Family News

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

Stephen actually turned 23 on April 16th, but last Sunday was the first chance we got to celebrate.

So much has been happening around the homefront here, I feel very behind in posting news! For starters, our family has grown for the summer. Two good friends from Singapore, Jolynn and Carolyn, are with us helping with Bright Lights. They are “God-sends” and we are very grateful for their diligent, skillful help, especially with graphic design work (and washing dishes! 🙂 ).

Ok, now back to Stephen…

Don’t laugh…it’s hard to know what to get Stephen for his birthday!Somehow, Sarah got him exactly what he wanted (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) even though she didn’t know he wanted it. (Score!) I got him a stuffed flying monkey that squeals. I see a little contrast there. (Ok, I did give him a promise that I had more for him on the way…:) )

Stephen never ceases to amuse us. Seriously, I don’t know what made him so funny.

Here is Stephen wiring our buildling (phone, internet, computer networking, etc.) with the help of a friend, Steven Biegler. He’s never wired a building before so I don’t really know how he learned…I’ve just kind of come to the conclusion that Stephen knows how to do everything. 🙂

Stephen always gets the floor when we stay at hotels. With five people in our family, it just works out that way. Poor guy! 🙂

One neat thing that has happened in Stephen’s life this past year was that his freelance photography “business” really expanded.

It all started a few years ago when Stephen received a surprise package in the mail. Inside was a professional-line camera, worth several thousand dollars. He still does not know who sent it to this day, but we are all convinced it was of the Lord.

Since Stephen works full time with our family ministry, freelance photography became a perfect “side business” and God has really blessed him with success.

In the past year, Stephen’s pictures have been on the front page of the New York Times twice, in USA today, the American Legion Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and he’s also worked for Newscom Services, Polaris Images, and over a dozen other companies and publications.

Last fall, Stephen did a lot of political coverage here in Iowa, covering many of the candidates and traveling for a week with Huckabee’s media team. He also covered the Parkersburg Tornado, the Cedar Rapids Flooding, the Postville Immigration Raid, the NCAA Track and Field Championship, and many other events.

A few weeks ago the NY Times asked him to shoot an event, but he turned it down because it was on a Sunday. Guess what? The office in New York arranged a way for the reporter to come to Iowa on a Saturday instead! I was encouraged to see how God honored Stephen for honoring Him. 1 Samuel 2:30 says, “Those who honor Me, I will honor”.

The Lord has been blessing him with favor in the eyes of the reporters and newspapers he has been working for, and it seems like he just keeps getting more and more jobs. It’s a reminder to us of how God provides!

I report this partly because I admit, I’m proud of my big brother; but I also want to encourage you by the testimony of one who applied Matthew 6:33 (“seek first the kingdom of God”) and was blessed with a great job–even though he didn’t go the typical college route.

Stephen, I can’t imagine what my life would be missing if you weren’t my brother! I’m so grateful to God for you. Besides for being a genius, hilarious, and super fun to be with,[smile] you have a heart for serving and helping others and a desire to live for what really matters. Thanks for all the good advice you give me. Thanks for being my best friend. (Sarah, you’re my best friend, too. 🙂 )

Just think, Stephen–your next birthday is only 9 months away!


  1. Some great pictures there! Yeah well, our family gives some weird gifts too – but it is the kinds of things we want! My brothers get the floor on family trips too. 🙂 Looks like you all are having a good time, and with Jolynn and Carolyn too. Tell them hi for me. 🙂

  2. It looks as if you have a wonderful brother to call your own. He sounds like an ideal elder brother.
    I just wanted to say that I really enjoy this blog, and following the Bright Lights ministry wherever you go.
    May God continue Blessing this ministry!
    In Christ,

  3. Happy Birthday Stephen! 🙂 Wow, Grace, that’s wonderful how Stephen’s photography has taken off like that. I noticed on your post of the flooding that some of Stephen’s pictures were on the New York Times website. (That’s really cool!) 🙂
    Love and Blessings,

  4. Hey, Grace! I don’t know if you remember me, but I took piano lessons from Sarah for a long time when I was younger. I stumbled onto your blog and I couldn’t believe it! (Maybe the internet’s not such a big world after all… hehe!) I linked my name to my own blog. It’s cool to see what you’re all up to!

  5. Happy Birthday, Stephen! 🙂 I appreciate you so much. Thanks for being so such an encouraging and fun brother. I can’t imagine how we’d survive without you. Love, Sarah

  6. Jessica!!! Of course, Grace and I remember you! I enjoyed looking at your blog. 🙂 It would be really fun to see you again. Say hi to your family for us. Keep in touch! –Sarah

  7. Hello Grace,

    I met you and your family at a homeschooling conference more then a year ago now. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and I finally decided to comment. Keep up the great writing!

  8. I am an aspiring photographer, and it is soooo encouraging to read about people like Stephen who honor God with their work, and in turn are blessed.

  9. Yes… I went to the Bright Lights conference she hosted. She and her sister did a really good job singing. It was fun looking at they’re blogs too!

  10. It’s Erin again. I wanted to say Happy Birthday Stephen too!!! It’s so awesome that your photography business is doing so well! Also the story about how you got the camera is awesome too! God works in such cool ways! Man you guys are going everywhere by the way. Your family is like international!! In Him, Erin

  11. We have 5 in our family. We solved the sleeping on the floor in the hotel problem by buying a twin blow-up bed. It blows up as high as a regular bed, and it is very comfortable. We bring twin sheets. Don’t forget to buy a motor if it doesn’t come with the bed. Stephen is VERY nice to not complain about the floor!

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