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April 25th, 2015

Our Future Plans

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Hello there. It’s been a while.

You’ve been on our minds quite a lot over the past six months. We were waiting to update you until we knew our future plans. It took much longer to reach a decision than we’d anticipated.

Moving Home

After much deliberation, prayer, and conversation, we have decided that we will be leaving TeachBeyond and moving back to the States this summer. This was a difficult decision to make. We have loved our time in Germany, at Black Forest Academy, and with TeachBeyond, but feel that this chapter of our lives in closing.

There are several reasons motivating this decision. First, since Mia’s birth, it’s been much harder for me (Dani) to find community. We live outside of town, and, with only one car, the logistics of getting around with a baby are difficult. Second, we came to Germany to work with the students of Black Forest Academy. While Israel’s work at TeachBeyond supports many schools like BFA, we are not passionate enough about education in and of itself to justify and motivate continued support raising. Third, our lifestyle here is not sustainable. We desire more stability in our lives. The transient nature of this place makes long-term relationships very difficult. We are pretty spiritually dry and burned out. We are also weary from living in another culture. Lastly, Israel has long desired to start his own business. He is constantly coming up with new ideas. The determining factor in our decision was the knowledge that if we didn’t pursue some of his ideas, we would regret it. Since we are required to leave Germany for at least a year anyway, this is a natural transition time for us to pursue these ideas.

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November 25th, 2014

Welcome Mia Elyse

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We were thrilled to welcome Mia Elyse to the world one week ago, on November 18. We are astounded that God has chosen to bless us with this daughter. Thank you, thank you for your years of prayer and support as we walked this journey to parenthood. All praise and honor to God for his great goodness and abundance.

Please click through to the link to view Mia’s birth announcement. It’s beautiful.

http://baby.talesfromtheblackforest.com/

August 15th, 2014

New Travel Plans and a Support Update

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Baby Belly with Israel Two!
First of all, here’s an updated belly photo. We’ve entered the third trimester, and Baby Girl is getting so big that Mama is uncomfortable. We’re so thankful for this little life and a healthy, easy pregnancy!

Travel Plans

We have rescheduled our tickets for one week later than originally planned. We will now return to Germany on August 22nd. These are the latest tickets we would find while still being back in Germany for Black Forest Academy’s Opening Ceremony on September 2. While neither of us are on staff at BFA this year, it is still important to us to be there for these events!

With our new itinerary, we have a seven hour layover in London, after our nine hour international flight. I (Dani) am to the point in the pregnancy that I’m getting rather uncomfortable. I also have a pulled muscle in my stomach which can be painful. Please join us in praying that I will be comfortable during this long travel day. I’m even asking the Lord for a bump up to economy class so I can lay down for a few hours!
Baby Belly with Israel!

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July 23rd, 2014

Travels and a Baby Something

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Baby Belly

Baby Girl or Baby Boy?

Before we flew to the States in July, we had our 19 week checkup with the doctor. She spent a few minutes examining our baby and then said, “Well, I see no penis.” So we think that means we’re having a GIRL!!! Our excitement for baby girl continues to grow as she does. We’re feeling, and sometimes seeing, her move all the time now. As we think through name options, we’re quite fond of the meanings “wished for child” and “my God is gracious.”

Over the next few weeks, we are taking an intensive class on the Bradley method of childbirth, also called the husband-coached method. This is usually a 12 week class, but we’re trying to fit in as many sessions as we can before returning to Germany mid-August.

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April 25th, 2014

We’re Having a Baby!

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We're Having a Baby!

The "Broken" Pregnancy Test

Yes, folks, it’s true. We are having a baby!! I’m 12 weeks pregnant and due around November 8. Can you believe it?!

As you can imagine, we are unbelievably thrilled to be expecting a little one. We were rather surprised to see a positive pregnancy test. I actually thought it was broken, “Where’s the not before the pregnant?” Just weeks earlier we’d discussed finally going in to have fertility tests; we had not expected to become pregnant just a few weeks later.

We are very, very excited. I am (obsessively) pinning nursery ideas on Pinterest, while Israel is patting my barely-different belly.

Today, I had the privilege of sharing our news with the BFA community during Chapel. I have spoken many times over the past few years about the miscarriages and infertility. This community has shared in our suffering and sorrow. We were thrilled to also be able to share our joy! Our joy is multiplied by BFA’s joy on our behalf!

