Oh what a night! Actually…Oh what a Bright Night!
Back in July, I was asked to participate as a guest speaker for an event called Bright Night. I met with the young lady, a junior in high school, who was the brainchild for experience. Gracie’s testimony involved being a homeschooler, then attending a public high school for the involvement and camaraderie, and discovering that kindness was missing in others.
Gracie’s freshman experience motivated her to have compassion for future upcoming freshman girls, and decided to act. This is an example of the prophet Elisha in the Bible. Elisha recognized a person’s need, and found a constructive and kind way to meet the need. (See 2 Kings chapter 4)
Gracie’s goal for Bright Night was/is “for this to be a faith based evening of fun and encouragement for freshman high school girls. To help young women to start their high school journey on the right foot by showing the importance of inclusiveness, good decision making, and building solid friendships. Bright Night will empower each girl to create a legacy of kindness in their school and community.”
When I listened to Gracie share about her goal for the evening, I couldn’t help but be encouraged myself, and have the same desire for these young ladies. After seeking God’s guidance, I agreed to partake in this much needed turning point for these precious girls.
This past Saturday evening, the rain held off as over fifty ladies joined together for a night of encouragement. Jennifer Morgan opened up her home for this first (and hopefully annual) event. The outdoor patio and yard were beautifully lit with party lights and luminaries, festive girlie decorations adorned the surroundings, and comfy couches and oversized pillows were scattered around for seating. Jenny’s home was as inviting and hospitable as the “big sisters” who were there to make the freshman girls feel comfortable. There were approximately forty freshman girls, ten “big sisters” (upperclassmen), five guest speakers, and a handful of godly women who were there to serve.
Bright Night consisted of:
- Over fifty donated prizes from local business and friends in the community, including free tickets to the Florida Strawberry Festival with Christian concert tickets as well
- Coordinated ice-breaker games
- Five speakers
- A candlelight ceremony
- A dance party
The speakers were Jessi Rae Varnum, Dr. Tandria Callins, Candy Mayor, Sandee Sytsma, and myself. Here is a brief synopsis of each speakers ten minute presentation:
We have to choose kindness – even when it is hard. Because that is what Jesus did- He was kind to everyone, even those who put Him on the cross.
How to be kind in everyday situations:
- Social media- be genuine and real. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.
- At school with people outside of your friend group – wave to people, give them a smile in the hallway. Make sure they feel seen and loved.
- Within your friend group- be a TRUE friend. Someone who is supportive and stands up for you.
Relationships and community and support are so important no matter what age you are, so we have to start by being kind, no matter the circumstances.
Lastly, each girl needs to find the confidence in themselves to stand out and be kind. Our identity is with Christ, not the world, so we have to find the confidence to not care what the world says to do, but what God expects us to do.
Most importantly- Choose Kindness
When a defining moment comes along, you can do one of two things: define the moment or let the moment define you.
Our defining moments often result from putting more importance on the desires of our hearts, rather than the doubts in our heads.
A defining moment that we can take from the Bible is Peter’s moment when he was walking on water. As long as he demonstrated faith, he was able to stay on top of the water. The moment he took his eyes off God and let self-doubt take over, he began to sink. At that moment, he had to make a decision about whether he was going to let his faith get him through that unpredictable circumstance. Our lives are defined by moments, especially the ones we never see coming. So always remember to exercise faith over fear and define your own moments without them defining you.
Three points she wanted the girls to take with them were:
- Self talk. She encouraged the girls to be mindful of their internal dialogue: be careful what you give power to and what you are allowing to define you. Being positive and respecting yourself is so important because what you speak over your life daily will become what you believe to be true.
- Words of affirmation. “I am” statements that speak truth and life. The hard part is doing this even when you don’t believe it. Writing it on a mirror (with a dry erase marker) on a sticky note or wherever they can see it first thing in the morning.
- Love yourself. Mirror exercise. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalms 139:14
Candy distributed a gift bag to each girl. In each bag was a mirror. This tangible gift was a lesson for each girl to see herself as a wonderfully made child of God.
You can’t deal your own cards, you have to play the ones you’re dealt.
Situations in life often happen that are out of your control…..accidents, mistakes, misunderstandings, miscommunications, acts of God, etc.. It is our job to thoughtfully respond and not “react”. We are to smooth these situations over instead of adding to the fuel, and learn to make the most out of bad situations.
Take control of YOU and be the best you that you can be. Instead of victims, we are VICTORS!
Sandee’s chat was intertwined with personal stories the girls could relate to.
Since decision-making was part of Bright Night’s mission statement, my new book The Right Road was the perfect visual to share with lessons to be learned. When I reread the book to myself, I thought about how it could apply to these high-schoolers. There were six life lessons that came to mind:
- Choices in life
- They affect more than just you.
- Magnify God
- Magnify God, not your circumstances or problems.
- When we turn our perspective towards Him, our priorities will be in the right order, and life will be filled with more joy!
- In all you do seek to please Him and give God the glory.
- Reminisce (to remember)
- Remember where you’ve been, and how you can look back and see God’s hand in your life. He’s building character in you.
- Remember God’s word in your heart, mind, and on your lips.
- One day you will look back and see that that obstacle you had in your life, that appeared so BIG, really wasn’t as big or difficult as we thought at that time.
- Get in church.
- “When you fix your thoughts on God, God fixes your thoughts.” (Author unknown) Being involved in church helps you to focus on God.
- It’s all around. Sometimes you can’t even see it.
- When temptation comes, it is not a sin, but a sin to succumb to it. Flee and run to our Heavenly Daddy. He will cradle and comfort you.
- It has been said that you can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop him from building a nest in your hair.
- The Greatest Decision…a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Since I knew I could easily go over the ten minute allotted time, I prepared little gift bags for each attendee with a recap of the lessons and bible verses to go with them, and thirteen cards with bible verses and a prayer on each. It is my prayer that by utilizing these cards, the ladies will treasure God’s word in their heart, and seek to use their “God-goggles” to see life lessons each day.
By the end of this summer evening, I believe that the weather wasn’t the only thing hot, but the ladies’ hearts’ desire for kindness and Christ.
I asked Gracie if she could share a response from the evening. She replied,“One girl said she didn’t realize how badly she needed that night and she was so glad she came. It made a difference in her heart and she was going to make changes in her life. That is worth it all.”
Gracie overcame her initial high school experience by becoming involved in clubs and never wavering in her faith. Her constructive way of meeting the needs of others was a huge success.
I pray that these girls will be a bright light in their school and community for Jesus Christ.
Like the Prophet Elisha, may we all look for ways to serve God by helping others, and show kindness to all we meet.
Blessings to you and yours,