Upcoming Bright Lights Conferences in St Louis

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be running Bright Lights conferences in St Louis in the end of June. We are praising God for how details have been coming together, thanks to the hard work of our friend Allison Whisler who is our hostess in St Louis.

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This is our image designed for sharing on social media. We also have an email with more information about the conferences for spreading the word. If you know families in Iowa, Illinois, or Missouri who might be interested in the conferences, you can email us and request this informational email. Or if anyone would like actual paper flyers [smile] we’d be happy to put some in the mail to you.

Bright Lights Conferences 2016 from Tomorrow's Forefathers, Inc. on Vimeo.

We would greatly appreciate prayer that the Lord would use these conferences to point the hearts of young ladies and parents to Jesus Christ.

See the conference flyer and more info here. See our online store to register for either of these conferences.

Radiant Purity Conference, Dallas, Texas

11779985_871538086228420_8710486862946040913_o First session of Radiant Purity Conference, Dallas, Texas

In this first session, Sarah answers the question: “what is RADIANT purity?” Why don’t we just call it the “Purity Conference”? Sarah explains how it’s not just being pure yourself, but leading others in the way of purity. It’s having a life that stands out as different, and beautiful–and points others to Jesus Christ.

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It was very exciting to see the Lord’s hand working in girls’ lives at the conference. In the small group discussions, many voiced their thirst for answers. They were struggling and wanted help. The most encouraging part was seeing their decisions to actually make changes in their lives. For example, here are a few comments we received:

“I want to spend more time now working on becoming the godly woman I hope to be rather than just daydreaming about finding a godly guy all the time… I thought the speaker made a very good point about how most failed relationships go wrong because of seeds planted before the people even met. That’s important for me to consider right now… I want to make more time actively for exploring the Bible rather than wasting time on social media…” – 17-year-old

“I let go of a guy, told him that I don’t see a future between us (which was really hard cause I’ve really liked him for a while now) … Some decisions I was facing like currently this weekend I got answers to on how to handle it. It was like God was speaking directly to me through the speakers.” – 18-year-old

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One of topics the girls seem to appreciate the most is “Emotional Purity.” Sarah shares practical, Biblical advice on how not to be obsessed over a crush, and how to be a godly sister in Christ who is not flirtatious or rude. She encourages the girls to seek to build up young men around them rather than trying to get attention for themselves.

11222267_871854136196815_5648973731254630594_o We had a unique, unexpected problem (well, we always do, but this one was especially noticeable): the sustain pedal on the keyboard wasn’t working, which made the piano sound kind of like a harpsichord. 🙂 Stephen and I took a careful look at it during a break and saw that it was definitely broken. We weren’t sure what to do. You don’t realize how much of a difference a sustain pedal makes until it’s broken.

Sarah came into the office and told a couple of the girls, “I have a prayer request. Pray that the pedal on the keyboard starts to work.” My first reaction was, “Does Sarah realize that’s not possible? Stephen and I looked at it, and it’s broken.” But then I remembered Oh yeah. God could fix it. In the next session, I couldn’t believe it: the sustain pedal was working! Then it stopped working again, so Stephen had the idea of switching to a different keyboard for the rest of the conference, and that really fixed the problem, praise the Lord.

IMG_6998 It was really encouraging for me to hear how the Lord had been working in Brook’s life in the area of witnessing! I’m excited for how He is going to use her.

IMG_7003 Alyssa (left) came up to me after the conference and told me about how she was wanting to witness to the other girls on her swim team back home but was finding it difficult. I agreed that it is tough to witness to friends in that context. I mentioned that it’s actually a lot easier to witness to people at the park that you don’t know, because you don’t have anything to lose.
“But I don’t want to serve God in a way that costs me nothing,” Alyssa replied.
That was a great comment, I thought.
“That’s true,” I agreed.
“But in a way there is nothing to lose by witnessing to your swim team either,” I remarked…
“Well, friendships,” she said.

Praise God for young ladies like Alyssa who desire to lay down their own lives and desires out of devotion to Christ. Sharing the gospel IS a sacrifice. Living for Jesus DOES cost. And many aren’t willing to pay the price. But when we look from the perspective of the cross, it’s not a price–it’s a privilege.