Some people have asked if we are worried at all. We have moments of fear, but we are trying to walk in faith, rather than fear. Actually, a couple weeks ago, I had a little bit of bleeding. We know now that all is well, but we were pretty frightened at the time. Even so, we both responded from positions of faith. Israel said that he was choosing to believe and pray the baby was okay. We asked other’s to join us in that prayer. I told God that, even though I didn’t know what would happen, I trusted him, knew he was good, and knew he would be with us. In the past, we didn’t know how to choose faith over fear. We praise God that he has brought us to a place where we are able to walk in the truth more fully.

There is also a little apprehension in making our news public. What if something happens and we lose the baby? We know, though, that there is nothing we can do to control whether we meet this baby on this side of eternity, and we know that we can trust God with this little life, as well as our own lives.

Isn't this the cutest alien baby you've ever seen?

Because we are expecting, I will not be returning to BFA next year, though we will stay in Germany. This is a sad goodbye for me—I have loved my job—but I cannot think of a better reason to leave this beloved job. We plan to continue to be involved in the BFA community next year.

Many of you have prayed for and encouraged us through the years. Thank you. We have felt so loved and cared for during our six-year struggle to have a child. God has chosen to bless us with a pregnancy now, but he also blessed us with those years of infertility and loss. We would not trade them; from that dark time, we gained the invaluable riches of Jesus’ presence, goodness, and redemption.

Please join us in praying for:

  • A continued safe pregnancy and healthy baby.
  • That I will remain healthy. We will be traveling to the States this summer and hope that the pregnancy will remain complication-free.
  • That we will continue to choose faith over fear.

Also, join in our rejoicing! We are not ecstatic like we might have been at age 24, but our joy is much deeper than it would have been otherwise. We sense the great privilege of this pregnancy. We are joyfully expectant of what we have waited so long to receive.

 

April 20th, 2014

England, Here We Come?

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In the Horsham Park

Happy Easter! May you have a deep awareness of all Christ accomplished on the cross and be filled with the joy of his resurrection.

And now for a non-Easter related update. 🙂

In March, we took a weekend trip to visit Horsham, England, about an hour south of London. The purpose of our trip was to see if we might relocate there. TeachBeyond is establishing a global center in Horsham, which will act as a hub of vision, ideas, and decision making for our organization. Because Israel works on the Global Communications Team, TeachBeyond would like us to work from the Global Center.

Our Visit to Horsham

We had an enjoyable trip. The weather was lovely, perhaps an inaccurate representation of typical English weather. The town is large enough to meet all of our needs, but still quaint enough to feel cozy. One of the things we most enjoyed was speaking English. Dani was thrilled to explore the bookstore — all of the books were in English! — and Israel loved being able to ask simple questions like, “What do you recommend?” and comprehend the answer. We even spent some time with a realtor discussing housing options.

The highlight of our trip, however, was spending time with the President of TeachBeyond and his wife, George and Bev Durance. During our conversations, we were able to gain a better understanding of George’s vision for the Global Center, what life in England would be like, and what our roles might be. Talking with the Durances made us excited about the possibilities for ourselves and TeachBeyond.

Our Roles

If we move to Horsham, Israel would continue working on the Global Communications Team, but would work very closely with TeachBeyond’s leaders. At the moment, many communications decisions are made without much input from the Communications Team. From Horsham, Israel might be able to help shape and advise those decisions for the betterment of TeachBeyond and the more effective work of our people across the world. He would spend less time creating websites, and more time planning, problem-solving and leading. This prospect excites him!

There are variety of administrative and writing tasks that Dani could help with, but her long-term plan would be to pursue a Biblical Counseling degree and work in TeachBeyond’s Member Care Department. There, she would help support, counsel, and train TeachBeyond’s workers around the world. She would be caring for missionaries as they care for others.

Since we joined TeachBeyond, part of our desire has been to see this organization do well. Moving to the Global Center would allow us to invest in TeachBeyond at an organizational level, which would ripple out to many corners of the world. We have felt very strongly TeachBeyond’s desire to have us in Horsham. There’s been a good bit of light-hearted finagling (in the best way), as well as sincere offers to advocate on our behalf.

Just to give you an idea of TeachBeyond’s scope, we have over 400 members (missionaries) serving in over 30 countries around the world. We have over 30 partner organizations — that number is constantly increasing — which range from schools like BFA, to language centers, to teacher training programs. We have offices in eleven countries. We’re even helping to train one-third of the teachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo at over 17,000 Christian schools! We work with adults, missionary kids, orphans, teachers, students, believers and non-believers in countries that are open to the gospel and countries that are not. TeachBeyond’s vision is to be an instrument of redemptive change through transformational education.

