to know if he could go outside and make one. Of course we said “sure!”. I thought he might make a 1-foot snowman on the back deck of our office (because we didn’t really have that much snow), but he got some help and the snow man ended up being huge!

IMG_8568 In fact, it started drawing observers over to chat, and we ended up sharing with two people about the Lord — all because of the snow man. (New evangelism strategy: build a big snow man and see how many neighbors come over to start chatting with you. 🙂 )

IMG_9198 Keren got together with a Hispanic mother at our church that really needed some encouragement. At the same time, the guys met up with some of the Hispanic guys from our church, and one boy trusted Christ for salvation! There was much excitement.

IMG_8585 After 3 great days of ministry, discipleship, fellowship, street-witnessing, coffee shop discussion, and snowman witnessing, our three Hispanic friends shared with the rest of our church of what God had done. What a joyful time that evening was as we rejoiced together.

IMG_8589 As we drove to the place we’d have to part, we shared some verses from the Word on “thankfulness.” Though it had only been 3 days, it felt like 3 months. We had bonded so quickly as we did ministry together. That’s what I love about brothers and sisters in Christ. And, the fact that goodbye is never really goodbye. 🙂


Colossians Weekend


Last weekend we hosted a girls’ “Colossians retreat” and were SO BLESSED by soaking in that book together and hearing each others’ insights! I was amazed by how much I began seeing in the book that I had never seen before: themes running through, the flow of argument presented through the entire letter, the core message of it that kept arising in different ways, etc.

If you want to do a weekend like this with your friends, I highly recommend it! Just put it on the calendar, and you’ll be pushed to dive into God’s Word!

Here are a few tips:

• It’s vitally important to study the book individually in advance. Read through the book several times, outline it, circle theme words, and write out questions you have.
• PRAY for the Lord to open your eyes.
• Keep the weekend simple so you can spend basically all your “preparation time” studying Scripture. We had friends sign up to bring a dish to share for some meals, and then did Chick-fil-a for one meal.
• Divide the book up in advance so that you have different girls lead the discussion for different sections. For example, here was our schedule:

Friday Evening:
Colossians 1:1-8 Sarah
Colossians 1:9-20 Shelby
Colossians 1:21-29 Anila

Saturday Morning /Afternoon:
Colossians 2:1-12 Abby
Colossians 2:13-23 Grace
Colossians 3:1-11 Jolynn

Afternoon Break (We took a walk, went shopping, and had dinner at Chick-fil-a. Last time we did an event like this, our 1 Peter Retreat, we went ice skating.)

Saturday Evening:
Colossians 3:12-25 Sarah
Colossians 4: Nickie

IMG_8471 Dinner at Chick-fil-a

Since we had been studying Colossians on our own before hand and CAME with questions and insights, discussion on Colossians came quite easily, haha. 🙂

I think most of us are familiar with the pressure of preparing for deadlines. Whether it’s a test, an event, or buying Christmas gifts, as that deadline gets closer you make it a priority to finish preparing. The great thing about planning a “Bible study weekend” is that the way to prepare is merely to spend time in Scripture! How refreshing. 🙂