IMG_7047 “We need to get over,” Nickie told me with an intense tone of voice. She was driving one of our 15 passenger vans and I was in the passenger’s seat texting someone. I looked up and noticed that smoke was filling the van. Since we were on a busy Dallas interstate, it took Nickie a little bit to get over to the side of the road. I was worried the van might burst into flames before we all got out. But God protected us.

dsc00422 Eventually my dad arrived, and then two men from a local Bible chapel came to help us. “Usually God sends angels in pairs,” my dad told them gratefully. 🙂 It turned out that a wire came loose from a power inverter and the insulation on the end was charred, thus causing the smoke.

As you can see, I’ve been very slow with sharing reports here this summer, but if you’re interested in more pictures and reports, Caitlin did a fantastic job updating her blog here.

Strong in the Lord Conference, Dallas, Texas

It feels like we just got off a roller coaster. 🙂 Our summer of conferences just came to an end and most of our summer staff is now gone. It’s been sad to part with them, but our hearts are filled with gratefulness to God for His work this summer. He does more than we ask or imagine! I’ll try to catch up on blog reports by posting in segments, starting with our “Strong in the Lord Conference” in Dallas, August 4-5th.

IMG_6856 When we arrived at the church in Texas that would be hosting the conferences, we were greeted warmly by the church staff. We learned that they had been waiting for us since 7:30 am. Aaron (in black) told us he had been in our state, Iowa, before … playing football against the Hawkeyes. We laughed as we realized that since Stephen is a photojournalist for our local paper (covering Hawkeyes every year) he has pictures of Aaron stored in his old archives. 🙂

IMG_6870 Soon local Bright Lights leaders and friends began joining our leadership team. Yet again, the Lord provided a team of leaders who were united, loved Christ, and were passionate to make Him known. Only the Lord can pull together such a group.

IMG_6910 A couple hours before the conference began, we had an exciting arrival! 🙂 (We did a “quick print” of these Will Our Generation Speak? study guides to have a box for conferences.) They will be available on our online store soon.

IMG_6918 When all the girls are there, it really hits what a responsibility and privilege it is to be speaking into their lives. We’re also vividly aware of the need for much PRAYER, as only the Lord can touch these hearts.

IMG_6925 While the girls are in small groups, my mom leads a prayer time with the moms, praying for the conference and their daughters.

IMG_6922Abby and Ana, perplexed that the coffee peculator was making so much noise in the back of the moms prayer time. I’m always pleased when I can be around to document these special behind-the-scenes moments, haha. Ana Skrnich (15) was actually in charge of food for the entire conference week–which meant cooking for 40 of us leaders, two meals a day, as well as doing snacks for the conference. She did a phenomenal job! In fact, I think this is the only time I saw Ana with this perplexed expression. 🙂

IMG_6940 We are THRILLED when dads come with their daughters. Nia (left) shared with me that her dad is a pastor and has been speaking a lot about evangelism recently. She is really excited about witnessing and would like to start a witnessing team. It was sweet to see the sparkle in Nia’s eyes as she spoke of her desire to reach the lost the gospel!

IMG_6960 Making colored “gospel bracelets”

IMG_6976 The girl on my right in this picture has been faithfully spending time in the Word since the Lord convicted her about that two years ago at the last Bright Lights conference in Dallas – praise the Lord! Her mom explained about this to me. How encouraging to see her faithfully following Him!

IMG_6983 During our sharing time afterward, Emily Selander reported that one 9-year-old on her team, Taylor, trusted Christ for salvation. I had the privilege of meeting Taylor afterward as well. She was very excited about her decision to follow Jesus! Taylor’s mom told us that they’d had many discussions about what it means to be saved, but apparently it hadn’t clicked with her until that night. Emily shared that Taylor was crying during the chalk talk, obviously very emotional about the decision she had just made. But then Taylor wiped her tears away, sat up, and said, “okay, now I’m just excited!” It was very sweet.