The Factors

Our most prominent question is whether we should stay with TeachBeyond. As a couple, our passion is not education, but working with hurting people. We wonder whether we should be pursuing work in areas that more directly engage hurting people. On the other hand, we wonder if we should continue where God has us, and invest in TeachBeyond, which is certainly reaching hurting people across the world. We know that, no matter where we live or what kind of work we do, there will be hurting people nearby. Should we simply engage people as part of our life, rather than our work?

If we move to England, we would like to make a longer term commitment. For Israel this means five years, for Dani, ten. We want to invest in a place and to maintain longer relationships. The move to England would not occur for at least two years. We will spend another school year in Germany and then six months to a year in the States.

Your Role

We covet your feedback. What do you think of us relocating to TeachBeyond’s Global Center? Would you support us moving out of work with students and into organizational work? Do you think the Global Center would be a good fit for us?

Above all, we covet your prayers.

  • We are currently thinking through our gifts, skills, and goals to help us determine what we should pursue. Please pray that God would give us insight and wisdom through this process.
  • Pray for a sensitivity to God’s leading.
  • Pray that our we would sense whether our time with TeachBeyond is closing or continuing.

There is no deadline for us to make this decision, but we would prefer to decide by the end of the summer. If you have thoughts or questions, please write us! We genuinely desire your feedback.

Look for another update soon with our summer travel plans!

 

January 5th, 2014

Thoughts on Turning 30

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Yesterday, was my birthday. I turned 30.

30. That’s a big one for me. Once, it felt like a curse. Now, it feels like a new beginning.

My 20s were full of struggle. I was often dissatisfied, fighting against the things that were, always longing for something else. But I also learned who I am, who God is, and what life is about. I discovered how deeply I feel things, and that such strong emotion can be good for myself and others. I discovered how strongly I love, and how important it is that I be in intentional relationships. I discovered the darkness of my own heart, but also the great light of God’s grace. I know now that my life isn’t about me, that my job is to love God and love others, not myself.

I’ve realized that I am responsible for myself. I often have no control over my circumstances, I’m not meant to; the only thing I have some control over is myself. I am responsible for the state of my heart. I can choose to believe the truth or live from a lie. I can choose to rejoice with others or curse their blessings. I can choose to blame others for what I lack, for the way I am, or I can release the hurts and mistakes, and trust God to redeem, complete and heal the places that are empty and broken.

I would never have planned for my life to look like it does today, but now that I’m here, I wouldn’t trade it. It is all too good, too valuable. As I’ve let go of what I thought my life should be, I’ve been able to glimpse the goodness of what is, the hope of what could be because of what is. The past year has been about recognizing the many gifts I’ve been given, and choosing to be grateful and satisfied, instead of demanding different gifts. I’ve realized that my life is not empty and barren; it if full of love and life. I have an amazing husband, a loving family, heart-friends, and so many beloved students that it overwhelms me. Over the past year, I learned to rejoice in the things I have, rather than gazing at the things I don’t have. In all the things I lost, I gained Christ, who is more valuable than any thing or person I could ever have.

30 feels like a brand new chapter. Not a new book, but the continuation of a beautiful journey. Who knows what the next decade holds? I am the least afraid I have ever been. I am the most excited, the most expectant. I am excited to live in what I know to be true, no longer content with half-truths and false comforts. I am excited to know myself better, and to make myself, faults and all, available to God. 30 once looked tarnished by all of the things I didn’t have, but it now looks bright with promise. God is with me. He is very near. He will never leave me, no matter where I go. He is the most valuable thing. I see that now.

“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. […] You make me know the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Pslam 16:5-6; 16

I’m glad to be entering my 30s from this place.

August 27th, 2013

Hello Senior Year

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We’re about to begin our Senior year in Germany. This is not to say that it’s our final year, but our fourth year. When we came to Black Forest Academy, this year’s Seniors were freshman. We’re also Senior Sponsors, so we get to join the Seniors in all of their final year festivities. My how we’ve grown.

In mid-June, we said tearful goodbyes to the Seniors and a few other beloved students who won’t be returning. Dani graduated six girls she met with on a regular basis. Goodbyes are hard here. There are many more than we’d prefer, and some are unexpected.

A few days after Grad, we flew to Oklahoma for the Inner Healing and Freedom Conference. Dani spoke twice, about shame and the value of suffering. We were delighted to have two BFA students attend the conference. It was a small gathering of about 50 people, but God moved powerfully. We spent two more weeks with our family before flying back to Germany. The past few months have provided some much-needed rest.

From Dani

School starts in a week, and for the first time, I don’t know if I’m ready. Last week, I cried over the events of the past school year. I cried for my students’ pain, suffering and sin. I cried for the brokenness of the world. In some ways, I think it’s taken me these two summer months to relax enough to be able to cry.

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