Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Girls Conferences Recap||St Cloud, MN

{above: main conference sessions, taught by Sarah Mally}
As mentioned before, I spent last week in St Cloud, Minnesota, working with Bright Lights leading young girls & teen girls conferences.
I always love the experience but I have to admit that I really did not feel like going this time. 
The 5wks prior to the conference were some of the busiest of my entire life, and I was feeling drained both physically and spiritually.
But I really knew that in spite of how I felt, I was supposed to go, because I had committed to it, and it was very obvious to me that God wanted me to be there.
So I went. And God did some amazing things!
There were new elements-different things I was going through and spiritual ware fare that I really felt especially the second half of the week.
It's been two years since I've led at one of these purity conferences, and in the last two years especially God has really been working on me and revealing truth to me, particularly in the area of emotional purity.
I'm not going to go into it all now because I am going to do a post next week on this topic and I don't want to repeat myself ..but suffice to say that because of the above and other things... by the time the week was over I definitely knew why I was supposed to be at the conference!
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There are so many moments that weren't captured on camera. But the following are some favorites.

little birthday parties (one at the beginning of the week and one at the end)
with food, presents, smiles, and original songs for two of our staff, Kelly & Bekah.
leaders training and group Bible time with our staff group + all the leaders who came in from the surrounding area.
we invaded the church.
enough said. =)
the foyer right after the Strong in the Lord conference ended.
the girls from my Strong in the Lord small group
I know this looks totes ridiculous, but you would not believe what a hit this skit always is. 
You'd think I had a real horse or something. =)
this little girl was totally intrigued. It was hilarious.
on stage, preparing for the "race"
Kelly & I on one of our shopping trips to get groceries.
we ate fabulous food, thanks to Kelly & company!
Alli & I helped with leading worship for both conferences. We also sang three duets just us and two group ensembles with some of the other leaders.
It was very fun, even though it was much different from what we normally do.
At first we weren't sure if we could do anything halfway beautiful without our brothers to help us. 
But we managed. =)
Amanda & I-swat team for one of the skits.
And yet another skit...Hannah and I in the middle with Bekah, trying to convince her that it is "okay" to keep a guilty conscience and not confess her sin.
{how do I always end up acting the parts of the bad people? =)}
"Let your light so shine before men, that those who see might praise your Father in heaven"
All of the leaders & staff on the last night of the Strong in the Lord conference
Sarah doing a chalk drawing while Grace played harp and leaders gave testimonies.
When conferences end, certain ones of us have the tendency to throw out all of our maturity and act like little kids. =)
 Example: above: Dutch Blitz in the church lobby at 1am. =)
We may or may not have nearly raised the roof with our very "un-leaderlike" yells. 
Hannah, Alli, & Tia at Walmart.
It just so happens that St Cloud has its own little mecca of thrifty places.
A group of us leaders/staff got to enjoy a few of them on our off day, Thursday, which was between conferences.
We were also so blessed by the convenient location of Caribou. 
It was right on the way to the fitness center where we went every day.
{lest you think we were spending our week working out at a fitness center, let me clarify-the church did not have showers for us to use, so they kindly bought us a shower pass at the local fitness center which was about 5minutes away. 
It was a blessing. Short shower curtains and all. =)
I was in charge of coordinating the shower times, which had its interesting moments. 
Getting 30 girls coordinated for showers is definitely an undertaking. =)
And making sure that they all make it safely back...well, that is also something.
One night I was getting ready for bed around 12:30am. And it suddenly occurred to me that the shower load for that night (which was my sis Alli and two other girls) had left at 11pm. 
And they still weren't back.
I panicked slightly and quickly texted the only girl in the load who had a phone. 
"Are you all still alive"?
several minutes later I received this response,
"Yes we are. Um...what street is the church located on?"
I groaned inwardly.
After they finally DID get back we gave them such a hard time about getting lost (as in, desperately lost) that it really wouldn't be kind for me to rub it in anymore here. =)
another group bible study
my discussion group of 14&15yr olds for the Radiant Purity conference.
I was so blessed by these girls-they came from very diverse backgrounds and situations
but I sensed in most of them a real desire to learn and live for the Lord.
Reading their response forms afterwards and hearing of the new commitments to purity, waiting, and being set apart, made it all so worth it.
"I will be your strong tower, and guide you every hour, Just place your life completely in My hands."
{note: the day was pretty special because Abby was there with us (on the far right-she was actually there all week) and last Saturday, the 12th, was exactly one week before her wedding! And she choose to spend it there at the the conference leading and teaching. what a great example she was to all of us! Most of us staff are returning to MN this weekend for her wedding =)}
this was my sister's first time as staff at the conferences.
subsequently, it was her first time in the skits. 
And she was amazing.
When all the other staff (who have seen these skits ???? times) are in the back of the church DYING of laughter...well, then, you know the new actress is a keeper. =)
I'm not sure how she managed it but she was flooding that stage with her tears, and adding new little one liners to her script, left and right.
I wish I had a video-it was classic.
this was the night Lilly & I were matching. (un-intenionally)
I think a normal picture was attempted but this was the only one that turned out. =)
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It was a huge blessing to once again get to work alongside some of the dearest ladies I know.
Even those late nights of sitting on the kitchen counters eating cold pizza and laughing til we cried about certain topics...or those times several brave souls raced down that LONG church hallway in the dark...or those early mornings in our pjs trying to get to the bathroom without running into the janitor....or trying to discover the origins of many certain notes/candy/etc left on pillows....or eating and reading wrapper messages of countless dove chocolates....or all those text messages sent saying "let me in!" because the church's front door was locked again....or that very last night when we were so tired that we forgot we had just led a purity conference and we sat around trying to "coordinate" a husband for a certain unappreciative individual. =)
Or those times when I felt like my cup was running dry and I had nothing to offer the girls I was teaching....and I didn't even have to ask for prayer because inevitably someone would come up to me and ask how I was doing. 
That is what can happen when there is a common goal. A common ground. A common purpose.
And everyone is working and striving for the Lord, together!
It is such a beautiful thing to be a part of!
Tia & I. We accidentally ended up matching two different times. The above is one. =)
the photographer friend Hannah who does so much to make me look good. =)
{above was taken on our photoshoot day-new look coming to the blog, people! stay tuned!}
thanks, dearie. 
what fun to actually talk for a week instead of text. It was great.
love you and your orange tendencies. =) 
and getting to know the new staff is pretty amazing too!
How did we live our whole lives without knowing the lovely Ruth?!
we also finally met the sweet Wanniger sisters, after hearing about them for so long. =)
{A group shot of the core staff, right after we arrived home sweet home in Iowa on Sunday}
What a week it was. Stretching, exhausting...and so so worth every last effort.
And just a little disclaimer: reading this post it may seem to you like the week was just one big party. Let me assure you-it was NOT.
It was good because we were honoring the Lord, and we were leaning on Him for our strength and energy. But it was not easy.
There was intense spiritual ware fare going on.
Conference hours were crazy and draining and packed.
There were many one-on-one counseling sessions with girls attending the conferences.
There were stories of heartbreak-stories so sad you don't even want to imagine them.
And even though I really do love our group of staff, it can be challenging to work with, live with, and get along with people that you don't spend much time with, as a rule.
There was the challenge of knowing that there were girls at the conferences did not want to be there.
There was the struggle of trying to reach them for the Lord.
There were the times of prayer crying out to the Lord to work in situations that seemed impossible.
There was work, work, and work.
But there is JOY in working for the Lord!
As is often the case, I'm pretty sure I came away more blessed than the people who attended, and so thankful for everything the Lord taught me.