I remembered a text I had received from Mirren Martin earlier that day. She said that her dad prayed for the Bright Lights conference during their family devotions, and that he had prayed for the salvation of unsaved girls. Mirren and Taryn attended that night and it was a joy to send them home with the news that their dad’s prayer had been answered. Praise the Lord!

IMG_6990 Our leadership team

Radiant Purity Conference, Council Bluffs

11402835_863059593742936_7024458104449632151_o Sarah teaching first session of Radiant Purity conference

IMG_6333 God has gifted Nickie with an ability to keep things organized and running smoothly. She does an incredible amount behind the scenes. Please keep praying for her and her family as they miss their dad so much.

1606252_863331817049047_8018328934038395806_o We’ve been blessed to have interpreters doing sign language at our conferences so that some deaf young ladies and parents could attend. They added a sweet and beautiful dimension to the conference. We are also very grateful to Deaf Missions for housing our entire team!

IMG_6340 We’re so glad that Hadassah (left) could “hear” the conference through the interpreters. She was so sweet to get to know.

IMG_6328 Kayla shared a beautiful testimony of God’s healing and redemption in her life. It was encouraging to see many girls impacted by her story.

Many of our leaders shared testimonies of deep struggles, God’s restoration, and the victory they now experience in Him. We’re so grateful to the Lord for the transparency (and discretion) of the godly leaders the Lord has provided to help us run the conferences.

While walking down a hallway, one of our leaders, Emily, mentioned to me how most of the testimonies shared from stage were “redemption stories.” I agreed, and we both thought that was really helpful for the conference. But then I began thinking, You know, every one of us has a redemption story. It may vary in color and dynamics, but none of us are actually “pure” or deserving of a godly marriage. We were all filthy with sin, but have been loved and cleansed and cherished by our Heavenly Prince who has washed us with His blood and is preparing us for the day we stand before Him. In Him we are pure. Without Him we sink in sin—whether the sins are committed or just thought—we’re all unworthy of His blessings, but by His GRACE blessed beyond measure. Just as He redeems us from Hell for eternal life with Him, so it is by His redeeming work in our lives that He makes us fit for godly marriages for His glory.

We cannot stress this too much: Our motivation for purity is not just so we have a good marriage one day, not just for a future husband, but for love of Christ. 1 John 3:3 says “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

IMG_6348 As our group of leaders was eating dinner after the purity conference, Tami Kolar (a conference hostess) shared with us how she felt that any girl would feel welcome at the purity conference, no matter what mistakes she had in her past. We were encouraged by her words. This is our desire and prayer.

Strong in the Lord Conference, Council Bluffs

THANK YOU to all who were praying for the conferences in Omaha last week! 🙂 Here are some pictures from the first conference.

IMG_6014 One of our desires is for the Lord to turn the girls’ hearts toward their parents, and the parents to their girls (Malachi 4:6). We have many praises from the conference from how we saw the Lord work.

IMG_5988 Waiting for sessions to begin

11754719_862079490507613_7682440630412753074_o Stephen took this picture while Sarah was telling the answer-to-prayer story about the cat.

IMG_5960 Hannah (right) attended her first conference when she was 12 (Kansas, 2008). This time Hannah was one of our leaders, and her little sister Maggie was a sweet and enthusiastic attendee!

11754462_862191977163031_7246745391049498515_o Hannah shared about confessing hidden sin to her parents. She explained that it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done, but she stressed to the girls how glad she was that she did! “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

IMG_6030 Like she has done at every other conference thus far, Folly (Bekah) made the wrong choice, didn’t listen to her friend Wisdom (Nickie), and took the broad way that leads to destruction.

IMG_5980 We have no idea how a conference would be possible without Stephen to trouble shoot all of our problems.

IMG_6109-2 The younger girls are very enthusiastic about getting autographs from their leaders.

IMG_6071 This was one happy and energetic small group!

IMG_6101 After the session on witnessing, we sold out of all the “Are You A Good Person?” comic gospel tracts that we had brought. We were disappointed we wouldn’t have them for the Radiant Purity Conference, but we were glad they went so quickly! One of the comments we hear the most from the girls is that they want to be sharing the gospel more. Please pray that they put into practice what they learned! It’s easier to be excited about it in the moment, but much harder to put it into practice.

IMG_6065 We chose a new craft this year: the color bracelet (made with beads) for a tool to share the gospel. We also added three new skits this year and praise God for helping them to be a success even though they were slow in coming!

IMG_6069 Hannah (center) attended our last two conferences in Omaha and now she’s helping as a leader. It’s really special for us to come back years later, seeing how God has continued the work He began in these girls’ lives, and have them join our leadership team!

IMG_6051 We’re so grateful for the wonderful team of leaders the Lord faithfully provides for each conference.

Summer Conferences Beginning

Two days ago, we loaded our 15 passenger van with 15 people and drove to the Omaha area where we’ll be doing Bright Lights conferences this week. We had a great trip, which included meeting a wonderful gas station employee who was on the verge of tears as we shared with her, praise the Lord.

IMG_5893 After we arrived, we stood around the kitchen hearing some more details about how the Lord has been answering many prayers for this conference on this end. The hostesses have been working hard to prepare.

IMG_5900 Our hostesses have also been taking very good care of our team, and have left such sweet little surprises and delicious food! 🙂

IMG_5906 We chose 1 Timothy as our theme book for the summer. I’m very excited about digging into this book more. 🙂 One of the highlights of “living” with about 20 other girls is the nonstop fellowship that is enjoyed.

IMG_5940 Hopefully we’ll just be able to keep track of whose sandals belong to who!

IMG_5917 Unloading the trailer

IMG_5947-2 About 15 more leaders have joined us here, and the “Strong in the Lord Conference” will begin in about six hours. We just had a sweet time of prayer together. Talking to the Lord about the conference does amazing things to prepare our own hearts. Currently I’m sitting in the back of teacher’s training while Bekah is sharing details about small groups.

During our devotional sharing time this morning many had similar thoughts to share. Only what GOD DOES will impact the attendees, and He gives abundant grace to work through us and all our inadequacies. 🙂

We’d really appreciate prayer that the Lord would do amazing things in the lives of girls at this conference. May their eyes be filled with JESUS and the relationship that they can enjoy with Him.

2015 Bright Lights Conferences

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We are grateful to the Lord for all the pieces He has put in place already to run summer Bright Lights conferences! If “Bright Lights” comes into your mind, please pray that the Lord would deeply touch the lives of girls during these conferences! It is our desire to see the Lord turn the hearts of young ladies to seek Him fervently in their youth. Praise God that He is able to do more than we ask or imagine! There will be a Strong in the Lord Conference and Radiant Purity Conference in each location.

If you would like to help spread the word about these conferences on social media, Hannah Sandersfeld put together these images which can be easily shared via Instagram, FaceBook, Pinterest, Twitter, Blogs, Google Plus, etc. (Thanks, Hannah!) She also put together another document with practical ideas for sharing on social media. See that here if you would like.

Note: Click on the above image for instagram or the below image for blogs, etc. The original file will open. Then right click to save it to your computer so you can share it. If anyone would like actual paper flyers [smile] we’d be happy to put some in the mail to you. Just e-mail me and let me know how many you can use!

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Young Ladies Conference in England

IMG_1111 Sarah talking with one of the mothers. Behind her is one of the buildings of Brunel Mannor–the location where our last conference was held.

IMG_1175 Discussion time with the girls late Saturday night. The highlight for me was when one girl shared, almost teary-eyed, how she’d had so many questions and Sarah’s session on “Before You Meet Price Charming” gave her answers that really helped her. Praise the Lord!

IMG_0980 We have also had some exciting times sight seeing. Here were are on top of a huge rock in Dartmoor.

I have soooo many pictures and reports, but have not had much free time to post. I will be posting them soon, though!

A Few More Pictures

Below are a few more pictures and reports from our Bright Lights conference week.

20140707_211751_27499 As most already know, Stephen is the guy who basically makes everything happen smoothly….running cables all throughout the auditorium beforehand, taking care of sound (12 lapel mics, and up to 9 lapels on stage at once during one of the skits!), and many other logistical details. Not to mention packing up and loading the trailer afterward. We are very grateful that he took several vacation days off work for this conference!