{ps...thanks to all of you who shared pictures with me. I think I had a total of six diff people contribute to the pictures on this post!}
-chels

15 comments:

  1. Chelsy, We have never meet, but I wanted to comment anyway...

    Thank you so much for doing this post! I was able to intern with Bright Lights in the summer of 2011 and it was one of the best summers of my life. Reading this post and seeing pictures of all the girls brought back so many good memories. Thank you!

    Melodie from Washington

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Melodie! I've heard so much about you and your sister from the other leaders!
      Hope to get to meet y'all sometime! =)

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  2. Hey Chels! wow! what fun! :) Maybe we can come next year. ;) -sarah

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  3. you should!! I'm hoping there will be one in Iowa next year.

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  4. this is probably as random as you can get, but how do you do the "slide show" at the top of your blog ??

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    1. believe it or not...I have NO idea! =) My friend Hannah did it for me. I know its pretty complicated; she did it through photoshop or something. You can ask her over on her blog, www.hannaheliseblog.com

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  5. I totes love this post...enough said. :)
    I could go on and on about everything you mentioned but I'll just keep it simple--that week was so good and fun! can't wait for this wknd..woot!!

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  6. Thanks for the great post, Chelsy! I really enjoyed all the pictures! In addition to the photos, I love how you put the whole week into words...you painted such an accurate picture of it all. :-) Lots of great memories, building friendships, meeting new people, studying God's word together, seeking him in prayer, late nights, early mornings...and YES, difficult times as well. I'm so glad that we can look at those spiritual battles, challenges, and difficulties as a sign that God is using the work mightily! And we did see Him working mightily during the conferences, and I trust that He will continue to work in the girls' hearts and lives. I'm thankful for the lessons he taught me through it as well. I really felt a sense of unity among the leaders - we all have the same goal and purpose, and the same heart for the Lord. It was so encouraging! Sadly I didn't get a chance to read the response forms from your and my RP small group before we left. Oh, well. Thanks again for posting about the conferences!
    Karen F.

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    1. thanks for helping me lead that small group, Karen! It was great to get to know you and your sisters!
      So sorry we never went over the response forms together. =( I should've given those to you before I left! I'd be happy to send them to you if you'd like.
      Thanks for your comment! =)

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    2. If it's not too much trouble for you...I would love to read them. I can email you my address. :-)

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  7. Chelsy... [tear] I'm so sad I wasn't able to make it this time! But I'm so happy that you had a blast! Maybe I'll be able to join you next time! Hmmmm.... what I long post, but I loved every word of it! =D I can totally see the whole Dutch Blitz "raising the roof" thing. [smile] I want to comment on everything you said but it's obvs that; that would take way too much time. So I leave you with this... glad you had an encouraging and sweet time! Love ya and miss you... and I WILL reply to your email! (hopefully soon) ;p

    Kaylee

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  8. Thank you for the recap, Chelsy! It sounds like the Lord truly blessed the efforts of the BL team to minister to many girls in need in MN. Thank you for serving with the other young ladies - I know it required a lot of energy and work! I'm enjoying your blog (and my family enjoys reading about your family's farm and dairy on the family blog. What a blessing to see you all happily working together in so many different ways!).
    BryantFamilyFarm.com

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  9. Wow Chelsy! I loved looking through the pictures and reading all the captions :) It sounds like you had a fun and encouraging time! It was encouraging just to read your post!
    ~Sarah

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  10. Makes me wish for a Bright Lights conference in the St. Louis area.

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing this post, Chels! I absolutely loved it and it makes me happy to recognize so many dear sisters-in-Christ in the pictures. =) Ah, SO thankful for those conferences and hope there is another opportunity to serve at one again soon. =)

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