20140710_112457_27733 We took the small group leaders to the coffee shop right behind the Bright Lights office on our free day in between conferences. At this table we got into a pretty interesting discussion about apologetics. 🙂

20140710_104525_27724 It sounded like they had some good discussions in the other room also. (We kind of took over the coffee shop as there were about 20 of us there!)

20140710_150745_27747 After the coffee shop we had a time at the park for our own individual time in the Word; very restful!

20140708_090536_27502 One thing that was very special was having several girls from our local Bright Lights group here in Cedar Rapids as leaders at the conference. (Pictured above are some of them.) It’s been encouraging to see them growing in the Lord and rising to leadership responsibilities within our local group, and we were blessed to have them as part of our team!

20140708_164110_27553 Thanks again to everyone who came to the conference or helped with the conference!

We are now gearing up for our trip to England. We are leaving Tuesday! We would ask that you would please pray for our time there — that the LORD would do a mighty work in that country and raise up leaders that would have great influence for Him.

If you’d like to receive our e-mails with specific requests during the England trip, I’ll add you to our prayer email list. Just send me an email with the words “England Prayer Points” in the subject.

Radiant Purity Conference, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

20140711_175609_27789 Laura Sisson (Nickie’s older sister) sharing the special story of how she met her husband Jim. Laura used to be a central part of our Bright Lights team before she got married eight years ago.

20140709_124522_27600 We were excited to have Laura join us again for the “Strong in the Lord Conference” — this time attending as a mother with her daughter! (Abigail is a little young, but we made an exception for her to come [smile]). Laura is just one of many Bright Lights conference leaders who are now happy mothers!

20140721_160036_27938 The “Storms of Life” newscast skit

2014 leaders We had a wonderful team of small group leaders who came from Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Maryland, and Georgia! Most of them are currently leading Bright Lights groups in their home towns.

20140709_212708_27692 One evening after the attendees had left, all of us leaders went outside with a couple guitars and just sang and sang … definitely a highlight!

20140708_114350_27525 Mrs. Kramer (in teal) did the cooking for our team of forty for the week. She also did snacks for the conference attendees. It was a lot of work, and we are very grateful! We also appreciated Gabriella and Bethany Isaac (left) for all their hard work in the kitchen!

20140709_151227_27608 Mrs. Kramer even made homemade rhubarb sauce (like applesauce) for one of the snacks for the attendees. It was amazing.

20140711_203331_27798 One highlight for the attendees is the fellowship. Sometimes it’s lonely swimming upstream and not going the world’s way! I think it’s refreshing for them to see so many other girls who also want to love Jesus with all of their heart and walk in purity!

We received an encouraging report the other day from a mom who brought her daughter to the purity conference: “…coming to Cedar Rapids has altered the trajectory of my daughters’ journey to be directly living for Jesus… We’ve had so many discussions that are God centered, initiated by the girls(!) and developing a genuine evangelistic heart for unsaved…”

Praise the Lord!

The main thrust of the Radiant Purity Conference is that we are to guard our hearts–not merely for our future husbands–but for Jesus Christ! We want to be occupied with HIM in our single years. We want to be useful for His glory during this precious time. The question is not “Where is the line?” or “What are the rules?” but rather, “How can I please the Lord even more in my thoughts and actions?!”

It’s not about a perfect formula for a pain-free path. Rather, it’s about growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and learning to trust Him!

It was exciting to see girls grasp these truths and desire to follow a higher road.

One question that seemed to help the girls in my small group understand this point was the question, “Is purity something you don’t do, or is purity something you do?”
One girl replied, “Well, I think it’s both…”
Another girl answered, “Well, I think it’s something you do, because when you are doing the right things then you won’t want to do the wrong things.”

The primary emphasis is do not don’t. Purity isn’t just about avoiding certain activities. It’s much, much more. Purity is pursuing Jesus Christ! When a girl runs after Him with all her heart, satisfied in HIS love, everything else in her life will fall into it’s proper place as HE becomes the Master of every area of her heart.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (John 15:9).